Review of Phone Cases from Man&Wood

A company in Korea called Man&Wood sent us some lovely phone cases to review, so we’ll cover the four different ones we received today. We’ll also throw in a review of the iKins case we received in the same package- also Korean made.

The first one is called MilkyWay, and we received one for the Galaxy S8.

The Man & Wood cases are all made out of wood, or maybe it’s wood products. This one has a smooth, epoxy surface with the Milky Way galaxy on it. It seems pretty flexible and a bit rubbery to be made out of wood. The jury is out on this one. There are some ridges on the side for a good grip. The case covers the buttons on the Samsung Galaxy S8, but even though they don’t protrude as much as buttons like we’ve seen on other cases, you can still easily manipulate them.

The next case we are reviewing is one for the iPhone X. This case definitely includes real wood- it actually has the feel and smell of wood. It also has a sketch of my favorite bridge on it.

This one, called the Strato, also has the feel and smell of wood. I should add that these cases have a poly-carbonate lining. The tops and bottoms of these iPhone cases are open, they do not encase the phone all around. It makes the phone easy to access in the case, but some users might want something that surrounds their phone. There is no drop-proof claim to any of these cases, but they are nice if you want to protect the back of your phone while being stylish at the same time.

Our final case, which is branded by iKins, is named Pearl Skin Mondria, and this one was for the iPhone 8/7. The iKins are carried by the Man&Wood company, and their cases are made out of various materials like metal, fabric, pearl and leather. I would say this one is a pearl material. It has a sleek geometric design that is also luminescent.

Man&Wood has a website with these cases and many more, but at this time, we can’t find prices for the cases, so we can’t give those details out yet. We’ll update when we find out more.

We do not have a sponsored relationship with this company, but thanks to Man&Wood for sending us these cases for free to review. This review is our honest and unbiased assessment.

Merge VR Goggles and the Merge Cube Review

Today we’ll review a pair of Virtual Reality(VR) googles from Merge.

By now, everyone knows what VR goggles are, right? This particular pair are a nice alternative to a more pricier pair like Samsung Gear. These goggles might not have as many bells and whistles, but if you’re looking to save some money, and maybe get a step up from your Cardboard VR Glasses, then let’s talk about the details.

The Merge goggles are compatible with most phones. There is a cushion that holds your phone in place. Phones that are in the 123mm to 158mm range will work, and you can use Android or iOS phones as well.

The casing is soft and flexible. These goggles are great for kids because they are lightweight and durable, and will protect your phone if the goggles get dropped. They also are easy to wipe clean as well.

The adjustable headstrap make these goggles easier to wear than a regular pair of Cardboard glasses. It’s nice not to have to hold them up to your face, and your hands are free to use the left and right input buttons on the top.

There are fun apps for kids you can download off the app store. Many free ones.  We found some to work with the Merge Cube that we were also sent to review.

 

The Merge Cube is a 2.75 in. black and silver foam cube that can be turned into its own little VR device to go along with the headset, or you can use it without a headset. Not as cool, but still decent.

One thing we would say if you get this is to remember to keep the box. The box is reusable as a phone stand and stand for the Merge Cube. It also has an activation code in it. Yeah, I think we got rid of the packaging. We were still able to use it. Parents will need to set up an account for their kids.

One fun game we found was a little like Minecraft where you can build a 3D world on your Cube. It’s called Dig, and this video gives you an idea of what it looks like.

So, on the Merge website, you can buy the VR goggles for $49.99. I’ve seen them much cheaper at Wal-Mart and other places. The website offers them in many different colors, though. The Merge Cube is listed at $14.99 on their website, but they are going for $1 at our local Wal-Mart. I guess they aren’t very popular, and here’s a picture in case you don’t believe us.

Dang. Anyway, our verdict- a fun set of VR items for beginners.

Merge sent us these items for free to review in exchange for our fair and unbiased opinion.

Anker PowerCore Fusion 5000 and PowerLineII Lightning Cable

We have some more Anker products to review. Seems like we just did review some, but there are many other products from “America’s Leading USB Charging Brand.”

The main product we’ll cover is the Anker PowerCore Fusion 5000.

This small device looks like one of those USB wall chargers, and it is, but it also converts into a portable charger when you are not near a wall outlet. The plug folds inside, and you can carry this small(1.2 x 2.7 x 2.8 in) charger in your pocket and charge a tablet, iPhone, Samsung phone and many more with up to 5,000 mAh capacity. That should charge most phones at least two times before needing to be charged up again. It takes about two and a half hours to charge itself, but while it’s charging you can also charge 2 other devices at the same time, and that can come in handy.

How do you know that your PowerCore Fusion has enough juice? There are little LED blue lights on the side that will give you an idea of how much power you have left.

All-in-all, a good little gadget that sells for $21.49 on the Anker website. You can also get it in three different colors- red, black and white.

 

The 2nd item we’re reviewing is a PowerLine II- 6 ft lightning cable. There isn’t a whole lot to say about a lightning cable, but this one claims to be the world’s most durable, and that is a big claim when it seems like you have to go through many cords sometimes. It’s strength tested to hold up to 175 lbs, and can handle bends over 12,000 times, so go ahead and swing off your cord if you want to.

This cord is MFi Certified for iPhone X / 8 / 8 Plus/ 7 / 7 Plus / 6 / 6 Plus / 5S, and is actually a decent price for a phone cord- especially given it’s durability. The cord sells for $10.19 on the Anker site. This cord could be color coordinated with the PowerCore Fusion, and you could also get it in blue.

As with most products we review, these two items were sent to us free of charge by Anker, and we give honest and fair reviews in exchange.

 

Save Your Memories With the Kwilt Shoebox

You have so many pictures and videos on your cell phone that you’ve run out of space for them all? What can you do about it? The Kwilt Shoebox may be the perfect solution to your photo storage problems.

photo credit- Kwilt

Kwilt is a great alternative to paying for the Cloud, or running out of room on Dropbox. Instead of a monthly subscription that is required for the Cloud, you can buy the Kwilt Shoebox for $59 on Amazon.com. It retails for $69 if you buy it off the Kwilt website.

Opening the box, you will find your Kwilt Shoebox, a power cord, a USB adapter and an HDMI adapter. It’s pretty easy to setup for the first time. You will need to download the app made for iOS or Android. You will connect to the Kwilt wifi before trying to transfer your pictures, but once connected, you’ll be able to transfer your photos whether you are at home, or away.

Now, the Kwilt doesn’t have unlimited storage on the actual shoebox. You’ll eventually transfer photos to a USB drive or your hard drive or whatever, but it is a really affordable way to be able to keep your originals photos in high res size. You can also save your photos to your hard drive from anywhere with the app.

The HDMI adapter also allows for easy viewing on your television, which is a great feature!

Here’s the video to show how easy it is to set up:

As a family who loves to take pictures on our phones, we would recommend this product for others who love to do the same.

Disclaimer- Kwilt sent us this product for free in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Review of Omnicharge 20 USB-C Power Bank

This USB-C power bank by Omnicharge is the answer to your charging needs when the most basic of power banks aren’t going to cut it. Omnicharge, originally an Indiegogo project has grown and blossomed through a few changes, and it’s pretty amazing.

If you are on the go, and are going to be somewhere an outlet is not, this 5 x 4.8 x 1.1 inch device that weighs slightly over a pound is a great travel companion. It will charge anything from  Macbooks, handheld gaming devices, speakers, tablets, phones, etc. It has two USB C and two USB A ports, and has a 20,100 mAh capacity.

Not only does it charge your devices, you also can actually see on the OLED display (seen next to the power button in the above picture) exactly how much of a charge you have left (percentage and time), what capacity you’ve been using the electricity in the Omnicharge, the temperature of the battery, and more. If you need to give your power bank more battery life, you can plug it in while it’s charging other things because of it’s capability for pass-through charging.

This item contains a smart DC output that can be programmed to your device’s particular output needs. There is an overcharge protection, and we think that is really beneficial. No one likes damaged batteries from items being charged too much.

Besides being able to charge to USB C devices, you can also use the 2nd USB C port and two USB-A ports to transfer data from a smartphone, flash drive, camera, or other standard USB device.

There is a similar device by Omnicharge- the Omni 20 which has a place to plug in actual AC/DC cords. That one is officially on the market- being sold at Amazon.com for $299. This particular device that we are reviewing is still in the Indiegogo phase. Shipping already started in December of 2017, but at the time that this article is being written, you can still get in on the Indiegogo price of $179 plus shipping.

You could also get one with the protective case for $209. We were not sent one with the case, however. You should get in on the low price soon. It will regularly retail for $249 when it leaves Indiegogo. If we were in the market for a high-end Power Bank, we would suggest this one.

Disclaimer- Omnicharge sent us this model to review free of charge in exchange for an unbiased and fair review.

The BACtrack Scout Breathalyzer Will Help you Drink Responsibly

Techno_Mark and I don’t do a lot of drinking, but we strongly encourage those who do to do so responsibly, and that includes knowing when you’ve had too much to drink before driving.

We’ve reviewed other BACtrack items in the past, but this one is a bit different from others we’ve reviewed.  The other ones have worked with your cell phones, but this one is its own device. It’s of high quality, though. “Police-grade accuracy” is the touted claim, using XtendⓇ Fuel Cell Technology.

The BACtrack Scout is easy to use- ready to be blown into after a touch of the button. It’s small and lightweight, and would fit in a pocket easily. It does have a carrying pouch that comes with it, so you can store it with a mouthpiece in your pocket or purse. It comes with six mouthpieces so other people can use it if needed as well.

This device does meet DOT/NHTSA Standards, but it cannot determine the exact blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The company has told us that a breathalyzer – any breathalyzer – ours, a police unit, etc. only provides an estimate. The only way to get a person’s exact BAC is with a blood test. You also want to make sure to get it calibrated every once in a while to make sure it stays precise.

The small print does say that you shouldn’t rely on results to determine your level of intoxication or how safe it is to drive or operate heavy machines. So even if the estimate comes up in the safety zone, it’s really up to you to determine how inebriated you are. Also make sure not to eat, drink or smoke 20 minutes before using it, as that can throw off results or damage sensors.

In conclusion, we would suggest that you can use this device, but know your limits, call a cab (Uber, Lyft, or whatever mode of transportation you have available to you these days) or have a designated driver with you. Remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving. Stay safe everyone!

Oh, if you want to purchase the BACtrack Scout, go to the company website and buy it for about $84.99, which is an apparent (and possibly temporary) markdown from a $99.99 price.

BewellConnect MyThermo

So, let’s talk about thermometers. As someone who grew up in the 70s, I remember those mercury ones that you had to uncomfortably stick under your tongue. Remember how you had to shake them to reset them, and they were really fricking hard to read? There was like this silver thread that…how in the world did they ever figure out that this is we detect sickness?

I bring this up because progress has been made in the world of thermometers, and I am not talking about the kinds of numbers. This is the MyThermo from Bewell Connect, and it is a smart and connected non-contact thermometer that can take a temperature of a body without even making contact with him or her.

That’s right, even the thermometers are wireless these days. I may have no idea how the mercury thermometers work, but this MyThermo, I am completely clueless. Let’s just say that it runs on magic, which is defined as any technology that can be understood in its present culture.

Apparently, the MyThermo uses infrared technology, which is good for those situations for when you are not wanting to spread germs with your thermometer.

Now, the issue that I have with this is that I am not certain how accurate the results are. I mean, you have to hold it up to a forehead, and then push the button. I held it up to my son’s head and got an incredibly low value of seventy something. The next one was about 88, and I tried it on myself and got a low 90 rating.

Below is a picture of where to hold it in relation to the forehead, and I have to admit that when I first used it, I held it backwards. Now, the instructions say that you should measure the temperature elsewhere to confirm it, and you just should do that anyway. Apparently, you can use this thing on a bathtub or drink as well.

I’m not certain if I can really recommend this product, but honestly, if this works as good as it says, then you should have no problem seeing it in many hospitals. You can purchase the MyThermo on the Bewell Connect site for about $99.

Hands on with the OOMI Starter Kit

One of the many things that I was able to witness at CES was how it seems that everyone wants a “connected home”. It is very apparent that certain homes that are being built in the present are being prepared for the future, so that all of the electronics can be taken control via smartphone/tablet.

I can’t remember at what CES I saw this at, but OOMI was there. This was when they were just getting started, so it must have been a few years ago. They must have truly bloomed, as I had a chance to try out their OOMI Home Lighting Starter Kit.

This thing came with just about everything. It came with a tablet, which at first seemed odd to me. After all, there are lots of tablets available with iPad from Apple, many from Android, and probably a lot of Windows and others that I don’t know about.

Now before I forget later, I’m going to tell you that OOMI does have an app. Granted, it wasn’t rated high on the Android store, but I’m just going to assume that it can do everything that the included tablet can do.

So, the moment that I turned on the tablet, it told me what to do after hooking up to my wireless network. The OOMI tablet told me to plug in the security camera, and said that it would turn green or blue when it was hooked up. Then all I had to do is join a dot on the back of the tablet with the one on the back of the camera. In less than a minute, I was looking at myself on the screen of the tablet.

I honestly don’t know how it could have joined so quickly, so I am going to guess some kind of NFC tech. There was a lot of other quick instructions that the tablet gave, but I’m not certain what I quickly passed over. I did find that it was user-friendly, so much so that I decided to connect one of the smartbulbs and just join its spot with the tablet’s.

Needless to say, I was able to take command of the bulb, provided it was given power. Oh, this is required for set-up as well. so with one touch on the screen, the light is on or off, and from there, I can take control of its color with 12 standby shades. I can even make rainbow or pattern or even random shades to create a very interesting mood of the room.

Then it doesn’t stop there, as there is an OOMI plug, which looks as if it can give you control of an appliance, as well as seeing how much energy is being used.

I’m told that it still doesn’t stop there as you can use other Z-wave appliances as well. I’m going to just guess that OOMI designed this Lighting Starter Kit as a good method for those who want a connected home to have a connected home, without the experience. To that, I say it is a good investment, and it is available for purchase on the OOMI shop for $499.00.

Chilipad Cube for the Queen Size Bed

I have been wanting to review the Chilipad for a long time now, as it was a device that I saw at CES 2018. Generally, I don’t get a chance to review anything like this, so I’ll try and just summarize it, in case the picture doesn’t make it obvious.

If you share a bed with someone, then you might have an issue with one feeling too hot, while the other feels too cold. In all honesty, I don’t know if my wife and I have ever had this problem, but we have been in a car where I was too cold and she was too hot.

Well, you can see where this is going, can’t you? The Chilipad is a way of regulating two zones of climate control on your mattress, so the hot stays hot and the cool stays cool. Think of it as the McDLT for the bed, and honestly, I am not certain what age group wouldn’t understand that reference.

Now, when this thing came to me, the box was huge. I wanted to do an unboxing video, but it didn’t really work out on this occasion. Needless to say, I opened the box to find the pad itself folded on top, and this particular product isn’t like an electrical blanket or cooling. No, this is a pad that lays atop the mattress itself, and I will explain how it works later.

Once I opened the product and took out the Chilipad itself, I saw two boxes within the big box. Each of them said this: “Inside this box is your solution. No more sweating, tossing, and turning. Only Sleep Nirvana.” Within these two boxes are a cube, cord, and a remote control.

Now, these cubes are the key to how the Chilipad works. The Chilipad itself doesn’t work with the power of electricity, like an electric blanket, but water power. Yes, there is water being pumped through the Chilipad, and the cube allows that water to be either hot or cold, depending on what side of the bed that you are on. So there is now plumbing going through your mattress, but not near as much water as a waterbed. I didn’t really want to test how strong these pipes were, but you need to attach a weird pipe to the cube. I don’t know if you should let a dog or cat on the Chilipad due to their claws.

Yes, there is a Single and Dual Zone option on this, but I have said this before. I don’t know if I need to say this, but the cubes have to be filled with water into order to work. What was funny was how I couldn’t figure out how to fill them at first. There is thing that unscrews that I actually thought was a dial.

Of course, a dial is not needed, as the heat and cooling function are controls by buttons on the cube. Of course, they can also be controlled by the remote controls, which require batteries, as I found out. Honestly, I am not certain why the remotes are needed, for you are going to have to sleep with these remotes to work them. I think it might just be better to just have the burden of leaning over and playing with the switches rather than stashing the remotes under your pillows or something.

So, is the Chilipad worth it? I don’t know, as it really depends how much comfort means to you. I used to love sleeping with an electric blanket, but I had settled for sleeping near a fan or a space-heater, depending on the weather. However, I can’t guarantee a temperature of 55 or 110 F. Not only that, it uses less power.

Yes, I agree that getting a good night’s sleep is important, and if this is of paramount importance to you, then the Chilipad is for you. Still, I need to let you know that it costs a pretty penny at $999.00 on the Chilipad site. At this point, you are going to have to ask yourself how much comfort is worth to you. It certainly is quite a product, and I would not be surprised to see more from Chilipad in the future.

Our Review of the Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit

We have had the opportunity to review a lot of great products related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) technology before, and the Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit is up there with stuff from UBTECH as well as LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3. Those are some plugs for my books, by the way, but I wish I had more time to write about the Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit.

It is difficult to talk about the Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit, but for those of you who are familiar with the aforementioned STEM toys, it might seem run-of-the-mill. Please don’t think that comment as this is a bad review, but the fact remains, it would probably take me a proper month to review the Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit. As it is, I really only afford a long day to review this.

I’ll try by describing what is in the box, or at least on top of the box. There are these blocks, one of them is for power, and even has the international power symbol on it. There are other blocks labelled “Buzzer”, “Gyro Sensor”, “Servo Driver”, “Bluetooth”, and “Funny Touch”. There are others here that I won’t go into for now, but needless to say, connecting certain blocks together allows different things to occur. You can see what the individual blocks look like here:

For example, I found that I could connect the Power to the Gyro Sensor and that to a Buzzer. What did I get? I device that, if moved, will buzz. This is essentially what programming is, linking together all the individual tasks until they can successfully perform one big old task.

So yes, the Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit is made so you can link blocks together and download code into them. Yes, there are other kits that can do the very same thing, but I have to admit the this is the first kit that I have seen that comes with these paper things for some series hard paper crafting. Like most of these kits, it comes with an app, and I was able to see instructions for making an excited rabbit that can make faces.

Of course, you can build a lot more, that’s for dang sure. Of course, the possibilities are infinite, and this is helped as its pieces are compatible with LEGO. Oh yes, so anything that you can make with Technic and MINDSTORMS is good to go for the Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit.

So yes, I am going to recommend the Makeblock Neuron Inventor Kit, particularly if you are into STEM projects. Even if you aren’t this could be the thing that really gets you into it. It can be purchased on the Makeblock store for $119.99.