Monday, August 6, 2018

The Frugal Guy: USB Car Charger

Hey party people.  This week I'll be reviewing a USB car charger.  I received the charger for free from Achoro through Tomoson (click here if you want to check Tomoson out and try tons of free products).  Click here if you want to see Achoro's other products.

So, I think this is the first time I'm giving a review on a product that didn't work for me.  This is advertised as being for the Nintendo Switch, which is why I wanted to try it out.  But, I plugged it in and nothing happened.  If you go on Amazon you can see there are two different ports you can plug into.  The first port didn't do a thing (like nothing happened on my Switch) and the second port said it was charging the Switch but no actual battery charge happened (the second part was allegedly the quick charge port).  I had a long trip over the weekend, and the charger was going for three hours of the trip, but when I got home the battery on the switch was still zero.  If you find that hard to believe, check out my Youtube videos by clicking here and here (two parts to show the start time and the stop time, and how nothing changed).  See the below image of my no charge when I got home.

That being said, I also tried this out for a phone, and it does charge a little faster for that.  On the same trip I plugged my phone into my car USB charger (the port that comes standard in most cars) and that charged at about 1% per hour while being used (google maps).  The Achoro car charger charged the phone at about 1% per minute, so it was faster than just plugging it into the car, but I didn't try all the ports since my main concern was charging my Switch (charging my phone was more or less to determine if the product was defective).

Other downsides to this are the fact that it doesn't come with any instructions (it has two USB ports and another third port, and I have no clue what that third port is for), and also it doesn't come with a carry case. Not having instructions is important, since the three ports are labeled differently, which leads me to believe they have separate uses, so knowing what they're for is vital.  The Amazon page briefly touches on the different types, but doesn't say much about the third port so I'm still lost to that and instructions would have been nice.  Plus, when I was trying to start using this I couldn't get on Amazon (being on the road and all, didn't want to be too distracted) so I had to figure it out on the fly.  The carry case would have just been nice.

Here is the package/box it came in.  This was all I received.  No box with signage or anything, just plain cardboard.  It did come with protective wrap though.

So, I can't recommend this product as a Nintendo Switch charger, as it did absolutely nothing for that.  If you need a faster car charger, then this should be okay.  Also understand that it's possible I used the wrong port for my phone, since it didn't come with instructions I'm not sure if it was used properly.  Still, if you are interested in buying click here.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Frugal Guy: Ring Sling Carrier

Hey hey hey.  I hope all the fathers out there had a wonderful father's day (I did! Woot).  This week I'll be reviewing a ring sling carrier (for carrying small children).  I received the carrier for free from Baby Womb World through Tomoson (click here if you want to check Tomoson out and try tons of free products).  The company that sells this on Amazon is called Mida solutions. Click here if you want to see their other products.

On to the review.

If you've never used a ring sling carrier, then take this as a word of caution.  They can be tricky to figure out if you don't watch a video, and since it's going to be carrying your child you want to make sure you have everything correct. I recommend watching a number of videos and trying it out without the baby first, just to make sure you're as safe as you can be.  Thankfully, Baby Womb World delivered this carrier with links to their Youtube videos. They also have a number of pictures so the learning process is simplified for you.  Check out my Youtube video of Kay putting little Paul in the carrier.

As far as the quality of the carrier, the fabric on this is pretty thick. The rails (top and bottom of the carrier) do have a little padding so it's comfortable for the baby. The threading portion is even thicker, so there's no worry about this ripping, but I don't think that's a real concern since it's for children and not adults (though I'm no expert on sling carriers).

Learning how to get the little one into the carrier was a bit difficult at first (he just didn't want to go in), but the videos were helpful and were of high quality (showed how things should be done, and also had little text blurbs to indicate what was happening in the video).  At the end of the day, practice makes perfect, but note that every baby will be different.  Our child didn't enjoy the social position much, but he liked the newborn position (he's not a newborn though).  With a little patience, we worked it out.

This is a high quality ring sling carrier that has a number of positions and helpful videos.  So far, I would highly recommend.  If you have your hands full and need a little help carrying the little one around, this is the sling for you. Check it out by clicking here.  Feel free to post any questions or concerns in the comments below.  As always, thanks for reading. Until next time.

Friday, June 8, 2018

That Frugal Guy: Mini Bluetooth Headset (cellphone)

Hey everybody.  This week I'll be reviewing a mini bluetooth headset compatible with most cell phones.  I received the headset for free from SoulSoundMagic through Tomoson (click here if you want to check Tomoson out and try tons of free products).  I couldn't find a seller page for SoulSoundMagic on Amazon, but it looks like they currently have two products and both are bluetooth headsets for cell phones.

If the word mini didn't give it away, these headsets are super small. They're designed to be low profile, and you can only see it if you're looking directly at my ear. I'll get into details about the audio quality a bit later, but let's start with the care put into packaging this thing.

First of all, careful packaging usually indicates a quality item, so opening the box put a good taste in my mouth from the jump. The cardboard box was sturdy, but I was surprised to find a carry case for this little device as well.

The carry case even comes with a little pouch for the USB charger, but note that the cord is also mini. The top is hard enough that you can store the case in a glove box without having to worry about it being crushed or damaged (though it's not a padded case, and there's a lot of extra room, so using it as a maraca would be ill-advised).

Unlike some bluetooth headsets, this one comes with three types of earbuds (something usually only seen in earbud headphones for playing music). I assume they have this feature since the bluetooth has to stay in your ear without over-ear support.  A snug fit is essential, and it's nice to be able to choose what works best for my ear.

The buds are comfy and have a rubber/silicone padding so it's not just a piece of hard plastic jabbing you in the ear.

The instructions didn't mention how long it should be charged for the first use, but I hooked it up to my laptop and the light indicated it was finished after a few minutes (the Amazon page says 30 minute charging time).  This leads to my only qualm with the design: the indicator light for a full charge/charging is inside the device. You can faintly see it through the top, but if you're in a well-light room it will be hard to tell if your device is fully charged or not (which may lead to overcharging and a reduction of battery life down the road).  If you look closely at the picture below, you can barely see a blue blip on the right just before the top of the headset.

For sound, the earpiece is great. You can adjust the volume using your phone's in-call volume button, and the headset gives voice prompts based off of what you press (i.e., press and hold for 6 seconds, it will say "pairing with your device" or hold for 3 seconds when it's on, and it will say "power off").

As far as the microphone quality, it's also good, but conditionally so. Since there's nothing that reaches to your face, it has to pick up sound that bounces back to your ear, so it's a little muffled when you're in a large room or don't have the phone nearby.  I recorded a video of the audio, but that of course detracts from the quality of the original sound.  Still, the video is below.  The first few seconds is me, calling in my house with the phone across the room (very hard to hear), while the last part is my wife calling from her phone while inside the car (very clear and easy to hear).

As you can tell from the recordings, this device works better if you have your phone nearby. I recommend using this in your car or when holding your phone in your hand.

So if you're looking for a headset that you'll barely notice is on your head, this is the headset for you.  This is also a great buy if you're just looking to boost your call volume, but don't want a clunky headset weighing your head down. The mini S-1 is relatively cheap for bluetooth headsets, but the price doesn't detract any quality as far as I could tell.  It's easy to operate and comes complete with the carry case so you don't lose it since it's so tiny. If you're interested in getting one, check out the product by clicking here. The page has a bunch of info about standby time, etc as well.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Frugal Guy: Diaper Bag Backpack

Hello again guys.  This week I'm reviewing a diaper bag backpack (another product from Asani, and it's the best one yet...I feel like I keep saying that, but things keep improving).  Asani gave me the product for free to try out, and they are the same company that gifted me the changing pads, swaddle blankets, boppy pillow, and the segmented glass containers.  Click hereherehere, or here to visit my previous post about those items.

We already had a diaper bag, but it was rather large. Generally speaking, large is good since you can fit more, but it felt like we were carrying around a suitcase every time we went in public. When you have a young child, having free hands is a plus, but the old diaper bag put a damper on that.  With this new bag, it fits snugly onto our shoulders so we can keep all of our supplies handy and still have both hands free to take care of little Paul.

Though this fits on your back, it has a crazy number of pockets and storage slots (see pictures below).  For lack of a better description, this bag is the Swiss army knife of diaper storage.  It has insulated pockets to keep bottles hot or cold. It even has a slot for wipes that comes with a fold so you can easily access them. If you're out on a stroll and decide your bag is too heavy, it has straps to attach to your stroller. This also comes with a changing pad and an extra insulated pouch (nifty for milk storage bags).

I can't think of any downsides to this, and my wife and I love it so far!  Haven't washed it or anything and we don't plan on doing any rough hikes, but we'll see how durable it is over the next few months.  We'll post an update if it starts to tear or rip from the weight we put in it. See the pictures to see all the pockets and features this thing comes with.

Changing Pad

Storage pouch (insulated)

Front pocket with various bottle storage slots.

Main pocket for general storage.

Smaller pocket with insulated slot.

Bottom pocket (also insulated.

Fold-up slot for wipes.

If you have a child in diapers you need this bag.  Check out the product on Amazon and get yours today!  As always, thanks for reading guys, and leave a comment below with any questions you might have.

The Frugal Guy: Webcam Covers

Hey Guys,

Here's a cool little product that is perfect if you worry that "the man" is watching through your webcam.  We've all heard stories about the government and hackers spying on us through our cameras, and now there is a solution.  One of my ex-girlfriends actually put a piece of tape over her camera so no one could see through, and if you're like her, or if you just want to protect your privacy, than this product is perfect for you. I received a free three pack of webcam covers to try from a company called Ubitree direct.

As the packaging notes, these covers are extremely thin. It worried me a bit because of how thin they were, but so far my worries are unwarranted. I actually snapped off the sliding cover while trying to remove the adhesive tap on the back, but discovered that the pieces are meant to snap apart so you can clean your camera lens as needed. They snap right back together, so that's good to know if you're as clumsy as me.

Once the tape is off you just press this to the proper place over your camera and hold for a few seconds. If you put it on the wrong place, you can take it off and try again with no problem. See the note below on installation.  I put mine on my laptop and my tablet and it worked for both. Note that I have a screen cover on my tablet, and I advise you only apply to a screen cover.

Note:  Be careful when putting these on as the slide only goes one way. As a result, you'll have to put the open side on the same side as the lens or it'll open the wrong way (sounds obvious, but I definitely put it on backwards/upside down the first time).  You need to line up the edge with the edge of the lens. Since they're very compact, you'll need to be relatively accurate, but as I mentioned above if you miss on the first try you can take it off and try again. The package says this sets after 24 hours, and I haven't tried to take it off after I got it right, but I assume it'll be relatively permanent after 24 hours. Be sure to test this after installation to prevent a permanent mistake (though, since the cover snaps off you may be able to just flip it over and it be okay).

So if you're looking for a relatively cheap cover to protect your privacy, these are available on Amazon.  Click here to purchase yours today.  Since it's so thin I can't imagine it'll be a bother on my devices, but I'll keep you posted if these easily fall off or break.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Frugal Guy: Bamboo Changing Pads

Hey guys.  Got another product for free to test for sir Paul. This time it's bamboo changing pads, and they came just in time. Like the other baby freebies, these were also sent to me from Asani (the company that provided the swaddle blankets, the boppy pillow and the segmented glass containers) through MLC distribution.  Click herehere or here to visit my previous post about those items.

Being a new parent, most of these freebies are experiments for me. I never really thought much about changing pads before Paul came along (for relatively obvious reasons), but now that I've changed my fair share of poopy butts, these things are a life saver. To further prove this point, Paul decided testing the changing pads out was a joy we could both partake in (see Exhibit P below).

In Exhibit P above, you'll see that Paul decided he didn't like his diaper and wanted to go on the pad instead (promise this wasn't planned). The poop was pretty wet, so I just assumed it would go straight through the pad and cause a mess on the changing table (which happened to also be fabric...poop and fabric aren't the best combinations). But, to my glee, the pad absorbed all of the poopy liquid and nothing bled through to the other side.

The label describes these pads as super absorbent, but since they're relatively thin I figured that was just marketing that these companies throw on stuff to make you think all is okay (all diapers say they're good at absorbing). They were telling the truth though.  Cleaning wasn't very fun, but they are machine washable.  I ran these through the washer before I used them, and all three came out looking identical to when I put them in. I dried two and let one air dry, and the air dry one actually looked worse (the fabric looked weird), so for the first time I recommend drying these in a machine. See the label for the proper care.

They're very soft to the touch and Paul seems to appreciate this. They feel pretty durable, and there were no signs of wear after the first wash, though you'll have to check in after a few weeks and ask if they continued to hold up. Of all the products I've received from Asani thus far, these seem to be the best ones.  They are easy to fold and lay flat despite how much or how hard you fold them (as far as I've seen).

The label reports this as being bamboo, but note that it's not 100 percent bamboo (probably because the back half is polyester to prevent leakage). It is still mainly bamboo though, so I'm much happier with this then with the other products we use (all of the others are 100 percent polyester).

Overall I'd give this a straight up perfect score!  Love these so far and I'm enthused that there are three in a pack (lol Paul usually doesn't pee or poop on the changing pad, but as soon as I got these he pooped on one and peed on the other (back to back) so I guess God has been looking out for me 😃).

If you're looking for an effective and cost efficient changing pad, these are the ones you should buy. Click here to buy them on Amazon.  As always, thanks for reading. Stay tuned:  I'm hoping to receive a backpack diaper bag, so fingers crossed I'm able to get that. I invite you to ask any questions or leave your own experiences in the comments!  Until next time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Frugal Guy: Swaddle Blankets

Hey everybody.  I've been blessed to receive more products to test, and these are specifically for the little Guy.  These swaddle blankets were sent to me from Asani (the company that provided the boppy pillow and the segmented glass containers) through MLC distribution.  Click here or here to visit my previous post about those items.

Since these are swaddle blankets, they're designed to wrap up a baby as opposed to lay flat across them for warmth.  As such, swaddle blankets really shouldn't be heavy, though some can be depending on the company.  I'm not a huge fan of heavy blankets. They can lead to the baby overheating, but these from Asani are a great thickness (assuming the baby's crib isn't outdoors). They have the right amount of stretch to aid in the swaddle process. They breathe pretty well too, so if he were to somehow get this up and over his face he may not be in any danger (though, I'm not taking any chances and testing that idea).

Some swaddle blankets are basically just blankets that are easy to fold, but they don't necessarily stay on the baby if he's moving around a lot.  Mr. Paul is almost always kicking or waving his hands, so blankets tend to come undone unless I have the perfect wrap (which I rarely do since I'm new to all this). These Asani blankets stretch pretty well so I can wrap and worry less (they aren't elastic or anything so it's not stretchy like a rubber band, just not rigid like a regular blanket).

They're also large (48x48) so we should be able to use them for a good long while.

As far as the quality goes, they're 100% cotton, so they'll lose some threads after multiple washes. We washed these before using them and two out of the three came out looking perfect. The third had a single loose string, which overall isn't bad (it wasn't a run or anything that indicated it would create lasting damage). That's just after one wash so I can't say how they'll hold up with multiple washes, but I'm confident they'll do just fine.

If you're in the market for a good quality swaddle blanket that won't overheat your baby, check these out on Amazon and give them a try.  Click here to go to the product page.  Thanks again for reading and don't hesitate to let me know of any questions!