Showing posts with label Electronics Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Electronics Reviews. Show all posts

Monday, October 5, 2020

Review Updates: Anker PowerPort and Anker PowerCore

During a recent camping trip I once again depended on my Anker solar charger and battery charger. I realized how long I had been using those items. It was then that I decided to begin writing updates for a few of my favorite reviews.

One of the very best things about being a part of the Review This! team is knowing that we write about the things we truly use, enjoy, and honestly recommend. The recipes are the foods we cook and enjoy. The product reviews are the things we use. Our site is not clickbait; clogged up with ads. And we very rarely write reviews because someone has approached us, asking for a review of their products. It is an honor to be a part of this group. 

Anker PowerPort Solar Charger and Anker PowerCore Battery:

I go camping regularly; off-grid in West Virginia.  Even though I go with the plan to be unplugged and get away from it all, I still want to have a fully charged cell phone at all times. I have 2 items from Anker that have been super reliable and keep me feeling secure at all times.

The Anker PowerPort Solar Charger was my first Anker purchase.  I reviewed this charger in September 2017.  I still use this solar charger during every, single camping trip and I have had zero problems with it. On 2 occasions, it shut down briefly and I thought perhaps I had broken it. But those were 2 extremely hot days and very bright sunshine. In hindsight, I wonder if it (or my phone) got overheated and shut down temporarily. That has not happened outside of those two occasions. 

This charger is lightweight but folds up in a way that is easily to carry in a backpack. I HIGHLY recommend this item for camping, hiking, and other off-grid situations.

Because there were times that I was camping during several days of rain, or in the winter when daylight hours are shorter, I added the Anker PowerCore battery to my camping supplies in 2018. I also keep it fully charged during hurricane season. 

This item is basically a rechargeable battery. I charge it fully using the outlet or my laptop (using the USB cord) and then keep it in my camping supplies. It provides enough power to charge my cellphone for multiple days. I have only had one issue with the PowerCore Battery and that was due to operator error. In short, Willy (my dog) got the zoomies in The Shack and ripped the battery off of a shelf when he ran under the cord. It was quite impressive how far the battery flew... and the cord now has to be finessed into the opening in order to make full contact. Frankly, I'm quite impressed that the battery didn't break during that incident.

The PowerCore battery chargers are offered in different sizes (or would that be capacities?).  I purchased the largest that I could afford at that time. But I plan on purchasing one that has a larger "mAh" capacity as soon as I am able. That way I am prepared with more charges in the event of a longer term camping or weather situation.
Between the solar charger and the battery, I am prepared for any weather and several days of being off-grid - whether intentional or due to emergency circumstances. 

In Summary:

Yes, that was a lot of rambling to say that I purchased these items in 2017 and 2018. I use them regularly. The dogs and I are clumsy and a little rough on things. And these two items have withstood our abuse. These two purchases were well worth the money spent. And years later, I still highly recommend them! 
 
The Links for the original reviews:

Reviewing the Anker Portable Solar Power Charger (on my personal blog: Treasures, Travel, Tales).

Reviewing the Anker PowerCore Portable Charger.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, May 31, 2020

High Pressure Car Cleaning Tool Review

Reviewed, and Approved - Yes to a High Pressure
Car Detailing Tool
This item is a must for auto-detailing enthusiasts.

My husband loves to clean. You heard that right. Gifts for him normally include cleaning gadgets of some sort.

However, this particular gadget was entirely his idea. He's an avid cleaning-product-researcher and decided a high-pressure car cleaning tool would help to detail the car the way he likes it.

A High-Pressure Car Cleaning Tool Works With an Air Compressor

Take note that you'll need an air compressor to run this gadget. If you don't have an air compressor or access to one, this tool isn't for you.

This particular car cleaning tool lets you adjust the air pressure. You can clean an area using a level of pressure that's appropriate for the job.

He's pointed out it's the air pressure that pushes the cleaner into the fabric and on surfaces. That helps to provide deep, thorough cleanings.

The Car Cleaning Tool with the
air compressor hose attached

Easy to Use - Add Cleaning Product and Go

Just fill the container with any cleaning solution and water. Next, connect the air, set your ball valve to dispense the cleaner. Once you're ready to go, simply pull the cleaning trigger.

There's a water mode and air mode: To do the cleaning, use the water mode. Once the cleaning is complete clear away the excess water with the air mode. At that point, you can wipe the surface down with a microfiber cloth if needed.

Here's the High-Pressure Cleaning Tool in Action

Air Dried and Wiped with a Microfiber Cloth

Use The High-Pressure Cleaning Tool for the Car Seats and Rugs

My husband is quite detailed when he cleans. He also uses this handy gadget to clean the seats and rugs. After the winter months, it's very handy indeed for renewing those filthy rugs! They look like new when he's done. Check out the two photos below showing one of the seats and rugs.

By the way, this vehicle is fifteen years old. So it's not as though he's keeping up a new car that's in prime shape. This old SUV looks new because of his hard work and detailed mindset.

Oh, and something else he wanted me to mention: Cleaning the seats and rug below only took about ten or fifteen minutes. Of course, for extra dirty surfaces, the initial cleaning will take longer.

Here is the rug and seat after a quick cleaning

Here's a closeup of the seat after cleaning.
Remember, this vehicle is fifteen years old.


Yes, He Recommends This Product

It can also be used for other cleaning projects. You're not limited to just cars. Use it for bikes, motorcycles, outdoor furniture and rugs, and whatever else you can think of that needs a deep cleaning.

He didn't buy the high-end version of this product either. He selected an inexpensive model, similar to this one, and so far so good - it's still working.

Have fun, stay clean.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Review


In January, the Windows 7 operating system on my desktop computer ended all updates.  My son (an IT Tech by profession) upgraded my computer to Windows 10. At that time, I took a good look at my peripheral devices and realized that my years-old keyboard had over one-half of the letters worn off.  Being a touch-typist, I hadn't really looked at the keyboard in a long time, but now decided it was time to get a new one. 


Wireless Keyboard by UHURU

Wireless Keyboard by Uhuru

After looking online at a number of keyboards, I decided on a wireless keyboard. This one by UHURU also came with a wireless mouse and a mouse pad. In addition, the batteries needed  for operation were included, one A A battery for the mouse and two AAA batteries for the keyboard. 

My wireless keyboard is compatible with Windows 10 and provides automatic connection link for fast data transmission without any delays.  A 2 in 1 Nano receiver unifies the keyboard and mouse connections quickly into one plug and play USB port. It also has 13 hotkeys to instantly access movie, music, internet, e-mail, volume and more. The advanced chip provides automatic connection from up to 33 feet.

It is a full size keyboard and has foldable stands to provide a comfortable angle for typing. The description states that this keyboard also has a sensitive touch for smooth typing that is easy on your fingers.  My ONE complaint may be that it is a bit TOO sensitive for the way I type as I find I often end up putting 2 spaces between words when I only wanted one. Perhaps I need to slow my typing speed a bit to compensate....LOL. But having made my living as a typist, this may be hard to do. ^-^. 

The keyboard has a power-saving mode which automatically lets it go to sleep within 8 minutes of no operation.  Click any key to wake it up.

Wireless Mouse


Wireless Mouse

The wireless mouse has many of the same features as the keyboard, working from up to 33 feet away with automatic sleep feature when not in use to conserve battery power. The Mouse works off the same plug and play USB port as the keyboard. Not only is it compatible with my new Windows10 operating system on my PC, but also works with Windows 8/7/Vista and XP and works with Notebooks, Laptops  and Smart TV with no extra software or set up needed.


Summary


Altogether, with the many features and the low price, I found this wireless keyboard and Mouse to be an excellent buy. I am very pleased with my new wireless keyboard and wireless mouse. 




Related Articles:




Quick Links:

Wireless Keyboard & Mouse by Uhulu


*Wireless Keyboard and Wireless Mouse Review written by (c) Wednesday Elf (4/25/2020)




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

My Christmas Confession! Heart Warming Stories Make Me Happy!

Yes, I have a confession to make.  

Since my husband and I decided to get into Amazon Prime, my Television watching has increased by 100%.  I thought I'd take a moment and review why my TV habits have changed.

For years now, our television set was just a big black screen that we would show our family pictures on.  Neither myself nor my other half were interested in anything that was being shown for entertainment purposes, on most cable channels.  So our TV became our picture show instead.  Our cable was cancelled and the only thing he missed was his hockey games.  I did not miss anything about the TV.  I did start reading a lot more and that was not a bad thing either.  Then............

That all changed when he signed up for Prime!  Initially he signed up so that our items would ship for free and quickly.  He's the impatient one in our family.  What he did not fully realize when he signed up, was all the added bonuses that came along with his membership in the Amazon Prime community.

Because we have Prime, we are now able to watch many varied and wonderful shows that cable companies don't offer.  I haven't even scratched the surface of what's available on Amazon Prime.  

So here's part of the confession:  I go to Prime Movies and look for fun and new Christmas Specials.  After all, it is that time of year.  There are so many movies that I have never heard of before.  There is a category called Family and Kids Movies!  That is exactly what they offer!    I know when I pick something from this category, that I won't need to worry about the content being for "adult audiences".  

Family Movies is full of wonderful films that are good for all ages.  There are animated movies and movies from all over the world.

I just happened to come across a movie called the Christmas Story.  I expected the usual Santa Claus story and while it was along that line, it was a whole new story to me.  This one had a twist in it that made it a real heart tugging movie.  Filmed in Finland and Lapland, the scenery is breathtaking and the actors are pretty good too.  There is no one in the movie whose name I recognized, but, there is talent out there in the world too.



Prime not only offers you TV that you will enjoy watching, but books (with membership you get 3 free books a month), and music.  So these have all been added bonuses for us.  My other half just wanted to save money on shipping and time.  What he got was a whole lot more!  

All together I would say that getting Prime for your family would be a gift that will keep on giving long after Christmas is over.  Those are the kind of gifts I like and would really enjoy!  I'm sure there is someone out there that feels the same way and has not yet taken the plunge into the world of Prime.

I had given up watching Television for over 4 years and now that we have Prime available to us, I know that when the itch to watch something hits, I can get a show that I  know I will enjoy.

If you don't have Prime yet, consider it for your family.  I'm sure that you won't regret it.








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Monday, September 9, 2019

Favorite Fall Lawn Gadgets Reviewed

Oh no! What happened to summer? I say that every September though most of September is technically still summer.

September is actually I think the best month for the northern United States. The air is crisper, the humidity has decreased and the leaves are just beginning their journey through the colors. Fall also means lawn work, garden clean up, Fall planting and preparing the lawn and garden for a snowy winter.

My Favorite Fall Lawn Gadgets 

The Bagster - On Demand Debris Removal

If Fall clean up involves heavy materials whether it be concrete, wood or trees then The Bagster is a great alternative to dispose of heavy loads. Simply purchase The Bagster bag either online or at a big box store, fill the bag and schedule the pick up!


Find the full review here and see if your area qualifies for The Bagster.


Greenworks Leaf Blower

This is one of my favorite lawn tools of all purchases. The lightweight Greenworks Leaf Blower is so versatile.

I use it all year to blow leaves and debris off the driveway or deck, blow leaves to dispose of in the Fall and even use it for a Car Hack to blow dust out of the car.

Read the full review here of this easy to maneuver Leaf Blower.

City Pickers Raised Garden Bed

I really enjoyed this garden bed on wheels during the summer and will transition this raised bed garden for Fall planting. Maybe a pumpkin?!? I plan on rolling the bed into the Florida room for the winter and begin herb planting come spring.


Read the full review here of this rolling garden bed perfect for the yard, deck or patio.


Blue Shoes Disposable Shoes

Fall means rain, mud and leaves in my area of the country. Do you have trees with those itty bitty leaves which stick to everything and every shoe?

These affordable disposable shoes I have found invaluable for yard work in any weather. Pop the shoes on and dispose of in a jif if needed. If the conditions are dry the shoes can be used as a cover and then reused.

Read the full review here of these little shoe savers.


Top Ten Hallmark Christmas Movies

I know, these are not a lawn gadget. But Fall means Hallmark Christmas Movies are in the near future. As I recall the Christmas movies began at Halloween last year.


Find the full review here.

A few new favorites from last Christmas to add to the list:

  • Christmas At Pemberley Manor
  • Christmas At The Palace
  • Christmas On Honeysuckle Lane






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Monday, July 22, 2019

Defiant Wireless Motion Sensor Solar Light Review

Need an outdoor light but no electrical outlet? The wireless motion sensor solar light by Defiant can assist. I recently needed to light an outdoor walkway which was marooned between electrical outlets and hard wiring the area was not an option.


I purchased the Defiant Wireless Solar Light to solve the no electrical outlet, need light problem and have been very impressed with its' performance. 


Brightness

Brightness
Motion Sensor

x
This is a bright light! It is not for subtle soft lighting along the deck, patio or home. The solar light has the equivalency of 20 LED lights.

The unit actually has two lights. The main light facing out and an interior back light behind the main light. The two lights are synchronized to provide the full brightness. The motion sensor feature then regulates how the lights are dimmed after activation.




Motion Sensor


I found the motion sensor to be very accurate. The small unit is deceiving as to how quickly it will pick up motion. Activity to trigger the motion sensor is up to 26 feet with a 120 degree radius according the the specifications.

There are two settings for the motion sensor:

1. When motion is detected the front and back light turns on to full brightness. After 10 seconds of no motion both lights turn to low brightness.

2. Standby mode. When motion is detected the front and back light turns to full brightness. After 10 seconds of no motion the front light turns off and the back light turns to low brightness.

The light does not have an option for both lights to be turned off after activation. 


Solar Light & Wireless

The solar light takes eight hours of charging to provide 12 hours of continuous light during the night. 

The wireless feature is perfect for areas of the home, deck, landscape or yard which are not located near an electrical outlet. The unit is easy to install as it is lightweight and requires two wall screws (included.) However I liked the portability of the unit due to its' lightweight and shape so I positioned the unit on the deck stairs to face the sun.

 

 

More Home Reviews





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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review

The Best Way to Learn German or Any Language


The best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it and use it daily. Language is definitely a case of  "Use it or lose it." That's why my two years of college German had almost completely disappeared in the 45 years I didn't have any occasion to use it. A few years after graduation special circumstances compelled me to teach a bit of German to some select elementary students, but then I stopped teaching and started selling books and blogging. Spare time was scarce. I simply wasn't motivated to study when I'd rather be using my leisure time to read. But now I'm motivated since I discovered these two apps for my new Galaxy Note 9 phone.

Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review of Drops and DuoLingo

Small Doses of Language Work Best for Me


Both of the apps I use, Drops and DuoLingo, have very short daily lessons. Both have positive reinforcement built into their programs. You know immediately whether your answers are right or wrong. I have been using both of these for about two weeks now. I got tired of the ads so I bought the paid versions after trying them out. Both programs encourage you by keeping track of what you've accomplished.

In the image above are two images from Drops. The first, in purple, is my page at the end of a session. It shows me how many words I've learned so far and how long my session lasted. It also shows which level I've achieved in my current topic. Underneath the time is a brief review of the words I've learned and reviewed during this session. This is really handy, since some words need more practice than others. Sometimes I haven't quite gotten the pronunciation down. If I click on an image in this section, I will see the English meaning and hear the German pronunciation again. If I still didn't catch it, I can tap again and I will hear the word again --  more slowly. I use this feature a lot.

The second Drops image shows the current topic I'm working on. The yellow lines show how much progress I've made. The yellow stars on the red row of squares underneath indicates that I've mastered the words in those topics.

How Drops Works

I have the premium plan and no longer see ads. I also can choose the length of each session. I think the session length begins at five minutes. I am now doing fifteen minutes a session and often I do two or more sessions a day if I have time. It's fun. It keeps my brain exercising. At the beginning of each session you receive a word drop. It looks like a large water drop and it brings you a new word you haven't yet seen. You also see a picture that represents it and the English meaning as you hear the the pronunciation of the German word. If you don't want to practice that word because you already know it, you swipe it up. If you want to learn or review it, you swipe it down. 

Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review


The next screen shows you the word again and two pictures (far left of image.) It lets you choose the one picture it matches. You hear the German word again. After that you may have any of the other exercises pictured drop down. The rust-colored exercise helps you look more closely at the word and put the parts of the word into the blank spaces below. If you hesitate, they give you a hint of where to start by wiggling one of the ovals. If you've worked with the word a couple of times before they may add another group of letters that isn't a correct part of the word just to make it more challenging.

The blue screen shows one of my least favorite exercises. It's a word search. You get the first letter and have to tap the others in order to spell the word correctly. I've learned how to cheat when I don't know the correct article form and there's a choice. I find the blank oval and tap to get to it because I know it comes right after the article. It's tricky, though. Even if you know how to spell the word (which I often don't) you may have the same correct letter in two different positions you can choose. You have to look ahead to see which leads to spelling the rest of the word. If you guess wrong, the program will correct you until you make the right choice.

There's another spelling game I didn't show you. It has the picture and you have to keep picking letters from a group of a few letters on the bottom until you spell the word. When you pick a letter, another moves into its place, so you don't see all the choices at the beginning.

My favorite game is the last one -- the matching game. I don't have to spell anything for this one. I just tap the pairs that match. No matter which game, once you make the correct choice, you will hear the word that is the correct answer repeated again. Approaching the word in so many different ways -- as a whole, as an image, letter by letter, section by section, and as sound -- helps your brain cement it in your memory. Words you studied at the beginning keep reappearing in later lessons so that you don't get a chance to forget them. You can probably tell I really like this app. You can use it easily on a phone or a computer.




What I Don't Like So Much about Drops


Overall, I enjoy using Drops, but there are a couple of things I don't like. Part of the reason is in the program itself and part of it is my own lack of knowledge. I have a problem with the artwork. Now I definitely could not do better myself, but I have trouble figuring out what some pictures are supposed to be. Here are some examples in the screenshot below.

Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review of Drop and DuoLingo
Screenshot from the Drops App. Get more information here.

I had no problem with the words and pictures on the left side of this screenshot from the review at the end of the session. But I had a tough time figuring out just what that man on the right top corner was doing. I thought maybe he was doing some sort of dance. I had to check the English translation, which was "I like." Yes, his thumbs are up. But when I hear the words, this is the image with which I associate it. Verbs are hard to illustrate.

My other problem was probably one I inherited from my mother who used to keep a novel inside her geography book during class. I'm not very good at identifying countries other than my own by their map shapes and/or flags. So it's only the German word that helped me recognize Greece (lower right corner of image.) When we learn the words for nationalities instead of the countries, we keep the flag and instead of the map there is a common object or a building often associated with the country. I had no trouble figuring out that bagpipes were Scottish, but many buildings in Eastern European countries seemed similar to each other. So I had to learn flags, country shapes, and architecture along with the language. I suppose that's good, but it confused me. That's why I started to pull out the old German books from college and the children's illustrated German dictionary  I used to sell. Those books  were great supplements to the apps.

Visual dictionaries for children are very good even for adults beginning the study of a foreign language. Here are two of the best available now. Mine are out of print.



DuoLingo or Drops?


I find DuoLingo boring. There is little color as far as I've gotten. It's more like doing textbook exercises on the computer. I understand the logic behind it, but maybe I should be at a more advanced level than I chose. It seems the several short sessions I completed never got past various ways of mixing these words (in German and English, in and out of sentences) : man, woman, men, women, boy, boys, girl, girls, is, are, he, she, it, you, they, the, a, and that. They were used in questions and statements. I realize this is establishing basic sentence patterns and teaching forms of the verb "to be" and singular and plural nouns, pronouns and articles. It's still boring. More color and variety in activities would go a long way to making this more fun.  Below is the screenshot of a scorecard after a brief review exercise. These are the instructions and the right answers. 


Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review of Drops and DuoLingo

Below is a screenshot of the correction screen for one of the exercises above. This is about as visually exciting as it's gotten so far. I'll let you guess which app I use most often. 



In all fairness, I have not explored all the options in this app yet, even though I have paid for the premium version. I have not joined a club  to practice with other people. I can't find one in my community, and now I'm beginning to wonder if I misunderstood that. 

I did check out the stories -- one reason I got this version. They aren't very exciting.  More like the dialogues in beginning textbooks. Bilingual children's books are much more interesting and colorful. Check out the wide variety on Amazon. Many of them are available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited. That's how I've been able to read so many of them this week. Some with very familiar stories are only in German. I will need to improve my skills before I'm ready to read those, but they are on my wish list.

In my opinion Duolingo is like a textbook put on a computer. You hear or read German and write what you see or hear in English. Or you do the opposite. I can only use this program on the computer because I can't seem to switch to a German keyboard on my phone. To be able to hear and speak comfortably I need to be on my MAC because my headsets for speaking and listening on my PC are somewhat uncomfortable for a complete session.

I probably would not buy the paid Plus version of DuoLingo if I had it to do over. It does give me a kind of practice Drops doesn't have, but it is more academic than I wanted in an app. Drops is much more fun and I seem to learn better with that kind of practice. I have a stack of German texts if I want to study the subject academically. 


Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review
My College Texts and German References with Other Books I've Picked up Since Then
© B. Radisavljevic



My Current Plan for Studying German


My daily routine includes at least one session of using the Drops app a day, and I do it first thing in the morning on my phone before I get out of bed. That's the only way to make sure I get it done. I  also keep the Beginner's German Dictionary close to me in case I want to use it for visual review. It's a picture dictionary I used to sell. It's now out of print. For visual learning it's hard to beat Usborne books, but you can only get most of them used now. I don't think one book in my stack above is still in print, since I've had most of these for over fifty years.

Books in my stack are good for reference and review, but I need to update the dictionary. Many words have been added to the language since 1964. Here's my wish list to supplement my references. I didn't really see an adult dictionary I want yet. I will stick to the one I have until I find a more useful one. The DK Visual Dictionary (below) will have some of the more modern words in it. It will serve my purpose since it is intended for adults.

I also will keep downloading German or bilingual picture books I can read for free on Kindle Unlimited.  There are also many books there on how to learn German that I have downloaded to evaluate. When I have a bit more vocabulary, I will get the story book below. I need more experience with using the language. I hope to find my German Christmas carol book I got in college and start singing the carols again. I have some on CD's and can also listen to German music free as part of my Amazon Prime Membership. I've already found some great children's songs in German.


The most recent thing I've done is start following people on Instagram who speak German . This allows me to see how Germans actually speak informally to each other and I can read the German memes and jokes they post. I have found some real goodies so far. One of the most helpful accounts I follow is German for Mummies. Every day it posts a cute cartoon drawing with labeled thematic photos. Most of the posts include simple sentences using words in the drawing. Here's one of my favorite posts from the feed: a frog in a pond.

 I hope if you want to learn German, too, some of my ideas, reviews, and recommended materials may help you. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or talk to me on Instagram or Twitter. And don't forget to follow this blog, Review
 This Reviews, on Instagram and Twitter.







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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review from a First Time Smartphone User

Why I Finally Bought a Smartphone 


I have been using a flip phone since the 1990's. I only bought it because  I traveled on business and needed a way to communicate on the road. There weren't any smartphones then. The little phone fit easily in my purse or pocket and I used my landline whenever I was home. I only gave family members and very close friends my cell number -- and, of course, services that insisted I get two-step verification by text message. I don't really text anyone myself -- yet.

Almost everyone I know seems to have a smartphone and  many seem addicted to them. But I didn't want one. I hate typing on tiny keyboards with my arthritic fingers. I like to work on a desktop where I have it all. So I happily blogged on and resisted the smartphone. I processed my photos nicely without one and took a digital camera on my photo walks. Then came Instagram and I couldn't join the party. Unless I got a smartphone. So five days ago I finally got one.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
My Galaxy Note 9 with Accessories


Why I Bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Instead of an iPhone


My brother and many of my friends have iPhones and love them. My husband has a Galaxy S7. I've seen people do amazing things with smartphones and I thought they were using iPhones. One day I was at a winery with a friend and had forgotten to bring my phone. I borrowed hers and it took fantastic photos. I had seen my nephew scan a document by taking a photo with what I thought was an iPhone. I was all set to get an iPhone. But when I double checked with my nephew and my friend, I discovered they both had Galaxy phones. The camera I had borrowed was on a Galaxy Note 8 or 9

I wanted to buy the phone with the best camera. My plan was to start making more videos where I could just talk to people, so I needed a front-facing camera. I also wanted to get great nature and product photos and videos for my blogs and for making Zazzle products. And, of  course, I wanted to be able to post to my Instagram account with my own phone -- not Hubby's. I was using my PC to like and comment on posts from my friends, and I wanted to join the fun and post more. Now I can. If you like nature, books, gardening, or a simple lifestyle, you can follow me on Instagram and see the quality of what I've posted so far from my new phone. I'm barbradis on Instagram.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
Cyclist in Riverbed of Salinas River in Paso Robles Taken with Galaxy Note 9


I decided on the Galaxy Note 9 because it had great cameras. Yes, the iPhone camera is also a good one, but for my purposes, the Galaxy Note 9 tops it. There is also a lesser reason. I have both a Windows PC and an iMac. Both have been sick. While my PC was really sick, I used the Apple almost exclusively, even though it was really slow. I couldn't find anything. I called our local guru to come fix it and he confirmed that Apple just hides things and you have to know the tricks to get around that. I like a clear file path. I think in Windows, not Apple. I understand Google better than Apple. I thought over the long haul I'd be happier with Android.


The Learning Curve


If I had already been a smartphone user just trading up or getting a different brand, I don't think the learning curve would have been as steep for me as it's been these last five days. I'm used to the space and options I have with a desktop. I work with forty tabs open in Chrome, four notepads to cut and paste from, and several Windows Explorer windows open at once. Although the Galaxy Note has a larger screen than many phones, it doesn't come close to the 21 inches my computer monitor has.

The Note 9 lets me open several apps at once and flip between them, but I had some trouble getting an email with a pin I needed to put in a registration form for Verizon or Samsung -- I forget which. Once the email came in through the GMail app, I couldn't get  back to the form where I was supposed to enter it. I think that would have happened on any smartphone. So most of my learning curve is just learning to use a smartphone instead of a PC -- not something unique to the Galaxy smartphone. It's a totally different way of working. It will take time to really get good at this.

The thing that bothered me most was that tiny keyboard. It's hard for me to hit only one key at once -- even though the Galaxy Note 9's keyboard is larger than most. I have two work-arounds for that. First, I use that little microphone on the keyboard and talk instead of type when I can. I also have a small wireless keyboard I bought to use with another device. It plays nicely with my Galaxy Note 9, as would just about any portable Bluetooth keyboard. So if I'm free to talk without disturbing anyone, I make my Instagram captions and hashtags with my voice and correct most of my mistakes using the keyboard. The speech recognition does confuse to with too or two. I have to speak slowly. It mistook my friend Celia's name for silly. But I can live with that as it learns to better understand my voice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
What Happens if You Hold the Volume Button Down Too Long  While Taking a Photo

What I love about the Galaxy Note 9

  • The large 6.4" screen
  • The ability to type with my voice instead of my fingers
  • The quality of the front and back cameras
  • The way the phone camera handles lighting differences -- what's in the shade shows better than it does in my Canon PowerShot photos if the photo subject is partially shaded. 
  • When I shoot videos while walking, they are less shaky than the ones I shoot with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. I'll show you one of my photo walks below.
  • Easy updates for software
  • Ease of installing the apps I want
  • Easy flipping between apps
  • The ability to take multiple photos in quick succession by holding down the volume button. I learned this accidentally. 
  • Clear voice reception on calls. I called my landline and my husband just to make sure.
  •  Easy contact management, but I confess that I used my little bluetooth keyboard to help enter the names and numbers.
  • Fast charging and long battery life.
  • Flaps that cover the ports for the charger and headphones to help keep them safe from water and dust during everyday use. 
  • The S-Pen with its many amazing features, only some of which I've tried so far. I can't do it all in five days. So far I've found it very handy when I have to use the keyboard since I can better control what I click. A video I watched showed many more pen features I have yet to try. The S-Pen can even control some phone features remotely. 
  • The ability to make a monitor act like a PC if you have the right cable, monitor, and the S-pen. It will work with your monitor if it has an HDMI port and you have an HDMI to USB Type C cable 
  • I can use the Do Not Disturb setting to keep away all notification sounds during the hours I sleep. While I'm trying to fall asleep I can play relaxing music for as long as I set the timer for -- all while my phone is charging.  


A Video of a Photo Walk I Made Yesterday

I made this video with the Galaxy Note 9 in the morning during a lull between rainstorms. 


Here's the Camera and Accessories I Use With It

This is my phone color. I also bought the case and screen protector to keep my investment safe. I already had a portable keyboard to use.



What I Didn't Love as Much

Much as I love my new phone, there are some things I don't love as much.


  • The phone is somewhat heavy because of its size.
  • The shape of the phone, though similar in shape to most other smartphones, is harder for my arthritic hands to hold while trying to take a photo than a camera is.
  • If I want to take a horizontal photo, it's really easy to press the button that will make the phone take multiple shots in a row as long as the button is held down. I'm learning to be careful how I hold the phone. 

Selfies

I have never yet found a camera that made selfies I liked. I'm afraid the problem is not the camera but the subject. Nevertheless, I made a selfie so I could photograph the screen for you. The weird colors are the result of the artificial lighting in the room that my Canon couldn't handle well. Flashes leave light bursts I didn't want. You do see the editing icons here. I don't normally edit photos except to crop them or add text, but I think I'll learn to use some of those available apps that remove wrinkles, etc. 

Since I haven't learned to use those apps yet, I'm hiding behind the camera. The editing icons are above the circle-shaped camera icons. The bottom row of icons are for the whole phone. The quality of this photo has nothing to do with the smartphone camera, since I didn't know how to use the Note 9 to take a photo of itself. It probably would have done a better job with the lighting. I think I  did use one filter and kept it because it changed my hair from gray to the blond I was born with.

Apps

Once I got my Note 9 smartphone, I started adding more apps. It's almost impossible not to when you see all that's available to play with. The thing that's hard is organizing those apps so you can find them again. The Note 9 gives me the Apps Edge. Most of the time it sits almost invisibly on the right edge of my screen, but I can slide it out whenever I need it. I can choose ten apps to put there, so I included what I use most. I guess they are also put in files. If I click the files icon (far left under open apps screen below) it will show me every app that's currently open and I can go back to working in it. Handy! I love both these features. Perhaps other smartphones also have them, but I only have experience on this phone.

So far my favorite free app besides Instagram is Relaxio. It gives me a choice of sixteen kinds of white noise I can listen to alone or combine with other sounds. I can choose from city traffic noises, falling rain, ocean waves, birds, crackling fire, wind, a flowing brook, night nature sounds, coffee shop, and a few other white noise sounds I haven't figured out. I love this app for falling asleep, since I can set a timer for how long it will play. I let it play beside my bed while the phone charges at night. 




Comparing Photos


This morning I decided to photograph some books in a bookcase in my office. The only light source was across the room and partially blocked with my iMac monitor. I made the shots as identical as I could except I used a flash for the shot from my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. The phone, of course, needed no flash. I didn't guess accurately the number of books included in each shot, but I think it's close enough for you to get the idea. Except to crop and size these for Instagram and add a background color in PicMonkey, I did no photo editing to change tone, lighting or anything else. I added no effects. Here are the shots, as I will post them to Instagram later.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User


Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User

As you can see, I didn't edit as much extraneous stuff out of the phone shot as I did the Canon shot. I'd never tried putting backgrounds on before in PicMonkey and I wound up using FotoJet to crop the photos when I hadn't gotten the images the right size for the background. I've never used layers before and PicMonkey just added them to their app. In the end I put the wrong photo in the shot above, not the one that trimmed the lower shelf out. I think you still have a fair comparison between the Canon and the Note 9 cameras.

My Recommendation


If you need a phone with an outstanding camera, I can't think of a better one than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. I bought it for the camera, but also love the pen and the ability to use it to  turn my phone into something very much like a PC should I ever need to. Just tonight I downloaded the Amazon Music app and discovered I also get great sound quality for the songs I love when I play them on the Note 9.

Now if my Note 9 could only take a selfie! There's probably an app for that, but I still need to find it. My advice? Get yourself or someone you love a Galaxy Note 9.


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Monday, December 3, 2018

Reviewing the Anker PowerCore Portable Charger

Anker PowerCore Review
Anker is becoming a brand name that I trust and depend on. And the PowerCore portable charger is no exception. Whether you travel and do not want to have the security risk of plugging in to public charging stations or you spend time off-grid but still want to keep that cell phone charged for emergencies, the Anker is an excellent choice for portable, secure, and dependable charging.

I bought one for myself but I think this little gadget would be a great gift idea.


What is an Anker PowerCore Portable Charger?


My description of the PowerCore is a rechargeable battery that is small enough to fit in my coat pocket but holds enough power to fully recharge my phone (and Kindle) many times. 

Even though it is an electronic gadget, it is foolproof. 

Three easy steps:

  1. Plug it in to charge the battery using the USB cord (using my laptop or the same plug I use to charge my phone and my Kindle)
  2. Remember to put it into my purse, coat pocket, or camping tote
  3. Plug my phone (or Kindle) into the PowerCore to charge as needed.



The Description from the experts:

  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 (24w) with Anker's proprietary PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology - fastest possible charge to almost any USB device. 
  • 7 days of power (fills the iPhone 7 almost seven times, the Galaxy S8 more than four times, and iPad Air 2 one and a half times) 
  • Quick Charge input, a full recharge is over in half the time of standard portable chargers. (written by Anker about the PowerCore 20000 Quick Charge 3.0)

Why I Chose the Anker PowerCore 20000 Quick Charge 3.0


I go camping at my cabin for days on end. I own the Anker PowerPort Solar charger and love it. It is dependable and perfect for off-grid living (see my review here). Perfect, except for when it isn't. 

This year was a record-breaking rainfall year in my area. Rain means solar charges aren't able to work properly (if at all). Lack of sunlight was causing either no charge on my phone or a walk (in the pouring rain) to the Jeep to charge (slowly) my phone. Due to all this rain, I bought the PowerCore "battery".  I charge it fully at the apartment, throw it into my camping tote, and I have a dependable way to charge my phone - rain or shine.

I depend on the Anker PowerPort Solar charger - except during a season of record rainfall.

I chose the 20,000 based on the higher number of charges it provides (compared to some of the more compact PowerCore chargers) and the price tag was as high as I wanted to spend that day.  

My PowerCore came with the charger, the USB cord to charge it, and a slightly padded travel bag. It did not come with the plug that is used in a wall outlet. But I already had several of those. 

There are many Anker PowerCore choices, smaller/less expensive and larger/more expensive.  I love that Anker provides so many options.





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