I provide honest ratings and reviews on tech, toys, and consumer home goods that I've purchased and used. Reviews are based on hands-on testing and personal observations. All opinions and comments are my own.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dechunxian Bottom Dispensing Glass Tea Pot and Infuser Review

Dechunxian Bottom Dispensing Glass Tea Pot and Infuser Review

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Takeaway: Never over steep your tea again. Great size for making 1-2 cups.

The teapot is handsomely made from glass, which according to the included promotional booklet (in Chinese) is hand-crafted. But you never can tell these days. Regardless, the unit did not come with instructions though it is pretty straightforward to use. The infuser portion is a removable plastic cup with fine mesh over a bottom dispenser. Open it by pressing the lever above the handle and place your loose tea leaves inside. Add hot water and close the lid, pressing down until it clicks; the rubber gasket holds in the heat and steam for a fast and efficient infusion. When the tea is brewed to your desired strength, press the red button to dispense the tea into the glass teapot and prevent over brewing. The fine mesh effectively strains out almost all the debris expect for very fine tea dust. Tea dust can be removed by initially "rinsing the tea leaves," that is, add a couple tablespoons of hot water to the dry leaves, then dispense and discard the liquid before your first infusion.

The infuser can brew about 7 oz of water at a time. For 1 teaspoon of black tea, use boiling water and your first infusion should take about 30 seconds. The second infusion can be done right away and the leaves should only sit for about 5 seconds before dispensing. The tea pot can hold a little over two cups of liquid so you can probably get away with a third infusion if you use a little less water. The third infusion should take 30 seconds, like the first. Timing your infusions this way, ensures that each brew has consistent concentration and the tea leaves don't over-steep since the liquor is removed. Oversteeping can lead to a sour taste and bitterness in the tea.

To remove and empty the infuser portion, grasp the lid and twist counter clockwise, then gently lift it out. Separating the unit makes it easier to empty the tea leaves and clean as well. I found that sometimes water gets "stuck" between the mesh and the dispenser; by turning the infuser upsidedown and pressing the dispenser tip in with my finger, I can shake the water back out through the mesh so that it dries more quickly. I enjoy this little glass teapot because it's the perfect size for my morning tea, and I can brew enough to share a second cup while ensuring a perfectly steeped brew every time.

Buy it at Amazon: Dechunxian Bottom Dispensing Glass Tea Pot and Infuser [Affiliate Link]
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mouse and Rat Glue Trap Review Review

Mouse and Rat Glue Trap Review Review

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Takeaway: Very sticky, effective glue traps for catching rodents and bugs.

Success for this trap is all about location. Set them where the critters hang out and perhaps bait them, and you'll be sure to catch a few rodents and maybe a few bugs too. You get 5 traps in this pack and they are "reusable," however, that's not something I really want to verify. Note that this product is not waterproof and the adhesive is sensitive to the sun and therefore isn't great for outdoors unless you shelter it. Also the adhesive may not work as well in cold conditions like during winter and the manufacturer recommends that you warm it up before setting the trap. To dispose of the trap, simply close it up and throw it away.

The title at Amazon says that these traps are butter scented, but odorless. There is no "bait" in this trap, however, you can use bait if you want. If you get the adhesive on your clothes the manufacturer recommends removing it with vegetable oil and then cleaning with detergent, though I can't say for sure how effective this is since I'm not willing to ruin any of my clothes to find out!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Tomameri MP3 and MP4 Player Review

Tomameri MP3 and MP4 Player Review

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Takeaway: Works as an MP3 player, but the MP4 features fall flat due to limited screen resolution, size and file compatibility.

This player is reminiscent to an older Apple iPod mini model, but the build quality is markedly cheaper as is the software and functionality. The body is made of aluminum with a brushed finish and the click wheel and center button are made of a lightweight plastic that doesn't sit flush with the housing. Note that the wheel does not feature touch sensitive scrolling. The instructions are generic and don't accurately describe this particular product and they are not well-written/translated so you'll have to figure out most of the functions yourself. The headphones that the unit comes with are cheap, like the free ones you'd get on an airplane. The sound on them is thin, boxy and the bass nonexistent, so I recommend using a pair of your own.

This unit features a removable microSD card slot and comes with a 16GB card pre-installed. The unit takes about 3-4 hours to fully charge. In the center is a tab for you to attach a wriststrap and it also covers the pinhole microphone. The lock switch is on the top with the on/off positions written on the back of the player (left for on, right for off). When the unit is unlocked, the center button acts as the power on/off. There is a screen saver that will shut off the screen if you don't press any buttons within 10 seconds and a sleep timer that will turn the unit off after 30 seconds of inactivity; sometimes the sleep timer is inexplicably shorter and I found that the unit was constantly turning off on me during testing.

This player is capable of playing music, video files, recording audio, receiving radio broadcasts, viewing photos, and reading text files. Loading files was easy by plugging the unit into the computer via the USB cable or removing the SD card and using card reader. All the files are simply put in the main folder named with Chinese characters. The menu is side scrolling to the left and right with large icons to show which mode you are selecting. Oddly, the select menu option is the menu button rather than the center button.

In music mode, you can play MP3 or Wave files. For video playback, this player will only play AMV files, which doesn't seem to be a common video format, so I'm not sure how useful this feature actually is. So note that this MP4 player can't play MP4 videos. Go figure. The record function will let you do voice recordings. However, the result sounds tends to sound boxy with mono input and 8000Hz sample rate.

The radio function actually impressed me. It found a bunch of local stations and if I positioned the player right, the sound was as clear as it would be from my car stereo. You can also save the stations to load again later. The only trouble is that as you move around and the MP4 is re-positioned, the signal could drop and you'll just hear a bunch of static. Viewing photos is what you'd expect on a small screen with low resolution. Pretty much useless. The "e-book"/text reader can only load plain text files, no pdfs, word documents or epubs. Again with the limited file compatibility. On the small screen, you'll only be able to read about 20 to 30 words anyway, so it's not practical at all.

Overall, the MP3 and radio functions are the real features of this player. Everything else is lackluster and frankly, could have been left out. The small screen size, limited file compatibility, and low resolution doesn't make this a good player for videos, photos or text files and the recording function could have been useful if the microphone wasn't so terrible. This is more of a toy for kids than anything else.

Buy it at Amazon: Tomameri MP3 and MP4 Player [Affiliate Link]
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