RAD Garage Storage Heavy Duty Bike Hoist Lift Review

RAD Garage Storage Heavy Duty Bike Hoist Lift Review
Chances are you are looking for some genius idea to get your bikes organized in your garage that won't break the bank. We too were on this challenging task and recently came across the RAD Garage Storage Heavy Duty Bike Hoist Lift.

RAD Bicycle Hoist




We were pleased with the product and would recommend it. The RAD bicycle mount is going for about $14.00 on Amazon at the moment. Upon installation, the hoist delivered its promise of being able to hoist the bike with no issue. That being said, we made some minor modifications to allow us to use it in a more comfortable fashion.

First off, the installation manual is not the most friendly, it is one double sided sheet with a few images but not very clear instructions. Basically it tells you to attach to a hoist in your ceiling but doesn't really tell you how to find them.
We would recommend a stud finder which would add to the cost but if you have one then you are golden. The screws that come with the hoist are absolute garbage as they strip too easily. We wouldn’t use them to hold our bicycles and ended up using tapcon screws because we had a box of them laying around. The actual pulley system is pretty good considering the price and honestly you can't build one yourself any cheaper if you tried. It is a solid piece of metal and has a decent construction. The locking system is very basic but functional if installed correctly. The rope that comes with the system is made of braided vinyl, it is plenty long so you shouldn't have any issues there no matter how tall your ceilings are. In a while when the rope starts to deteriorate we will replace it with a nice Paracord Rope.

After installing the RAD hoist we started to lift up the first bike, and noticed that the hook that attaches to the rear seat was slipping off. We didn't feel too comfortable with it so we came up with this brilliant idea to use 18" Husky Hang-All Velcro Straps found at the Home Depot.



In order to complete our idea we removed the hooks from the RAD Hoist and replaced it with the 1/4" x 2" Stainless Eye Bolt and a nylon Nut to make it harder for it to come loose.



With these modifications, we feel this is the ultimate bike hoist and although its a little more expensive, it is worth the extra money. The modified hoist ended up costing about $25 dollars per bike. Here is the finished hoist with modifications and two hanging bikes. Note that these modifications are not necessary, and only provide for more convenience. Below are some images of the modified hoist.









The Good
- Cheap bike hoist system
- Helps clean the clutter


The Bad
- Screws should be stronger
- Hook system is hard to use on bikes that don't have a cupped seat that the hook can grab on to
- Subpar instructions

Get your own RAD Bicicle hoist on Amazon.

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Posted In: Tools

Frog Pod Bath Toy Scoop by Boon

Frog Pod Bath Toy Scoop by Boon
If you have little ones in the house, you probably have what feels to you like hundreds of bath toys in the shower. For my wife and I it got out of hand so we were looking for a solution to keep things a little tidy. We found this frog in our local toy store and gave it a shot.

We installed it in the bathtub and quickly found it to be a blessing in disguise. Sure it looks like an innocent little frog but this guy is capable of converting into a scoop that can help with the clean up routine after the kids shower. More than that the kids think its fun to use and end up using it as a toy as well. The Boon Frog Pod sticks to the wall using a double sided tape. The tape is good for a while but after about 6 months we ended up having to replace the tape with another 3M tape because the frog came crashing down off the wall. We feel we were being a little aggressive with he frogs capabilities but still it should be expected usage. We typically hold three bottles with shampoo conditioner and bath gel on top plus all the small toys inside.

Frog Pod Boon Shampoo


Frog Pod Boon Scoop


Note that the frog is not made for large toys but instead made for smaller items. The frog pod is rather large at dimension of 19" x 16.5" x 7" inches but we feel its a good size to hold smaller toys. Any smaller and it just wouldn’t be worth it.

The Good
- Holds plenty of small toys
- Makes extra space for shampoo bottles
- Clings to the wall and doesn't require space.
- Holds toys that while allowing for excess water to drain out & avoid mold

The Bad
- Tape didn't last very long
- Rather large footprint

All in all we liked the frog pod and would recommend it, your kids are also sure to love it. Get your very own Frog Pod on Amazon.

We also like to note that there are at least two versions of the Frog Pod. The older one pictured here allows for the storage of bottles above while the new one eliminates that and leaves a larger toy container with a slightly smaller footprint. Both are still available for sale although the older one is getting tougher to find.

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Posted In: Toys and Games

Amazon Echo Review with demo using HA Bridge

Amazon Echo Review with demo using HA Bridge
The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. It can connect to your bluetooth devices like your phone or tablets for the purpose of streaming audio. The echo is capable of playing music, giving you the latest news, sports scores, and weather, among other things. In a way its like Siri or Google now but not as refined in some aspects.

The echo has seven microphones that feature far field technology so it can hear you from across the room—even if you are playing music.

The build quality of the device is nice, there really isn't much too it, it looks like a Pringles chips can wrapped in black plastic. There are only two buttons on the unit and a rotating volume control on top with a light ring for visual feedback. It is aesthetically pleasing to the eye but can easily be missed if it is off to a corner. The Echo must be plugged in to an electric outlet to work and cant be dragged from room to room without taking the power supply with you. It does not have an auxiliary out so you can't connect it to your media center or external speaker big bummer for us.

You can easily manage your Echo with the free Alexa App on Android, or iOS platform as well as most desktop browsers. From there you can connect services you already use such as Pandora, or Spotify. The echo also comes with support for Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

From the App you can also set your home and work locations for traffic updates, and also news or sports scores you would like to hear on your flash briefing.

You can also create shopping lists and to-do lists. These items will show up on your Alexa app so no matter where you are they will be available to you.

You can set timers and alarms On the Amazon Echo, and all of these can be managed via the Alexa App as well. There you can change things such as alarm tones by picking from a predefined list.

The Alexa App is also where you discover and enable third-party Alexa skills. There aren't too many and we weren't really impressed by them but we imagine that they will get better just like the Google Play store did when it first began. The one skill that we can find a real use for was the metronome but that's only if you are a musician.

One of our favorite features is the connected home. By default the echo can control devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, and Wink by just searching for them. We however don't have any of these as our main controller is a Vera Edge hub which is similar in nature to the Smrart Things hub. Luckily we found a developer on github that had created a home automation bridge that makes the echo think devices on the Vera are Philips hue devices and with that we are able to control our devices. You can get that info here https://github.com/bwssytems/ha-bridge. Note that this is not for the faint at heart and will require some work. This is the feature that we feel makes the Echo most valuable.

You can also lower the volume, raise the volume by just asking. And this is a tool the entire family can use like helping kids with homework or getting conversions for recipes in the kitchen.

You can even use apps such as if this then that to give you even more control of your devices.

If you want to stop Alexa from listening you can hit the mute button at any time and she won't hear a peep.

We feel that the Echo is a device full of promise, the voice recognition is amazing and very accurate. The built in functions are somewhat limited but we can see these getting better in the future. We feel that the Amazon commercials make Alexa seem smarter than she really is. If you don't set her up via the alexa app lots of things just won't work.

Alexa only knows where you live and work so you cant really ask her things like how is the commute from American airlines arena to Miami international airport ...
At the moment there is no open API which is a bummer for developers, other than that we find it is a cool toy and somewhat helpful assistant.

The Amazon Echo goes for 179.99 on Amazon. There is also a new Amazon Echo dot now that goes for 89.99 and the only thing missing from this one is the speaker but it features an auxiliary port that allows you to connect to external devices.

For the full review and some demo's of the actual Amazon Echo see our You Tube Video Review below.






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Orbit Max 8-Pattern Nozzle Review

Orbit Max 8-Pattern Nozzle Review
If you are looking for an excellent quality nozzle for your garden hose, look no further. The Orbit Max 8-Pattern Nozzle is sure to tickle your fancy. The Orbit Maxgarden hose nozzle has a solid uni-body construction with only two moving parts. There really isn’t much to go wrong with this nozzle. We have been using the Nozzle for over a year at a minimum once every weekend for gardening, cleaning the patio, and cleaning the pool pump primarily but this nozzle has withstood the test of time. We liked it so much in fact, that we replaced all our nozzles with the Orbit Max.

The Orbit Max has a smooth thumb-control lever that adjusts the on/off as well as the flow of water you need for the job. The nozzle is very comfortable to hold and operate for any size hand. We love the different patterns and toughness of this product. Although we wouldn't go throwing it around on purpose, the design allows for much punishment to the nozzle without affecting performance.

Below are a few pictures that illustrate the 8 different pattern sprays.

















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Posted In: Tools

SpeakStick Portable Bluetooth Shower Speaker Review

SpeakStick Portable Bluetooth Shower Speaker Review
If you are looking for a portable speaker for the shower you may want to take a look at the SpeakStick. We recently received a unit for review and took it for a spin. The SpeakStick is packaged in a
circular plastic case, it comes with just the label for the product description, and a mini usb charging cable. Please note that there is no charger included so you will either need to plug this little guy into a computer or a usb phone charger if you have one.

Our test period was seven days for about 30 minutes of use each day. The SpeakStick was about 15 feet away from the bluetooth transmitter which was a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The SpeakStick had a stable connection throughought our testing and was able to stream music without a hitch through a solid wood door. The Audio that is produced by the mono 3" tall by 2" wide SpeakStick is not to be envied, but for its purpose and price range we feel it is a good buy.

The SpeakStick is capable of skipping ahead to the next track, going to the previous track, or pausing the music all together. We found it strange that we didn't see any buttons to increase or decrease the volume but after a little google searching we found that if you depress the next track or previous track buttons for a long time it will adjust the volume accordingly. We feel that just for this reason the device should have included a manual as we could see how someone could get frustrated thinking the speaker is not capable. We found the phone capabilities to be rather subpar, we were able to hear the other party but every time we would speak to the other party would say that we sounded like we were under water or muffled. We tried this test again outside of the shower after letting it dry thinking that some water may have gone in the hole for the microphone but the results were the similar. If you are looking to talk on the phone while in the shower, this probably isn't a great choice for you.

The Good


- USB connector
- Nice appealing look and feel
- Great price currently 19.99 on Amazon
- Loud enough for bathroom use while shower is running
- Battery lasts for weeks unless you take extremely long showers. (We only tested for approximately 30 minutes a day 7 days straight)
- Small footprint

The Bad


- No instructions
- No indicator on the device to let you know you can change volume, we found that it is possible if you just keep the next/previous tracks button pressed!
- Sound quality is not good but for the price and actual use you really cant ask for more.
- Since there are no instructions we couldn’t identify if it was water proof or water resistant. We did not try submerging it in water as it looks like it is only water resistant.
- Quality on phone calls was not good.


Overall the speaker does what it's supposed to and looks rather appealing so it wont be an eye sore in your bathroom. The SpeakStick also comes in various colors so you may even be able to match it with your decor. We also found this little speaker to perform quite well when being used as a speaker for your Phone GPS if you have an older vehicle or one without integrated Bluetooth. This allows you to play your music on your car stereo while not missing your next turn.

Get your own Bluetooth Shower Speaker SpeakStick on Amazon

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Posted In: Reviews

Trend Enterprises Math Wheel Review

Trend Enterprises Math Wheel Review
Here is a neat little tool you can use to help your kids excel in math at school at an early age. My daughter was in first grade last year and her teacher swore by them so we gave them a try. Turns out the teacher was right, my daughter loved them and even asked for them whenever it came time to do her homework. Sure there were times when she wouldn’t want to do it but my wife and I did notice the difference when we were quizzing her with these.

We have already purchased the next set, and do plan to use these for our other children. It's a great tool at a great price. The math wheels come in addition and subtraction for recommended ages of 6 and up, as well as multiplication & division for ages 8 and up.

Get your very own Trend Enterprises Math Wheel on Amazon

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Posted In: Toys and Games

iClever 6-Port 50W 10A USB Travel Wall Charger Review

iClever 6-Port 50W 10A USB Travel Wall Charger Review
We recently received this unit for review and have been using it for a little over a month. At first we didn't really see much use for this device but it grew on us. The 6 port iClever USB Travel Wall Charger
features 6 usb ports all with the SmartID technology that identifies what type of device and charges the device at up to 2.4 amps. The device is capable of having all 6 ports produce the same output current which means you can charge multiple tablet devices or phones simultaneously.

We were able to test charging two ipads, a note 4 , and an iPhone simultaneously while still having several ports available for charging other devices. The devices all charged up as quickly as they would have with the charger they came with. The exception being the note 4 which didn't identify the charger as a fast charger but still charged at the regular speed. Note that Samsung has a new technology that allows for quicker charging. Aside from that we were very pleased with the device.

We feel this device comes in handy for travellers specially when you can only find one outlet in the airport but might need to charge your family or co-workers phone(s) or tablet(s). We noticed it's usefulness today as one we had to go to a hospital and were faced with the only one wall outlet available dilemma. The iClever did it's job and we were even able to let a stranger plug in his kids tablet so that he can continue playing his Rayman jungle game. In this instance the three devices plugged into the iClever Travel Charger were not only able to continue to be used but actually charged even as the devices were being used. This was the moment we realized what a great investment the product was.

The iClever USB Travel Wall Charger
has a small footprint but can get easily tossed around because it doesn't weigh much. It's a bit larger than a stack of cards and has a 5 foot power cord which is long enough.

You will need to provide your own usb cables as none are provided with this device. Finally the device does have an indicator light that let's you know when it has power and is available for charging.

The Good
-Good build, feels lie a quality product
- The price is right. Currently $25.99 on Amazon
- Ports can be used simultaneously

The Bad
- Couldn't fast charge newer samsung devices ( it was able to charge just at the regular speed)

- Device should be a little heavier to not allow it to be pulled around too easily

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Posted In: Technology

iClever Bluetooth Portable Speaker Review

iClever Bluetooth Portable Speaker Review
We tested the iClever Portable Bluetooth Speaker for a few weeks and were very surprised by the sound quality that came from this little speaker. The speaker seemed to do well with highs and lows and did a good job at filling a small to medium sized room. That being said you can't expect this little speaker to sound like a 5.1 surround sound system but we were happy with it.

iClever Bluetooth Speaker

The Speaker has buttons on its underside to play, pause, rewind, and forward. It also has rubber footing to allow it from slipping off of any surface. There is a Bluetooth sync button on its front with a blue led that lets you know when your device is synced. Finally on its back side it has the micro usb port for charging and the 3.5mm aux port.

iClever Bluetooth Speaker

We were able to pair the speaker with both an iPhone 5s and a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Both phones were able to connect to the speaker via Bluetooth with no problem. The speaker automatically connects to the last device it was connected to automatically which was pretty neat because typically you will just use it with one device. The iClever Portable Bluetooth Speaker also features a 3.5mm audio port for non-Bluetooth devices.

iClever Bluetooth Speaker

We were able to use this speaker for phone calls in an office environment and experienced no issues and clear phone calls. The Bluetooth 4.0 chipset allows for fast transmission and low power consumption. During our testing we were able to get 7 - 8 hours of playtime consistently. The range was outstanding even through walls. We were able to have our phone charging in one room and the speaker in another about 25 feet away with a wall in between with no issues. Honestly we didn't think it would work but were pleasantly surprised.

The speaker has a great build that gives it the look and feel of a quality product. The shiny sexy shell is actually really nice and is sure to turn some heads.

Get your iClever Mini Portable Bluetooth Speaker on Amazon.

The Good
- Low cost
- Great Sound
- Bluetooth 4.0 and fully backward compatible with older versions
- 3.5 mm aux plug for connecting older devices
- 3.5 mm cable included
- micro usb charging cable included

The Bad
- Charger is not included

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Posted In: Technology

Intocircuit Power Mini 3000mAh Review

Intocircuit Power Mini 3000mAh Review
Need some emergency power for your cell phone? This little stick will fit in your pocket and deliver 3000mAh of juice. We recently gave this little guy a test on a Galaxy Note 4. The device was able to power up a completely dead phone and charge the 3400mah battery to over 50% in a two hour time frame. Given that this will be for emergency purposes only we feel this is more than enough power for any emergency situation where your phone is left dry. Note that on phones with smaller power demands it will give a bigger charge. The Note 4 is one of the largest phones on the market today with thigh demand for power.

The inito circuit also features a pretty cool little led flash-light to help you in the dark. You can get your very own Intocircuit Power Mini 3000mAh on Amazon
.

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Posted In: Technology

VeraEdge by Vera formerly Mi Casa Verde Review

VeraEdge by Vera formerly Mi Casa Verde Review
The VeraEdge Home Controller is a new device that was created to replace both the Vera 3 and the Vera lite by Vera formerly known as Mi Casa Verde. They have been in the business for quite some time and have a well established community and forum base. We find the Vera controller to offer a fairly affordable device that will allow control of devices like door locks, sensors, thermostats, dimmers, etc. The VeraEdge is capable of talking the z-wave plus as well as wifi protocols. The Vera Edge is an open system that allows you the owner / user to take it over and do as you will, it is the main thing that sets this device apart from all the others such as smarthings and the former revolv hub. With the Vera Edge you will not need to replace any of your home wiring to make it talk to your devices. It will use your existing wiring and all communication is done wireless.

Just like all its competitors it features apps for iPhone and Android devices alike. The user interface is simple to use and is easy to navigate.

Here are some screen shots of the Android app, the apple iOS version is very similar.

Welcome screen Vera Controller

Veralite Controller Screenshot


Dashboard screen Vera Controller

Veralite Controller Screenshot


Menu screen Vera Controller

Veralite <br />
Controller Screenshot


Device screen Vera Controller

Veralite Controller Screenshot


Scene screen Vera Controller

Veralite Controller Screenshot


We recently reviewed the VeraLight and were excited when we heard of its replacement so we quickly placed an order. After receiving our VeraEdge Home Controller we plugged it in to our network and started setting it up. Just like the Vera Light, it did not include any instructions but instead pointed you to the website to set up the device. The initial set up was fairly easy however we could see how someone with no knowledge could get stuck in a few steps (when pairing devices such as switches and door locks). A few You Tube searches could fix this but we don't feel you should need to do that. Our experience has not been so good with the plug-ins but the issue based on forums seems to be that the new UI7 user interface is new and still needs some work. Most of the plug-ins we tried have been written for the older UI. An example of a plugin that we used and loved is the weather underground plugin. The plugin allows you to get weather information into your vera that you can use to trigger scenes. For example, if it is over 85 degrees outside turn on sprinkler pump so your dog can have some water to refresh.


Here are some images of the different physical features of the veraedge vs veralite.

Veralite vs Veraedge Footprint

Veralite vs Veraedge

Veralite vs Veraedge ports Ethernet USB and power same on both units

Veralite vs Veraedge

Veralite vs Veraedge Height footprint

Veralite vs Veraedge

Veralite +, -, battery, and reset vs Veraedge sync (same as + and - on veralite), WPS, and reset

Veralite vs Veraedge


One of the most popular features that set the Vera systems apart is its plug-ins that allow it to talk with devices such as thermostats like the nest via plug-ins. It is also capable of talking with DSC alarm controllers via an envisalink module that is to be attached to the alarm and a plug-in on the Vera side. This and many more plug-ins are available and if you are the techy type you can create your very own plugins using Lua and luup code. The possibilities really are endless with this device.

We wouldn't necessarily call this little guy a router but if plugged in to a cable modem for instance it is capable of dishing out DHCP addresses. You will not be able to reserve IP addresses or set up any port forwarding so if you need this functionality get yourself a real router.

When we received the unit there were a few bugs like the USB port was unusable for logging if you are developing and the IP couldn't be set statically but Vera has sent an update recently that fixed those issues. There seems to be a somewhat decent support system.

The pairing of devices is easy however they removed the battery option that the veralight had to take the unit close to the devices for pairing without a power adapter. If for some reason you aren't able to pair from where your unit is installed, you will need to unplug everything take the unit and power adapter to plug it in to power next to your door lock for instance. In our case the two wall switches worked flawlessly via the app and original install location. We did have an issue pairing with one device that was further away so we plugged the Vera to power next to that device and hit the sync button on the side of device and when flashing rapidly we controlled our z-wave device. Once you see the vera flash rapidly your device is paired and you can unplug ant take back to desired location. (not anywhere in the manual had to you tube this hence my point above)

We have had the unit for about three weeks now and it works great. No hiccups so far except fro the plug-ins but that�s not really Vera's issue since they didn't write the plug-ins. All in all we really like the flexibility the device allows. We enjoy the open framework and love the fact that you don�t need to connect to external devices to control your equipment at home even if your internet is out.. In the case of smarthings or revolv, if you loose your Internet for whatever reason, you cant control your devices even if you are home and your wireless router is working properly.


Breakdown of difference between Vera controllers


Vera Controller Comparison

The Good
- Good price for functionality
- information stays on the hub.
- No internet required to control from within your wifi network.
- Plugins allow it to work with many other types of devices such as those that have wifi html interface. DSC Alarm Panelwith the EYEZ-ON EVL-3 and Nest thermostat are two of the more popular plugins.

The Bad
- The instructions are not very clear on how to add devices. (Once you figure it out it is actually very easy)
- Only supports z-wave plus and wifi protocol we wish it also did zigbee
- At the moment the device seems somewhat buggy
- Many of the plugins do not funtion properly

Get your very own VeraEdge Home Controller on Amazon.

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Posted In: Technology



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