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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Night Provision BX-550 USB Bike Headlight review

BX-550 USB Rechargeable Bicycle Headlight

BX-550 USB Rechargeable Bicycle Headlight

I used to ride my bicycle a lot. During the last few years, day-to-day activities took over and I slacked off on pedaling outdoors. One reason for this is because my bike was not equipped for riding any time after the daylight hours. That just changed with the arrival of the BX-550 USB Bike Headlight from Night Provision. I received one free in exchange for an honest review, and now I have no excuse not to hop back on and pedal around the neighborhood at dusk to try it out. So, is it any good? Here is my Night Provision BX-550 USB Bike Headlight review.

Night Vision makes LED lights, including tactical flashlights and bike lights. This model is the BX-550, a USB rechargeable bicycle headlight equipped with a CREE® XML2 T6 LED capable of up to 550 lumens. It’s made of anodized 6061 aircraft aluminum alloy with ABS plastic and is rated IP65 water resistant. It is powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery pack and has an detachable mount for easy attachment and detachment when mounted on the front handlebar of just about any bicycle on the market.

Not surprisingly, the BX-550 installs as advertised. The Easy-Click mount clamps to the handlebar of the bicycle with a locking lever that allow you to adjust and tighten the grip as needed for a firm hold. The bike light itself easily slides onto the mount and locks in place with a plastic tab. To detach the light, simply press the locking tab to release and slide the light off the mount, then pull the locking tab lever to release the clamp from the handlebar.

The only thing I didn’t like about the Easy-Click mount was the ease with which the plastic tab released the light from the mount. It was too easy. Also, when placing the light onto the mount, it didn’t just slide on and automatically click into place. I had to consciously remember to push up on the plastic tab to lock the light onto the mount. If I didn’t, the light would slide right off again.

BX-550 illumination

BX-550 illumination

The bike light itself is powerful and works well. It has four modes of operation controlled by a button on the top. The first press turns on the light in High mode with a full 550 lumens. A second press places it in Medium mode with 250 lumens. The third press puts it into low mode with 50 lumens. Pressing it a fourth time takes the light into Flash or Strobe mode at a medium brightness of 250 lumens. A press and hold for several seconds turns it off.

As with the mount, the light itself worked as advertised. At full illumination it is very bright, and has a wide area of coverage. According to the manual, the light will operate for up to three hours at high mode and ten hours in low mode, presumably on a full charge. I haven’t tested that out, since my night rides would not usually exceed 30 minutes, but it’s a good reason to keep the BX-550 charged up in case the extra time is needed.

Which brings us to the battery and the charging capabilities of the light. The BX-550 is powered by a 2400 mAh lithium-ion battery, which is easily removable if it needs replacement. The light has a built-in micro-USB port for charging with a computer or portable power bank equipped with USB. The power button on top of the light is also a multi-color status light. It glows red when the battery is depleted or while the light is charging and blue when fully charged or when the light is on in any of the its operating modes. Charge time varies depending on the state of the battery, but my first time charging completed in less than an hour.

As for weather resistance, the BX-55 seems durable enough. The IP65 rating means that it has full protection from ingress of dust or a spray of water projected by a nozzle 6.5mm or less. In other words, it’s dust proof and water resistant, but not waterproof. Since I don’t usually ride my bike during inclement weather, I can’t fairly review it’s resiliency to the elements based on my own experience, so I’ll have to defer to the Ingress Protection rating. It may survive a ride in a rainstorm, but don’t drop it in a puddle of water.

I do have one concern. After a few minutes in high mode, the head of the flashlight becomes fairly hot. I don’t think it gets hot enough to burn the skin, but it is a lot warmer than I expected. When using this light, be sure to give it a few seconds to cool down before you detach it from the mount.

Overall, the Night Provision BX-550 USB Bike Headlight is a nice little light for cycling. It’s small, but powerful and provides sufficient light for a little biking around after dark or just before dawn. It’s easy to mount, easy to use and easy to recharge. As long as you remember to push up on the lock tab and you remember to recharge it after use, it’s a handy little accessory for any cyclist who likes or needs to ride at night. #BX550

Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for my unbiased review. The opinions are my own.

ShikShook Premium Cocktail Shaker Set review


ShikShook Premium Cocktail Shaker Set

ShikShook Premium Cocktail Shaker Set

Recently I received a ShikShook Cocktail Shaker Set free in exchange for my honest review. The quality was about what I expected for a product of its price point, so I wasn’t disappointed. I was just hoping it would exceed my expectations. The kit includes the stainless steel shaker, the double jigger, two pourers and a nice bag to store and transport the set. Essentially it is everything you need to mix a cocktail, minus a couple of cocktail glasses and of course, the ingredients to be mixed.

The shaker itself seems a lighter and thinner steel than it probably should be, so the exterior will become cold quickly if you add a lot of ice. The top cover is a bit cumbersome to secure over the shaker, and once you get it on, it can pop off without much effort. The top cap fits over the strainer a little better, but is also easy to remove, so you will need to be careful and hold the strainer cap and top cover securely assembly securely before shaking to keep the drink from leaking through the top of the strainer or entire assembly from coming apart while shaking. It isn’t difficult to keep it all together, but it does not seem to be designed for too vigorous a shaking.

The pourers seem to fit bottles well and they seem to work just fine. I was somewhat surprised with the double jigger, though. It is advertised as a 1/2 oz shot on one side and 1 ounce on the other, but there are no markings on the jigger to indicate where these levels are. Do you fill it to the brim, or a some reasonable point below? Without an accurate level of measurement etched or marked somewhere on the jigger, there’s no way to know for sure if you are really pouring the appropriate amount of liquid into it or not.

The branded velvet storage bag is a nice touch, and the drawstring adds a little class, but considering how thin the shaker assembly is, the fancy bag may be a little too classy for this set. I wouldn’t call this a heavy duty shaker, because it isn’t, but for occasional light duty use at home it should do the job. nevertheless, the storage bag overhypes the contents inside it.

This shaker kit includes one more item, an ebook called 100 Recipes For Cocktails. Well, it’s not exactly an ebook. It’s just a flyer with information on how to redeem the free ebook online. However, to redeem the item, you first register on the ShikShook web site as a “VIP member” to access or download it, and since I didn’t want to risk exposing my e-mail address to one more mailing list, I declined the offer. It’s probably a good source of drink recipes, and it is part of the package, but as I already have too many sites to log into, too many passwords to remember and my mailbox already gets bombarded with stuff I don’t read, I passed on it. If you decide to purchase the cocktail shaker set and need an ebook of cocktail recipes, as long as it’s part of the package I’d say give it a try.

I would not call the ShikShook Cocktail Shaker Set professional grade or a premium product, but if you like a cocktail every once in a while, it’s not a bad set for the price. Just don’t forget to keep a hand firmly over the top of it before you shake.

The ShikShook Cocktail Shaker Set is available at Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for my unbiased review. The opinions are my own.

Midland EX37VP Emergency Radio Kit video review


Midland EX37VP Emergency Radio Kit video review

Tommy and I are both licensed ham radio operators and we own several Midland radio products, including GXT1050VP4 GMRS two way radios and several emergency weather radios. Awhile back we received a Midland EX37VP Emergency Radio Kit from Buy Two Way Radios in exchange for our honest evaluation. We did test all of the items in this kit and documented results of our testing in this Midland EX37VP Emergency Radio Kit video review.

In this video, we open kit, show you what is in it, and tell you what we think. As Tommy said, it gave us a break from reviewing rice cakes and dog food. Of course, if you liked watching Tommy’s dog Cosmo in the Bil-JacSuper Premium Dog Food video, you’ll like this one as well, because he’s in it, too.

If you like this video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Comments? Questions? What products would you like us to review? Tell us in the comments below. We read them all.

Kids eat FREE at Chipotle on September Sundays!

Here’s some good news for those of you who don’t know where to take your kids to eat on Sunday. Every Sunday in the month of September, 2016, Chipotle Mexican Grill is allowing you to get one free kids meal with the purchase of a regular bowl, burrito, taco, or salad (kids can also get an activity sheet to keep them occupied). This deal is only valid for kids 12 and under. The site states that the offer must be redeemed at the same time it is offered, and it is not valid for orders that are catered. It also states that the offer “may not be combined with other offers; additional restrictions may apply.”

A kids order consists of a small quesadilla or two tacos, as well as various sides and drinks, and fruit.

You can also read about the offer on Chipotle’s official website. What do you think of this order? Let us know in the comments!

Penny Stock & Options Trading audio book review


Penny Stock & Options Trading audio book

Penny Stock & Options Trading audio book

I’ve been interested in the concept of investing for quite a while now, and am still researching all the possible opportunities to grow personal wealth. Earlier this year I considered the prospects of investing a small amount of my income in penny stocks. Thinking this would be an easy, inexpensive way to dabble in the stock market without risking huge sums of money that I didn’t have, I set up an account with an online brokerage and began the process of searching for companies in which to invest.

However, as I began to research the penny stock landscape, I got cold feet. The more I read about it, the more cautious I became. After a few weeks, I realized that I didn’t know enough about penny stocks to feel comfortable enough to dive in, so I backed out of the idea entirely and without investing a single penny. I’m glad I waited.

Recently I received an invitation to review an audio book called Penny Stock Trading & Options – Trading QuickStart Guides: The Simplified Beginner Guides to Penny Stock Trading & Options Trading. Published by ClydeBank Media and available at Audible.com, this audio publication is a primer for the beginning investor who is interested in dipping a toe in the penny stock and stock options markets. Actually, it isn’t one audio book, but two, offered together in one convenient bundle for $14.95. I received a copy of this audio book free in exchange for my honest review. As it turns out, it was just what I needed.

Narrated by Peter Bierma, The Penny Stock Trading Quick Guide is a no-nonsense, easy to understand beginner’s introduction to the world of penny stocks, and in some aspects, the stock market as a whole. The first chapter starts off with the basics of stock trading, and I mean the basics, such as what stocks are, what a stock market is and how stocks are traded. From there it dives right into the specific area of penny stocks with a fast but surprisingly thorough set of tutorials. These lessons covered the risks involved, the metrics and formulas to learn and use when researching the performance of the stocks and companies in which you want to invest, and the pitfalls to watch for when trading. The audio book also warns about the many scams that permeate the penny stock marketplace.

I had already done some research into the topic, so the first few chapters were somewhat rudimentary for me. I was also aware of some of the more well-known scams, such as the pump-and-dump schemes. However, the metrics, formulas and ratio calculations were quite helpful. These were the tools I did not have on my first visit to penny stocks. I now have something to work with, a renewed interest in the penny stock arena and a little more confidence in the world of investing.

The second title in the audio book bundle, Options Trading, was a bit more awkward to get through. Also narrated by Peter Bierma, this one dealt with stock options, something I’ve heard a lot of but knew little about. It is clear this one is also written for beginners, but it also tackles an area of the stock market that is more complicated to navigate and understand than simply trading the stocks themselves. I slogged through it, and I learned a lot more from this one, but I was still left somewhat confused. To be fair, my interest in the stock market doesn’t include the specific area of stock and commodity options trading, so I’ll admit I got lost a few times. I do know that knowledge is power. The more I know about how the stock market works, the greater the chances of success with it, so I listened.

In short, Options Trading does a good job of explaining what I consider a more convoluted area of the stock market in relatively simple terms. Had it been a dryly written paperback, I would have dozed off after page 1, but it wasn’t. I can’t say that it was more interesting as an audio book, but it kept the explanations simple with enough real world analogies and examples to keep me from getting totally lost. The only downside to Options Trading is that the topic itself doesn’t work well in an audio book format without a visual element to accompany it. Some of the concepts can be difficult to grasp without a chart, graph or some other illustration to more effectively explain them. Fortunately, this package has it covered.

The audio book bundle includes a supplemental in the form of the Audiobook Companion PDF, a document in pdf format with all the charts, graphs, tables and formulas referenced in both Quick Guides. Although touted in the audio book as helpful but not necessary, the supplement is indeed important, especially when listening to the second audio book.

The pdf file isn’t bundled directly with the audio book. It needs to be downloaded separately, and the audio book includes instructions at the beginning on how to do so. Do this before you get too far into the books. Trust me, you’ll need it.

There is one issue with the audio book bundle. Each illustration in the companion pdf is labled figure 1, figure 2, etc. and the narrator refers the listener to them as the book progresses. The Options Trading book and companion are not in sync from illustrations 24 to the end of the companion. For instance, when the narrator says “please refer to figure 24 in the companion pdf”, the correct reference is figure 28. It isn’t a deal breaker, but makes an already challenging topic to grasp all the more confusing.

In summary, Penny Stock Trading & Options – Trading QuickStart Guides: The Simplified Beginner Guides to Penny Stock Trading & Options Trading is a recommended listen for anyone who wants to get into the stock market for the first time. It’s relatively easy to understand and easy to listen to, even when you are on the go. It also contains some good advice, without being preachy. Before you spend a penny on penny stocks, you may want to consider this audio book. It may save you much more.

Full Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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