Monday, December 30, 2013

Getting Organized & Recharging In The New Year

The New Year means resolutions (and spending that holiday gift cash). If you're like me, one of your resolutions is to get more organized and make your home more enjoyable to live in. After all, for the next few weeks (if not months!), we'll all be nestled inside the house, and while we have lots more to do inside now than we once did, all the electronics and entertainment stuff can make your home full of annoying distractions too. Like all those loops of cable wires and cords that every device needs.

The kind folks at sent me a couple of products to review that address some of these issues. While they have a lot of stuff for organizing your home office and entertainment systems (especially, of course, those cables!), they do have some neat little things that help too.

The BlueLounge® Milo™ Smartphone Holder is a simple, yet elegant, way to hold your smartphone, MP3 player, etc. I don't know about you, but we save our old phones and use them as MP3 players. That way, we are recycling and keeping plenty of storage space free on our current smartphones and their storage cards. This way, we also avoid getting bored with the same-old songs and playlists all the time. Milo will now remain in my home office, on top of the recycled vintage refrigerator drawers, ready for use.

There's a micro-suction "sticky" back which holds the phone in place on the stand, and more of it on the bottom to hold the stand on a flat surface. I can vouch that the stuff is reusable; we have pets (and, I'll confess, dust lol). If the micro-suction pads seem to lose their stickiness, just use some adhesive tape to clean the debris off the pads will be like new again. Honest.

Because the micro-suction pads are reusable, I can move the stand and place it anywhere. And I can rotate which cell phone I now use as an MP3-player -- or remove for charging, as needed. ...Though with the Juicebar® Multi-Device Pocket Solar Charger, I could get months of use out of the same setup!

The Juicebar® Multi-Device Pocket Solar Charger is a neat little charger -- mainly because it is also a solar charger. Sometimes the problem with portable pocket chargers is that you forget to charge them. But the Juicebar holds a charge for months -- so long as you leave the solar part face up. (That's aimed at you, youngest male child!)

The Juicebar comes with a USB cable for standard charging. Simply reverse the connections to send the charge to a device. The device can hold a charge for months, but the built-in LED indicator lets you know when the charge is fading. It also has a flashlight feature, which my kids found pretty neat. (They must prowl around at night more than I thought -- because they sure aren't cleaning under their beds lol)

The only bad thing I can say about the Juicebar is that the shiny stainless steel finish shows fingerprints and smudges. Because of that, and the whole kids-forget-to-charge-the-charger thing, I'm giving the Juicebar mobile charger to my 13 year old son. He definitely does not mind smudges. *wink*

Both the Milo micro-suction stand and the Juicebar mobile solar charger are little things which can go a long way to organizing your home and making it more livable. Now, if we can just get the husbands to do something with all those loops of cords and cables... (Hint, hint; nudge, nudge.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Have Tech Gadgets; Will Travel (But How Long Will They Last?)

As parents we often wish we had magic wands -- perhaps at no time is this more desired than during long family car rides.

Our monthly visits back home are roughly 9 hours long; that's a long time for a family to be contained in a moving vehicle. While all the children ought to be kept busy with their phones and gadgets, there comes a time when batteries run low. A can of pop, a snack, and some conversation will help the driver (if not, there's a switch of drivers); but when the batteries on the tech gadgets run low, well, that's a tougher fix. If you've ever driven in a car with three kids, you know it's tough enough without having to add in the problem of dead electronics. One whiny kid can cause a whole lot of problems -- including annoying and provoking the other kids. And when the kids are grumpy and loud, they make for one cranky driver. That's not the safest way to travel.

The simple math is that there are at least five devices but only two plugs on the car charger. But let's face it; as adults, our calls, email checks on our smartphones, use of Pandora, etc. are necessary. And we parents insist that our phones must be kept charged in case of, you know (*knock on wood*), an actual emergency. Knowing that giving one child the gift of recharging means we need to give the other children the same help makes us a bit reluctant to open that whole can of worms.

So, facing another trip back home for the holidays, I was excited when the folks at Powerocks offered to send one of their latest creations, a pocket-sized mobile charger to review. ...But could it be too good to be true?

The Powerocks Magicstick 2800mAh Universal battery charger is indeed a portable and lightweight mobile charger. Once charged, it has enough power to recharge your phone up to two times (or two phones, one time each).

It charges like most any other gadget, with a USB port cable connection; you know the Magicstick is fully charged when the push-button LED light is blue. To use it, just detach the cord, then flip the cord around so that the USB connection is in the Magicstick and connect the other end to your phone or gadget. Easy!

The LED light also lets you know when the Magicstick needs to be recharged. The green light means it's about half-charged; the red light means it's about out of power.

Just under 4 inches, the Magicstick fits easily into purse or pocket. The USB cable is compact enough to not be a problem -- yet long enough to not make charging awkward.  And the Magicstick comes in several colors, so each family member can quickly identify their own.

While we haven't yet left for our holiday road trip, hubby and I have already put the Magicstick to good use. As "pickers" and antique dealers, my husband and I do a fair amount of driving around. That means we use our mobile smart phones quite a bit. Between the navigation apps to find the barns and out-of-the-way places, the camera to take photos of what we find, and the necessary email and phone communications, our phone batteries are drained quite easily. Believe me, it is quite embarrassing to be standing in someone's barn and not have enough juice to take a photo to email to another expert. (Mike & Frank aren't the only one's who have to do that you know!) Having a Magicstick in your pocket means you can manage your business and not look like a fool.

Now that our family trip is just days away, I'm excited to be able to better manage our family's cell phone and gadget power. (I'd say "without looking like a fool," but you know we parents are always made to look like fools, right?)  

Powerocks Magicsticks may not be the almighty magic wands we parents are looking for, but when it comes to cell phones and gadgets, these portable chargers do wonders.