If you're a fan of one-cup or pod coffee makers like the Keurig, you might be like us: fans of the convenience but not of:
That's why we've been telling everyone about our favorite coffee discovery: San Francisco Bay OneCups. These pods offer the experience we always wanted with Keurig (and they're supposed to work in Keurig 2.0 machines, if you're wondering). In other words, it's the reverse of all those points above. San Francisco Bay OneCups give you:
How do they achieve all of this? With a different kind of pod. Rather than surrounding the coffee in plastic, they have a plastic ring with a paper top and then a tight mesh beneath that holds the coffee and acts as a filter. So there is FAR less plastic involved; it may be that more coffee is exposed to hot water, but in any case, some of it gets through the net and into the cup. (But don't worry -- you won't end up with a Turkish coffee slush at the bottom of the cup -- just some obvious residue.)
No hype needed here: if you check out the listings on Amazon, you'll see how many lofty reviews this coffee has, and people are generally saying the same things we are. And we've personally handed these pods out to others (because why not share all these benefits), and we've hooked plenty of other people. So if you're on the lookout for a great Keurig coffee, we strongly encourage you to give a try to San Francisco Bay.
Today's post is an introduction to several products rather than a review of just one. We haven't personally experienced these, but think they're fun to share. In short, we've run across quite a number of wooden products on Amazon recently -- and not just items you'd expect to be made out of wood. If you like the natural look and feel of wood like we do, you might get a kick out of these and might find something you'd like to have.
Browse through and then leave a comment about your favorite or what you think of products like this!
Wooden Record Players
As you probably know, record players have become popular once again, and many of them are more versatile than their ancestors, especially in the sense of allowing you to play MP3 songs through them. And in some cases they offer features like vinyl to MP3 recording, in case you have a huge collection of old vinyls that you'd like to make digital. (Almost defeats the purpose for many people, but it could also be the sole reason some people might want to get a new record player!)
Here are a few whose wooden bodies really bring out the nostalgic feel of record players while blending in modern technology:
Wooden S'well Bottle
Bamboo Mouse and Keyboard
These definitely give a retro look to the most modern technology. Swap out your mouse and keyboard for these made of bamboo. The house here claims to be sweat-resistant and anti-radiation. At the time of writing, it has 4.5 stars; the keyboard alone has 4 stars; the combo (which comes with a stylus as well) has 3.5 stars. Note that the combination comes with a much smaller keyboard. Probably best to get the larger keyboard.
Wooden Essential Oils Diffuser
You could stick with leather and plastic for your watches, or you could check out these wooden options. All the watches here are well reviewed, with a slightly lower review (3.5 stars as we write this) for the ladies "bangle" watch (the broader wrist ornament).
It's not unusual for furniture to be made of wood, or course. But these stools offer an especially natural look without the usual human shaping of the wood. What do you think?
Today we want to share with you a product category including one of our favorite solutions, called Earthpaste. Most people don't know that this category exists and don't know why it should. But we'll explain.
For the most part, folks may think that the purpose of toothpaste is to:
But there's a totally different way of looking at toothpaste that can dramatically change the products you're looking for. Consider the following:
So what we're introducing you to is the category of tooth products without glycerin. These are meant to allow your teeth to rebuild and stay strong. (This still relies on you having adequate minerals in your saliva, and that can involve other health choices.) Many (or all?) of these products have NO fluoride, many avoid damaging ingredients like silica, they don't include questionable ingredients like sodium laurel sulfate, and yes, they still freshen your breath.
One of our favorites is Earthpaste. This is about as natural a product as you could hope to find, as it's basically a natural, mineral-rich clay used to clean the teeth. CLAY??? Yep. And mineral rich, which in theory should help with re-mineralizing the teeth. And while you might not want to eat it, clay is perfectly safe if consumed, so if you swallow some ... no need for a trip to the emergency room.
Earthpaste has just a few ingredients: water (to soften the clay); clay; "Real" salt (for scrubbing the teeth, and again a mineral rich ingredient); xylitol (to sweeten it, and xylitol has many, many studies showing support of tooth health); and essential oils to flavor it. The peppermint flavor also has menthol.
While we might prefer an even stronger flavor from the essential oils, Earthpaste tastes great and does help to freshen the breath. And once you get used to a brownish toothpaste, we bet you'll love the experience, knowing that you're truly supporting tooth health.
There are other products in this category. We've tried Toothsoap, which didn't have a strong flavor and basically just uses oil to clean the teeth. We think this is a good product, but doesn't taste as good and is a pretty different experience from usual toothpaste. Dr. Bronner's has a version we haven't tried.
There are some alcohol-free, glycerin-free mouthwash options too. Some that have a great flavor are oil based and we found them messy and less pleasant to use than our favorite, Essential Oxygen Brushing Rinse, which is based on hydrogen peroxide. (So-called because you can also use it on your toothbrush for brushing your teeth.) This is another one where we wish the flavor were stronger, but it still provides a clean, freshening experience.
We hope you'll explore this category of glycerin-free oral care products and discover a better way of keeping a clean, fresh mouth!
If you're an owner of a Sonicare toothbrush, you know what an amazing clean it gives your teeth. Probably there's a dentist out there somewhere that doesn't like Sonicare, but I've never met one. Dental hygienists too. They all seem to be fans.
(If you don't use Sonicare yet ... we can't recommend it highly enough. It's such a low-cost option for addressing such an important part of your health. Just get through the first few brushes when it tickles the heck out of your gums; pretty soon that will feel normal. Find the base model here for $20 at the time of this writing -- includes your first brush head. That page also has a comparison chart with other Sonicare models.)
But as a Sonicare owner, you know that there's just one thing painful about them: the cost of replacing brush heads. They're like $8 each (at the time of this writing), which isn't horrific given that the overall toothbrush takes care of your teeth so much better than your standard brush. But if you want to be responsible and replace your brush head every 3 months (and maybe after you've been sick as well), that might feel like it's adding up.
Well here's some good news Sonicare fan: there are plenty of compatible brush heads that can be had for $2 and less a piece. Indeed.
Of course we haven't been maniacs brushing our teeth with every brand available, but we did give this one a try by Demirdental because of its 4.5 star rating after hundreds of reviews on Amazon. Our experience?
We wouldn't give it 5 stars because of some subtle things. For one, it didn't seem to fit as snugly against the body of the Sonicare as a Sonicare brush head; so far, this just seems cosmetic, and as we try out more in the future we'll update this if we find that it was a fluke.
Second, when initially moving over from the Sonicare head, there was something about the shape of the new brush head we didn't like quite as well. Something about it being a touch more difficult to position properly for a good brush.
But like many new things, with a little time it seems like it's becoming more natural and it definitely seems to be providing a great brush. We might grade it 4 stars on these points alone, but we'd be irked that we couldn't give it 4.5 stars, which is just where the Amazon rating is.
Long story short, if you don't want to cough up the full price for the brand name brush head, you won't go wrong with these, and they don't cost any more than a standard toothbrush. After a bout with a cold, I'd hate to throw out a Philips brush head if it were still pretty new; with these, not such a big deal. (Ok ... environmental concerns aside. But that gets us into the topic of things like bamboo toothbrushes, and sadly there are so far no bamboo Sonicare replacement heads that we're aware of.)
So with base models at $20 for Sonicare and replacement heads for $2 each ... there's really no reason (unless ... environment) not to brush this way. And we think you'll love the difference it makes on your teeth and at the dentist.
Cable and DSL providers have been offering digital phone service as a low-cost alternative to expensive land lines for a while now, and this is truly the wave of the future for home phones -- AT&T already has plans to stop providing traditional land lines in the coming years. So is it time for you to make the switch and start saving money? This review will explain when it makes sense for you and then will look closely at the hottest selling digital phone service, Ooma.
Does Switching Make Sense for You?
Digital phone service gives you far, far more features than traditional land lines, and at a fraction of the cost. Forward calls to other phones; do 3-way calling; get voice messages by e-mail; get called ID and call waiting; unlimited calls in the countries covered by your plan; etc. Most plans are $25 or less per month, and some are under $10/month. And yes, you can port your home phone number over to the new service.
In fact, if they worked flawlessly, there would be almost no reason not to make the switch to digital phone services. One of the big differences is that they don't offer quite the same 911 service -- they offer what's called E911. You can usually take these services with you, so you need to make sure you update your location in the system if 911 is going to help you.
But the bigger issue is that call quality comes down to internet bandwidth, and if you don't have a robust internet connection, you could run into call quality problems. This is especially true if someone in the house is playing an online game, another is watching Netflix (or any internet based show service), and so on. The more the internet is being used, the tougher a time you may have with your phone.
This is true of any internet or digital phone service, though some have better technology to adapt to this than others.
One other thing to consider: when the electricity (or just your internet) goes out, your digital phone goes out too. With traditional landlines, you're usually able to still make calls when the electricity goes out, provided you don't use a phone that gets plugged in. With cell phones available, this isn't a problem for many people, but you should make sure that won't be a problem for you before you make the switch. Most digital phone services (including Ooma) can forward calls to a cell phone when the digital service is not available.
So out of today's digital phone services, why is Ooma so popular?
Simple: once you buy the device (starting under $100) the service is practically free. They have to charge some federal fees, which total a couple bucks per month, but that's it. Use your internet connection and you're good to go.
This "free" service (a couple bucks that they have no control over) includes:
If you're still using a traditional landline and you have services like these, you'll know that they cost a lot. But not with Ooma. And with Ooma, you can choose to upgrade (around $10/month) as well for features like:
When we first switched to Ooma, we had problems with calls blanking out for a couple seconds at a time, then coming back. We tested an upgrade to our internet speed and this completely fixed it. So in this sense, Ooma wasn't free -- we had to get better internet for our home. But since we use services like Netflix and have 4 computers using the internet heavily, this makes sense for us in many ways.
If you have a good speed to your internet -- I recommend at least 12 Mbps as an internet speed, and ideally over 20 if you have several devices using it at once -- then Ooma is a fantastic service with thousands of reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon.
With the phaseout of most incandescent light bulbs over the last couple of years, LED bulbs have come storming into the news for their longevity and efficient use of energy to produce light. (Known in the industry as efficacy -- the number of lumens, or light output, produced by a watt of energy.)
Complaints about LEDs have traditionally been about the quality of the light produced and the cost of the bulbs. But prices have been plummeting and light quality has gone up dramatically, so there's little left to complain about. Long-term, these bulbs really are big money savers!
Despite this progress and greater public acceptance (even a genuine liking) of LED bulbs, there are still dissenters, and a new lighting technology called "acandescent" is aimed at upending the LED apple cart ... and its garnered a lot of press coverage while trying to do so, even before the first bulb has been sold to the public. The company that developed this technology is producing what's called the "Finally" bulb, and we wanted to provide an in-depth review comparing this bulb with LEDs.
To understand how they compare, it's important to understand a couple things about light bulbs:
Watts vs. Lumens
1) Most of us are used to thinking of light bulbs in terms of watts, because this gave you an idea of how much light would be produced. But this is more accurately understood by lumen output. An old 60-watt incandescent produced around 800 lumens of light. An LED can do that with around 10 watts of energy.
2) Most people are accustomed to incandescent bulbs, which produce light at a "warm" color temperature of around 2700K. (A yellowish bulb.) Halogen bulbs are a little whiter, or cooler, at up to 3000K. Offices often use bulbs at 3500K to 4100K, and there are even whiter or cooler bulbs as well. Early issues with LEDs were how white they were, but they now mimic the 2700K of an incandescent very well.
CRI, or Color Rendering Index
3) CRI stands for Color Rendering Index, and has to do with how well a light bulb reproduces the colors of an object accurately. This scale tops out at 100, which is about the rating of incandescents and halogens. In other words, they render colors extremely well. Most LED bulbs score about 80 to 82, which is typical of fairly good fluorescent bulbs in an office setting, and is adequate for most applications. Some LEDs, however, score into the 90s.
The Finally Bulb Review
Now that we have some background knowledge, let's look at how the Finally bulb stacks up against LEDs. I felt this was important to address because the Finally bulb website has its own comparison chart, which I find grossly misleading for the consumer. Here are the comparison points it makes, and my response to them:
Familiar / Attractive Shape:
Finally: Yes LED: No
Once upon a time LEDs had stranger shapes, but these days many if not most look like traditional incandescent bulbs. Some look different by design, offering an artistic approach to lighting that might complement one's decor. While the Finally bulb looks nice, I think most LEDs do as well, and they offer options not available from Finally.
Fits Standard Fixtures:
Finally: Yes LED: No
I don't even know where this comes from. LEDs have specifically been designed as replacement bulbs, fitting the traditional "Edison" screw that we have throughout our homes. And the bulbs themselves are typically the same size. In some cases, the heat sink makes part of the bulb a little larger, but this wouldn't preclude them from fitting in most fixtures.
Warm / High Quality Light:
Finally: Yes LED: No
Go back to the color temperature item I discussed earlier and you can see that LEDs now closely mimic the warmth of incandescent bulbs. As for quality, LEDs (typically 80 to 82 CRI) and the Finally bulb (83 CRI) render colors almost identically. So there's not much support for this claim. However, some who've had early access to the Finally bulb have talked about it visually having a nicer look, and this is something I won't know until the bulbs are available later this year.
Finally: Yes LED: No
This is sort of true. An incandescent bulbs spreads its light in all directions ... which can be good or bad depending on the application. For instance, a light bulb in a lamp with the bulb facing upward would then shine light up toward the ceiling (where you don't need it) and downwards toward the book you're reading. LEDs provide directional light -- they shine mainly in one direction. But that is the individual diode. Several diodes are used in a bulb, and they can be positioned in a way that sends light in all directions. They are more flexible in this regard. So the value of this comparison really depends on your application and on the LED that you buy.
Finally: Yes LED: Yes
This is an honest comparison. Both of them provide full brightness basically as soon as you hit the switch.
Finally: Yes LED: Yes
This is also an honest comparison ... sort of. They're both far more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, but LEDs are about 30% more efficient than Finally bulbs. The latter use 14.5 watts to produce 800 lumens while LEDs only take 9-11 watts at the time of this writing. That might not sound like a lot but at two hours a day and 15 cents per kWh (including delivery charges), those 4 watts cost you about 45 cents more per year for every Finally bulb in your house. As we'll see, the bulbs themselves cost about the same amount, so this is just money out the window.
Finally: Yes LED: Yes
Again an honest comparison against incandescent bulbs. But Finally bulbs are rated for about 15,000 hours of life and LEDs are for about 25,000 hours. This means that Finally bulbs don't just cost you more to run, but they're likely to cost you more in replacements over time as well. Of course both should last you for years, but that doesn't negate this point.
Finally: Yes LED: No
One of their touted reasons for developing this technology is that LED bulbs were too expensive and people wouldn't pay that much for light bulbs. Unfortunately for them, LED bulbs are now easily purchased for $10 or less, and the Finally bulb is slated for release at $9.99 per bulb. You can buy a known-brand LED for that much, and a non-dimmable version for even less. Between this and the energy costs, I feel like price is definitely in favor of LEDs.
This is NOT an item covered by the Finally bulbs review, but I should point out that LED is a digital technology, which can lead to a lot of interesting extras. People are developing LED bulbs that are also speakers, or that respond to voice commands. And many are now available that respond to smart phones and programming. They can gradually brighten to wake you or dim to help you fall asleep. They can change colors. They can respond to music, or turn on as you approach, and much more. The Philips Hue is perhaps the best known of these, but TCP and others have both come out with versions as well..
Also not covered in the Finally comparison chart ... LEDs do not contain any mercury, which is a toxic element that we don't want making its way to landfills. Light bulbs with mercury can be recycled, but they're often not. Finally bulbs contain about 2 mg of mercury each -- less than the amount used in CFL bulbs. But they still have mercury.
At the end of the day, I think the value of Finally bulbs will really come down to whether people see a meaningful difference in the quality of light. They don't win based on color temperature and CRI alone, but perhaps they do in person, and this would have to make the difference if they're going to really make a dent in the LED market. When we get our hands on a Finally bulb, we'll bring our own experience of light quality into this review. Besides that, time will tell if this is the next bulb to fall in love with, or just a great attempt at a massive consumer market.
If you suffer from cold hands, then this heated mouse review is one you simply don't want to miss, because I've struggled with cold hands all my life, and my body runs cold all the time. I get along with summer really well, but not winter.
So when I moved from freelancing into a traditional office environment and wouldn't have a heater stashed under my desk anymore, I knew I needed a solution for keeping warm. The first thing I checked out were gloves heated by USB connection to my computer. (Had to buy them from China, as the ones sold domestically don't look good, at least for a guy to wear.)
While warm, the gloves weren't easy to put on or take off, and the heat was uncomfortable on the back of my hand. They also got in the way of typing and frankly looked funny with all the wires.
So I continued my search, looking for something less conspicuous. There are USB heated shawls and slippers, but these just won't do in the workplace. And for health reasons, I recommend against sitting on something that radiates heat for a long period of time.
Finally I found this heated mouse, which again heats up once plugged into a USB port. So this is an important point: you need an available USB port, and the mouse is wired. People have gotten used to wireless mouses, but we haven't yet made wireless electricity available for consumer products like this, and the heat would eat up batteries quickly. So you need to be ok with a wired connection if you want to use this mouse.
The mouse itself is pretty average. My main objection is that its center wheel doesn't spin smoothly, but has "notches" in the turning process. I understand this is a style of wheel, but I like the free spinning type, or those that can switch between the styles. Otherwise, expect normal mouse functionality.
The heat controls are pretty close to the mouse itself, and some have said that they wish the controls were closer to the USB port so you don't have to look at the controls. This would be fine if the USB port were always accessible so you could change the heat. But for many, the USB port is under a desk and hard to reach. So in fact, I believe it's positioned where it needs to be.
As for the heat ... it is fantastic. You can turn it to high, low, or off (which I do when I leave the office for the day). On high, it's like holding a slightly insulated cup of coffee -- in my opinion, about as hot as you'd like it to be. Those who get less cold would appreciate the low setting. Depending on just how cold you get, the heat might actually struggle to keep up against the cold on your hand; but I find that overall it does the job I would expect, and I highly recommend it for those trying to keep warm at the computer.
Of course drinking something hot like tea or coffee may be the best way to warm up the body from the inside. But keeping your hand on something warm while you work sure helps out, and the price point makes it an easy decision to buy.
Buy the heated mouse on Amazon.
Possibly the biggest waste of money in the average American family is FOOD. The average family wastes about $50/month in food, throwing it out because it's no longer good, or no longer looks good. And the saddest thing of all is that there's an easy way to extend the life of food.
But the happy thing is ... now you know you can extend its life. We've found that you can do so with ozone. Despite what you hear about ozone in conjunction with pollution, it has some serious benefits. One of them is that it disables molds, bacteria, and viruses. This is why it can disinfect laundry. But ozone can also eliminate ethylene gas produced by fruits and veggies as they ripen and decay. This gas speeds up the decay process, so when you eliminate it ... you extend the life of food.
Ozone also eliminates odors in the fridge. And while some people are sensitive to breathing ozone, our experience with this kind of product is that you won't smell the ozone.
There are several brands of ozone fridge purifiers and they all operate on the same basic principles of releasing small amounts of ozone into the air in the fridge. So while we've promoted one brand in the past, we now encourage you to look at a less expensive unit that has good reviews on Amazon. At the time of this writing, is has 4 positive reviews and at least 3 look legit. Unlike other models, it uses only 2 AA batteries rather than 4 expensive C batteries.
Because ozone is heavier than air, we recommend placing this kind of device on a shelf ABOVE your fruits and vegetables. The one we now recommend runs for about 20 minutes when you first turn it on, and then for about one minute every hour. If you ever have a serious smell to clean out, you could try turning it off and then on again for this bigger initial blast of ozone.
Although we haven't done rigorous testing ourselves, it's our definite sense that this will extend the life of produce enough to save you $10 to $20/month ... more if you buy a lot of produce and/or buy organic! So it's a pretty quick payoff.
As we launch our site here at ReviewBoys.com, it's our goal to build specific pages for the most important products or services we want you to know about. But since we also want to be able to review hundreds of products over time and we don't want you getting lost in hundreds of pages, we'll review a lot of products within our blog.
Just use our "Search" function to look for anything you might be interested in, or just browse our blog to discover things you never knew existed.
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