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Mr. Gadget® Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry Mon, 13 Mar 2017 00:39:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 33143704 Choose Lenses Before Glasses Frames – I Chose Essilor Thu, 18 Aug 2016 14:00:45 +0000 You and others see your glasses frames, but only YOU look through the lenses. First, consider the lenses, the most important component of your glasses. I chose Essilor. My research into much-needed replacement lenses for my glasses frames led me to choose Crizal lenses, combined with Varilux and Transitions technology by Essilor. Crizal lenses, as […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

You and others see your glasses frames, but only YOU look through the lenses. First, consider the lenses, the most important component of your glasses. I chose Essilor.

My research into much-needed replacement lenses for my glasses frames led me to choose Crizal lenses, combined with Varilux and Transitions technology by Essilor.

Crizal lenses, as I learned, offer superior sharpness with protection against glare in daylight as well as during nighttime, including while driving when it really counts. Even in front of studio lights, the glare is gone within my view as well as to those looking at me. This is from super-premium AR or anti-reflective coating. The list of benefits does not stop here. Crizal lenses also include excellent built-in scratch resistance. The hard yet lightweight lens surface also resists smudges, water (spots), and to cap it off, Crizal lenses provide protection from UV rays. Read my story below to learn how I [unfortunately] tested the scratch-resistance capability, without a scratch.

Varilux adds the element of imperceptible, smooth transitions from near to far vision and everywhere in between. Even more, these lenses can provide edge-to-edge sharp, crisp vision, through the near to far, top to bottom, and left to right. In other words, wearers get to see clear and sharp images across the entire lens surface without aberration. I had not ever experienced this seamlessness before because I was unaware of its availability from any eyewear professional previously visited. Frankly, once experienced, I will never return to ordinary lenses. I am so spoiled, and the view is terrific.

Why progressives?

Why is this important? For my needs, it’s very important. I need multifocal lenses, beyond bifocals. I could have chosen trifocals, with three distinct lines that section off near vision at the bottom, mid-range in the middle and distance in the top section. Long ago I switched to no-line progressive lenses, but these have their own set of issues. Viewing through traditional progressive lenses provides clarity and sharpness of vision only through certain central-ish points on the lens.

In persons without the need for glasses, for example, one does not need to move one’s head. Only the eyes require movement to look clearly up down and all around at any eye position. Through ordinary progressive lenses, the full field of view is not available. One must adjust the head to bring into focus those areas near the center of the field of view because, without head movement, those areas are otherwise out of focus.

Driving, piloting aircraft, creating art, visiting the national parks and other travel, creating on a computer screen, watching a big screen TV or a movie screen, or even reading a book of magazine, or attending a sporting event, wearing non-Crizal without Varilux lenses necessitates a lot of head movement. With Crizal and Varilux technology, no unnatural head movement is needed.

Varilux lenses are digitally (more precisely) ground to provide the anywhere vision in the near, mid-range and distance areas across the full area of the lens surface, as if not wearing corrective lenses at all!

Free-form digital lenses

The technology is more complicated than this, but think of watching your old analog TV that looked OK until you saw your first High Definition TV show, sporting event or movie on a quality flat panel display. The finished Crizal lenses are created in a sort of free-form way from a solid block, using precise, computer-controlled equipment programmed by a well-trained technician.

To the best of my knowledge, only Varilux technology can provide the all-over sharpness and clarity across an entire progressives lens surface.

Transitions provide me with what I found to be the best lenses that adapt from clear with no sun indoors or outdoors, to dark in bright sunlight. Now, I will be able to avoid the added expense and inconvenience of a separate pair of prescription sunglasses. I don’t know about you, but I have always hated juggling between clear and dark glasses, and now, with Transitions, no more juggling. I am impressed by the speed of the transition when going from dark to clear. Other lenses that darken with the sun may start with a bit of dark tint, which I did not want. Are these as dark as I would prefer in standalone sunglasses? No, they are not. However, the degree of darkness is still more than acceptable and a welcome trade-off instead of having to manage two pairs of glasses for daily use.

One pair of glasses does it all

I have avoided the expense of separate clear lenses and sunglasses, and found vision as perfect as I never knew possible. All my other glasses’ lenses were no match for everything provided in my new lenses.

It’s a choice, and after my experience, I don’t want to be without Essilor in front of my eyes.

I value and appreciate all that my research has yielded, sending me to Haig and to Essilor.

That’s what value is all about!


Here is my story . . .

Like most of you, when it was time to get my eyes checked, I received a prescription for new eyeglasses to take wherever I wished to get the prescription turned into a new pair of specs.

Throughout the years, the Gadget Family has had new glasses made through Costco and Kaiser, at LensCrafters, and through ophthalmologist’s offices, among others. When new frames were selected, however, it was always without regard for the type and quality of the lenses. What did we know but to listen to and take the advice of the professional in front of us? Lens quality and their relative capabilities were never discussed. What was always discussed was added fees for anti-reflective (AR) coating as well as for scratch-resistant coatings. No one ever discussed any of the other properties mentioned above. I was ignorant, not knowing of choices or of the questions to ask.

When I could no longer bear looking through an increasing and obtrusive number of spider web-like micro scratches on my existing lenses, it occurred to me that I should pay attention to the quality of the lenses and not just take the prescription to have it tranlated into lenses about which I know nothing and have no choice of the process by which they are created.

Microscratches became unbearable on Kaiser-supplied lenses with scratch-resistant coating applied. Photo courtesy Henry Diltz

Microscratches became unbearable on Kaiser-supplied lenses with scratch-resistant coating applied. Photo courtesy of Henry Diltz

Why? Those micro scratches had developed over time in lenses that were made about four years ago while I was insured through Kaiser. I well remember the discussion about my choices, none of which included choices of lens manufacturer or quality, I paid extra for scratch-resistance and anti-reflective coating. Those bothersome scratches obscured my vision and distracted me from what was beyond the scratches. I learned that the coating was not of high quality and was not permanent, that it would wear out. There was no discussion about what kind of lenses would be required to satisfy my vision requirements or to satisfy my wishes because I did not know of any choices, not only at Kaiser, but anywhere. The old lenses had to go!

Mr-Gadget-head_x3000_0347Let me make it clear that I am very happy with my unique, nearly 20 year-old frames from EyeWearHouse in Westlake Village, CA that are still in great shape. I continue to regularly receive positive comments about them, too, so why change? Costco’s Optical Department had told me years ago that they would no longer be able to put new lenses into my old frames, even though they are of high quality titanium. I was told they were too old and Costco did not want to accept any responsibility for them. I offered to waive responsibility, but that offer was refused. What a blessing that turned out to be!

The first step was to get my eyes checked. It was time for a new prescription. For that, I relied on Dr. Michael Khoury, a well-regarded optometrist with an office adjacent to the optical counter inside Costco in Van Nuys, CA.

Instead of simply taking my newly minted prescription to Costco’s optical counter for new frames and lenses, I asked Dr. Khoury a few questions about better quality lenses than what Costco offers and for a place that would still service my own frames. I also wanted to know if he had a recommendation for an old-world artisan, a dispensing optician who is also a craftsman with impeccable credentials to work with me by translating the prescription into finished product on the premises, with the shop’s own equipment. Without hesitation, Dr. Khoury referred me to Haig Chorbajian at Paris Optique in nearby Studio City, CA. (818) 752-0202.

Research in the optical lens market led me to the major players. Having determined that Essilor was the company and that Crizal would be my lens choice, I called and then visited Haig.

Haig’s professionalism was immediately impressive, just as Dr. Khoury had suggested. My choice of Essilor was validated. Then, I learned from contacting Essilor that Haig is one of a few go-to people in whom Essilor has ultimate confidence to do the job to perfection on-site. He is NOT an eye doctor. He is a dispensing optician who makes glasses from the prescription provided by a vision care professional. The upside is his ultimate attention to detail, that is, EVERY detail.

With confirmation of such a good match between lens material and dispensing optician, Haig spoke with his Essilor representative and awaited the exact decided upon lens material that would provide the best experience, even better than originally thought. Haig seemed genuinely excited to work with the newest, state-of-the-art Essilor lenses.

I was getting Crizal for their crystal clarity and glare-free properties. Transitions lenses change from clear to darker quickly with the sun’s brightness, and then back to clear in just a minute or two. Varilux gives this seamless sharp vision I want at any distance and across the entire lens surface from left to right, from top to bottom, from near to far. Properties of all three are melded into one Crizal product to meet my goals.

When the lens blanks arrived, Haig called and I set up an appointment to have the new lenses created and inserted into my frames while I waited and watched.

Observing the process unfold, I was struck by the human factor as well as the mechanized process. As with anything computer-related, it is always garbage in/garbage out. Haig’s attention to detail through precise measurements and rechecks, then his data input to the computerized equipment resulted in what I can only describe as magical perfection.

My new Crizal lenses do, indeed, provide edge-to-edge sharpness without any perceptible break when going from near to intermediate to far. My vision is better than I have ever experienced, at least that I can recall. Day and night vision is without glare or spikes from artificial lighting hot spots, such as from other cars, street lighting, signs and signals. Driving through hard rain is also a visual pleasure.

Indoors, these lenses are virtually clear. Outside, depending upon the sun’s brightness, the lenses go from just a bit darker to quite dark, and I have confidence that the lenses’ built-in UV protection is helping my eyes avoid UV-caused damage. With inherent scratch resistance and the superb anti-reflective coating, I expect to enjoy my lenses no matter how long I have this set. Sure, I will exercise reasonable care.

Another noticed benefit is that my new Crizal lenses do not get dirty as quickly as have all others preceding them. This dirt rejection and smudge resistance is something to experience, another benefit of the Essilor technology in these lenses! So, there is less need to clean them (with a proper lens cleaning cloth, of course). It would appear that the lens hardness and scratch resistance will provide this dust and grime rejection throughout their useful life.

Update – – several weeks after my new glasses were made, I tripped and fell while crossing the street at night. Unfortunately, I went down first on my hip, then right knee, my right hand and finished my downward “trip” by landing on my head, just above the outer orbit of my right eye. The fall gave me a few bruises (I’m fine!) and appeared to have broken my glasses! The top right outer edge took the hit, bending the frames and popping the right lens out onto the asphalt pavement. The next morning, I took the mess to Haig. In just a few minutes, he was able to resurrect my frames to live on, refit the busted out lens and, best of all, there was NO damage to either lens. Not a scratch! I am certain that lesser quality lenses would not have fared as well, though I cannot be certain. I believe this is a testament to the high degree of scratch resistance of the Essilor lenses. I would never have deliberately tested my lenses in this manner, but ever so pleased at the outcome. I am happier than ever with my choices!

I cannot imagine seeing better. I am very pleased. Thank you Essilor and thank you Haig Chorbajian of Paris Optique.

Even if you are not as fortunate as I to have your own nearby in-house professional of Haig’s level to make your lenses and care for you as I have found, look for the nearest Essilor-approved optometrist or ophthalmologist by entering your Zip Code through the Essilor Website. Or, call them at 214-496-4000 to ask if there is a dispensing optician near you who can translate your prescription into new frames or your existing frames. (Dispensing opticians who can set you up with Essilor might not be listed through the Essilor Website.) By taking your business to one of these experts, you will have access to what I have found to be the best choice in eyeglass lenses, though I believe you would find it difficult, at best, to equal Haig’s capabilities, and certainly none to exceed them.

And if there is no nearby professional, call Essilor to ask if they will work with your chosen provider who can send your frames to Essilor facilities to have your new Essilor lenses created and mounted in your frames, then returned to you. Your local eyewear professional will do the final check to ensure proper final fit.

The next time you’re due for new glasses, please look into Essilor. I am confident you will learn, as I did, that Crizal is a far cut above the competition.

Update #2 – – One thing lacking was a spare pair of glasses to use as backup only. Sure, it would have been nice to get all the bells and whistles in the backup pair, but it was more reasonable to get as close to the best as possible without the expense. Using another pair of my own frames, Haig created a new set for these old frames with the lesser specifications. Having the experience with Crizal and the other capabilities, the first thing noticed was all the head movement that was now needed in day-to-day life. These are not Varilux! They are still digital lenses with darkening technology for outdoor use. The anti-reflective and scratch resistance is now in an added-on coating that is not expected to resist wear as well as my main pair. While my vision is sharp and clear, the backup glasses are NOT what I have come to appreciate about Crizal, Transitions and Varilux all wrapped in one, but they’ll do fine as backup pair of glasses.

Having this experience with one perfect and another less-than-perfection set of glasses only makes me appreciate my main pair even more.


For those hardcore followers who would like to accompany me on my visit with Haig at Paris Optique and follow along, here we go, and stay with it to see a video interview with Haig after receiving my new lenses . . .

Meticulous measurements of original, scratched lenses.

Meticulous measurements of original, scratched lenses.


Using my old lenses as a guide, Haig measures, then needs machine measurements to get the correct size of the new finished lenses.

Using my old lenses as a guide, Haig measures, then uses computer measurements to get the correct size to match the new finished lenses.


Old lenses in frames with locating blocks affixed, ready for computer-reading for size matching to new lenses.

Old lenses in frames with locating blocks affixed, ready for computer-reading to match shape and size to new lenses.


Measure, check, measure and check again.

Measure, check, measure and check again, readying new lens blanks.


New Crizal lens blanks before milling with locating block attached.

New Crizal lens blanks before milling with locating block attached.


Data points entry display, ready to mill new lenses, matched in size to old, with new prescription data entered.

Data points entry display, ready to mill new lenses, matched in size to old, with new prescription data entered.


Inside is where the process takes place.

Inside is where the process takes place, one lens at a time.


NEW lenses get darker in the sunlight.

NEW lenses get darker in the sunlight.

More? Sure! Following are short videos of most steps along the way during the creation process.

Once locked in the machine, the process begins . . .

Finally, Haig is intereviewed to discuss his training, experience, expertise and the process involved in creating Mr. Gadget’s new Crizal lenses IN HIS SHOP. This is a vanishing art.

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

Mobi CUBE Bluetooth Speaker with 360º Light Show Review Tue, 09 Jun 2015 14:00:49 +0000 After using a white Mobi CUBE for several weeks, I’m happy to report that I still like the little $30 (or less) speaker! The CUBE has a unique characteristic – nine LEDs per side with five flashing light modes, all of which can also be switched OFF. I have to admit, the lights are fun […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

After using a white Mobi CUBE for several weeks, I’m happy to report that I still like the little $30 (or less) speaker!


The CUBE has a unique characteristic – nine LEDs per side with five flashing light modes, all of which can also be switched OFF. I have to admit, the lights are fun to show to others and for occasional use, but I find this feature did not hold lasting interest for the adult audience at Gadget Central. In the hands of younger users, I suspect the lights would see more regular if not every time use. Watch this manufacturer-supplied demo.

Sound? Clear, strong, without distortion – great value here. I found more than enough punch and never needed or wanted to set volume to max. Sure, it’s not stereo, but what can be expected from such an inexpensive speaker?

Quality seems quite good.

It took just a few seconds for a phone and computer to link via Bluetooth (v2.1). for this new bluetooth controller Bluetooth range is not an issue. I roamed all around the room with my phone. The Mobi CUBE never lost connection, but why press the range limit? It more than passed my Bluetooth test. This speaker does not have a microphone so it is not compatible for use as a Bluetooth speakerphone.If you want you can read more Best Bluetooth headset reviews here.


Charging was straightforward using the supplied USB cable, taking up to about four hours to charge from being nearly depleted.

A bottom-mounted AUX input, using a standard 3.5mm jack, connects any source and plays so long as the CUBE internal battery is charged. A cable for this purpose is not supplied.

How long does the battery last? With lights on, the six hour-rated unit has operated consistently for more than six hours at what I term normal volume. This is the volume level that was best for me as I listened and watched from within about 10 feet.

With the lights in their default off position, my sample operated consistently for as many as eight hours. Cycle through light sequencing modes using the bottom-mounted clickable switch.

The light mode that reacts to sound played through the speaker requires high volume in order to react to the beat.

The multi-mode lightshow adds a unique touch to Mobi CUBE’s very good sound, reasonable battery life and price. Search “mobi cube” for the current best price, which today is about $20.

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

Moen MotionSense Hands-Free Kitchen Faucet Review Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:00:14 +0000 Hands-free pulldown, easy installation, nearly flawless performance, color and style choices are just part of Moen’s MotionSense® line of kitchen faucets, with retail prices (to ignore) from about $640 to about $900. It was time to replace the kitchen faucet here at Gadget Central. Our existing Moen Extensa, though still working, was not what we […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

Hands-free pulldown, easy installation, nearly flawless performance, color and style choices are just part of Moen’s MotionSense® line of kitchen faucets, with retail prices (to ignore) from about $640 to about $900.

It was time to replace the kitchen faucet here at Gadget Central. Our existing Moen Extensa, though still working, was not what we wanted any longer. It is a low arc pullout style, not a high arc pulldown, the high-arc pulldown being an all around better design, in my view. The low arc faucet was frequently in the way, interfering with anything in its path and, for us, was not a great choice. While on the hunt for something new, why not also explore the convenience of hands free operation?

While at a trade show last year, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Moen PR folks and to see and learn about a representative product in the MotionSense line. Have you also asked yourself What are the best copper mugs?. Follow the link below to read more.


MotionSense provides the hands-free convenience we wanted. Get close to the sensor mounted just above the manual operation handle and water flows, perfect for washing hands or for a quick drink of water. Hands removed, the water stops, just as we have become accustomed in commercial settings. Wave a hand over another sensor at the top of the faucet to begin the flow, ideal for filling a pot or rinsing the sink. Wave again to stop the flow or wait for it to time out after about two minutes. (More on the sensors later)

Reflex® is Moen’s feature that includes a flexible hose and a spray head that retracts fully and easily. Here you can read the Promescent spray review.

Several styles and models are available with Moen MotionSense. As well, there are these same faucets and others without MotionSense.


Convinced that MotionSense was for us, we chose a spot resistant stainless steel Brantford model 7185ESRS for our old three-hole sink in spot-resistant stainless steel as the best fit for our kitchen. Moen faucets are locally available through the “Where to Buy” link at the top of the home page and from online retailers priced as low as $385, including Amazon.

Do read the Pros and Cons, but this is NOT all the information necessary for readers to have an accurate picture of this product in action. Videos I’ve seen are inadequate, though useful toward understanding the basics (see link to Moen videos below). Read, “Using our Moen MotionSense faucet” below for the real story, illustrating our hands-on experience and how users can personalize Moen MotionSense faucet operation to meet their own needs. Trust me, and keep reading, please.



  • Variety of stylish designs from traditional to modern
  • Very good build quality, fit and finish with smooth articulation through all positions
  • Simple operation (once everyone learns how to use it)
  • MotionSense hands-free versatility – motion sensors can be turned off for guest use, then very easily reactivated
  • Reflex technology includes flexible, quality-built snap-together hose, 360º swiveling spray head with aerated and shower-like spray, plus “pause” feature that temporarily stops flow, along with hose and head return that fully retracts the spray head
  • Dirty hands can get soap and wash without making a mess of the faucet
  • Easily fill pots or a water glass hand-free
  • Extend flex hose for spray that reaches all points in the sink
  • Can more easily save water when compared to manual faucets
  • Fun to use, becomes integrated into daily use
  • See installation notes



  • MotionSense might be difficult to become accustomed to for some users
  • Some users will find it difficult to adjust to water turning on when NOT wanted due to close proximity of hands to sensor (deactivate this sensor if an issue)


Moen’s installation kit is smartly designed and laid out with great care, making even DIY installation not particularly intimidating. Ours is a double sink originally designed for a traditional, conventional faucet setup with separate hot and cold valves and with a center faucet – three holes. The kit incudes what is needed for a single hole sink as well as a plate adapter for sinks like ours. With a kit designed for self-installation, we decided to go for it. If yours will be professionally installed, you may wish to skip the following.

Our DIY installation experience

Flaws in our pipes, fittings and water valves became apparent when we tampered with the old faucet and water lines. No problems were apparent or anticipated until everything, as it was, was disturbed to make way for the new Moen. Once the proverbial apple cart was upset, we had a leaky water valve, uncovered a bad elbow joint and much more. Back and forth to the hardware store I went to get unexpected, though needed parts. We were now committed to the installation and had to proceed or be without water until a professional could visit. This was not a workable option.

FINALLY, after several unplanned hours and a lot of swearing, we were ready to proceed. Instead of going reliving our sad tale, start with this LINK (scroll down the page) to Moen installation videos, instruction manual and parts list. If you don’t, the following comments will have no context. Then, come back and finish reading about our installation experience.

It must be stressed that our installation issues had nothing to do with Moen’s product. The problems we encountered were the result of our worn out pipes, valves and other parts that pre-existed.

The underside of our double sink is probably not like yours. Ours is not a modern house, with oddities possibly unique to us. You may have your own unique situation.

To continue, the installation-friendly kit and guide showed the hoses and where they went clearly identified for error-proof connection. The connections themselves, the hoses to the control box, in addition to being clearly marked as to where each goes, are push down, snap-in, so there are no tools required for this part of the install. Hoses can be easily removed in the unlikely event this may be needed in the future.

Moen has thought of the end user/installer and tried to make the kit as universal as possible, with hose and cable lengths, control box and battery box mounting location flexibility in mind. There is much to be admired here.

During the first two days after installation was completed, we experienced malfunctions wherein the hands-free system malfunctioned. Sensors misfired, though we did not experience random on and off cycles. Following the manual’s easy procedure to reset things, all has been well ever since.

Our plumber will need to replace a few old pipes under the sink, as well as an old valve, a t-adapter for the dishwasher and a few other odds and ends. The watchword to DIY readers is this – Be prepared for the unexpected as best you can. Without the unexpected, the installation would take less than two hours, and even less had we the experience of a previous installation.

Using our Moen MotionSense faucet

Here is the ideal, what is seen in videos. Approach the faucet, extend hands and the water turns on. Moments after moving hands away from the Ready Sensor window on the faucet’s vertical, the water turns off. No matter what is on your hands, letting MotionSense turn on the water in our home instead of having to touch the faucet is pretty cool!

Approach with a drinking glass and fill it, hands free.

What isn’t seen in videos of the product is that this Ready Sensor sees all and knows all. The water turns on whenever hands are near and in front of it. The sensor does not know when the user does not intend for water to flow when nearby, such as when putting a dish in the sink or when reaching in to retrieve something from the sink. Or when sweeping a hand by the window while going for something unrelated to the water. It will switch on and it will get sleeves, hands and arms wet.

This can be disconcerting to anyone, including guests who do not expect the water to flow automatically. One way to manage unexpected water flow is to rotate the faucet along its 100º rotational travel arc toward the normally unused area. In our home, it is the sink less used, the one without the garbage disposer. With the faucet Ready Sensor “aimed” toward that sink, the Ready Sensor doesn’t recognize hands at the main sink. Convenient or inconvenient? Decide what’s best for you.

There is another sensor, the “wave sensor” at the top of the faucet curve. Wave a hand, not too fast, up to about two inches overhead, and the water flows. This sensor is designed for such operations as putting water in a pot or for timed hands free operation that lasts about two minutes and then automatically shuts off. Don’t want to wait it out? Wave again at any time before auto shutoff to instantly turn off the flow.

Whenever either sensor is activated, a briefly lit blue LED behind the Ready Sensor confirms that MotionSense is on the job.

In its top-mounted position, the wave sensor is less likely to be accidentally activated, but it can happen.

Moen designers thought of this, too. If the Ready Sensor or the wave sensor’s automatic operations are not going to work for you, they can be deactivated, temporarily (for a “guest mode”) or permanently. It’s all there on page 15 of the Installation Guide. Scroll down THIS PAGE to the Installation Guide link. The Ready Sensor can be deactivated leaving the “wave sensor” on top still active or both can be turned off.

After several weeks of use, and without young children to benefit from the Ready Sensor’s convenience, we have opted, for now, to disable the Ready Sensor. We found it better for us to leave only the wave sensor operational. I love the convenience it affords! And we no longer unexpectedly get wet.

I experimented a bit with both sensors. My hand did the trick, of course. I tried waving a dark-colored TV remote control without success. A white paper towel worked. A black dishwashing glove did not activate the sensors.

The pulldown hose extends up to about 14 inches, allowing the nozzle (spray wand) to direct water to all areas of our sinks in either a standard aerated flow or a shower-like spray pattern that can be activated with a button on the wand head. This same button can also temporarily pause the water flow by pressing and holding the uppermost position of this button. The nozzle resets to standard aerated flow when the water is turned off. A clamp-on weight below the sink on a designated area of the pulldown hose assists in drawing the hose back through the faucet body until the wand seats against the faucet end.

The magic is controlled under the sink. There can be found both a mounted control box and a battery box that contains six supplied AA alkaline batteries powering hands-free operations. An optional AC power adapter is also available. Reading the literature suggests that the inexpensive and easily replaced batteries should last about nine months, depending upon how often and how many times MotionSense is activated.

Manual operation using the faucet handle is independent of hands free modes and is always available. MotionSense is not active during manual operation.

The control box is a beautiful work of engineering. Here is where the water and power connections merge and the brain inside makes things work. There are two things of note here.

First, there are two filters that will require occasional cleaning. See page 17 of the Installation Guide linked above. How occasionally? When they need attention will be determined by when you feel that the water pressure and volume have decreased. Unfortunately, this usually happens slowly over time, so the need to clean these filters may not be realized immediately, from one day to the next. I have set a Google Calendar reminder to let me know to pause and think about it at six month intervals. Regardless of whether yours is a professional or DIY installation, this is a maintenance point just as are filters on a washing machine, automatic icemaker, and showerhead or sink aerator.

Second, an adjustment knob on the control box determines the mix of hot and cold water during MotionSense operation. Ideally, this setting will deliver water that is not too cold and not too hot, but a just right lukewarm mix, the temperature for a quick glass of water or to wash hands.

Our kitchen sink is the farthest run from the water heater, so ours can take more than 30 seconds to mix in enough hot water with the cold to be lukewarm.

The manual operation handle operates this Moen faucet without the MotionSense assist. When the handle turns on the water flow, it overrides MotionSense entirely. Get the customary full cold, full hot or anywhere in between. Now, that’s simple! This one-handed valve should assure leak- and drip-proof trouble-free operation for many years to come.

Where’s all the water?

I remember blast-rinsing the dishes to knock off any remaining food, powering whatever was in the sink down into the garbage disposal and having plenty of water to carry ground-up stuff down and out of the pipes after the garbage disposal did its work. That strong flow is no more.

Why mention this? I would not want consumers to assign responsibility to Moen when their new faucet doesn’t fill a pot, rinse the dishes or even fill a tall glass as fast as might be expected. It simply is NOT within the control of Moen. With water flow restrictions being what they are, what could be a powerful flow is limited by mandated restrictions in all faucet providers’ hardware.

Warranty information (on Specifications Sheet)

  • Limited lifetime warranty against leaks, drips, finish defects to the original consumer purchaser
  • 5-year warranty electronic operation defects to the original purchaser
  • 5-year warranty against leaks, drips, finish defects if used in commercial installations
  • 1-year warranty against electronic operation defects if used in commercial installations.


In conclusion, our Moen MotionSense faucet is functional, cool and fun, and has changed for the better how we use our kitchen faucet. Highly recommended!

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

Fellowes AutoMax 200C AutoFeed Shredder Review Fri, 06 Mar 2015 17:30:53 +0000 Fellowes AutoMax™ 200C, under $400 online, combines secure cross-cut shredding with the convenience of automatic feed, just like a printer’s Auto Document Feeder. What a smart combination! Gone are the hours spent hand-feeding documents, even shorts stacks of them, using a conventional shredder. Fellowes AutoMax shredders change one’s perception of shredding for the better, with […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

Fellowes AutoMax™ 200C, under $400 online, combines secure cross-cut shredding with the convenience of automatic feed, just like a printer’s Auto Document Feeder.


What a smart combination! Gone are the hours spent hand-feeding documents, even shorts stacks of them, using a conventional shredder. Fellowes AutoMax shredders change one’s perception of shredding for the better, with an added element of fun and wonder as well as functionality.


Pros – Ideal for individual use in home office/small office; easy operation; 200-sheet auto feeder; 397 piece-per-sheet cross-cut with vertical, multi-sheet opening that accepts up to 10 8-1/2” x 14”sheets, plus credit cards, mail junk removal, optical discs; AutoFeed tray accepts 8-1/2” x 11” paper with staples, paper clips, up to 20 sheets stapled (pull apart stapled paper stacks of more than 20 sheets), up to 20 paper-clipped sheets or remove paper clip; auto reverse feature to prevent jams; 8.5 gal plastic bin that does not promote static electricity cling as with hard plastic bins and does not need bag liner; quieter than most (not silent) operation compared with many other shredders; auto 12-minute duty cycle with 20-minute cool down period and automatic resume; automatic sleep mode after two minutes of inactivity; two year warranty provides service and support against defects in material and workmanship (to original purchaser); seven year warranty against defects on cutting blades (see product documentation for details); four easy-roll wheels. See the User Manual PDF.

Cons – Not really a negative, but users need be aware that it requires footprint of 22-3/16″ x 13-5/8″ x 20″ attributable to AutoFeed feature’s mechanism.



For close to 20 years I have tested and evaluated paper shredders. Along the way, I have developed a healthy respect for the Fellowes brand. This latest product makes me smile every time I load a stack of papers into the auto feeder. I had become accustomed to manually feeding the relatively few sheets all the other shredders would accept at one pass. When dealing with an accumulated stack of papers to be shredded, I’d park myself in front of the TV and start shredding. Then, when the machine’s duty cycle timed out (a normal occurrence due to a time in use and heat limit that had been reached), I’d wait for temp light to go out and then resume. And so it would begin again, often for an hour or more in one session. This is even with the best of intentions to shred as needed right away. That’s just not practical around here.

I learned long ago that using a good paper shredder is at the forefront of an effective plan to protect one’s identity. Papers with personally identifiable information get shredded – names with addresses, account numbers and junk mail. That’s the rule (along with other good habits and practices toward identity protection).

In preparation for the arrival of the AutoMax 200C for review, we searched here at Gadget Central to find as much as possible to feed this shredder. We found enough to create a stack more than 12 inches high. Now, it was time to put this new toy through its paces.You can read more on Fox Bingo Promo Code

The lid opened with a press of the lid release button at the unit’s top front, and I was ready to load it up. I knew that papers could not be totally, indiscriminately placed in the auto feeder. Pages with minor crumbling and those with dog-eared corners would pass through, but not if the stack was messy. After learning the hard way, we made sure the stacks were pretty well squared up and neat. The unit jammed to a stop a couple of times due to what I call “defective customer.” That would be ME! Too many sheets were stapled together. Several pieces of less than full sheets of paper were pulled in along with full sheets that also disrupted normal operation. Crumbled, then straightened papers were drawn into the mechanism but did not feed properly. The auto-reverse capability to undo jams had been exceeded. Nor did the manual reverse button help. My bad.

I had to open up and carefully finesse the partially munched bunch out. Success!

What was learned was the value of thinking ahead, with using THIS shredder in mind. Now, we load the AutoFeed tray as we go. However, sometimes we stack the papers outside the shredder until the end of the day and then load up the AutoFeed tray. During the day, without anything in the AutoFeed tray, we are free to let the 200C shred old credit cards, CDs and DVDs and the occasional odd sheet through the manual feed slot.

It can’t do both at the same time, so users must decide to auto feed or manually feed – Another reason to think ahead.

You’ll have to figure out your own rhythm.

With the machine’s master disconnect power switch in the ON position and the machine left alone, it goes into Sleep Mode after two minutes of inactivity. To exit Sleep Mode, open the lid and load paper OR insert paper into the manual feed slot. If the 200C has master power OFF, we switch it ON, press the Power button on the front display and press the universal “Play” symbol (a right arrow) to begin the auto shredding process. And then, whoever has begun the process . . . walks away. The 200C shreds on, unassisted, its sensors detecting the AutoFeed tray contents and paper path, and when the job is finished. If it needs to rest, it does, and then it resumes unassisted. Amazing!

What enters the bin below is considered to be a respectable Security Level P4. That is, a single sheet is shredded into 397 pieces, each about 5/32” x 1-1/2”. Learn more about Security Levels HERE.

A sensor below the cutters will detect if the bin becomes so full as to interfere with the exiting shreds and the unit will stop, generating the red Bin Full LED and symbol. Time to open the bin and press the mess down. Ultimately, it will be time to empty the bin. I am accustomed to lining my shredder bins with a plastic bag. In my experience, static cling has prevented the bins from being easily emptied without a bag, due to static electricity’s forces. It has been easier to gather the bag, lift it out and place it in the trash.

No bags are needed in the 200C. I just pull out the bin, using the handle that is hidden and integrated in the upper edge of the bin’s clear front window, and dump the contents into a LARGE trash bag. It is not easy to do so into a typical, small, 13-gallon trash bag, so I dump into big leaf-size bags.

Of course, the shredder will not operate with the bin removed or with the top open. With the bin removed, I always flip the master switch to OFF, then reach in to free the clingons from the cutters.

As with any shredder, there is maintenance to perform, whether or not you have known and done this before. It’s simple, really. Apply a few drops of non-aerosol, NOT petroleum-based lubricant across the cutters located under the lid. I use the oil supplied with the shredder and buy a larger size for about $10 when the sample is exhausted. It lasts a long time, through many applications. Close the lid, press and hold the forward (right-arrow/Play/Start) symbol for 2-3 seconds.

The other maintenance item is cleaning the Auto-Start sensors. Once again, with power OFF (just to be safe, you may wish to unplug the shredder), open the lid and locate the Auto-Start sensor at the top front. It’s a dark plastic-covered twin lens affair, easily cleaned with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

Perform BOTH maintenance items regularly, ideally every time the bin is emptied. Otherwise, how will you remember? If this maintenance is done with great regularity, the shredder should last and last through years of trouble free use. I know this to be true from past experience.

In conclusion, who knew shredding could be so interesting and even fun. Now I do and so do you.

Use your Fellowes AutoMax 200C with confidence, and have fun.

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

LifeProof fre Case for iPhone 6 Review Fri, 06 Mar 2015 15:00:22 +0000 LifeProof fre ($80 suggested price), the first of the company’s cases for iPhone 6, is designed to protect the user’s investment.  LifeProof iPhone cases are not for everyone. They are not for users who are not invested in preventing damage to and preserving their precious iPhone. Why do I say this? LifeProof cases require user […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

LifeProof fre ($80 suggested price), the first of the company’s cases for iPhone 6, is designed to protect the user’s investment.

 2-25-15-LifeProof-fre-frtLifeProof iPhone cases are not for everyone. They are not for users who are not invested in preventing damage to and preserving their precious iPhone. Why do I say this? LifeProof cases require user attention. They are not set-it-and-forget-it products. However, the rewards for your attentiveness are many. Keep reading.

Pros – Industrial design does not detract from the phone’s aesthetics; easy installation; adds only marginally to the phone’s dimensions; Touch ID and screen operate as well as without the case’s screen protection; full control of all buttons and switches; has wrap-around “keeper” to assure that waterproof screw-in plug for earphone jack won’t get lost; passes highest standard (IP-68) to keep out dust, dirt and water; passes U.S. Military Standard MIL STD 810G-516.6 for drop and shock protection: waterproof to 6.6 feet for one hour (when case seal is intact); instills confidence; available in six colors

Cons – Somewhat delicate over ringer on/off switch – use a finger’s flesh near fingertip instead of fingernails to engage switch in order to avoid damage to the cover; speaker sound somewhat muffled


With experience using LifeProof cases since the company’s iPhone 4S case, I know the value of reading and following installation directions. While case installation is simple, it must be accomplished as directed and without deviation. I know to put the phone into the case top as directed to be assured that the switches and buttons will function properly. I know to place the case back as directed and to snap it onto the case front starting at the top, listening for and feeling the “click” as it snaps together all the way to the bottom.

2-25-15-LifeProof-iPhone-6-FreWhite_Laydown-LightningI also read the following important statement from this case’s page at, directly under the retail price – “The frē iPhone 6 case works with original Apple Lightning cable. May not be compatible with other brand cables.” Why? I’m not sure, but I suspect that the company had to decide what this dimension through the case and on to the Lightning connector would be. In looking at the universe of Lightning cables compatible with iPhones since iPhone 5, sizes of the surrounding plastic at the Lightning end are generally larger than Apple’s own, with no standard size other than that of the cables by Apple. LifeProof chose to go with THE standard, the Apple Lighting cable’s Lightning end dimension.

Using this specification, LifeProof was assured of the best dust and dirt seal when the cable is installed.

I have not found a third party Lightning cable that fits through the opening, but I’m still looking. Some users have reported shaving the offending plastic on these cables to remove enough material to fit. This is NOT a recommendation or endorsement and I have not performed such a mod, so proceed at your own risk.

For those who are invested in third party charging cables for Apple mobile products using Lightning cables, this may not be welcome news. I am confident that cable suppliers will remedy this before too much longer, for my sake as well as others’.

Note the flip-open access door over the charging cable channel that, when closed, provides a proper seal against the elements. This door WILL see lots of action. Be sure to snap it closed whenever the charging cable is not inserted and pay attention to keeping the surfaces free of foreign material.

2-25-15-LifeProof-iPhone-6-FreWhite_Laydown-HeadphoneMore an inconvenience [to some] than a negative, LifeProof also includes a screw-in cover to seal the headphone jack. The jack opening is inset within the case. When using an original Apple earbud set supplied with iPhone, no dongle is required. A LifeProof dongle MUST be used if it is desired to maintain a watertight seal when using waterproof earbuds. One dongle is supplied with the case. At this writing, additional dongles are not currently available from LifeProof on their Website, but I expect this to change (I have no inside info on this). I do not recommend knock-off dongles.

To use a headset, it must to be plugged into the dongle and the dongle screwed into the LifeProof case to maintain the case’s seal to outside elements. If you have waterproof earphones, take your LifeProof-protected iPhone for a swim! If you’re a Bluetoother or use only the iPhone’s internal speaker, the plug will likely stay in place.

To be sure the Touch ID sensor sees your fingerprint(s) as intended, erase any prior fingerprints in memory and re-do them with the iPhone in the case. This will assure the best chance for success when using Touch ID. This is a one-time activity.

Using this LifeProof for iPhone has been uneventful, just as it should be. The confidence felt with fre in place is welcome. All the buttons and switches perform well. I am mindful of the need to properly engage the ringer side switch without using a fingernail. As well, I am careful when using the membrane over the Touch ID sensor. My nails are short, but I can see how tempting it would be for someone with long nails to use a fingernail to press the Home button. This would not promote the membrane’s longevity.

Despite the need to be aware of how the case the switches and buttons are engaged and, possibly, modify behavior toward long term case integrity and customer satisfaction, I still feel this case is the best I’ve experienced.

Though the speaker sound is just a bit muffled by the case as compared to sound without a case at all, I find the tradeoff to be more than acceptable.

If case integrity and the case’s ability to protect the phone inside is important to YOU, perhaps knowing of my own past experience will help guide you. Though I have the opportunity to play with lots of phones, I purchase ONE for personal use. I’m an iPhone guy. I like checking out others, but my daily phone for personal use is iPhone. I’ve used LifeProof cases since their first model for iPhone 4S. Long out of contract, I took the still-working 4S from its LifeProof safe cocoon to see that it was as clean and pristine as the day it was placed inside its LifeProof case.

I take great care of my stuff, including mobile phones. Sure, I drop them from time to time, but I do not abuse them. The 4S was not often pocketed. Rather, it was held in a LifeProof belt clip that slightly marred the screen protection of the LifeProof case. That phone saw fun in pools, taking underwater videos. It was used in daily life, subjected to not only rain and snow, but also to dust and dirt, as well as drops and bumps. Through it all, LifeProof protected my phone and gave me confidence knowing it was protected from what came its way.

My aim was to have the 4S see a second life, without its more than 3-year old value diminished due to everyday use. Mission accomplished, thanks to LifeProof. I know of no other case that could have done the job and still not have made the iPhone feel significantly heftier than without its case.

LifeProof provides a one-year warranty.

Save a few bucks through Amazon.

I expect the same longevity of performance from this new case for iPhone 6. LifeProof fre for iPhone 6 gets a solid “Get it!” recommendation from Mr. Gadget.

Users might also want to have a look at the LifeProof nuud for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, coming soon. LifeProof nuud cases features NO covering over the front glass. The waterproof seal is around the edges of the visible, touch-sensitive screen area, so fingers actually touch and interact with the screen itself, yet a watertight seal is maintained. LifeProof continues to innovate!

March 12, 2015 UPDATE:

Luxtr Lightning cable connectors are identical in size to Apple’s own. I bought one to confirm. Luxtr should be a worthy alternative to Apple’s, and costs less. Available in 1m and 2m lengths, exclusively from Amazon.

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

Amzer Crusta iPhone Case Review Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:00:27 +0000 On the hunt for smartphone protection, I’ve tried Amzer’s $45 (See link below for discounted priced) Crusta cases for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. There are some nice touches and some problem areas. Crusta cases are also available for Samsung Galaxy models, iPad Mini and Fire Phone. Crusta cases come in a wide variety […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

On the hunt for smartphone protection, I’ve tried Amzer’s $45 (See link below for discounted priced) Crusta cases for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. There are some nice touches and some problem areas. Crusta cases are also available for Samsung Galaxy models, iPad Mini and Fire Phone.


Crusta cases come in a wide variety of color combinations and consist of a hard plastic shell with a tempered glass back, surrounded by textured, soft rubber over the plastic shell.


Pros – Protects against many kinds of drops; reasonable price (especially when purchased at discount, such as through Amazon); protective tempered glass back built into case clearly shows off back of phone; numerous colorful choices; supplied, user-installed tempered glass front overlay does not affect touchscreen operation, rubber, flip-up plugs protect headphone jack and Lightning connector from dust.

Cons – Not confident it will stand the test of time; rubber surround band shows wear quickly; flip-up plugs difficult to set in place; tempered glass over keyboard is NOT scratch resistant and is delicate, may be damaged during installation. Offers little to no protection against water.


Installation was not difficult, though the slot under the button over the ringer silencer has to be carefully placed so as to properly silence or allow the ringer.


A pair of flip-up and push-in plugs on the lower edge of the case are designed to keep dust from both the headphone jack and Lightning connector.



A 360º rotating belt clip is provided, but, frankly, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are a bit hefty to wear effectively and comfortably on a belt.

Clear, tempered glass protects and provides a clear view of iPhone’s back.

Also included is what Amzer calls Kristal™ Edge2Edge Tempered Glass Screen Protector. Touch sensitivity is unaffected. A protective film over a sticky base must be removed from the underside before precise installation. When it came to removing the topside film to complete installation, I was imprecise and ended up with a slight, but noticeable, unfortunate crack at the upper left of the protective multilayer glass. This was too easily botched, in my view.

InvisibleShield hdx, $25, is a better screen protector choice.

Now that I have lived with the case for a couple of months, I lack the confidence that the case will hold up to the end of my AT&T contract. On the other hand, at Amazon’s discount price for both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cases, the cost is only slightly more than for obviously inferior cases from others.

That the plugs designed to protect both the Lightning connector and headphone jack are frustratingly impossible to engage without focused, concentrated repeated effort, I have to question the design and ask, “What were they thinking?”

My beef is not only with the good folks at Amzer (and they are good folks!), but with almost all case makers that offer less than stellar protection for their precious cargo. These phones are expensive. Go ahead and destroy one, even under contract. With $99 2-year AppleCare+ coverage, replacing a damaged phone is still going to command a $79 service fee. Users get two of these. After the contract expires, repair/replacement costs go up dramatically.

With these thoughts in mind, I do not understand why users don’t opt for cases with better, make that, total protection from outside elements, including water, dirt and dust and a healthy drop from about six feet. When I see someone with a shattered screen and NO case, I have to wonder about the user’s smarts. But, that’s just me. I admit it.

I am spoiled by such full-coverage cases costing up to about $100. The case cost is factored into the phone’s total when it is purchased. I don’t mind an unobtrusive case in exchange for the best protection I can find. Hey, these phones are NOT cheap, especially the new iPhones with maximum memory. I want it to last beyond its carrier contract!

And I know there are millions upon millions of smartphone users who are pleased with absolutely no case on their phones or with cases more fashion than protection. As well, there are myriad other functional case designs. Most others are just not my preference.

Remember, NO case could protect against a direct, significant, center screen hit, nor should it be expected to do so. The best cases can absorb side impact and, with outer edges built up over the level of the screen. A drop that hits on a corner should be absorbed and protect screens from damage in many instances. Here, Crusta cases should do the trick.

In conclusion, for those expecting modest protection in an attractive, rugged-looking case, Amzer’s Crusta cases ought to please.

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

UNU Superpak Rechargeable Battery Pack Review Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:00:27 +0000 UNU Electronics’ $40 (discounted) Superpak is claimed to be the smallest and fastest-charging 10,000mAh rechargeable battery pack, and I am inclined to believe it. Superpak is ideal for use with today’s more power-hungry USB-connected smartphones and some tablets. Of greater importance is that UNU Electronics’ battery pack delivers its power at near the maximum rate […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

UNU Electronics’ $40 (discounted) Superpak is claimed to be the smallest and fastest-charging 10,000mAh rechargeable battery pack, and I am inclined to believe it.

UNU Superpak

Superpak is ideal for use with today’s more power-hungry USB-connected smartphones and some tablets. Of greater importance is that UNU Electronics’ battery pack delivers its power at near the maximum rate specified for chargers, currently 2.4A at 5 Volts.

Easy to take along and to use, Superpak provides confidence to the user that the compatible smartphone or tablet will last a day of heavy use or provide power for light use over several days, until Superpak recharging is possible.

Pros – compact design, lightweight, simple operation, circuitry that regulates output to maximum charging rate acceptable to connected devices. Comes with Lightning cable adapter.

Cons – None (Who doesn’t already own a usable power supply?)

Superpak is said to have sensing circuitry determining just how much juice, up to a maximum of 2.1A, to send through the port marked with that value on to a connected device.

It’s not a simple matter of more is better, as many consumers may think. Not all devices can accept Superpak’s maximum output. Many smartphones, for example, max out at 1.1A. Others can handle the faster 2.4A rate but are shipped with a 1.1A power supply.

Many users are under the belief that the more power available, the faster the phone or tablet will charge. Not so! This is dependent upon the device’s specs.

Superpak regulates the rate-of-charge for everything connected to deliver the maximum acceptable to the connected device.

The same will be true of recharging Superpak’s internal battery. More on that in a moment. It can be ready to go again in much less time than many competitors. The benefit of faster charging and recharging is convenience, not having to have Superpak tethered for as long as others, and that’s a very good thing.

Superpak has dual output ports. One port is rated at 2.1A and the other is the more nominal 1A, both at the customary and standard 5V that all such USB charging products share. UNU Electronics calls its twice-as-fast charging circuitry SuperX. uSmart Technology is the company’s term for the circuitry that automatically identifies and adjusts to maximum power output and efficiency levels during charging. This same speed and efficiency is employed during Superpak recharging through its standard Micro USB SuperX input.

While the 2.1A port is ideal for many new smartphones and smaller tablets, the 1A port is ideal for less demanding products, such as older, less power-demanding phones and Bluetooth headsets.

What’s 10,000 mAh going to provide? By UNU Electronics’ estimation, about 40 hours of talk time, 50 hours of video playback, Web browsing and game play, 150 hours of music playback and 1700 hours of standby time. That ought to get just about anyone through a heavy usage day and then some. Alternatively, have the confidence of several days’ light use of a smartphone or compatible tablet.

Operation is simple. A single, gentle push ON, push OFF button located to the left of the 2.1A port fires it up and a series of four little LEDs visible in the photo at the top of this review show the state of charge. The 8-ounce, compact Superpak carries Apple’s “Made for iPhone” designation and comes with a cable that has standard USB on one end and Micro USB with attached Lightning adapter on the other. Micro USB is going to be used for non-Apple devices using Micro USB while Lightning is standard on iPhone 5 and newer, and iPads since 2012. The benefit and advantage of such a cable that is Apple-certified cannot be overstated to iOS device users. Lightning cables are not all the same. Quality matters. If the device in need of charging is not charged using a Micro USB cable end, then use the cable that came with the product.

Recharging is through Superpak’s Micro USB port, using the supplied cable or any other cable with standard USB on one end and Micro USB on the other. The circuitry is capable of fast, 2.1A recharging. I’ll leave it to readers to learn if their laptops or already-owned power supplies are up to the fast-recharging task.

In my view, for maximum assured recharging performance, use a USB charger such as what consumers might have for a tablet that specifies output of 12W Watts) or greater. It may also be beneficial to purchase one, such as THIS (single port) or THIS top rated, top selling Anker (dual port) from Amazon that plug into a wall outlet, or THIS top-selling, top rated Anker from Amazon for in-vehicle use. Any of these would also be a good choice for charging phones and some tablets, as well as recharging Superpak.

An aside . . . once you’ve decided to upgrade a phone or tablet, have a look at saved old chargers from older equipment. If you’ve purchased no-name knock-offs or have ancient power supplies, this would be a good time to throw them out and purchase at least one modern accessory charger as above. The cost of one quality-built multi-output power supply as above that can accommodate two or more devices will be worth your while and provide safe charging over the long haul.

What a difference it has made to use Superpak along with high-output wall and car chargers! I will never go back to slow charging and recharging.

UNU provides a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

While we are not equipped to test the company’s specifications and to prove or disprove its circuitry claims, I can speak to the performance and confidence I experienced. I’m a fan! Well designed, solidly built, easy to use, and delivering on its charging and recharging claims, Superpak is highly recommended.

Find both the Black and White models from Amazon for $40.

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

myCharge Energy Shot 2000mAh Rechargeable External Gadget Battery Thu, 06 Nov 2014 22:22:52 +0000 myCharge Energy Shot, $25 (suggested price) external smartphone battery has a clever package with expected performance from its rechargeable 2000mAh Lithium battery. The company is selling the packaging here, the sizzle, not the steak. In its packaging (above), the product resembles an energy drink, such as 5-hour ENERGY®. Clever, no? Peel off the cellophane wrapping […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

myCharge Energy Shot, $25 (suggested price) external smartphone battery has a clever package with expected performance from its rechargeable 2000mAh Lithium battery.


The company is selling the packaging here, the sizzle, not the steak. In its packaging (above), the product resembles an energy drink, such as 5-hour ENERGY®. Clever, no? Peel off the cellophane wrapping to reveal a clear plastic bottle, inside of which is a pretty standard and ubiquitous cylindrical “lipstick” rechargeable battery with nominal capacity to fully recharge, say, an iPhone 6 (with its 1850 mAh battery), albeit slowly. Mate it to a device with a more powerful battery and myCharge Energy Shot will at least partially charge the battery. Enclosed documentation indicates it will put about nine hours of talk time into a connected phone.

Atop the two-tone battery are a USB port and a Micro USB port, plus a little multicolor LED to indicate Energy Shot’s battery level. Red indicates 0-40% charged. Yellow tells of 41-70% charged and green shows it’s at a 71-100% charge. During charge, the LED flashed rhythmically. During use, the LED shows the battery state for a few moments until the LED is shut off. A quick snap of a shake turns on the LED for a few seconds to show the battery’s state of charge. While being recharged, the LED slow-flashes green, and then goes solid when fully charged.


Also inside the plastic “bottle” shell is a simple quick start guide and a 3-inch charging cable with Micro USB on one end and standard USB on the other. To use myCharge Energy Shot, use the device’s charging cable with its own USB tip or the supplied cable, if it fits. For iOS devices, use the cable that came with the iOS device for connecting it to anything USB. Use this end to connect myCharge. Very simple.


Energy Shot is less than four inches long and about ¾-inch in diameter. Connecting it to the object of the recharge should start things going. There is no switch. If not, the owner’s manual suggests giving Energy Shot a shake. This was not necessary in my tests. A one-year warranty is included, with receipt.


Simple and effective, like just about every other product of its type in the category. While performance is just as expected from a 2000 mAh rechargeable Lithium battery providing a 1.0A charge rate, the very clever packaging is an attention grabber. Come on, how could you not smile just looking at it, all wrapped up to look like the liquid energy drink? And that’s what you’ll pay for – the packaging. There is nothing to criticize here.

Energy-Shot_blue_3-quarter_polka-dot Energy-Shot_pink_front_ZigZag

Energy Shot recharges through its supplied cable from a computer, car charger or wall charger (neither are supplied). Again, pretty standard stuff here.

Searching online, I found the actual selling price to be about $20. Looking for plain and simple 2000 mAh rechargeable external batteries to do the same job, I found many from which to choose for as little as $12. $20 will get you a small and slender rectangular 5200 mAh Lithium rechargeable with a higher charge rate (faster recharging of your phone or other device) of 1.5A.

myCharge Energy Shot passed the basic performance test with me, with a bit of a premium price paid for the cuteness factor.

The only downslide noted is myCharge Energy Shot’s output rate of 1.0A. I put my iPhone 4S in my jacket pocket, connected to myCharge Energy Charge. The phone was at 39%. After two hours, my phone was still not at 100% charged. Had this been a battery capable of 2.1A output, my phone would have been charged in under an hour. Had I been using an iPhone 6 or 6+, I would have seen only about 65% charged after a couple of hours, similar to plugging into a USB port on a laptop.

Find yours for $20 online and in many Bed Bath & Beyond stores, Target, and other retailers. It should not cost more.

Be on the lookout for more battery tests and information coming soon

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

SleepPhones, RunPhones; for Exercise, Better Sleep Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:00:37 +0000 When convenience and comfort are paramount, SleepPhones and RunPhones, by AcousticSheep, $40, deliver the goods! Think headphones in a headband instead of in-ear buds or bulky on-ear headphones. The manufacturer refers to SleepPhones as “pajamas for your ears”. So true! Two others testers and I have been using wired and Bluetooth wireless versions for several […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

When convenience and comfort are paramount, SleepPhones and RunPhones, by AcousticSheep, $40, deliver the goods! Think headphones in a headband instead of in-ear buds or bulky on-ear headphones.


The manufacturer refers to SleepPhones as “pajamas for your ears”. So true! Two others testers and I have been using wired and Bluetooth wireless versions for several months. Now that we are all significantly past any “honeymoon” period, it’s time to report. So often, when a product is new and the user(s) are inexperienced, initial impressions are not the same as after longer-term use.

“Why SleepPhones and RunPhones?” is a loaded and obvious question. For those who use traditional earbuds or full-size headphones (“cans”) as a sound delivery mechanism from portable devices and who find no issues, the natural inclination would be to pass on this idea. Using these more intrusive products during sleep is another thing. During exercise, too, SleepPhones and RunPhones may be just what you’ve been missing on your spin bikes.

I ask readers to think again. A comfortable headband holding super lightweight flat internal speakers over each ear are worthy alternatives for young and older users alike. Advantages include:

  • General comfort
  • Comfortable all night long during sleep
  • Blocks some external noise (including snoring) without totally isolating the user from ambient sounds
  • Ideal for use in bed and while asleep, and during exercise
  • Sound stays in user’s head, won’t annoy sleep partner
  • Machine washable headband (after removing speakers)
  • Free sleep sounds downloads and free iPhone app

Having used numerous high- and low-end earbuds, the common denominator is that anything placed outside of or in the ear canal can be uncomfortable, especially with continuous wear over long periods. In addition, outer ear buds can also be uncomfortable and do not stay in place for all users. Higher quality earphones or headphones have their place, to be sure. Standard headphones are just too bulky for all day active wear and unsuitable for sleep use.

Headbands are made from stretchy and breathable fabric from mostly recycled materials, and, as indicated above, and washable (with speakers removed).

Isolating the sound to the inside of your head only during sleep is another plus. For example, when your audio interests may not be shared with those of your sleep partner or dorm roommates, SleepPhones is a solution. While it’s easy to see the value to younger demographics, I suggest that older users, including Boomers, may find SleepPhones and RunPhones of particular interest and benefit.


Some sound sources are best heard in both ears, including stereo music and certain content that delivers undetectable tones for relaxation. SleepPhones perform well in such circumstances. Here is a link offering FREE relaxation sounds downloads from AcousticSheep. Here and here are links explaining the benefits of binaural sound (not stereo as in music) to further bolster the advantages of soothing, therapeutic sound delivered to both ears. AcousticSheep also offers a free iPhone app. Search for “SleepPhones” in the iOS App Store.

For many years I have extolled the virtues of C. Crane’s Pillow Speaker, a wired, soft-covered little gem that can be placed under one ear against a pillow or under the pillow. Still an excellent and recommended product, SleepPhones are different, as the headband should stay over both ears to direct sound regardless of tossing and turning and regardless of the wearer’s relationship to a pillow.

You want product videos? Sure you do! They’re here.

I am enjoying renewed convenience when listening to all manner of content through my iPhone plugged in to power at bedside. All the apps that bring in favorite radio stations, podcasts, audiobooks, live TV, Netflix, HBO GO and so much more are comfortably in both ears without inflicting my choices on my mate or disturbing her sleep.

Wired models have a four-foot braided cord emanating from a Velcro® closure at the back/base of the headband terminating in a standard 1/8” headphone plug of the type that fits virtually any portable devices.

In our experience, the wired version did not become entangled while sleeping, but we did find it necessary to have an awareness of the wire and to consciously avoid damage by untwisting the cord as needed, especially if a twist or kink is detected. In addition, the headband is often moved out of place directly over each ear as the use moves about in bed. This is not such an issue when worn out of bed.

Speakers are movable along their path within the headband to accommodate any user’s ear placement.

The $100 Bluetooth wireless model eliminates and tangling concern and any issue related to a cord from the user’s head to the attached smartphone or other source. Battery life has been surprisingly good, consistently at about 12 hours. Charging is via a standard, micro-USB port on the battery pack, accessed at the base of the headband through the same opening as on the wired model. Charge time is about five hours from fully depleted. Pairing was quick and easy. Both an AC adapter and USB cord are included.

Note as you will from the company Website that there is also a $60 wired version that includes an inline microphone and another with inline volume control.

Speakers and associated wiring are removable from wired and wireless models for easy headband washing. The Velcro closure could stand a better design. Both sides seem a bit flimsy and the hook side can easily become stuck to the headband material instead of its mate on the loop side. None of the samples has yet failed at this spot, however.

Sound quality is not going to wow anyone, but it is both pleasing and adequate, and gets the job done. Just remember that it is the product functionality and usefulness that is most important here. I offer congratulations to the designers for finding the best happy medium here. After a chat with founder and family physician Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, I came away mightily impressed, and educated on the challenges overcome to produce SleepPhones. They had to find flat and lightweight speakers that would not prove uncomfortable or bulky in the headband and that would still deliver “good enough” sound at an affordable price. It’s all about trade-offs. Perhaps as technology improves along with lower costs, a higher quality speaker solution will be found. Still, the company is not shy about innovating and improving their products, as has been the case since the first design. AcousticSheep will continue to tweak and improve, making running changes as warranted.

Each tester found that the headband does not always stay perfectly in place with speakers perfectly positioned over the speakers. I, with short hair, have it easier than longer haired users when it comes to keeping the band in place. The shape of the user’s head is another factor determining the ability of the headband to stay in position and for speakers to be on-target. Hair clips may be useful in keeping the headband better aligned. After all, there is no standard head size and shape.


Available in Small, Medium and Large sizes, see their FAQ’s for sizing information. Most users will find Medium to be the size of choice. Both products are offered in a variety of colors.

Shop at the company Website links above, or search online. Amazon sells for a bit less than full retail on most styles. Here is the wired version and here is the wireless version from Amazon. Beware of knockoffs! They are not the same as these, the original, since 2007.

For maximum sleep assistance, listen to relaxation- and sleep-inducing sounds that can be found online and played through a smartphone. For example, in the Music app on an iOS device, search “meditation” and “relaxation” as well as “sleep sounds”, and be creative. For those who may want to jump-start into the realm of relaxation sounds, AcousticSheep offers a few different gift packages that include appropriate sounds to help the user to relax and drift off to a restful night’s deep sleep. Have a look here.

Questions are cheerfully answered via email –

In conclusion, SpeepPhones and RunPhones from AcousticSheep are highly recommended.

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

Top 10 Indispensable Household Gadgets – #1 Sat, 15 Mar 2014 17:03:06 +0000 Read the how and why about this list from the top of the #10 post, then come back to read about CC Trek Flashlight. CC Trek Flashlight is so much more that just a flashlight. This is my #1 Indispensable Household Gadget. But, a flashlight? The right flashlight is indispensable! Try being in the dark […]

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry

Read the how and why about this list from the top of the #10 post, then come back to read about CC Trek Flashlight.

CC Trek Flashlight is so much more that just a flashlight. This is my #1 Indispensable Household Gadget. But, a flashlight? The right flashlight is indispensable!

Try being in the dark when it is not planned? It’s not fun and can be dangerous and unnerving. Whenever and wherever light is needed, this effective, 4-LED, $30, shockproof gem (and waterproof to 160 feet) is at the ready. It throws enough light to view immediate surroundings, cook, take care of shower and bathroom needs, check out a car problem, find something that has fallen anywhere, signal for help, see something that needs attention in the home and so much more.  It’s small enough to fit in a purse or backpack.

This is my daily grab ‘n go light for all circumstances not requiring a powerful flamethrower of a flashlight, of which I have an assortment.

Can your flashlight do all of this? Most flashlights, even other LED flashlights, will provide their light for as little as two hours before the light dims or fails completely.  While I admire many others that are much brighter, virtually all the others focus on brightness as the performance benchmark, with relatively low run times. Here, my good friends at C. Crane were different and more thoughtful, as you will learn.


No other flashlight of which I am aware has the unique CC Trek capability to provide over 40 hours of full brightness light on a single set of (included and installed) three “AA” alkaline batteries, with useable light for over 100 hours after that. I’ve proved these numbers time and again.

It is reliability personified, which is why it’s my #1 household indispensable. I think a CC Trek light should be in every home’s utility drawer and in every car’s glove box, and that’s just for starters. They are strategically placed all around Gadget Central, ready for a power failure (we get occasional earthquakes, you know) or for any need, including walking the dog or helping a friend. One is in the glove box of each of our cars. I never travel without one and have gifted many of them over the years. Everyone can benefit from at least one.

The CC Trek flashlight effectively changes the idea of only occasional flashlight use. Because battery life is so extreme, so exemplary, consider using THIS flashlight in many circumstances. I don’t know about you, but before the CC Trek, I avoided regular use of flashlights because I hated when the batteries would dim the light after so little use. I hated it when I dropped a flashlight and the bulb’s filament would break. Now, there is no reason to avoid use.

As a flashlightaholic, I have quite a collection of very bright large and small flashlights, but none can hold a candle to the utilitarian value, simple, reliable and long-lasting performance of a CC Trek flashlight.

How bright is the light from a CC Trek? Let me put it this way:  When it’s dark, a little light goes a long way. These provide much more than a “little light” that I find just the right amount when needed most.

My proof has come during many trials – earthquakes AND during travel when, for example, the lights went out the moment I opened the hotel room door on a visit to New York City. It was pitch dark inside and out. Power was out all night long over a multi-state area, but I was never in the dark. I kept that CC Trek switched on, perched upright in the room’s coffee carafe. I went out on the street and helped countless others with that light. Over many, many years, CC Trek flashlights have never failed me. I have the confidence that a CC Trek will NOT run out of juice, even during a prolonged power outage lasting several days, and it’s simple and inexpensive to replace the batteries.

(I buy batteries at Costco where their Kirkland Signature AA alkaline batteries currently cost about $12 for a pack of 48. This is by far the best price available for high quality AA batteries that, in my testing, last every bit as long as the other popular name brand batteries at a fraction of the cost.)

A durable and reliable twist to turn ON/OFF head and elasticized wrist lanyard complete the package, available in both black and yellow. CC Trek flashlights come with a 5-year limited warranty.

No flashlight with an incandescent bulb can withstand the bumps and deliver the longevity of service promised by one of these. Besides, LED flashlights are becoming the standard. That’s great news, but beware and don’t bother buying inexpensive impulse-directed lights. They are worthless, in my view. Look at run time along with brightness. Sure, it’s fun (for some of us) to have high-performance flashlights. Just be sure to have one or more of these, too.Here you can Find aluminium guttering at

CC Trek LED flashlights are from my good friends at the C. Crane Company, the best online retailer of a wide range of useful and unique radios and lighting products, and so much more. At only $29.95, you’ll want several.  Call and speak with an exceedingly friendly and helpful professional at C. Crane (in the beautiful little northern California town of Fortuna), 1-800-522-8863, or order online at


Please don’t forget to visit and email me about YOUR favorite adult gel pen i reviewed in my past post. Message me through Twitter @mrgadget or Facebook.

Mr. Gadget® - Consumer Tech, Products & Gadgetry