Sunday, November 25, 2018

Firman W01781 1700 Watt Inverter Generator Review

Most of us have gotten fond of our electronics. So having electricity is a necessity. With all of the recent natural disasters we have seen recently; floods, fires, hurricanes, etc. there is validity in the desire to be prepared. Due to all of this, the special interest group known as Preppers is growing strong. Or maybe you aren’t a Prepper, but need a way to charge the deep cycle battery in your RV or travel trailer. Either way, the Firman W01781 1700 Watt Inverter Generator could be perfect for you or a loved one.

Features and specs:
·         2100 Starting Watts / 1700 Running Watts
·         Parallel Capable (parallel cables not provided)
·         .9 Gallon Tank
·         9 hour Run Time
·         Outlets – (1) 5-20R Duplex 120V – 20A, 12V (W/Battery Charging Cables), (1) USB (5V, 2.1 amps)
·         Reliable Recoil Start
·         Fuel Efficient Economy Mode
·         Digital Automatic Voltage Regulator
·         Low THD (under 3%)
·         Power Stream Alternator
·         Max Pro Series 80cc FIRMAN Engine
·         Phoenix Fat Head Block for Enhanced Engine Efficiency
·         Legendary 3 Year Warranty Serviced from Our HQ In Phoenix Arizona, USA
·         Whisper Series Muffler
·         USDA Forest Service approved Spark Arrester
·         Accessories Include Oil, Spark Plug Wrench, Shipping Bracket Wrenches, Funnel and Manual
·         Durable Compact design with integrated ergonomic handle
·         Weight – 51.6 Lbs
·         Carton Measurements – 21.7”x15”x18.3”

I really like the versatile design of the Firman W01781. Generators have been around for a very long time. And they have gotten smaller and smaller. Not only is the Firman W01781 in a fairly compact footprint, it is designed with our electronic devices in mind. The built-in inverter allows you to directly plug your USB charging cable directly into the generator. The low noise makes it compatible with your electronics, so you don’t hear any noise when you listen to your music while it is plugged in. The FirmanW01781 is also part of their Whisper series, so it is designed to run much quieter than a standard generator.

The Firman W01781 came shipped in a great looking color printed box with photos and specs of the generator. Opening the box revealed a very well protected generator, held in place by custom molded Styrofoam. Pulling the generator out of the box, I was very impressed! Materials used in the construction was mostly metal, with some rubber and plastic. The outer shell was mostly plastic, but most of the internals are metal with some rubber and plastic. The quality of the materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. It looked like a premium flagship product. And I loved the attention to detail, such as the rubber bushings between the motor and frame, for a smooth operation. Looking inside, everything was fit and snug very well. The Firman must have a great quality control department, as everything was very well put together with a nice attention to detail. Also included were the owner’s manual, quick start guide, some tools, a 12 volt adapter and oil.

I was equally impressed with the instructions. Owner’s manuals can sometimes be hard to follow and understood, almost as if a German is reading Japanese and has the job of translating to English. But reading the owners manual, it was very east to follow and understand. The Quick Start Guide was even easier to follow. And Firman made it even easier for you – just in case you ever lose the manual or quick start guide. The steps to operate the generator are also found on a high quality large plastic label attached to the top of the generator. I love it! Let’s face it, for some consumers, this will be their first generator, so it’s a very nice touch on Firman's part to make it easy for everyone to use regardless of your experience with generators.

In no time at all, I had the oil filled, and ready to use. As stated in the manual, it does not ship with oil pre-filled. So make sure you fill it before 1st use. And also use at least 87 octane regular gas. With gas in the tank and choke out, it was time to pull the cord. When it started, but died after several seconds, I was impressed it almost started after just one pull. The 2nd pull had it. Also remember to break it is for a few hours for at or less than half load. I was equally impressed with how quiet it was. Generators can be very loud, and while it wasn’t exactly “quiet” it was much quieter than other generators I have heard. I measured it at 90db at 1 meter and 59db at around 11 meters.

My expectations are now high on the Firman W01781, and it continued to impress. Whether it was run at ¼ load, ½ load or full load, the Firman W01781 ran well without any hiccups. It’s rated at 9 hours run time at 25% capacity on a full tank of gas. Based on our usage, I would say that is fairly accurate. The more load you put on the generator, the more gas it uses. But their rating did seem pretty close. It’s actual performance also did very well.  I ran multiple devices on it, and it handled all requests without any issues, and ran smoothly doing it, whether it was 1/4, 1/2, or full load. And plugging in my smartphone into the USB port provided clean power and listening to music with my custom in-ear monitor headphones in, I was able to confirm the clean power being provided as there was no noticeable noise.

I was very impressed with the Firman W01781. Generators aren’t for everyone. But for those who are in the market for a generator either for themselves or a loved one, the Firman W01781 is a very good one! It’s designed very well, and built very well with high quality parts to provide years of use. And it also performed very well. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Firman W01781 has earned our Editor’s Choice award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Royole RoWrite Smart Writing Pad Review

YouTube keeps getting bigger and bigger. It seems that one of the fastest ways to get famous in our current society is to get yourself a YouTube channel. And one of the fastest growing segments of that is animation type videos. Now, I know next to nothing about animation except that it requires drawing many pictures. Nowadays, there are many different type of electronics to aid in this procedure. It also works great for college students. Up for review today is one such device, the Royole RoWrite Smart Writing Pad.

Features and specs:
Item model number:  RY0201-CF5NA
Item Weight:   1.95 pounds
1.95 pounds
Product Dimensions:   8 x 1.2 x 11.1 inches
8 x 1.2 x 11.1 inches
Item Dimensions L x W x H:   8 x 1.2 x 11.1 inches
8 x 1.2 x 11.1 inches
Batteries:   1 Lithium ion battery required
1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)

The RoWrite came in a standard box with a wrap around cover of printed cardboard. On the cover were multiple pictures of the RoWrite as well as written specs and specifications of the product. Upon opening the box, the RoWrite was packaged securely and all of the accessories were wrapped properly as well. The RoWrite came with a nice Folio, a pen with it’s battery, 2 notebooks of paper for use with the RoWrite, an ink refill for the pen as well as all the USB cables needed for use of the RoWrite. The materials used in construction were mostly plastic with some metal and the construction was sturdy feeling in hand. The Folio was a nice touch, allowing the owner to zip everything up and carry it safely with you.

The majority of writing tablets rely on the interface between them and your computer to show the drawing. This can be disorienting as the image doesn’t appear on the tablet itself, only on the computer screen. The RoWrite, however, comes with paper that is meant to be your visual record of your drawing. This can be especially helpful if you are a visual person. It allows for a more precise drawing experience. The app that you download to your tablet, phone or computer allows you to transfer your drawings, or writings, onto your device and from there you can add color or edit in many other ways. This also works well for college students.  In classes while there is a lot of note taking, sometimes you may have to draw an image as well, like of a molecule. With the RoWrite, you can obviously do more than just text.

The Royole RoWrite Smart Writing Pad is a unique product. I have researched many other tablets and no other work the same way as the RoWrite. The paper and pen aspect adds a dimension to the process that I really appreciate. It helps those of us who are more visual to really get into the process. I know that while I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, this product has helped what I can do exponentially. The app was easy to use and did a great job of editing and sharing. And all for the low price of $129! That is a imminently reasonable price for a writing pad!

I was very impressed with the Royole RoWrite writing pad. I could see it being used for a wide variety of reasons. The versatility of the RoWrite has made this a wonderful, economical option for those college students or those who would like to try to break into the online animation community. Based on it design, features, quality and performance the Royole RoWrite has earned our Value award, Congratulations! For more info and specs, check out their website at

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

JBL Extreme 2 Wireless Waterproof Speaker System

I enjoy spending time outdoors. And since I really enjoy music, this means I want to bring my music with me. JBL is able to help with this need. I love how great products can get even better through future generations. Having previously reviewed the JBL Extreme, it was a no brainer to jump on the opportunity to review the new JBL Extreme 2.

Features and specs:
  • Wireless Bluetooth Streaming
  • 15 Hours of Playtime
  • IPX7 Waterproof
  • JBL Connect+
  • Durable Fabric and Rugged Material
  • JBL Bass Radiator

The JBL Extreme 2 came in a great looking color printed box with photos and specs of the product. Opening the box revealed a well protected product held in place by custom made foam. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some cloth, rubber, and metal. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. The JBL Extreme 2 is JBL’s flagship wireless speaker. The JBL Extreme 2 is definitely a flagship product and it showed.

I love the design of the JBL Extreme 2. There’s stereo sound in tweeter and woofer, and a pair of passive radiators on each end to help drop the frequency response a bit and give a bit more bass output. There’s a built-in 10,000 mAH battery which not only powers it on the go, but can be accessed on the go to charge your smartphone. The cloth wrap gives it an elegant look. And I love the solid built-in metal loops for the shoulder strap to carry it around.

If that wasn’t enough, JBL has also given the Extreme 2 some great functionality! You can connect up to 3 Bluetooth devices to access your music. So you as well as your family/friends can get your grove on. It works as a noise and echo canceling speakerphone. It can be linked to other JBL Connect supported speakers for whole house sound. There’s even voice integration for Siri or Google Now. And with it being IPX7 waterproof rating it’s ready for your outdoor adventures.

Now let’s hear how it sounds! Katy Perry: Dark Horse, bass had nice depth, hit really clean and with impressive low end extension and played with good authority. Vocals were smooth with better than expected texture and harmonics. And when turning to Turbulence, this little speaker system gave out some serious turbulence of it’s own! This speaker rocks hard! My room was filled with bass. Being the holiday season, I also turned to some holiday music with Mannheim Steamroller: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman. Percussion was really crisp and clean with the cymbals and nice kick and pitch definition of the kick drums in the midbass and bass. Brass was pleasantly smooth without being too brassy. Piano sounded more natural than expected.

Bluetooth performance was also exceptional. I walked all over our building, going around 50 feet away and through several walls, and not a drop in signal. To really put it to the test, I had to take it outside, and walking 100 feet away, still no drop in signal. The JBL Extreme 2 definitely has a good quality Bluetooth radio. And when a call came in, it seamlessly switched over to speakerphone. The call quality was very good there as well on both ends of the call. When the call ended, the music came back on.

JBL has really winner in the JBL Extreme 2. The sound was excellent for a wireless speaker with crisp and clean highs, smooth mids, and full bass with very good resolution. And I can’t see where anyone will need more range of the Bluetooth then what we saw. Build quality is also excellent. With an MSRP of $299, the JBL Extreme 2 is also fairly priced for what you get. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance the JBL has earned our Editor’s Choice award. As a holiday present it would bring a huge smile on anyone’s face. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Gourmia Fryrista Air Fryer GAF-560 Review

Why is it that everything bad for us to eat is also really tasty? Fried foods are some of the best tasting food around, but no one claims it is even remotely good for us to eat. Getting around this conundrum is simpler than we think…Air fryers are wonderful! Up for review today is the Fryrista Air Fryer GAF-560 by Gourmia.

Features and specs:
• 5 Quart Capacity
• Power: 110-240V, 50-60Hz, 1500W, ETL Plug
• RadiVection 360 Degree Technology
• Adjustable Timer and Temperature Dials
• Removable Basket and Pan
• Easy Wash and Maintenance
• ETL Listed for Safety

The Fryrista came well packaged in a cardboard box with pictures of the product all around the outside. The product itself came packaged in Styrofoam and wrapped in a bag to protect the components. Materials used in construction was mostly plastic and metal. The product was sturdy and fits on the countertop. It is also small enough to fit inside a cabinet. Also included were an owner’s manual and a recipe book.

I have teenagers, so fried food is always a big hit around here! We have used various fryers in the past, and they are messy, difficult to keep clean, and then there is the unhealthy factor to figure in. In the most recent years, we have resorted to simply cooking stuff in the oven but they just don’t taste the same. We were very excited to try this out. After following the directions to preheat the fryer, we eagerly placed taquitos in the basket and started to air fry!

We have now fried a number of things in the Fryrista and here is what we have learned…Jamming the basket with food, is not the best way to get the most food fastest. They will all be cooked, but the middle is more warmed up then the crispy fried goodness that we all want our food to have. Also, it cooks faster than the directions on packages for oven cooking, so adjust accordingly. We found that the best way to get the food to the best consistency was to do small batches, that way the air circulating could get to the most surface area of the food.

The recipe book was wonderful. Most of the recipes were crowd favorites for fried foods but some of them were unexpected, like cheesecake. The basket detaches for cleaning. Although we found that if we were cooking something from scratch, rather than from a package, it is best if we line the basket with something, a baking mat or tin foil or something. There are even dishes you can buy that fit in the basket for cooking or baking products. There are many additional hints and tips online for getting the most of your Air Fryer. We even discovered we could make popcorn in it! It is so much healthier for you, and it tastes so good. I was even able to avoid heart burn after eating mozzarella sticks!

Gourmia has a fantastic product in its Fryrista Air Fryer. It is an excellent addition to any kitchen. Due to it design, features, quality and performance the Gourmia Fryrista Air Fryer GAF-560 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. MSRP is $129. For more information and complete spec, check out their website at

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Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S DVD Receiver Review

I love electronics, especially car stereo. I love the way things continue to improve and get better with more and more features. I’ve seen a lot of changes in car audio over the last few decades. And I love it when the best get even better. This is just what happened at Kenwood. Kenwood gives a great bang for the buck, and if you want their best, it’s been their eXcelon line. But their best just got better with their brand new Reference series. One of those is the DDX9905S.

We’ve reviewed many Kenwood products in the past, so we’re very familiar with them. So when given the opportunity to review one their new Reference series, the Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S, we naturally jumped on it. Unlike in the past when the receiver came in printed box, this was a preproduction unit, so it came in a white box. That explains why we don’t have photos of the standard box that they come in. But the functionality and features are exactly the same.

Features and specs:
  • 6.75 inch HD display
  • Waze Ready
  • Built-in HD Radio
  • 2 USB ports
  • Hi-Res Audio redy
  • Wireless Android Auto
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in
  • 2 RCA video inputs for rear view and front view cameras

I love the design and features of the new Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S. The internal capacitors and components are better quality. It is fully engineered and designed for improved sound. But it isn’t just the sound. They also greatly improved the picture quality with the use of a new high resolution 1280x720 display! I could say the display is gorgeous, and that description would not give it justice. It’s eye candy that will have you grinning from ear to ear every time you turn it on!!

The Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S has me thinking of synergy, which is what it provides. Synergy is when the whole is more than the sum of the parts. With their improvements on the audio side, as well as the improvements on the video side, the result is an overall greatly improved product that yields much better results overall.  The improved video quality, and improved sound quality, will leave a semi-permanent smile on your face. New models are released every year, and often times the improvements may be marginal. Occasionally, manufacturers will provide us a real treat and give us a new model with major improvements over the previous product. And that is exactly what Kenwood gave us with the Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S. The decision to upgrade just got much easier. I cannot recommend it enough for those of you that are either in the market, or considering a present to a loved one.

All of those improvements got me thinking, and I do have one gripe. It’s against the transport. The gripe is not that it’s a bad transport. It’s actually a great transport that is quick and performs very well. But it’s an aged format: DVD. Kenwood knocked it out of the park with the new reference series of receivers. But they could have sent the ball not just out of the park, but into the atmosphere with the inclusion of a blu-ray transport. However I guess that’s not really a gripe, but more of a wish, as no one in the car audio world has a blu-ray in-dash receiver. At least not yet.

For those of you that are familiar with Kenwood, the Kenwood DDX9905S includes the features that you have come to enjoy: 13 band EQ, time alignment, DSP, sound staging, and cross-overs. It can also handle Hi-Res Audio in FLAC, WAV, MP3, WMA, AAC and as well as DSD up to 11.2 MHz. There’s also Dual USB connecters, and Dual Phone Connection which allow you to operate two phones handsfree. You can also connect up to 5 Bluetooth devices, so you and your family/friends can enjoy all of your tunes as well as their tunes. It’s Spotify and Pandora Ready. There’s also inputs for a dashcam, front and rear cameras for parking assist, and iDatalink Maestro for display of your vehicles infotainments such as HVAC controls, vehicle performance info, etc. There's even an A/V output!

Big updates in features is the Web-link app. This allows the control on screen of apps on your smartphone such as Waze, Youtube, and Yelp. Also huge is the included Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Thru these features, you can access control of your smartphone for hands free calls, listen to voicemail, send or receive texts and listen to music. Also, thanks to the GPS, the DDX99055 can access your smartphone’s maps for GPS functionality, giving you directs like a receiver with Navigation built-in.

The Kenwood DDX9905S has me very excited on paper, this receiver has all the features we love and need. And while it doesn’t have Navigation built-in, thanks to Android Auto and Apple Carplay, you can get the same functionality. The real question is how well does it perform. Well, let’s find out!

As an audiophile, the Kenwood eXcelon line has always provided a great sound. And if you have high-end amps and speakers, Kenwood has provided the resolution to take advantage of high end gear. I am very glad to be able to report that the sound of the new Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference series has been improved even more. The use of the new custom-made and carefully selected internal components, as well as the tuning, has really paid off. Initially skeptical, I am now a believer.

This improvement in sound quality shone thru more particularly in Hi-Res audio. I turned to a DSD 5.6 MHz track. Eric Bibb: Meeting at the Building, as well as a multitude of other favorite tracks.  Highs were crisper and cleaner without being bright. Mids were smooth with great detail without being overly warm. Midbass and bass had excellent pitch definition, depth, fullness of bass, and authority, all without being muddy. The Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S proved to be transparent in sound, relaying the sound as you are used to hearing for your music, without coloring it. If you are looking at an upgrade from a previous generation Kenwood eXcelon product, the improvement in sound is not huge, but also not minuscule. There is definitely noticeable improvement in sound.

I loved the other features as well. Being able to have 2 smartphones connected proved to be a nice feature when being out with my wife. And having the ablity to have multiple phones paired with Bluetooth allowed my kids to play their music as well. I really loved the multiple inputs, to be able to play music from so many devices.

There was some disappointment as I confirmed the lack of compatibility of my LGV20 smartphone with wireless android auto. But the remote app worked very well. And if my USB cable was discovered missing thanks to a teenager, I could still get voice prompts for the navigation thru my phone via Bluetooth connection. Connecting any phone with the USB port, did give full access to the wonderful extra features.

Web-link proved to be a great and convenient feature! My kids enjoyed watching YouTube videos. And having access to Yelp made it easier to find a quality restaurant thanks to reviews. With the use of Waze, I had GPS navigation. It worked well, and I was not missing the fact hat the receiver did not have Garmin Navigation built-in, as their flagship DNX995 does.  But I do like the fact that the receiver does have its own GPS antenna that plugs into the back of the DDX9905S, that way you are not relying on the quality of the GPS antenna in your phone.

Reviewing the Kenwood Reference DDX9905S was both easy and hard. It was easy, because using the DDX9905S was so fun. The display and sound was pure candy to the visual and aural senses. But that’s also why it was hard. The experience was so pleasant that I got caught up in playing music and watching videos that I had to keep myself on task. I guess that’s one of the best complaints that can be received. The interface was also pleasantly smooth, fast and very responsive. Models in the past have had an interface that was slower, but that is not the case with the polished interface of the DDX9905S. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Kenwood XR eXcelon Reference DDX9905S has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. With an MSRP of $899, the DDX9905S is a bargain and worth every penny! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at Reference gear used: AudioControl DM-810, JL Audio XD600 6 channel amp, Massive Audio BL1, Infinity Perfect Series 3-way component speakers, Image Dynamics dual ID10 subwoofers.

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