Thursday, November 16, 2017

IROBOT BRAAVA JET 240 MOPPING ROBOT



There are a number of perks to having a robot vacuum, the biggest being you can clean your home without actually having to do anything yourself. You do pay for that convenience, though, as most robo-vacs cost just as much as elite handheld ones do. iRobot decided to try something different with the Braava Jet: it's half the size of its other Roomba vacuums, it costs just $199, and it doesn't actually vacuum—it mops.

The company made the Braava Jet with a certain kind of user in mind, one that likely doesn't live in a huge home, has primarily hardwood or tile floors, and doesn't want to dig deep into their wallets for an automatic vacuum. Though it's ideal for those living in small apartments, others should carefully consider their options before investing in this mopping robot.

Design: A cute, compact cleaner


The IROBOT BRAAVA JET 240 MOPPING ROBOT might be the cutest robot that iRobot has ever made. Measuring 6.7" × 7.0" × 3.3" and weighing 2.7 pounds, the tiny square mopping robot is slightly smaller than a lunchbox, and it even has a handle like one, too. The device is mostly white with a few accents of ocean blue, particularly on the backlit "clean" button that sits prominently on its top. Blue also highlights the precision spray hole, on the side of the robot, where water shoots out to dampen the floor ahead of the Braava Jet's path.

Lifting up the handle reveals two mechanisms: a silicone flap that covers the robot's water reservoir and a sliding button that releases the pad from the bottom. That's a really handy feature, as you never have to touch a dirty cleaning pad: simply pull the button back and the pad releases, hopefully into a garbage can below. The only time you'd have to touch a pad is if you separately purchased the washable pads ($20 for two) that can be thrown into a washing machine and reused. An important note about that: the disposable pads ($8 for 10) come with a water-activated cleaning solution inside of them (which is how they can clean your floors with just water in the reservoir). The washable pads contain no detergents or solution in them—while iRobot says those pads can remove dirt and dust with only water added, there is a list of approved cleaning solution recipes on iRobot's website, and some Redditors have discussed other methods as well.

No matter which pads you have, all of them slide onto the underside of the Braava Jet to the vibrating cleaning head. The disposable pads have a pleasant soapy scent to them that lingers faintly in the room where you put the Braava Jet to work. It's much like the way laundry detergent gives your clothing that gentle, freshly washed smell—not overpowering, but enough to know you just cleaned them. When the robot moves along your floors, the pad not only grabs everything in its path, but the cleaning head moves back and forth to "scrub" the floor beneath it, too. Granted, it doesn't provide the elbow grease of your own arm scrubbing the kitchen floor, but it does offer more friction to wipe away stains.

I appreciate how compact the Braava Jet is; I can leave it in the corner of my small bathroom and it won't get in the way of my daily routine. The handle makes it convenient to tote from room to room as well (I used it in my kitchen and bathroom exclusively), and unlike other robots like the Neato Botvac, it doesn't have a charging dock. The battery is removable and comes with a dock that plugs into an AC adapter when you need to recharge it. The lack of dock allows the robot to take up less space in your home, and you can store it anywhere you want.
Features: Mopping, sweeping, and everything in between


The Braava Jet is designed to clean dirty hardwood floors, tile, and stone. Depending on the type of pad you attach to it, the device knows which cleaning mode to be in. The blue pads are for wet mopping, when the Braava Jet uses the most water and runs over each section of floor three times; orange pads are for damp cleaning, which is a mix of mopping with less water and picking up dry debris; and the white pads are for dry sweeping, which doesn't use any water and only picks up dirt and dust. I like that the Braava Jet knows immediately which mode to be in just by the pads—it takes the guesswork out of choosing how much of a clean you want for that specific session.

After you start a cleaning session, there's nothing else for you to do but wait. The device guide instructs you to set the robot about a foot away from any walls, in the left-most corner of the room you're cleaning. That helps it create a "virtual wall" behind it, so that the robot knows not to go behind that spot in the room and just focus on the areas in front of and to the right of it. Then, simply press the clean button on the robot twice and it will start.

The first time I used the Braava Jet to clean my kitchen, I was mesmerized by it. Partially because it's a cute little robot that was scooting around my kitchen floor, but also because I wanted to see how well a relatively inexpensive cleaner would clean the small nooks and crannies of my kitchen. The Bravva Jet is small enough to fit in the space between the floor and the start of my lower kitchen cabinets, so it got in those hard-to-reach areas easily. It was kind of like watching a mini bumper car slowly working its way through a fairly uncomplicated track, as the Bravva Jet would softly bump into things like my oven or refrigerator, wait a second, back up slightly, then continue to clean on a parallel route.

The robot does map out the room so it knows where it has cleaned and where it still needs to clean by the objects and obstacles it runs into, including appliances and walls. I appreciated that when the Braava Jet did hit things like my oven, it would recalculate and clean directly up against the object that it hit. It doesn't back an inch or two away, it literally runs itself up against the obstacle to clean the area around it. Considering the cleaning portion of the Braava Jet (the rectangular pad) is only about half the width of the entire device, it's helpful because it shows the robot is programmed to actually clean as much space as it can, rather than just running over all of the flooring in the room.

Cleaning my kitchen and bathroom floors with the Braava Jet made them cleaner than they ever have been. Typically I sweep each room a few times a week, but the Braava Jet got into the smaller places that are harder for my broom to reach. I liked the damp cleaning pad the best because it's a great combination of wet mopping and dry sweeping—it picked up more dirt and hair from the floor than wet mopping did, while still cleaning the floor better than dry sweeping. I will say that the Braava Jet still couldn't clean all of my floors, since it was too big to fit into places like the area next to and behind my toilet. But no robotic vacuum, unless it's the size of a baseball, will be able to do that.

I also only had to refill the reservoir every three cleanings or so. Neither my kitchen nor my bathroom is very big, so the Braava Jet could run a few cycles before it needed more water. For reference, iRobot claims the Braava Jet can sweep a 250-square-foot room and mop a 200-square-foot room in one session. Each cycle I ran lasted about 10 minutes, and the Braava Jet's battery was down to about 50 percent after five cycles. Overall, the Braava Jet is a great alternative to sweeping and hand-washing the floors in my apartment, although the recurring payments for more pads would make me pause before buying it. However, the Braava Jet would pay for itself after a few cycles for anyone who has mostly or all hardwood floors in their home. Anyone with large homes, though, would get more use out of the $299 Braava 300 that can sweep up to a 1,000-square-foot room and mop up to 350 square feet.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Genius ECO-u821 8000mAh Power Bank Portable Charger Review



I still use my Genius ECO-u10000, as it is one of the better mobile chargers that I own. It has charged my various smart devices countless times since I have had it, but that is all set to change with Genius' new ECO-u821, the company's new 8000mAh Power Bank. As the New Year rolled in, I received a parcel at my front door with the ECO-u821 inside. I didn't think much of it until I looked closer at just how thin it was. It isn't until you take it out of the package that you appreciate what Genius has done here with its ECO-u821 charger.

Before we get into that, we'll take a look around the Genius ECO-u821 charger.

Once the ECO-u821 is out of the box, the fun begins. Looking at it top-down, the only thing we can notice is the Genius branding.

On the bottom of it, we have the details of what we can find inside of it - the battery size, voltages, and of the labeling to what the ports are on the side of it.

To the right side of the Genius ECO-i821, we find a charging cable tucked away. This is a thin charging cable that tucks right into the side of the ECO-u821, which is great.

At the rear of the charger, we have the two USB ports - one 1A port, one 2.1A port - and the micro USB port for input. Now that we're done with the pleasantries, let's get into it. Genius' ECO-u821 is beautiful. I love it, it's sleek, it looks great, and it's thin and light. After testing countless mobile rechargeable batteries, this is one of the best that has come through my lab.

Genius has a thin, light charger (like GOAL ZERO SHERPA 100 KIT ) that packs plenty of juice inside. If you were to lift it and feel the weight of it, you would guess that there's a ~3000mAh battery inside. Somehow, most likely with magic, Genius has slammed 8000mAh into it, all while looking great, too. It is quite a large charger, but the low weight offsets this big time. I used the Genius ECO-u821 on a trip away with my wife and daughter for a few days, where I exclusively used the ECO-u821 charger to keep my Nexus 5 smartphone topped up. I was able to go the entire trip - three days - using just the Genius ECO-u821 charger. For me, this is great, as it means I can sit in my hotel room, anywhere in the hotel room, with a fully charged smartphone. Better yet, when I was packing my bag, the thin profile on the ECO-u821 came into play once again.

I was able to slide it into my bag against my tablet, which is obviously also flat, and they sat together well. Most rechargeable batteries are thick devices, and they have no place next to another device. Genius' decision to go thin, and light, makes this one of the most standout batteries I've tested. Considering you can grab them for well under $45, it has to be one of the best-priced mobile batteries around. I have no hesitations recommending this to anyone who is in the market for a new mobile battery; with 8000mAh of charge, it will charge even the most battery-hungry smartphones a few times over, all while looking sleek.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Are mobile solar chargers worth it?



I think most people would agree that a solar charging back cover for their mobile phone is a good idea. Not only will it bathe you in rays of eco-friendliness and goodwill toward humanity, but a sun-powered backing could also top off an ebbing battery.

That is, of course, if the charger lives up to the hype. The worthiness of a solar boost boils down to how much the charger costs, how quickly it transmits a charge, and how well it soaks in the rays.

The Samsung Replenish for Sprint, for instance, is an environmentally minded handset with an optional $30 Samsung-made solar-slurping back cover. Like most of its ilk, the Replenish's solar cover is high-maintenance. As long as it's snapped onto the phone, it will convert direct sunlight into electronic energy, but it isn't effective through glass. The manual only promises a charge if you hold the phone at a 90-degree angle to the sun, and Sprint estimates that you'll receive 20 minutes more talk time after an hour of sun worship.

That means, in order for the solar backing to pull any charging weight, you'll have to be outdoors for at least 30 minutes on a sunny day, with the case positioned just so. We were able to pull in enough rays to reboot a completely drained phone. When we tried again an hour later, however, holding the Replenish aloft in an extended sun salute only earned us nervous looks from passers-by, but not enough extra juice to once again wake up the dormant phone. (Unfortunately, San Francisco has been so consistently pummeled with clouds, we didn't receive many other opportunities to repeat our tests. We'll stick with it, though.)

The solar cover on Sagem's Puma Phoneoffers more promise, mostly because it's already integrated into the primary back cover. Solar panels aren't cheap, so they could contribute to the price of the phone overall, but it's neat to see this cover as a fixture on a phone that isn't particularly marketed as environmentally aware.

The Puma Phone has the same basic set of limitations as the Replenish, technological restrictions that my colleague Kent German has also detailed in his review of the Revolve XeMini Plus, a free-standing solar charger. Even in Kent's weeks-long tests, he wasn't able to use the Revolve charger to fully power a phone.

In the end, having an extra solar cover (for example: SUNJACK 14W PORTABLE SOLAR CHARGER ) may have some practical and earthly benefits if you're an outdoorsy person who doesn't mind topping off your phone a bit at a time.

Integrated solar chargers are certainly more sensical for those emergency top-ups than a separate cover that you have to remember to bring with you outside, although selling the cover as an accessory may reduce the phone's overall cost. Still, for its modest amount of juice, an aftermarket charging add-on won't adequately return most people's investment.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Safe Haven seeks Guns-N-Hoses sponsors



They say time flies when you’re having fun, and there will be a lot of fly balls and fun July 11 when Safe Haven holds its seventh annual Guns-N-Hoses charity softball game at the newly renovated historic Calfee Park.

Ellen Mitchell, executive director of Safe Haven Child Visitation Centers of the New River Valley, is seeking sponsors for the event, which is Safe Haven’s only fundraiser of the year. The game is a major funding source for the nonprofit, all-volunteer agency.

Safe Haven provides traumatized and often abused and neglected children with a safe place to visit with estranged parents during court ordered supervised child visitation centers Seattle, without the parents having contact with one another. This alleviates stress and trauma for the child.

The organization is strictly dependent upon donations and grants to operate.

The past six Guns-N-Hoses games “have given the community an opportunity to enjoy an evening of wholesome family fun while supporting a much-needed service to our community,” Mitchell said.

Since the game is Safe Haven’s only fundraiser, she noted sponsorship are important to ensure the agency can continue to provide the same level of service it has in the past. To become a sponsor or obtain additional information, contact Mitchell at 540-808-0096 or safethaven86@yahoo.com.

Agencies competing in this year’s softball game will be Pulaski and Dublin police departments, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, REMSI (Regional Emergency Medical Services Inc.) and members of all seven county fire departments. WDBJ7 in Roanoke, which partners with Safe Haven to offer the annual event, also will have news and weather personalities on hand to play and greet the crowd.

Door prizes donated by area businesses will be given away during the game, and concessions will be available through new Calfee Park owner, Shelor Motor Mile.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Short Essay: How to Start a Small Business


Becoming an entrepreneur is a worthwhile endeavor. The desire to start your own small business is both admirable and terrifying simultaneously. If you don’t know what you are getting yourself into, you could be looking at a lot of disappointment in the future. However, if you are willing to take the risks and steps necessary to learn how to start a small business, there is the potential for great personal satisfaction.

Before you choose to go on this journey you should ensure that your business idea is solid. You cannot start a small business based on what you see everyone else doing. When the market is flooded with people selling baseball caps, opening up another hat shop is not a good idea. Planning a small business takes both knowledge and common sense. You will need to research how viable your idea will be in the marketplace.

Adam Khafif offers some phenomenal advice. He says, “Whatever you choose to pursue, make sure your customers and supporters feel valued at the end of the exchange.” Your business has to add value to the community if you want it to be successful. And, if you are truly serious about this endeavor, you will need to follow these 20 steps to starting a successful small business.

We are not trying to make the list a simple procedure because running your own business is anything but easy. However, we do want you to go at this endeavor as well informed and prepared as possible. Do not skip any of the steps we have laid out for you here:
  • Understand the market. The truth is, the “next big thing” is probably not what you are going to create. Instead, understand the type of job you want to do and then research the market to see if your career desire can fill a need in your area. Don’t try to chase money. Instead, choose to sell the things you love.
  • Write a business plan. These can be elaborate or simple. Just be certain that you answer some invaluable questions when you create the plan. The questions include:
  • What’s your vision?
  • What’s your mission?
  • What are your objectives?
  • What strategies will you employ to reach them?
  • What’s the action plan?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ignoring Graphic Design Could be Detrimental to Your Business


Unless you’re a professional graphic designer in addition to having your own business, you are strongly advised to find and hire a graphic designer for your business’ web page. The millennial generation reached preadolescence at a time when the Internet was beginning to be used for college classes, games, and businesses. This was the beginning of Internet literacy as a necessity for those living in developed societies. Today, having a web page is commonplace. But having a page alone is not what will help your business grow to any extent. You must find a way to make your page stand out, and stick in consumers’ minds.


Why Ignoring Website Graphic Design Is Bad for Business


Your website is one giant advertisement for your business. Poor site design does not represent your brand well. This leads to lower customer traffic; and, in turn, less business. A mediocre site design will likely require regular revamping every few years. The time and cost of regular redesigning is not worth having a great design in the first place. Plus, it gives the public the impression that your business cannot afford a professional designer. An unfortunate image such as this is difficult to remove. Paying for quality design proves its usefulness many times over. One dynamite professional design will last far longer, and keeping it the same builds familiarity with your brand for your customers.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

3 Must Have Items to Get Funding for a Small Business


Funding a small business is usually the one area most new business owners struggle with. It can be difficult to find investors or secure loans when a business has not even opened its doors. It’s the classic catch-22, though, most lenders or investors want to see the business is successful before giving money but you need the money in order to start your business. Fortunately, you can prove your business is a worthy investment just by having these three things in order.

  1. Business Plan


To begin with, before you ever try to seek funding, you need to have a solid business plan. Your business plan is basically an outline of every detail about your business. It should explain what your business is and what it does. It should outline the financial plan for the first few years of the business. In addition, it should give details about the people running the business, the structure of the business, and its location. The plan should have explanations of the different business aspects, including marketing and human resources.

Anyone reading your plan should have a complete picture of what your business is. The plan should address any possible questions that could come up. They should be left with no questions about anything. You don’t need an MVU Online degree to figure out how to write a plan, but you might benefit from a course in business.

IROBOT BRAAVA JET 240 MOPPING ROBOT

There are a number of perks to having a robot vacuum, the biggest being you can clean your home without actually having to do anything you...