Product Review Follow-Up : 5 Time-Tested Winners

I get a lot of stuff to review and I try to put things to the test before I complete a review, but the best test of a product is to use it over a longer period of time. Will it stand up to real life testing beyond the review? Some products are given away and others sit around in a box, only used occasionally. Below are five six products that I have continued to use over and over again.

1. LED Lenser P7 Flashlight

LED Lenser P7 Flashlight
This flashlight is the best one I’ve owned personally. I still might find it hard to spend $90 on a flashlight, but it sure seems worth the price. Since I posted the LED Lenser P7 Flashlight review nearly three years ago, I have taken it to several states, and used it hundreds of times. When it’s stormy out, my wife goes for the candles and I find my P7. It always ends up back in its case and I still haven’t had to replace the 4 AAA batteries that came with it. I’m sure this thing will serve me well for many more years.

2. XShot iPhone 4 Case

IMG_2574.JPG
A little more recently, I completed an XShot iPhone 4 Case review, in which I demonstrated its ability to hold my iPhone 4 snugly at the end of an XShot camera extender to get some unique video and photo perspectives. Since then, I’ve used the case several more times, combined with a tripod, for steady video. Like the Lenser P7, I know where this is at all times in case I need it.

3. LA Besace Lime Drop Laptop Bag

LA besace Laptop Bag
After my LA Besace Lime Drop review, I decided to keep this good-looking case for myself and what a great choice. Tomorrow, as I have done for every flight in the past two years, I will pack my laptop, crossword books, pens, gadgets, and a couple magazines into my Lime Drop bag to take on the plane with me. It’s unique and fashionable and there isn’t a trip I go on without it.

4. NZXT Avatar Gaming Mouse

Avatar Gaming Mouse
I can’t tell you how many hours I spend on my computer every day, but I’ll bet it’s unhealthy. Since I posted my Avatar mouse review over a year ago, I have used this mouse somewhere around 4,600 hours. It’s precise, feels great in my hand, and looks incredible. I have one at home and another at the office.

5. id America’s Brushed Aluminum Gasket iPhone Case

id America - Gasket
iPhone cases don’t get much cooler than id America’s brushed aluminum gasket case. Just a picture of it on my Facebook wall inspired a friend to buy one for himself, but it was more than looks that got it on this list long after my id America review last November. It protected my iPhone for the first time when it was dropped in October, before the review was published. Since then, it has taken the fall for my iPhone many times while still looking incredible. It was after I dropped my phone again the other day that I decided to write this follow-up for items that continue to prove themselves.

Bonus: iBoo

iBoo
My wife wanted the iBoo iPod sound system from the moment she saw it so, after completing my iBoo review, I handed it over and it vanished to it’s new home at her office, where it has remained for three years. Without mentioning why, I asked my wife if she still uses the iBoo. Without hesitation, she replied, “Every day. It rocks!”. She loves iBoo and says she gets asked about it all the time. That excitement about this product made it the bonus sixth item on the list.

I like a lot of the products sent to me for review and there are some that just don’t work well at all, but there are products like the ones listed above that prove to be more than expected and get regular use. Those products truly deserved another mention.

Booq Python Blur Camera Bag Review

A couple years ago, I finally took the plunge and bought a DSLR. It came with the stock lens and was all I needed and I didn’t even need a camera bag. Since then, I’ve gotten a tripod and several lenses, and throwing them all in a regular backpack stopped working pretty much right away. It became clear to me that a good camera bag was what I needed.

Booq Python Blur Camera Bag

My wife bought me a camera bag and lugging around my camera and accessories became a lot easier. This is not the same camera bag. This is a bigger bag for lugging around a lot more lenses, cameras, and, well, just a lot. This Booq Python Blur camera bag turned up at my office recently for a review.

Haul Lots Of Camera Equipment

I have my DSLR camera, a 500mm mirror lens, macro lens, fish-eye lens, some filters, a tripod and I carry around my camera battery charger, an extra battery, Rubiks Cube, and a Flip Ultra and a small point-and-shoot Sony digital camera. I first pulled all the filler paper out of the Python Blur (look at all that). There are pockets everywhere. One really good pocket to have in a camera bag is a laptop pocket. If you have a DLSR that you can control with software on your laptop, you know the benefits. I would have never gotten this hummingbird photo without my laptop and at the time, I had to carry both the laptop bag and the camera bag, which was a pain. To get a feel for the capacity, I emptied out my camera bag and loaded it all up in the Python Blur.

Booq Python Blur Camera Bag Booq Python Blur Camera Bag
Booq Python Blur Camera Bag Booq Python Blur Camera Bag

(find the full photo set here)

It still felt pretty empty. I moved stuff around and it still felt empty. It makes sense, though. A professional photographer is going to have his or her good camera and then their backup, a slew of lenses, color meters, remotes, etc. And a professional photographer would probably be able to fit all that in the Python Blur easily enough. The bottom of the top compartment can be moved or removed, as well, to join the bottom area and form one large storage space. A professional photographer is going to need this much bag. Sadly, it seems this is a little too much bag for me… for now.

Size Isn’t Everything

So I didn’t have enough camera equipment to make much of a dent at all in the amount of pace this Booq bag provides. That’s a good thing, one would think, and it still is for most, but it provided some concern for me. The very first thing I noticed when I threw it on my back was that it felt a lot heavier than my old basic beginner bag. The heft does not come without it’s reasons (see below), but it feels like this bag weighs almost as much empty as my bag with everything in it. I’m sure I could get used to it and it’s not exactly a ton, but it would be less convenient, especially when I take my gear hiking. The site lists the Python Blur as only 5.7lb, so maybe I just need to go to the gym more.

The next problem I faced was the lack of anywhere to strap in my tripod. Even though it throws the balance of my current bag all off, it’s one more thing I like to have integrated into a single bag. This is more than offset with the laptop pocket, but I want both.

Finally, the side pockets felt small to me. They were the obvious place to store my lenses, but it didn’t feel like it. Cramming my largest lens in there didn’t feel right and even a couple smaller ones felt forced, though everything fit and came out fine.

Reward If Found And Other Cool Features

While it doesn’t actually say anything about a reward, that’s the first thing someone might think. When I opened up the top compartment, I found a bar code and serial number on a tag that reads, “IF FOUND PLEASE VISIT TERRALINQ.COM”. Something tells me that there are people out there who would guess correctly that a nice camera bag like this loaded up with equipment could sell for quite a bit, but there are plenty of helpful and honest people out there, too, who would love to return such a thing to its owner if only they knew who that was. That’s where Booq’s Terralinq service comes in. Buy a Booq bag, register it, lose it, someone finds it, they report it, Terralinq contacts you and you meet up with the finder for your bag. It’s a great idea that is hopefully saving some people lots of money or insurance headaches.

Booq Python Blur Camera Bag Booq Python Blur Camera Bag

One of the small features, but still worth pointing out, is the key ring in the left side pocket pictured above. Even better, but harder to show with a photo, is that the Python Blur’s exterior is 1680 denier ballistic nylon and water repellent. From the high-quality zippers to the denim lining, this thing is built to last a long time and absorb the impact of some of our clumsy mistakes. The inside is soft and protects without scratching. Aside from any features, a good bag should last and this one looks like it will.

Conclusions

There’s a lot of camera bags out there and bags made specifically to carry around expensive camera equipment and protect it from damage, rain, etc. are never cheap. At $229, this one is a little more than I would be willing to throw down for a bag for my camera equipment which I could replace for about $800 or less. More than the cost, it’s just too much for me. I need a simple bag for my simple photography needs. The Booq Python Blur is, however, a serious bag for serious photographers with a price tag that is justified by the years of rugged use it is likely to provide, the peace of mind named Terralinq, and the over-abundance of storage space.

Be.ez LEvertigo : Another Stylish Laptop Tote

Back in June, I gave you a LA Besace Lime Drop review for a bag I really liked and use pretty often. Last week, I found a new bag from be.ez called the LEvertigo in my mail. It’s designed for a 13″ MacBook or a 10.2″ netbook and has a compact design.

be.ez LEvertigo

Simple Design and Function

The LEvertigo looks pretty simple from the outside. It’s a slim shoulder bag that is very portable. Like the LA besace I reviewed before, it has a gray exterior with a lime green interior that provides a nice contrast. It’s not bad looking from the outside, but you really don’t feel its fashion until you open it up. Be.ez decided to replace the traditional zipper with velcro in the shape of a lower case letter e and a period. It’s the details like this that set the be.ez bags apart. While this makes getting to your notebook faster, it’s louder and not quite as library (or sleeping wife) friendly. For fans of zippers, they managed to include a couple inside the bag. The first is a small pouch in the bottom of the bag, just big enough for a paper back book. The other zipper is found closer to the top, sealing up a larger pouch that might hold CDs, etc.

be.ez LEvertigo be.ez LEvertigo
be.ez LEvertigo be.ez LEvertigo

Also near the top of the bag are three small pockets, each big enough for a cell phone. The bulk of the inside of the LEvertigo is soft, so it’s not likely to scratch up a cell phone. I’m not sure that three of these pockets is as good an idea as, say, two pockets and some pen/pencil slots. Of course, this bag has two large compartments that will be used the most. The first is the larger area for the laptop and had the usual velcro strap to keep it in. This time around, the strap is adjustable to fit your specific notebook. The final area is a large mesh pocket to hold important papers. Where the flap folds over, the sides fold in, as well to create a little more protection from any rain you might come across. Everything hangs off the shoulder with the help of the seat belt like strap that seems to be a welcomed theme for be.ez products.

Conclusions

Another tough bag from be.ez, I can imagine this one faithfully protecting your portable computing for years while being, itself, very portable. It will likely turn a couple heads when you open it and can be purchased in black/pumpkin as well (and additional colors for the non-US version). At about $60, it’s not cheap, but you’ll get your money’s worth, I’m sure. If you know someone who’s getting a netbook for Christmas, this would be a decent compliment to it.