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.

Hands Free Lighting With Joby GorillaTorch

Have you ever held a flashlight in your mouth to shine light on something you needed both hands to work on? If so, keep reading, because Joby sent me something they’ve designed for just such a situation.

Joby GorillaTorch

What Is A GorillaTorch?

The item pictured above is a product called GorillaTorch. The idea is to free up your hands while it still shines light on whatever you need to see. The web site touts it as a

must-have for auto repair, home improvement, camping and more

While it doesn’t seem to be made for standard walking around flashlight use, it seems to have the above mentioned situations in mind with it’s bright light and included tripod.

Joby GorillaTorch Joby GorillaTorch

(Additional Joby GorillaTorch Photos)

How Well Does It Work?

When I saw this in the mail, I decided that this thing needs to do two things and do them well to get a passing grade from me. It’s a flashlight, so obviously it’s ability to illuminate a dark area with lots of light was my first demand. It’s 65 Lumen CREE LED light source was not only super bright, but also adjustable. I usually keep it all the way up, but it’s nice to be able to conserve the batteries with less light when you don’t need as much.

The second make-or-break feature for this torch is the ability to have it point where I need it without holding it. I’m no stranger to Joby products, having recently provided a Joby GorillaMobile review, so I already had some expectations. As I thought, the GorillaTorch’s tripod was almost the same as on most of their products. It’s what they do, after all, so it did not surprise me that it did a wonderful job of gripping to just about anything I tried to wrap it around. What I didn’t anticipate is that it’s magnetic. It’s not something I would have thought necessary, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

The average battery life is 20 hours at full brightness all the way up to 80 hours if you dim it down. This seems acceptable given that it runs on three AA batteries.

Conclusions

Compared to high end flashlights running upwards of $90 and supermarket flashlights you can get for a couple bucks, the GorillaTorch fits nicely in the middle at $30 but has some benefits neither offer. Comparisons aside, it’s a very reasonable price for the only torch I’ve seen that would fit some of my needs. As part of my testing, it found its way into my server room where I actually needed to use it when the power went out. After having to shut down servers with one hand by iPhone light too many times, the GorillaTorch has a permanent place in that room now and has already proven useful. Anyone who needs light and both hands at the same time should give the GorillaTorch a look.

Leaving The Dark Behind : LED Lenser P7 Flashlight Review

Yesterday, I got something new in the mail to review, but this time, it’s not a robot or DJ equipment. This is a little more practical and can come in handy if I get stranded by the side of the road or just want to go camping. It’s a flashlight, and a really good one, too. Anyone who’s ever had the need for a decent flashlight knows the value of a professional grade compared to the plastic ones you find in the grocery store. It’s an LED Lenser, and it’s a bright little beast, but before I show you, let’s get to know a little about it.

LED Lenser P7 Flashlight

The LED Lenser P7 sent to me by Coast Products, came with a nice product guide and a full 2009 product catalog, but I was excited to try the P7 out, so I went right for the box. It’s a nice little box with everything tucked away in a manner that shows the flashlight off, which is nice. Inside the box is the P7, four “AAA” batteries, a wrist strap, a sheath and a user’s manual. At first sight, I was immediately impressed with the look of the flashlight and when I dug a little deeper, I was even more impressed with the sheath to carry it in. It’s seriously durable and covers most of the P7 well. I doubt I’d ever have to worry about losing my flashlight as long as it’s safely nestled in its sheath. The back top folds over and stays closed with some heavy velcro. On the back is the belt strap which also velcros and snaps for added security. Better still is the carabiner attached to the belt strap so I can just clip it almost anywhere for fast access.

LED Lenser P7 Flashlight LED Lenser P7 Flashlight

(Click here to view all the photos)

The P7 Model 8407 I have here uses the four included “AAA” batteries to produce some really bright light with a max of 192 Lumens at up to a staggering 738 feet, and their flashlight line gets even brighter, although this is plenty brightness for most people. In fact, the user manual comes with a warning.

LED Lenser P7 Flashlight

My first thought at reading this warning was that warnings like that have always been about the sun and lasers. You’re probably not going to be pointing it into your own (or other people’s) eyes, but it says something about how incredibly bright the light is that comes from this little package. At 5.25 inches long, it’s about an inch longer than my iPhone and fits easily into any of my jeans pockets and with its aluminum body, it weighs a sturdy, but not encumbering, seven ounces. According to the product guide, I should be able to get about 78 hours out of the batteries, which is pretty decent.

LED Lenser P7 FlashlightWhat really intrigued me was all the advanced flashlight technology crammed into this thing. For starters, it has an Advanced Focus System that helps it focus the light much more cleanly. It’s pretty easy to notice in the photo to the right and the demo videos below, too. I’m sure this also helps the light reach as far as it does. Another thing that the P7 includes is a heat sink. If you’ve heard of one of these, it was probably in reference to your computer’s processor or video card. They get really hot and a heat sink cools them down. The same is true here. The P7’s LED system is pretty efficient with it’s power consumption, but still could produce some heat throwing all that light out, so they included a heat sink to keep it cool, and it hasn’t felt warm to me yet, so I guess it works.

To see the LED Lenser P7 in action, just watch the two short videos below. The first is a quick example of the levels of illumination provided and the second is a demonstration of easy and accurate light focusing with one hand while I recorded the video with the other.

I think the only real gripe I had about this flashlight was the turning flashlight head. From everything I’ve read (and just using it), I’ve found no logical reason for the head of the flashlight to easily turn on it’s body like it does. It’s not really a problem until I focus the beam with my thumb by pushing the flashlight head for ward or pulling it back into the body. It just barely reduces the ease of use in focusing the beam, but it does so unnecessarily. That said, it was my only gripe and is certainly forgivable, but has to be mentioned regardless.

Before I opened the box, I knew where this flashlight would live if it lived up to my expectations, and it has exceeded them. I’ve been meaning to buy a torch for my car and I no longer have to. I work late a lot and Michelle and I love road trips, so this is a must. She has a decent high end flashlight in her car and I’ve been planning on buying the same one for mine, but now I’m glad I procrastinated. Though they’ll both perform well, I’m certain I have the better flashlight. I couldn’t help but think, however, about other uses for a P7. Since I’m going camping again in a couple weeks, that popped in my head right away. Then I thought of some other obvious uses. Obviously, police officers, firefighters, EMTs and other rescue personnel could really benefit from the bright light, which is why this is considered a professional grade flashlight. Spelunkers would love it, and anyone who works for the power company and has to climb a pole at 2 AM might find it handy. It’s waterproof, so I wonder if it would be a good deep sea diver’s tool.

While this flashlight will cost you a few dollars more at around $90, it’s built to stick around long enough to make up for it and then some, compared to most of the cheaper flashlights. Trust me, I know all too well. It’s also one of those “you get what you pay for” products… Well, maybe a bit more. It’s water proof, has gold plated contacts for optimal performance, the aforementioned technology built in, great battery life, and of course, really good light output. In short, it’s a serious flashlight from a company that seems to know what they’re doing, judging by their product line.

If you bought one, what would you use it for?

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