Random Product Round-up


Here’s a little roundup of products I’ve tried out recently. In each case, the product was sent to me by the company that makes or promotes it for the sake of a review.

No Sweat

For some of us, exercise always leads to perspiration, flowing in rivulets down our faces from the pores in our foreheads. It ain’t pretty but it’s true, and sometimes you just don’t want the sweat getting into your eyes. Enter No Sweat, a sweat absorbing, disposable hat liner that will fit easily into your favorite baseball cap.

The Minnetonka, Minnesota based company makes liners for hats, helmets and hard hats, using their patented design and Dri-LID technology. They call it “game changing,” which may be true. Based on my experience, using No Sweat liner in the baseball cap I wear for my morning walk, it works. It absorbs the water, it stays in place, and there’s no smell as sometimes occurs when sweaty bacteria gets together with other sweaty bacteria. It’s easy to install, and easy to remove – its peel and stick – and does not seem to make me any hotter than normal while walking.

And it’s unobtrusive. No one will see it unless you want them too, and you will barely even notice it on your own head. At least, that’s my experience. No Sweat comes in multipacks in resealable plastic bags. I recommend it. Learn more at https://nosweatco.com/


We’ve had weirdly inconsistent weather where I live, with cold and hot days sharing the same weeks for much of what we technically call Winter and Spring. So testing Invroheat’s wildly-inventive space heater has not been a linear experience.

Still, it’s way too interesting to ignore. Invroheat created a space heater that doubles as wall art. It’s basically a 40 inch by22 inch rectangular picture that plugs into the wall socket and makes the wall radiate heat into the room.

It comes rolled up like a cylinder, and when you look at it, one side is the image you selected (they have benign decor scenes as varied as plants and landscapes – a detail of mine is the featured image of this particular edition of Velleity), and the other side is shiny foil. You unroll it – the one I was sent took a while to go flat, so I stretched it out on a table for a few days. And there are cord minders (the company calls it a power cord clamb) that you can stick to the wall to hold the power cord straight and presumably do the same for the heater. For my purposes, I didn’t use the “clamb” because I might move the heater out of the room it’s in.

Once the Invroheat is plugged in, its a simple matter of switching it on and waiting for it to heat up. It heats up pretty fast, creating a radiant heat reflected off the back toward the wall which makes the wall hot enough to raise the temperature nearby.

As far as how effective Invroheat is, your mileage may vary. I used it in our kitchen, a pretty open space, and while it appears that it slightly elevates the room temperature, I could only feel significant heat while standing or sitting very near the heater. It does not project well – although it might work best in a smallish, enclosed room. The company says the 430w model will heat a 12×12 room. Like I said – your mileage may vary.

And that brings me to the company warning. Invroheat generates heat from the foil side, so the company advises against hanging it too near flammable materials. That seems to rule out hanging the picture near curtains, decorations made of paper or fabric and perhaps some other items I can’t think of at the moment. Positioning it on a brick wall is probably optimum, with a painted wall coming in second – although the company does warn that the radiant heat might discolor certain walls.

I hung mine on a wall with wallpaper, but with the warning about flammable materials top-of-mind, I don’t generally leave it on very long. That said, I once left it on for 2 days without any problem. Part of the reason I left it on so long is, perhaps, a selling point: Invroheat makes no noise (not even an electric hum, and generates no odor so it’s easy to just forget about it and walk by it the same way we routinely ignore the art we hang in our houses for decor.

This is where I might tell you to “Learn more at http://www.invroheatusacom,” but right now, that site appears to be not public. However, at invroheat.com, (based in the Netherlands), I found this: “The founder and co-owner of Invroheat BV, Bastiaan Roest, presented himself successfully on May 10th to five Sharks during the television program “Shark tank”. With a bid of 1,000,000 euros, Roest is the absolute star of the program with the highest bid ever made in the 19 years history of the program.”

And the product does appear to remain available for sale online.

Gloves in a Bottle

Imagine if you had to expose your hands to soap or hand sanitizer repeatedly during the day. What? You can relate?

Whether you work in healthcare, or live in a pandemic – or both – hand hygiene has become critically important, more so than ever, in the age of coronavirus. But all that washing can be hard on your skin – even if its necessary.

And that’s where the product called Gloves in a Bottle comes in. The company describes it as an all-in-one “shielding lotion,” and touts its ability to protect hands for hours.

It’s a thick, creamy lotion that disappears quickly when rubbed in.

According to the company, Gloves in a Bottle “actually bonds to the outer layer of skin, filling in any gaps and protecting skin for up to four hours while washing and sanitizing until it needs to be reapplied. Hospital workers have said that it is the only thing that helps heal their bleeding hands after a shift where they are constantly washing them, and it is approved for them to use in all areas of the hospital including operating rooms. Glove In A Bottle is now sending product to any health care worker who contacts them asking for it.

That’s all good. But, it is only fair to point out to you that you have to reapply the lotion every four hours for maximum protection. Nothing wrong with that, but there are plenty of lotions that make claims of long lasting efficacy – Neutrogena Norwegian Formula claims to provide “24-hour moisturization for dry rough skin;” Nivea Men Maximum Hydration makes similar claims, and etc. The point is that there are many, many lotions and hand creams out there which may be of similar quality. My wife and I have tried a lot of them and what I find is that it just depends on your preference.

Although I can’t say that Gloves in a Bottle is the best of the lot, I can say it works well and seems to be a high quality lotion which holds up to the competition. I also appreciate the company’s honesty in saying that you have to replace it every four hours for maximum benefit. Not every company puts that fact – which no doubt applies to many competing products – out there.

And frankly, you’ve got to give Gloves in a Bottle credit for giving product away to healthcare workers who are on the front lines in dealing with this unprecedented crisis.

Learn more at http://www.glovesinabottle.com


PaMu Slide: The best earphones I’ve ever owned


To be honest, I’m not a guy who spends a lot of money on earphones. But I always appreciate having a good pair around, whether earbuds or the kind that sits over your ears. That’s why I have so many, several of them Apple, having come with various iPhones I’ve owned over the years. I’ve owned a few other brand names – like Sony, for instance, although I never want to spend a lot for them because I don’t use them constantly.

So having said that, I recently tried out a pair of PaMu Slide wireless earbuds, and I have to say, I love them. If you’ve never heard of them, these remarkable earbuds are made by a company called Xiamen Padmate Technology based in China. They retail for about $70. Compare that to Apple AirPods that sell for between $159 and $199. And consider that experts say that the sound of PaMu’s buds are “sharper and clearer than Apple’s.”

I mention that because I’ve never owned a pair of AirPods or any other wireless earbuds. But as a layman who just loves music and who sometimes has to listen to recordings of interviews for work, I’m impressed. Glad to know others with more experience are, too.

The sound quality is astounding, no matter which part of my eclectic music collection I happen to be listening to. The buds connect via Bluetooth effortlessly with my iPhone XR. They require little more to connect to the oldest piece of Bluetooth-enabled tech I own, a discontinued Barnes and Noble Nook running a weaker version of an Android OS from before BN started outsourcing Nook production to Samsung (do they still make them at all?). Even as I begin to write this, I’m listening to the Nook, playing an old Swing Out Sister album and enjoying every bit of the complex, dense instrumentality that went into making it.

I also love how comfortable these buds are in my ears, how secure they are when I move around and how with just a tap, I can pause the music if I need to hear something other than the music. The up volume is a long press on the touch area on the right bud, where the same on the left decreases volume. It might take some getting used to the fact, though, that not all the commands work the same way on each bud as noted in the diagram below.

The right and left ear buds share some of the same functions, but not all.

That brings me to phone calls. I find that the call quality is quite good; I had a conversation with my wife with one of the buds connected to the Nook and the other to the iPhone (not sure two Bluetooth pairings at the same time is a desired result, although it was interesting to hear Annie Lennox in one ear and the Delfonics in the other for a second). Even though only the bud paired with the phone was taking the call, I could hear her, and she could hear me – which is my definition of a successful phone call even in the 21st century.

The learning curve for basic use of the PaMu Slide is as simple as picking them up from the charger. Speaking of that, the charger is a cute little cube that when closed looks like a small speaker. When you slide the cover back you reveal the earbuds in their molded charging cradles. Nice design. The charger has indicator lights on the cover to let you know if it needs plugging in – it easily lasts more than a week without a charge. When you do charge the cradle, just plug the USB connector cable into the power block you use for your phone or into your computer or any other decent hub.

And the indicators on the buds themselves clue you in to whether they need charging. My experience is that they will play hours and hours of music without distortion or fading. They claim 10 hours. I believe that, based on listening for a few hours one day and then a few more the next day.

Finally, the PaMu Slide has a wireless phone charging function that activates with a little button on the cradle. As noted in the manual, “this function is optional, non-standard” so your mileage may vary depending on device.

Is it sad that I don’t know if my phone will take wireless charging? I need to look into that….

PaMu has been raising funds for the next generation of their earbuds on Indiegogo since earlier this year. There were two days left to get in on the campaign when I wrote this, with $4 million raised and more than 100,000 backers.

The upshot: From my perspective as a regular guy who loves music the PaMu Slide is the perfect set of earbuds to take on the road. Easy to pack, easy to use, and fantastic sound quality.

How smart is KeySmart? UPDATE

UPDATE 7/23/19

When I first posted my review of KeySmart, I promised an update if the company offered an explanation for the shorter than expected time between charges for the battery that feeds the key fob’s built in flashlight and Bluetooth tracker. So here’s the update: Not only did KeySmart respond (after a short delay), they quickly acknowledged that there might be something wrong with the battery, and sent me another fob to try out. That’s good customer service! No muss, no fuss. That said, even after posting the original review, I had decided to try again to charge the original fob. So by the time the replacement KeySmart arrived, I had already determined that there must have been some kind of charging error the first time – maybe a loose connection – because when I charged the device again, it held the charge and has held it ever since. I really don’t know what made the difference. But at this point, the original fob has held its charge about as long as the company advertised. So I’m happy to report, the time between charges is no longer an issue. Whether it was some kind of operator error or some other glitch, the charge in the original KeySmart holds. Glad to set the record straight on that. Original review below

Did you know that the average person has 9 keys and is not sure what many of them open? That’s not just crazy in a normal kind of way but it can also get bulky. And losing your keys is always a hassle.

KeySmart makes a gadget tailor-made for those who are about to be somewhere other than home: a compact key holder that resembles a pocketknife. KeySmart Pro comes with Tile – the digital tracking device – built into the key holder. Paired with the Tile app, available at an app store near you, you can track your keys and even use KeySmart to track your phone if you happen to lose it.1-IMG_0013[113804]

If all of the above sounds good, you can appreciate the promise of the whole KeySmart premise – an easy, compact, efficient way to manage your keys, a way to step beyond the ball of confusion many of us have to deal with if we have more than a couple of keys to carry.

Should be a win for the company. But how well do these products actually function?

While KeySmart makes fobs in various styles/builds/ and price ranges, the KeySmart Pro lists for $49.99 on the KeySmart website. I did not pay for this one – the company, of it’s own volition, sent it to me so I could review the product.

My plan to test the system involved 1) loading it up with a few keys to see how it fares in practice, 2)trying to find the key fob once it was remote from my location and 3)using the fob to find my phone.

Before testing, I followed instructions – I charged the KeySmart fob with the included USB cable til the green indicator light came on. Then, I downloaded the Tile app and synced the fob to my phone.

First, KeySmart works with Bluetooth, meaning that as long as you’re relatively close to the keys you lost, you can find them using the app on your phone. I tested the ability of the fob to locate my phone. I engaged a rigorous exercise involving moving my phone to a bookshelf upstairs, then going downstairs to the kitchen, and tapping the tiny Tile button twice.

That action is supposed to make my phone ring even if the ringer is off – all the better to locate the lost device. The first time I tried it, no ring occurred. The second time, by which time I had brought the fob into closer contact with the phone, there was a ring tune played – after a slight delay. Based on my testing, the closer you are, the better.

I also tested involved “losing” my key fob – by leaving it at home and driving to my office 12 miles away.To make it more interesting, I asked my wife to take the fob with her when she left the house, which would allow me to test the location feature by figuring out where she was. The app comes with a mapping function which is supposed to show you where your keys ended up when you lost them.

In theory, this could be good. But in practice, it only works if you happen to be able to take advantage of Tile’s crowd sourcing element.

Tile uses Bluetooth to find your lost keys when you’re in range but a crowd sourcing model based on the proximity of other Tile users to find your lost stuff when you’re out of range. As noted in Jason O’Grady’s 2013 review: “Obviously the service requires a large user base to be effective (and may not work in less populated areas) but it’s a no brainer in large metros.”  In a later piece, O’Grady (who backed the original Tile crowdfunding push) noted that anyone who wants to help Tile be more effective can just download the app, which makes it more likely to locate a lost item.

So given those facts, finding your lost keys is dependent on how close you are to them, and how many other people are around with the Tile app installed. Is that useful for you? Again, that depends.

In my case, there were apparently not enough other Tile users to get a bead on my keys. Good thing they weren’t really lost.

As for KeySmart’s ability to hold keys, it takes some work and some patience to get it loaded. I recommend using a quarter or a penny as your screwdriver – although once you do get the keys in place and screwed down, they’re in. On that note, be sure to follow the instructions, and to take literally the IMG_0769 company’s tip that the little spacers it comes with are optional. And do try to balance your keys on either side of the fob.

I’m using my KeySmart Pro to hold five keys plus the combination bottle opener/remote loop that comes with the device. It comes with enough spacers to hold more keys, but keep in mind that the screws that hold KeySmart together are only so long, so you’ll need to use good judgment.

Once the keys are in place, KeySmart takes up no more space than a medium sized pocketknife. Put it in your pocket and you see the key (ahem) advantage of not having your keys poking you in the leg or making holes in your clothes.

KeySmart Pro has a flashlight built in and the lamp and the Tile functions are charged with the included USB cable. The app tells you to charge the device every 45 days. In my case, the charge lasted a week. I asked the company for an explanation. If they give me one, I’ll update this post.

KeySmart also makes a magnetic key fob called MagConnect, which allows you to pull your keys away from the ring by detaching one half of the connector from the other. IMG_0014It would be convenient, for instance, if you wanted to hand one key to someone else – house guest, valet, mechanic, etc. – while hanging on to the rest of your keys, or if you want to go for a walk burdening your walking shorts with only the door key while leaving the rest at home. You can use MagConnect regardless of whether you have the other part of the KeySmart system.

The MagConnect actually claims to holds up to 3 pounds. My testing revealed that the powerful little magnets will hold a reasonable amount of weight, meaning a reasonable number of keys. Should be perfectly fine for normal people using MagConnect normally.

The upshot: KeySmart works fine as a compact key organizer which is comfortable to carry at least a few keys. The built-in Tile will help you keep up with your keys and phone in Bluetooth range. But outside that range, the Tile requires crowd sourcing to help you locate your lost device. So as a travel-specific gadget, either stick to well-traveled, busy metros, or try not to lose your KeySmart Pro.

You can buy KeySmart Pro and other related products at getkeysmart.com

Bugged by mosquitoes? Proven works

According to Tripsavvy.com, there are only 5 countries in the world that are free of mosquitoes: Antarctica, French Polynesia, Iceland, New Caledonia, and Seychelles. 

In some places in the southern U.S., residents will swear this skeeter is life-sized.

While I am not sure where they got that fact, one thing is for sure: nobody enjoys mosquitoes. They’re a pest whether you’re traveling or trying to enjoy the great outdoors close to home. Even worse, they carry a host of pretty lousy diseases, some of which can be deadly.

So if you’re at war with mosquitoes, what’s the best weapon? There are lots of options, many of which include DEET, which has well documented effectiveness as a repellent. DEET, also known as diethyltoluamide, is generally considered safe, but can cause problems for people with damaged skin, or in some rare cases, even breathing difficulties, burning eyes or headaches. Because of those and other reported issues, some folks are looking for alternatives.

One my wife and I recently tried is called Proven, a 20 % Picaridin (pronounced pih-CARE-a-den) formula. Picaridin, also known as Icaridin, is a popular alternative to DEET. It is a synthetic compound, developed by Bayer which resembles piperine, found in plants used to produce black pepper. Picaridin is recommended by the CDC (which also recommends DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus), as being effective against mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis among other illnesses. According to Consumer Reports, 20 percent solutions of Picaridin are among the most effective mosquito repellents around.

Unlike with DEET, there are few reported issues using Picaridin-based repellents on anyone – pregnant and nursing women, children, etc. And Picaridin is not known to degrade plastic or plastic-based material – spandex, rayon, etc., which DEET can do.

Proven is a new product, and comes in a lotion and a spray like many other mosquito repellents (there is a long list of other biting insects it repels, also). We tried both Proven varieties and tested them in a place mosquitoes are known to thrive: the Southern U.S.

Dee, a confirmed user of products with DEET (no relation), tried out the lotion while tending to her vegetables and flowers, and found it worked just as well as Off, Skin So Soft and Cutter products which use DEET.

I tried the Proven spray, while working on a table on the open deck and a compost bin in the backyard, as well as while mowing the lawn, trimming trees, and so on, and I found the spray worked just as well. In both cases, we found that hours outside in hot spring weather didn’t seem to lessen effectiveness. The company marketing claims 12-14 hour effectiveness depending on whether you use the spray or the lotion. Based on our use testing, that tracks.

Another thing: we both liked the smell of Proven. We tried what the company calls the “odorless” variety and the lightly scented alternative. The latter was pleasant, like a light perfume which you notice briefly before it fades. It is not overwhelming or likely to interfere with the aroma of anything else. (I have to say that the spray made me cough a bit when I was applying it; that ceased as soon as the vapor settled. No other adverse reactions from either of us).

The bottom line for a bug repellent is whether it keeps the critters at bay. Based on our experience, Proven makes the grade. If it can handle the mosquitoes around here, I suspect it’ll have no problem protecting you on your more exotic adventures.

The upshot: Proven works well at warding off mosquitoes and contains ingredients that are known to be safe and nontoxic to most people.

Proven is made in Florida by Melrose Holdings, LLC., based in Overland Park, KS. You can get it at Meijer, Westlake Ace Hardware stores and select Dick’s Sporting Goods stores(the company website also lists Target, Ace Hardware, Bed Bath & Beyond and Zulily) or online in a range of sizes at ProvenRepellent.com for $7.95-$12.95. For more information, visit provenrepellent.com.