Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Buffet of Product Review Follow-Ups

Today's post is a buffet of updates. I've been doing ongoing research on a few things, and have more information on a few topics that I've covered in the past. Those, and the lack of a good, original topics for this week, mean it's time to clean up some of the tidbits and loose ends.

Freeze-Dried Fruit
I tested and reviewed the Nature's Turn brand freeze-dried fruits a few weeks ago. At the time, the local source only had the apple, banana, and strawberry versions, but they were restocked and added the pear and peach snacks. They're still a dollar per bag at the local dollar store and I've seen them pop up online more often, so I hope they're widening their distribution.
  • The peaches were like the freeze-dried apples in texture, similar to a hard foam. The flavor was subdued and light until the fruit rehydrated in my mouth, and then it kicked in with lots of flavor, and the texture of fresh fruit started to come back. Good eating, and a pleasant surprise in the flavor burst.
  • The pears were a disappointment. They didn't have much flavor and the texture was just as bland. Not a bad flavor, just not much of any flavor.

Cell Phone
A little over a year ago I bought a new cell phone that has prepper potential. The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 has survived a year of my use without any issues.
  • The glass is unscratched despite the many drops and the generally harsh environment I work in (lots of abrasive dust). I keep it in a rubberized protective case, which has helped keep the already armored shell intact, where it rides on my belt or pocket for 12-16 hours a day.
  • The water-proofing is excellent. When it gets dirty, I simply wash it off in the sink. I don't have to worry about rain or splashing water while I'm cleaning any more.
  • I haven't noticed any decrease in battery life in the first year, but that can often take two or three years to be a problem.
  • The USB-C connector is nice, as being non-polarized means that you plug it in the right way every time. However, this has meant that I had to upgrade some of my charger/data cords and they are no longer compatible with some of my older electronics. I'm looking at adapters, but that's in the future for now.
  • The wireless charging works as advertised, but the phone gets noticeably warmer than when using a cord. I use the solar battery pack I reviewed here to charge my phone since it has the wireless charger built in.

Solar Battery Bank
This one rides in the truck with me most days. It's nice to be able to unfold the panels and set it on the dash while I'm at work and have it top off the charge for free. I put it in the shade when its not being charged to avoid too much heat.
  • About a hundred nights where it got below freezing, and probably the same number of days where the temperature inside the truck got over 90° F, haven't impacted the battery pack capacity. It will still charge my phone from dead, twice, with a little left over for other things.
  • The plastic-hinged solar cells are a concern, I'm watching for signs of cracking where it bends, but I haven't seen any yet.

Waterproof Cases
Speaking of things that ride in the truck with me, I threw the larger of the three cases I reviewed here in the bed of my truck last year. 
  • A few feet of snow, below-zero temperatures, a foot or two of rain, and countless bumps and bashes haven't hurt it at all. 
  • The interior is still dry, and other than a little bit of rust on the hasps and some scuffs and dirt, it still looks good.
  •  I expected the plastic would get brittle from the sunlight (UV rays tend to do that to most plastics) or the cold, but it has held up to the elements quite well, considering the price.

UST Parahatchet
I picked this one up at WalMart over a year ago. Initial testing gave fair results, so I loaned it to a young friend who was going on a week-long camping trip. Between his results and my own hands-on testing, this one falls into the “Hard Pass” category.
  • Weight: It's too light to have enough momentum to chop anything you couldn't break in your hands. Trying to chip off pieces of medium-hard wood (Red Elm and White Oak) ended up with the blade glancing off as often as it bit in. This is why the Boy Scouts teach keeping everyone at a safe distance when chopping wood.
  • Edge: It kept its edge fairly well, but some of that is because it saw very little actual use. We didn't intentionally abuse it, as I'm not a fan of “test to failure” unless someone else is footing the bill.
  • Handle: The paracord wrapping looks “tactical” but is a poor fit for most hands. It's just not comfortable to use, and if you have to remove the paracord for some other use you're left with a piece of flat, stamped metal to try to hold onto. This is not a good idea when swinging a sharpened edge around!

That's about it for this week. I'll see if I can kick my muse in the next few days and get back to new, original topics. Take care of yourself and your tribe; they're all you have that you can really count on.

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