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Ctwink (Ohio, USA)

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Microfibre Towel Compact, Antibacterial and Quick Dry with Small Carry Pouch
Microfibre Towel Compact, Antibacterial and Quick Dry with Small Carry Pouch
Offered by Grabbits
Price: £20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Super Convenient and Super Portable Towel Works Super Well!!!, 23 Dec. 2014
** Note: I was given a free sample of this product in exchange for an honest review. **

I have to admit, I was somewhat skeptical of the Raqpak Microfibre Towel when I got it in the mail. Although it comes in a nice mesh bag that is super convenient, the towel folds down to app. 6" x 8" and about 1 1/2" thick, the towel doesn't have either the cushiony or soft feel of your typical cloth. However, it certainly does the job. I used it several days in a row to dry off after my daily shower. Although it doesn't glide across your body like a cotton towel, and can get bunched up in places, it quickly wicks away the moisture off your skin and hair without leaving it feeling water-logged and cold. Since the towel is very thin, it also dries off quickly which is always a huge bonus.

Since I'm 6'6", I also appreciate the XL 60" length. The purple color is not really my cup of tea, but when you are at the gym or camping or at the beach, I'm not sure you care about anything other than "getting dry" - and the Microfibre Towel does that well.

I plan on giving this towel to my son to use. As a Boy Scout who likes to pack light, the Raqpak Microfibre Towel will fit easily in his backpack to use after showering (when he does shower...) or to dry off after taking a swim. This is a really great product and is much appreciated!


OXA Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Ultra-Slim and Magnetic Design for Smartphone(Black) (IPhone 5 and 5S)
OXA Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Ultra-Slim and Magnetic Design for Smartphone(Black) (IPhone 5 and 5S)

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Keyboard, Awkward To Use At Times, 5 May 2014
The Bluetooth Keyboard for the iPhone 5 attempts to emulate the sliding keyboard found on some smart phones. The two-piece set consists of a metal phone holder that snaps onto the iPhone (and snaps quite snugly - it takes a concerted effort to extract the iPhone out of the holder) and a metal keyboard/battery piece. The keyboard uses magnets to snap onto the iPhone holder in two different orientations - either completely hidden behind the iPhone holder or slid out half way exposing the keyboard.

The keyboard connects iPhone via Bluetooth and my iPhone had no problems discovering the keyboard and making the pairing.

Strengths
The case holds together well. The magnets are strong and well-placed and the unit does not feel unstable when I use it. The case slides open and shuts really well, almost like both pieces were physically connected.
The Bluetooth connection is solid and was simple to setup

Weaknesses
The keyboard is metal with raised lines to delineate each key and engraved characters upon each key. This means you will need good lighting or fantastic muscle memory to figure out where each key resides when typing. Plus the keyboard layout has the space bar just to the right of the "M" key instead of the comma and period keys so if you're already an experienced typist you'll constantly hit the space when intending a period or comma.
The iPhone makes using this keyboard difficult as well - not all screens display into landscape mode. Therefore a user will sometimes need to tilt their head sideways in order to read the screen while they are typing.
Like many tech items this comes with a small set instructions, but these instructions contain some particularly small type. I measured the font to be between 1 to 2 mm high. I'm over 40 so reading the instructions were a bit of a chore.

Overall
The case does what it sets out to accomplish - it adds a physical keyboard to the iPhone. Unfortunately the iPhone isn't a great phone for keyboard use since some apps and even the main interface require the user to view it in Portrait mode. But if you're a user that absolutely hates the iPhone keyboard then this is viable alternative.


OXA? 8000mAh Aluminium Alloy 2 USB Ports External Battery Pack Portable Charger Power Bank for iPhone 5 5S 5C 4 4S iPad Air 2 3 4 Mini iPod, Samsung Galaxy S4 S3 Note3 Note2, Google Nexus 4 5 7, Nokia Lumia, Walkman, PSP, GPS and Most USB Powered Devices, Black
OXA? 8000mAh Aluminium Alloy 2 USB Ports External Battery Pack Portable Charger Power Bank for iPhone 5 5S 5C 4 4S iPad Air 2 3 4 Mini iPod, Samsung Galaxy S4 S3 Note3 Note2, Google Nexus 4 5 7, Nokia Lumia, Walkman, PSP, GPS and Most USB Powered Devices, Black

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Big Battery In A Small Package, 25 April 2014
**Note: I received free sample of this product from the manufacturer in return for an honest review**

I have several of the OXA Backup Batteries ranging in power from 2200 mAh to my huge 22,000 mAh mega battery and I have to say that the OXA 8000 mAh "Aluminum Alloy" External Battery Pack is my favorite. It has a good combination of battery power, size and capability. Although the smaller 2200 and 4000 mAh backup batteries that I have are nice and easily portable in your pocket or purse, they are pretty much done after one charge of a dead iPod or phone. Similarly, my 22K mAh battery can charge pretty much every electronic item I have, its the size of a book and weighs even more.

Conversely, the OXA 8000 mAh is small enough to slip comfortably in my pants pocket (and is certainly small enough for your purse or a small backpack pocket), isn't too heavy, and packs enough battery power to recharge both my phone and my iPod Mini after one of my overseas trips - since the battery conveniently has two USB ports. In addition, OXA gives you several different interchangeable plugs in a small ziplock bag. So all you have to do is take the bag and the battery with you, leave all your other cords at home, and you can pretty much charge any electronics item that you want.

I also like the "4 bars" showing battery life because many of the backup batteries that I've seen and/or used only have either one or two lights showing the batteries charged state. While it has a pretty bright light on it, once you turn it on there is no way to shut it off - it has an internal timer. I found this annoying, but not overly so. Another minor irritant was the "product features" literature on the back of the package which is written in VERY POOR English. I can't really fault the company for having trouble translating the technical aspects of the product into English, but I can fault them for not getting it proof-read before printing them on something they are selling. This seems somewhat infantile to me...

Despite the minor "should have dones" that I note above negatively, I really REALLY like the performance of the 8000 mAh "Aluminum Alloy" Portable Backup Battery. Great battery life - small size - light weight - interchangeable power cable - basically everything that you would want!


OXA® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard with Covering Case (for iPad mini2)
OXA® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard with Covering Case (for iPad mini2)

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best iPad Mini Case I've Seen, 25 April 2014
**Note: I received free sample of this product from the manufacturer in return for an honest review**

I was somewhat skeptical about having a keyboard for my iPad Mini as I thought that the added weight would defeat the purpose of getting a light iPad. I also was concerned that the keyboard would be so small as to be somewhat useless. Both of these concerns were not legitimate as the “OXA Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard” turns out to be a handy portable keyboard for your iPod Mini.

The case very securely holds you iPad and keyboard syncs very easily once you turn it on. I charged the keyboard for about two hours (using the same power cable as my phone) before I started using it and used it for days and it still has battery life. In addition, you can remove the magnetic keyboard from the case and move it around to a more comfortable position to type while the iPad Mini and case stay propped up on your table.

The construction of the iPad case is good as the exterior is leather, the iPad Mini holder is nice malleable plastic, the keyboard is light and strong enough, and the case is held together with strong magnets. Although the case is a little too floppy to – say – type on your lap, I think its probably as good a product you could get for such a small device. I really like it and I plan on using it as often as I can!


OXA® Portable Business Electronic Recording Smartpen Pen, 8GB USB Memory LCD Voice Recorder Pen Classical Multi-functional Digital Pen,Built-in lithium battery,Stereo Voice Audio Recorder Pen Multiple Formats(Multi-function: MP3 Play,FM Radio,Recorder,U Disk, Pen) (Black(1 pen))
OXA® Portable Business Electronic Recording Smartpen Pen, 8GB USB Memory LCD Voice Recorder Pen Classical Multi-functional Digital Pen,Built-in lithium battery,Stereo Voice Audio Recorder Pen Multiple Formats(Multi-function: MP3 Play,FM Radio,Recorder,U Disk, Pen) (Black(1 pen))

4.0 out of 5 stars A Whole Bunch Of Great Uses In A Small Package, 25 April 2014
**Note: I received free sample of this product from the manufacturer in return for an honest review**

Honestly, the “OXA Portable Business Electronic Recording Smartpen Pen” is a pretty amazing little product. It will play MP3 audio, it will record your voice (or a meeting), it plays FM stations, and it also plays U discs while simultaneously being a functional ink pen.

Although this is clearly not its primary function, what with all the electronics packed into this little package, the ink pen is very nice. The base of the pen (the lower half) is metal and thus you have a nice, stabile writing platform. Also the actual ink pen insert itself is nice and the ink flows steady, dark, and even. One thing that would be nice is for the electronics package within the pen to be held in place a little better as the top of the pen rattles a little while being used.

The OXA Business Pen can be set to the various electronics mode with just a touch of a button. Although this can be a little cumbersome in actual use as there are only five buttons that perform 10 functions with each button having the capability of performing two separate tasks – whether you push the button quick or hold it and then release. Once you get over the (sometimes frustrating) learning curve of what button does what task, it is fairly simple to use. It is also very simple to charge and sync the OXA Business Pen as you just unscrew the base to reveal a USB port.

To sync music, I plugged the pen into my USB port and using Microsoft Media Player, I quickly moved MP3’s to the pen. With an 8 GB memory, I was pretty much able to move about half of my total songs over to the pen before the memory started getting low (since I wanted to save space for doing recordings). The playback of the music is surprisingly good for such a small package and the audio out port is conveniently located on the top of the pen. Using the +/- buttons you can scroll up and down through your MP3’s and easily pick different music.

Turning to the record mode, you can flip between actual recording or looking at your saved files again with the touch of a few buttons. The mic on the pen is decent and I was able to pick up sound clearly from about 10 feet away.
Overall, this is a handy and compact product. Although I think that there may be a little too many things jammed into this one package, considering the complexity of its operation sometimes, I think it all works pretty well. Although the pen is somewhat large, it isn’t too much larger than other fancy business pens that I’ve received as gifts. So, 5 stars and a big thumbs up on the operation of the OXA Business Pen, but I’m going to ding it on the complexity of use.


OXA® NFC Bluetooth Natural Wood Design Wireless Stereo Speaker For iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, 4S, 4, 3GS, iPads, Bluetooth Android Phones, Samsung Galaxy Note, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, Nokia Lumia, Blackberry and all other Smart Phones, Tablets and Computers (Black)
OXA® NFC Bluetooth Natural Wood Design Wireless Stereo Speaker For iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, 4S, 4, 3GS, iPads, Bluetooth Android Phones, Samsung Galaxy Note, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, Nokia Lumia, Blackberry and all other Smart Phones, Tablets and Computers (Black)

3.0 out of 5 stars Portable Rechargeable Speaker Is Just OK, 22 April 2014
**Note: I received free sample of this product from the manufacturer in return for an honest review**

Out of the box, the OXA NFC Bluetooth Natural Wood Design Wireless Stereo Speaker comes with everything you need - a USB charging cord (although w/o a plug), a speaker cable, and directions. Although the product packaging state that the battery is fully charged when it shipped, I still plugged it in to charge for a couple hours just to make sure. Here are my observations.

1) It is VERY simple to sync. Using both Bluetooth and NFC to sync to either your iPad/iPhone/iPod or smart phone, it is a breeze to setup the Natural Wood Speaker to stream music. In fact it was so easy, that my iPad would not play music through its speakers if the Natural Wood Speaker was in the same room - even when I shut it off. This was somewhat irritating as I constantly had to go into my settings to have my iPad "forget" the speaker so that my iPad's on-board speakers would kick in again.
2) The sound is pretty rich even if it is somewhat on the quiet end. When I had my iPad's volume control all the way up and the Natural Wood Speaker's volume all the way up (volume level "32"), it was just "ok" at a distance of about 30 feet while in my backyard. I think part of this is from the speakers pointing out the sides of the cube - essentially I could only have one of the three speakers pointed at me at any time. You really need to have the speaker in a corner or with something surrounding it to allow the sound to come around. Out in space, the Natural Wood Speaker is not very loud if you intent on staying in one position. However, if you plan on moving around, it actually works pretty well since the speakers point in three directions and maybe that's what OXA had in mind.
3) The touchscreen controls although convenient, are hard to use. Since there is no tactile or audio feedback when you touch the LED "controls", it is hard to know when you missed the "button" or if the Natural Wood Speaker didn't respond to the input. In addition, the red control lights on a black background are IMPOSSIBLE to see outside. I even tried covering the front with my hand to cut the glare and putting it under my hat. I finally had to walk inside to setup the speaker before walking out again to test it out. I also found myself accidentally hitting the "mode" button when I really wanted to turn the volume down and other things like that because my fingers are bigger than the small touchscreen buttons.
4) The directions I received are descriptive enough. However there is one issue with the directions that I note below.
5) The radio works well - leave the charging cord in the top to act as an antenna. Once you set the "mode" to the radio, hit the play/pause button and the Natural Wood Speaker will go through all the stations it can find and set them up as "preset stations". Once you have the preset stations, you can use the fast-forward and reverse buttons to go up and down the presets. Although this works just find if you want to listen to a strong station, you'll never be able to dial into a weak one. The directions state that you should be able to push and hold the volume buttons to fine tune the stations which would be great if you are trying to tune into a station that isn't super strong, but this doesn't work. After e-mailing the company, they have said that the directions are a misprint.
6) The battery life on this is almost exactly two hours - once you completely drain the battery upon getting it in the mail and then completely recharge it overnight. Two hours is an ok duration for being outside. It takes about 4 hrs to charge the Natural Wood Speaker back to 100% although you wouldn't know if the speaker is 1/4 charged or 1/2 charged or fully charged because the LED showing battery always showed the same icon - an open battery.
7) I liked the look of the speaker. It's very functional and portable and the speakers are pretty decently sized. The wood body of the speaker is a very hard wood and OXA obviously covered it with several layers of durable lacquer. For some unknown reason, the charging port for the Natural Wood Speaker is on top of the unit. This is not particularly helpful. Finally the power button needs to pushed AND held for about a 5 count in order to turn it on.

Overall there were many things to like about the Natural Wood Speaker, even if it has some irritating quirks. Positives included the sleek design, the touchscreen controls, the ease of Bluetooth/NFC connection, the rich sound, and the many different ways to listen to music. Negatives included the long charging time (as compared to the battery life), the use of the touchscreen controls and lack of feedback, the lack of volume of the speakers and the poor ergonomic design (speakers on the side/top with none forward-facing and charging port on the top), and the lack of fine tuning for radio stations. I own a battery-powered speaker that works off two AA batteries that 1) has a speaker that points forward and 2) lasts for about 10 hrs on one set of batteries and this was what I was looking for in the Natural Wood Speaker - only something that didn't "eat" batteries. The Natural Wood Speaker is a good product, but it could have been better. I'd give this 3 1/2 stars if I could...


OXA Frosted Box F2 20000mAh Black Ultra-High Capacity (CE/FCC/ROHS Approved) Multi-Voltage Safe External Battery for Tablets, Netbooks, Notebooks, Laptops and Smart Phones
OXA Frosted Box F2 20000mAh Black Ultra-High Capacity (CE/FCC/ROHS Approved) Multi-Voltage Safe External Battery for Tablets, Netbooks, Notebooks, Laptops and Smart Phones

5.0 out of 5 stars Your One-Stop Shop Battery Backup, 1 April 2014
**Note: I received free sample of this product from the manufacturer in return for an honest review**

The OXA Ultra Capacity High Quality Portable Charger is the all-in-one workhorse of the OXA backup battery family and it really has it all. Included in the box is 10 laptop connectors (as well as the AC/DC converter cord you'll need) and 6 phone/iPod/iPad/MP3 connectors so you can basically charge ANY electronic product that you may have. I received the 20,000 mAh version and this capacity is basically more than I could ever need when traveling or when the power goes out in my house (which is a somewhat common occurrence during the summer storm season). The OXA has two outputs - one 5.1 volt USB adapter for your hand-held electronics and one 19 volt adapter for your computer. The OXA comes with a five-LED display for battery life which is huge considering I've seen other similar products with only 1-3 lights (or none!). The OXA also looks great! It has a nice sleek design, with silvered edging and a non-slip black exterior. This is kind of a "gee-whiz" thing, but the packaging for this item is also really high quality. The box is frosted, everything inside is padded, and its overall just well packaged and professional looking - which is in contrast to the typical blister-pack/fire and forget packaging that we typically see today. My only minor negative is that you can only charge two devices simultaneously. I have a Verbatim 10,000 mAh backup battery that has three ports. However, I plan on buying a USB adapter so that I can charge several hand-held devices simultaneously, since the 5.1 volt output can definitely handle charging several devices.

Overall the OXA Ultra Capacity High Quality 20,000 mAh Portable Charger is a beast and more than covers every single one of my charging needs. Two thumbs way up high on this one!!!


OXA? 2200 mAh Portable USB External Backup Battery Power Bank Charger Built-In SD Card Slot and Flashlight with Micro USB Cable for Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, S2, Note 1, 2, 3 iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5S HTC One Sony LG Nokia BlackBerry Motorola Google Nexus and other mobile phones or Most USB Power devices, with a SD card can be used as U disc. (SD card not included) - 2200 mah
OXA? 2200 mAh Portable USB External Backup Battery Power Bank Charger Built-In SD Card Slot and Flashlight with Micro USB Cable for Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, S2, Note 1, 2, 3 iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5S HTC One Sony LG Nokia BlackBerry Motorola Google Nexus and other mobile phones or Most USB Power devices, with a SD card can be used as U disc. (SD card not included) - 2200 mah

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Little Portable Battery, 1 April 2014
**Note: I received free sample of this product from the manufacturer in return for an honest review**

I found the OXA 2200mAh Portable Backup Battery Charger to be a very convenient and highly portable charger. The OXA both takes a charge very quickly as well as gives it up equally fast. It has a hard-wired plug that charges several different types of phones including Samsung, Blackberry, iPhone, and others and comes with an adapter that allows you to charge older iPads/iPhones with a 30-pin cord. The OXA also comes with the ability to charge card readers and a somewhat bright little light (enough to see you car keys or your door lock). The size of the OXA is also really great - about the diameter of a C Cell battery and probably twice as long - which easily fits in your hand, pocket, or purse. I liked the round shape of the OXA too - I found that it was much easier to hold that some backup batteries that I've owned and it also rode easier in my pocket without poking me.

Although I really like it, there are some negatives. The cap protecting the USB port to charge the OXA is NOT easy to get off. So if your fingers aren't strong or you have trouble seeing small things (like the pin that holds the cap on), this isn't the device for you. In addition, the picture says it comes with a strap, but I did not get that in my packaging and it appears from the reviews that I'm not the only one. Finally, there is no indicator showing your battery life. This caused me to be constantly recharging the battery after every use - which definitely cuts down the cycle life and will probably end of the life of the OXA much quicker.

Overall I really liked it - there is alot to like here - but the negatives were nagging to me and kept me from giving it a 5 star rating.


Walking the Saint's Road
Walking the Saint's Road
by Eric Kruschke
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A Lively Jaunt Through The Dingle Peninsula, 31 Dec. 2013
"Walking the Saint's Road", by authors Eric Kruschke & Michael Kenning, is a personal tour guide to an ancient pilgrim path set amongst the beautiful landscape of the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland. Venture back to the golden age of the Irish church in the 6th and 7th centuries as pilgrims from the continent would travel by boat to "the last bastion" of Christian learning in the West following the fall of the Roman Empire and imagine treading the same footsteps as Kruschke and Kenning travel through the now largely ruined religious sites of Teampall Geal, An Riasc, St. Brendan's House, up to the summit of Mt Brandon, and concluding in Cloghane and the quay.

Interspersed between methodical step by step, road by road directions to each of the religious sites, both those that are well-known and those that are overgrown, are humorous anecdotes, discussions of the local fauna and flora, and historical and religious commentary. I really enjoyed the several page discussion of the commonalities and history of the cross pattee (a form that is seen over and over again on the Saint's Road), the book-long exposition of the local flora (indigenous and otherwise) around the sites, and the references back to Maurice Sheehy's earlier book entitled "The Dingle Way and The Saint's Road" (which has presumably been made a part of the more recent The Dingle Peninsula: 18 walks through its heritage") as both a benchmark and a counter-point to how much The Road has changed in the 25 years since Sheehy's book was first published. The pair also lean heavily on Dáithí O hOgain's excellent book The Sacred Isle: Belief and Religion in Pre-Christian Ireland to discuss the religeous and personal landscape of Ireland, and the Dingle area in particular, prior to the arrival of St. Patrick and the growth island's Christian community.

Kruschke & Kenning have done a marvelous job breaking up the Saint's Road into three "manageable" days of walking and the book's tabbing and graphical touches all give the book a splash of color which only becomes more so when greeted by the abundance of beautiful photos and meticulously hand-drawn maps. The book concludes with a two-page list of references and - even more welcome - an eight page "turn by turn" summary to the entire three-day Saint's Road walk. Although written with the adventurous traveler in mind, this beautiful book is a welcome addition to any library following a visit to the Peninsula/County Kerry or to the local who is looking for a weekend getaway (or three) to enjoy the wonders surrounding their own backyard.


The Last Israelis - an Apocalyptic, Military Thriller about an Israeli Submarine and a Nuclear Iran
The Last Israelis - an Apocalyptic, Military Thriller about an Israeli Submarine and a Nuclear Iran
Price: £2.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Coming Apocalypse?, 14 July 2012
I was privileged to receive an advance copy of "The Last Israelis" and it was every bit as engaging as promised. When the Israeli Prime Minister awakens to receive intelligence that a nuclear Iran is only days away, he is left with a choice - what to do to safeguard his small nation when a Muslim nation that has vowed to destroy Israel can carry out the threat with just a push of a button. As the world's powers are sidelined by bickering and backroom deals, it appears that Israel is, as usual, alone.

Accentuating Israel's cultural history, which through immigration is much the same as the US' own "melting pot", the crew of the nuclear submarine Dolphin nevertheless share a love for their country (adopted or not) that is stronger than their differences. However, even family disagrees. Faced with the continual "first-strike" threats of Iran's leadership, will the crew of the Dolphin be able to come together to perform the ultimate "second-strike" duties should the unthinkable happen?

One part "Crimson Tide" and another part "Twelve Angry Men", the final third of the book is some of the fastest paced and most gripping literature I have ever read and I would hold it up against the writing of even the most established writers of political/military thrillers. Life on a claustrophic submarine is tough enough during peace time, but life on the Dolphin is made all the more tense when thoughts of family and old psychological scars rear their heads to mix with the stress of real-world ops.

At a time, when Israel's very existence is being threatened by the impending doom of a their belligerent Muslim neighbors, this book is not only hard hitting, but topical. Will the US come to the rescue of Israel or will they be forced to "go it alone" as has repeatedly happened throughout their history because of the rest of the world's entanglements with the oil-rich Middle East. A must read for everyone who loves this nation - no matter where they live.


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