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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Luxury EDC: Wrist Watches

It's been years since I wore black suits and drove a white Mercedes. Now that I'm older and presumably more responsible, a truck and blue jeans are more my style. But that doesn't mean I don't
know what I would be buying if I were still a bachelor, before I hadf hungry mouths to feed.

Some people put quality before price, and I respect that. I've always said that value is the ratio of quality to price, but at some point the formula becomes more nebulous. Some luxury items not only retain their worth over time, but actually go up in value. And for some people, price simply isn't a factor at all.

There are many tiers of luxury, so what I'm trying to do in this post is to present several products in each EDC category, and each category will be its own post since I tend to ramble.

Watches: Just as Relevant as Ever


Watches have been my favorite EDC category for years. People say that wristwatches are obsolete in the digital age. The classic style watches only do one thing, and most everyone carries smart phones that tell the time among the other infinite number of tasks they do for us.

However, a watch with a high quality mechanical or quartz movement is going to be much more reliable than some mass-produced piece of silicon. As technology becomes more sophisticated, it acquires more points of failure. With a high quality watch, you will not have any excuse to be late for an important meeting.

Also, watches look good. I've always been a very practical person. But I make no apologies for wanting to look good. Sorry, but looking at your phone every 5 minutes doesn't make anyone look good.

Japanese companies like Seiko and Citizen make some very good EDC wrist watches, but all the legit luxury watches come from one country and pretty much always have.

Good:

Luminox 3081 Navy Seal

It's robust enough to be worn by elite military units and good looking enough to wear on the jet ski. This watch gives you the quality you can only get with a Swiss movement, without the "it costs what?" of most Swiss watches.




Better: 

Tag Heuer Formula One

What I've always liked about this model is that you get a ridiculous level of quality without being flashy. It looks great, but not so great that you'll get mugged. It's a true watch enthusiast's watch that will take any abuse you care to give it. The one below has a quartz movement. I've always been a fan of Tag Heuer's quart movements, which also makes the watch lighter. I have a quartz Link that's more accurate with a longer lasting battery than any watch I've ever owned.




Best:

Omega Seamaster

There are so many great high end EDC watches: ones that you could take to a desert island and they would still work for the next 20 years. I used to own an Omega Seamaster and have always been fond of them. I sold mine because it was a little heavy for me, but it was absolutely bullet-proof. This is the model that James Bond has always worn. You can certainly find lots of more expensive watches, but I don't think you could find one that would stand up to more abuse and still look good doing it.

While the steel band is heavier, this watch doesn't really work with a resin band, and having the leather band defeats the whole purpose of calling it "sea master" in the first place. And I've never been a fan of shark skin bands.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern

My love of flashlights is well documented. But there are some tasks such as camping and emergency power outages where a flashlight is a poor tool to light up a room or tent. I've always been a big fan of diffusers to turn flashlights into lanterns, but sometimes it's better to just have an actual lantern. I'm also into all manner of USB gadgets, so when a company with a good reputation like Hisgadget graciously offers to send me a rechargeable USB lantern like the OxyLED Q6 for review, I'm all over it.

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Product Link
 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Product Link

Product Description


The Q6 is a multi-mode, high capacity, rechargeable LED based lantern which is capable of standing flat on a table or hanging from one of the lanyard attachments. It's shaped like a tube, and like many lanterns with this form factor, half of the tube is covered by a reflector.

Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • 4 brightness settings (dim, normal, bright, and supernova) + a blinking flash mode
  • High-power natural spectrum led provide 200 lumens of illumination, CRI(color rendering index)>70
  • Built-in long life rechargeable battery with Mini USB cable
  • Durable, drop resistant construction; Long Life, Energy saving, Rated for 36,000 hours of use
  • Package includes: 1 x LED Portable Lamp; 1 x Mini USB Cable; 2 X Lanyards; 1 x User Manual
 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - With Diffused Flashlights
Flashlights can fill in for a lantern, but sometimes you want a lantern

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Product View 1

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Product View 2
Half the tube is covered by the aluminum reflector

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Product View 3

One end of the tube has the mini USB connector and a little button to control the lantern modes.

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Product View 4 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Product View 5


Initial Impressions


My review sample came packaged well inside a tube. Unboxing it, the lantern looked a little on the cheap side. But it feels sturdy in my hands. On one side of the tube is the aluminum reflector. And the two lanyard points are on the same side, which gives the lantern an interesting but useful quirk: Setting it down on a flat surface always makes it roll so that the light side is facing up--neat.

A plastic cover came protecting the plastic part of the tube from being scratched. It seemed a little silly until I noticed that the plastic is actually good quality, which for a lantern means that lots of diffused light.

I was expecting to see a single LED design but multiple LEDs can clearly be seen, though I can't tell if it's a big strip or just a bunch of separate emitters. Either way, the output seems outstanding on high.

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Initial Impressions 1

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Initial Impressions 2
It's hard to get all this protective plastic wrap off, but I'm impressed they went out of their way to protect the unit!



Build Quality


The unit does look a little cheap, but anyone assuming they cut a lot of corners would be wrong. This is a well built product. I wish I could look inside it without damaging the unit, but I can make some educated guesses about how it's constructed, and I like it. I would definitely come out with a version that has aluminum end caps, but the plastic caps seem sufficient--I've even dropped it a couple times. It should be noted that the missus thinks it would be too heavy with more aluminum, but I think a version like that would be more durable and better to throw into a big box of camping gear.

The mini USB cable and lanyards look a little dicey, but I don't think anyone would be buying this product and expecting a spectacular free cable with it. I have bags of unused lanyards and cables, which these will join. So in the photos, you will see the mini USB cable that came with my Canon DSLR.

Fit and Finish


I'm pretty well impressed with the fit and finish on my review sample. For seller provided review samples, I always assume I'm seeing the best unit of the lot, so I try to be harder on a product when I'm looking for flaws. But a quick look at the reviews on Amazon show that this is a well reviewed product, so I don't seem to be the only one getting a perfect lantern. I can count the number of perfect samples that I've reviewed on one hand and this is one of them.

I've looked and looked and I'm having a hard time finding faults with my sample. Part of it is that the product is very well packaged. The light-bearing part of the tube is covered in protective plastic wrap. In fact, my only fit and finish gripe with this unit is that there's a little piece of wrap sticking out of the end cap and I keep picking at it.


Charging


Charging the unit is simple, and can use any 5V USB port output with any USB mini cable, and one is included, though I've been using the data cable I already use for my Canon camera. A micro USB cable would have been more appropriate, but all my electronics bags have a mini cable so it's not an issue since lots of gadgets still use a mini port.

When the unit is plugged in to charge, a red light inside the unit blinks every second until the unit is fully charged, at which point the red light stops blinking and goes solid.

I did some basic testing and it takes just under 4 hours to charge the unit. And a quick crunching of the numbers gives me a capacity of roughly 2,400 mAh, which is fairly impressive since most companies use the cheapest battery possible. My guess is that this has a single 18650 lithium-ion cell and the most likely candidates in that range would be a Sony or Sanyo, but that's just a guess. This lantern is very light, so whatever cell has, it's high quality.

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Charging Test
Charging the lantern from a battery pack.  710 milliamps is about as much current as it will draw while charging--slightly less than the average phone


User Interface


There's a tiny little button next to the mini USB charging port. Clicking on this button cycles the light through it's 5 modes. There's also a red indicator LED that blinks slowly when it's charging, blinks fast when it's about to go dead, and shows a steady red when the lantern is at full charge.

Modes


The lantern has 4 decently spaced brightness modes plus a blinking SOS type mode. I'm not a big fan of these extra "disco" modes, but having the extra brightness modes makes up for the hassle of clicking through a mode I'll never use. But all the same, I'd prefer these less useful modes be hidden, or removed completely. It's a hassle clicking through them.

Overall the modes are well thought out. Lanterns like this with multiple modes are drastically more useful than single mode lanterns that give you max brightness for 45 minutes and that's it. Having more brightness modes lets you the user decide between output and run time. Changing a tire on the side of the road or walking miles in the dark, you'd probably want longer run time. Where making s'mores by the camp fire, you'd probably want more output.

Tint


The tint on my sample is cool white, leaning a little bit towards being blue-ish. For flashlights, these days I prefer warmer tints, but for lanterns, the cool tints are probably better since warmer tints usually equal less output, and for a lantern you want all the output you can get, especially if it's in an emergency kit. But of course, I wouldn't turn away a warmer version.

Efficient Driver Circuit


I could find no trace of PWM on this unit using my trusty cell phone camera, which is good at detecting it. The main benefit of an efficient circuit is longer run time. The good quality driver and good quality battery give this unit its impressive run time numbers and gives me confidence that this is a well built product.


Run Times


All run times performed with the unit fully charged.



ModeRun Time
High3:45
Medium 25:10
Medium 1-
Low-

Notes:

  • Unit does not get very warm on high like I expected it would. This means that the LEDs are under-driven. In this case, it's a good thing because every bit of heat is power that's not being converted to light.


Lanyard Attachment


The lantern has two lanyard attachment points: one at each end. Here is one of the few areas of disappointment. Most legit lanterns (and even flashlights that can double as lanterns) have a secure attachment point, and these seem a little flimsy. Also, pretty much only a flimsy lanyard will fit through the tiny attachment holes.

A huge improvement would be to put a solid hook or ring coming out the top of one of the ends--the one without the USB port and button. That would allow it to hang like a lantern should, and would still allow it to stand flat on a table.

Usability


This model lantern does much better sitting on a flat surface and in that role, I think it has very good usability. I've been testing it around the house and I'm already a fan. But because half the tube is the reflector and doesn't put out 360 degrees of light, it takes some experimentation to find the best way to light up each room. For example, in some cases it's better to point the light at the wall so that it's not sitting on a table blinding you, but yet the wall "bounce" gives plenty of light. I've also laid it down flat, which it rolls to correct itself to point straight up to the ceiling, and again, makes the most of the bounce.

This wouldn't be my first choice as a hanging lantern because (and I'm guessing) that some scenarios would have it turning its cone of light if it twists for example due to wind coming through a tent. Although my big tent has webbing on the ceiling and it might tuck into that.

Either way, given its output and run times, I'm more than willing to work around its quirks, especially in an emergency. I'm not a lightweight backpacker, but it seems like many would find its weight acceptable given its capabilities.

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - In Hand 1

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - In Hand 2

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - In Hand 3


Conclusions


This lantern reminds me of those fluorescent lanterns everyone used to carry in the 80s. Only this one is a fraction of the weight and with drastically longer run times. Good build quality, good output with an efficient driver circuit and superb run times.

If this model had aluminum ends instead of plastic and a better hook/handle/whatever for hanging, this would be the ultimate lantern and all would kneel before its greatness. But I'm impressed with it just like it is.

The efficient circuit with a good battery in it also qualifies it for my emergency kits/bags. I'm still deciding whether this will replace my EagleTac with diffuser as the lantern in my 72 hour emergency bag since my bag already has a USB solar charger and power pack (and possible tablet.)

Gallery


 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Unboxing 1

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Unboxing 2 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Unboxing 3


 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Unboxing 4

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - On Scale
At 4.1 ounces, I have pocket knives heavier than this lantern!

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Next To Ruler

 OxyLED Q6 Rechargeable USB Lantern - Caliper Measurement






Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Buy A House From Patricia Guenot

My good friend Patricia is now a licensed real estate agent in Las Vegas, Nevada. I've known her for years and she is awesome. If you're looking to buy or sell property, definitely give her a call or visit her web site.

Here is her contact information:

Patricia Guenot
Realty ONE Group
8395 West Sunset Road
Las Vegas, NV 89113
702.802.8095 Cell
702. 898.1010 Office

Text ROG6294h to 87778 for my app to search properties

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Indian Kukri Blade

I've been a big fan of Kukris ever since my sister brought me one from her Peace Corps service in Nepal. They have a rich tradition of history behind them, and I like seeing all that ornate handiwork and the uniqueness of every Kukri made by hand.

So I couldn't resist this one, the result of a late-night, caffeine-fueled eBay spending spree. But I am on disability and not currently bringing in any income, so this one is going to be a catch and release. I was thinking something like $80 shipped (USA only please) and it's yours. Otherwise, bummer, I have to keep it :-)















Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Kershaw Freefall [EDC Pocket Knife]

Kershaw has come out with a slew of new knives. Some like the new Camber feature made-in-USA quality with better steels. But they didn't forget the budget segment, and we have a bunch of new models like the Swerve (which I recently reviewed) and this Freefall, which I bought from Amazon and I've been carrying the last couple weeks.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product Link
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product Link


Product Description


The Freefall is a budget flipper, featuring their SpeedSafe assisted opening technology. It's produced in China using 8Cr13MoV steel and FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon) scales with a steel liner. Obviously that makes it a liner lock just like their other models in the budget flipper class. Deep carry clip, aggressive texturing on the handle, ergonomic design--Kershaw keeps upping the ante for what people expect from a $20 pocket knife.

From Top: Spyderco Native, Kershaw Freefall, Swerve, Brawler, Skyline, SanRenMu LB-763
From Top: Spyderco Native, Kershaw Freefall, Swerve, Brawler, Skyline, SanRenMu LB-763


Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • Speed Safe assisted opening; Liner lock; Flipper and thumb stud; Reversible pocket clip; deep-carry
  • Steel: 8Cr13MoV, stonewashed finish
  • Handle: Glass-filled nylon, K-Texture grip
  • Blade length: 3 1/4 Inch (8.3 cm); Closed length: 4 1/4 Inch (10.8 cm); Overall length: 7 1/2 Inch (19 cm)
  • Weight: 4.1 ounces

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 1

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 2

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 4

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 4

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 5

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 6

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 7

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 8

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 9

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - With Kershaw Swerve 1Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - With Kershaw Swerve 2


Initial Impressions


Since its cousin the Swerve made a pretty good impression on me, I was looking forward to unboxing this Freefall. First off, it's a little sleeker than the Swerve. It has a narrower tanto style blade, but for the most part looks very similar to the Swerve.

I noticed a few differences in the design right away. The Freefall does not have thumb studs, which I like. If you want to take the torsion bar out and make it non-assisted, you probably want the thumb studs. I've also wondered if it helps you if you get hassled by the man for carrying it. But I doubt the authorities are that stupid not to notice that it's an assisted flipper so I don't really see any reason for having the thumb studs on a flipper.

The next thing I noticed: it deploys smooth-as-silk. It's probably the smoothest deploying knife in my collection. The flipper lever is more prominent than others like the Brawler and even its cousin the Swerve.

Build Quality


The build quality of the Freefall (and similar budget Kershaws) is outstanding given that this is a sub-$25 budget knife. My idea of value is that it's the ratio between quality and price, and so I find this model to be a good value. There are lots of good values in this price range, and the Freefall is one of them.

Fit and Finish


Someday I'll buy a Kershaw with a centered blade. I haven't taken one apart yet, but they seem to suffer from the washers (teflon in this case) not being a uniform thickness. This makes the blade sag to one side, making it off center. And since I bought this knife with my own money and it came off some random shelf in whatever mega-warehouse Amazon keeps them in, it's a safe bet that lots of other folks are getting off-center blades like me.

Other than that, my review sample is above average for fit and finish. The roughness I'd expect to see on the steel liners and other areas people normally don't scrutinize aren't there, though the side of the clip is rough as I would expect. In fact, it looks like the liners were buffed until shiny.

The blade finish, FRN liners, jimping, even the screws, all perfect. I could not find one single nick, scratch or tool mark which I would expect to see on a knife in this price range. I guess the Kershaw logo in the clip being stamped non-uniformly could be considered a gripe, but I almost don't count the clips since nobody shows them any love anyway.


Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade Off Center
Grrrrr

Blade


The Freefall has a sleek, tanto shaped hollow ground blade made from Chinese 8Cr13MoV steel, which I like for EDC type knives. Mine came with a surprisingly good edge on it with very few flaws.

Someone on my Facebook page mentioned the fact that the fine tip of the tanto blade would not stand up to rigorous use and sharpening, and that's probably correct. Which doesn't mean that this blade isn't suited for EDC, because I think it is. It's just maybe not quite the beater that the Swerve is.

The spine of the blade features about a thumb-full of fairly smooth jimping. It's not as aggressive on this model, or weird like the squiggly jimping on the Swerve. It's functional without scratching your thumb.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 1

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 2
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 3Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 4




Self Defense?


I've been pretty vocal that I don't think that knives make the best self defense weapons. But many people do, and if I were to carry a knife for self defense, I think this one would be towards the top of my list. The tanto blade shape was created by the Japanese specifically for this purpose and when you pair that with a smooth assisted deployment in a sturdy package, it's hard to miss how ideal this model would be for that task.

Lockup


The Freefall uses a typical liner lock that you'll find on most of Kershaw's flippers, and most flippers in general. The blade deploys smoothly and locks up solid. Notice in the photo below that the liner is about half the width of the blade itself, which is great. Also notice the difference in the gaps on each side of the blade, which I believe is caused from the washers being different thicknesses. This is what makes the blade off center.
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade Lockup: Top
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade Lockup: Bottom
Nice and Solid








Handle


The handle on this model is sleeker, more curved and a little longer than the Swerve, which didn't fit my hand very well. The Freefall fits my hand much, much better. The longer flipper lever even makes a better blade guard.

And of course who could miss the aggressive texturing made of lots of little Ks. The feel of the FRN material is very grippy. It also puts my hand in a perfect position for putting my thumb on the jimping on the spine of the blade.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Handle View 1
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Handle View 2


Clip


The clip on this model is of the deep carry variety, which can be moved from right to left but can only be carried tip up. But that's fine by me, because 9 out of 10 enthusiasts will want tip up carry. It wasn't so long ago that all Kershaws were coming tip down out of the box. I think Kershaw one day realized who its customers are.

Kershaw keeps experimenting with different clip designs. The Swerve has a unique clip where the clip is secured with a set screw through the handle. The Freefall is slightly different: It has the end of the clip secured by a screw on the butt of the knife.

I'll be honest that I like the Swerve's clip design a little better, though this clip carries a little deeper in the pocket. Most of my beef is that the clip pokes my hand a certain way when I hold the knife. It's not a deal breaker, but it's not ideal either.

And it wouldn't be a Kershaw unless the clip out of the box is tight enough to rip your pants or pull them off when you take the knife out of your pocket.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Clip
Clip is on the tight side like pretty much every other Kershaw ever made


Lanyard Attachment


This model has a solid steel insert with fairly aggressive jimping on the back. I'm not sure I understand its design, but it looks cool, and the jimping seems to help the grip a little bit.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Lanyard Attachment


Usability


This is a very usable model. We'll see how well it stands up over time and how well the tip stands up to repeated sharpening, but day to day this is a wonderful knife. Of course, it's almost twice as heavy as my Spyderco Delica, but it's also probably more robust with the steel liners and that steel reinforcement block with the lanyard.

I find myself carrying this knife more than I thought I would, just because it's sleek and deploys so smoothly. It carries well and feels great in my hand. Of course the clip is way too tight, but it will loosen over time. Better too tight than too loose ... I guess.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 1
I really like the grip

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 2

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 3

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 4


Conclusions


I really liked the Swerve and figured I would like the Freefall, but I REALLY like the Freefall and have been carrying it fairly regularly. Where the Swerve will probably be consigned to heavy duty work in the garage once in a while, I think the Freefall might continue to see pocket time.

The off center blades are really annoying, though.

Gallery



Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Unboxing 1

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Unboxing 2

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Unboxing 3

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - On Scale

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Caliper Measurement: Blade Thickness

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Caliper Measurement: Blade Length

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Caliper Measurement: Pocket Dump

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - EDC Friends

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Next To Ruler