Winners and Losers

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
May 052019

One of the good things about publishing the Gypsy Journal and this blog is that I was always being offered products to try out, with the manufacturer hoping for a good review. Of course, when I told them that if I liked the item I would tell the world why, but if I thought it was junk, I would also tell the world why, a lot of companies that contacted me changed their mind and their products never showed up. I guess they knew its quality. Even now, I still get items to review, and we buy some things to check out and see what we think. Here are some winners and some losers, some RV related and some not.

QRay Wellness Bracelets – For years I have heard about the benefits of a QRay bracelet. According to the manufacturer’s hype, the bracelet will restore the body’s natural balance, which will in turn allow you to have greater clarity, perform at a higher level, and feel more positive. Unfortunately, that’s all it is, hype. Miss Terry and I have been wearing the bracelets daily since before Christmas, and neither one of us can tell any difference at all. If you want a good-looking bracelet that will earn you compliments from people, QRay is it. But that’s all it is, a pretty decoration. When it comes to winning and losing products, I consider this one a loser.

Honda Portable Generator – If you’re looking for a portable generator for your RV or for power outages at home, you just can’t beat a Honda portable generator, in my opinion. They are absolutely bulletproof. Years ago friends of ours were dry camping and had two of the Honda generators connected together and running to provide air conditioning while they were away from their fifth wheel. They were parked near a river and suddenly a bad storm came up, causing the river to overflow its banks. By the time they got back to their rig both generators were submerged and had stalled out. Assuming they were ruined, my friends bought two more to replace them, and later gave me the first pair because I thought my son-in-law might be able to use them for parts. But after they were dried out and the needle valves in the carburetors replaced, and with fresh oil and gasoline, they fired right up and are still running today. How impressed am I with the Hondas? I have three of them sitting in my garage waiting for hurricane season.

Mossy Oak Tumbler – Made of high-grade stainless steel, these things are amazing. They will easily keep beverages hot for up to eight hours, and when I fill it with ice and water I still have ice left 24 hours later. When we bought ours at Walmart I was not sure they were as good as some other brands on the market because the cost was so much less, but it’s definitely a winner.

Doc Socks – Several people have suggested that compression socks might help some of my problems with foot and back pain, so when I saw an advertisement for Doc Socks I decided to give them a try. The first thing I will say is that their website can be very confusing, and before you know it you are ordering things you don’t want, or more of an item that you do want. Either way, you’re going to be wasting money. You could go to your local pharmacy or discount store and find compression socks that work just as well for a lot less money. Did they do anything to alleviate my back pain? Not a bit. Another loser, in my opinion.

Lifeline AGM Batteries – When we were building our bus conversion we were supplied with a set of Lifeline AGM batteries and asked to abuse them in any possible way we could. The company wanted a real world torture test to see how they would stand up. So that’s exactly what we did. In those days we dry camped a lot, and we routinely pulled the batteries down below ten volts, sometimes as low as eight. And each time they charged right back up and continued working fine. This went on for years, and when we replaced our MCI bus conversion with a Winnebago diesel pusher 8+ years later, one of the upgrades we did was replacing the house batteries with lifeline AGM’s. If you’re in the market for batteries, spend a little extra on these. You won’t regret it.

Sony Digital Voice Recorder – I have tried several different digital voice recorders over the years. Some were good and some were absolute junk, but the Sony ICD-PX440 is a definite winner. I love this thing. Whether I’m on the treadmill and want to dictate a chapter for one of my books, when I’m away from home and a thought comes to me that I want to be sure to remember, or even for recording directions to a location where I’m headed, it does it all, with clear playback. And, I can put it into a USB port on my computer and transfer everything I dictated to Dragon and then paste it into a manuscript quickly and easily.

Arlo Security Cameras – Having had the unfortunate experience of confronting an armed burglar in our motorhome, we may be overly security conscious. But that’s okay, better safe than sorry. We’ve tried several different brands of security cameras at our home. Our first effort was SimpliSafe, which we found to be totally inadequate, along with their poor customer support. Then I ordered a set of Arlo security cameras from Amazon. They are wireless, just like the SimpliSafe, but I find them to be better quality and more responsive. However, there is always a delay between the time the camera picks up something and the time it notifies us. This lag can be as little as a few seconds to as much as 15 minutes. So, if you just want to monitor your place while you are gone, maybe keep track of what your pets are doing and such, they are fine. But if you are worried about an intruder, he may be inside your home before you receive a warning. On this one the review is mixed – better than SimpliSafe, but not perfect by any means.

Ring Doorbell – The TV ads are impressive. You’re at home but don’t want to be disturbed, or maybe you are at work, but suddenly your Ring doorbell alerts you that somebody has approached your door even before they ring the bell. Using the app on your phone or computer, you can see who they are and talk to them without ever approaching the door. The ads always show the bad guys running away when confronted, not knowing if the homeowner is on the other side of that door with a weapon. In truth, just like the Arlo cameras mentioned above, there is a delay between when somebody comes into the camera’s field of view and when you are notified. Sometimes it’s seconds and sometimes it’s minutes. At first I thought it was due to the sometimes flaky phone signals we have here at our house, but when visiting friends in Arizona who have excellent cell phone service, we noticed the same thing with their system. They were looking for us to arrive and met us as soon as we got out of the car, but it was only after a round of hugs and all of us going inside and being seated in the living room that the system alerted them to our presence. The video quality of both the Arlo and the Ring is amazing, but again, I can’t call it either a winner or loser, it’s somewhere in the middle.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – Just because it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be fun!

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  3 Responses to “Winners and Losers”

  1. Enjoyed your product reviews. We have the Arlo security and too have mixed reactions, mostly positive.

  2. Nick, Check your Honda generator numbers.

    American Honda Recalls Portable Generators Due to Fire and Burn Hazards

    Source: In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
    EU2200i portable generatorDescription

    This recall involves Honda EU2200i, EU2200i Companion and EB2200i portable generators. The recalled portable generators were sold with a red or Camo cover. The names “HONDA” and the generator model name are printed on the control panel. The serial number is located on a lower corner of one of the side panels of the generator. The following model numbers and serial number ranges are being recalled:












  3. We have a Ring doorbell/camera, and i agree with your assessment. You didn’t mention that it also goes off often when no one is around, because the camera is so sensitive! Ours rings several times a day because a bus or truck went past the house. OTOH, we were being harassed by a mentally ill person, and the next time she’s on our doorstep, I want a record of it. And Ring will provide that. So…. yes. A mixed review.

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