Wisetechie reviews the $20 Kangaroo Security Doorbell

First things first, like all content on this site, this is not a paid review. I am not going to go gaga over the product because Kangaroo is paying me money or promoting me on their site. A number of so called news sites seem to be motivated by promises of free products. I paid for this one with my own pocket so rest assured this is a 100% genuine review. Even if someone gets a review unit, you can see if they routinely review free stuff or do they put their skin in the game.

Kangaroo Security

Incase you are unaware, Kangaroo security is the new kid on the block looking to disrupt the DIY home security space(think Simplisafe/Ring). Their devices are cheap, connect onto their Kangaroo network of devices and are backed by pretty spiffy chat support in my experience. They were also doing some crowdfunding campaigns and giving free units to their investors.

I live in a low crime area but even the Wisetechie couldn’t resist one of the deals and got onto the Kangaroo bandwagon. Their security system is already installed in my house, so when they came out with the $20 doorbell, it was a no brainer. I was already thinking of ordering the Ring doorbell for 5 times that price so I figured I didn’t have a lot to lose.

Appearance and Build Quality

The Kangaroo doorbell is mostly plastic and uses 2 AA batteries. Its impressive how this unit is able to run on just 2 AA batteries so there is definitely some decent engineering going on there. I had pre-ordered my unit so i got mine pretty early, however the 1st unit I got was a brick. Womp womp!

Support was really helpful as always and put in an order for another unit for me after trying to fix the brick device. Its been my Kangaroo journey, things just brick randomly but support ships a replacement almost as fast as things go wrong.

Due to the bricking incident, I would say the build quality is probably average. However who really cares about build quality right? This is a camera doorbell so lets see how it functions as a camera doorbell. 

Doorbell Pairing and Performance

Once I got the replacement (around a week later), pairing that unit and adding it to my Kangaroo family of products was a breeze with the app. It took around 30 seconds and the app takes you through the technicalities or pairing the device. It gives you best practices on placement and helps you test out the device. 

Now coming to the most important aspect of the device, the performance of the doorbell. There is a pretty noticeable delay between the bell being pressed and the siren unit chiming. Almost 5-6 seconds. This is very unlike any doorbell I have ever used. Kangaroo is gonna give me a Chime unit as well so we will see if that improves things but its pretty annoying to not hear the doorbell for so long.

The app is also super buggy, many times the bell would ring but the app would hang and not show the photo montage of the person at the door. In the below example, I waited for a good minute but the app didnt recover even after quitting and re-opening. Obviously not gonna wait for a minute before opening the door.

Video and Photo Capture

I think the proof of the pudding is in eating it so I will share a few photos here. I found the quality of the photos in the Kangaroo doorbell almost useless for any real purpose. The faces are impossible to recognize in day or night. Most often the doorbell just misses a delivery person or a visitor. It takes a few photos and stitches them together but i guess the delay is not calibrated to the camera. Since I live in an apartment that faces the street, all my images are terribly back-lit. In the below images it failed to capture my postman and an amazon delivery person either due to backlitness or the sensor firing off with a delay.








On a lighter note(get it, lighter note :D), the only thing the app is good at capturing is the garbage truck.

Verdict

At $20 its not terrible, however I would be reasonably surprised if this ever catches a porch pirate. Its probably a better deterrent than a good tool to capture photos visitors. I have a $65 camera at my front door which does a 100x better job at capturing visitors but i like having this doorbell as a cheap deterrent. The fact that it just works with my current home security is a plus.
2/5

ACTIV5 Handson Review : Isometric Exercise Device aimed at active individuals

At the age of 26 I turned around my life, I got into fitness, lost around 50lbs of fat and starting working out almost everyday. Since then I keep an eye out for fitness gadgets and anything that can make my fitness journey even better and more rewarding.

A few weeks ago I got bombarded by ads for this thing called an Activ5. Its an interesting device with very few reviews on the Internet. Its an isometric training device that aims to complement your traditional training routine. Isometric training means without movement of the muscle.

When I bought it, the device listed a retail price of $149.99 but showed a discounted price of $109.90. The website lists the following features of the device:

Get everything you need to start building real strength in a few minutes a day:

– 1 Activ5 fitness device

– 1 rugged phone stand

– Free download code for the Activ5 app

– With more than 100 exercises and games

Whether you’re looking to build strength, or recover from an injury, this is the ideal way to get started. It’s easy to use while you watch TV, or take it with you wherever you like.is

 

First Impressions

The device is small and nifty and comes with an orange mobile stand. The stand is just a gimmick to be honest and doesn’t do anything to add value to the product in my opinion.

Activ5 Exercise Device and Review

The device has pressure sensors which you push in order to get a workout. The device is complemented by an app which tells you what exercises to do and gamifies the exercises.

It has a LED sensor and just one button which acts as an on off switch and pairing button. Nothing fancy in the interface on the device.

 

The Application

I think this is where the device loses the plot and I dont see this as a good app. the gamification just does not work for me. The interface is clunky, exercise descriptions are hard to understand and miniscule and the results are haphazard and not consistent for me.

 

Take the above Triceps exercise for example, The application first shows you what to do and then tests your “max strength”. That is followed by a game that forces you to apply different degrees of strength.

I really didnt get any heart rate bump with the exercise. Personally for me, I get a heart rate pump from planks, wall sits and other isometric exercises. This one just doesn’t do anything for me. The exercises are also hard to understand, the app makes no attempt to explain form and the exercise to you.

Verdict

This could possibly be a great physiotherapy device, to me it looks like the company has given up on fixing the app which looks like its prehistoric and hard to use. As an active person I just was not excited to use the app and didnt want to open it again. I am going to use the generous 30 day return policy and return the device.


Did you try the device and the app? What were your impressions?

Tips to file your claims in the Apple Slowdown cases

Apple has kept aside $500 million to settle the lawsuit that alleged that they deliberately slowed down old iPhones. The claim amount is $25 per phone.

You may be eligible for $25 per iPhone if you owned:

  1. An iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, and / or an iPhone SE that ran iOS 10.2.1 or later before December 21st, 2017
  2. An iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus that ran iOS 11.2 or later before December 21st, 2017
 

Now I am gonna get to the point, if you are like me you probably are eligible for multiple claims and dont know how to get the serial number for your iPhones. Who keeps serial numbers around? I usually dispose off the boxes as well. Apple has a nifty search button on their site but that also doesnt work for many people.

Here is what I was able to do to find old serial numbers:

1. If you bought from your mobile phone operator, they should be able to share the serial number with you. In my case T Mobile was able to share a serial number from 2017 with me.

2. If you bought your phone from apple and opted for an email receipt, you should have gotten an email from the store with the serial number. The receipt should have it. E.g. I had bought my phone from the Apple store in Bridgeport Village, so I had an email from the store with the below receipt. I have blanked out my serial number for obvious reasons. 😉 

Apple Iphone Receipt

If all else fails, I would recommend filing a paper claim with any proof of your iPhone. Happy claim filing from the Wisetechie Team! 

A new kind of Paypal scam – No they wont find it in your favor

When I was growing up the narrative around online shopping and safety was quite simple. Paypal was supposed to be the best company to buy stuff with. They always sided with the buyer and had the most buyer friendly policies in case of disputes.

Things have changed drastically though. Necessity is the mother of invention, and people have learnt how to game Paypal. I was recently the victim of a similar scam. In my case since I used my Amex platinum my card company will take care of it but for those who may use Paypal with a debit card or their bank balance, you might be left arguing with a bunch of robotic customer service at Paypal.

Here is the basic outline of the scam:

  • Buyer buys something via PayPal thinking their transaction is secure.
  • Scammer sends a fake package to a public address in city of buyer, this step is important because if they ship to you, then you can file it as SNAD or significantly not as described.
  • Buyer never receives anything and files charge-back
  • PayPal only looks at a tracking number, doesn’t cross check shipping records, weight info or any invoice of the real product being ever sent and denies the case.

The scam to be was done by a site called Shoplauer.com, it seems to generate a new PayPal Id for every transaction so they stay ahead of PayPal. It is however hard to imagine that PayPal is not aware of this modus operandi. I filed a claim and explained all of this to PayPal but it was denied. I am ofcourse escalating but its astonishing that PayPal to save on operations cost is not pushing basic training to their customer service personnel. Not only had I described the scam, I had also pointed to obvious discrepancies in the tracking information given by the scammer.

I have filed a CFPB complaint and also escalated. They asked me for a letter on UPS’s letterhead certifying that the package wasnt sent to me. I asked them to get a letter from the scammer that the letter was sent to me. I will update this as PayPal responds to my escalations. In the meantime, stay safe!

SoFi Money review – beware of poor customer service

A financial company called SoFi started offering a Cash Management account with a 2.25% APR. There didn’t seem to be a catch or many unreasonable fees. So we opened a new SoFi Money account with them and moved some money.

Everything was uneventful until the day they decided to freeze access to my funds. I got an email saying they would need almost half a month to complete their investigation. I assumed a call to customer service should sort things out. But I was so wrong. Not only was the frontline customer service clueless as to why the account was frozen, they had no idea how to restore access to my funds. I called them multiple times in a single day and each time the call ended with a promise that someone from the Security team would get back to me before the day ended.

But nothing happened. I still don’t have access to my deposited funds. I emailed the CEO anthony@sofi.com but to no avail. No one in the company had any answer to when and how I would get access to my money.

I have had experiences with other cash management accounts and so I know how they work. But SoFi showed that they had no system in place for any sort of customer service. Their security team was AWOL. Not only no one from that team ever called me, their customer service team was itself unable to reach them. And this is a team that should be highly available in case of any security issues with funds or transactions!

I should have read the barely two star reviews for SoFi on BBB before opening the account. But it is too late now. I filed complaints with my state’s ATG, FIDC and FINRA (since funds are actually managed by SoFi Securities LLC) in case I don’t get access to my money. Needless to say, I will be closing my account as soon as my get my money back.

Bottom line is, if you don’t want to lose access to your money, don’t open a SoFi Money account.

UPDATE: 3 days later they closed my account without any explanation or intimation. I am still waiting for my funds.

SFH Oil and Supplements : A curious case of a fake guarantee

SFH expanding to stronger, faster and healthier is an American company that touts a guarantee on every product on their website. Supposedly established in 2010 and with its office in ME, it has made a few inroads into the extremely competitive supplements market.

Every product is backed by 100% satisfaction guarantee of high quality products.

If, for any reason, you are ever disappointed in any item, we will gladly replace it or refund your product purchase price. Simply return your product within 30 days. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 1-877-682-9067 or email us at info@SFH.com

I used to be a fan of their recovery protein and their more muscle formula before they Beefed it up (quite literally). I also tried their fish oil which is extremely pricey but hey, for health one can splurge a little plus I always thought they were an ethical company. I used to love their peppermint fish oil flavor and decided to give their orange flavor a try. Big mistake, the orange flavor tasted like I was drinking crude oil or something. Totally yuck! In the meantime, my gym had replaced SFH with Ascent proteins as they had to stop recommending SFH.

I wrote to the company asking them to honor their 30 day guarantee on the product(orange fish oil) and the crudeness of the responses totally shocked me. They claimed they didn’t know who I was and they wouldn’t replace my products. If the place I bought it from didn’t honor the warranty, I was SOL. This is strange as the warranty is offered by the manufacturer and not the dealer. I have dealt with other warranties and never has a company been able to weasel away citing this kind of crap. I had even offered to pay one way shipping.

Anyway, I told them to invest in customer service and they never responded back. I have made a complaint via WA state attorney general and in general shared the feedback with Amazon from where I have bought products from SFH. This article is also a means to share with people what I went through and for them to know that the much touted guarantee may not be as rock solid as they thought it was.

Final comments : Avoid SFH  supplements, they are overpriced and the premium is not helping you get better service or quality of products.

Update : they responded to the WA State ATG notice with more lies:

Wisetechie’s return request was rejected for failing to provide proof of purchase. Our company policy is a 100% guarantee when the item is returned within 30 days from the order date when purchased directly from SFH.com. The product in question from Wisetechie was not purchased through our website but instead a third party retailer to whom the return should be directed.

Although an explanation of this policy was given at the point of inquiry, Wisetechie was unwilling to provide the place of purchase. Despite detailing instructions for a return, Wisetechie resorted to accusations, threats of a lawsuit, and social media defamation.

  1. They never asked me for the place of purchase, they told me to take it back there disregarding the fact that they are no longer selling SFH or willing to take it back.
  2. The guarantee on their website doesn’t mention its only for SFH.com

I never threatened a lawsuit, it was the opposite where i told them a lawsuit is not worth my time, this is what i had written.

Wow, what a bad way to write an email to a customer and provide poor customer service. You just lost a customer. Also going to share this on social media. For all the premium charged on your products, maybe you should invest in hiring better people to manage customer service.

Also, you claim on your site this warranty, this is illegal for you to deny exchange. I will be complaining to my state’s AG and also other consumer agencies so you end up on their lists and hopefully get penalized for unfair business practices. I would have sued if the amount involved was more.
Thanks
Someone should tell the idiots at SFH who obviously dont care about their reputation, lying to the Attorney General’s office is usually not a good strategy.