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Review of Quip's toothbrush as a service

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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This blog article is not advertising and is not a sponsored post.

Quip is a new entrant in the competitive and packed electric toothbrush space. Unlike many of the larger bulkier electric toothbrushes, Quip is a sleek, shiny and well designed modern looking toothbrush.

Like all modern electronic works of art, it comes in different colours, finishes and materials.

It also has the seal of approval from the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. The ADA website explains it as "To this day, dentists and consumers recognize it as the gold standard for evaluating safety and efficacy of dental products."

So what how is the Quip compare? Quip is a simpler toothbrush that delivers the basics: it has a vibrating alert timer (to measure brushing each quadrant) and has gently cleaning vibrations that won't harm your gums.

What does it come with? The basic kit comes with a pre-installed battery, brush head and a slim toothbrush holder (attaches to your mirror with micro suction cups but also doubles as a travel cover). I have had it attached to my bathroom mirror for 30 days, and it hasn't fallen off once. I have traveled with it once, rinsed it with warm water when I got back, and it stuck right back on the mirror.

How do you charge the battery? I have used OralB and Philips electric toothbrushes, and they each come with their charging bases (which are usually bulky and consume valuable counter space). The Quip uses a single AAA battery that can be changed within seconds. Since Quip is a Toothbrush As A Service, when you subscribe to their toothbrush head replacement plan, they also send you a replacement battery every three months. If you travel and run out of power, replace it with a cheap AAA, you can buy anywhere, and you don't have to carry a bulky charger.

How does it compare to a "normal" (non-powered) toothbrush? The Quip is definitely better than a normal plastic toothbrush because it offers gentle vibrations and helps with timing. Additionally, they send replacement heads automatically which means you never have to worry about timing replacements.

How does the Quip compare to other electric toothbrushes? It depends. The truth is that the newer electric toothbrushes that vibrate and rotate seem to deliver an easier and better clean. However, the Quip is less than half the cost, easier to travel with and effective when used as directed (in conjunction with flossing and regular dentist visits).

General recommendations included with the introductory guide are:

  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste

  • Brush gently (don’t push too hard or you will injure your gums)

  • Make sure you brush every tooth from all directions

  • Brush for two minutes (30 seconds per quadrant)

  • Brush your tongue (the back of the brush head has a scraper)

  • Don’t rinse your mouth right after brushing

What are the cons?

  • The Quip is better than a plain non-powered toothbrush, but its performance is significantly worse than the modern sonic toothbrushes.

  • The Quip's bristles are better than a non-powered toothbrush, but they aren't as good as the ones on powered brushes that seem to have better reach into hard to reach crevices.

Conclusion: I like the Quip, but it isn't the most effective electric toothbrush. Not a bad offering but you need to determine what your actual needs are. I hope Quip releases another generation of their product with rotating bristles that uses real sonic pulses.

9 things you should pack on every trip

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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As a frequent traveller, I have picked up some tricks that make travelling a lot easier. I wanted to share some of those with you and hopefully make your life a little easier.

Global WIFI Hotspot

I wrote my first review of the (gen 1) Skyroam Global hotspot in 2015 and it became one of my most used travel items. When they released (gen 2) a new LTE capable model, the Skyroam Solis, I bought one and reviewed it as well.

TL;DR: I have tested dozens of global roaming services (hotspots and global SIMs) and the product I carry in my bag every day is the Skyroam Solis.

Some readers have asked if my Skyroam tests were promotional and the answer is no. I have not received any compensation from Skyroam to test and review any of their products. When I find something that works well and is priced competitively, I recommend it.

I recommend you read my full review, but the summary is that the Skyroam Solis is a pre-paid global 4G (LTE) capable hotspot that works in 100+ countries. They offer an "unlimited" data package sold in chunks of 24 hours (day passes) for about $9 a day (or a monthly pass for $99).

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Most companies offering this type of service label their offering as "unlimited data" but this doesn't mean you can stream Netflix while cruising the french riviera. Every company I have reviewed imposes some type of "fair use policy". Skyroam's Solis day pass never cut-off your data access but does slow it down to a painful (and barely usable) 2G after you consumer about 500MB per 24-hour period. This period resets during each day pass.  This means that you shouldn't be streaming music or videos (Spotify, Google Music, Apple Music, Youtube, Netflix, HULU, Amazon Video, etc).

As an example, the GeefiGlobal WIFI hotspot fair use policy says "GeeFi will begin limiting the download speed after you exceed 500 MB (megabytes) of data in most countries".

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Frequent travellers can buy a Skyroam Solis WIFI hotspot for $149.99 (includes one day pass worth $9). Infrequent travellers can rent a Skyroam Solis with the appropriate number of day passes for $9.95 a day (basically $1 per day to rent the unit plus shipping costs back and forth).

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Collapsible water bottle

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I wrote about the Nomander collapsible water bottle in 2016 and still recommend it for travel.

TL;DR: The Nomander water bottle is a light flexible easy to pack piece of kit you can store easily and use when needed. It avoids having to pay $5 for a 500ml bottle of water that would otherwise cost $0.50 anywhere in the "real world".

The Nomanderis made from food grade silicone so it doesn't retain smell.  It is leakproof. Where my older recommendation (the Vapur) becomes giggly when less than 3/4 full, the Nomander retains its shape fairly well for a foldable bottle. 

With the plastic sleeve in the middle, the bottle is sturdy enough to stand on its own.  The Nomander is (top rack) dishwasher safe, You can also freshen it up, like most other water bottles by soaking a mixture of filtered water and fresh cut lemons for 24-hours.

The water filter

Browse the aisles of any camping goods store and prepare to be amazed at the dozens of water filters available for your immediate purchase. I have been camping most of my life and have travelled to many locations known for terrible horribly diseased water.

I have tried over a hundred filters, tablets and sterilizers. The one I keep coming back to over and over is the Grayl. I first wrote about the Grayl water filter in 2016 and have been recommending it since. It beats every other filter I had tried before or that I have tested since.

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TL;DR: The Grayl water filter is the easy to use, easy to carry, low maintenance and high-reliability water filter you want when in the backcountry or when travelling to locations with questionable water sanitation practices.

When using the orange travel filter, you purify and sanitize the water with one (strong) push. This means I no longer carry a UV sterilizer (Steripen) in addition to a filter (Lifestraw or Sawyer mini).

The Grayl Orange Travel filter removes:

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Each cartridge lasts about 300 uses (with 3 full uses a day, a single filter would last 100 days). The filtering process requires a bit of brute strengh but you never have to worry about batteries and there is no need to backwash the filter. 

Portable laundry machine

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Everyone starts travelling with lots of extra clothes and big check-in pieces of luggage. Eventually, you learn that one-bag travel is the only way to go. One-bag travel does mean you are travelling with the minimum and thus may need a way to clean your clothes while on the move. 5 years ago I bought a Scrubba wash bag and have brought it with me on almost every trip (longer than a week).

TL;DR: The Srubba is a waterproof bag with scrubbing "teeth" you can use to clean your clothes anywhere in about 10 minutes.

Scrubba has become a trusted travel item for business trips and family adventures (vacations with kids, camping, road trips, etc). I use this with either  Woolite Travel Laundry Soap individually packaged travel packets or Dr. Bronner organic Castille soap. Both of these detergents are gentle, work with all types of materials and wash out easily without leaving a soapie residue.

Airborne and NoJetlag

I started taking both of these products 6-7 years ago and believe they help keep me healthy when travelling (particularly the long North America to Asia flights).

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I am not a doctor and the effect could be nothing more than placebo but since I started taking Airborne on longer flights, I find I get sick a lot less Worst case scenario, it is a vitamin C supplement but my experience has been very positive. I have managed to stay healthy even with colleagues have gotten sick.

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When travelling to faraway destinations, I started using No-Jet-Lag. While consulting for Cathay Pacific Airlines (based in Hong Kong), a flight attendant recommended it and I have used it ever since (when travelling through more than 4-5 time zones).

The simple rule of thumb is to chew on one tablet, every time your plane takes off and every time it lands.  Then chew on one tablet every 2 hours while in flight. I normally follow the manufacturer instructions and take it an hour before or 2 hours after a meal.

I'm the first person to admit the questionable medical value of homeopathic products and my results may be nothing more than a placebo effect but it has worked for me and has been recommended to me by about a dozen different flight crew members.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack

Talking about backpacks is almost akin to talking about religion. It seems people are easily offended when you recommend something different than their preferred bag.  Unlike the average traveller, I have 1M+ miles under my belt and have recently tested about 25 different (well rated) backpacks before I recommended the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack February 2018.

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TL;DR: If you can only buy one backpack (EDC, work and travel), I recommend the USA designed and manufactured Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack.

I recommend you read my full review here. This bag is light, durable and has carefully designed features that will make travel much easier. Plus it is built like a tank and will not break on your mid-trip.

Best carry on luggage

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I first recommended the RedOxx AirBoss in March 2012 and it has been my favourite carry-on luggage since. I have tried 50-60 different products since and always come back to this thing. It is designed to last and comes with a no questions lifetime warranty. Along with Tom Bihn, RedOxx offers the best warranty in the business. 

The RedOxx AirBoss is a 100% USA designed and manufactured bag. It is made from incredibly resilient materials. The bag you see above has travelled 1,000,000 + miles since 2012 and it looks almost brand new.

  • Since does not have wheels, I am rarely asked to check its size.
  • It has a flexible shell which means I can push and shove it into even the smallest overhead compartments.
  • It doesn't waste any room on wheels and a pull handle which maximizes available space
  • It can be used with or without packing cubes

If you could buy only 1 luggage that will have to last 10+years, this is the one.

Pacsafe anti-theft packs

There are times when you will be travelling to riskier destinations where theft is a real constant concern (Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, Barcelona, etc). Then travelling to these "special" locations, you may have to take specialized gear to stay safe and no one offers a wider selection of anti-theft backpacks, packs and bags than Pacsafe.

I own both a Pacsafe backpack and a shoulder pack. Both of my products are no longer offered but you can easily find something that would meet your needs. During "normal" trips, I would choose the lighter and more functional Tom Bihn Synapse 25 every time but when I need extra security, the Pacsafe products are a must.  The bags are lined with a metal mesh to prevent theft by slashing. Even the shoulder straps are reinforced with metal mesh to prevent a slash and go incident. Best of all, the Pacsafe bags look like normal everyday products.

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I own an older version of the Metrosafe and found an everyday use for it you may find interesting. In addition to keeping my valuables safe while I travel, I use it when at the beach or public pool.  I lock it to a bench or medium tall tree and know my valuables (glasses, wallet, cell phone, etc) will be there when I get back. When at the beach, I can go swimming without worrying that someone will steal my wallet. All you have to do it pair it with a travel cable based lock. 

Most relaxing song in the world (science)

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment

Everyone knows that music has a magical ability to enhance your emotions. It can push you to your exercise faster, smile more or fall into deep meditative contemplation. A British band called Marconi Union has used scientific research to produce what it calls "the most relaxing song" ever created. The bank worked with professionals (like sound therapists) during the process. 

The song was specifically engineered to lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, and even lower your heart rate. The combination of sounds and music creates such a state of relaxation that users have been warned not to listen to it while driving.

Mindlab Insight performed research and determined this was the most relaxing song they have ever tested. Weightless "induces a 65% reduction in anxiety and a 35% reduction in physiological  resting rates.

How to sleep on a plane

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  bnilsen  used under creative commons license

Image by bnilsen used under creative commons license

 

Having traveled over 700,000 miles in the last 20 years, I realize the importance of sleeping on a plane. Over the years, I developed tips and tricks on how to sleep better when flying.

1 - Wear an Eye Mask

Proper sleep requires a nice dark environment but your 200 close friends may not agree. Bring your own Eye Mask and bring something soft, plush and comfortable. If your airline does provide one, it will be cheap and extremely uncomfortable.

2- Earplugs 

Most of us need a quiet and peaceful environment to sleep and you know know that talkative couple will be right behind your seat. 

3 - Noise Cancellation headphones

Sometimes earplugs just aren't enough (think crying baby). Noise cancellation headphones are a great way to drown out noise earplugs can't remove. When trying to sleep, play some soft soothing music or some guided meditation tracks.

4 - Wear Comfortable Clothes

This may seem obvious but many people forget this basic rule. Planes have temperature swings and you have to be ready to go from cold to hot and back. Dress in layers. Make sure your clothes are comfortable.

Many executives I have traveled with go on board with a suit but change into sweatpants or pajamas for those long transatlantic/transpacific flights.  

5 - Wear your seat-belt

If you don't want to be woken up or bothered, always wear your seat-belt and make sure it is visible. Remember that flight attendants have a duty to perform safety checks and they will wake you if they cannot easily determine if your belt is attached. 

6 - Bring your own food and drink

Sure airlines provide crappy food (unless you are flying business or first class). My recommendation is to bring your own food (which would likely be healthier and better tasting). In addition to the health benefits, this frees you from the flight attendance service schedule.

You notify the crew that you do not want to be woken up and then doze off. When you wake up, you have your own meal waiting for you.

7 - Get a window seat

For short flights, I want an aisle seat (in case I want something from the overhead compartment).For longer flights, I want a window seat. This gives you something to lean on when trying to sleep and makes sure you won't be woken up by a seat mate with a peeing problem. 

4 lifehacks for easier,cheaper and more enjoyable airline travel

TravellingEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  Lars Plougmann  used under Creative Commons License

Image by Lars Plougmann used under Creative Commons License

Travelling is a great way to travel to far flung locations making the world a  much smaller place. It isn't always fun or convenient though. I've spent thousands of hours trapped inside a trans-atlantic or trans-pacific flight wishing for it to finally be over.

There are some tips that will help make you flight just a little and more enjoyable. 

1 - Fly early and sit on the wing

I am not prone to motion sickness but I know plenty of colleagues who are. As the sun rises and heats the ground, the ground radiates that heat back into the sky potentially causing more turbulence. Flying earlier in the day means the ground may be less hot and you may experience less turbulence.

In line with the theme of motion sickness, try to reserve a seat on the wing. These are the seats with the least amount of tilting when the plane turns. 

2 - Use carry-on only

Talking to frequent travellers, one of the most common complaints is related to checked luggage. Complaints are caused either long line-ups to drop it off at check-in, luggage being delayed due to routing issues, luggage being damaged during transit, luggage contents being stolen or having to wait over an hour to pick up your luggage at the destination airport. 

If you can, fly carry-on only.

3 - Bring extra power

When travelling with electronics (Kindle, iPad, Nexus, iPhone) you want to make sure these device are able to entertain you during the entire trip. Make sure you travel with your own external battery pack (Link).

4 - Buy cheaper tickets

Read older blog posts and you will likely see advice recommending that you purchase your airline tickets on Tuesday. This advice no longer holds as more recent analysis shows that Sundays offer the best deals (Link).

Airlines Reporting Corp (a ticket processor transacting about half of all tickets sold) conducted a 19 month (130 million ticket analysis) and showed that Sundays offered the lowest prices. The second cheapest day was Saturday (with a rate of about $10 more per ticket). Tuesday was found to be almost $60 more expensive.

Historical data has shows Tuesdays having the most price drops so it may still be worth keeping an eye out for deals on that day. Yapta, a site that alerts corporate travel managers to price drops, confirmed that it saw 21% of its ticket price drops on Tuesday followed by 19% on Wednesday.