Saturday, June 30, 2018

Aldi Travel Adaptor Kit

I noticed the Aldi Travel Adaptor Kit on sale this Saturday and decided it would be very useful for travelling. A single convenient unit that could charge the devices we're likely to take with us and two normal power points.


OK. I wrote "give this one a big miss" in capitals as I think like myself, most people will think this travel adaptor kit will provide the usual power using the two power point sockets, and with the four USB ports you'll be able to charge most of the devices at the same time. With the normal adaptor you may only be able to only charge one device at a time.

The limitations of this device are not stated on the Aldi site and they are significant. Only the 3.1A limit of the USB ports is mentioned on the packaging, whilst the power point limits are only mentioned in the manual and on the device itself. Without opening the package in the shop you wouldn't notice the power point limit and it's unlikely you'd expect it. I've never seen any power point before with such a limitation.

1. The power points can only provide up to 3A (3 amps). A normal power point can supply 10A. Most notebook computers require more more than 3A so if you want to charge your laptop computer you won't be able to charge it using this device. To me this is the biggest limitation. A person who thinks they can plug their hairdryer in what looks like a standard power point won't be able to and I doubt if that is what they'd expect. It isn't what I would expect.

2. Whilst there's four USB ports the total power that can be provided across all the USB ports is 3.1A. That means if you have an iPad and a large screen mobile phone it's possible you won't be able to charge them at the same time as the USB ports may cut out.

Overall you'd be better off with a simple powerboard, a powerboard with USB ports, or even just a double adaptor, and use your own USB adaptors and stand-alone travel adaptors.

Most people who buy this device won't have enough knowledge about the power requirements and won't realise it may not end up doing what they want.

Aldi should have clearly published the specifications on their site and the full limitations on the external packaging as these limitations are unusual.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 10/11/2019
Aldi are selling this item again this week. I noticed a woman buying the travel adaptor kit and we started chatting. I realised two things. First my point 1. above is wrong with regards to the power required for a notebook. The notebook requires around 100W. I used 3A by 240 volts is 720W which is far more than needed. The comment regarding the limit of 3A still applies to higher powered devices such as heaters and hairdryers.

The limitations are now printed on the box in very small writing so at least people are now informed. Most people won't understand what they mean but at least they are there.

Overall however my previous advice was to give this one a miss and I have to say talking the the women and what her needs were,  I've changed my mind. As long as you use the travel kit for lower power devices (skip the hairdryer, or small heater), know how much power your devices use, and the travel kit is a nice compact unit that would suit most people's needs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Seniors Card exclusive AGL energy plan 38% electricity + 25% off gas offer easy to beat.

A person I know told me about the Seniors Card offer from AGL, which offers 38% off electricity and 25% off Gas usage. They asked if it was better than their current offer. Their current offer is with Red Energy for 12% off for electricity and 15% off for gas on the total bill.

I did a comparison for their current electricity bill and found they would be worse off with the AGL offer for Seniors Card holders. My own current provider is Dodo and with 40% off electricity usage and 25% off gas usage beats both AGL and Red Energy.

Today I also received the same letter from the government. This made me realise this is one of those paid for offers that uses the Seniors Card marketing database and makes money for the government, but may not be best for consumers, in particular Seniors Card holders.

You shouldn't take any of these offers at face value. Even if the offer is from the government doesn't mean it is the best value for you. The government really shouldn't be using our information in this way but that's their choice. Since people are receiving these offers from a trusted source it makes the ad more convincing to people. Don't trust these offers.

What you should do is create a spreadsheet and enter the figures for your current provider and any offer you receive. It's very easy for energy retailers to offer higher discounts, but in the end their actual charges may be higher to begin with. Only performing a calculation will let you know for sure if the offer is good or not for you.

So far the best offers I've seen have been from Alinta Energy and Dodo Power and Gas. Even so, prices change so it's best to check prices whenever you're reviewing your energy needs.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Microsoft Rewards value reduced by around a third.

Microsoft offers users of their Bing service the ability to earn points by using Bing for searches.  You get three points per search. Microsoft makes it easier to earn points by providing links to trending news and also each day offers bonus tasks.

Each day you can earn up to 60 points via mobile searches, 90 points via desktop searches, and an additional 12 points if you're using Microsoft Edge on the desktop. you get three points per search. That's a daily total of 162 points. The also often three bonus searches giving 10 points each. These appear most days or perhaps every couple of days. There's also Super Quizzes offering 30 points offered every few days taking a couple of minutes to answer. Sometimes there's an even bigger special bonus such as checking out a Microsoft product. Let's however look at what 162 points a day is worth.

Until recently you could convert 3600 points to a Microsoft $5 Gift Card. You'd add the gift card to your account and had three months to use the value of the gift card before the amount expires. Now you need 4,750 points for a Microsoft $5 Gift Card. That's a reduction in value of a third.

Earning points is fairly easy but time consuming. Supposedly you'll earn points for doing searches you do now, but if you did that you'll earn very little points each day. Say you did 10 searches a day you'd get 30 points a day, which would be a little over $10 a year. If you could earn the 162 points regularly available a day that would be around $60 a year. That's a lot of effort for not much return.

To be fair there's probably not much in your searches for Microsoft either. They'd probably rely on advertisers' ads appearing in the search result to make money themselves.

TIP. From what I've read it looks like Xbox Gift Cards work the same as the as Microsoft Gift Cards. If this is true you should be able to purchase a $5 Xbox Gift Card for 3,600 points rather than 4,750 points for a Microsoft Gift Card. I'll give that a go and let you know how I go. UPDATE: 22/06/2018 Points needed for Xbox Gift Card now also increased.

I wasn't too pleased when Microsoft recently devalued to value of points without notice, but that's life with the big companies.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Melbourne petrol prices increasing to 159.9 in time for school holidays.

A number of petrol stations increased their unleaded petrol price to 159.9 last night. A few more today.

Whilst it has been said the increase of petrol prices just before school holidays is a coincidence, interestingly, we now see prices going up the week before school holidays in Victoria. Yet here we are with signs of prices increasing.

Time to watch petrol prices closely and fill up if necessary. For those using the 7/11 Fuel App you can find some prices around Melbourne down to 134.9 if you're lucky to be going through one of the areas south east of Melbourne.

Kelvin Eldridge