Ramadan

Ever since I got my first smartphone in 2011 (just a few months before my husband abruptly walked out on me) I’ve been increasingly using its GPS feature to help guide me around in unfamiliar places instead of using paper maps or doing a Google search followed by printing the directions out on paper. It’s just way easier for me to just type an address into the smartphone and have its GPS device guide me around. The biggest hassle is that I have to leave the phone on the seat while listening to the directions orally. Every now and then I would pick up the phone to glance at the map to make sure that I’m going in the right direction while trying not to focus my eyes too much on that map because I’m driving.

It eventually became obvious that having a holder that would hold my phone at eye-level while I’m driving would be the perfect solution. I’ve held off on getting such a holder because of money woes and such. Last year I walked into a Five Below store where I saw a plastic holder for a smartphone that cost only $5 (which is the maximum price the store sells anything of its stock). Basically the holder had a suction cup that you use to put on the windshield then you put the phone in the holder whenever you need to use it as a GPS device so you can see the map without having to hold the phone in your hand.

Unfortunately that plastic holder was a short-lived thing. First I had trouble with getting that suction cup to stick to the windshield. It would stick for a while then it would suddenly fall to the floor, which is not what I needed if I was using the smartphone as a navigation device. During one of its falls it broke in half and I couldn’t fix it. I now knew why that thing was priced at only $5.

So I went back to the old way of having to periodically pick up the phone with my hand and glancing at the map. But then I walked into a Five Below store a few weeks ago and I found another solution that worked way better.

Remember Ty? Maybe that company’s name doesn’t immediately ring a bell but its most famous signature product will: Beanie Babies. Those are the animal-shaped bean bags that created a media frenzy and some sort of bizarre speculative bubble where people were buying those Beanie Babies in bulk whenever a store got a new shipment and reselling them on the Internet for up to $100 or more. (The Beanie Babies themselves were originally priced between $4-6.) I remember when a website known as BeanieMom.com was among the most visited websites and Mary Beth’s Beanie World was a very popular print magazine among Beanie Baby collectors. That speculative bubble eventually burst and people discovered that all those bean bags that they spent a ton of money on were back down to their original retail price of between $4-6.

Since that time Beanie Babies can now be easily found at their original retail price in a variety of stores with new ones being released all the time. (I saw a few Beanies based on the hit cartoon show My Little Pony a few months ago.) They’ve been joined by these big-eyed plushies known as Beanie Boos along with round-shaped plushes known as Beanie Ballz and other similar products like Beanie Buddies and Lil Ones.

I recently found a Ty product line at Five Below that I felt could be useful as a smartphone holder. They are known as the Peek-A-Boos and these are plush animals that are especially designed to hold a smartphone or any other mobile device. They were priced at $5 and I found them to be very cute. After much deliberation I chose the panda bear.

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Like the Beanie Babies, each Peek-A-Boos has a hang tag that includes the name of the animal and a brief poem about that critter. This panda is named Poo (not to be confused with a bear named Winnie the Pooh).

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As the first photo shows, the panda was holding a mobile-sized sign announcing that it was a Peek-A-Boos while proclaiming “I hold your phone! + clean your screen”. When I removed the sign after I brought it home, I found that there’s a list on the other side showing all of the Peek-A-Boos currently available while implying that one needed to collect them all. If I owned more than one smartphone I would buy more Peek-A-Boos but, seriously, most adults don’t really need more than one smartphone. I admit that the Peek-A-Boos are cute but I feel that one is enough for me.

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Here is Poo the Panda when he’s not holding anything. His green eyes are very large and sparkly and he’s got such a cute expression on his face.

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Here is Poo the Panda holding a mobile device (which is an iPod Touch in these photos mainly because I was using my smartphone as a camera at the time). As you can see it looks like he’s peeking over the mobile device as he’s holding it, which is a cute touch.

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This little critter is supposed to clean my screen as well but there are no indication anywhere as to which part serves as the screen cleaner. I saw that the inside of his front paws are made from a flat suede material so I tried cleaning the screen with them. It worked somewhat even though his paws are pretty small.

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I also saw that his butt is also made from the same flat suede material so I tried that and I found that I got better results. I think the paws are meant to simply hold the mobile device while his butt is supposed to be used to clean the screen.

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I was able to perch Poo the Panda holding the mobile device on the dashboard of my car. I actually tried it a few times when I needed to use my smartphone’s GPS device and I found that it worked wonderfully. I was able to glance at the screen at times without having to hold the phone in my hand. This is an excellent invention and it’s also so cute.

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I even found a use for other than the car. Every now and then I tend to misplace my smartphone, which results in me doing an intense search of my home until I find it. These days I have Poo the Panda hold the smartphone at home when I’m not using it and I put that panda bear in a place where I can usually find him. The only time I take Poo to the car is when I need to use the GPS. When he’s not sitting on the dashboard holding my smartphone so I can look at the map, he’s at home holding my smartphone.

I have to admit that this is probably the best product that Ty has ever released (and I’m including those overhyped Beanie Babies). These Peek-A-Boos are not only cute but they have a utilitarian value as well. This has got to be the best $5 I’ve ever spent on a smartphone accessory and I don’t regret it at all.

I even recorded a video version of this review so you can see me actually use Poo the Panda to clean my iPod Touch screen.

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