I provide honest ratings and reviews on tech, toys, and consumer home goods that I've purchased and used. Reviews are based on hands-on testing and personal observations. All opinions and comments are my own.

Disclosure: ReviewedbyPhil is reader-supported. If you click on or buy something via an affiliate link on this site, I may earn a commission.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fishtank LED Bubble Stone Review

Fishtank LED Bubble Stone Review

Buy it at Amazon: Fishtank LED Bubble Stone [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Lots of bubbles, colorful and fun lightshow, though no power switch.

This kit includes the LED airstone with 11 ft power cable and removable power adapter, two suction cup tube guides, one hose connector, and a 5 ft air hose. The gray part of the stone is porous and this is where the air will come out. The stone measures 4" in diameter and the lights measure 1.75" in diameter. There are 18 individual LED lights with several of them displaying different colors than the rest. The unit is made of a lightweight plastic but the stone is hefty and weighs it down.

Note that you will need a separate air pump attached to hose that feeds the airstone which is not included with this set. If the hose isn't long enough, you can use the connector to bridge together two air hoses. There is no power switch on the unit. When plugged in, the LED lights will shine brightly and slowly fade to change colors. The airstone provides a lot of bubbles and oxygenation for your aquarium when hooked up to a pump and the lights put on a bright but gentle light show. The unit does not have to be plugged in for the airstone to create bubbles.

Buy it at Amazon: Fishtank LED Bubble Stone [Affiliate Link]
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Remax Bluetooth Speaker RB-H1 Review

Remax Bluetooth Speaker RB-H1 Review

Buy it at Amazon: Remax Bluetooth Speaker RB-H1 [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: A good sounding yet affordable wireless Bluetooth speaker, a bit large for travel, durable design.

You'll receive the speaker, 21" flat microUSB cable, 41" USB DC cable, and an instruction manual.

The unit is large, measuring 10" W x 4" H x 3.5" D and weighing just over 2.5 lbs. However, it seems constructed of quality materials. The outer shell is a stamped aluminum with a brushed aluminum finish which comes in black or silver. It comes with an attached 17.5" leather carrying strap that is removable if you undo the clasps. The speaker has two 3 W drivers positioned in the front. On the bottom there's the subwoofer port, a built-in 3.5 mm gold plated AUX in audio cable with cable storage if you want to use a media device that doesn't have Bluetooth, and the six rubber feet help keep the unit in place on your desk. On the left hand side are your controls. On the right hand side is a hole for bass extension and the NFC area for touch pairing to a mobile device.Along the bottom you've got the power switch and LED indicators for when it's in play mode and charging, a pinhole mic for handsfree calling when paired to a mobile phone, a TF card slot for playing music loaded to a microSD card, a microUSB input port and 4 battery life indicator LEDs, a DC power port, and the USB output port. Note that both the microUSB port input and DC port can be used for charging. Then, on the top behind the strap, you've got the volume adjust/skip track keys, play/pause/answer calls button and the mode button to switch between input modes.

When you turn the unit on, you'll get prompts in English. To connect with your mobile device, select REMAX RB-H1 in your device's Bluetooth menu. The sound on the unit has good accuracy and a deeper bass than you'd get with speaker Bluetooth speakers. The focus for these speakers seem to be in the mid and high ranges which have good clarity and a clean crisp sound. The overall balance makes these speakers suitable for a wide variety of music genres. The sound can get quite loud and definitely fill a room easily. Note that the volume control is also the skip track control if you use long presses rather than short presses, but skip track only work in Bluetooth and TF card mode. Interestingly, when you have a micro SD card installed, if you connect the speaker to your computer using the microUSB port, you can read and write directly to card.

The USB power bank option is a nice feature so you can stream music from your phone and charge it at the same time. The 8800 mAh battery will give most phones between 3 and 4 full charges. The battery life of the unit when it's not plugged in is impressive and I've gotten over 10 hours of playback on a single charge with mixed use, though not using the powerbank feature a whole lot. This is due to power saving features like the use of the energy efficient Bluetooth 4.1 protocol and auto shutoff after 15 minutes of inactivity. Overall, this unit is feature packed and has great sound for this price point. It's a little large for frequently travel but still small enough to travel when you need it. The only part of the design I didn't like was that the strap covers some of the controls but it can be removed too, so it's not always a problem.

Buy it at Amazon: Remax Bluetooth Speaker RB-H1 [Affiliate Link]
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Monday, December 21, 2015

Coofandy Crosshatch Print Slim Dress Shirt Review

Coofandy Crosshatch Print Slim Dress Shirt Review

Buy it at Amazon: Coofandy Crosshatch Print Slim Dress Shirt [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Extra slim fit, short torso length, color fades fairly quickly.

The material on this shirt is supposed to be cotton but it has a bit of a slick sheen to it which makes me believe it's probably a cotton polyester blend. The material is quite stiff and will hold wrinkles, so this is one you'll have to iron after a run through the wash. One thing to note is that if you get the black and red one to put it through the wash alone. The black sheds a lot of small dark fibers in the first wash that will stick and make whites and brights dingy looking. The shirt is two-toned and the accent color, in this case red, appears in the neck, the tips of the collar, inside of the cuffs, the buttons and in a cross-hatch pattern across the chest on the right shoulder and on the left arm. The cuffs add a pop of color when you roll them up. The shirt doesn't have a ton of length and can be worn untucked, but if you've got a long torso and prefer to tuck, keep in mind the shirt may untuck if you lift your arms above the shoulder. The shirt is slim fit and fits me like a glove. For reference, I got the size small and I'm 5'4" with a 35 inch chest and weight 120 lbs. Overall, I like the style and fit of this shirt and for a casual night out, might even leave it untucked or throw it over a t-shirt as a light outerwear.

Buy it at Amazon: Coofandy Crosshatch Print Slim Dress Shirt [Affiliate Link]
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ANKR Smart Tracker Key Fob Tag Review

ANKR Smart Tracker Key Fob Tag Review

Buy it at Amazon: ANKR Smart Tracker Key Fob Tag [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Average smart tracker, light on features, no Android, limited real world application.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Vcall U8 Smart Watch (Black) Review

Vcall U8 Smart Watch (Black) Review

Buy it at Amazon: Vcall U8 Smart Watch (Black) [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Very basic Android smart watch, good for notifications, alarms, and handsfree calling.

This is a fairly basic smart watch that, in addition to telling you the time and setting alarms, has health related apps, a number of phone functions when paired to your smartphone like handsfree calling, text message reader and push notifications for your smartphone's apps. The band is a simple black rubber that'll fit wrist sizes from 7.5" to 9" inches comfortably. The watch face is 2" x 1.5" and about 1/2 inch thick. It weighs an ounce and a half.

The watch charges via microUSB and the port is located on the left hand side under a silicone protective cover. The unit takes several hours to fully charge and for me lasts about 3 days of moderate use before I need to charge it again. The watch has a built-in speaker and microphone for handsfree calling, you can also set it to transmit all of your phone's audio through the watch, e.g. media like video, music etc. You can turn media playing off so that the watch only does audio for calls or even shut off the audio completely and just use the other smart features like notifications. The handsfree calling works well and the sounds good on the caller's end.

The watch boots up in a few seconds with a short splash screen and there are three default apps on the home screen as well as the Android touch buttons along the bottom. To pair with your phone, connect to a device called U8. If you're familiar with the android interface you'll recognize the touch buttons along the bottom for menu, apps, and back. However, pressing the menu button actually opens up the app drawer, pressing the apps button opens up the dialer, and pressing the back button functions as expected. There are some interesting apps bundled with this watch including and "anti lost" feature that prompts the watch to ring and or vibrate if you put it down and walk out of bluetooth range (about 33 ft). There's also a barometer, altimeter, and calculator. Health related apps are also included like a pedometer, sleep monitor that detects if you're moving in your sleep, and a drink and rest reminder to help you remember to take breaks and stay hydrated during the day.

In order to take full advantage of the watches features when paired with your phone like reading text messages, camera, and push notifications, you'll have to install the Bluetooth notification BT app on your phone. I tried the one in the instruction manual but it kept crashing on me. So I downloaded a different one in the Google Play store (there are many of them) and found one that worked for me. This app is only available for Android phones so iOS users will not be able to access the features that require this app. Without the app, you can still access your phonebook, dialer, call history, and music. There's a lack of search/type options with the OS, so if you go to your phone book for example, you can only scroll alphabetically through your contacts. Not fun over hundreds of numbers if you're looking for someone who's name starts with 'T.'

There are 5 screen brightness levels but I found that setting on the second to lowest level is pretty adequate for viewing and it saves on the battery life. It's unclear what other apps, if any, can be loaded to the watch and there aren't any instructions on how to do this. I'm also not sure, how waterproof this watch is since sometimes I find that the rubber seal over the charging port doesn't really stay in place and pops out easily. To err on the side of caution I take it off when in the shower. However for a low priced smart watch, this does all the basic features that I would expect and a few more and the interface is easy to understand, though the controls can sometimes be a bit frustrating.

Buy it at Amazon: Vcall U8 Smart Watch (Black) [Affiliate Link]
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Monday, December 14, 2015

EZGO Teeth Whitening Gel w/ Light Kit Review

EZGO Teeth Whitening Gel w/ Light Kit Review

Buy it at Amazon: EZGO Teeth Whitening Gel w/ Light Kit [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Fast whitening, easy to follow instructions; some tooth sensitivity during and after use.

This kit comes with 4 syringes of whitening gel and applicator tips, a touch-up whitening pen, tooth color chart, a case with two teeth trays, and an LED light for activating the gel. At first glance, this system looks complicated, but it's actually not too difficult to use.

The first thing you'll want to do is open up the battery compartment of the LED light and take out the batteries to remove the plastic battery saver tab under them, otherwise you won't be able to turn on the light! Next, you'll shape the trays according to the directions. You basically dip them in hot water to soften them and then put them in your mouth real quick and suck the air out to create a "vacuum seal" against your teeth. As the tray cools, it'll harden into the exact shape of your teeth. Then just trim up the mold and you're ready to go with your custom fitted teeth trays.

You'll need to brush your teeth before AND after using the gel. You just squirt a little bit in towards the front of the trays, press them up against your teeth and shine the blue LED on them for 15 minutes. The instructions recommended leaving the trays in for up to an hour after the light activation, and I did this for anywhere between 30-60 minutes depending on my schedule. You should do this twice a day, but at least once a day during the course of treatment. Note that for some the peroxide in the gel can be irritating to your gums and you may feel a burning sensation or experience sensitive teeth when using the product. I experienced both and although mildly unpleasant, the discomfort for just 1 week was worth the results.

After a week of whitening, I used up about 2 syringes and my teeth improved an impressive 4 shades. My teeth were already pretty white to begin with since I've used whitening products in the past. These results come with a few considerations, though. When using the gel twice daily, I developed sensitivities to hot and cold liquids. This did go away after a few days after I stopped using the gel. You're also not supposed to have dark foods while using them like coffee, chocolate, and soy sauce. Overall though, I'm happy with the results and the whole process was pretty straight forward. Since I still have two syringes left and they can be stored for up to 2 years, I'll be able to use them again later if my teeth get stained again. If there's only minor staining, you can use included the touch up pen, just twist the top to dispense the gel, to quickly brighten your smile with a shorter touch up treatment.

Buy it at Amazon: EZGO Teeth Whitening Gel w/ Light Kit [Affiliate Link]
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