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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

QianYing Canvas Vintage Schoolbag Backpack Review

QianYing Canvas Vintage Schoolbag Backpack Review

Buy it at Amazon: QianYing Canvas Vintage Schoolbag Backpack [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: A well made, rugged schoolbag with plenty of pocket options.

The backpack is branded Auger Strauss and Co. It measures 17.5"H x 14"W x 6.5"D. The bag is made using heavy weight thick canvas, leather straps and pulls, and metal fixtures. On the left and right side of the bag are two zippered pockets that are wide enough for water bottles. In the front you've got a 7" x 8" x 1" zippered pocket with a leather zipper pull. At the top of the bag, there's a leather accented heavy duty webbing strap for carrying the bag.

The main compartment features a flip down cover flap that's secured using two snap buttons under the buckles; however, there's not much under the snap buttons to pull on so sometimes undoing the snap buttons can be tricky. The compartment underneath closes via a drawstring which has a leather cinch to keep string from loosening, though with enough force, the cinch does allow the cord to loosen. Inside the main compartment you have a 6" x 7" flip-out zipper pocket along the back wall with a Velcro topped half-pocket for a laptop or tablet beneath it. On the opposite side, there's a Velcro-topped flat pocket with a zippered pocket on its face and two smaller open pockets. The bottom of the backpack isn't padded, but it is reinforced with a thick vinyl core.

The back of the backpack and the shoulder straps have about 1/4" of foam padding and there's even a hidden zippered side pocket on the left-hand side, which will be accessible with your right hand when wearing the bag on your back. Overall, the bag is nicely constructed and feels durable and heavy duty. The backing on the leather tends to shed a lot though, so they will probably be the first pieces to wear down. However, the bag is comfortable to wear and has a decent amount of capacity and pocket options.

Buy it at Amazon: QianYing Canvas Vintage Schoolbag Backpack [Affiliate Link]
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Lecmal R300 Dual Camera Dashboard DVR Review

Lecmal R300 Dual Camera Dashboard DVR Review

Buy it at Amazon: Lecmal R300 Dual Camera Dashboard DVR [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Okay video, good interior/exterior view, lacks some functions, good viewer app.

This unit comes with the dual camera DVR, a holder bracket, 3-axis suction cup mount, 11.5' cigarette lighter microUSB power cable, a 4-pin GPS antenna with 5 ft cable, and 3 extra adhesive sticky pads. Note that it does NOT come with a microSD card, which you must supply in order to record any video. The manual recommends Class 6 card or higher up to 32 GB. You won't be able to enter menu settings or view the live video feed without a card installed.

The unit measures 5"W x 2"H x 1.25" D. It is made of a plastic shell with a thin powdered aluminum finished front. While I like how it looks, the finish scratches easily, especially from the plastic mounting bracket when you put it in or take it out. On the side of the device that faces the windshield you have a 140 degree wide angle forward lens that can pitch up and down 20 degrees and a speaker. On the side facing into the car you have the 2.7" LCD, power button, menu navigation and mode buttons, the inside facing camera, the OK button, and a microphone. The ports are o nthe right hand side under a rubber door and includes: 4-pin port for the GPS, microSD card slot, and microUSB charging port.

Assembling the unit and mount was straightforward. Make sure to insert the microSD card with the contacts facing toward you. The suction cup is pretty firma dn I haven't had it fall off my windshield yet. The one thing I didn't like about this design is that with all the cables plugged in, the rubber door just kind of hangs there in the way. I would prefer exposed but flush with the surface ports over that.

With a new card inserted into the unit, the camera will need to format it first. This step is required since the camera loads some software on the card called X2Player, that you run on your computer to view the video files. When the camera starts up, it will begin recording automatically by default and I didn't see a way to switch this to manual only. You can, of course, always stop recording manually and start it again when you want. For whatever reason, my unit was not in English when I first powered it on. If this happens to you, to change the language, press the menu button then scroll down to the icon with the person and speech bubble; click 'OK', then select English and click 'OK' again.

In the menu you can set the various options like date and time, audio recording, and g-sensor sensitivity to lock videos from being recorded over in case of an accident. You cannot set the loop length for the videos which is about 90 seconds long per video clip. Each clip on dual camera recording takes up about 125 megabytes but you can choose to record only one camera at a time instead of both.

On the LCD screen when the camera is running, you'll see the live feed from the recording, the date and time, the current speed, and the direction of travel. If the GPS is not hooked up, you will not see speed or direction. Note also that GPS location, speed, and direction will not appear in the video during playback, but you'll be able to see that information when using the software to view the video. The program for viewing the videos, X2Player, is pretty cool. You'll see all the aforementioned data, can choose to view side-by-side dual feeds or only one feed at a time. You can even toggle on a map that tracks your trip based on the recorded GPS location data points, though in general, the path is not exact and tends to misplace you a lot. Each trip is logged as a single line in the bottom left quadrant of the window, but is then broken out into the smaller 90 second clips on the bottom right quadrant. The software also allows you to save the video clips off the card piecemeal or all at once.

The video quality is decent but not high definition. There's definitely some graininess to the video and even within one car length, the license plate of the car in front of you will be unreadable. Despite the low resolution and relative darkness of the videos, they're still useful in case of an accident and the inside facing camera may be useful for car share drivers like Uber and Lyft. This is overall a fairly nice dashboard DVR but it lacks some features like motion detection, parking monitor, loop length, and a still camera mode.

Buy it at Amazon: Lecmal R300 Dual Camera Dashboard DVR [Affiliate Link]
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Urpower Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier Review

Urpower Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier Review

Buy it at Amazon: Urpower Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Decent, basic humidifier w/nightlight, also can diffuse essential oils/aromas, easy operation.
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Monday, February 15, 2016

WangJiang O-pouch Mens Brief Underwear Review

WangJiang O-pouch Mens Brief Underwear Review

Buy it at Amazon: WangJiang O-pouch Mens Brief Underwear [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Lift up flap for easy access, but doesn't always keep you covered.

The material these are made of is a mesh weave and slightly textured. It's soft but rougher than cotton and not as smooth feeling. The waistband is about 3/4" wide. This style underwear has a hole where the pouch would be, the "o-ring." So you'd put everything through this hole, then cover up with the flap pouch. The biggest problem I had with these was staying inside the pouch. Because the pouch relies on the elastic having tension against the back of your scrotum to stay in place, as you move around or if when you sit down, it tends to slip off leave you hanging free. With the loose pouch shifting around, it's pretty annoying and every so often you need to take a moment to secure the pouch. When the pouch is on, it lifts and accentuates your package, but if you're even moderately endowed you'll have trouble staying in it; forget about it if you get a little excited. I imagine that if you're not so well endowed, you'd have trouble getting enough tension on the pouch to get it to stay in place as well. So either way, the idea of having quick and easy access is a fun one, but for me, the execution just wasn't great.

Buy it at Amazon: WangJiang O-pouch Mens Brief Underwear [Affiliate Link]
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Friday, February 5, 2016

Miu Color Stainless Steel Ice Cubes Review

Miu Color Stainless Steel Ice Cubes Review

Buy it at Amazon: Miu Color Stainless Steel Ice Cubes [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Cools drinks without dilution or taste, though not very quickly nor for very long.

This set comes with 8 stainless steel 1" ice cubes in a plastic tray. The ice cubes have a shiny finish and are liquid filled which help retain the coldness for longer when placed in a drink. The set comes with a small pair of tongs with silicone grips for gently placing these into glasses. As these cubes are metal and a bit heavy, dropping them into a glass may cause delicate drinkware to break or shatter. I benchmarked the performance of these cubes against regular frozen water 1" ice cubes and here's what I found:
Starting with 1 cup of water at 62.5° F (room temperature)
After 15 minutes: steel cube 58.5° F; ice cube 55.5°F
After 45 minutes: steel cube 61.5° F; ice cube 58.5°F

So while the steel ice cube successfully cooled down the drink, it didn't cool down as much nor did the cooling effect last as long as a regular ice cube, however, you do get the benefit of a cooled drink without having it watered down, great for white wine. For faster and longer lasting cooling use more than 1 steel cube per drink or swap out the cube if your drink has been sitting for more than 30 minutes. Overall, the cubes performed as expected and don't impart any flavors to the drinks, although you do have to be careful with handling them so you don't break your glasses.

Buy it at Amazon: Miu Color Stainless Steel Ice Cubes [Affiliate Link]
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