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 28, 2017

Walter's Hot Dog Stand Mustard Review

Walter's Hot Dog Stand Mustard Review

Buy it on Amazon: Walter's Hot Dog Stand Mustard [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Great condiment for dogs, burgers, and pretzels. Makes a fine, smoothly textured base for marinades.

Walter’s is an all-natural specialty mustard by Walter’s Hot Dog Stand in Mamaroneck, NY. They use a proprietary blend of mustard seeds and pickle relish with no color additives that results in a light colored mustard with a unique flavor. It’s not as yellow as a French’s yellow mustard nor as brown as a Gulden’s spicy brown mustard. The flavor is mild, not quite as bold as Grey Poupon or as tart as French's. It’s not spicy but it does add a kick of mustard flavor and some brightness from the vinegar. It goes great on sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs and I especially like it with ketchup and/or mayo. Makes a great base of marinades.

Buy it on Amazon: Walter's Hot Dog Stand Mustard [Affiliate Link]
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Pure Mountain Black and White Truffle Infused Olive Oil Review

Pure Mountain Black and White Truffle Infused Olive Oil Review

Buy it on Amazon: Pure Mountain Black and White Truffle Infused Olive Oil [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Strong and smooth truffle flavor. A great finishing oil for pasta, meat, fresh tomatoes and dishes with cheese.

Pure Mountain’s Black and White truffle oils can be purchased separately or together and contain about 3.3 oz each. They’re pretty pricey for the amount of oil you get, but the flavor of these is intense and a little goes a long way. The oil is supposed to be used as a finishing oil and not for cooking as high heat destroys the truffle flavor. It’s actually infused olive oil rather than oil pressed from the truffles themselves, so there isn’t any solid sediment from actual truffles in the oil; the ingredients say merely truffle essence.

The black truffle oil is a bit more earthy and intense in flavor, but if you know what truffles smell like, once you open the bottle, the aroma is unmistakably authentic. The black truffle oil goes great with red meats and pasta. The scent is somewhat musky and the flavor it lends is dark and rich. For some, the pungent earthy taste which can be off putting but others it's rather intoxicating. I enjoy the milder white truffle oil drizzled over fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. These go great with gourmet mac and cheese, or added to a spring greens salad and soups. If you love the flavor of truffles, you won’t be disappointed with these infused oils.

Buy it on Amazon: Pure Mountain Black and White Truffle Infused Olive Oil [Affiliate Link]
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Friday, February 24, 2017

Zeefo Solar Color Outdoor Spotlights Review

Zeefo Solar Color Outdoor Spotlights Review

Buy it on Amazon: Zeefo Solar Color Outdoor Spotlights [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Colorful light show, charges during the day and automatically illuminates at night, lasts several hours w/ moderate brightness.

You’ll receive 4 sets of lawn stakes, mounting hardware, and light fixtures with attached solar panels. All the components are constructed from a lightweight hard plastic. The solar panels measure about 5” x 3” and can be pivoted to face the sun. Once you find the right position, twist the thumb screw to lock it in place. Similarly, you can change the direction that the light is pointed by about 60 degrees. The only assembly required is attaching the base of the stake if you’ll be sticking these in the ground outside. Otherwise, you can use the wall mounting hardware to attach them to your house or fence. Each light has 4 individual LEDs which will cycle through a kaleidoscope of colors, red, blue, and green that fade into one another.

There is one button in the back that turns the light on and selects either low (one-click) or high beam mode (two-clicks). There is no way to select a single color or white light and it will only turn on once it is dark out. I’m using these lights outside to illuminate the fruit trees in my orchard. The low mode is pretty dim and kind of hard to see; they’re not very bright at all in this mode. Once I switched the lights to high beam mode they worked much better and looked pretty cool. Overall, as landscape lighting, they add an interesting effect.

Buy it on Amazon: Zeefo Solar Color Outdoor Spotlights [Affiliate Link]
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Growstar 10W Clip On Red and Blue LED Grow Light Review

Growstar 10W Clip On Red and Blue LED Grow Light Review

Buy it on Amazon: Growstar 10W Clip On Red and Blue LED Grow Light [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Good supplemental light for small plants/herbs up to 15" tall, works ok but not very strong.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pollux Bamboo and Stainless Steel Insulated Travel Mug Review (Vacuum Insulated Tumbler)

Pollux Bamboo and Stainless Steel Insulated Travel Mug Review (Vacuum Insulated Tumbler)

Buy it on Amazon: Pollux Bamboo and Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Travel Mug [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Drinks stay cold/hot and temps doesn't reach your hand, easy to clean, bamboo outside looks cool.

UPDATE: I did drop this mug once and the outer bamboo "casing" separated from the interior metal vacuum insulated part; however, the insulating properties were not damaged and I was able to put the sleeve back on with a big of hot glue and it seems to be holding up. I've had it over a year now. Still works/looks great.

The bamboo travel mug measures about 10” tall and has a 3” diameter. The exterior of the tumbler is encased in real bamboo with a laser engraved image of bamboo on the front. On the cap, the wood cover is engraved with the Pollux logo. The rest of the cap and interior of the tumbler are made from stainless steel. The leak-proof lid screws on the tumbler and inside is a stainless steel strainer basket with a fold-down pull handle.

The basket is ideal for loose leaf tea and other infusions like fruits and aromatics for flavored water. The mesh on the strainer is fine and allows water to pass through the top, sides, and bottom and is easy to clean. The top piece of the basket screws into the bottom to ensure its contents won’t spill into your drink. It pops securely into place at the top of the tumbler. You can pour water through to basket steep your tea or make flavored water. The tumbler has 16 oz capacity (2 cups) and is vacuum insulated, so it’ll hold the temperature fairly constant. When brewing hot tea with the cap on, I found that after an hour at room temperature, it lost less than 10° F starting from 153° F. Similarly, it takes a while for cold drinks to warm up in the tumbler. The outside of the mug does not change temperature much, although the metal part of the cap may feel a bit warmer or cooler depending on the temperature of your drink inside. Overall, this tumbler has great insulating capability and although it lacks a handle, the bamboo wood is easy to grip, stays a comfortable temperature, and looks pretty stylish.

Buy it on Amazon: Pollux Bamboo and Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Travel Mug [Affiliate Link]
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Z-500 Hot/Cold Water Dual Nozzle Bidet Installation and Review (Zen Bidet)

Z-500 Hot/Cold Water Dual Nozzle Bidet Installation and Review (Zen Bidet)

Buy it on Amazon: Add Zen Bidet to your toilet for a better hygiene! Installation and\ [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy setup/use, adjustable temp, strong pressure, clean results! I'll show you how to complete a FULL installation for both hot and cold water lines in this video.

You’ll receive the bidet, 6’ of hot water tubing, a 2’ 1/2” flexible metal braided hose, 15/16ths T-adapter with rubber o-ring, a 3/8” T-adapter, a plastic inlet cap and wing nut with plastic connector, a roll of plumber’s Teflon tape, and a set of illustrated installation instructions. The instructions are pretty easy to follow, and the installation takes about 20-30 minutes. Since this bidet is capable of discharging both hot and cold water, the easiest set up for installation would be if you have a sink within a few feet from your toilet and both have exposed plumbing. If your sink is far away, you may need a longer length of hot water hose, which you can contact customer support for. Another common scenario could be that your sink is mounted to an enclosed cabinet, and you may need to drill a small hole (5/16”) in your cabinet wall to run the tubing over to the toilet. If you won’t be hooking up the hot water, you can use the closed cap with the rubber o-ring and cap off the hot water inlet on the bidet and use it with cold water only.

The bidet is largely made of plastic so it feels a bit fragile, but after I installed it I found it’s not as flimsy as I thought it would be. The internal plumbing of the bidet is brass, so it’s won’t corrode or degrade easily. The bidet is mounted between the toilet seat and the bowl so you’ll need to remove the seat to perform the installation. Keep in mind this may prohibit the use of bolt covers/caps that some toilet seats have. The bidet uses rotating slots on the attachment plate so you can line them up with the bolt holes and properly position the bidet and seat before securing them in place. When you reattaching the bolts, make sure you don’t overtighten since the attachment point is plastic and you don’t want to crack it under too much pressure. Because it is made of plastic, my only concern would be something heavy falling on the control panel and snapping it off.

The top dial of the bidet cleans the protective cap and the spray nozzles by running water over the unit if it gets soiled, but you can also gently scrub it with a toilet brush. The middle dial activates the front/rear bidet nozzles, so you’ll want to be seated on the toilet when you test it out or else the water will spray out of the toilet. When you turn the middle dial clockwise towards the side that says “rear,” this activates the nozzle on the left-hand-side which will drop out from behind the plastic shield and spray water at your backside. Similarly, when you turn the dial counter-clockwise towards the side labeled “front,” the right nozzle drops down and sprays water slightly more forward. The change in distance isn’t a lot so just use the one that works best for you.

The water pressure from the nozzles can be quite strong though this will vary depending on the factors that affect water pressure in your home. On full blast, mine can be pretty intense and feel like someone is blasting you with a super soaker. My recommendation is the slowly adjust the flow until you find a setting that’s right for you (there is a minimum amount of pressure needed to make the spray nozzles drop down). The dial closest to the tank is the temperature control and just like your sink you can have all cold water, all hot water (if installed), or somewhere in the middle. If it normally takes a while for your water to warm up, you may want to run the hot water using the cleaning dial before activating the bidet sprayers. This will ensure that you get your desired temperature water when you turn on the bidet rather than a cold surprise. The other thing you can do is leave the cleaning spray on when you activate the bidet and this will reduce the water pressure from the sprayer somewhat, or you can try closing off the water valves a bit to reduce the pressure as well.

Overall, the installation of the bidet was simple and straightforward. The bidet works well for its intended purpose and it’s super nice to be able to get warm/hot water rather than an icy stream. With a few adjustments you can wash up easily at a comfortable water temperature and pressure.

Buy it on Amazon: Add Zen Bidet to your toilet for a better hygiene! Installation and\ [Affiliate Link]
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ZeroEdge Z-Edge Z3 Dashboard Camera Review

ZeroEdge Z-Edge Z3 Dashboard Camera Review

Buy it on Amazon: ZeroEdge Z-Edge Z3 Dashboard Camera [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Clear hi-res video, audio can be a bit muffled, parking monitor is great.

The camera comes with a suction cup mount, 32GB misroSD card, 34” microUSB data cable, 12.5’ miniUSB power cable, 4 adhesive cable guides, and dual USB cigarette lighter car charger.

The camera for the unit has a 145 degree wide angle lens and can record HD video at 720p, 1080p and 2K at 30, 45, or 60 frames per second. Along the top you have the microUSB charging port, a 1/4” mounting hole for the suction cup and output A/V port for viewing the video. The LCD screen is 3” by 1.75” and on the sides you have the controls. The microSD card gets inserted in the bottom under a rubber door. Make sure the gold contacts are inserted first, facing the LCD. There is a battery in this unit that will charge while the car is running. Though once unplugged from the power, the battery doesn’t last long. Maybe 15 to 25 minutes depending on how long the LCD stays on. This is actually not too bad for a dashboard camera and other cameras I've used last 10 minutes or less.

The suction cup mount simply screws into the hole at the top and the camera swivels on a ball joint so you can position it the way you want. When the unit is plugged into the cigarette lighter port and you turn the car on, the camera will start up automatically and can be set to begin recording right away. The top right button is the one-touch microphone mute button so you can switch the mic on/off on the fly for privacy.

The settings menus were easy to navigate and straight forward. The camera can accept cards up to 64GB and performs best when the card is class 6 and above. On a 32 GB card, at the highest resolution you’ll be able to record about 280 minutes of footage, after which the camera will over write the oldest footage unless the footage is "locked" which can be done manually or through various detection modes. With the G-shock sensor is on, when the camera detects bumps that it thinks is a crash or accident, it will lock the recording and prevent it from being overwritten. The G-shock sensitivity can be set to low medium or high. I usually start in high mode and see how many events it captures and bump the sensitivity down as necessary so I don't have too many "locked" videos.

The motion detection setting will automatically start recording footage when the camera is on and it detects motion. It will record 20 seconds and then stop unless the motion continues. In parking monitoring mode, after the camera is shut off, if it detects a slight vibration, like from a bump to your car, it will switch on in battery power and record for 25 seconds. There's also a still camera mode so you can take snapshots and playback mode for both photos and videos; the camera has a speaker so you can hear audio during playback.

The video quality of the recordings is very good. Not only can you read license plate numbers within a few car lengths, but the wide angle captures both sides of the road well. Even at night the video is clear and you can read road signs and see the road in low light conditions. The audio picks up sound in your car pretty well and is relatively clear, but you do get quite a bit of road noise which makes things a bit muffled. At 1 minute intervals and each 1080p file takes up about 100 MB and 2K files take up about 150 MB. Overall, the camera captures enough detail to see what’s going on in the road in case of an accident in hi-res video. It was simple to setup, straightforward to use, and it was easy to retrieve the video recordings by plugging it directly into the computer via the microUSB cable or removing the card and using a card reader.

Buy it on Amazon: ZeroEdge Z-Edge Z3 Dashboard Camera [Affiliate Link]
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tonor USB Condenser Microphone Review

Tonor USB Condenser Microphone Review

Buy it on Amazon: Tonor USB Condenser Microphone [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Works okay, but has to be real close to your mouth. Needs a bit of gain boost or use a preamp.
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Giveaway Reminder! Win the Avwoo Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Giveaway Reminder! Win the Avwoo Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Buy it on Amazon: Avwoo Mini Bluetooth Speaker [Affiliate Link]

Reminder, I'm giving away 1 (one) Avwoo Mini Bluetooth speaker! Enter via Rafflecopter here: https://goo.gl/iNqVfA

Buy it on Amazon: Avwoo Mini Bluetooth Speaker [Affiliate Link]
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Floral Scented Soap Roses Review

Floral Scented Soap Roses Review

Buy it on Amazon: Floral Scented Soap Roses [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Pretty soap roses, convincing look, pleasant smell. Usable as soap but doesn't dissolve well.

The soap roses come in a brown and gold gift box and inside there are three rows of six roses. A dark red, a light red, and pink. When removing the roses from the box, they feel quite delicate but actually hold up pretty well because they are slightly flexible. I did have a little trouble removing them from the slots because they had gotten a it stuck to the sides of their spaces. You may literally have to peel them out of the box, which unfortunately leaves a bit of the gold color on the outer petals. The discoloration leaves a bit of brown on the petals where it got stuck to the gold colored lining and almost looks like when petals start to wilt.

There are three sets of petals that are nested together to form the roses. Each layer has 5 petals and they unstack easily. The roses have a strong scent, that’s not exactly rose-like nor floral. I would say it’s more like ladies’ perfume than anything else. Although the roses feel dry and plasticky to the touch, when you run a set of petals under water it will start to soften and breakdown almost immediately. It’ll be soft enough for you to tear off a petal to use to wash your hands. It’s not as quick dissolving as a traditional soap and it tends to get a bit thick and chunky, kind of like when you reach the end of a bar soap, but you can work it into a lather and it’s not as harsh as bar soap. It probably won’t completely dissolve and it usually leaves behind little gooey pieces.

Overall, I’d say these roses look and perform better as visual d├ęcor than functional soap and they have a pleasant aroma that’ll last a short while.

Buy it on Amazon: Floral Scented Soap Roses [Affiliate Link]
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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Juniper Assorted Floor Protection Felt Pads for Furniture Feet Review

Juniper Assorted Floor Protection Felt Pads for Furniture Feet Review

Buy it on Amazon: Juniper Assorted Floor Protection Felt Pads for Furniture Feet [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: A nice set of felt floor protector pads for furniture feet. Lots of size options to fit a variety of needs.
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Kingbo 45 Watt LED Grow Light Review

Kingbo 45 Watt LED Grow Light Review

Buy it on Amazon: Kingbo 45 Watt LED Grow Light [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Bright, 1-2 foot coverage grow light with full, red and blue spectrum colors; helps plants grow, flower and fruit indoors.
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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Syma X5HW-1 Quadcopter Drone Review

Syma X5HW-1 Quadcopter Drone Review

Buy it on Amazon: Syma X5HW-1 Quadcopter Drone [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Smooth take-off and flight control, FPV via smartphone app, flies fast, but has low camera res.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Made2Shade Universal Car Window Sun Shade Review

Made2Shade Universal Car Window Sun Shade Review

Buy it on Amazon: Made2Shade Universal Car Window Sun Shade [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy to install, effective light dampeners for rear passenger windows in a sedan or SUV; universal and fits most vehicles.

These shades are a dual sided mesh bag that you slip over your rear passenger doors/windows. You'll receive a set of two and each measures about 26” x 18” and are slightly stretchy so meant to be a universal fir for most sedans and SUVs. Note, however, that it won’t fit over sliding doors of mini vans. The material the shades are made of is a soft polyester fabric. The shades are contoured to have a curved side and a square side to match the shape of the car door. At the bottom is a band of elastic for fitting this over your window and two Velcro tabs with sticky tape to secure it to the inside of the door panel.

The shades are easy to install and cut down on the brightness of the light coming into the cabin through both layers of the mesh and is able to block UV rays. The Velcro tabs have sticker backing if you need them, but I found that I didn’t since it’s a pretty tight fit on my Honda Civic. If you'll be using them, stick them to the inside of the door panel and not outer frame of the window as it would pull off when you open the door.

Overall, I think does a nice job and is more reliable than the suction cup shades since these can't fall off. You can also roll the window down to let air in and still get the benefit of the shade.

Buy it on Amazon: Made2Shade Universal Car Window Sun Shade [Affiliate Link]
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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

LyfieEye's 360 Degree Camera Let's Your Audience See Literally Everything Around You

LyfieEye OTG 360 Degree Spherical Camera Review

Buy it on Amazon: LyfieEye OTG 360 Degree Spherical Camera [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Good image clarity and color, SD quality when rendered in 360. Mostly stable and smooth video w/occasional digital artifacts.
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Monday, February 6, 2017

WinnerGear MicFlip 2.0 Fully Reversible MicroUSB Cable Review

WinnerGear MicFlip 2.0 Fully Reversible MicroUSB Cable Review

Buy it on Amazon: WinnerGear MicFlip 2.0 Fully Reversible MicroUSB Cable [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Durable build, strong/long cable, convenient to not have to check the plug orientation. Works great so far.
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Friday, February 3, 2017

Contactless Temperature Measurements Made Easy

Aidbucks Infrared Thermometer Gun Review

Buy it on Amazon: Aidbucks Infrared Thermometer Gun [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy to use, good accuracy, but allow some time for unit to adjust to current ambient temp first.
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Original Irreverent, Offensive, and Controversial Card Game That Started It All

Cards Against Humanity Card Game Main Deck Review

Buy it on Amazon: Cards Against Humanity Card Game Main Deck [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: I recommend this game for folks who enjoy playing with words, aren’t afraid of adult topics, and like dark humor.
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Add Additional Gross, Shocking, and Hilarious Cards to Your CAH Deck for More Fun!

Crazy and Horrible Rabbit CAH Expansion Pack Vol 1 Review

Buy it on Amazon: Crazy and Horrible Rabbit CAH Expansion Pack Vol 1 [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Funny cards! Cards contain a few typos though and gloss finish wasn't pristine.
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Keep Cool by Laying Down on Luxurious Leather Bed Mat

Leamat Soinge Cooling Leather Bed Mat Review (Queen Size)

Buy it on Amazon: Leamat Soinge Cooling Leather Bed Mat [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Beautiful leather, smooth glossy finish. Cool to the touch for 30 mins after laying on it, slow to warm up.
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