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.

Friday, December 29, 2017

RavPower 3200mAh External Battery Pack RP-PB064 Review

RavPower 3200mAh External Battery Pack RP-PB064 Review

Buy it at Amazon: RavPower 3200mAh External Battery Pack RP-PB064 [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Large capacity, compact though a bit heavy, durable and travels well.

I've been using this battery pack for several months and I can't count how many times having portable on-the-go power has saved me. My phone battery is unreliable and some days I can go the whole day and have 50% left at the end and other days it's dead within a few hours of being charged so being able to charge or top up wherever whenever is very convenient. The battery pack weighs about 21 oz, or about 1.25 lbs and measures 7" x 3" x 1" thick which is not really pocket sized but fits in a backpack or messenger bag. What you get for all that bulk and weight is 32000 mAh of charging capacity which for me is about 8-10 cell phone charges before I have to charge the battery pack again. The battery pack has 3 USB ports on them which use RavPower's iSmart feature to detect the appropriate amount of current draw for the item plugged into it up to 2.4A for each port and 6A total when all three are being used. The charging speed is moderate, not as fast as QuickCharge 3.0 but not as slow as a 1A wall charger. The battery pack charges up in about 12 hours so you can plug it in overnight and wake up to a full charge. Clicking the button on the right hand side will illuminate the 4 LED battery life lights, each indicating 25% of charge remaining.

The unit charges via micriUSB and comes with two flat microUSB cables: a short 10" one and longer 26" one; other connection types will require you to supply your own cables. It also includes a soft drawstring carrying case, which you should use because the matte finish on the plastic scratches easily. The charger works well and I've taken on planes and road trips for charging and powering my devices when traveling.

Buy it at Amazon: RavPower 3200mAh External Battery Pack RP-PB064 [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Periodic Table Wine Coasters Review

Periodic Table Wine Coasters Review

Buy it at Amazon: Periodic Table Wine Coasters [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Fun, nerdy, durable coasters for science and wine enthusiasts.

These are coasters made to mimic the look of the boxes on the periodic table of elements. Instead of chemical molecule names, the names are wine are used complete with a fake abbreviation and cell number. It's the perfect novelty gift for your science and wine loving friends or yourself. At first glance the coasters look a bit grungy or even corroded, but the look of these is 'distressed' with gray/green moldy mottling and scratches that's actually smooth as part of he print. The top surface is made of metal and on the bottom you have about 1/16" of cork board. The cork helps the coaster be non-slip and is insulating for hot mugs to protect your furniture and surfaces. The coaster measures about 4" square. These coasters are fun and quirky providing a barrier against drips, small spills and condensation. The only improvement would be to add a lip around the edge as pooled condensation water has the potential to spill over if enough water collects on the non-absorbent surface or may spill when a coaster is moved or cleared away. Otherwise they perform adequately and are pretty cute.

Buy it at Amazon: Periodic Table Wine Coasters [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Andoer 4K 48MP Handheld Video Camera Camcoder Review

Andoer 4K 48MP Handheld Video Camera Camcoder Review

Buy it at Amazon: Andoer 4K 48MP Handheld Video Camera Camcoder [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: A nice budget camera for home videos, clear crisp images but low volume capture.

You'll receive the video camera in a carrying case, a miniHDMI to HDMI cable, an A/V to RCA cable, miniUSB charging cable, and instruction manual. The camera is small and compact measuring 5.75"L (including battery) x 2.5"W x 2.5"H. It weighs 12 oz w/battery installed. The camera has a hand pad and strap pre-installed, though comes with no lens cap. The battery has a decent capacity and will last you a little over 2 hours of continuous use/recording. On the front of the unit you have the lens with 48 MP sensor, mic, and IR lights for night vision.

The flip out LCD screen rotates 270 degrees and can be folded flat when open to keep the camera on. If the LCD is shut facing in, the camera powers off automatically. This camera accepts both microSD and full size SD cards and both slots can be used simultaneously for up to 64 GB of combined storage. No memory card is included, but one is required to make recordings. The screen is also touch sensitive and you can access to functions by tapping the icons on the screen. Each mode has its own group of settings, but some settings do apply to both video and photo mode. In general the touchscreen works well, but you have to be precise where you tap otherwise it's easy to make a wrong selection.

This camera has a WiFi function that's supposed to allow you to connect to an app for remote monitoring and control, but I was not able to get the app working nor transfer files wirelessly. Hopefully the app will be improved and be functioning in a future update. There's also a ¼" mounting hole on the bottom of the camera for tripod mounting.

During the day the image quality of the video and photos is clear and detailed. The video is HD at 1080p, 2K and 4K, although at 4K the frame rate is only 24 frames per seconds, so it tends to be more choppy. The best image quality for video is achieved at 1080p at 60 frames per seconds. The footage has a lot of detail, less shakiness with anti-shake activated, and smoother transitions during fast movement and panning in general. The microphone from the camera picks up sounds and voices within a few feet from the camera but it's generally not that loud, and I had to bump up the gain in post processing (+15dB). Even with loop recording off the longest video clip length is 25 minutes before the camera starts a new file. At 4K,1 min video file takes up about 200 MB, at 2K 150 MB, and at 1080p 100 MB, so at the highest resolution a 32GB can store a little more than 2.5 hours of footage.

The zoom is all digital and goes to up 16x magnification. Zooming in and out is generally fairly smooth though there's not a great way to do a slow speed zoom and the resolution is compromised when zoomed in. The camera does a decent job on the auto setting with white balance, color balance, and ISO. These menu options are only accessible in photo mode, even though they'll carryover to video mode (with the exception of black & white and sepia). In video mode, you can also adjust the exposure live when recording by tapping on the icon on the LCD screen.

The biggest drawback of having a fixed lens is that the focus range is only good after about 6 ft. Anything closer than 6 ft and things will start to look blurry. In dark conditions, the infrared light works really well. It lights up pitch black areas in black and white similar to night vision goggles so you can see everything in the dark. Overall, the camera captures video and photos at very high HD resolution. The image quality at 1080p/60fps is smooth, crisp, and detailed, and still serviceable at other resolutions. It doesn't do great with fast motion though, and the 4K mode is choppy at 24 fps I recommend a tripod or steadycam) but otherwise it's a solid entry-level handheld camera that will make for decent quality family videos, YouTube productions, and B-roll footage.

Buy it at Amazon: Andoer 4K 48MP Handheld Video Camera Camcoder [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Pubmind WiFi Smart Electrical Outlet Review

Pubmind WiFi Smart Electrical Outlet Review

Buy it at Amazon: Pubmind WiFi Smart Electrical Outlet [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Quick setup, easy voice/app control, can set timer & schedules, works well.

You'll receive the WiFi outlet and an instruction manual. The Outlet measures 4" x 2" x 1.25" thick. On the front is has a single 3-prong outlet, a power switch, and LED indicator light. On the left hand side is a USB port for charging a mobile device (not controllable via WiFi or Alexa). On the back is the 3-prong plug and specs that state the outlet is suitable for 100-240V AC at 50/60/Hz and 10A. The instructions are poorly translated but setup is quick, and there are QR codes to download the Smart Life app to control the outlet wirelessly which works great.

When you plug the device in the LED with come on as red. To put the device in pairing mode, press the power button. If the light is slowly flashing blue, then it is in AP mode, where you can connect to it via direct WiFi and provide your home network's WiFi name and password. Press and hold the power button in this mode for 5 seconds, the light will flash rapidly blue which is a quick connect mode for the app.

In the Smart Life app, you can turn the outlet on and off, or set timers and schedules for it. With an Alexa enabled device, like the Echo Dot, you can use Alexa voice commands to turn on and off the power to the outlet (but not set timers or schedules). Just make sure you have the Smart Life skill enabled in your Alexa app and remember to run discovery after setup to add the outlet to your list of devices.

Note that the USB port power isn't affected by the on/off status and that it will always have power. The outlet works as expected, and I can control the outlet from anywhere with an internet connection using the app. The voice commands are a nice convenience when I'm at home with my Alexa enabled devices. I also like being able to set countdown timers and weekly schedules for things like humidifiers, heaters, and air conditioners that don't ahve these features built-in.

Buy it at Amazon: Pubmind WiFi Smart Electrical Outlet [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, December 25, 2017

Oittm Smart Plug Socket Review

Oittm Smart Plug Socket Review

Buy it at Amazon: Oittm Smart Plug Socket [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Quick replacement installation, easy setup, voice commands and remote app work great.

You'll receive the outlet, white face panel, white tipped screws for the face panel, two long screws for the outlet housing, and an instruction manual. The instruction manual is brief but illustrated with the electrical diagram. On the front of the outlet you have a single 3-prong socket and a power button with status LED. For a double socket replacement installation this means you'll lose a socket, so keep this in mind when deciding where to install it. On the back towards the bottom is where you'll insert the neutral wire, ground, and hot wire for single-pole wiring. There are no additional ports for pass through power and no option for 3-pole installation for multiple switches to control the outlet. Ostensibly, your mobile phone and Alexa devices would become the other "switches" if you need multiple points of access to the outlet's power.

This outlet is rated for 15-20A current draw and 110-125V at 50-60 Hz. The max wattage is 2000 Watts and your WiFi frequency must be 2.4 GHz on a b/g/n network. Installation took me about 10 minutes, although I found that the included screws weren't the right thread size for the new work box, so I re-used the screws from the outlet that was installed originally. When installing the finishing face plate, the white paint on the finish screws tends to chip and scratch off easily, so unfortunately they don't look super polished when you're done.

After turning the power back on, the light was quickly flashing blue and I was able to connect it to my home WiFi via the Smart Life app in under a minute. When the socket is off, the LED light will be blue; it's red when the outlet is on. I like that the app lets you view the outlet's power usage statistics for Watts, current, power, and voltage. There's also an option to add a schedule or timers for on/off operation that is pretty standard with these types of outlets. I have a few Alexa enabled devices and was able to use voice commands to power on and off the outlet as well.

Overall, the smart socket works as expected. It is easy to install and setup and the voice commands are convenient for when I'm at home. When I'm not home, I can still control the outlet's power from anywhere with an internet connection with the Smart Life app. There's a manual option as well if your WiFi ever goes out, though it looks like some users have reported that the physical switch may fail after sometime, so I'll keep an eye out for that and update this review if and when it does. The only thing that would make it better would have been if there were two sockets instead of one.

Buy it at Amazon: Oittm Smart Plug Socket [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Hua Wind Acoustic Concert Ukulele Review

Hua Wind Acoustic Concert Ukulele Review

Buy it at Amazon: Hua Wind Acoustic Concert Ukulele [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Nice build quality, sound, and extras; small details could be improved but not big issues.

This ukulele comes with all the accessories that you need to get started - minus lessons of course! You'll receive the ukulele in a canvas carrying bag, a clip on tuner w/CR2032 battery, a neckstrap, an extra set of nylon strings, a cleaning cloth, and two felt picks. The case for the ukulele has a zippered front pocket for the accessories, a side handle, and a shoulder strap on the back. The 24" body is made from mahogany that is both durable and resonant with a handsome medium-walnut stain. The neck is stained a lighter color which I think gives it a nice contrast. The bridge is rectangular and unpolished though (quite plain looking) and it has a bit of a rough feel to it. Along the fret board I noticed the ends of the frets were clipped in such a way that they have very tiny "burrs" on the end. This is different from the soprano uke that I have whose fret ends are tapered and polished smooth. On the Hua Wind uke this results in a slight catch at each fret as I run my hand along the side of the fret board; it scrapes a little though isn't sharp enough to cut my skin.

On the back of the head, you have four worm drive tuning pegs with plastic grips. This ukulele is also outfitted with two strap buttons for use with a snap-on shoulder strap. However, the included strap is a sound hole hook-style strap which you wear around your neck and it wraps around the bottom of the uke and hooks into the sound hole. While you can't go hands-free with this neck strap, this design makes it compatible with ukuleles that don't have the strap buttons too.

The clip-on tuner comes with a battery that you install in the back of the LCD panel, and the unit is really easy to use. The large brightly lit display is easy to reada nd determine when your strings are flat/sharp or in tune. When the strings are tuned, the LCD turns a bright green for easy identification. The uke isn't tuned when you receive it and the strings will be very loose. Tuning the ukulele for the first time went quickly with the tuner. With new strings, you'll end up tuning the strings pretty often, sometimes several times in an hour long practice session. But after the first week or so, the strings stretch out and settle and you'll need to tune less frequently. The sound from this ukulele is warm and round with full sounding tones. It's great for beginners like myself, though perhaps it's meant for those with a bit of experience as there weren't any instructions as to which notes to tune to nor a primer to reading ukulele tabs. I was able to find a few tutorial videos online which helped immensely. Overall, for someone who's new to playing the ukulele, like myself, I found the sound and construction from this instrument really nice. It's also a great size for kids and a lot of fun to play.

Buy it at Amazon: Hua Wind Acoustic Concert Ukulele [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Friday, December 22, 2017

Coredy AC1200 CX-E120 Dual Band WiFi Range Extender Review

Coredy AC1200 CX-E120 Dual Band WiFi Range Extender Review

Buy it at Amazon: Coredy AC1200 CX-E120 Dual Band WiFi Range Extender [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Improved signal on the 1st floor from router on the 3rd floor, 2.4 GHz a bit finicky.

The WiFi extender comes with an instruction manual, Ethernet cable, and reset pin. This a dual band extender which supports both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi bands. The unit itself is small measuring 2.75"L x 2"W x 1"D. The four antenna on the top and sides add another 3.5" and can be turned/angled to fit your space. There are also two Ethernet ports on the bottom for LAN and LAN/WAN connections.

This device has 3 modes that are changeable via a switch: Router, AP, and Repeater mode. I'm using it as a repeater since my router is on the 3rd floor of the house and the signal on the first floor and outside is typically very poor. The extender simply plugs into any outlet and only took a few minutes to set up using the WPS buttons on the unit and on my router. Once connected I can move the extender to an outlet in between the weak spots and the router, basically anywhere on the first floor, so I have it in the kitchen where we spend a lot of time and usually only receive 2 of 4 WiFi signal bars.

When in my kitchen, I ran a speed test connecting to the 5 GHz signal from the router and subsequently the 5GHz band of the extender when placed in the same room. The difference in download speed was nearly double, which is very near to the optimal speed we get when right next to the router. The signal also goes farther into the rooms on the first floor and now we can even get some WiFi outside on the patio and porch as well. However, occasionally when connected to the 2.4GHz extended network the connection drops or says connected but "with no internet." While this isn't the case all the time, if I disconnect and reconnect to the extended network, it works again. The other weird thing is from the same spot in the kitchen there was a signal strength increase on the extended 2.4 GHz network but no improvement in download/upload speed versus the 2.4GHz signal from the router which had less signal strength. Even so the coverage overall was better, despite similar network performance. I'm mostly happy that I can get the faster speeds of the 5GHz network consistently around the first floor, and so far it's been working fine.

Buy it at Amazon: Coredy AC1200 CX-E120 Dual Band WiFi Range Extender [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Thursday, December 21, 2017

MKDGO Reversible LED microUSB Charging Cable Review

MKDGO Reversible LED microUSB Charging Cable Review

Buy it at Amazon: MKDGO Reversible LED microUSB Charging Cable [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Reversible, charges my devices, works for data transfers, cool lights.

The microUSB cable comes in a drawstring carrying bag and inside you also receive a cable organizer with double-sided sticker on the back. The cable has a Velcro tie attached to it for organization, and it measures 34" long. The cable sheath is rubber and semi-transparent, so you can see the LEDs inside. The cable is pretty flexible though has some shape memory that can make it difficult to unbend. The USB-A connector at the end is pretty big measuring 1.75" so it may not fit in tight spaces. The microUSB side is smaller at 1" and it is reversible so it can be plugged into any microUSB device in either orientation. No more fumbling to figure out which side is "up".

The strain relief behind each plastic connector is thick and sturdy to prevent the cable from breaking at the end of the connector. When the USB cable is plugged into a power source the LEDs will light up and move slowly. However, when a device is plugged into the microUSB side to be charged or powered, the lights start to travel rapidly resulting in a cool flowing light effect. The cable works for both charging and data transfers to the computer and works as expected while displaying a cool light show. I haven't had any issues with it so far.

Buy it at Amazon: MKDGO Reversible LED microUSB Charging Cable [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Big Ant Heated Car Seat Cushion Cover Review

Big Ant Heated Car Seat Cushion Cover Review

Buy it at Amazon: Big Ant Heated Car Seat Cushion Cover [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Heats up in a few minutes, nice gentle warmth, not too hot, thin padding deflates quickly.

The seat cushion measures about 19" by 19.5" and is about a ¼" thick. On top of the cushion is a cross-hatch pattern with red accent threads and the black fabric is smooth and soft. On the bottom, the cushion has rubber dots to help it grip and stay in place on your car seat and I found that it doesn't slide around on fabric seats too much. You can faintly see the outline of the heating wire that loops back and forth inside the cushion from the bottom side. The foam inside isn't super durable though, and mine had permanent imprints from the power cable and cigarette lighter plug where they were pressed against the cushion during shipping (never poofed back up). Because of this, I do expect the cushion to flatten out and deform over time. The power cable is about 4 ft long and has an in-line control switch. On the controls you can select ‘OFF', ‘HI' or ‘LO' to control the temperature of the seat cushion.

Using the seat cushion is simple: Just plug it into an available cigarette lighter port in your car and then switch it into 'HI' or 'LO' mode. The red light on the control will illuminate when it has power, even when the heat is off. In either mode the cushion starts to heat up almost immediately. It reaches its maximum temperature after a couple minutes which is at max a nice gentle warm; it never gets really hot. You won't really feel the heat much with your hand but when you sit on it, it's nice and toasty. I'd estimate maybe around 100°F on high. It's pretty much impossible to get burned by the heat although you might get a little sweaty. You can always switch the heat off as the seat will retain the heat for a good 10-15 minutes afterward. Overall, the seat cushion works great on those cold days when you need to warm up fast in the car. It makes driving just a little bit more comfortable in the winter time.

Buy it at Amazon: Big Ant Heated Car Seat Cushion Cover [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Zomei 24" Camera Slider Track Review

Zomei 24" Camera Slider Track Review

Buy it at Amazon: Zomei 24" Camera Slider Track [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Smooth sliding but tricky to control speed, durable and light, versatile mounting points .

The camera slider comes in a heavy duty padded canvas carrying bag. The slider is completely made of machined aluminum alloy that is both durable and lightweight. The slider itself measures 25" across though the actual distance the mounting plate can travel is only 23 linear inches. The unit weighs 2.75 lbs. Also in the case is a zippered compartment, and inside are two screw-on tabletop feet and a small Allen wrench. The feet easily attach to the slider via ¼" thumbscrews. The slider has multiple attachment points on the top, bottom, and sides for ¼" or 3/8" mounting systems and tripods. I was able to add a ball head to it with no problem and mount it onto a tripod.

You don't need to use a ball or pan head though and the 3/8" adapter on the mounting plate can be removed so you can attach your camera directly to it using the 1/4" screw. The one thing I didn't like is that when tension is applied to the rails, the slider platform movement becomes sticky and juddery making it difficult to get smooth motion. This means you can't use the tension as a speed control for the slider. The tension nut should be loosened all the way for smooth sliding, though this makes it tricky to get even motion when sliding slowly; you'll have to practice a bit to get the shot you want.

One trick I use when filming static subjects is to record in slow motion while moving the slider as a smooth but quick pace. The result mimics a slow pan without the difficulty of doing it by hand. Even though this is an inexpensive unit, the construction and materials are high quality. It's a good tool to have for those on a budget looking to add some smooth motion to their video footage.

Buy it at Amazon: Zomei 24" Camera Slider Track [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, December 18, 2017

Clevedaur Micromodal Boxer Briefs Review

Clevedaur Micromodal Boxer Briefs Review

Buy it at Amazon: Clevedaur Micromodal Boxer Briefs [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Soft, silky, good fit, form fitting and breathable

I have the blue version of these boxer briefs in size small. They are made of a soft, silky material that is 92% micromodal and 8%spandex. The advantage of micromodal fabric is that it's shrink resistant and unlikely to fade, so hopefully that means the color will stay bright and bold. It's also super lightweight and moisture-wicking for active wear. These are machine washable in cold water and can be tumbled dry on low. These did not shrink or bleed in the wash.

The front has a traditional fly pocket and the waist band measures 1" wide. It's pretty stretchy all around for a form fitting comfortable snug. The back of the boxers is flat with no contours. The size small fits great on my 29" waist. The legs cutoff around mid-thigh and aren't loose at all. The material is soft and smooth against the skin and more breathable than cotton. The stitching on the garments is even and neat without scratchy seams or edges that might chafe. Overall, I like these boxer briefs for their comfort, fit, and quality.

Buy it at Amazon: Clevedaur Micromodal Boxer Briefs [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Friday, December 15, 2017

iATO Surreal Slim Case iPhone X Review

iATO Surreal Slim Case iPhone X Review

Buy it at Amazon: iATO Surreal Slim Case iPhone X [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Low-profile, slim, easy to install; provides side and back protection to phone

This is a thin semi-flexible, rigid, snap-on shell case. The exterior has a soft-touch silicone layer that is smooth to the touch but less slippery than the glass back of the iPhone X. On the inside of the case is a micro-felt layer for protecting the back glass while it's in the case. The window in the back of the case is precision cut for the dual-lens camera and on the sides are rubber covers for the sleep and volume keys. There's also a cutout for the mute switch and speakers/Lightning port along the bottom.

The phone slides in and snaps on pretty easily, yet is snug in the case on installed. None of the exterior features of the phone are obstructed, and the buttons on the sides are easy to press through the case. The mute switch is easily accessible, and around the screen there's a very slight lip that keeps the screen off surfaces when the phone is placed face down. The rim has enough height for a glass screen protector which I also have installed. The tempered glass is nearly level with the edge of the case so we'll see if this presents a problem over the long-term. The case is very slim, and the camera sits flush with the back of the case so hopefully this doesn't mean it'll pick up scratches easily. Overall, the case looks pretty nice; it is low-profile and lightweight, and provides a bit of protection for the sides and back of your phone, though is by no means heavy duty.

Buy it at Amazon: iATO Surreal Slim Case iPhone X [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Aucos iPhone 6 2200 mAh Battery Replacement Kit Installation and Review

Aucos iPhone 6 2200 mAh Battery Replacement Kit Installation and Review

Buy it at Amazon: Aucos iPhone 6 2200 mAh Battery Replacement Kit [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy/quick replacement, good illustrated instructions, long-lasting battery with high capacity.

In the repair kit you'll receive an illustrated instruction manual, a pair of tweezers, two plastic pry tools, a pentalobe 5-point screwdriver, Philips-head screwdriver, a suction cup, a plastic pick pry tool, the battery, a pin tool (for the SIM card slot) and two sets of double sided adhesive stickers.

The battery was much easier to change than I had anticipated. I watched a number of how-to videos in advance to make sure I was comfortable with the process. The only part that tripped me up is that the adhesive sticker release tabs holding the battery in the phone ripped as I was pulling on them. However, I was still able to remove the battery without much prying. The included tools were all that I needed for the replacement which took me about 15 minutes to complete. It's really great that two sets of replacement stickers were included because I messed up the first set trying to stick them in the case first and not directly onto the battery.

After turning on the phone with the new battery, which has a higher capacity at 2100 mAh versus the original 1800 mAh one, it showed a partial charge of 57%. I charged it for about an hour until fully charged. Using the Battery Life app from the app store, it reported that the battery is in perfect condition and that my run-times are around 11-14 hrs (mixed use) and standby time about 10.5 days, just like or even better than when it was factory new.

Buy it at Amazon: Aucos iPhone 6 2200 mAh Battery Replacement Kit [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Maxcio WiFi Smart Outlet Plug Socket Review

Maxcio WiFi Smart Outlet Plug Socket Review

Buy it at Amazon: Maxcio WiFi Smart Outlet Plug Socket [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy to setup and control remotely, various useful scheduling options.

You'll receive the WiFi outlet and instruction manual. The outlet has a plastic housing and measures 2" square and 1" thick. It has a three prong grounded plug and a single power button on the left hand side with an embedded status LED. To set up the socket on your home WiFi network and control it, you'll need to download and install the Smart Life app to a mobile device.

Just plug the device into any outlet (it shouldn't block the other outlet in a dual socket panel). Adding the device via Smart Life to the WiFi network was quick and easy in under a minute. In the app you can turn the outlet on and off by tapping the socket icon. You can add weekly schedules for the outlet with specific on/off times on different or multiple days of the week. There is also a 'countdown timer' mode that will flip the status of the light from off to on or vice versa and a 'cycle' and 'random' mode as well.

To use the outlet with Alexa enable the Smart Life skill in your Alexa app. Then run discovery mode to add the outlet to your list of devices. For Alexa commands, I've only been able to control on and off for the outlet and not set timers via voice control.

The outlet works as expected and the various timers/schedules are easy to setup. It's great to be able to control devices like lights, air conditioners, fans, and even the slow cooker remotely from anywhere I have an internet connection. I can also shut off appliances that I may have forgotten to like a space heater.

Buy it at Amazon: Maxcio WiFi Smart Outlet Plug Socket [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mileagea 50 Inch Popup Tabletop Projector Screen Review

Mileagea 50 Inch Popup Tabletop Projector Screen Review

Buy it at Amazon: Mileagea 50 Inch Popup Tabletop Projector Screen [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Compact, light, durable exterior, wrinkle-free, pure white, flat backdrop for projectors.

The projector screen when folded up measures 47"L x 2.5"W x 1.25"H and weighs about 4 lbs. It has a metal exterior case and the fabric screen pulls up out of the base. On top are two folding up plastic handles for opening the screen. On the bottom of the unit is a pivot foot that also serves as the screen lock, to prevent it from opening. When the foot is rotated out at 90 degrees, this unlocks the screen and the foot helps stabilize the screen in the back. The screen pulls out easily from the case but takes a bit of force to initially get it started. The final height of the screen is 29.5". The viewable portion (white area) of the screen measures 24.25" x 43.25" and has a 49.5" diagonal so not quite the advertised 50" but pretty close.

The screen has a painted black border and a viewing ratio of 16:9 for wide screen video. Since the background is a bright pure white, when projecting onto the screen with a video projector, the colors and contrast are rendered sharp and clear. This is much better than projecting onto my off-white walls which always gave the colors a weird tint. There are also no bumps or textures present in the screen. Overall, it's a good screen that works well for small rooms and for use as a work/travel screen since it's light, compact, and can easily be transported.

Buy it at Amazon: Mileagea 50 Inch Popup Tabletop Projector Screen [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Escential Co Blackhead Facial Peel Charcoal Mask Review

The Escential Co Blackhead Facial Peel Charcoal Mask Review

Buy it at Amazon: The Escential Co Blackhead Facial Peel Charcoal Mask [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Mild facial peel, works on the surface but doesn't grab deep blackheads.

The tube for the facial peel mask contains 100 mL or about 3.5 oz of product. The main ingredients (top 5) are water, butylene glycol, sodium polystyrene sulfonate, charcoal powder, and corn starch. There's also a few drying agents like benzyl alcohol and salicylic acid. Under the cap is a foil seal that you have to remove before use.

If you have facial hair or stubble, it's a good idea to shave first since peeling off the mask will pull on hairs. Then wash your face with a mild cleanser and pat dry. While not explicitly necessary, I like to use a facial steamer to prior to applying the mask to relax and open up the pores. The mask is a black paste that is thick and gooey. It actually doesn't spread very easily and piles on thick when you put it on. Be prepared to use more than just a dab. The mask readily dissolves in water and rinses off your hands pretty easily, but I'd still be cautious about getting it on clothing as it could stain. The mask taskes about 15-20 minutes to dry but may take longer is the layer you use is very thick. As it dries it will start to shrink and your skin will feel tighter.

The mask is a bit tricky to peel of in large swaths and it typically rips into smaller pieces easily. The hardest parts to peel are around the edges which tend to be thinner. The peel is more elastic and stretchy than I expected which I think explains the results I see when using it. While there is plenty of dead skin cells, oil, and sebum that comes off on the back of the mask, they seem to be pretty shallow plugs. I didn't feel as if the product penetrated super deep into my pores like the paper backed nose strips do. My skin also tends to be a little bit dried out after the treatment, so I have to moisturize after. With a mild peel such as this, my skin feels a little smoother and tighter as a result. I think the mask helps somewhat with clogged pores and can be used as a light facial peel, but it wasn't the deep clean I was hoping for.

Buy it at Amazon: The Escential Co Blackhead Facial Peel Charcoal Mask [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Btopllc iPhone 6 Battery Case Review

Btopllc iPhone 6 Battery Case Review

Buy it at Amazon: Btopllc iPhone 6 Battery Case [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Fits and charges iPhone 6, but is slow and sometimes disconnects

This battery case is a 2-piece hard shell case. It has a soft rubber exterior which provides a bit of grip for your hand. It does however, stick to fabric when sliding it in and out of your pants pockets. There are cutouts for the buttons, camera/flash, mute switch, speakers, and headphone jack. All the external features on the case work nicely, but the headphone port is set a bit deeper than normal and you may need an extension cord to use certain plug-in headphones. The back of the case has a kickstand that only works for landscape mode. The case weighs a little over 3 oz and will double the thickness of the phone. It does not come with a Lightning cable but uses the Lightning port to charge. The case takes a few hours to fully charge and you can get at least 1 full charge for your iPhone 6 out of it. The case is easy to install as it splits apart towards the top. Charging is activated by pressing the small silver button on the front. It does charge up the battery, although slowly.

The case protects your phone from bumps and drops, though there is no protection for the front of the phone. Overall, this case provides a good amount of phone protection for the back and sides of your phone, and you get the added benefit of the kickstand feature and twice the battery life of your phone.

Buy it at Amazon: Btopllc iPhone 6 Battery Case [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Yidarton Feather Print Tank Top Review

Yidarton Feather Print Tank Top Review

Buy it at Amazon: Yidarton Feather Print Tank Top [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Thin/lightweight, stitching is so-so, different than photos, high neck and wide shoulders.

The black tank top is plain black with a white latex printed feather. The feather feels a bit plasticky and is a bit shinier than I thought it would be since it doesn't look exactly like the photo in the listing; but the feather also has more detail than I had anticipated as well. The shirt material is thin and sheer, nearly see through if it weren't for the black color. The material makeup is 65% cotton and 35% polyester, so it's soft and a bit stretchy. It's a very lightweight tank and doesn't have true collars at the neck or cutoff sleeves. The edges are just finished with a double-edge stitch. The stitching itself is only so-so, with a few small blemishes and loose threads here and there.

The fit of the torso is slim and on my frame it fits nicely and isn't too baggy. You'll notice that it's more like a sleeveless t-shirt than a true tank, since it has wide shoulder straps and a shallow neck line. However, it's comfortable to wear and cuts off around my waist so it isn't very long. For reference I'm 5' 4" and 125 lbs.

Overall, the shirt is light and airy, which makes for a comfortable summer and warm weather shirt but the construction isn't high quality and the printed pattern on the front will likely crack and peel over time. The recommended care is machine wash inside-out on cold and hang dry only.

Buy it at Amazon: Yidarton Feather Print Tank Top [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Taotronics LED Desk Lamp w/Touch Controls TT-DL030 Review

Taotronics LED Desk Lamp w/Touch Controls TT-DL030 Review

Buy it at Amazon: Taotronics LED Desk Lamp w/Touch Controls TT-DL030 [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Slim/sleek design, bright and dimmable, easy to adjust, convenient USB charging.

You'll receive the lamp head, base, power adapter, set screw, Allen wrench, cleaning cloth and instruction manual. The lamp head splits apart on a pivot joint and the LED lights are on a rotatable section in a translucent section. The rest of the lamp is made of metal with a matte black finish. The lamp head measures 16" inches long and swivels to about 160 degrees in both directions. The light portion is rotatable up to 270 degrees and can face all 4 directions: up, down, left, or right. The base weighs about 1.5 lbs and measures 7.75"L x 4.5" W x 1/2"H.

The lamphead is simply placed atop a slot with contact pins and tightened via the set screw from the bottom. On the left side of the base is a 1A USB port for charging a mobile device. The power cable plugs into the back of the base. The controls for the lamp are touch sensitive and located on top of the base towards the front. There's a mode, power, and timer button as well as a touch slider for brightness.

The touch controls are responsive and changing the settings is simple. While I appreciate the simplicity of one-button operation for the modes, you may have to cycle through them to find the one you want rather than being able to select the exact mode with one-touch. The differences between the mode are slight but they offer different color temperatures and overall brightness levels. Pressing the timer activates a 1 hr shutoff timer and a tiny red LED will illuminate, though it's a bit hard to see within the clock symbol. Tapping the timer key again will turn the timer off, and there's no way to see its progression at a glance e.g. 30 mins left. The USB works great for charging bedside.

Overall, this is a durably constructed desk lamp with modern touch controls. It's very bright on the brightest mode but able to be dimmed to a comfortable nighttime ambient glow. The light can be adjusted to suit your preferred color, brightness, angle and direction. Its modern, slim design is sharp and minimalist.

Buy it at Amazon: Taotronics LED Desk Lamp w/Touch Controls TT-DL030 [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

WoodyGaga Bamoboo Wood Sunglasses (White/Green) Review

WoodyGaga Bamoboo Wood Sunglasses (White/Green) Review

Buy it at Amazon: WoodyGaga Bamoboo Wood Sunglasses (White/Green) [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Cool style, lightweight and durable; good sun/UV protection for bright conditions.

The sunglasses come packaged in a cylindrical bamboo wood case. Inside you'll find a soft drawstring carrying bag which contains a microfiber cleaning cloth and the sunglasses. The sunglasses feature blue/green tinted mirrored lenses, white plastic face, and a blond bamboo wood arms. Because the frame is made of bamboo, it's surprisingly lightweight and durable. The arms have hinges on them that snap shut but don't flex outward to accommodate wider widths. The lenses on the glasses measure 53mm by 41mm with a 21mm bridge and 150mm arm length. The lenses are polarized so everything viewed through them is darkened quite a bit. This also gives you better contrast and detail on hazy days.

The glasses tend to sit pretty close to your face so there's only a little light bleed in the corners. For me, the width overall was slightly too narrow, so it did pinch a bit and I can't really wear these for more than a couple hours without it bothering me. Overall, the look and style of the glasses is cool though and it provides decent sun protection. If you need a wider frame, note that it only comes in one size so make sure to check the size against a pair of glasses that you currently have that fit comfortably.

Buy it at Amazon: WoodyGaga Bamoboo Wood Sunglasses (White/Green) [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Comzor iPhone 6 Slim Battery Case Review

Comzor iPhone 6 Slim Battery Case Review

Buy it at Amazon: Comzor iPhone 6 Slim Battery Case [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Thin/lightweight, soft-touch but grippy exterior, convenient battery pack.

This battery case has a silicone rubber exterior with a soft-touch feel. It provides a nice grip for you hand and is pretty slim for a battery pack. The case weighs about 3.5 ounces on its own and with the phone in it, it's about double the weight and thickness of having a naked iPhone. The plug for charging is on the bottom and is a Lightning port. This case takes 4-5 hours to fully charge and you'll get at least 1 full charge out of it for your iPhone 6. Installing the phone in the case takes less than 30 seconds and the top is pretty easy to roll down to get your phone in. You just have to be careful not to insert your phone in on an angle as this could damaged the Lightning connector that goes into the phone. The same is true for taking the phone out of the case. To charge, press and hold the small power button on the back in the bottom right hand corner for 2 seconds. You can long press the button again to stop charging.

If you plug the case in while your phone is charging in it, your phone will charge up first, then the backup battery will charge. In terms of protection, the rubber helps protect your phone by absorbing some shock from bumps and drops. The battery in the back also provides an additional layer of protection. All the buttons function nicely through the rubberized button covers and there's no obstruction of the camera or flash. Since the bottom of the case is thin, you shouldn't need an extender for the headphone jack, like I used to need with my old battery case which just died.

Overall this case provides a decent amount of phone protection and doubles the battery life of your phone without adding a ton of weight or thickness.

Buy it at Amazon: Comzor iPhone 6 Slim Battery Case [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

iDobbi Car Air Purifier Ionizer Review

iDobbi Car Air Purifier Ionizer Review

Buy it at Amazon: iDobbi Mini Smart Wifi Outlet [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Quick installation and setup, stable connection, simple voice/app controls

You'll receive the WiFi outlet and a brief instruction manual. The outlet has a plastic housing and measures 2" in diameter and 1" thick. It has a three prong grounded plug and a single power button on the left hand side with an embedded status LED. To set up the socket on your home WiFi network and control it, you'll need to download and install the Tuya Smart app (or other IoT control app) to a mobile device. Just plug the device into any outlet and the LED light should start flashing quickly indicating it's ready to be paired. Note that with the socket plugged into the top of a dual outlet panel (US), while the bottom outlet is still accessible, it may me partially blocked. Setup took less than 5 minutes. With the Tuya Smart app enabled in my Amazon Alexa app, I was able to easily control the power of the outlet via voice commands. The app also lets you add timers (count and daily/weekly schedules) and control the outlet remotely from anywhere you have an internet connection. the outlet works great, but keep in mind the load capacity maximums are 10A and 1100 Watts.

Buy it at Amazon: iDobbi Mini Smart Wifi Outlet [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, December 4, 2017

Lead Edge 4K Action Camera Review

Lead Edge 4K Action Camera Review

Buy it at Amazon: Lead Edge 4K Action Camera [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: High resolution images and video, average clarity, sharpness of details, audio isn't great.

You'll receive the action camera in a waterproof housing, an extra battery, a spare waterproof housing door, microUSB charging cable, a selfie stick monopod, a variety of clamps, mounts, sticky pads, straps, and accessories camera mounting, and an instruction manual. The camera and all its accessories fit into the semi-rigid hard clam shell case it comes in.

On the front of the camera is a 170 degree wide-angle lens and power/mode button. On the left-hand-side you've got the microUSB charging port, microHDMI output port, and microSD card slot which accepts up to 64GB cards, however, one is not included. On the opposite side are the menu ‘up' and ‘down' keys and external speaker. The ‘up' button doubles as the WiFi key for connecting to the NTK smartphone app. On the back is a 2 inch diagonal LCD screen, and on the bottom is the battery bay. On a full charge, the camera runs with the LCD on for about an hour of recording time.

The quality of the video is decent. It got HD resolution, though fast motion tends to be blurry and somewhat choppy. The white balance and color control isn't always perfect it very bright or very dark conditions, and it takes a second or two for the auto white balance (AWB) to kick in. The anti-shake feature removes some of the shakiness caused by handheld filmed, but not all of it. Using the monopod helps, but a gimbal or steadycam would really be your best options short of a stationary tripod. The audio when inside the waterproof housing is pretty much entirely muted. Outside of the case the mic seems to work fine but I had to bump up the gain for the audio to be heard clearly even from only a few feet away from the camera. I liked the slow motion mode for this camera, as it makes your video much smoother and adds a dramatic effect. However, the setting claims 120 frames per second which would be 1/4 speed, but in video editing it turned out to be 90 fps so only 1/3 speed.

If you download the NTK Cam app, you can use your smartphone as a remote screen for the camera over WiFi. This app is very similar to the XDV app I've used with other action cameras, although this camera isn't compatible with both apps. This action cam is a budget conscious entry-level camera so it doesn't really compete in the same class as the GoPro in terms of video quality and video processing. I gather the video compression codec has a lot to do with that which tends to degrade the sharpness of the images. Although the resolution of the video is 4K, the footage isn't always super smooth or crisp but at least you get a nice, wide field of view and serviceable clarity and color reproduction.

Buy it at Amazon: Lead Edge 4K Action Camera [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Oaproda HDMI-VGA (F to F) Adapter Converter Review

Oaproda HDMI-VGA (F to F) Adapter Converter Review

Buy it at Amazon: Oaproda HDMI-VGA (F to F) Adapter Converter [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Works but depends on input/output resolution compatibility.

You'll receive the converter and 24" audio cable. The unit measures 2" x 1 ¼" by ½" thick. This adapter convert from HDMI signal to VGA video and 1/8" jack output. Not that this conversion only works in this direction and will not work for VGA to HDMI conversion. Note that your TV's VGA input must support the resolution of the input signal. For example, this adapter worked well with my computer's HDMI output in my 40" LG TV, but when I tried my Amazon Fire TV stick it gave me an Invalid Input message. However, the adapter did work with the Amazon Fire TV Stick on my 50" Sharp Aquos. Both the video and audio were clear and there didn't appear to be any loss of resolution as long as the TV could manage the resolution through the VGA input

Buy it at Amazon: Oaproda HDMI-VGA (F to F) Adapter Converter [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Friday, December 1, 2017

Auto-vox Imax Plus Holiday Laser Light Decoration Review

Auto-vox Imax Plus Holiday Laser Light Decoration Review

Buy it at Amazon: Auto-vox Imax Plus Holiday Laser Light Decoration [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy to set up, plug-and-play, bright, fun kaleidoscope effect.

You'll receive the laser light with attached 10 ft power cord, an 8" ground mounting spike, footplate or wall mounting plate, and an instruction manual. This light is made from mostly plastic and is about the size of a soup can. On the front you can see two opening for the red and green laser patterns to project from. The attached cable is water sealed for outdoor use, but this can also be used indoors. You can use either mounting options, but note that the wall mounting plate does not comes with any screws or hardware for attaching to a wall, but you can also set the plate on any flat surface.

Otherwise, you can use the ground mounting spike which has a rubber cap on the tip which should be removed before it goes in the ground. When the light is plugged in, the lights will start up automatically and there is no on/off switch. The lights move in a kaleidoscope pattern and show red and green, red only, and green only patterns. At first the lights will be dim but they will brighten as they warm up. In cold conditions it may take anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes for the lights to warm up to full brightness. The laser lights can cover an area of 2100 square feet from a distance of 25 feet, but note that the light points are farther apart the farther away from the projection surface the light is. There is also a built-in timer which only allows the light to run for 6 hours before it shuts off, so that it doesn't overheat. Since there's no ambient light sensor to turn on the light automatically when it gets dark, you'll have to plug the unit in at the time when you want it to turn on each night, but if you use an outdoor timer, this eliminates that issue. There is no way to change the amount of time it runs for.

Overall the lights are fun, bright and easy to install. They're festive and give the whole side of your house some cheer without having to break out the ladder and hang string lights everywhere.

Buy it at Amazon: Auto-vox Imax Plus Holiday Laser Light Decoration [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Blog Archive

Ads

Get Email Notifications