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, January 31, 2018

MonstoPolo Fleece Lined Cardigan Review

MonstoPolo Fleece Lined Cardigan Review

Buy it at Amazon: MonstoPolo Fleece Lined Cardigan [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Soft, warm, stylish; nicely constructed, clean stitching, not super slim on small frames.

The sweater is made of a 30/70 wool/cotton blend and has a soft slightly textured/knit feel. The sweater has an accent colored ribbed zipper color which fully hides the zipper track, which is made of plastic, although the zipper pull is made of metal. Note that the zipper pull is on the left-hand-side of the track which is the opposite side than most US mens clothing. At the waist are two shallow pockets, they are sewn shut on arrival, but have simple release threads you can remove, like on suit jacket pockets. The interior of the cardigan is lined with a warm fleece layer with a plaid pattern that extends down through each arm. The backing material on the pocket is very thin though, like suit jacket lining, so sharp items may tear it. The tag on this says it's an Asian large (L), which fits like a small (S) in the US. The stitching and fabric quality overall are very nice, though I think the fleece layer could have been even a little thicker.

I usually wear a US mens extra-small (XS) but this was the smallest size offered, however, the sweater fits as expected for a small. It's a tad bit baggier and longer than I need, but in general fairly slim, so I think if you have a larger torso the sizing would be accurate. I like to layer, so I actually don't mind it being slightly baggy for use as a removable outer layer in the winter time. It has a high collar and can be worn up like a turtle neck put down and worn flat. The pockets aren't super deep but can accommodate a large smartphone. Since this sweater has a fleece layer it's very warm when you put it on and it great in cold weather. The sweater is good at retaining body heat and effectively blocks chills in windy conditions. Overall, it's nicely constructed, warm, and stylish.

Buy it at Amazon: MonstoPolo Fleece Lined Cardigan [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ikan DS2-A Beholder Angled Arm 3-axis Gimbal Camera Stabilizer Review

Ikan DS2-A Beholder Angled Arm 3-axis Gimbal Camera Stabilizer Review

Buy it at Amazon: Ikan DS2-A Beholder Angled Arm 3-axis Gimbal Camera Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Smooth stabilization, cool auto-path feature, no app/accessories, a bit bulky/heavy, but easy to view camera LCD screen

The gimbal comes in a semi-rigid zippered carrying case. Inside I received the gimbal, a microUSB wall charger, a mini screwdriver, and extra ¼" mounting screw for the quick release plate. The gimbal is made from a machined aluminum alloy that is lightweight and durable. That doesn't mean it's indestructible though and you do want to be careful not to drop or shock it because this can throw off the internal gyros. The DS2-A was launched with the DS2 simultaneously and as far as I can tell, they are the same gimbal with one key difference. On the DS2-A, the roll axis arm of the gimbal is on an angle, hence the ‘A' in the model number. This lower position lets you view your camera LCD screen without obstruction, unlike the typical position for the motor which tends to be right in front of the screen on most cameras.

The handle on the DS2-A Beholder is thick and chunky. On the bottom is a 3/8" threaded hole for mounting which I like to use with a mini tripod. Not only does this help extend the short handle's length, but I can easily put the gimbal down on a whim without worrying about it falling over. The quick release plate on the mounting platform has a safety lock pin which stops your camera from sliding out of the mount when you loosen the thumbscrew. This QR plate is compatible with some of Manfrotto's universal quick release systems. However, you'll need to use the included mini screwdriver to tighten the mounting screw to the bottom of your camera. That's a bit annoying since the rest of the gimbal is tool-less.

With the angled arm, balancing the roll axis is a little different than on most gimbals. Rather than moving the arm side-to-side at the roll axis motor, you'll slide the camera mounting plate left or right. The release for that adjustment is under the quick release platform. Once balanced and turned on the gimbal will compensate for movements along the pan, tilt, and roll axes, but note that it won't counteract up/down, side-to-side, nor forward/back movements. There are 4 grooves around the handle for your fingers to use as grips, but I still thought the gimbal felt a bit awkward in the hand. I think that's mostly due to the placement of the power button and control joystick which are in front, facing away from you. You can try to manipulate it using the index finger of the hand holder the gimbal, but it felt rather awkward. Instead, I preferred to use both hands and using my other handle to move the joystick and support the weight of the 2.5 gimbal plus camera. The max payload for the gimbal is 4 lbs, so I imagine that a full setup of 6.5 lbs would be quite tiring to shoot one-handed after a while.

On either side of the gimbal are ¼"-20 threaded mounting points for accessories like a remote monitor or external mic. On the left side is a microUSB port for charging and on the right is a miniUSB port for use with a wired joystick, which is not included. On the side that faces you is a small OLED screen and the mode button. The OLED shows you the remaining battery life of the gimbal. It'll also show the direction of movement of the joystick when pressed, and if you press the mode button it'll show the profile (or mode), so if you press twice it'll switch to profile 2 and so on up through profile 5. Profile 5 lets you define a path for the gimbal to follow by manually setting a start and end orientation. that's pretty cool because you can get fully automated 60 second movements that are exact and measured without the possibility of flaws from manual shooting. Another thing you can do when the gimbal is on is manually re- position your tilt and roll axis be simply moving it with one hand and holding it in position for 2 seconds, which can be much easier than maneuvering your camera into position with the joystick. The other 4 modes of operation are locked, pan-follow, pan-tilt-follow, and 3-axis follow, the last being a mode not commonly seen with other gimbal brands.

Overall, the DS2-A performed nicely when stabilizing footage and the angled arm makes it easier to monitor your shots as they happen. The gimbal is somewhat heavy and awkward to carry. It also doesn't come with a lot of accessories, like a mini tripod, nor does the case anticipate that you'd get many more accessories that what it comes with, which is a bummer. For the price, you can get better packages of traditionally structured gimbals with the level roll-axis motor arm, but the on-the-fly positioning, angled-arm, OLED status screen, and 60-second auto-path features could give it a slight edge against the competition if you're interested in trying it out.

Buy it at Amazon: Ikan DS2-A Beholder Angled Arm 3-axis Gimbal Camera Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, January 29, 2018

MOZA Air 3-axis Gimbal Camera Stabilizer Review

MOZA Air 3-axis Gimbal Camera Stabilizer Review

Buy it at Amazon: MOZA Air 3-axis Gimbal Camera Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Smooth/stable video footage, easy auto time-lapse, quick setup, decent app, short BT range/battery life

The gimbal comes in a heavy duty, hard plastic briefcase. Inside are the instruction manual, mini-tripod, gimbal, three batteries, screw-on handgrip, battery charger, ball head mount, quick release (QR) plate, lens support cradle and screw, felt drawstring bag with control cables and microUSB cable, horizontal handle bar, and two side handgrips.

The gimbal is pretty easy to set up for both one-handed and dual handle operation. The main gimbal handgrip has a 3/8"-16 mounting hole with pre-installed 1/4"-20 adapter and can be attached to the included mini tripod or any standard photography tripod or mounting system. The double-handle is optional and is not integrated with the gimbal, so it won't have built-in controls like a joystick or mode key. This makes it a bit harder to use the gimbal with the dual handles since you have to switch hands to the main handgrip to access the controls. On the flip side, it's easy to take the dual handlebar off when you want to go to single-handed operation on the fly. You can, however, purchase the wireless thumb control for the gimbal separately to get the best of both.

On the side of the gimbal near the controls is a 1/4"-20 mounting point and when using the dual handles, each handgrip adds 5 more mounting points giving you a lot of options to mount a monitor, lights, mic etc. The build quality of the gimbal is really nice; it's made of a lightweight aluminum alloy that's fairly durable. The gimbal without a camera weighs a little over 2.5 lbs in the single handle setup and just under 4 lbs in the dual-handle setup. All the handles have a soft-touch silicone which provide a nice grip for your hands. The gimbal's max payload is 2.5 kgs or just about 5.5 lbs. For heavier setups I recommend the dual-handle setup to reduce fatigue for long shooting sessions.

On the mounting platform are two tracks. The inner one supports larger cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II while the outside track gives you more leverage when using a smaller mirrorless camera like the Panasonic GH5. The included QR plate can be mounted onto the platform from either track as long as the release lever is hanging off the right side of the platform so it sits flush with the platform. Balancing the gimbal with the tool-less thumbscrews is pretty straight forward if you've ever balanced a gimbal before. For first-timers it usually takes a bit of practice but the instructions outline the process nicely and Gudsen has a tutorial video that is very helpful. Once balanced, make a note of the position markers at each adjustment point and use those to guide you and speed up balancing in the future. All 3 motors have 360 degrees of freedom and can rotate fully infinitely in either direction along its axis (provided your camera setup is small enough to clear the arms).

The gimbal comes with 3 control cables for Sony, Canon, and Panasonic so if you use a compatible camera with the gimbal, plug the cable into the miniUSB port on the underside of the roll motor and into your camera's control port. This allows you to trigger the shutter and video recording from the gimbal handle by short pressing the power button. I was a little disappointed that the Sony camera doesn't charge via the control cable port, since it's able to do this on other gimbals, but given that the battery life of the Air is only 6-8 hours, it's probably better to reserve the battery life for its operation. This gimbal is pretty quiet when operating, but not completely silent. However, even though I noticed the motor faintly whirring, the on-board camera mic on my a6300 didn't seem to pick it up. If you're in a very quiet setting or using a sensitive external mic, it may be more noticeable.

The balancing performance on the Air is very good, comparable tot he Zhiyun Crane (v1 and v2). It's smooth and fluid, but I did feel the out-of-the-box follow speed and especially joystick control speed was too fast. You can change the speed settings with the wireless thumb remote or use the MOZA mobile app which connects to the gimbal via Bluetooth. Most of the settings have to do with min/max angles and motor power while the speed settings are simply high, medium, or low and don't get more precise. The app also has a joystick mode for wireless control of the gimbal and there is a custom path mode which lets you setup a multi-point path for the gimbal to follow automatically so you can automate a pan and creating moving time lapses. The only thing I didn't like was that the Bluetooth range of the gimbal seems to be really short. It looses connection if you get more than 4-5 feet away and the Bluetooth signal strength indicator in the app never gets very high on the status bar.

Overall, the gimbal performed well for stabilizing my footage, whether running with a subject or operating in inverted mode. It does take practice walking and moving fluidly to ensure super smooth footage as bouncing the gimbal, up-down and side-to-side movements create visible shakes, bobbing, and jitters in the footage. Also, if you're using a light camera, I recommend reducing the motor power if you're experiencing motor vibrations. Occasionally, if you're combining a lot of movements or tax the motors too much the gyro will start to drift, for me, usually along the roll or tilt axis, but resetting the gimbal corrects it. While this gimbal's features aren't as customizable through the app as on other gimbals, it still performs nicely.

Buy it at Amazon: MOZA Air 3-axis Gimbal Camera Stabilizer [Affiliate Link] "
Share:

Friday, January 26, 2018

Gongpon Mini Digital Handheld Video Camcorder HDV-G13 Review

Gongpon Mini Digital Handheld Video Camcorder HDV-G13 Review

Buy it at Amazon: Gongpon Mini Digital Handheld Video Camcorder HDV-G13 [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Low-res entry-level quality for novice or beginner, temper your expectations .

With this camcorder, you get the camera, a padded soft carrying case with belt loop on the back, a battery, headphone jack to RCA cable, miniUSB charging cable, power adapter, lens cap, remote control, and an instruction manual. The camera is pretty small and fits in the palm of your hand. It measures 5"L x 2"W and 2" tall and weighs 10.25 oz. The camera comes with a strap, pad and lens cap. The lens has a 24 MP sensor and two infrared LED lights for night vision. The battery and SD card are inserted in the bottom under a latched door. A memory card is not included with the camera, and it has no on-board storage. Note that when the battery is removed, the clock and date settings will reset, and you'll have to re-enter the date and time if you want accurate date/time stamps for your photos and video. There's also a ¼" mounting hole on the bottom of the camera for tripod mounting.

On the back, behind a rubber door are the AV output and microUSB port for charging. The record button is easy to press with your thumb when holding the camera with your right hand. On top you have the zoom control and shutter button for photo mode which are accessing using your index finger. Towards the front is the stereo microphone for audio capture, and there is no option for using an external microphone.

The LCD monitor rotates 270 degrees and locks in at every 90 degrees. The Camera will turn on/off automatically when the LCD is opened or closed. Pressing the menu key will bring up different options for the mode you're in, though some of these settings persist over both modes anyway. When recording during the day, outdoors the image quality of the video is somewhat grainy and lacks detail/deep color saturation giving everything a slightly faded look. There are occasional dropped frames which manifest as a flash of black or white. The quality is on par with old VHS tapes or flip phone generation cell phone cameras. Fast motion tends to be blurry and the zooming increments in hard "jumps" though it locks in at 2 distances: 9x and 18x zoom. From any distance the microphone sounds muffled and quiet, with the clearest sound only when the subject is within a couple feet from the camera. When filming in 1080p the footage is noticeably more choppy than 720p/480p because the frame rate is only 15 frames per second, whereas it's 30fps in the other modes. At 15 fps, the footage looks like stop motion and because there's motion blur when you move the camera, any increase in detail level from the increased resolution is canceled out by frame blending and choppiness.

In dark conditions, you'll need to activate night mode to see anything. The infrared light makes the images appear in black and white but you'll be able to see in the dark up to 6-8 feet away, even in pitch black conditions. Overall, the camera captures video at a fairly low resolution. If you want slightly better image quality, I recommend the next version up, the HDV-G5. This camera would only be suitable as an inexpensive fun camera for kids to toy around with. It's not going to produce super smooth or clear video at any resolution, and it doesn't capture fast scenes well. The night vision is kind of fun though.

Buy it at Amazon: Gongpon Mini Digital Handheld Video Camcorder HDV-G13 [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mini Flexible Drain Cleaning Wand Review

Mini Flexible Drain Cleaning Wand Review

Buy it at Amazon: Mini Flexible Drain Cleaning Wand [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Cleared my sink drain in under 2 minutes, simple to use.

I used this on my bathroom sink drain and it worked great. It gets clogged a lot because it doesn't have a stopper/plunger and there are folks with long hair in the household. The sink has been backing up and draining slowly for weeks and was actually leaking from the p-trap, so we needed to clear the drain ASAP. The house has old pipes and not wanting to risk corrosion nor throw a bunch of chemicals into our waterways we decided to snake our drain, but the traditional snake was too big (the peg from the old drain plunger in the pipe blocks it). So we got this little tool and despite some reservations based on feedback where people said their wands were breaking, we decided to give it a try anyway. It was quick and easy. Unroll, feed into the drain all the way down, and pull up. The clog came right out on the first try. It was really big and gross but once out, the drain was cleared and the water ran down and out again. The thing didn't even break a tooth, though I could see that happening if it got caught on something metal. The only thing is, I wish it weren't packed rolled and would have liked a straightened out one because the curvature of it can fling whatever it pulls out from your drain across the room if it recoils quickly. We tried a second pass and didn't pull anything else out, so it seems pretty effective.

Buy it at Amazon: Mini Flexible Drain Cleaning Wand [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Fifine USB Lapel Lavalier Microphone Review

Fifine USB Lapel Lavalier Microphone Review

Buy it at Amazon: Fifine USB Lapel Lavalier Microphone [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Serviceable lapel mic, good isolation, but sensitive and may distort at close range.

You'll receive the microphone and a brief instruction manual. The microphone is permanently attached to the USB dongle which is like a large thumb drive measuring 2.5"L x 1"W x 3/8"H. The wire on the mic is about 6.5' long and the mic comes with a replaceable foam wind screen. On the USB dongle there's also a headphone out port so you can plug in a set of headphones.

The Boya lapel mic that I use regularly is a line-in microphone that plugs into a 1/8" input jack. The main difference between the two is that the plug-in mic depends on the computer's sound card to process the audio, whereas the USB mic has processing hardware in the dongle that acts as its own sound card. That means that no matter what computer I'm using, the USB mic should, theoretically, produce consistent output.

This microphone has a cardioid pickup pattern where my line-in mic is omnidirectional. Comparatively, the Fifine mic sounds a bit more focused but also somewhat boxed-in while the omni mic audio is rounder, but picks up more background noise and has lower volume output levels which require me to increase the gain in post processing. The high sensitivity of the Fifine mic means that I either have to use the mic farther away from my face or speak at a lower volume so that I don't get any distortion or "crackling" in the audio. But since the audio output is already at a decent decibel level, I don't need to do as much post-processing editing.

Overall, the Fifine mic performed pretty well. It produces louder and more precise sound from the same distance as my plug-in omni mic, but I found that voices may sound a bit more constrained/constricted and generally the mic needs to be used at a farther distance or speakers should talk at a lesser volume.

Buy it at Amazon: Fifine USB Lapel Lavalier Microphone [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ananbros Kinetic Sand Mold and Tools Kit Review

Ananbros Kinetic Sand Mold and Tools Kit Review

Buy it at Amazon: Ananbros Kinetic Sand Mold and Tools Kit [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Fun shapes, animals, & castles, durable pieces won't shatter/crack, also works w/playdough.

This kit includes 24 molds and tools, and an inflatable tray sand box. There are 5 castles, 4 scrapers/putty knives, 3 stamps, a roller, a hand pump, and 10 animal shapes. Note that this kit does not include the kinetic sand which you must purchase separately. You can use the hand pump to inflate the sand tray which takes a few minutes, but blowing it up by breath isn't too bad either. After inflation the tray measures 24"L x 18"W x 2.5"H. It has clear plastic handles on the ends and two Velcro straps on the sides for bundling up the tray (you have to let out some air). All the molds are made of a hard plastic, and with the exception of 4 of the castle pieces, all have a shiny finish to help the sand release from them more easily. Still the sand doesn't really stick to the non-shiny molds either. The animal molds and stamps can also be used with play-dough too, and these make really fun shapes for your kids to play with. The molds are durable and don't flex or crack under pressure. You can take them to the beach for use with regular sand and the tray keeps the mess contained (mostly).

Buy it at Amazon: Ananbros Kinetic Sand Mold and Tools Kit [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Kakalu Anti-slip Baby Socks Review

Kakalu Anti-slip Baby Socks Review

Buy it at Amazon: Kakalu Anti-slip Baby Socks [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Soft, bright colors, fun animal faces, rubber grip nubs on the bottom.

You'll receive 5 pairs of assorted baby socks. The socks are made of 100% cotton and have a variety of fun, adorable animal face print on the pastel colors. You have a mouse, a frog, a bear, a cat, and a rabbit. The only odd thing is that the faces are upside-down, perhaps so your baby can look at them when they look down. They socks are thin but soft and have dotted rubber grips on the bottoms for non-slip protection when your baby is standing or walking. They're really cute and help make sure your baby doesn't slip and fall on slippery floors. The size is for 12-36 months and my niece is just starting to stand at 12 months; they're a tad big, so these will be perfect for her in a few months.

Buy it at Amazon: Kakalu Anti-slip Baby Socks [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Friday, January 19, 2018

Ezapor Mini LED DLP Projector Review

Ezapor Mini LED DLP Projector Review

Buy it at Amazon: Ezapor Mini LED DLP Projector [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Good image quality and WiFi streaming, little/no lag, use external speakers for better audio.

You'll receive the mini DLP Projector, a wall adapter, a mini tripod, remote control, HDMI cable, and an instruction manual. The projector has a glossy black finish and measures 6"L x 3"W x 3/4"H. The outer frame is aluminum and on the bottom is the built-in speaker and ¼"-20 threaded hole for mounting to a tripod. The included tripod is a bit flimsy though so I prefer using a full size camera tripod. The lens is on the short side of the projector and the IR receiver is in the back, so to control it, you need line of sight to the back of the projector. There are 2 USB input/power ports, a TF card slot, headphone audio out jack, and HDMI input. When you plug the unit it, the internal battery will start charging, but you can use the player while it is plugged in as well. If you're not near an outlet, you get about 2 hours of playback, and unfortunately a USB cord for power isn't included so you wouldn't be able to use a portable USB output battery pack.

When you turn the power switch on, the unit will be in standby and you have to touch the power button on top to turn the unit on. The other touch controls are for menu and menu navigation. The projector takes a few seconds to boot up and is pre-loaded with Android 4.4.4. It has built-in WiFi for connecting to your home WiFi network and Bluetooth capability so you can stream the audio to a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. Using the remote to navigate the interface is simple, and the remote also lets you change the volume and bring up a mouse cursor, but typing with the remote is cumbersome. It's much easier to use a wireless keyboard and mouse/touchpad.

The wireless capability worked great for streaming internet video from Netflix and YouTube (pre-installed). I was also able to download Amazon Prime video from the Google Play store, though sometimes when streaming video there is a bit of lag between the audio and picture. Other times I didn't notice any sync issues so it may just depend on your bandwidth and signal quality. The 80ANSI lumen brightness of this projector makes the image hard to see in a brightly lit room when the projected image has a large diagonal, but it looks fine in complete darkness. The image also appears brighter when the screen size is smaller and thus could be usable in a room with the lights on at screen sizes less than 50". Since there's a fixed amount of light coming from the projector, the larger the image, the lower the perceived brightness and the more visible pixels will be at its 480p native output resolution. Text may also become blurred, but in generally I found it to be quite readable even at 120". While the projector accepts input resolutions up to 1080p, it downscales the output accordingly. The color, contrast, and saturation were fine and in general the images are clear and crisp. The onboard audio isn't great, but for budget projectors it never is. If you have no other option, you can turn up the volume to drown out the fan noise. However, the Bluetooth function works surprisingly well, and I did not notice any between audio and video when streaming the audio wirelessly. If you experience lag, try hooking up the speaker via a male-to-male 1/8" audio cable.

Since I have an Android phone, I was able to cast my smartphone screen wirelessly to the projector, but there was definitely a delay between what the phone showed and the image and sound from the projector. This function is best reserved for slideshows of photos, presentations or web browsing. Overall, the projector delivers impressive quality for its size and I thought the image quality was completely acceptable at large dimensions for home movie viewing at night. It works great as a streaming video player, is compact, and portable, though the battery life could be better or at least include a USB cable to extend its usage while traveling.

Buy it at Amazon: Ezapor Mini LED DLP Projector [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock Review

Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock Review

Buy it at Amazon: Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy to setup, helps w/gradual waking, a good reading light, loud alarm.

You'll receive the clock, a 4 ft microUSB charging cable, a power adapter, and an instruction manual. The clock is made of a plastic housing with translucent frosted front panel. The diameter of the clock/light is about 6.75". There are two ways to power the clock. You can use 3 AAA batteries, which are not included, or plug the unit into the wall with the USB cable and adapter. If you use both the batteries and the wired plug, the batteries serve as backup power if the clock is unplugged or during a power outage to save the time and settings.

There are buttons to control the brightness of the LCD, the light ring on the face for a nighttime or reading light, and volume of the alarm/FM radio. You can even turn the time display off if you need it really dark at night to sleep. The clock can display both 12-hour and 24-hour military time format. There are 6 "tunes" you can set for the alarm that include nature sounds like birds chirping, ocean wave, and several melodic songs (with nature sounds thrown in for good measure). There's also a standard beeping tone and a setting for the FM radio as the ringer. The light on the front also can be set to a fading rainbow or a fixed color.

The keys on the front are touch sensitive and the instruction manual is pretty good at walking you through the setup process which only takes a few minutes. To two interesting features on this alarm clock are the sunrise and sunset simulations. For sunrise simulation, the light on the face starts off dim 30 minutes before your alarm is set to ring. It then gradually brightens up to full brightness until your alarm goes off. This simulates how sunlight would gradually lift you out of sleep rather than a blaring alarm going off suddenly in the dark. This gentle waking is supposed to allow you to wake up more refreshed and well-rested. The sunset mode is the opposite. Provide the clock with a sunset time and it'll illuminate 30 minutes before your selected time at full brightness and ramp down until it goes off 30 minutes later. It's supposed to help you wind down and relax before bed.

The FM radio is a nice feature because if can be set as the alarm or you can just listen to it like normal. You can't choose the station band though and you have to rely on the auto-scan to find your facorite stations and put them in the presets. I don't know what the max number of stations is but so far it's saved up to 23 stations without a problem. Note that the time is not displayed while in radio mode. If you set the alarm to play the radio, it'll ring with the last station that you listened to. You can snooze the alarm for 5 minutes by tapping the snooze key in the middle of the light. To stop the alarm altogether, press any other key, and to turn off the wake up light, tap and hold the sun icon.

Overall, this alarm functions well and waking up to the light really does seem to be less stressful than being pulled out of sleep all of a sudden by loud sounds. The speaker isn't the highest quality, but it's not really designed for hi-def playback. The lowest volume is also quite loud in my opinion, but I suppose that's the purpose of an alarm clock, so you hear it. I like that the clock has a light and radio alarm function, something a lot of battery operated clocks no longer support. It's also great that the charging cable is a standard microUSB, so it's easy to replace.

Buy it at Amazon: Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Relohas Rechargeable Digital Alarm Clock Review

Relohas Rechargeable Digital Alarm Clock Review

Buy it at Amazon: Relohas Rechargeable Digital Alarm Clock [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Large, bright, easy-to-read display, many functions, several alarm tunes but no radio or volume control.

You'll receive the alarm clock, instruction manual, and a USB charging cable. The alarm clock has a plastic housing and measures 6-3/8"W x 2.75"L x 1.75"H. It weighs about 7 oz and has a built-in rechargeable battery. It can also be plugged in a wall adapter for constant power, although the charging LED would always be on. On the front is the LCD panel which measures 4.25"W x 1.75"L. All the controls and settings are on the back. The clock, date, and alarms are easy to set and a few of the other functions like hourly chime, and time/temp call out worked well. You also have the option to mute time/temp announcements and can set the alarms to trigger only on weekdays or Monday through Saturday rather than every day.

At any time you can tap the top of the alarm clock and the screen will light up while it announces the time and temperature. There are 7 tunes for the alarm though most may not be recognizable to an American audience. When the alarm goes off, you can snooze it (5 mins) by tapping the area on top. To silence the alarm after it rings, press the chime/tunes button, which is not explained in the manual. The hourly time/temp announcement only goes off between 7 am - 9 pm so it won't go off in the middle of the night. Just remember that if announcements are silenced, the hourly announcements do not go off either.

At night, in very dark settings, the screen will glow a gentle blue. This backlight is not adjustable nor is the volume of the alarm clock. Overall this is a multi-functional alarm clock with plenty of useful features. The tunes in it aren't that great, but it's nice to switch it up from boring beeping once in a while. A fully charged battery supposedly lasts up to 6 months of use, though I haven't had the unit it long enough to verify that. If the unit is running low on battery this LED will illuminate. Just remember is that if the unit is switched off or runs out of batteries, all the settings will reset to the default. The only improvement would be if it had an FM radio, but then it would probably need to be a plug-in radio, whereas with the battery it could be used as a portable/travel alarm clock.

Buy it at Amazon: Relohas Rechargeable Digital Alarm Clock [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nitecore USN1 NP-FW50 Dual Battery Charger Review and Sweepstakes/Giveaway Announcement

Nitecore USN1 NP-FW50 Dual Battery Charger Review

Buy it at Amazon: Nitecore USN1 NP-FW50 Dual Battery Charger [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Works great w/NP-FW50 batteries, charges 2 pretty quickly, auto-shutoff and stats display.

Visit the Giveaways page to enter to sweepstakes to win one! Contest ends January 24, 2018.

You'll receive the dual battery charger and an instruction sheet. The charger is made of plastic and has two charging bays for Sony NP-FW50 Li-ion batteries like those used in the Alpha series Sony cameras. On the bottom of the charger is a built-in 4" USB cable to power the unit that stores away neatly when not in use. The charger accepts both Sony OEM batteries and aftermarket ones. To charge them, simply push the batteries into the bays until they click, then plug the charger into a powered USB port or wall adapter. While charging there is an animation on the LCD screen giving the stats for each battery like battery level, charger temperature, charged volume, voltage, charging current, and battery health.

The charger can output up to 1 A of current output but may output less depending on the amount of power it receives, for example if plugged into a laptop USB port. When the batteries are full the charger will stop charging automatically to prevent overcharge. The status for the battery may be good, normal, or poor based on a low current test in which case the battery should soon be replaced. The charger will also prevent charging if a short circuit or reverse polarity are detected from incompatible batteries or improper installation. After charging in the USN1, the batteries worked fine in my Sony a6300 and show 100% capacity as detected by the camera. Since I film a lot in 4K I go through batteries fairly quickly and being able to charge two at once really helps me prolong my filming sessions. It takes about 1-2 hours to fully charge two completely dead batteries simultaneously which is pretty fast.

Buy it at Amazon: Nitecore USN1 NP-FW50 Dual Battery Charger [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Simplebeam GP90 HD LED Projector Review

Simplebeam GP90 HD LED Projector Review

Buy it at Amazon: Simplebeam GP90 HD LED Projector [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Nice video quality, bright, good color, decent audio when hooked-up to sound system..

You'll receive the projector, remote control, 5 ft power cable, 7" A/V to RCA input cable, 5 ft VGA cable, cleaning cloth, and instruction manual. The projector measures 11"W x 9"L x 4"H and weighs just over 5 lbs. On the front of the projector is the 2.75" lens and hard plastic lens protector. On the top are onboard controls for navigating the menus, selecting source, and powering on/off the unit. The ports are in the back which include an audio out, RCA in, IR receiver, 2 USB ports, two HDMI ports, and a VGA port. The projector has a built-in 5 Watt speaker which sounds a bit boxy, but does get loud enough to drown out the fan noise (which is significant if you're close to the projector. For mounting options you have 4 threaded screw holes for a universal ceiling mount and a 1" fold out tilt foot. However, there's no 1/4" or 3/8" threaded hole for use with a tripod so a platform adapter must be used with a tripod instead. The remote requires 2 AAA batteries which are not included.

The projector has a stated brightness of 3200 lumens and at a projection size of about 100" the image is visible during the day but looks somewhat faded. In very brightly lit rooms you may not be able to see an image at all but if the shades are drawn and the lights are dimmed somewhat, the image is usually serviceable. The native output resolution is 1280 x 800 pixels which is HD but a non-standard ratio. While the projector can accept video feeds up of to 1080p in resolution, it gets downscaled when projected on the screen. I compared this projector to my other mini LED projector and the quality is much nicer. In comparison the GP90 has better color balance, brightness, sound, and saturation, but is a larger unit and the fan is louder. Thankfully, the audio out can be hooked up to a speaker or sound system and that makes the audio output much cleaner and loud enough to make the fan noise less apparent. This also relieves any issues that the onboard speaker has with audio distortion at higher volumes.

While the unit doesn't have any WiFi or Bluetooth capabilities built-in, I was able to use a Chromecast hooked up to the HDMI port and powered by one of the USB ports; this allowed me to stream video wirelessly over my WiFi connection. The color saturation and contrast are full and accurate but at larger display sizes the pixels became more noticeable (>100"). Overall, this projector great job at projecting large, high definition video. You'll get the best performance out of it in very dark settings, but in a room with some ambient light, it's still usable.

Buy it at Amazon: Simplebeam GP90 HD LED Projector [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Wide Mouth Glass Fermentation Weights for Pickling Review

Wide Mouth Glass Fermentation Weights for Pickling Review

Buy it at Amazon: Wide Mouth Glass Fermentation Weights for Pickling [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Perfect size for wide mouth jars; easy to put in and take out, keeps pickles submerged.

You'll receive four weights in this set. Each weight is made from clear glass and varies a bit in weight. The lightest weight I have is 4.9 oz and the heaviest 5.6 oz. These weights are sized for wide mouth mason jars and measure 2.75" in diameter and ½" thick. There's about a 1/2" of clearance when you insert these into the jar opening, so you can get a fork in there to scoop it out. The shape is like a glass hockey puck and the weights are solid with only a few tiny bubbles here and there. The surfaces are mostly smooth (a little wavy) and free from scratches and pitting.

I've used these weights for lacto-fermented pickles, sauerkraut, and pickled beets in both wide mouth pint and quart jars. The weights are heavy enough to keep the foods below the surface of the brine and prevent mold and spoilage. The glass is also non-porous and won't trap bacteria, air, moisture, or mold spores. In the larger two gallon jar I have, I had to use three at a time to cover the whole surface area. If you have small pieces that escape through the gaps, try using a cabbage leaf to create a cap. I've also used one of those silicone universal bowl covers (6 inch diameter) which worked well paired with 2 or 3 weights. These will not fit in regular mouth mason jars.

Buy it at Amazon: Wide Mouth Glass Fermentation Weights for Pickling [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Tabiger Soldering Iron Kit Review

Tabiger Soldering Iron Kit Review

Buy it at Amazon: Tabiger Soldering Iron Kit [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Heats up quickly, lots of accessories for a variety soldering projects, easy to use.

You'll receive the soldering iron and other accessories in this small tool box. There are two side compartments in the lid, but the door on the left hand side of mine was broken when I received it. There's also a small compartment near the front and a hole for you to lock the tool box up (a lock is not included). Inside in the upper tray you'll find a pair of wire snips, a small screwdriver, a roll of electrical tape, a spool of 0.1mm diameter copper wire and a small box of rosin. Under that section in the main compartment are a set of five additional soldering tips, a roll of de-soldering wick, instruction manual, the soldering iron with a pre-install medium tip, an exacto knife, a de-soldering suction pen, a metal stand, a roll of solder, and two tweezers. The stand requires minimal assembly to attach the iron holder coil to the metal base. There's also a thin sponge that you can use to clean the tip of the iron.

The soldering iron is about the size of a pen and measures 7.5" long. It has a rubberized grip were you hold the iron and is rated for 110V and 60 Watts. At the end of the iron is a dial for adjusting the temperature of the tool tip from 200 to 450 degrees Celsius (for different types of solder). The power cable on the iron is about 4.5 ft long. Changing the tip is pretty straight forward, but you have to be careful not to damage the ceramic core under the tip. Overall, the soldering iron works as well as I expected. Adjusting the temperature is simple and the extra accessories give you a good range for different projects.

Buy it at Amazon: Tabiger Soldering Iron Kit [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Besteker 1536p Webcam vs Logitech C922 Comparison and Review

Besteker 1536p Webcam vs Logitech C922 Comparison and Review

Buy it at Amazon: Besteker 1536p Webcam vs Logitech C922 Comparison and [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Decent for a budget webcam, hi-res but no auto-focus, mic audio a bit grainy.

The webcam has a 5' USB cord and comes with a cleaning cloth and an instruction sheet. Despite its similarity to the Logitech C920, the Besteker 920C has slightly different specs and these cameras are not related nor equivalent. This camera measures 3.5" across, 2.25" high and has a depth of 2.75". On the front is a 1536p max output HD lens, and the camera has built-in stereo microphones on the sides. The body of the camera sits on a ball joint and is rotatable 360 degrees and has about 25 degrees of available tilt. On the bottom of the foot there's a 1/4" thread mounting hole for use with a standard tripod mount. The base under the camera splits open so that you can place the webcam over the top of a monitor or laptop screen. I tested the Besteker camera side-by-side with the Logitech C922.

The settings on the Besteker camera are a little different when using OBS to record. When set to 1920x1080 resolution recording at 30 fps, the cameras displayed a big difference in color. While I think the C922 does a better job at reproducing the colors in this room with natural looking temperature and saturation, this is because it uses Auto-White Balance to account for the lighting in the room. The 920C reproduces actual color with no white balance adjustment. In good lighting (a sunny room, or one with day white lights) the colors of the images are fine, but it struggles a bit in low light settings. The Besteker camera has a slightly wider angle lens than the Logitech C922 and also goes to a higher resolution of 2048 x 1536, though the frame rate is slower and slightly choppier.

The 920C also doesn't have auto-focus and can't do close/macro focus so the best focus range is 3 or more inches from the lens. The camera at 1080p does pretty good with fast movement with its 30 fps frame rate. There are also lower resolution settings available but I don't use them. As for microphone audio quality, the Besteker 920C has a moderate pickup from a distance of 2 feet and some white noise and graininess in the audio.

Overall, the 920C is a decent HD webcam for those on a budget. If you need the extra resolution, it's nice to be able to have higher than 1080p resolution with a wide angle that you can crop down without degrading the image resolution.

Buy it at Amazon: Besteker 1536p Webcam vs Logitech C922 Comparison and [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

GoolRC T37 Mini Foldable RC Drone Quadcopter w/Gravity Remote Review

GoolRC T37 Mini Foldable RC Drone Quadcopter w/Gravity Remote Review

Buy it at Amazon: GoolRC T37 Mini Foldable RC Drone Quadcopter w/Gravity Remote [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Very well-balanced, compact, easy to control, nice app, but one battery shorted/died.

You'll receive the drone, a soft fabric carrying bag, a remote controller, 3 rechargeable batteries, a USB charging cable, an extra set of rotors, two sets of rubber feet, and an instruction manual. The drone is compact and light measuring 4.5" x 2.25" x 1" tall when folded up. The fan blades fold out from the sides and the footprint is 6.75" x 5.75". On top is a single power button for turning the drone on and off. On the bottom is the battery slot and the batteries easily slide/click into place. There's a 720p camera on the front that is not adjustable but takes decent photos/video. You'll want to take four of the rubber feet and install them in the holes on the bottom of the drone before you get started.

The remote control requires 2 AAA batteries which are not included. The controls are interesting because they are gravity sensing. Starting up the drone takes a few steps but once you get the hang of it is simple. I really like the gravity sensing remote because I find it to be more intuitive than the traditional toy joystick rudder/throttle controls. The drone is very balanced in flight and can hover fairly still. I also like that the remote has an emergency stop if the drone is flying out of control or being taken by the wind, but keep in mind your drone will simply fall from the sky so make sure the way below is clear before hitting that button.

The other way you can control the drone is using the GoolRC app on a mobile device. The app sometimes connects, sometimes doesn't so it's a bit finicky. When it works though you'll get full control of the drone including camera functions for photo/video and 3D flips. If you want to get all the features out of the drone you have to use the app since you can't control the camera or 3D flips with the remote. However, the remote is still a fun way to fly the drone without those features and it's great that the drone folds up compactly. Because of its size, it works best indoor where you have few obstacles because it's unaffected by wind. Outside, a breeze easily carries it off so you have to be careful to keep it in range of the remote, as it won't return to you automatically if it loses connection. On a full charge you'll get about 10 minutes of flying time max but average around 5-7. The only problem I had was that one of the batteries shorted during charging and started smoking, so I had to toss it because I was afraid it would be a fire hazard. Always be careful with Lipo batteries and use a fireproof bag when charging! Otherwise a pretty fun toy.

Buy it at Amazon: GoolRC T37 Mini Foldable RC Drone Quadcopter w/Gravity Remote [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

FeelWorld FH7 Remote HD 7 Inch Camera Monitor Review

FeelWorld FH7 Remote HD 7 Inch Camera Monitor Review

Buy it at Amazon: FeelWorld FH7 Remote HD 7 Inch Camera Monitor [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Large, bright, clear HD picture; easy to use/setup, lightweight.

You'll receive the LCD monitor, a sunshade frame, a shade box, a miniHDMI to HDMI cable, a microHDMI to HDMI cable, an NP-F550 battery, battery charger, a user manual, a cold shoe mount, cleaning cloth, Allen wrench, and extra screw. The LCD panel measures 4.75"L x 7"W and the screen has a 7" view-able diagonal. The native output resolution of the screen is 1920x1200 although the HDMI input accepts up to 4K signals from your camera. The images on the screen will still be HD, but not as fine point as 4K; you can however, output the feed in 4K to another monitor as well. On top of the unit are a few physical controls for power, 3 function (F) buttons, menu, and menu navigation keys which are also used for volume control. The 'F' buttons can be customized for options that you use frequently. On the bottom of the LCD are the ports: HDMI out, HDMI in, miniUSB, headphone jack, and power port. There's a ¼"-20 threaded mounting hole for the cold shoe mount or for any standard tripod mounting system. On the back of the unit is the battery plate and external speaker.

The unit is basically plug-and-play. All you need to do is install the battery, then plug the HDMI cable into the LCD, and into your camera. I used the microHDMI cable with my Sony a6300 camera and mini HDMI cable with my Canon T3i without a problem. The screen was able to display exactly what was on my camera LCD. The sunshade is quick to install and works well on bright sunny days outdoors. The LCD display panel is bright, has great resolution, color, and detail. It's great for both photography and videography as it lets you monitor your camera feed on a bigger screen and manipulate the view separately from the camera, whether that's attached to a tripod or rig. The 160 degree viewing angle lets you see the screen clearly from different positions so you don't have to be standing right in front of the monitor for a clear picture. Overall, I found this to be a useful tool, especially for the Sony a6300 because its LCD isn't fully articulated and framing shots from in front of the camera is much easier with a remote monitor. One tip is when using the monitor during live filming, turn its volume to '0' to avoid feedback back to the camera mic!

Buy it at Amazon: FeelWorld FH7 Remote HD 7 Inch Camera Monitor [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

HuntKey 2-Outlet Wall Charger w/Dual USB Ports Review

HuntKey 2-Outlet Wall Charger w/Dual USB Ports Review

Buy it at Amazon: HuntKey 2-Outlet Wall Charger w/Dual USB Ports [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Expands existing outlet capability w/2 USB ports up to 2.1A combined output.

The outlet adapter measures 4.75"L x 2.75"W x1"D. It's got 2 standard 3-prong US outlets and adds 2 USB ports so you can power and charge your mobile devices. The USB ports can output 5V up to 2.1A of current combined when both are in use, or about 1 A per port. The power outlets are rated to handle up to 15 A 125 VAC at 60 Hz and have a max load of 1875 Watts, but note that there is no surge protection. This wall adapter plugs into a single outlet over your existing dual outlet plates. Since it has a lower peg here, you cannot expand two outlets to three. The other nice thing about this adapter is it has a small lip above the plug so you can use it as a stand for your phone or tablet while it is charging. The outlet works as expected and is a nice option for adding a couple USB ports where you need them without having to use an additional power adapter.

Buy it at Amazon: HuntKey 2-Outlet Wall Charger w/Dual USB Ports [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, January 8, 2018

Kiwi Design Alex Battery Pack for Echo Dot Review

Kiwi Design Alex Battery Pack for Echo Dot Review

Buy it at Amazon: Kiwi Design Alex Battery Pack for Echo Dot [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Durable, compact, long battery life; makes Echo Dot v2 portable.

You'll receive the Dot battery case, a nylon drawstring carry bag, and a few instruction manuals. The case is made of heavy duty nylon fabric, with Velcro straps, metal brackets, and strong fabric elastic bands. Inside at the top is a silicone pad to stabilize your Echo Dot once you place it in. On the sides are Velcro straps that allow you to remove the battery housing from the carrier. The battery is roughly double the height of the Echo Dot and constructed of a durable ABS plastic with a geometric design. On the bottom is a silicone foot so the unit won't slide around on a table. At the back, this hexagonal button is the power switch, microUSB charging port, and power input for the Echo Dot. On the front you have four LED indicators for the remaining battery life of the power pack. The lights will flash during charging while indicating the battery level. This battery and case are designed specifically for the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 2 which fits perfectly into the tray on top. Then you just need to plug the power cable into the back of the Dot; the cutout in the tray alots enough room for the Aux cable if you also want to connect it to an external speaker. Then just click the power button to turn it on. The straps and bands tighten to ensure the Dot will not fall out of the case when travelling. You can turn the unit on and off through the carrier by pressing the power button symbol which gives you access to the power button through the fabric. However, to see the LED indicators, you'll have to open up the lower Velcro strap on the front. The two carabiners on either side let you attach the carrier to a backpack or hang the unit. You can also carry it from the bottom using the adjustable elastic handle.

This case and battery combo make the Echo Dot portable whereas normally it needs to be plugged in. However, the battery pack doesn't come with its own microUSB cable for charging though you can use the one that came with your Echo Dot. A full charge takes about 8 hours but may take longer is the Dot is plugged in and in use. The battery pack lasts 12 hours of continuous run time, but can last for longer if the Dot is in standby mode and not being used. Overall this battery pack and case do a nice job of both protecting the Echo Dot and turning it into a portable unit. I like that it powers on and off with a simple click and there are multiple options for carrying and attaching it to bags and backpacks.

Buy it at Amazon: Kiwi Design Alex Battery Pack for Echo Dot [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Friday, January 5, 2018

Strong Wind Soprano Ukulele Review

Strong Wind Soprano Ukulele Review

Buy it at Amazon: Strong Wind Soprano Ukulele [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Bright, full sound, nice construction quality and finish; good set for beginners.

You'll receive the ukulele in a carrying bag, a clip on tuner w/CR2032 battery, a neckstrap, an extra set of nylon strings, a cleaning cloth, and two plastic picks. The case for the ukulele is made of canvas and has a small zippered pocket at the bottom, a side handle, and a shoulder strap on the back. This is a 21" soprano ukulele with a solid mahogany body with a medium/dark stain. The bridge is smooth and has simple beveled edges, and the fret board is also nicely finished; the frets have no sharp edges.

On the back of the head, you have four worm drive tuning pegs with plastic grips for tuning the strings easily. This ukulele has two strap buttons installed to use with a snap-on shoulder strap. The included strap, however, is a sound hole hook-style strap which you wrap around the bottom of the uke and hook into the sound hole. While you can also use this strap with ukuleles that don't have the strap buttons, it's not as secure as a shoulder strap and you can't carry it hands-free.

The tuner comes with a battery that you install in the back of the LCD panel. It helps you adjust the strings when they are flat or sharp with its large, brightly lit, and easy-to-read metered display. When the strings are in-tune the LCD turns bright green for faster visual identification. The uke isn't tuned when you receive it, and the new strings will be very loose. Also, since these new strings need to stretch a lot, you'll need to tune often while playing during the first week. The sound from this ukulele is bright and full with resonant tones. It's really nice for beginners like myself, though if you have large hands and fingers you might want to trade up for the concert size which is bigger and may give your fingers a little more room between the frets. I'm still really new to the ukulele so I only know a few chords and can read through tabs, albeit slowly. Overall, the sound and build of this instrument seems to be good quality, and it's a lot of fun to learn.

Buy it at Amazon: Strong Wind Soprano Ukulele [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

I-Rocket Kitchen Sink Soap Dispenser Intallation and Review

I-Rocket Kitchen Sink Soap Dispenser Installation and Review

Buy it at Amazon: I-Rocket Kitchen Sink Soap Dispenser Installation and [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Quick installation, fluid pump action, decent capacity and dispense amount

You'll receive the liquid soap bottle, the pump dispenser, and dispensing straw. The straw measures 6.25" in length and is long enough to reach the bottle of the soap bottle. I like that the bottle is clear so you can see exactly how much soap is in it. The pump is chromed and made entirely of metal for durability with a beautiful finish. The pump action is smooth and fluid and doesn't take a lot of effort to depress fully. The soap dispenses straight down from the tip. The threaded tube attaches to your countertop using this plastic nut and there's a rubber washer under the cap to prevent water from seeping under it. Installation only took a few minutes and the dispenser feels secure. Soap can be re-filled from the top by simply lifting out the pump. The bottle holds about 12 oz of liquid. When pressing the pump a full press dispenses a good amount of soap, about a ½ teaspoon. Overall, the pump works well and looks great with my stainless steel sink.

Buy it at Amazon: I-Rocket Kitchen Sink Soap Dispenser Installation and [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Clear, stable connection, low latency for spot on video sync.

Taotronics Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver TT-BT12 Review

Buy it at Amazon: Taotronics Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver TT-BT12 [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Clear, stable connection, low latency for spot on video sync.

This transmitter/receiver has a very small form factor and comes with a 1/8" jack to RCA adapter and short AUX audio cable. It has a sleek aluminum housing that's durable and reminds me of the iPod shuffle. I got this unit to use with my movie projector (for transmitting) because it doesn't have Bluetooth built-in, and I hate running a long wire to the soundbar at the front of the room whenever we use it. The transmitter plugs right into the 1/8" audio out port and has its own internal battery so it can be used without additional wires, but if you're worried about it running out of battery or use it often, you can run the unit while it's charging, although the fewer wires you use the less chance you'll have for interference in the sound signal. In my normal setup I don't leave it plugged in for this reason. With the speaker across the room, the transmitter connected to and maintained its connection without any drops in the connection. There was also very low latency that is nearly undetectable so the video and audio are synced up, although at times I felt it was maybe a few milliseconds off. That's still way better than the nearly 0.5 sec lag that I was experiencing with other BT transmitters I've tried in the past. You can also pair it to a up to two sets of Bluetooth headphones for quiet movie watching which I thought was neat.

While I wasn't planning on really using the receiver function I tried it out anyway and found that it works great as well. I hooked it up to the AUX-in of my wired non-BT headphones, and it worked fine for streaming music and audio from my phone. Again, watching video wasn't too bad and the audio sounded in sync with the video. Overall, I felt both the transmitting and receiving function worked fine and delivered clear, consistent audio performance with little to no delay from the source.

Buy it at Amazon: Taotronics Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver TT-BT12 [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hovinso TSA007 4-digit Combination Luggage Locks Review

Hovinso TSA007 4-digit Combination Luggage Locks Review

Buy it at Amazon: Hovinso TSA007 4-digit Combination Luggage Locks [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Durable all-metal locks, easy to change the combination, smooth rolling tumblers.

You'll receive a pair of identical TSA007 combination padlocks and an instruction sheet. The lock is solidly made from an all-metal housing and shackle and weighs about 2 ounces. The standard tumbler allows the TSA to open it with a special key to inspect your luggage without cutting/breaking non-compliant locks off. I've made the switch to TSA locks as the last time I was using an older suitcase with a built-in zipper lock, and they literally cut the zippers off my bag (even though they didn't have to) rendering it useless for future travel. Not only did I have to get a new suitcase, but I made sure to get these compliant locks to go with it.

The initial combination code for the locks ‘0000.' The numbers each roll smoothly and gently 'click' into place. To change it, pull on the shackle to open it, turn it 90 degrees towards you and press down until it clicks. Then just turn the tumblers until your desired code is lined up on the side with the little arrow and re-lock the shackle. These locks are light duty but enough to keep the zippers on your bag from opening, preventing easy access theft. However, note that these probably won't hold up to a bolt cutter or a hammer if your entire bag gets stolen.

Buy it at Amazon: Hovinso TSA007 4-digit Combination Luggage Locks [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Monday, January 1, 2018

Bestek 6 Qt Electric Pressure Cooker Review

Bestek 6 Qt Electric Pressure Cooker Review

Buy it at Amazon: Bestek 6 Qt Electric Pressure Cooker [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Cooks fast, easy to use, versatile for lots of recipes; easy to clean.

The electric pressure cooker has a nice stainless steel exterior and glossy black plastic base, handles, and upper lid. This cooker has a capacity of 6 qts and measures 14" tall with an 11" diameter. It comes with a steamer rack, 4 ft power cord, plastic ladle, rice scooper, and measuring cup. You'll also receive an instruction manual and recipe book.

On the bottom of the lid is a removable silicone seal gasket which makes it easy to clean. The inside bowl simply lifts out and has measurement lines for cooking rice and for the capacity of the bowl up to 4/5 full. The inside of the cooker has the heating element on the bottom and a non-stick coating on the inner surface that cleans up fast with a simple wipe down. On the outside on the front bottom right is a holder for the rice scooper. The manual is readable, but isn't the best English translation. However, the functions are by and large self-explanatory. There are presets like soup, porridge, bean/tendon, cake, rice, multigrain, tenderloin/mutton, and chicken/duck. There's also a Nutritious Cooking button which allows you to select from 4 presets: Stew Desserts, Steamed Egg, Steamed Spareribs, and Steamed Fish which seem a bit unnecessarily specific. The 'Preset Time' button allows you to delay the start of cooking up to 24 hours in 5 minute increments ('-' adds hours and '+' adds 5 minutes). The pressure holding time it the amount of time you want your food under pressure, adjustable in 1 minute increments. Selected pressure allows you to switch between low/high pressure at 30kPa to 80kPa. There's also a keep warm mode but it has a max time of 2 hours after which it shuts off automatically.

With any preset you can change the default values by using the other setting keys to customize the function for your recipe. Making rice in it is fast and simple, though the water recommendation lines tend to result in very wet, soft rice so I generally use about 1/2 cup less water for white rice. I also tried making the beef stew in the recipe book. The book recipes are full of typos and small mistakes like missing words and misspellings, but the ingredients list and steps are generally follow-able, even if the photos aren't always representative of the recipe listed next to it.

So far I've made beef stew, steamed chocolate cake, hard boiled eggs, rice, mashed potatoes, and chili in the pressure cooker and they all came out pretty tasty. Overall, the pressure cooker is pretty versatile in what you can make in it, and it's simple and straightforward to use. It's also cleans up easily, and I haven't had a problem with anything burning or sticking to the stainless steel pot. So far, I haven't been disappointed with anything I've cooked in it.

Buy it at Amazon: Bestek 6 Qt Electric Pressure Cooker [Affiliate Link]
Share:

Blog Archive

Ads

Get Email Notifications