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, May 30, 2018

FeiyuTech vimble 2 Smartphone Handheld Gimbal Review

FeiyuTech vimble 2 Smartphone Handheld Gimbal Review

Buy it at Amazon: FeiyuTech Vimble 2 Smartphone Handheld Gimbal [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Eliminates shaky movements and creates smooth motion video with your phone, but Bluetooth is unreliable and app crashes often.

The Vimble 2 comes in a semi-rigid zippered carrying case that's got a handle on one side, though no shoulder strap. Inside you'll find the gimbal, a wriststrap, a small tripod with ¼"-20 screw that can be attached to the bottom of the gimbal. When folded up, it extends the length of the handle by several inches allowing for a better two-handed grip and when open you can stand the gimbal up hands-free. In the zipper pocket you'll find the microUSB charging cable and instructions manuals in Chinese and English. On my unit, the tilt axis motor's metal accent cover wasn't adhered properly and had fallen off, though I was successfully able to stick it back on. Other than that, the construction is mostly a lightweight plastic, with a rubberized phone grip that can accommodate phones with widths of 2.25" to 3.25" and with max weight up to 210g. On the side against the motor is another rubber bumper for your phone to rest against. There's a microUSB port covered by a rubber door on top of the mounting arm that's supposed to allow you to charge your phone off the gimbal's battery, but it requires a special cable which is not included. All three axes have a limit of 320° rotation and cannot continuously rotate in the same direction past a certain point, so you won't be able to get 360° pans or revolutions and may encounter resistance or odd behavior from the gimbal in certain positions that approach those limits.

The mounting arm can be extended about 1.5cm to allow you to balance the roll-axis depending on the weight of the phone you use. The positions are marked so that you can easily set it to the same spot each time you attach your phone. The mounting bracket can also be rotated 90° to put your phone in portrait mode for filming vertical video and panoramic photos. On the handle are the LED status light, 4-way joystick for manipulating the position of your phone, a mode key, and a Bluetooth shutter/record key. On the right side is a slider that allows you to adjust the zoom of the camera when the gimbal is paired to your phone over Bluetooth and on the left hand side is the microUSB charging port for the gimbal's battery covered by a rubber door. Opposit the thumb controls is a trigger accessible with your index finger for locking the orientation of the camera. Towards the bottom of the handle is a small bridge where you can attach the wriststrap for extra security. In the hand, the gimbal is pretty light at 0.5 lb and is comfortable to hold and operate. Charging takes several hours, and when the battery is full, it can run for 5-10 hours depending on usage. This gimbal also serves as a selfie-stick with a telescoping handle that adds an extra 7 inches of reach while stabilizing. The column extends and retracts by simply pulling and pushing the pan axis motor in and out of the handle.

Due to the restrictive size of the phone mount, for most larger phones you'll find that you need to remove your phone case in order for it to fit in the bracket. Another issue I found was that due to the camera and charging port placement on my phone, I wasn't able to charge my phone in landscape mode while using the gimbal. In portrait mode, however, charging the phone would not have been an issue. Before turning on the gimbal, you may need to do some minor balancing by adjusting the side-to-side position of the mounting arm to get your phone as close to level as possible; however, it doesn't need to be perfect. You'll need to download the Vicool app and pair to it via Bluetooth if you want to use all the features of the gimbal. Unfortunately, I found the Bluetooth performance on the gimbal to be inconsistent, sometimes pairing, and sometimes not pairing and oftentimes disconnecting at some point during use. Some features are not available if the gimbal isn't connected to the app via Bluetooth either, for example zooming with the slider on the handle, using the onboard shutter for snapping photos or starting and stopping video. Bluetooth is also required for adjusting the gimbal and camera settings like motor power and speed, calibration, and wireless updating of the gimbal's firmware.

In addition to normal photo mode in the Vicool app, there's also a panoramic and time lapse photo mode. For time-lapse videos, you can setup the pan and tilt speeds in the auto rotation menu. The time-lapse function worked well and resulted in a pretty cool fast-forward style rotating video clip. The other feature that I though worked well was the face tracking feature, although your face has to be well lit and you should be at least several feet away from the camera otherwise it may not follow you correctly. One feature that didn't work at all during my testing was the object follow feature. You would think that because face tracking worked, this would work just as well, however, I couldn't get it to capture or follow any object and most of the time the app would just crash when I entered the mode. In general the app doesn't seem to be entirely stable most times and in addition to the Bluetooth connection cutting out, the app would also crash fairly reguarly, like in the middle of filming which was frustrating.

As for stabilization performance, the gimbal did a nice job with its primary function. There's a few quirks with setting the pan, yaw and tilt speeds just right and you have to try and avoid approaching the rotational limits otherwise the gimbal can change position unexpectedly, but with practice you can get pretty smooth shots. The deal breaker for the app though is that the video recorded in the app doesn't have great quality. The compression used dropped plenty of frames making footage look choppy. The video captured using the stock Android camera app with the gimbal was much smoother with a consistent frame rate, but the drawback is that you cannot use the onboard shutter and zoom controls. Overall, as a stabilizer the Vimble 2 will remove most of the shake and wobble from handheld filming with your phone. The Bluetooth connection isn't the best and the app could use a lot of work as it crashes a lot and doesn't capture great quality video. However, if you can live without the physical zoom and shutter controls, there's no reason why you can't use a different camera app while stabilizing with the gimbal.

Buy it at Amazon: FeiyuTech Vimble 2 Smartphone Handheld Gimbal [Affiliate Link]
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DIY Washer Clutch Liner Replacement and Review

DIY Washer Clutch Liner Replacement and Review

Buy it at Amazon: DIY Washer Clutch Liner Replacement [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Quick and simple repair for my washer to make it spin again, works great.

In this repair/replacement kit you'll receive a brake cam driver, blue spring for large capacity washers, green spring for compact washers, clutch band and lining, 2 clutch spring caps, and two rubber inserts. Some assembly is required though no instructions for this are provided. The problem I've been having with my Kenmore 90 series washer is that is drains but doesn't spin (even though it sounds like it does), so the clothes inside are very wet after the cycle ends. After inspecting the coupler between the motor and transmission and finding no damage, I removed the motor and found that the clutch had worn out because I was able to spin the inner lining freely with just my finger.

For my unit, I used the larger blue spring (matched my old clutch liner). For assembly, first install the caps on to the post ends of the clutch liner. Next insert the appropriate sized length of rubber into the center of the spring coil you will be using. Then place the spring between the spring caps.

Disassembling my washer (which I did in advance to diagnose the problem) took about 20 minutes. Installing the new clutch liner took seconds. The only thing to be aware of is that when installed, the smooth sides of the brake pads should be facing up; on the bottom side the pads have ridges. I did not install the replacement brake cam driver because the existing one looks to be in good shape. Once I put my washer back together and started it up it ran beautifully and successfully spins in the spin/drain cycle. This was my first washer repair and I would say it's a straightforward repair suitable for beginners. Overall this replacement lining kit worked great for this quick and simple repair.

Buy it at Amazon: DIY Washer Clutch Liner Replacement [Affiliate Link]
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Separatec Dual Pouch Everyday Boxer Briefs Review

Separatec Dual Pouch Everyday Boxer Briefs Review

Buy it at Amazon: Separatec Dual Pouch Everyday Boxer Briefs [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Two pouch design improves airflow, comfort, and freedom of movement while keeping you cool and dry.

Separatec's Everyday dual-pouch boxer briefs set includes 7 boldly colored pairs of underwear; so, if you like to coordinate, you have plenty of options and can choose something different for each day of the week. These soft-to-the-touch intimates are made with 96% cotton, 4% spandex for a silky smooth and stretchy feel perfect for an active lifestyle. The easy tear off tags mean you'll never have to worry about scratchy uncomfortable tags ruining your day.

The main feature on these undergarments are the dual-pouch system which separates the male anatomy with port hole access to the front pouch for your member and separate lower support pouch for your goods. This design promotes air flow, reducing heat buildup, and dryness by wicking away excess moisture, keeping you cool and dry. The minimal flat seams are neither scratchy nor noticeable during wear, and the front pouch lifts up from the bottom for easy access so you can let it all hang out. The unique contouring of the garment gently lifts and provides support where you need it most and prevents uncomfortable ride ups in the rear and around your legs so you don't have to constantly readjust yourself. After extensive wear and testing, I can definitely vouch for the comfort and freedom of movement experienced during exercise and daily activities while wearing these. Overall these undies are eye-catching, comfortable, and functionally designed.

Buy it at Amazon: Separatec Dual Pouch Everyday Boxer Briefs [Affiliate Link]
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Monday, May 21, 2018

MuveAcoustics A+ Bluetooth Speaker Review

MuveAcoustics A+ Bluetooth Speaker Review

Buy it at Amazon: MuveAcoustics A+ Bluetooth Speaker [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Compact, clear/bright sound, fine for video but some distortion at high volume.

You'll receive the speaker, gold-plated male-to-male audio cable, microUSB charging cable, and instruction manual. The speaker is small and compact, measuring 3.25" square and 1.25" thick. It is made from a lightweight plastic with a nylon fabric wrap and small hanging loop that snaps down using a metal button clasp. On the front is the 4W driver and the silver logo in the bottom left is the power button. On the back is the AUX-in port for wired connection and microUSB charging port. The unit has a 500 mAh internal battery which can last up to 7 hours of continuous music playback depending on volume level. The battery takes about 2.5 hours to charge fully. On top you have plus and minus keys for volume control.

The speaker is pretty simple to use. Just press the power button for 3 seconds to turn it on. Then in your phone's Bluetooth menu, select "MuveAcoustics: A+" Once connected, you'll be able to stream music and audio from your phone to the speaker wirelessly. The wireless range of this speaker is about 30 ft and in general the connection is stable and reliable. The sound quality is clear and bright which is decent for a speaker this size. It gets pretty loud too and can fill a small room, but with the volume at the max setting or when there's a lot of mid-bass and sub-bass in the track, you'll tend to hear some distortion in the audio and vibrations from the lightweight housing. While there is no track navigation on the speaker, you can control play/pause by short pressing the power button. You can also answer incoming calls when paired to a phone by pressing the power button and there's a microphone built into the speaker for hands-free calling.

When watching video, I found that there wasn't much noticeable lag between the video and the audio and they seemed to be in sync. For a no-frills basic portable Bluetooth speaker, the MuveAcoustics A+ is a tiny pocket-able unit that delivers decent quality and audio performance.

Buy it at Amazon: MuveAcoustics A+ Bluetooth Speaker [Affiliate Link]
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Friday, May 18, 2018

Smart WiFi Socket with USB Port (AWP01L) Review

Smart WiFi Socket with USB Port (AWP01L) Review

Buy it at Amazon: Smart WiFi Socket with USB Port (AWP01L) [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy to set up and use, responds quickly, reliable connection.

You'll receive the WiFi outlet and a brief instruction manual. This outlet has a plastic housing and measures 2.5"L x 2.25"W x 1.25"D. It has a three prong grounded plug and is power rated 120VAC at 60Hz. The output of the socket in the front is 120V and 10A and the output of the USB port on top is 5V and 1A. Next to the USB port is the power button and LED status light. This smart socket is super simplet o setup and is basically plug-and-play. The power button on top allows you to manually switch the socket on or off. To set up the socket on your home WiFi network and control it remotely, you'll need to download and install the Smart Life app to a mobile device.

Just plug the device into any outlet, and the LED light should start flashing quickly. If it's blinking slowly, this means it's in AP connection mode which allows you to connect directly to its WiFi but this mode won't add the device to your home network. To switch modes to WiFi connection mode, press and hold the power button for 5 seconds until the status light flashes green then orange once. Now the light should be flashing quickly. Due to the size of the adapter, I recommend plugging it into the top outlet in a dual panel configuration so that you have access to the second socket unimpeded. Setup in the Smart Life app takes less than a minute and once you've named your device, you'll use that name as the callout for Alexa voice commands. Just make sure you have the Smart Life skill enabled in your Alexa app and run discovery mode to add the outlet to your list of devices. In the app you can also set repeating daily/weekly schedules for on/off time or countdown timers for one-off timed usage. Note however, neither the app nor voice commands affect the power output of the USB port, which always delivers power as long as the device is plugged in. All the functions worked exactly as expected. Overall, the outlet worked great on my network and with the rest of my Alexa enabled devices, so I'm able to control it from anywhere that I have an internet connection.

Buy it at Amazon: Smart WiFi Socket with USB Port (AWP01L) [Affiliate Link]
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Monday, May 14, 2018

Xgody S800 True Wireless Earbuds Review

Xgody S800 True Wireless Earbuds Review

Buy it at Amazon: Xgody S800 True Wireless Earbuds [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Decent sound reproduction and battery life on a budget, lightweight, but occasional connectivity blips.

You'll receive two individual ear pieces, one for left and one for right, a dual-charging microUSB cable, two extra sets of silicone eartips, and an instruction manual.
The earpieces are made mostly of plastic with a rubber ear hook that is fairly flexible. Each earpiece has a microphone, status LED, charging port, and multifunction button on the outside of the driver. The earphones come pre-installed with the medium size eartips, but you'll also get a small and a large size. Before first use, you'll want to charge the headsets up using the included cable which can charge both units at the same time. This takes about 90 minutes and a full charge can last up to 6 hours of continuous playback, depending on volume level and up to 5 days of standby time.

To pair these together and to your phone, first select which earpiece you want to be the primary one that connects to your phone and press the power button for five seconds to enter pairing mode. The prompts are fairly loud so I recommend doing this while not in your ears. Then go to your phone's Bluetooth menu and pair with ‘S800'. Then, to pair the second earpiece to the first, simply power it on and it should connect to the first automatically; I found this operation to be quick and reliable, always within 1 second of turning on the second earpiece. After this, you can simply power on both earpieces and they'll connect with your phone automatically going forward.

When wearing the headsets, the large bulky side wraps around your ear in order to keep it in place during rigorous activity like running and working out. They're also sweatproof and water-resistant rated IPX67. I thought the main body attached to the hooks would be big and uncomfortable but I really didn't notice them much. I did notice that the passive noise isolation isn't impressive and even with the ear tips creating a good seal, I could still hear plenty going on around me. That is, until I started playing music. At moderate volumes, ambient sounds are blocked almost completely. In fact, the earpieces can get quite loud and I never had to turn it up to max volume, which could potentially damage your hearing. That said I never had the volume up high enough for there to be any distortion. Note though too, that there is no volume control on the earpieces themselves and volume is controlled solely by your transmitting device. I found the sound quality to be round and well-balanced with a full bass, although the mid ranges tended to sound slightly muffled. While enjoyable most of the time, the signal was occasionally unreliable with the sound periodically dropping from one or both earpieces for a fraction of a second before resuming, even while I was sitting still with my phone nearby. This resulted in a somewhat inconsistent listening experience.

Overall, these wireless earpieces did a decent job with sound reproduction and are light weight and comfortable to wear. If you can deal with an occasional blip in the audio they're not bad for the price since they give you freedom from wires and a decent amount of run time between charges.

Buy it at Amazon: Xgody S800 True Wireless Earbuds [Affiliate Link]
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Friday, May 11, 2018

Sbode M350 Bluetooth Shower Speaker Review

Sbode M350 Bluetooth Shower Speaker Review

Buy it at Amazon: Sbode M350 Bluetooth Shower Speaker [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Compact, clear/bright sound, fully featured waterproof travel speaker.

The Bluetooth speaker comes with a microUSB charging cable, male-to-male audio cable, and instruction manual. The speaker is a compact cylinder with a fabric wrapped grill exterior and rubberized top and bottom rims. Inside are two 6W drivers and dual passive radiators located on the top and bottom. It's got a chunky knit wrist strap loop, and below that you'll find a rubber door to protects the USB charging port, AUX-in port, status LED, SD card slot, and pinhole reset. While this speaker has a waterproof rating of IPX6, and can get wet but not fully submerged, it is only water resistant if the rubber door remains closed. When charging, the LED indicator will be orange and turns off when the battery is fully charged. The unit will take about 4 hours to charge and lasts up to 6 hours of continuous playback at 70% volume.

On the opposite side from the ports are the playback controls: power/mode key, plus and minus for volume and track navigation, and play/pause button. There are 4 audio source modes for the speaker: Bluetooth, FM radio, TF card, and Aux-In. Switching between modes is performed by short pressing the power key. In all modes, the sound from the speaker is clear and bright with boosted high frequencies that add a touch of extra sibilance in the upper ranges. The volume on this speaker can get decently loud too without much distortion creeping into the audio. The bass ranges are a bit lacking in presence, but despite this bass beats are generally tight and punchy. What impressed me was the clarity and sound quality from the FM radio mode. I was expecting the grainy muffled audio that you sometimes get from portable radios, but when used in areas witha strong signal like outdoors or near a window, the stations it picked up were crystal clear and sounded CD quality. Of course, if the signal is not so good, there's plenty of static and the speaker is a bit picky when it comes to location, orientation, and what objects are nearby that might amplify the signal (oftentimes, holding my hand above the speaker gave the signal enough boost for clear audio, but I'm not going ot hover my hand over it constantly just to listen to NPR). In radio mode, you scan for local radio stations by pressing and holding the play/pause button and it'll store any decently strong signals it encounters. After the speaker has found all available stations you scroll through them the same way you'd skip tracks in a playlist, by short pressing the plus and minus buttons. You cannot, however, choose which stations to save and which to discard. In all modes, volume can be adjusted by long pressing the plus and minus keys.

One cool feature of this speaker is if you have a two of them, you can pair them together for true stereo playback with one playing the left audio channel and the other playing the right channel, but unfortunately I don't have a second unit with which to try out this feature. I have seen this feature on other speakers and have liked having that capability, but I can't vouch for the ease of setup or connection quality using the Sbode M350s from my own experience. The speaker also supports wireless calling when connected to a phone over Bluetooth and call quality is clear without too much lag. Overall, this compact speaker has a lot of features and surprisingly good audio performance packed into its small frame. Its weatherproof and durable design makes it great for travel, using outdoors, or even in the shower. Just keep in mind that it does not sound as awesome when it is waterlogged, just FYI!

Buy it at Amazon: Sbode M350 Bluetooth Shower Speaker [Affiliate Link]
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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Tocode Leather and Canvas Messenger Bag Review

Tocode Leather and Canvas Messenger Bag Review

Buy it at Amazon: Tocode Leather and Canvas Messenger Bag [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Rugged and durable, classic traveler style messenger bag; roomy, though a bit hefty.

This messenger bag comes with a fabric shoulder strap with leather shoulder pad that adjusts from 33" to 55" in length. The bag measures 14"H x 11"W x 5"D and is slightly narrower near the top. The bag is made of a heavy-duty waterproofed canvas with a leather accent on the side flop, leather straps, and leather handle. As a result, the bag is quite heavy, even when empty, weighing in at about 2.25 lbs. The finish on the bag is slightly distressed with scuffs and scratches meant to simulate frequent travel and wear. The fixtures on the bag are made of brass and the two buckles on the front side close via magnets.

Inside the bag, there's a small zippered pocket along the back, then a laptop sleeve with padded divider and Velcro strap, the main cavity of the bag, and finally two small open pockets in front with a pen holder in between. On the back of the bag is an additional zippered pocket. This bag can fit a lot of your essentials in it, like a laptop or tablet, cell phone, several books, and a water bottle. Because the canvas is treated with a waterproof sealer, when you get water on it, it rolls off and any water that remains due to surface tension can be easily wiped off and is not absorbed by the fabric. It'll probably be fine in a light rain but the bag isn't completely watertight and cannot be submerged. Overall, the materials used are high-quality and it feels rugged and durable. The workmanship of the bag is quite good too and the classic look goes great with most casual outfits. I find the bag works great for daily use or travel.

Buy it at Amazon: Tocode Leather and Canvas Messenger Bag [Affiliate Link]
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Indigo True Large Bamboo Cutting Board Review

Indigo True Large Bamboo Cutting Board Review

Buy it at Amazon: Indigo True Large Bamboo Cutting Board [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Large cutting surface, nice quality, medium durability w/shallow juice groove.

The cutting board measures about 18" x 14" and is 3/4" thick. The board weighs about 4 lbs, so it's on the heavier side. The bottom of the board is smooth though, so you may find that it slides a bit on hard counter tops. What you can do is simply set a damp dish cloth underneath to keep the board from sliding while you're cutting. Around the inside edge of the board is a drip groove that in total can catch about 1 oz of liquid which is usually fine for raw meats but isn't quite enough for catching and reserving drippings from juicy roasts and cooked meats. Indigo True's logo is engraved in the lower left hand corner on the front.

The board is composed of multiple layers of pressed and glued bamboo pieces. While it feels solid, keep in mind there are mant seams between the pieces which may crack or split. For that reason, you should take care not to put the board in the dishwasher, soak it in water for long periods of time, and periodically re-hydrate the board with a cutting board oil or mineral oil. This will also help it keep a waterproof surface and prevent the proliferation of bacteria. I really like the large size of the cutting board as it gives me a lot of room to work with and we use this board daily. You can also cut on the backside of the board too if you don't need the juice groove or want to use it as a large serving tray. I've had the board for a few months now, and so far haven't had any problems with it. The board is durable, easy to work on, and meets most of my needs during cooking prep.

Buy it at Amazon: Indigo True Large Bamboo Cutting Board [Affiliate Link]
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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Waerator W2 Electric Wine Aerator Dispenser Review

Waerator W2 Electric Wine Aerator Dispenser Review

Buy it at Amazon: Waerator W2 Electric Wine Aerator Dispenser [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Simple to use, easy to clean, good aeration of the wine for instant 'breathing'.

This is my second electric wine aerator. It's a little smaller than the other one that I own but it works about the same. The aerator is simple to use with its one-touch button and only requires 4 AAA batteries (not included). It will supposedly dispense up to 250 bottles of wine (750 ml) on a new set of batteries but it will take me a long time to figure out if that's actually true! I like that there are two sets of dispensing tubes, a hard one for wine and a soft one for other types of glass bottles which may be shorter or uniquely shaped, like for whiskey, beer, and spirits. I like the metal body of this unit, rather than the plastic of the less expensive unit I have because it looks nicer and feels more durable.

The unit is easy to clean since you just have to run plain water through the it instead of wine. I've used the "manual" wine aerators a bunch like the Vinturi and Rabbit and while they all pretty much do the same thing and in my opinion improve the flavor of the wine by opening up its flavors and soften its edges, the electric aerators are less messy and prevent drips and spills better. I did notice on occasion that a drop of wine would slowly settle into the tip of the dispensing nozzle after a few minutes so you do have to watch out for that if you want to ensure stains are avoided, especially if you're using a tablecloth. I also found the pump on this unit to be slightly loud and may interrupt conversation, but since the wine pumps out quickly to fill your glass, it only runs for about 5-10 seconds at a time.

Buy it at Amazon: Waerator W2 Electric Wine Aerator Dispenser [Affiliate Link]
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Monday, May 7, 2018

ehomful SQ11 Mini DV HD Sports Camera Review

ehomful SQ11 Mini DV HD Sports Camera Review

Buy it at Amazon: ehomful SQ11 Mini DV HD Sports Camera [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Compact, smooth footage, decent video, audio, and battery life; short range night vision.

You'll receive the mini camera, an alligator clip mount, a wall mount, a reset pin tool, USB charging/video cable, USB microSD card reader, and an instruction leaflet. The camera unit is super compact and lightweight measuring a little less than a cubic inch and weighing 3/4 oz. The exterior has soft-touch rubber coating and a single rainbow accent stripe sticker. On the front of the unit is the camera lens which is able to take 12 MP photos and 1080p video surrounded by a ring of infrared lights for night vision and motion detection. On the left hand side you have the 8-pin USB charging port, pin hole reset, wrist strap sling, and microSD card slot. Note that an SD card is not included, but the unit requires one up to 32GB to function. On top are two buttons: the power button and mode button and LED status light.

The unit has a 200 mAh battery inside that lasted a little over 90 minutes when recording continuously in 1080p. Charging the unit fully takes about 2-3 hours and the LED should be a solid red when complete. There are three modes: 720p video, 1080p video, and still photo mode. For each of the video modes you can also activate motion detection and/or the night vision IR lights. The battery saver feature shuts the camera off if it is not recording and no buttons are pressed for 1 minute. The quality of the video and audio is decent for such a tiny unit with a 30 frames per second frame rate that results in smooth object motion. There doesn't seem to be much difference between the 720p and 1080p video, maybe a slight increase in detail and obviously the dimension are different for the video file. The IR lights for night vision only reflect a certain distance, so the camera may need to be fairly close to the subject in order to get a clear picture (within 4 ft). For motion detection, each triggered video will be 1-5 minutes long depending on when the camera stops detecting motion in the scene.

You also have the option of using timestamps in your videos/photos but you will need a computer. After loading the SD card in the unit a text file will be created called TIMEREST.txt. To set the correct date and time, open the file and change the string of numbers to the current year, month, date, military hour, minute, and second. Then to turn this feature on the following character should be a ‘Y' or change it to ‘N' if you don't want it in your videos before saving the file.

The clip mount snaps onto the camera easily and lets you access all the buttons and ports while installed. You can then clip this to your shirt or backpack for easy carrying. It also works in conjunction with the wall mount which has a slight degree of angle adjustment via the ball head joint. One thing to note though is that the unit does get fairly hot to the touch while in operation. Also because there's no spring in the SD card slot you do have to pry it out with your fingernail which can be a little tricky. Overall this mini camera performed nicely and while from the front it's pretty obvious that this is a camera, without the LEDs on when it is recording, the camera is fairly discreet.

Buy it at Amazon: ehomful SQ11 Mini DV HD Sports Camera [Affiliate Link]
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Friday, May 4, 2018

Superbody Men's Swim Trunks Review

Superbody Men's Swim Trunks Review

Buy it at Amazon: Superbody Men's Swim Trunks [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Good fit, comfortable, quick drying, but small pockets.

I ordered the swim trunks in size medium, which is according to Asian sizing should fit 28-30" waists and is equivalent to US men's small or extra small sizes.and runs a bit small for US sizes. The trunks come in two color choices, green with white and orange accents or blue with black and white accents. The trunks have the words ‘Take Seriously' embroidered in the front (go figure!). The only other accent on the front is a stitched in overlay athletic number '9' on the outside of the front left cuff. The material on these is a thin and lightweight quick dry fabric. The waistband is fully elastic and a fairly wide 1.75". The waistband cinches on the inside front via a hidden drawstring. The front features a false fly with the stitching but no actual opening. Inside, there is a mesh privacy lining made of black athletic mesh that is soft to the touch and eschews the need to wear underwear. In general, the seams and sewing work is pretty good with only a few stray threads that needed to be trimmed upon receipt. On either side of the garment is a shallow side pocket, and on the back there is an open top pocket on the right-hand side. The outseam is about 15" and cuts at about mid-thigh with a short 4" in-seam and 10" wide legs that can be expanded an additional 2" via the side zippers.

The medium size was accurate and fit nicely on my 28" waist though it stretches enough to probably accommodate a 30" waist comfortably. With the drawstring tied, it can be hidden on the inside of the trunks for a seamless look, and it's decently snug; I didn't feel like the suit could easily be pulled off by a big wave or fast moving water and it didn't slide down despite some rigorous tugging. The pockets are a bit too small though to be very useful for carrying things like your cell phone or wallet. The overall workmanship for the garment is good and the material dries fairly quickly which make these really nice for the pool and beach. The shorter leg length also allows for greater freedom of movement especially when being active like running on the beach or playing beach volleyball

Buy it at Amazon: Superbody Men's Swim Trunks [Affiliate Link]
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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Gabbay Silicone Kitchen Utensil Tool Set Review

Gabbay Silicone Kitchen Utensil Tool Set Review

Buy it at Amazon: Gabbay Silicone Kitchen Utensil Tool Set [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Durable, high-heat resistant, non-scratch, and easy to clean kitchen utensils.

In this tool set you'll receive a slotted pancake flipper, large rubber spatula, small rubber spatula, slotted spoon, ladle, sauce spoon, pasta spoon, tongs, basting brush, wire whisk, and stainless steel measuring spoons. The tools are all coated in a non-stick, easy-to-clean heat resistant silicone rubber. You should clean and check them for small bits around the edges that might peel off during before first use. The measuring spoons and handles on the whisk and tongs are made from stainless steel and resist rusting. Overall all the cooking utensils feel heavy-duty and able to withstand a lot of use. They perform well in high temperatures and are generally lightweight, but do take up a lot of space in a drawer. However, the silicone is very easy to clean and even dishwasher safe. These utensils also won't scratch any of your non-stick pots and pans.

Buy it at Amazon: Gabbay Silicone Kitchen Utensil Tool Set [Affiliate Link]
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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

HDX Internal Pipe Wrench Nipple Removal Tool Review

HDX Internal Pipe Wrench Nipple Removal Tool Review

Buy it at Amazon: HDX Internal Pipe Wrench Nipple Removal Tool [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: This tool makes it easy to remove stuck, broken, or frozen in place small pipes and pipe nipples.

As part of a shutoff valve repair, I was having trouble removing a pipe nipple from the wall under my bathroom sink. I went off to Home Depot to get an internal pipe wrench set to remove the pipe nipple that connects the shutoff valve to the pipes inside the wall. I ended up getting their in-house HDX brand. In this pack you receive a 3/8", 1/2", and 3/4" pipe wrench tool. My pipes are 3/8" diameter, so I used the smallest one. It's real simple, you just stick the gear side of the tool into the pipe, then fit a wrench to the hex part that sticks out. Then twist counter-clockwise like you're unscrewing the pipe. The gears will catch on the inside of the pipe and give you the leverage you need to twist it off, even if it's stuck from overtightening or sediment build up. After a few turns I was able to remove the rest of the pipe nipple by hand. To extract the tool from the nipple, grasp the pipe in one hand and twist the tool clockwise to loosen and remove it (you may need a pair of channel locks or rubber grip pad if the pipe is slippery). Overall, the internal pipe wrench did exactly what I needed it to. It allowed me to remove a difficult to unscrew pipe nipple in just under a minute.

Buy it at Amazon: HDX Internal Pipe Wrench Nipple Removal Tool [Affiliate Link]
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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Totobay Ear Plugs Review

Totobay Ear Plugs Review

Buy it at Amazon: Totobay Ear Plugs [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Versatile set, handy case, work well and comfortable fit.

I just used these on a recent trip to Iceland and the flight earplugs (blue) were great on the plane. They look a little funny and to be honest, hurt a little when I put them in my ears because they're fully sealed and put a little pressure on my inner eardrum. However, during take off, ascension, and landing, I didn't experience any pressure change or ear pain like I normally do and that was a huge relief for me. The other two ear plugs worked fine too. I like the "noise-canceling" attenuating (clear) ones when I want to reduce noise stress on my ears but still want to be able to hear some ambient noise and conversation. These are similar to the professional musicians earplugs I use when going to concerts and loud events. The third set (orange) was good when during the flight I wanted to block out almost all noise and sleep. The triple flange made them fit pretty comfortably in my ears. The only thing I wish these had were a way to tether the earpieces together so you can't drop one and lose it. The little case is great, but too small as it really only fits one or maybe two sets if you cram them in there. Not that you often need to swap between all three during a single event, so it's not a big deal. The clip fits nicely on my key chain, and I carry the orange and clear pairs with me at all times because you never know when you might need some hearing protection.

Buy it at Amazon: Totobay Ear Plugs [Affiliate Link]
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