Potentially Deadly Power Bank

This USB power bank resembles a normal battery bank, but it has a “unique” feature that makes it potentially deadly. The hottest I measured this battery at was about 80°C / 175°F – and lithium ion batteries do not like heat.

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Are Dual-Lens Dash Cams Worth the Money?

In most cases dual lens dash cams are a bit too expensive to be worthwhile because they do not offer the same video quality as single channel dash cams. They usually:

  • Have lower video quality (resolution or bitrate) than 2x single cams that are the same price or less expensive
  • Have lower reliability because more data is being written to a single micro SD card
  • Have a lower quality image sensor for the back cams.

The benefit to dual lens cameras is their ease of use to set up compared to 2x single cams. Everything is done in a single body, including wiring, memory cards and wi-fi connections.

Dual lens dash cams will usually not be the best choice for the money until a camera with a reasonable price point and high resolution becomes available. It is cheaper to install two standard cameras instead and the result is far better video quality. There are several 1080p and 1440p cameras available for less than $100 per piece that will have significantly better video. If you’re buying a dual lens dash cam buy it for the other features it offers, not just because it has two cameras built into one.


All About Micro SD Cards and Dash Cams

I’ve been asked this question a few times this week so I wanted to clear up some of the confusion around micro SD cards. There are a few points that this video covers:

  • Transcend High Endurance cards are the current recommended cards
  • MLC cards are best
  • Do not use Sandisk Ultra cards in your camera
  • Lexar 633x are decent cheaper cards but not MLC
  • If a card doesn’t advertise MLC it probably isn’t
  • Avoid knockoffs by ensuring you are buying from a legit retailer

Where to buy:

Recommended SD card USA | Alternative MLC SD card USA 
Recommended SD card Canada | Alternative MLC SD card Canada

See the full list of recommended micro SD cards here.

Video Transcript:

Micro SD cards are a fairly confusing topic when it comes to dash cams because there are so many options available.

The best cards for dash cams currently available are the Transcend High Endurance cards. These cards are well reviewed in terms of speed and reliability and are recommended on several dash cam enthusiast websites. Unfortunately I don’t have one myself as they’re a bit difficult to get in Canada at a reasonable price so I just printed out this picture of one for you to see. Also, I recommend getting a minimum of 32GB, and 64 if your camera supports it.

I’m going to get into some technical info about SD cards but the main point of this video is don’t cheap out. It was a mistake I made when I first started buying dash cam gear: when I got my dash cam, I also bought a Sandisk Ultra card. These things are cheap for a reason, and are unreliable in dash cams, to the point where Sandisk no longer warranties the cards if they are used in dash cams. I thankfully caught when the card started to have errors but there are countless stories of others who thought their cameras were working, only to find that their cards had no data on them. To understand why these cards are unreliable let’s take a look at the underlying technology inside of a micro SD card.

There are two common types of micro SD cards currently available for consumers: MLC or multi level cell and TLC or triple level cell. Data in a card is stored as a bit, located in a physical cell. The key difference between MLC and TLC is the number of bits per cell. In a TLC card, each of the storage cells can contain 3 bits of data. In an MLC card it is typically 2 bits. Most of the cheaper cards available are based on TLC because, well, think about it this way – if the cells are the same size, and you can squeeze 3 bits into the same area you would normally get 2 bits, that means a TLC card can have 1.5x the data storage that an MLC card can have. This is why it is a commonly used technology: todays applications demand more storage in these tiny cards. The trade-off for jamming more bits into a cell is that TLC storage does not last nearly as long as MLC. The lifespan of a TLC card can be as low as 1/3rd that of a MLC card because each cell is used more when data is written to a memory card.

A TLC card in itself isn’t inherently a bad thing and for most applications they work great. Dash cams, however, are quite the demanding application. We write data to the entire card over and over again, meaning that in a TLC card each cell wears out far faster because more data needs to be written to each cell.

All of these cheap cards over here are based on TLC flash. And even among these cheap cards there are differences. Different cards offer different speeds. Different cards have different warranties. Some cards offer features such as error correction. And others, well, they just straight up die one day. I do not recommend in any case using cheap SD cards because they are often not fast enough to keep up and they are nowhere near as reliable. That rules out this pile here.

Thing is, there are some cheap TLC cards that people use in dash cams and they work fine. MLC cards currently cap at 64GB so if TLC cards are required for more storage. I personally used these Lexar 633x cards for a long time and they didn’t fail me. If you’re going to buy one of these, grab yourself a 128GB. They’re around $43 and have a warranty that is not voided in dashcam use. They’re about the only cheap ones I can recommend off hand though I am sure there are some others that are ok too. Information about these cards from other manufacturers is scarce, and many manufacturers void the card warranty if they are used in dash cams.

That’s why I generally recommend the Transcend High Endurance cards over any of the other cheap cards. They are well – designed for dash cams. I don’t even recommend other Transcend cards because their warranty is void if you use them in dash cams. There are other brands with MLC out there – Kingston Industrial is more expensive and Adata Premier Pro is dirt cheap, but I haven’t tested it yet and I can’t find much in the way of reviews out there so it’s hard to say if it’ll be reliable.

In conclusion, buy cards designed for dash cams and buy them from a reliable retailer. Avoid Sandisk (even their high endurance lines!), Delkin, silicon power. Also keep in mind that MLC is a bragging point. If a card doesn’t advertise MLC, chances are is isn’t. Don’t waste your money on cheap cards because they might fail you when you need them most.

Thanks for watching! I hope this cleared things up for you. If you have any questions please ask in me in the comments.

Archeer A109 Bluetooth Speaker Review

The Archeer A109 is fully waterproof, but due to its small size the sound it produces isn’t a huge improvement over many modern smartphone speakers. If all you care about is adding more volume to your listening experience this speaker will be fine but my advice is to invest in something a bit bigger – especially if you want real bass.

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My Response to Amazon.com Updating its Reviewer Terms of Service

Video Transcript:

On October 3rd, 2016, Amazon.com announced a terms of service update for its reviewers that affects everyone in a big way. Amazon announced that effective immediately incentivized reviews are no longer allowed on their service. If you’ve shopped on Amazon recently you’ve probably seen them: an incentivized review is when the reviewer has received a free or discounted sample of a product in exchange for their honest review. Under the old system it needed to contain a clear disclosure, “I received this product free or at a discount in exchange for an unbiased review”. Reviewing in exchange for products is now against the rules. On the surface this appears to be a good thing. I know from my fair share of shopping on Amazon that it was getting harder to trust the reviews there as there would often be garbage products with inflated scores. However, in my opinion this change is merely a bandage on the actual problem of biased reviews and this move appears to me to purely be a PR campaign as the way it changes things is not necessarily for the better.

I won’t lie to you: most of the products I have reviewed here I received at a discount or free through Amazon sellers. I try my best to review them honestly by pointing what I like and don’t like about all the products, but there are many others out there who received free products and are essentially posting advertisements, not honest reviews. A company called ReviewMeta made a video a few weeks back that said reviewers are the bane of Amazon buyers, and to an extent I agree. I’ve paid full price for several products based on their positive reviews that ended up being garbage and I’ve had many free products where I look at my fellow reviewers five-star ratings and wonder what could they have been thinking. But here’s the thing: in every case with these incentivized reviews, to stay within Amazon’s rules, the reviewers always had to have a clear disclosure that their review may have bias because they received a product at a discount or free. The new Amazon ruling is vague and anyone can still post a review on any product without it being a verified purchase. With the new rules updates there is a small potential loophole where sellers can send a product to a reviewer for free or discounted, wink a few times and magically the reviewer will feel inclined to review it without a disclosure as they did not promise a review to the seller.

Now that incentivized reviews are banned from Amazon, the honest people who were really trying to help buyers find a good deal within the rules of the system will get pushed away and those who were dishonest will just keep reviewing without the disclosure. This is a win for Amazon and a big loss for the customer. Amazon appears to have solved the problem to the general public when in reality there are still incentivized reviews out there, however, they’re now far difficult to differentiate from organic reviews. In the last two days alone, I have already had a half dozen sellers offer to send me money by PayPal so I can buy their product on Amazon and make it look like an organic sale. I did not go ahead with this but I don’t doubt a less honest reviewer will. Review websites like Amazon Review Trader are now listed as “discount sites” and no longer require a disclosure if a review is left so there’s no way to tell whether it was organic any more aside from the verified purchase badge. Have you ever went to a big tech website and read an article that appeared to be a review, then found out after that it was sponsored content or so called native advertising? This happens everywhere on the internet. Online people can literally say whatever they want. The difference was that on Amazon it was EASY to spot who was saying things with bias. Now it won’t be so easy.

Incentivized reviews were not all that bad in many cases. The reviews often included useful information because review sites rewarded word counts and in depth reviews. I see so many organic reviews that rate a product one star and say things like “box arrived dented” or give a product five stars and just say “works good.” Ok, what about it works good? At least with incentivized reviews there was an incentive to write a detailed analysis of the product. Even if the star rating was skewed a bit higher there was often still a lot of useful information about the product(s) being reviewed.

In the end this entire thing is in my opinion, a mediocre way of covering up the problem. To the general public the problem will appear to be solved but in reality it is not. The only thing you can do to protect yourselves as a buyer is take everything you read with a grain of salt. Look at actual review content instead of star ratings. Look for reviews on other sites, not just Amazon. And don’t be afraid to post your feelings about a product yourself. It’ll help everyone else who is considering buying it, whether your view is positive or negative.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and opinions on this change so please leave your comments below and I’ll do my best to reply to it. As of this article being published, Amazon Canada‘s terms of services have not been updated to reflect the changes at Amazon.com.