After purchasing Christmas presents for everyone on my list this year I decided to get myself a gift. After 3-weeks of waiting the package finally arrived… Apple AirPods!
I love listening to music (mostly Spotify) whenever I can and after seeing the AirPods announcement last fall I was curious about how they performed. Thanks to a lot of media outlets getting advanced units the reviews were out there before the AirPods were even available for order. For the most part they were very positive.
I’ve tried the inexpensive Bluetooth earbuds connected with a cord that is supposed to go behind your head and I’m not a fan. The cord gets caught up in your clothing and makes the entire process rather uncomfortable and annoying. Now, with the AirPods, you can actually go completely wireless and it addresses all the issues I was frustrated with.
The AirPods sound better than the EarPods that come with the iPhones. They are just slightly larger and, in my case, fit very comfortably in my ears. The bass is noticeably improved and the overall sound is very nice. Battery life and bluetooth range is very impressive too.
These are not going to replace my Bose noise canceling over-the-ear headphones that I use when I want to tune the world out but they will be part of my daily carry for those times where I need a little music to make the day go a little better.
It’s to early to say if they were worth the $159 asking price but so far I haven’t regretted the purchase!
Wow, that title is long! I’ve used the Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro Bluetooth Keyboard Case (Qode for short) since last December and it’s been put into service on a daily basis.
I get pulled into a lot of meetings at work and client sites and I always grab my iPad to take notes in Evernote. Having a fully functional keyboard makes that task so much easier. I can type pretty well with the on-screen iPad keyboard but the physical alternative is so much better.
The Qode offers good protection of the iPad, front and back. One of the things I really like about the keyboard is it’s a separate piece so you can easily detach it and use the iPad on its own. You can also attach the Apple Smart Cover as an alternative while leaving the back of the iPad covered and protected.
As with any portable device there are usually some compromises. The only one I can think of with the Qode is the keys are a little on the small side, but nothing drastic. Switching back and forth between the MacBook Pro and the Qode is pretty effortless.
The Qode offers multiple backlight levels as well as two angles of viewing for the iPad screen. Battery life is rated at 1-year with normal use and I can honestly say that claim is conservative. 9-months of regular use and I’m sitting at around 50% battery capacity.
When activated (by propping the iPad into one of two magnetic slots) the Qode instantly connects to the iPad. It has a lot of shortcut keys you can program as well as dedicated keys for cut/copy/paste/volume etc. You can even pair it up with a second device (phone?) and toggle back and fourth with dedicated buttons.
All in the Qode ads about 1-pound of additional weight to the iPad. not bad when you consider you are getting a nicely padded rear shell and a fully functional backlit and aluminum clad keyboard on the front.
This has been an awesome addition to my daily carry and you can pick one up yourself for around $100 on Amazon.
Thought it might be a good idea to take some time out on this Friday night*** and post a much-needed update to the Blog. Amazing how life gets in the way and posts end up being weeks apart… You should see the number of drafts I have queued up so it’s not like I’m not thinking about blogging!
I stopped in the Apple store a few weeks ago just to look around and all the new toys and get a hands on demo of the Apple Watch. The employee assisting us was very helpful and he did such a good job I ended up making an impulse buy of an Apple Watch Sport (and a night stand dock).
I’ll admit it, I fell for the hype and it was totally an impulse buy (happens more than I like to admit). I justified the purchase to myself as an updated FitBit that did a lot more than just track my steps. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
If you haven’t checked out the Apple Watch it’s worth it just to see the design, fit, finish, and how it looks on your wrist. It’s a beautifully designed piece of electronics (as most Apple products are). The watch/band combinations are numerous and I’m a little surprised they didn’t package the watch by itself with the bands being an add-on accessory.
There are 3 watch models (in several colors) and 2 watch sizes all with the SAME internal components. The prices are all over the map when you pair the watch with the various bands. I opted for the $399 “Sport” model in brushed gold with a dark blue band (my shopping companion quickly identified it as the Notre Dame model).
After arriving home I had to charge the watch for about an hour before I could fire it up. Initial setup takes about 20 minutes while the companion apps are loaded from your phone. It took another 24-36 hours before things are totally synced and you are able to get all the alerts you would normally get on your phone (way longer than I expected).
The idea of having a mini phone display on your wrist, instantly accessible, is a good one in theory. My biggest problem was holding my arm at the viewing angle for an extended period along with the issue of being able to focus on the small screen.
I’ll admit I’m getting older and my arms are sometimes not long enough to properly focus on things like books and menus without a little help from Foster Grant.
This was an immediate problem that I didn’t really notice during the in-store demo. I’m not going to whip out my reading glasses every time I want to look at my wrist candy (Strike 1).
Another issue I ran into is the information actually presented on the watch screen. I get hundreds of emails a day and more times than not the message was unable able to be displayed on the screen because of the format. Not to mention viewing attachments is out of the question (Strike 2).
Battery life during the first day, like with any new toy, was not impressive because I was fidgeting with my new toy all day long. It improved in the days following as I used the watch less and less. Apple advertises a full day of usage between charges and I was getting that (Ball 1).
The final issue was the fact you have to make a specific flip of your wrist to get the display to wake up. Raising your arm works 50% of the time. Other times you have to rotate your wrist in a weird way to get the watch to activate. Hard to describe but anyone who has one of these devices knows exactly what I’m talking about (Strike 3).
Apple offers a 10-day return policy on the watch and I ended up taking advantage of it 7 days into the experiment. Returning it was totally painless and when I mentioned the viewing issues to the employee processing the return she indicated it’s not an uncommon complaint (and reason for return).
So my Apple Watch experiment is over (for now) and I can honestly say I don’t miss it. I continue to enjoy my Seiko Automatic Dive Watch for its simplicity (no batteries) and I look forward to the next version of the Apple Watch that’s rumored to be announced sometime this year.
Do you have an Apple Watch? What’s your experience been like? Hit me up in the comment section below.
It’s been a busy month and Christmas is less than a week away (so is a much-needed week off work for yours truly). As I get older the years just keep speeding up & I don’t know of any way to slow them down! It’s just the opposite feeling from when I was a kid where the years dripped slower than that bear bottle full of honey.
The Great Cord Cutting Project of 2015 is going better than I could have ever expected & there’s no going back. I’m spending some of that old evening TV time trying to keep up on the articles I’m always collecting via Pocket. Some items recently clipped include:
The Kindle is getting a workout too with several books being read in parallel. Just depends on what I’m in the mood for. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and Andy Weir’s The Martian are both fighting for my attention.
I’ve also taken the opportunity to really dig into what’s available on the streaming services I subscribe to, particularly Netflix and Amazon:
The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) is an alternate history story that has the Germans and Japanese wining WWII and taking control of the USA. It’s a pretty dramatic series that’s full of twists and turns.
Narcos (Netflix) depicts the story of Pablo Escobar and the DEA agents assigned with bringing him to justice. I’m not going to lie, you have to pay attention to this show. Mainly because it’s 90% Spanish with subtitles. And a Gringo like me needs them. No Sprecken la Espanola
I’ve been helping keep USPS, FedEx and UPS in business with lots of holiday purchases for friends and family. Along with those items I picked up a new Keyboard/Case for myself and my iPad Air 2. The Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro is a great replacement to the Logitech keyboard cover I was using with the last iPad. It’s a little pricy $150 but It’s currently on sale now for $130. I’m working on a review but let’s just say that after a few days using it I’m a fan.
After a glowing review from a co-worker I also ordered the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Electric Sandwich Maker. Seriously, I did! I’ve see this gadget before but didn’t think it would be any good, especially costing under $30. Well I’m told this thing really works so I had to see for myself. When I happen to eat breakfast the egg and cheese (with various meats) is my regular go to. Delivery is scheduled for Monday so we’ll see how it goes Tuesday morning when I fire that baby up and make my first sausage, egg and cheese muffin.
No matter your religious preference (or not) I hope everyone is gearing up for a fun holiday season with friends and family. If you get any good tech gadgets or kitchen toys let me know! I’m always looking for ways to give Amazon more money.
Now that it’s getting cold outside hot coffee is starting to sound good to me again. I usually only drink hot drinks in the winter while preferring cold any other time. I’ve enjoyed iced coffee all summer since its easy to make using a concentrate I get at the local store.
Remembering I had some money on my Starbucks account I stopped at the location near my office. It’s been a while since I’ve been in here because the service is well below average. They seem to dedicate all of their staff activity to the drive-thru and, even today, they were serving 3-4 people in the drive-thru to every one person in the store.
After I ordered my plain coffee & walked over to the condiment bar for a splash of half-and-half. Wait a minute, the stainless steel thermos is missing! The guy standing next to me saw what I was looking for and said “you have to ask them for it”.
So back to the pickup counter I go and I waited to get someone’s attention. The employees were too busy tripping over each other to get the orders out the little window to notice me standing there. After a few moments I got one of the worker bees attention. “Cream?” I asked. She was already reading my mind and grabbed a little paper cup and proceeded to pour out a couple of ounces of the heavy moo juice. I asked, “do you have one you’d like me to put out on the station”, thinking I would be a nice guy and do them a favor. “No” she said. “We keep it back here now so it doesn’t run out as fast”.
Then it hit me. The Ghetto Latte has gotten so bad they have to ration out the dairy to keep people from cheating the system. I assure you this is a real thing. I’ve seen it time and time again where people turn a couple of shots of espresso over ice into one (or in some cases when they ask for an extra cup) two Lattes saving themselves a few dollars in the process.
Way to stick it to the man cheap skate. I’d be willing to bet that’s your idling car parked crooked in the handicapped spot too. Bonus points if you’re talking on your speaker phone while oblivious to everyones personal space the entire time you’re in the store.
So once again, those who take advantage of things make it inconvenient for others who go with the flow. Say what you want about Starbucks. I know it’s over priced and there are better options out there. In this case it was a choice between office coffee (usually empty), a small Keurig we have in our area (meh, I don’t get the pod thing), or something slightly better.
I’m curious if this practice of keeping the half-and-half behind the counter is a isolated thing at this particular Starbucks or if this is a common practice at other coffee shops too. Anyone else witness a Ghetto Latte in the making? I’d love to hear your stories!