iPhone cases

I am awful when it comes to buying iPhone cases. I usually buy at 10-20 each year to try and find one that I can live with, only to end up with nothing on my phone most of the time. So I figured I would write a little blog post that I can update every time I buy a new case.

Leather Case from Apple

I love the feel of this case I had the leather case for my 5s and really liked it too. I did however, decide to take it back to Apple. I actually wished the bottom of the case was inclosed like the 5s version, it always made it feel less like a case and more part of the phone. Also the lip on the sides were just a little too much for my taste and I missed the great feel of the swiping the curved glass.

Feather Shine

My main reason in buying this case was that it didn’t obstruct the swiping feel. I went with the shine because I hate the feel of the soft-touch cases. This case lasted a whole 2 minutes on my phone. I don’t know what is up over at incipio, but this is the cheapest case I have ever used. it felt like a 2 dollar case.

Leather Case from Apple Again

So I really don’t feel safe not having a case on my iPhone. So I broke down and bought another leather case for now. I was pleasantly surprised that the sides on this one don’t stick out as much on this one compared to the last. Still miss the curved glass feel, but rather have a protected iPhone then one that could get broken a little easier.

A Day With The UP Pebble App

Yesterday, I took off my beloved UP24 band for a day to test out the new UP for Pebble app. Sadly I won’t be replacing my UP24 just yet.

Morning

Started my morning off on the treadmill. Sadly, the Pebble version of the UP doesn’t allow you to set a workout mode to track individual workouts, but the iOS app did allow me to do it afterwards.

The pebble worked great on the treadmill the step count seemed to be very accurate compared to what I expected the UP band to be reporting.

Afternoon

This is when something went wrong, All of a sudden the steps on my watch were about 1300 steps behind

Evening

Finishing up the day at about 2,000 steps behind what the app is showing.

Impression

I really enjoyed just wearing one device on my wrists. Currently I wear my UP24 band on my left wrist and my pebble on my left, it was nice not having to do that, but the fact that the watch app doesn’t stay in sync with the app is very frustrating.

This is just the first version I am sure Jawbone will be hard at work to make this experience better and offer more feature like the sleep and workout tracking. If you don’t have a UP band and have a Pebble I still recommend take a look at the app even at this state it’s still nice to have.

My Setup

Jawbone now has two UP apps(blue and purple). I used the blue app that requires the band the purple is setup to get data from HealthKit and I didn’t want to have the steps from the M8 chip on my phone interfering with my step count.

The New Jawbone UP / Apple Health App

Link to the new app go get it now and add me to your team.

When I saw the first post about the app being available I got really excited, then I saw the details about how it was for users who didn’t have the bands and was confused. I still don’t fully understand why they need to make this a completely separate app, but I am excited about what the end results will mean.

Here’s why:
I love my UP24(band), it’s motivated me the last few months to live healthier, but I only know one other person who has a band. I know about 10 people with a Fitbit, so I end up wearing both (yes I wear 2 fitness trackers, 3 if you count my phone). But soon I may not have too. With HealthKit and a couple more app updates from UP & Fitbit. I should be able to use my UP’s step data for my Fitbit app and my Fitbit friends if they choose could use their data in the UP app. Jawbone has already announced that they will be adding this in soon. So hopefully Fitbit will as well.

My only concern with all this is I don’t want to see the UP band go away. Jawbone has had a lot of issues with it, but overall I still think it’s the best motivating tracker out there. They have one feature none of the others I’ve seen/used has: Idle alerts, my band will vibrate every 30 minutes of inactivity(setting is customizable) to remind me to get up and move. That setting alone with worth the $80-$150 dollars for the band.

*I know I could have already used the M7/8 chip in my iPhone for Fitbit, but I find that chip to be very inaccurate compared to my Fitbit One and Jawbone UP24 step data, which are at most a couple hundred steps apart. The M7/8 chip usually 2,000 steps higher then the Fitbit/UP data and I feel like I am cheating myself and Fitbit friends when I use it.

Cutting The Audio Cord

My laptop is my only computer I have. After having a desktop and a laptop it’s really nice to just have a single computer, but one thing that annoyed me was having to unplug the audio cable every time I wanted to work from somewhere other then my desk. I know it sounds stupid, but my speakers made this pop and hum when unplugged. So I went in search for a solution.

Solution 1. Airport Express – $99

The Airport Express allows you to Airplay audio to any set of computer speakers you decide to plug into it. But it has a horribly delay. On average it’s a good 5+second delay to start and stop/pause the audio. Even when listening to music there are also many hiccups where the audio would drop out for a few seconds here and there.

Solution 2. Beats Pill by Dr Dre – $199

So I gave up on Airplay and switched to Bluetooth audio. I mostly just listen to talk tech podcasts, so I figured a smaller speaker would be plenty. But the constant issues with pairing, drops in audio and low crackling sound drove me crazy so I returned the unit after 5 days.

Solution 3. Big Jambox by Jawbone – $299

I figured if I was going to give Bluetooth a shot I should drop another $100 and go with what I have heard others in the tech community praise. It did have better pairing support, but sadly bluetooth audio is just awful no matter how much you decide to spend on it.

Solution 4. The Winner – $118.27

During this 5 month process I found out that the Apple TV didn’t have the delay and as many hiccup issues like the Airport Express. So I switched my gears back to Airplay. I bought the items below and hooked up the speakers I already had and it’s great. No delay very few hiccups and it’s Airplay so all my Apple devices can easily send audio to it with ease.

Here is a list of everything I bought to make it work:
Apple TV – $99
Optical to analog audio converter – $15.98
Stereo Female to RCA Male Cable – $1.71
Optical Cable – $1.58

I know the other more expensive options are more portable, but my needs were just going wireless. I am not a high standard audio person, but like I said I mainly just listen to tech podcasts and even then the bluetooth quality drove mad, so personally I recommend staying away from those options.

Wearable Fitness Devices – Some pros & cons

So wearable fitness tracking devices are getting more and more popular and more companies are throwing their hats in the game, but as of now there are still just 3 main competitors: Fitbit, Jawbone, and Nike. I’ve been crazy enough to purchase and use them all for 6 months or more and just wanted to list my pros and cons.

Fitbit

They were around before this category blew up. So lets start with them.

Pros

Device Options: In my opinion the biggest pro is the device options they offer. They have 3 devices, , One, Flex. I have used the Zip and it is very freeing after using a wrist option for a year, to not have something on your wrist so you don’t have to be concerned that your not getting your steps when you carrying something in your arms.

The App: The app is definitely the most rounded of them they’ve been around the longest and in that time they’ve built in more features to their app.

Cons

Syncing: I don’t know if it is something they did or something Apple changed, but the bluetooth syncing is awful! It’s sad when I can take off the Jawbone UP and plug it into my phone faster then I can get my phone to even see that the fitbit is ready to sync.

The App: The app looks old. Hopefully with iOS 7 coming we will see a redesign soon.

Rant: My biggest pet peeves is I can’t modify my water intake goal. Why Fitbit, WHY!

Jawbone UP

As far as I know they made the first tracking device for the wrist, if they didn’t they at least made it popular. They had a ton of issues with their first version, but they went back and made it great.

Pros

Vibration Alerts: Love this feature, you can set the device to vibrate if you have been idle for so many minutes. Just to remind you to get up and move around. Definitely helps you when it comes to starting out and hitting your goals.

Sleep tracking: Fitbit also offers sleep tracking, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out since I just have the Zip, but the tracking on the UP is great it gives you all the data you need and the vibrate to wake up is a great feature to help you wake up easier.

The App: Out of all of them the others I like this app the best. They took the time to make it beautiful and functional.

Cons

The Band: It doesn’t clasps. So it can easily be pulled off by a Baby/Toddler.

Syncing: Out of the 3 companies the one that is known for their bluetooth devices is the only one that requires you to plug the device in… huh?

Nike Fuelband

What else can you say about Nike. Their Nike!

Pros

The Band: It feels great on your wrist it’s secure and it can tell you the time. I know that seems stupid, but since it is already on your wrist it’s much easier then pulling your phone out of your pocket.

Cons

Fuel Points: They make no sense and they don’t put you on an even playing ground, maybe its become of my next con below, but me and my wife could start out on a walk and she would earn way more points then I would doing the exact same activity.

Accuracy: Out of the 3 this one is the worst. Step count is off by 1000s and not 100s. I know it’s on my wrist, but if I can gain more Fuel Points on my 30 min drive to work then I can on an hour of the treadmill something is just wrong.

App Size: It’s huge! 152MBs to be exact, really Nike just get rid of those stupid videos in the app they get annoying after the first or second time anyways.

And the winner is…

Honestly, I have no clue. I am currently wearing both the UP and the Fitbit Zip. I sold my Nike Fuelband, even though I like the hardware the best I am in it to be more active and inaccurate data just doesn’t motivate me. I love the accuracy of the Zip, its not on my wrist so it is always counting my steps, but I also love the vibration alerts of the Jawbone (which the Fitbit Flex doesn’t have, it just does a sleep alarm”>Zip. So for now I wear both.

[]: http://www.fitbit.com/flex