Dragonfly Red DAC

A few years ago I bought a FiiO DAC (digital-to-analog converter) for my desktop soundsystem and was blown away by the quality improvement. A year ago I bought the Dragonfly DOC 1.2 which was for my laptop. It was tiny and awesome. Sometime a few months after purchasing it I realised that it was actually far better than my super-sized FiiO. Wow.

Well today, i’m happy to say i’m moving the Dragonfly 1.2 to my desktop and have bought the Dragonfly Red for my laptop (which can be used in both IOS and OSX).

Apple Watch – Update 1

New Plus:
Just discovered today that you can control the AppleTV with the Apple Watch and it actually works pretty well. Pretty cool.

New Minus:
When you do have to choose an app from the “app cloud” menu it is easy to misfire and click on the wrong app even in the “zoomed in” scale. Good news is that 95% of the time I don’t need this navigational technique to get to what I want.

One Day into the Apple Watch

To set the stage I must admit that I’m a real lover of gadgets. Typically when a device like the Apple Watch comes around I’m just dying to try it but for some reason this time I wasn’t all that excited. I’d describe myself as interested but not more. Hopefully this makes me a less biased reviewer but I fear that with my lowered set of expectations it might actually be making less critical. With that said … my overall impression of the Watch after a little less than 24 hours is very positive.

Pro’s

  • Beautiful packaging – this is no surprise of course … Apple set a new bar when it came to packing years ago and they seem to just keep raising it. It definitely felt like a luxery product when openning.
  • Nice Display – I don’t think I had any real preconceptions about the screen but having now seen it I’d say … it’s nice. Crisp and clear. Yeah I’d have to say “thumbs up”.
  • Well Thought Out. I had about 5 minutes of complete confusion on how to use it but once I got the basics down the rest all seemed to largely make sense. For a new form factor I think you couldn’t expect any more out of Apple and I am left feeling impressed.
  • Voice to Text. The voice to text processing is really impressive. It makes “texting” a complete breeze in a quiet environment. I have used it with iMessage, Slack, and Skype and it just works.
  • Speakerphone. The ability to use the watch directly as a phone (aka, speakerphone) is something I have only done once so far but I came away feeling the sound quality was good and that it might be a useful feature. 
  • Sizing. I got the smaller unit … the 38mm version … and I have heard some people felt that was too small but not for me. In most cases small is better for me WRT to wrist real estate and I’d choose the 38mm over the 42mm 10 out of 10 times (based on my experience so far). That said if you have very big fingers it might be a little small but I’m just trying to give some rationalle to these other views. The only thing I find remotely challanging from a size stand point is clicking an app from the circular icon menu but I suspect the glances interface will make this view something I don’t use all that often anyway.
  • Apps. The apps I like immediately are iMessage, calendar, weather, and … wait for it … the clock. That’s a good core. I think I may also end up liking Evernote for quick annotations (I love Evernote everywhere else). I may also get some mileage out of Slack (which is growing on me) and possibly Skype messaging (although I use it less and less). There are a lot more apps that are ready for the wrist than I expected and for most of them they’ll have to go into the “wait and see” category. For instance, will reading the NYTimes on my wrist be useful? I’m dubious but not closed to it.

Con’s

  • Daylight. As you’d expect from a backlit device its display is more impressive indoors than outdoors. It’s not a huge con because overall it is still functional outdoors. I would say its slightly better in visibility compared to my iPhone but it’s no e-ink.
  • Phone Dependency. Admittedly we spend most of our lives with our phones nearby these days so this is probably not a big deal but its weird to not know if you’re “within range” of your phone. There’s no clear indication. If you’re not I assume there’s not a lot you can do but I haven’t operated outside of range enough yet to talk about it in depth. My gripe right now is just that there’s no clear indication whether you are or are not in range.

Wait-and-See:

  • Fitness Alerts – typically being interrupted to be told to “stand up for a minute” would be annoying but this reminder along with various other fitness reminders actually seem pleasant at the moment. I’ve even been taking the suggestions by and large. My guess though is that in a month though I’ll have turned off all of these distractions.
  • Battery Life. This needs more testing before I have an opinion on it. On the plus side the conductive charging surface make it easy to engage and disengage the charging process but still to me its a pretty big fail if it can’t make it through a normal day without a recharge. It’s 4pm on day 2 on what I guess is a “normal day” and I’ve got 57% charge left. I’d consider that encouraging except that I probably haven’t hit it too hard in the battery department today. Like I said, I’ll keep an eye on this one … it’s an important aspect.
  • Big Ass Emoticons. There is a convenient menu of emoticons available to iMessage on the wrist but unlike the normal IOS variety which are well designed but a little small, these ones are ginormous and animated. Is that good? I’m really not sure. Will have to see how I feel in a week. Don’t worry … you’ll know how I feel because I’ll send you a big ass emoticon. 

I’m sure I’ll get back on this soapbox but that’s all for now. Hope it was helpful.

Fitbit Reunion

FitBit One

I’ve been a big fan of the FitBit since its introduction a few years ago. In my years as a fan I’ve developed a bad habit of losing my FitBit. Since then the FitBit has gotten smaller, rounder, and more losable. So I must admit — with what I would like to state as a shared responsibility — I lost my FitBit (again) about two months ago. I continued to get battery update messages that seems to indicate that my little tracker was still sleeping in the house but unlike iPhones there’s no “find my FitBit” app available. Yet, these little battery reminders kept me hopeful that my lost FitBit would find its way back to me. I gave it two weeks. I added another two weeks. Christmas came and went. I hadn’t received a battery notification in ages. Could my FitBit have sung its last song? Well no, as it turns out. I finished a run today and after showering decided to put on some comfortable but highly unseasonal clothes and guess what was hanging to these clothes in a death grip? Yup, it’s my FitBit come back home. Welcome home little buddy. I’ve missed not having you around.

Airplay in, Squeezebox out

BowersWilkinsA5

Several years ago I feel in love with Squeezebox streaming audio. It was an cost effective and hip alternative to Sonos. Then Logitech bought Squeezebox and at first all was right with the world … more updates, big company backing, etc.

Then things change …

Logitech stopped caring. Their strategy for both Squeezebox and Harmony remotes was at best “on pause” and now for the Squeezebox is formally over. Why? I don’t understand this one but in any case I have found myself spending more

time doing *tech support* on my Squeezebox network than listening to it over the past 6-9 months and have decided to stop trying.

Endings, of course, lead to new beginnings and as of today I’m using AirPlay. I bought the B&W A5 speakers for the living room and an Airport Express to power the stereo in the Kitchen. If this works I’ll find something for the bedroom to complete the house coverage. Looking forward to this next audio chapter.

Super Size Me

NewImage

Not to be kept in “darwin’s waiting room” any longer I’ve shed my troubled and embarrassing iPad 1 ways in favour of the “New iPad” (which I refuse to call anything other than iPad 3). I also pre-ordered the new Apple TV. The gadget gods have surely shined on me today. ;^)