Archive for December 2, 2017

Review: Apple Watch Series 3 With GPS

Posted in Products with tags on December 2, 2017 by itnerd

Frequent readers of this blog will recall that I just got a Apple Watch Series 2 in March of this year. So why am I replacing that with an Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS? Quite simply, Apple has come out with a smart watch that despite what I said here, has more than enough of an improvement that it will make Series 2 owners think about whether they should upgrade. In the case of Series 1 or original Apple Watch owners, they will run to their local Apple Store for one.

Now let me point out that I have the Series 3 With GPS and not the Series 3 With GPS + Cellular. Why did I go for the former? There’s several reasons:

  • First if I look at my use case for the Apple Watch, there are very few times where I am without my iPhone 7 Plus. For example, when I ride my bike, my iPhone 7 Plus is connected to my Garmin Edge 520 cyclocomputer via Bluetooth specifically for the incident detection feature. Since Garmin cannot or will not make that feature work with the Apple Watch, it means that my iPhone 7 Plus will be with me when I ride. When I cross country ski, I keep my iPhone 7 Plus handy as I use Runtastic Pro to keep track of how well I ski. While Runtastic Pro does have an Apple Watch app, it still needs your phone to work properly. Though that is apparently going to change shortly according to Runtastic. In other words, having the GPS + Cellular model will not change my life in those areas.
  • Second, my current cell phone carrier of the moment which is Rogers doesn’t support the Series 3 with GPS + Cellular. If they did, I might have gone for it for no other reason than the coolness factor. But they don’t so there was no reason for me to go for it. Though I will note that my wife is thinking about a Series 3 with GPS + Cellular and is willing to dump Rogers to get one.
  • Even if Rogers did support the Series 3 with GPS + Cellular, it’s version 1.0 of this technology. Which means you should likely wait for the next revision given the fact that according to Mobile Syrup, the iPhone that it is paired to has to be turned on and connected to the Internet for it to fully function. On top of that, people who I know who have the Series 3 with GPS + Cellular say that they have problems with the cellular part when they travel overseas. Seeing how much I travel, that’s a potential non-starter.

The looks of the Series 3 Apple Watch With GPS haven’t changed. The screen is the same, and the case is the same. And it’s still waterproof up to 50M and connects to 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (albeit via the 2.4Ghz band via a new WiFi chip). I guess took the attitude of not messing with what already works. Having said all of that, I do feel that he Series 3 is a hair lighter than the Series 2. The bottom line is that I’m not upgrading for looks. But there are three big reasons why the Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS is worth a look, and why I ultimately upgraded from the Series 2:

  • First off there’s the S3 processor that’s in the Series 3. Apple claims it is 70% faster than the S2 processor that is used in the Series 2. Now the Series 2 wasn’t slow. But the Series 3 makes the Series 2 look and feel slow in pretty much every way. The interface is more responsive, third-party apps open much quicker. But the big thing is that Siri is far more usable and Siri finally speaks to you which is a welcome addition because I don’t have to look at the watch to interact with Siri anymore.
  • Battery life is better over the Series 2. Apple still tells you that you’ll get 18 hours of battery life. But I note that at the end of the day, I typically have 75% to 80% battery life left. That’s up from the 75% or less that I was getting from the Series 2. That means that you can go a couple of days between charges if you had to.
  • If you work out, the Series 3 now has an altimeter which now allows you to more accurately track your workout efforts. In my use case, one of my workouts is to run up the stairs of my condo twice. All 35 floors. I do that at least three times a week and it is helping me to keep in shape during the winter. I can now leave my phone behind and simply use my watch to accurately track my efforts as it will track the elevation change by itself. Prior to that, I would need to bring my iPhone 7 Plus and have it track the elevation change.

Other than that, nothing has changed about how how I use the watch. I still use it to pay for stuff via Apple Pay. I still use it to discreetly see and respond to notifications and texts. And I still use it to help me get into better shape. On this last point I have to say that the Apple Watch has turned out not to be the short term novelty that I thought it was going to be. Now, some of this can be attributed to watchOS 4, but the new hardware that was put into the Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS helps with this as well.

My gripes are mostly the same as my last Apple Watch review. It still doesn’t support Android users, not that I am shocked by that. It is still pricey, though can still get the Series 1 if price is an issue. Though you give up speed and the fact that it is waterproof if you go that route. If it were me, I wouldn’t recommend going that route. You’d be better off finding a Series 2 with AppleCare on Craigslist. Such as the one that I have up for sale on Craigslist. (This has been sold)

The bottom line is this, the Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS is a worthwhile upgrade for existing Apple Watch users. There’s enough here to make it worth your while to upgrade to. Pricing starts at $429 CDN and goes up from there. If I were you I’d skip the GPS + Cellular model and plunk your hard earned dollars down on this one as this is currently the best smartwatch to get if you’re an iPhone owner.

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Review: TP-Link Smart WiFi LED Bulb With Color Changing Hue

Posted in Products with tags on December 2, 2017 by itnerd

Smart bulbs which can change the color and intensity via an app aren’t new. But the TP-Link Smart WiFi LED Bulb With Color Changing Hue is different. Unlike most bulbs that require some sort of hub to connect the bulbs to your WiFi router, this one doesn’t require a hub. It connects directly to your WiFi router. Now that should mean that setting things up should be more complex. But it’s not. It’s actually simple:

  1. Screw in the bulb into the light.
  2. Download the Kasa app for iOS or Android.
  3. The app will tell you to connect to a SSID that the Smart WiFi LED Bulb is broadcasting.
  4. The app will then tell you to pick your the SSID associated with your WiFi router and enter the password. Note: It only supports the 2.4 GHz band.
  5. Wait while it does its magic. It will tell you when it’s finished.
  6. Done. Declare victory and have a beer.

One thing that I should point out is that you should then take a trip inside the Kasa app to settings and then firmware update. I had a firmware update waiting for me when I did that, It should really prompt you to do the update automatically when the setup was finished.

Now I set the bulb up in the bedroom. Using the Kasa app, I was able to toggle a light on or off from anywhere, or set a default colour (16 million hues) or temperature. Now all of these options can be overridden with your own choices. I found that the bulbs went from a dim and atmospheric level, all the way up to a bright, room-filling brightness. All of this was very easy to do. There’s one extra trick that the Smart WiFi LED Bulb which is a circadian rhythm mode. This mode automatically adjusts a bulb’s brightness and, if possible, colour temperature to match the time of day. Another feature of the Kasa app is scenes which let you set your bulb or bulbs to preset colours, temperatures and brightness levels. Scheduling can be performed individually on each bulb, letting you set when lights should turn on or off. A Good Morning scene simply turns on your lights to a preset level, rather than slowly raising brightness to gently wake you. Finally, though I did not test it, you can pair the bulb to Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant to enable voice control. And before you ask, there’s no support of Apple HomeKit.

What about energy usage? LED lights use way less energy than other types of bulbs. TP-Link says that you can decrease your energy usage by up to 80% without sacrificing brightness. That’s about the right number and you can track that inside the Kasa app.

So, what do you have to fork over to get all of this? Not all that much actually as the MSRP is $45 USD but I was able to find it on Amazon Canada for $40 CDN. That’s a price point where you could grab a few to fully set your house up with bulbs that allow you to save money and automate your homes lighting easily.