I’ve been wanting to go back to a laptop for a long ass time, but I’m been put off by the fact that I absolutely hate Windows and Apple’s laptop keyboards have been pure, unadulterated AIDS since the introduction of the butterfly keyboard in the 2015 MacBook 12”. Well Apple have finally woken up and decided to go back to a scissor switch keyboard on their laptops, starting with the 16” Pro a few months ago.
I’m gonna go ahead and say right up front that I am not an audiophile at all. If you’re looking for a deep dive into the sonic properties of the new AirPods Pro, I am not your dude. Lack of expertise, however, has never stopped me before, so here are my thoughts.
Compared to the AirPod Amateurs, the Pros come in a case that’s wider, but not as tall. It’s almost like an elongated AirPod case turned sideways. Unless you have a pocket that JUST fits the regular airpods, the new Pros will likely fit about the same, they’re still very pocketable.
The earbuds themselves have traded the hard plastic of the originals for a rubber tip that fits snugly inside your ear holes and helps provide noise isolation. As an added benefit, they’re definitely more comfortable to me. The “stalks” are also shorter, so if you hated the look of the originals due to the stalks coming out of your ears, you may find these a bit more tolerable. I think they’re fine, and I do like that the shorter stalks are less likely to get caught on stuff like messenger bag straps, but I didn’t hate the originals either.
Noise cancellation is pretty solid. It doesn’t block out EVERYTHING but it does do a good job of blocking out the kind of noises that are super distracting, the humming from my old refrigerator’s compressor, the sound of my car at idle, my garage door opener, etc. It’s almost subtle after you’ve had them in your ears for a minute, but switching over to Transparency mode makes you very quickly realize just how much work the Noise Cancellation was doing.
I haven’t had them long enough to do any battery testing, but apple claims 4.5 hours per charge and enough charges in the case for 24 hours total. They are generally pretty accurate with their battery estimates, so I have no reason to doubt them this time. Everyone seems up in arms about the price, but it’s right in the ballpark for other wireless noise cancelling earbuds. Sony’s 1000-XM3’s are $229. I don’t find $249 to be out of range, especially given their integration in the apple ecosystem with automatic pairing to all iCloud devices and all.
The sound quality is good, at least in my opinion. It’s honestly hard to say how much of that is “better headphone” and how much of that is “noise reduction/less ambient noise” but everything sounds clearer. The one obvious improvement is higher perceived volume at the same volume setting, which is probably a very good thing for your ears. Bass seemed markedly improved over the old Airpods as well.
Overall I’m pretty impressed with the AirPods Pro, even though their name is terrible to write about.
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So naturally I ordered a pair. I don't really need them to be completely honest, but I do use my AirPods a lot. I'll post my impressions tomorrow. Anyone want to buy a pair of Gen 2 AirPods with wireless charging case to subsidize my poor decisions?
In a word, pretty preeeetty good. I will have a lot more word thoughts about this after a couple of weeks, but there’s a video up there and here are some photos.
Now I just need to find something fun to do next weekend to test out this camera. Anything in particular you want to see?
So the other day Project Fi had the Pixel 3 for half off. I could no longer resist my urge to own all the phones, and I ordered a white 64GB in the small size. My personal phone is an iPhone XS, also the non-giant model. I plan to use the Pixel for my work phone and the iPhone for personal stuff in order to keep my data a little bit segregated and prevent my personal camera roll from filling up with pictures of cars I'm buying and selling.
Here's a quick and dirty comparison based on a couple days of use.
Physically the two phones are pretty similar, almost identical in overall size, the iPhone sports a slightly larger screen with significantly smaller bezels. The Pixel is noticeably lighter. On the software side, Android and iOS are on their way to convergence IMO. Not literally of course, but Android keeps getting more and more like iOS and iOS keeps getting more and more features that used to be Android exclusives. I have no problem using either operating system and the Pixel's new gesture based nav is super easy to get used to, coming from a gesture based iPhone, though I do keep opening the app drawer when I'm trying to go to the home screen.
Overall, I'm impressed with the Pixel and if I weren't already so locked into the Apple Ecosystem with my iMac and iPad Pro, it would be kinda tempting to switch, seeing how I could have bought both me and Daisy new Pixels for less than the price of one iPhone. Android still has it's jank though, I can't get Assistant to work when connected to an Android Auto headunit, and scrolling on websites is sometimes kinda laggy where it's perfectly smooth on an iPhone.
For less than 1/2 the cost of the iPhone, I could probably overlook that though.
The cameras are both good. I can take ten pictures with both and be about 50/50 on which picture I prefer the most. Here are some examples:
See what I mean? I'm not a huge pixel peeper, so to me it really depends on the shot as to what picture I end up liking better, I would say for certain they're both very good. There is one thing where the Pixel totally blows the iPhone out of the water, and that's it's Night Sight feature. You can take a photo in near zero light and still get something that's at least usable. The images are noisy, but still, what you would otherwise get, you wouldn't be able to see anything at all. Here's a regular photo from the iPhone and an identical photo taken at the same time with the Pixel 3 using Night Sight.
Like I said, it's pretty noise, but shit you can actually see things. The way the iPhone photo looks is the way the garage looked to my eyes, you basically couldn't see anything. That Night Sight stuff is magic.
Late last week, Jason Snell over at Six Colors reported that with the latest beta of iOS 12.2, the Logitech Crayon now works on the 2018 iPad Pro. The Crayon had previously only been compatible with the 2018 9.7 iPad. I was immediately interested. I like the idea of having a writing device for my iPad Pro, but I also have literally zero artistic ability. I felt like the $130 Apple Pencil was insane overkill. I just needed something to sign docs and do super basic storyboarding and stuff like that. I threw the beta on my iPad and checked Best Buy's website. Two in stock at my local store for the low low price of $69. So I stopped after work and picked one up.
I kept the packaging and receipt since this working was predicated on using a beta version of iOS, but that ended up being not necessary because Apple released the official 12.2 update on Monday, and the pencil continues to work.
I actually like this a lot. It's pretty much exactly what I need. I don't need the pressure sensitivity (or the extra cost) of the Apple Pencil, but having something to poke around on the screen and draw simple diagrams and sign contracts and stuff is a great addition to the iPad Pro. We're currently house hunting, so I have a feeling I'll be using this combined with the excellent Linea Sketch app to plan my garage, my kitchen, furniture, yard, etc.
Overall, the Crayon seems to be an excellent choice for the, uh, less artistically inclined among us. I'll add a video to this post when I get a chance.
The new USB C iPad Pro will be out tomorrow, so I decided i needed a good USB C charger. I realize that the iPad will come with one, but I like having a spare in my bag. I looked at quite a few and settled on this Anker unit. It’s USB C Power Delivery which is what most stuff uses. It should also fast charge my Nintendo Switch. The charger itself is a little bigger than the Apple 29W, but then again the Anker also has a USB A outlet that will put out 12W, which is about as fast as the old iPad charger and should be fine for an iPhone or Apple Watch. Overall, I feel like this covers my needs pretty well.
For the cable, I again went with Anker because I’ve always had good look with them. I’m using an Anker lightning cable in my car for CarPlay and it has held up really well despite the relatively rough environment. Specifically, I went with this 6ft model in red. I figure the red will be easy to spot and 6ft will give me some flexibility when I’m in a hotel with not great outlet locations.
I obviously haven’t tried it on the new iPad yet, and I won’t until tomorrow, but I did put my USB C to Lightning cable in it and it fast charged my iPad Pro 10.5, so it should be fine. I will report back tomorrow.
When pictures of the iPhone X first came out, I really didn’t understand why apple was “embracing the notch”, I thought it would look much cleaner to just have a black status bar across the top making the notch indistinguisable from the screen. Turns out I was wrong. Verizon just updated their app and it includes optimization for iPhone X. It looks like they went with the “Hide the Notch” method:
While it does look “cleaner” I guess, it also just looks kinda boring. Compare that to Waze’s “embrace the notch” app:
It doesn’t feel like the notch is in the way of the content, it just feels like you’re getting extra screen on the sides of the notch. It feels like a bonus more than it does a compromise.
I wanted to try out a built in wireless charger, but I didn’t particularly want to cut a hole in my desk or anything, so I started looking online at IKEA for a cheap little table to mess around with. To my surprise, they actually sell wireless charging units made to go into a surface. I ended up buying a RALLEN wireless charging pad and the cheapest table they had, which ended up being a LACK side table. I also picked up a FIXA hole saw kit, and already had a Milwaukee drill. Total cost including the saw set was about $28 after tax.
I threw the table together, it basically just amounts to screwing the legs in, and took it all out on my front porch because I didn’t want a living room full of saw dust.
The RALLEN charger allows you to mount it a few different ways. It comes with a trim ring but using it is optional. I opted to use it because this is a super cheap table and I thought there might be a little of bit of roughness around the hole. I would leave it out in good solid wood for a smaller overall footprint. If you’re using the trim ring, use the biggest hole saw in the kit. I believe mounting it without uses the next size down.
I went with what I felt was the most natural placement. The side with the hole will be close to the end of the couch, so if you drop your arm down you land about where the charging pad is. Cutting the hole was super easy, this table is made of thin particle board. Yes, that paper is the filler inside of it, lol.
From there, you separate the charger from the trim ring, drop the trim ring in, route the cord through it, then push the charging pad down into the trim ring. There’s pretty much no way to screw this up. Just push the thing down until it’s fully seated.
I have some pretty serious cable management to do over there, but now there’s a table by my couch that will charge both mine and Daisy’s phone just by setting it on the table. I might start looking at doing this to a nicer table soon, but for now, and for the money, I’m pretty damn happy with it.
Super minimalist. Offers basically no drop protection, but will keep it from getting scratched. Also makes the phone much easier to hold on to.
So, I posted last week that I ordered an iPhone X. I got an estimated delivery date of 12/12 to 12/17. A few days later that got bumped up to 12/1. Well, I woke up at around 6am Saturday morning (Thank you 11 month old Ava) and checked the Apple Store app. I had read the previous night that stores were going to have stock available for in store pickup starting at 6am, so I gave it a shot. To my surprise, the Apple Store at Saddle Creek had the model I wanted (Verizon, White, 256gb) in stock for pickup that day. I cancelled my online preorder and placed a new order for in store pickup Saturday. By a few minutes after noon I was walking out with my new phone. So how is it? Overall, very good.
Design And Build Quality
The phone feels really solidly built, which isn’t really all that much of a surprise, most Apple products are. The size is about perfect for me. I was a long time member of #plusclub, but I’ve actually been kinda thinking about going with something smaller ever since I bought an LTE IPad Pro this summer to replace my 12” macbook. The iPad is basically with me everywhere I go, so I no longer feel the need to have a super large battery and screen in my phone. If I’m stuck somewhere and I’m going to break out Netflix or something, I’m going to do it on the iPad no matter how big my phone’s screen is.
The X seems like the perfect companion to something like the iPad Pro. Like the 4.7” iPhones it’s small and easy to pocket, but thanks to the edge to edge display you get a screen more in line with a plus model. Everyone is already talking about the possibility of an “X Plus” next year, and while I generally like larger phones, or at least thought I did, using the X for just one day so far is enough to make me seriously reconsider wanting a larger phone. I really do feel like it’s the perfect size, and I’ve never said that about an IPhone before.
Screen and FaceID
FaceID seems to be the thing that everyone was most worried about. So far for me, it’s been effectively flawless. It’s actually less intrusive than TouchID in that one day in, I’ve already started to forget it’s even a thing most of the time. Effectively, I just pick up my phone and it’s unlocked. It’s only failed a handful of times, like when my face was half on a pillow.
The screen so far has been awesome too, I’ve used OLED screens before so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, but this looks to me to be a really good OLED display. Color shift at off angles is minimal and colors seem accurate and bright. I haven’t used it in the sun much because I’ve had the cold that will never end, but it seems very bright even in direct sunlight in my admittedly very limited usage.
Animoji is a lot of fun, I don’t care what anyone says.
Battery life seems to be good, and should be good based on the battery size and processor. I haven’t used it enough to really test, but it feels on par with my 7+.
Like I said before, the size is really, really nice, at least to my smallish hands. Between the grippier glass back and the more easily gripped (read: reduced) width, I’m actually considering not using a case. Also I bought AppleCare+, so I’m a little braver.
Camera seems very good, I took this picture today:
I obviously haven’t had this phone long enough to do a comprehensive review, but so far I am super pleased with it. I’ll post updates as I find new things or run into any issues, but so far it’s been a very positive experience and definitely feels like a truly new iPhone for the first time in quite a few years.
Edit: I realized after posting this that I didn't mention "The Notch" at all, I had completely forgotten it was supposed to be a huge issue. I guess that pretty much says all that needs to be said about The Notch. One day in and I forgot it was a thing. I will say it would probably be annoying if you're a big video consumer on your phone. As I mentioned above I tend to use my iPad for that. In normal phone use for texting, twitter, facebook, weather, camera, etc it's 100% not an issue.
Yeah I suck at not buying shiny new tech things. The reviews so far are pretty damn good, so I ordered monday morning. Now the long wait, hopefully my delivery time gets bumped up a bit, but if not it's my own fault for pretending I wasn't going to order one and skipping the 3am preorder. I guess Daisy gets upgraded to an 8+ now.
With the iPhone 8 and 8+, Apple has added fast charging, just like they recently did to the 10.5 and 12.9 iPad Pros. Fast charging requires a USB-C wall charger that provides USB PD (Power Delivery) and a USB to lightning cable that does as well. I have the USB C to lightning that Apple sells for way too much money, because it’s one that I know will work, and a 29w power brick that I bought on EBay.
We start at 9:30pm CST with 28% battery. I took this literally the second I plugged it in.
Half an hour later, we are at 75% for a gain of 47% in 30 minutes. Since fast charging works best from zero, tapers off a bit as the battery gets closer to full, and then basically drops to 10-12w over 80%, I would say this is right in line with Apple’s claim of “50% in 30 minutes”
The cost of entry is pretty steep, but can be mitigated a bit by buying the power brick on eBay or finding one on amazon that supports USB-C PD, but for me it’s totally worth it since BOTH of my daily carry devices (IPhone 8+ and IPad Pro 10.5) support fast charging with this setup. I wouldn’t bother having one at home, but I’m going to carry this around in my messenger bag, so when I really need to top off one of my devices I can do it very quickly.
So yesterday I took a few pics at my shop, then after work I stopped by the Saddle Creek apple store last night to pick up a sport loop watch band. Decided I might as well take a few pictures there too.
I have to say, I'm super impressed with the camera on this phone. On the first picture it managed to expose the side of the car pretty damn well, even though it's in the shadow of the building, while still also exposing the stuff further away in direct sunlight and the sky. The apple store pictures look really good too, especially when you consider I'm taking pictures of bright displays and then stuff in the shadows behind them.
I picked up the sport loop, super comfy. Kind of a hybrid of the Nylon band and one of the loop bands. I liked the adjustability of my Milanese Loop but wanted something more comfortable for work. I've only had it a day, but so far I like it a lot.
Since yesterday was clearly accessory day, my Caudabe Lucid Clear case showed up in the mail. I've used Caudabe cases before so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. It's a well made, transparent, minimal case. Pretty much exactly what I wanted. I think I'm going to use this most of the time. I wish it were a little grippier but I also understand that making a grippy case transparent is probably a rather difficult proposition.
Overall, if I can resist the urge the BUY ALL THE THINGS when the iPhone X comes out, it looks like I'm set as far as my technology, at least for now. That can only mean one thing, time to buy car parts!
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