Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Aftershokz bone conduction headphones Trekz Titanium vs Air

As a hobby cyclist, I am using Aftershokz bone conduction headphones on my road bike. They are for me the ideal headphones which allow me to listen to music during my rides and be at the same time not death to the traffic on the road. The headphone is not blocking the ear. The music is inducted via the bone in front of the ear. This works well as long the wind noise is not too heavy (use an aerodynamic helmet to reduce it).
So far I used the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium  wireless headphones with Bluetooth connection to my phone. Now, the next generation of it is available, the AfterShokz Trekz Air. I own both headphones and can report the differences here.

The Air version is about 20% lighter and looks more slim and elegant. The main difference for me is, that the microphone quality is much better and it really can be used for phone calls. The Titanium version was always problematic to use for the call. I was told to sound like I am calling out of a bucket and often people hung up as it was almost not understandable. This never happened with the new Air headphone. I also like, that the phone and headphone loudness buttons are connected. That means one can increase the loudness either on the phone or on the headphone, in the same way, the Titanium version was acting like having 2 different loudness levels on the phone and headphone.

The new Air version is more expensive, but for me, the better microphone is totally worth it. Especially if you often have to answer phone calls during sport or office use, it is really recommended to take the Air version. Sound quality vise I could not find a big difference between the headphones. So, if you do not need the microphone and not count Gramms, the Titanium version should work very well for you.

Trekz Titanium

Trekz Air

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

External Bluetooth keyboard for phones

If you have to write a lot of text or e-mails, the keyboard on the touchscreen limits the view on the document. For such cases, I carry my external keyboard with me. With it, my phone becomes in seconds a productivity workstation.

It is folded by half and the phone holder are adjustable for all phone sizes. I prefer it over other keyboards without phone holders, as you usually need to tilt the phone to easily read the screen. For me the perfect accessory and gift for all phone owners for Christmas!

Try it out and order it at Amazon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Why you need an Apple watch

You do not have an Apple watch yet? Then you will not miss it (yet). But I can not live without it anymore. Below my top 10 list of features I love.
  1. Searching for your iPhone. Seems to be a stupid function, but saves me a lot of time. There is a function to let the iPhone beep to find it. Very useful.
  2. Measuring the resting heart rate overnight. This is very useful for actively training people of endurance sports, like cycling or running. See this article for in-depth information. There is nothing to do to get this data. Just keep the watch on your wrist overnight (and charge it during the breakfast).
  3. Gently notification. I never miss anything and my colleagues are not bothered by ringtones or vibration. The watch is really gently and silently notifying.
  4. Answer messages quickly. You can reply to messages by emoticons very easily from the watch. So, a thumbs up or kisses are easily replied.
  5. Remote control Spotify. You can remote control Spotify from the watch. Switch to the next song or change volume.
  6. Navigation. If you navigate by Apple maps, the watch will tell you where to go and is even having different vibration schemes for left and right. Very cool if you need walking in an unknown city.
  7. Siri dial / weather. The new watchOS4 Siri dial tell you when rain is expected.
  8. Payment. This is actually the best.Pay contactless with your watch just with a touch. I love it. You can easily get access to your cards by pressing the dock button twice. Then you can even select the card you want by sliding.
  9.  Listen to music without the phone. You can load music onto your watch and listen to bluetooth headphones without iphone. Perfect for the gym or running outdoors.
  10. Use Siri. I frequently use Siri to set timers, set my alarm, get information on my watch. It is more handy than on the phone, especially when you cook and your hands are contaminated.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Thermal camera image of the blackberry passport silver edition

The passport has an odd temperature distribution when running at high load. the upper right area becomes hot. I pictured this by a thermal camera. Below you see the front side and backside (with blackberry logo) and the temperature distribution as color-coded image. The picture was taken by an Seek thermal image camera.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blackberry passport silver edition and external audio DAC FiiO E17

The FiiO E17 works on my BlackBerry Passport silver edition running OS! I connected it to an USB to go cable and could hear music e.g. from the Spotify app (Amazon Android app store).

The setup is shown below. I used an USB hub cable as this is required to run the setup at iOS devices. But I guess a normal USB cable should work as well.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Blackberry passport silver edition a working horse for productivity

If you commute like me in a train or other public transport, you might like to use the time to read and answer e-mails, write meeting minutes and other business related work.

So far, I was using touch screen devices for that. I found out, that I was struggling with the touch screen keyboard on longer text inputs. I also used an ipad with external keyboard. But it was only comfortable if you have a table to write. So, I decided to give the blackberry passport a try. And so far, I really love it. I used blackberry in the past (my latest was the Bold 9900) and I am owning a playbook (which has a similar operation system like the passport).

No chromebook innovations anymore?

From my post frequency (which dropped recently) you can see there are not too many exciting news anymore for Chromebooks. The systems are running well. I am personally still using my lovely Acer C720 Chromebook (I type this article on it).

If google (or Alphabet) needs some input for innovations, here is my list:

- Make the chromebook Android compatible. Some apps are ported from Android already. Not many though. Why not having a virtual machine on Chromebooks running android?
- Chromebook in the cloud. All the Chromebook settings etc. are synced already today. Why do I need a Chromebook to run my environment. Why can I not use any browser? A virtual Chromebook (available on all browsers) might be cool to have access to the lovely Chromebook environment from everywhere. Jolicloud Linux was a great example into that direction.

Please add you innovation wish list in the comments.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chromebook Pixel 2 launched

Just after Apple having announced the new Macbook 12inch version, google announced the new high-end chromebook Pixel today.
It is mainly upgraded in processor power and battery life. It comes with the same USB-C connection as the Apple Macbook with 12inch screen. Price is slightly reduced, but still hefty starting at 999 USD. There is a LS "Ludricrous Speed" Version with Intel i7 and more RAM for 1299 USD.

Have a look at the very honest review at The Verge.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

PDF tools for a cup of coffee (or free) on chromebooks

Do you still remember the times when you had to buy expensive software just to get small things done? E.g. Acrobat software of Adobe just to manipulate pdfs? Do you remember that operating systems and computers were expensive? This time is definitely over.

With a chromebook and a cool cloud tool you can manipulate pdfs as well. Have a look at smallpdf.com. The best tool I found to manipulate pdfs in many different ways.
Do not forget to donate a coffee for the programmers!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Update: Google Music upload from chromebooks

So far there was no way to upload music from a google computer (chromebook) to google music. Which was somehow odd.

Text below is obsolete now. Google music is now supporting uploads from chromebook (even from the gdrive). Thanks to the developers. More details at google plus post here.

Now, at least a lab version of the upload exists. So, there is no download (upload) manager needed anymore (which was until not recently compatible to chromebook, only windows, mac, linux was supported).

Here is a step by step tutorial for you.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cloudbeats, the iOS app to stream audio files from the gdrive (flac and other formats)

Cloudbeats is the only one iOS app so far which allows streaming of audio files from Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, Mediafire, ownCloud.

You save a lot of mobile storage space on your mobile device by storing audio files such as flac / mp3 in the cloud (see my blog post). Then you can hear your music by multiple devices on all operating systems. For iOS the cloudbeats app is needed which does a nice job. Chromebooks can read it nativly, for windows and mac there are many players available.

I use it to enjoy lossless sound in the office / bed or other areas with WIFI access (the app can copy files for offline usage though)  from my library on my gdrive. No need to sync files anymore.

You can get cloudbeats from the Apple app store.

Use cases of gdrive storage space: audio streaming

With your chromebook you probably received a lot of storage space on googles gdrive. Either 100 GB or recently 1 TB as mentioned in my blog. This is a lot of space. I would like to give you some ideas for use cases.

Todays use case it is about storing your audio flac files (uncompressed audio format which can even hold high definition audio with sampling frequency and resolutions higher than CD, which is 44.1kHZ / 16 bit). MP3 was invented to reduce storage space as it was limited that time (in the ninetees). Bandwidths of streaming were limited as well (I just remember my modem with 56kbaud). MP3 sounds great considering the 11times compression factor, but today we can afford to store and stream full quality of the audio information.

For mobile devices the flac files are still huge. An CD music album can be up to about 500 MB / 0.5 GB big (with high definition audio the number is growing even more). For an iphone or other mobile device with limited memory space you can store not too many albums. Same situation we have with the chromebook. They are usually equipped with 16/32 GB SSDs only. So, better do not use as your flac library. If you cam limit your flac consumption to WIFI equipped area there is one nice solution to the issue: cloud storage.

If you rip the CDs to your gdrive you do not stress your storage capabilities on your devices. Unfortunately so far it is not possible to RIP CDs on a chromebook. But other OS can rip CDs with free software like foobar to the gdrive. Then you can enjoy it on your chromebook by using the internal audio player (see my blog) by streaming it from the gdrive directly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The cheapest DAC and smallest solution for digital audio on iOS devices (ipad, iphone) with lighting connection?

I already reported here in this blog about my FiiO E17 Alpen Portable Headphone Amplifier USB DAC which can be used as a very audiophile USB soundcard and headphone amplifier, even on chromebooks.

The issue so far was, that it was not easy to connect it to recent iOS (ipad, ipod, iphone) devices. They all complained with an error message, that the device is draining too much power after the direct connection between the 2 devices by a regular USB cable.

There are several solutions to it, which all add a lot of weight and inconvenience. One is to convert the digital audio to SPDIF signals (needs an additional adapter which costs 50 bucks) or use a powered USB hub (needs a power source which is not available usually during mobile usage, or a battery needs to be attached).
I think I found an even better solution now.

There is a very compact passive hub which has no housing (just cables, see picture on the right). It is sold by Conrad Electronics e.g. in Germany or Switzerland and probably in other countries as well. It cost 6 EUR only. If the 3 "hubs" are cut away it even looks like a cable. I have not cut them yet on the picture below, I will cut them soon to have a very small and compact adapter.

The adapter has even the right USB connector to the Fiio E17, so there is no addtional cable needed.

To make it work, the USB charging function on the E17 has to be switched off and the hub can be directly connected. Then the music can be enjoyed. See my full setup in the picture below. Very compact, isn't it? With the removal of the non used 3 hub connectors it will behave like a short additional cable (for 6 EUR only).

If you find other sources to purchase the cable globally, please post them in the comments. I was looking for such a solution a long time and found it by accident.

The headphone in the picture below is a Philips Fidelio X1 which I recently purchased. It is one of the best in his price-class. I really like it. To be perfect it is just enhancing a bit too much the bass, but a more perfect headphone (like Sennheiser Sennheiser HD 800 costs 6 times more).

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Updated: Ipad mini and Fiio E17 USB DAC compatibility (also in combination with E09)

Please read my most recent blog post on this topic which makes that below obsolete.

As I did not find many reports of the Fiio E17 compatibility with an ipad mini, I tested it myself.

The FIIO E17 Alpen USB DAC Headphone Amplifier unfortunately does not work as USB DAC in combination with the ipad mini and the camera connection kit (message "external device needs too much current") if connected directly. Even switching off the USB charging function on the Fiio does not help to overcome the current limitations given by the ipad. The docking station with amplifier FiiO E09K does not change the situation!

BUT, connected to a powered USB hub, the ipad and Fiio work like a charm. I played flac files and other content from the ipad. I found out, that even non-powered hubs work and powered hubs just need power during the connection to the ipad. Later the power can be removed. There are very compact non-powered USB hubs which allow a very mobile setups. Amazon is offering one (see picture below), I have not tested this particular one. My one is very similar by Dr. Bott.

 Some other users reported that external spdif adapters do work (like http://www.matrix-digi.com/en/products/5/index.html). The spdif signal can then decoded by the Fiio which gives a mobile solution. I have not tested this combination myself yet.

Monday, December 1, 2014

And the winner is: a Chromebook

After black friday and cyber monday, the Amazon list of bestsellers in the category notebooks / laptops shows the Acer C720 Chromebook (11.6-Inch, 2GB) as winner. The HP stream (which is a chromebook like Windows clone) is taking the 2nd place.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Get 1TB googledrive storage for free (by buying a chromebook)

There is an official holiday offer from Google  that new purchased Chromebooks get additionally 1 TB of free storage for 2 years if claimed until 1-Jan-2015. If you would purchase this cloud space without purchasing a chromebook, it would cost 240 USD.

You can get your Chromebook from Amazon and be able to participate in this nice google offer.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

HP copies chromebook ideas to Windows?

Look at that HP STREAM notebooks running Windows 8.1. They look like chromebooks, are cheap like chromebooks, offer free Microsoft Office 365 and 1TB free space on onedrive, 32GB SSD. In Switzerland (and I guess in some other countries as well) they even offer free 3G connections with HP datapass

Memory: On-board 2GB 1333MHz DDR3L SDRAM
Storage: 32GB eMMC
Processor: Intel Celeron N2840 Processor (2.16GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.58GHz) Graphics: Intel HD graphics 
Display: 11.6-inch diagonal / 13.3-inch diagonal HD AntiGlare WLED-backlit display (1366 x 768)
Battery life: Up to 8:15 hours  (11.6 inch)  / 7:45 hours (13.3 inch)
Weight: 2.74 pounds
Dimensions: 11.81 w x 8.10 d x 0.78 h inches
Wireless: 1x1 802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth


Which chromebook to buy in 2014 holiday season?

I would buy the Toshiba Chromebook 2 (aka CB-35 ....). I read many reviews about it and it seems to be the best Chromebook offered during this holday. Hope you will get good black friday  or cyber monday discount offers. You always can support my site by bying it on amazon.com by clicking the links in this blog.

Read e.g. the Toshiba Chromebook 2 review on CNET.COM

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No exciting new chromebook in 2014?

In 2013 holiday time the chromebook hype was starting with Acer C720 and HP Chromebook 11 . The HP one was the most beautiful chromebook built ever (without counting the original Google chromebook Pixel which is too expensive and old).
There are nice chromebooks in 2014, but I really miss a nice designed one, a more pro one or other exciting upgrades. There are much more chromebooks available from different brands, but I am still looking for THE one which will motivate a customer with existing chromebook to upgrade.
Just dreaming: a HP chromebook 11 design (with new power adapter), IPS screen, Intel Haswell, 4GB RAM, 32 GB  SSD, 13 hours battery life would be a dream or a Pixel with upgraded hardware and 10 hours battery life. I think the announcements for this holiday season is over. Do we really need to wait for one year now or will there be a surprise coming up?
HP Chromebook 11 the nicest chromebook (after Pixel), but not the fastest.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chromebook overview

There is a very detailed Chromebook overview available at http://prodct.info/chromebooks/

Have a look and select your favorite model.