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Week One: Apple Watch… and Amazon Echo

For the last few days I’ve been walking around the house talking to the walls expecting things to happen. This is what one does when they own devices that “listen” for commands.

The Apple Watch has been fun, and definitely a keeper. I’ve set timers, reminders, replied to texts with dictation, sent calls to voicemail, all without looking for my phone. It has added a level of simplicity to my high-tech life. Only two complaints:

  • The Milanese band continues to catch my long hair. Considering it’s a feminine design, the likelihood of it bothering more users is high. If your hair is short (say two inches past your shoulders or shorter), you will be fine. But long hair will get caught throughout the day.
  • You will notice notifications more often than you do without the watch. Makes no sense? Think of it this way: One rarely holds on to their phone all day long. You put in down, pop it into a purse or onto a table, leave it in another room… all these moments give you wee bits of quiet that the watch will not. A great example is when Simon and I went to the new Avengers movie. I put my phone on vibrate and kept it in my purse. Normally I wouldn’t know what was going on until after the movie. But with the watch, I’d still get notifications (like texts and calls) that lit up my wrist. I turned on Do Not Disturb mode to fix it during the movie, but throughout the day I see more of what I normally wait to check at purposeful times. It’s more distracting that you think. Again… for must-need quiet times use the Do Not Disturb mode.

The Amazon Echo is placed between our kitchen and family room. Perfect location really. We’ve used it to hear the news, weather, wikipedia information, and listen to various Amazon Prime Music Playlists. Regarding the music, it’s actually quiet fun. We were joking about our dog and I said “Amazon, play Who Let The Dog Out”… and within a few seconds the song was playing on the Echo. Echo can use your Amazon Prime account, as well as many other music accounts (like Pandora). Very cool. Shopping lists are also a fun feature, and they recently released an upgrade to work with IFTTT. I haven’t tried that yet, but will. I can see Echo fitting in nicely with home automation.

From a quality perspective, the Echo needs better error handling. If it doesn’t have a program to support your question/request the response it too generic. Simon asked for a stock price and Echo doesn’t support that. Odd, considering it’s been a stock application on all smartphones for five-plus years. Better testing would have both determined a needed feature, and a better UI response that addressed the lack of functionality. Quality is more than not having software defects, it’s also meeting and managing user expectations of said quality. Echo has failed here.

Nonetheless, these are two fun and somewhat useful purchases. If you are either a tech-geek, or have some disposable income, I recommend them. I’ll follow up in another few weeks on what living with these devices for a month are like.

Questions? Experiences? Comment below…

2014 Wish List

Every year I do a gadget review of all the cool products that became available throughout the year. This year I’m making it more expansive… including items that I think are awesome whether they’re gadgets or not. Enjoy!

  • Upgraded Coffee… oh, and their absolutely amazing upgrade Cocoa Butter. Just the best coffee period. You can order whole bean or K-cups. I have a video on this site explaining how to use the k-cups in the new Keuirg 2.0. There’s also a recipe for my version of their Bulletproof Coffee. Once you try it you’ll wonder how you ever lived without. Then again, your bank statements will also remind how darn expensive total deliciousness can be!
  • iPhone 6. Okay, if you’re all into the Phablet then get the 6+, but the 6 is awesome. Uber thin and lightning fast. With a return to the curved form factor I think it’s the best iPhone to date.
  • T-Mobile Plans. For under $100 a month I get unlimited calls, texts and LTE, plus free text and data internationally (and $.20 a minute calling from abroad). When my husband and I went to Japan last month the free data came in handy! I was looking up maps, translations, etc.like a pro. I came back to a bill that remained under $100. Sweet.
  • Transcend 1TB SSD. It comes in both Thunderbolt and USB… but both can be used with your Mac. Solid state drives are more robust and less prone to injury while traveling. This model is very small and it a great travel back-up drive. Under $500 too.
  • Otoro. Oh. My. God. The food of heaven itself. Tuna belly, as we’d say in English, yet sometimes called Fatty Tuna. However, not all fatty tuna is the same. The stuff we have here in the US is crap (or so I’ve found so far). Japan has the most amazing ever… and at about $10-20 a piece will rip your wallet to shreds as you order one after another. It’s amazing, and I so highly recommend it if you enjoy amazing food.
  • Jump. It’s a charging cable and back-up battery for your iDevice. Doesn’t hold a ton of juice, but is super tiny and easy to use. Mine goes with me everywhere. I charge it at night while charging the phone through it. So both are ready the next day.
  • AirBnB. Wow, what a great idea… sometimes. I love everything about this site and idea. Yes, there are a few bad apples who rent you a crappy, dirty, used place simply to pocket some extra cash. But most are professional units in seasonal vacation locations… a house at a hotel price.
  • Estately. Simon and I have recently gotten into real estate investing. This is the only app we know that is absolutely up to date on the MLS. We found new places the day they come on the market… calling our agent before she even knows about them. The app works on iDevices, but seems to be a little flaky lately. Hopefully they update it soon. Either way, it’s great if you follow the MLS.

 

Now just the list of cool things… perhaps mentioned before, or just general “in” items for your gift giving strategy!

  • Owls
  • Keurig
  • Netflix
  • Clarisonic
  • Tieks
  • iPad Air (and iPad Air 2)
  • Macbook Pro Retina
  • Neat Scanner
  • Escort Radar Detector
  • Playstation 3
  • Roku 2
  • Chromebook
  • Harry’s Shave products
  • Blue Nile

 

May this season be about giving the gifts of light, love, hope, support and commitment. Although we may use money to show our love and appreciation, ensure the gift is not all about money… but about thought and love. Use this as a springboard for the rest of the year, next year, and the rest of your life. Authentic love and commitment to each other are the greatest gifts God gave us to share.