Tag Archives: review

Garmin Forerunner 35 Review

With the loss of the ability to sync with macOS High Sierra and long GPS acquisition times, I figured it was finally time to replace my Garmin Forerunner 305. Since Fitbit is shutting down most Pebble services, I figured I might as well replace my Pebble Time as well. I settled on the Garmin Forerunner 35 as an inexpensive smartwatch and exercise GPS with heart rate monitoring.

After two weeks with the Forerunner 35, I’m satisfied but not thrilled. It’s convenient going to a single device; however, it isn’t as good of a smartwatch or running GPS as the dedicated devices it replaces.


  • Great Battery Life – After 10 days and 3×30 minute runs using GPS, the battery is still reading 25%
  • Fast GPS acquisition – When I step outside it’s usually less than 10 seconds to acquire GPS
  • Easy synchronization – synchronizing activities with a phone over Bluetooth is much more convenient than a USB connection


  • Limited (almost no) customization:
    • Watch Face – The watch face only shows the battery, time and date. It cannot be customized (other than converting it from digital to analog)
    • Widgets – information screens (notifications, steps, weather, etc.) cannot be reordered
    • Notifications – There is no way to filter notifications. Selecting specific apps to show up on my Pebble was one of my favorite features
    • Exercise information – There are 4 screens of 3 fields for each. Fortunately these can be configured; however, they are not labeled. If you don’t have all screens configured, you still have to scroll through blank screens
  • Controls – Everything is controlled through the 4 physical buttons. There is only a down button for scrolling, so you have to scroll through everything if you hit down an extra time
  • Vibrator – I hear the vibration more than I feel it. I think it sounds cheap

Pebble Time with iOS Review

7/22/15 Update: Items addressed in FW version 3.2 (released July 22, 2015) have been struck out.

This applies to Pebble Time HW 8.12 (snowy22), Pebble Time FW v3.1, Pebble Time app v3.1, iOS 8.4, and an iPhone 6.

I’ve been using my Pebble Time for about two weeks. It works great as a convenient notification/reminder device. Even though it is marketed as a "smartwatch" it is by no means, a smartphone replacement.


  • Long battery life – I still charge my watch every night, but it has never reported under 90% charge.
  • Subtle notifications – I find the small vibrations more noticeable than a phone.
  • Convenient Calendar Access – pressing down quickly shows me the next appointment on my calendar.
  • Lightweight (1.4 oz. with band, 0.8 oz. without band)
  • Good range – I reliably receive notifications when I am at the at or beyond the "typical" Bluetooth range of 10m.


  • Dim Backlight – the backlight provides minimal illumination
  • Reflective Glass – glare on the glass makes the screen difficult to read at many angles
  • Dependence on the built in iOS Calendar app

Areas for Improvement

These are items that Pebble could improve with a simple Firmware update.

  • Customizable Backlight Timer – the backlight only stays on for about 3 seconds.
  • On Demand Do Not Disturb Activation – when going into a movie or important meeting, I’d like a simple option to turn off all notifications
  • Snooze on calendar notifications

Other Thoughts

I have not had any connectivity problems between my Pebble Time and my phone. I have not had to re-pair it or had any issues due to walking out of range of my phone.

Amazon Echo First Experience

I’ve only been playing with my Amazon Echo for a few hours, but so far, I’m very happy with "Alexa".

Echo has a very sold feel. It weighs almost 2.5 lbs and does not have the feeling of cheap plastic.

Setup was very easy, although it felt strange. From iOS or a computer, it involves:

  1. browsing to echo.amazon.com
  2. connecting your computer/phone/tablet to the WiFi network created by the Echo
  3. using the echo.amazon.com webpage to setup the Echo

So far Echo seems like it will be great for listening to music, getting the weather, and getting answers to basic questions.

Playing music with Echo is my favorite feature as well as my primary complaint. Being able to say, "Alexa, play country music," is a great convenience. Being able to use voice controls to change volume and change songs is very convenient as well. The speaker sounds pretty good and produces room filling sound. My main complaint is that Echo pauses audio when processing commands. Just telling Echo, "Alexa, volume down," results in the music pausing for about two seconds. A minor complain is that Echo tells you when it is playing Prime Music.

Echo is also good at telling you what the weather is like.

Echo is not very good at answering questions… Echo answered, "Do dogs dream?" with, "Yes, at least some dogs dream." This is a huge difference compared to Google now which answers the same question with the entire first paragraph from Psychology Today.

The Far-Field microphones work as advertized. I can generally speak in a normal voice while music is playing, and Echo will hear my command.

On a side note, my wife, who does not get excited by technology; is excited playing with Echo and playing different music.

Tomorrow, I’ll post how the alarm works.

Affordable Noise Canceling Earbuds

I’ve started traveling more for business recently so I started looking for some reasonably priced noise canceling headphones. I only looked at earbuds, because I like to travel light. I’m not an audiophile, but I like pretty good music. I wasn’t about to pay $300 for the Bose QuiteComfort 20i, so I decided to try the Audio-Technica QuitePoint Earbuds ATH-ANC33iS with it’s 4 star average review rather than the older and 3.5 star ATH-ANC23 model.

After 2 hours on a commuter plane and 10 hours on big jets, I’m satisfied with my purchase. The headphones canceled about 50% of the prop noise from an Embraer EMB 120 and 90% of the jet noise from an Airbus A-320 and Boeing 757. They blocked 100% of refrigerator and computer fan noise (sitting next to my gaming tower). Unfortunately, the noise canceling circuitry also adds a subtle hiss. It’s barely noticeable when there is ambient noise, but becomes apparent in quite situations. Fortunately, the simple solution is to turn off the noise canceling when it’s quite.

For audio quality I listened to a selection of my music that has a pretty good audio range. The bass was fairly boomy, but the audio wasn’t the crispest. It sounded similar to the Apple EarPods that come with new iDevices.

I haven’t had these long enough to comment on battery life. The one AAA battery that came with the earbuds has been going strong for 12 hours.

Overall I give the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS QuitePoint Earbuds a 4 out of 5 on value but 3 out of 5 for sound quality.