Should You Buy Google Glass in 2014?

Why I Returned Mine After Only A Month


In late November 2013, I was given an opportunity to purchase Google Glass. I was so excited that it took me less than 30 minutes to give Google my $1,600 and pick a color. All I could think about was how none of my tech friends (or anyone I know at all) had it and the value that it could add in PR for my website. How could I go wrong?

Arrival of Glass

It arrived in 2 days (1 was a holiday) after I opted out of going to NYC for a personalized fitting. At first it was everything I imagined. I felt like I was in the future or a sci-fi movie. I started to dream about the endless uses Glass seemed to have and all the cool video that I could record. After looking through the Glass explorer pages on Google, I was only more excited.

Performance

It didn’t take long to realize there are some downfalls to Glass:

1) Navigation. Navigating through the endless tiles that you can generate is painful (literally) as you try to sift through them using hand gestures and have to constantly look upwards at the tiny screen. There is no “clear all” feature.

2) Voice Commands. While voice commands can occasionally be convenient, it’s rarely appropriate to be talking to your Glass in public. Personally, I can’t stand people who are on their bluetooth devices or yelling into their phones in public, especially when they make awkward eye contact with you while not actually talking to you. Also, to text or email, you have to speak the content in order to send. I don’t see how else they could do this, but that isn’t something you want to do in public.

3) Pictures/Video. You can initiate these with either voice, touch, or the button located at the top of the device. However, the button is actually located on the temple of the glasses, which makes it very easy to press accidentally as you take them off. I ended up with a ton of useless pictures that were taken accidentally as I took the glasses off. The picture quality is equivalent to a standard smartphone.

4) Battery Life. The battery life was not too bad. It would last a few hours of constant use without having to recharge. I think it would be a stretch to have them on for an entire day (10-12 hours) without having to charge them. However, I found it reasonable for how new the device is.

5) Apps. For something that costs $1,500 + tax, you would think there would be some showcase (and useful) apps available. Wrong! There are very few apps, and much like apps for your phone, most of them have obnoxious push notifications

6) Android Connection. This was where I could see the potential for everyday use. When you receive notifications, you have the option to respond on Glass or pull out your phone for longer messages. Plus, the Glass app for Android shows what is on the Glass screen, which is a great introduction to Glass for those who haven’t used it yet.

7) Screen. The only issues with the screen I had are in lots of light or sunlight. The glare made the images so opaque that it was hard to make them out. Resolution and obstruction to my view were what I expected, which was about average. The screen will adjust toward or away from your face for better viewing. My eyes will get tired from reading long messages or watching videos on it.

8) Cost. This one is obvious… $1,500 is way too much for this product and I knew that going in. My estimated value after using them was $300. If I could get them for around that price then I would feel like it was money well spent.

Roadblocks

If you wear glasses with prescription lenses, I would suggest trying them out for a few days first. While they do make prescription lenses for it, you are stuck with Glass for every situation as they do not fold up and the case is rather large.

There is also the legal side of using Glass. From the acceptable use while driving, to the using it in a movie theater, or even using it at a restaurant. It is clear that it will take some time for all of this to be figured out. You should be fine using it with reasonable caution and putting them away if asked.

The Bottom Line

Google GlassWhat I didn’t realize when I purchased Glass was how impractical they are at this early stage. There is nothing in my digital life that I can only do with Glass. Besides, Glass is pretty controversial: there are plenty of (not unfounded) concerns about privacy. It feels strange to use some of its features such as voice command in public, yet I felt like I got even stranger looks when I used it without voice commands. People seem to assume that you are just taking photos and video all the time. Until the public understands and accepts hardware like Glass, you are going to stick out when you use it. It is the bluetooth device of this decade.

Restaurant Kicks Out Patron For Wearing Google Glass

Only time will tell if it will be worth having Glass. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try it, but I am more happy that I got my money back. (To Google’s credit, they did refund my entire purchase including tax, and provided free return shipping.) For now, I will pass until it is more affordable and more people are developing for it.

iPhone 5S vs. 5C (5S Edition)

iPhone 5S Review

iPhone 5S (CC by Ashok Govind)

I’ve been using my iPhone 5s since the week after launch, so about 5 weeks now, and it truly is the best, fastest iPhone to date. The casing and screen are virtually identical to the iPhone 5, except for the dual flashes and touch ID. It ships with iOS 7, and is remarkably light and thin for a device that packs such substantial improvement in power. An article I read on imore.com points out that the power under the hood from the A7 chip in the 5s is equivalent to that of a 2010 MacBook Air.


Maker: Apple
Price: $199 with a 2 year contract from AT&T
Ownership Length: 5 Weeks


Pros:

1) The iOS 7 user interface is silky smooth and quick, but probably not appreciably better than the iPhone 5.

2) The camera quality is improved. The slow motion and burst mode options both work really well and are useful for action video and photos.

3) The battery life is good. I know there are phones with better battery life, but I can quite easily go the entire day (from 8 AM until midnight or later) and still be at 10-15% battery or higher, depending on use.

4) Touch ID is awesome; it’s the best, easiest to use feature security feature I’ve witnessed. You set it up with up to 5 fingers and it allows you to unlock the phone or pay for apps in the app store without having to input an alphanumeric password. Putting your thumb—or whichever finger you choose—on the home button unlocks the phone. The only time I’ve had a problem is if my finger is damp. It is so much easier than inputting a 4-digit code every time you unlock your phone. Also, if the “nuisance” of having to input a password has kept you from putting a pass lock on your phone, this is such an easy way to secure your phone and your personal information (I don’t think it blocks the NSA though).

5) In addition to the A7 processor, there is a M7 coprocessor that registers motion, so exercise, GPS, pedometer apps or whatnot can track that data without taking away memory and battery/efficiency from the main processor.

Cons:
1) Size. I personally love the size—it’s the same 4-inch screen as the iPhone 5. I find most large Android phones, like the Samsung Galaxy, too huge to slip in and out of my pocket easily. But if you want a larger screen, get an Android or Windows phone.

2) No external card slots. There isn’t and never will be a card slot on an iPhone. If you need one, the iPhone 5s is probably not for you.

3) Slick surfaces. The iPhone 5s is is very shiny and possibly a little slick. If you are like me and want to keep it pristine, get a case for when you are out and about. I like to uncase it when I’m at home.

Summary

iPhone 5S BackMy overall final thoughts: it’s a great phone and if you like Apple products, you’ll really enjoy using the iPhone 5s. That being said, I was eligible for an upgrade on contract, and with selling back my previous iPhone, I basically got it for the activation cost. While the iPhone 5s is certainly an upgrade from the iPhone 5, it’s not necessarily worth paying full price if you aren’t eligible for an upgrade on your contract. But if you have the iPhone 4s or earlier, upgrade to the iPhone 5s if you can. It is the creme de la creme of iPhones.

iPhone 5S vs 5C (5C Edition)

iPhone 5C Review

iPhone 5CLast February, when I was still working at the American Cancer Society, I was doing some canvassing one day and happened to pass by a Verizon store. My Droid Incredible had been giving me some trouble, so I went in to ask them if anything could be done. I ended up trading it in for an iPhone 4 for only $100–the 4s had just come out, so the 4 was cheap.

As a Mac person, it was about time I got an iPhone. When I had originally bought the Droid, I found I couldn’t sync any of my calendars in the correct direction (my Google calendar would sync to iCal, but I couldn’t get iCal to sync to Google). So I was just biding my time until I could get a phone that would sync seamlessly to my calendars, iTunes, etc. Getting the iPhone 4 completed the circle.

Fast-forward a year and 9 months or so. My trusty iPhone 4 was still working more or less perfectly, but its capacity was shot–having bought only the 8GB, I had barely 30 songs, less than 1,000 pictures, and only a few extraneous apps installed on the phone, but there still wasn’t enough space available to install iOS7. The large majority of these apps were daily essentials (banking, Facebook, Sparkpeople, Pandora), and my phone was running painfully slowly. So when the iPhone 5s and 5c came out, I got it into my head that I should upgrade. (Thankfully, there was an upgrade available on my family plan!)

Amazon – Apple iPhone 5c, White 16GB (Unlocked)

The first thing I did was check out the differences in specs between the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c. I ruled out the iPhone 5 almost immediately because only the 64GB model was available through Verizon, and I wasn’t about to pay $300 for a phone that wasn’t even the most recent version. In comparing the iPhone 5s and 5c, I noticed only a few things the 5s had that the 5c didn’t, namely a few camera features (burst mode, slow-motion video, “True Tone” flash instead of an LED flash) and, of course, the fingerprint identity scanner. Deciding that I really didn’t want a fingerprint scanner anyway, and realizing that, if I wanted fancy camera features, I could just buy a camera (which I plan to do before I get married in April), I decided to go for the iPhone 5c. Plus, for $199, I could get a 32GB iPhone 5c, while that much would only get me a 16GB iPhone 5s.

So about a month ago, after watching BC get dealt a crushing defeat at the hands of FSU, I decided to cheer myself up by heading to the Verizon store a few miles away. After signing in and waiting a while for service, another rep finally called my name and I explained what I wanted. I also mentioned that I had an iPhone 4 that I would be willing to trade in if it would get me anything. Incredibly, my iPhone 4 had a $100 trade-in value! I got my new, blue iPhone 5c, a case, screen protectors, and an additional charger for less than $200. I went home a VERY happy camper.

I love this phone. Everything is fast. The capacity is great and (hopefully) more than I’ll ever need. The display is beautiful. The sound quality, both from the earpiece and the speaker at the bottom, is great. I haven’t had any antenna issues when making or receiving calls. The battery life, while never great on smartphones, is definitely an improvement over my drained-in-4-hours iPhone 4 battery, so I’m definitely not complaining. With moderate use throughout the day (some music playing, lots of Facebook, texting, and Words With Friends) I still usually go home at the end of the day with at least 50% charge. I worked from 8:30am until midnight a few days ago, and my phone only gave me a “20% battery” alert when I was about to go home.

The camera is also pretty great for a phone camera. There are a bunch of different instagram-like settings, including a “square” setting, as well as panoramic and video settings. The zoom is pretty good too.

Video quality is great, too:

Of course, I have to make a bit of a mention of iOS7. I got used to it pretty quickly and frankly not much has changed except the surface. I don’t love the eye-searing green that accompanies the toggle switches and text message balloons, and the dock bothers me because it seems like a step backwards all the way to Mac OS X Tiger:

Tiger OS X

I definitely prefer the “platform” look of the dock from previous iOS iteration.

Otherwise, though, while I do miss the skeumorphic touches of previous versions of iOS, I can live with iOS7 and frankly haven’t noticed too much difference. The starkest difference, to me, is the Messages app. The speech bubbles are entirely flat now and have taken more getting used to than most of the changes, just because texting is a large part of what I do on my phone.

I also LOVE that the new Maps app will actually REDIRECT when you take a wrong turn! It’s like a real GPS!! I was VERY happy when I discovered this feature. It also has much better graphics and actually makes sense when you’re using turn-by-turn directions.

 

Overall, I can’t say anything bad about this phone. If you’re looking to upgrade, I would highly recommend the iPhone 5c.

Review: Lenovo Twist Laptop

Lenovo Twist Laptop Recently I decided to purchase a new laptop now that I have graduated college. I have been using the same Dell XPS for the last 4 years and even though it still works it has suffered decent wear and tear. I constantly carry my laptops with me everywhere I go, always finding some sort of work to do or necessary need for it. So I began looking into the new technology on laptops and some of the features that I would want. This is when i found out the laptop market is a new type of beast. With all the new different types of laptops out there it is extremely complicated deciding what features best fit your needs nevermind which brand to choose from. I was in no rush to buy a new laptop because I wanted to thoroughly research each one and find something that would be perfect for my specific needs. After a bit of online research, I came to the decision that I wanted a high performance “Convertible” laptop. A convertible laptop is a touch screen laptop where the screen can be rotated or slid over the keyboard converting it into a tablet.

Now with the type of laptop decided it was onto the more complex part of choosing, deciding what brand to buy then what specifications the laptop required. Luckily I have a strong knowledge of computer statistics and knew the exact specifications I needed for both work and entertainment. I wanted an i7 with both a solid state hard drive (no moving parts) and a hard disk drive. One of the most important factors was reliability and durability, I carry my laptop with me everywhere I go…Literally I always have it so if it can’t take some rugged situations then it will have a short life span.


Price: $1100 (www.lenovo.com – $1400 after 4 year warranty)
Ownership Length: 2 months
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)


Pros:
1) Portability and adaptability – It is so light and ultra thin that it’s almost mesmerizing watching it transform back and forth from tablet to laptop. Fully functional laptop when I’m at a desk and folds into a tablet when I need to be mobile.
2) Speed – The Intel Core i7 has been unbelievably fast.
3) Durability – Gorilla glass screen and tough Lenovo ThinkPad parts combine to make a sturdy machine. (I got a screen protector because of touch features)

Cons:
1) Not 1080p HD – 12.5″ W HD (1366 x 768) LED Backlight, but it is Gorilla Glass
2) HDMI mini out – I don’t know why they did not put a full-size HDMI port in this laptop, requiring me to get an adapter is somewhat frustrating
3) Display orientation – This is a very minute criticism that I am only mentioning because it can be slightly frustrating. The screen rotation sometimes acts strange and whatever orientation it is in when it’s slept/turned off will be how it is going to startup until you are logged in, then it becomes active.

Summary

This laptop has been completely perfect for me. I was impressed when I first had unboxed it; before I had even fired it up it had me smiling. I knew it would be smaller than my old laptop but never realized this would only be a ¼ of its size.

This laptop has more than impressed me, it has spoiled me with its portability and has almost rendered my iPad as an entertainment only device. I’ve used IBM and Lenovo products before and they have a very crisp and responsive feel, this being a ThinkPad has the same overall good feel with the addition of a touchscreen and innovative portability. If you want a laptop that basically functions as a tablet just as efficiently and have strong value on dependability this should be one of your major considerations.

Tech Specs
Processor: Intel Core i7-3537U on MB
Operating system: Windows 8 64
Operating system Language: Win8 64 English
Total memory: 8 GB PC3-10600 DDR3L on MB
Hard drive: 500GB HDD 7200rpm
Battery: 8 cell Li-Polymer 42.4Wh S230u
WiFi wireless LAN adapters: Intel CW-N 2230 (2x2BGN&BT4)
Display Panel: S230u 12.5WHD,NW Mocha
Storage Adapter: 24GB Micro SSD SATA3 Win8
System Unit: S230u Intel HD, i7-3537U 8GB

Review: Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS

Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HDI bought the Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS because I was looking for a camera with full HD video as well as a decent overall picture camera. My other option was to use my phone, but I have a lot of scratches already from dropping it everywhere I go. I also wanted something that I could travel with and not carry it around in a case or bag.

My budget was around $150 and I was looking to get around 16 Mega Pixels.


Price: $144.95 from Adorama Camera (through Amazon)
Resolution: 16.1 MP
Ownership Length: 2 month
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)


Pros
1) Picture Quality – Pictures are nice and large [insert dimensions] and are really clear. See examples below.
2) Video/Audio Quality – The full HD (1080p) and stereo microphone perform exceptionally well for a point-and-shoot camera. It is very popular with many YouTube Partners. See examples below.
3) Size – It is small enough to easily fit in your pocket with other things.

Cons
1) Zoom Noise – This camera is loud when zooming in. It is picked up in the video recording which is definitely a bad thing.

Example Content

Summary

Overall, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS is a great all-around point-and-shoot camera. The price is good and the quality is great. I used this for some graduation photos and it didn’t disappoint at all. The outdoor pictures were especially good.

This is also great if you are looking for a camera to shoot videos with. The quality is pretty good and can capture great moments like sporting events or concerts. The size makes it really portable too. This makes a great camera for YouTube videos as well!