In a previous post I took a look at the Fitbit Flex and the Fitbit Charge HR, which were the two fitness trackers I had previously used. So due to a misadventure (I took a swim with my non waterproof Charge HR) I was in the market for a new Fitbit, and because I loved the Charge HR I decided to give its brand new successor, the Charge 2, a try.
So firstly the Charge 2 is once again not waterproof, it is however water resistant and should be able to withstand splashes, rain and sweat. This is a shortcoming I really wish they would have addressed. The second shortcoming is that the big bright beautiful new screen is very prone to scratches. Now that we have the bad out the way let us take a look at the good.
All the standard functionalities of the Charge HR are present in the Charge 2, such as a heart rate monitor, stop watch, as well as step, floors climbed and calories burned counters. Some functions have also been enhanced, such as the call notification with the Charge HR which now with the Charge 2 also shows text messages received as well as calendar reminders.
Various exercise modes have also been added (such as run, bike, interval training, etc.) which can easily be activated due to the larger screen and can also be customised.
The biggest improvement that was included, and which I love, is the connected GPS functionality. This is where the Fitbit uses your phones GPS to map out runs and bike rides. This can be configured to push straight to Strava. I use this functionality numerous times a week on runs and mountain bike rides and it is great not having to mess around with your phone to get Strava started before you start running or cycling.
I really am a fan of Fitbit, this is now my 3rd fitness tracker from them and I think the Charge 2 offer enough improvement over the Charge HR to make it a worthwhile upgrade.
I have been a loyal Fitbit user since 2013 and I love their devices and ecosystem. They are easy to use and very durable.
Approximately 3 years ago I received a Fitbit Flex as a gift and I loved the device, but it had one major flaw, which is also the reason why I no longer have it. The mechanism by which the strap locks on is completely inadequate and while I was in Seattle I actually lost it because the strap came loose.
While in the US I got a Fitbit Charge HR, which has a strap similar to most wristwatches, which is a lot more secure than that of the Fitbit Flex. It also has various additional features such as a heart rate monitor and floors climbed counter.
There are a lot of things I like about Fitbit in general. They are not bound to any mobile ecosystem and works on Android, IOS and Windows Mobile. I also like the Fitbit community with badges that can be earned for certain milestones based on things like steps and floors climbed and also the challenges that can be entered against friends.
Both the Fitbits I have owned were rubberized, which make them feel rugged and durable. While mountain biking I am never scared that the device might get smashed or damaged, as would be the case with something that has a large screen (such as the Apple watch or even the new Fitbit Blaze).
It is important to note that except for the Fitbit Blaze, none of the other Fitbit devices are smart watches, they are fitness devices. And if that is what you are looking for, I would really recommend Fitbit.
Numerous mini quadcopters are currently available so I decided to give one a try. As far as I could tell the feature set of all the mini quadcopters are very similar as are their prices.
I decided on the FODA Mini Quadcopter, for no particular reason other than it being very widely available. The FODA mini quadcopter is available in four colours – blue, yellow, green and white.
The box contains the tiny quadcopter, the remote control, an extra set of blades, a protection cover to protect the blades during flight, a charging cable and an instruction manual.
The quadcopter is tiny, measuring in at a length and width of just under 5cm and a height of just under 2cm.
Controlling the quadcopter is quite difficult as the controls (especially the blade speed control) is extremely sensitive. Additionally these mini quadcopters do not have the built-in auto stabilisation functionality as with larger quadcopters, so learning to fly it takes a fair amount of practise and the quadcopter is very sensitive to any air movement.
After spending about 30 minutes playing with the tiny quadcopter I finally got the hang of it and I can say the quadcopter is quite resilient as I crashed it a few times and it took no damage.
A close inspection of the quadcopter shows how truly amazing the little device really is, from the tiny motors to the fact that it contains a rechargeable battery is truly unbelievable.
I would recommend the FODA mini quadcopter for anyone interested in quadcopters who do not want to spend a great deal of money. These mini quadcopters are in no way a real reflection of the larger, and much more expensive quadcopters, but they do provide a basic and inexpensive sneak peek at the mechanisms and controls of these type of devices.
I found learning to fly the mini quadcopter challenging and fun, and for the price I recommend giving one a try.
I recently purchased a Google Cardboard even-though my expectations for this little cardboard gadget were far from high. But to my amazement my pre-perceived ideas turned out to be completely wrong.
The item ships as a flat cardboard envelope, which you simply open, tear off some indicated bits and then fold as instructed to form the headset (I did have to use a bit of tape to get it to hold together). There are 2 lenses, 2 strips of Velcro and some magnets already fitted on the cardboard, so very little assembly is actually required.
After the headset is folded your phone can be placed into the front of the headset, which then acts as the screen.
The Google Cardboard utilises the phone to run its apps as well as utilising its accelerometers and gyroscopes for head tracking.
Various apps are available that utilises the headset on the Google Play Store and even on the Apple App Store. I used my iPhone with the headset and it worked perfectly except for the slide magnet button that can be utilised with Android phones on the side of the headset, which did nothing with the iPhone.
Just note that although the Apple App Store has very little in the line of Google Cardboard specific apps, all FIBRUM VR apps work perfectly with the Cardboard headset.
The headset provides a true stereoscopic 3D effect, which is amazing given that it is simply a piece of cardboard with 2 lenses. Additionally the head tracking is truly surprising! And is far more accurate than I could have ever expected.
The best apps that I tried using my iPhone were:
- Sisters (this is a first person horror experience)
- War Of Words (this is a graphic representation of Siegfried Sassoon poem “The Kiss” based in World War 1)
- FIBRUM Crazy Swing VR (A VR Swing-chair theme park ride)
- FIBRUM Roller Coaster VR (A VR Roller Coaster)
For the price Google Cardboard is truly remarkable and is the cheapest way to experience stereoscopic 3D at your home.
I highly recommend picking up a Google Cardboard, there are very few things that can provide so much entertainment for such a small price.