Moto 360

Moto 360

Moto 360
These past two weeks with the Moto360 have been everything from exciting to pleasing and of course, at times frustrating. Here’s a short reflection on its integration into my daily life.

I seem to have acquired a newfound interest in periodically checking my heart rate, especially after any physical activity. It must have something to do with the heart rate monitor… but I’ll get back to that. Let’s begin with the unboxing experience.

As expected, the Moto360 came in a high end rigid box. Keep in mind, this isn’t just a tech product packaging, but also a watch which raises expectations. Watches regularly come in extravagant, original packaging that yell designer, or luxury. In this case, The Moto360’s circular, minimal packaging does a good job reflecting the nature of the product. Edges are crisp, fits are smooth and it’s soft to the touch.

Beautifully executed with the watch itself sitting immediately under the image. The two part rigid box comes apart to reveal the product immediately, no buildup. I may be nitpicking here, but the insert holding the watch in place is a high quality carton. Don’t get me wrong, it’s professionally molded and feels great… but still for a $250 watch I was expecting more than an egg carton. Overall, it still keeps true to the minimalist feel and experience, letting the main tactile focus be the watch itself.

Simple and beautiful. The top inner section of the cover has a simple circular foam piece that protects the watch face. And I must say, look at those gleaming chamfered edges. Anyhow, the rest of the accessories were tucked away under the molded pulp insert. Nothing special, but we’ll take a closer look at those accessories shortly.

Being me I have very small hands and an equally small wrist. The watch itself is gorgeous, but I can’t deny it may come across as awkwardly large. To be honest, I don’t notice the size whatsoever. On a larger individual I’m sure this isn’t a problem. The face itself is Gorilla Glass, the body stainless steel and the band, Horween leather. Overall a great combination of materials.

I never once cared for pedometers. I go to the gym daily and I’m a health nut so making it a point to walk was never a concern. However, Google’s fancy step counter makes it fun, setting goals and showing you your weekly progress. I guess there’s no denying that I now realize how much I sit around every day. It’s lame yes, but I do get a bit of joy watching myself reach those step goals.

Facebook messages, texts, emails all relay to the way. It’s actually quite nice being able to peek at your notifications without having to reach for and unlock your phone every time. It’s especially nice to leave your phone wherever and not have to worry about missing a call. As long as it’s in the range of bluetooth, your wrist will start buzzing.

I must note however, the functionality is absolute crap. I can’t access multiple messages, let alone a full facebook message. If the conversation is too long, it’s simply cut off and all you can do is reach for your phone. Responding is limited to speech input, which never works right anyways (maybe 10% of the time?).

The selection of watch faces is the icing here. So many gorgeous faces to choose from, and carefully crafted by the creators themselves. I’m sure if they opened it up to the public, people would start making and uploading all sorts of hideous, tacky crap. All the faces are elegant, professional and clean, but range in character from fun to serious. This one’s a nice classic face.

Another favorite of mine. This one tends to be busy at times, especially when notifications start clogging up the screen. It’s pretty embarrassing but someone asked me for the time the other day and it took me a good ten seconds to decipher what I was looking at. Beautiful face nonetheless.

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So here’s a serious word of advice. Absolutely do not try to use the watch while driving. It’s a terrible idea, unless you’re glancing at a call or notification. Having navigation on your wrist makes no sense. Trying to interact with Google Now and constantly glancing to correct its errors is frustrating as is. And to do all this while driving, you’re just asking for an accident. If anything it’s just another distraction on the road.

One of the most exciting features. Inductive charging. The base is a fun little object with a soft touch matte finish. Compliments the watch nicely. It’s great being able to drop the watch onto the charging base and be done with it. No fiddling with mini USBs in the dark, figuring out what’s right side up.

The biggest letdown to take note of is battery life. It’s ridiculously short. We have enough devices that require charging every day and this just adds another. Thank goodness it charges to easily and what’s nice, quickly. Just within an hour you can go from empty to nearly topped off. However, if you’re on the go, it’s highly doubtful you’ll find an inductive charger anywhere around, and you can’t just plug in a micro USB. I’ve found myself out and about countless times with a useless little brick around my wrist, battery drained that didn’t even tell me the time. If you’re just checking time however it’s fine… but it’s a smartwatch. You’d better use it for more.

To conclude, the watch is gorgeous. Motorola made an excellent choice going with a circular screen, keeping to the traditional appearance of a watch. Anything rectangular in shape is just too far from the norm, and also limits the range of “elegant” looking apps and watch faces. Sorry Apple. For the price, hell yes. Watches cost up and above that anyhow, why not have one that does more. Unfortunately the biggest drawback is the lack of utility. And this is the biggest letdown for now. On that note, I’m off to go develop a wearable app! It’s a good a time as any.

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Makerfaire NYC

My second attendance to the incredible gathering of creative minds. Makerfaire. For those of you who haven’t been, Makerfaire is an event you must attend. It’s a weekend where makers, hobbyists, tinkerers and most importantly, us quirky, curious folk unite. Last year I attended on behalf of UMBC‘s research lab where we presented 3D printing and assistive technology. This year marks my next chapter, with M3D.

 

This year, 3D printing seemed to be the highlight of the event. Shapeways’ incredible 3D printing service will be highlighted throughout this post. Let’s start off with my most prized print of all time. Here’s a trinket – their logo printed on interlinked cubes. Best example of 3D printing to have sitting on your desk.

 

This next company has taken up 3D printing electronic accessories. These are products that are ready to use, fresh off the printer! Of course, the quality is much higher, created on an SLS printer. When the day comes that you can get that tech in your home.

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I conclude with an image of myself captured from a formlabs video. Just me in my natural habitat. M3D made its first public appearance here this year (quietly but surely).

All images found in this article were taking using a Camera I recently purchased found here: http://www.ultimateyoutubeguide.com/camera-reviews/best-camera-for-youtube/

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HTC One

The next HTC One is just around the corner. This is the perfect time to reflect on how well the original withstood the test of time. For the past nine months, this phone has held up beautifully. Its design is still timeless, performance top notch. Most importantly my love for this phone is centered around its outstanding camera, It has quickly become a favorite of vloggers on YouTube making it a great a specializied vlogging camera. which has never failed to deliver. You don’t always have your DSLR handy, but your phone is always in your pocket. The HTC One was always there, ready to take that perfect picture.

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Crafted from a solid chunk of aluminum, you can feel the excellence of quality right in your hands. The glass and aluminum mesh perfectly, creating a simply elegant design. Its subtle curves and minimal appearance allow it to blend in seamlessly with the hustle and bustle of your daily life. Just how every product ought to be.

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The chamfered edges beautifully highlight every angle of the phone’s design. They give the phone a sharp, sophisticated appearance. The way the light plays with the curved sections is simply stunning. Unfortunately one of my largest complaints is how vulnerable it is to damage. Within the first week of use, the edges picked up dings and scratches that detracted from its appearance significantly. Over time the accumulation of imperfections dulls the once beautiful gleam that was the icing to the design.

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The aluminum back has a delightfully subtle curvature. It seems to be crafted from anodized aluminum which allows light to playfully reflect off, ever so softly. In addition this subtle curve provides a perfect fit for the hand or pocket. I believe HTC could have ditched the plastic white strips running along the backside though. They’re somewhat fun, but also tacky, and detract from the nearly perfect, minimalist design.  It’s also worth noting Beats Audio which tacked their text onto the back (unnecessary). For a phone, these dual speakers are incredible. This is what mobile speakers ought to sound like.

Again, these chamfered edges are absolutely beautiful, as long as you protect them from scratches (which is essentially impossible). Aside from that, material choice was perfect as the aluminum doesn’t pick up scratches, damage or fingerprints, unlike the iPhone or Galaxy S3/4. Nine months later, it’s as fresh as ever.

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Overall the phone’s build, construction and design are absolutely stunning. It’s the best of form and function, a solid build you can trust that gleams with elegance.

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The one thing I hate most about Android is it’s painfully ugly user interface. HTC sense was a great idea but was overly busy, losing it’s visual appeal. I went ahead and installed my own set of icon packs (which should never be expected of the user). This one is called Flatee, which is absolutely beautiful. Its custom made minimal icons, clean text, and seamless interface are finally in harmony with the physical design of the phone. In my opinion, the HTC One is really only  complete when you scrap their original UI. It’s really too bad.

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Now to highlight the key feature of this phone. The camera performance and picture quality is mind blowing. You can read more on the camera quality of this product here. I’ve provided some examples of shots I’ve taken over time. To note, its ability to take macro shots is off the charts. With a bit of fiddling, you can find a wide array of control through the menu. Again, without a dSLR on hand, the One’s camera never fails to deliver. I applaud you HTC.

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All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the HTC One. Its held up well just as any phone should. It looks, feels, sounds and performs with utmost excellence. I truly applaud HTC for their attempt at a comeback with this phone and hope the next generation HTC One can surpass the greatness of the original.

Tech Radar did a great review on this product as well if you’re interested in finding out more information

www.techradar.com/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/htcone-m8-1235307/review

https://www.cnet.com/products/htcone/user-reviews/

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