A pair of Bose QC35 II’s used to be my “go everywhere” noise cancelling headphones. Keywords: “used to be.” I wore them to coffee shops when I needed to get out of the house to write. I wore them on airplanes. I occasionally even wore them in the house when I wanted to watch a movie without disturbing the rest of my family.
How could a pair of earbuds be as solid as high-end over-the-ear headphones at noise cancelling? Turns out the answer is pretty simple: The fitted earpieces of the AirPods effectively turn them into ear plugs, so that does a fair amount of the work. And Apple knows what they’re doing when it comes to signal processing, design, and microphone placement, so the quality of the sound, the comfort wearing them, and the general usability are all pretty high.
I haven’t flown on a plane yet since I got the AirPods Pro, but I’ve used both the AirPods Pro and Bose headphones around town, trying them out in the same environments — including while holding a screaming two month old baby. (Don’t worry, it was my own screaming two month old baby.) The AirPods Pro actually seemed to do better at the crying baby test than the Bose headphones. What more do you need to know?
I like the new Apple AirPods Pro. My old AirPods (purchased the day they came out) were getting a little long in the Bluetooth, so the upgrade was an easy decision. The AirPods Pro might be for you, too, if you are…
…in the market for a pair of Bluetooth earbuds and were already planning to spend $200 for the original AirPods with wireless charging case.
…someone who wanted a pair of the original AirPods, but you tried them and they didn’t fit your ear well.
…a music fan who really likes to feel their music’s bass in their eardrums.
…someone who always wanted a pair of AirPods, but were turned off by the look of the long white stems.
And they are NOT for you if you recently bought a pair of AirPods but they’re outside of the return window. If that’s you, and you don’t desperately need noise cancelling, then don’t fret not having the Pro model. Be happy with your AirPods knowing you saved some bucks. You’ll have another chance to upgrade when you lose them in two months.
For nearly two years, my daily driver was a Chevy Bolt. It was — and now is for someone else — a truly great car. Not just as a commuter car, but for our whole family. Despite’s its small overall footprint, the car’s interior was maximized to easily accommodate two adults and two kids in bulky child safety seats while still easily hauling two strollers in the back.
But when I heard Tesla’s tax credit was expiring, I figured it couldn’t hurt to to finally head down to the local showroom to check out their offerings. Well, it did hurt…my wallet. Our family now owns a Tesla Model 3.
Here’s the thing: We weren’t going to make the switch unless we got a very specific trade-in value for our Bolt. And not only did we get that amount, Tesla even offered us more than I was expecting — and more than Carmax was offering.
We love the new car. By just about every measure, the Model 3 is an upgrade. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things I’m missing about the ol’ Bolt, like…
A Charge Port in the Front of the Car
Just about every public charger is located at the head of a parking space, and the cables tend not to be very generous in length. Don’t park just right in an EV with a rear port and a long-ish wheel base (like a Tesla) and the cord might not reach.
I totally get that there are technical reasons (not to mention political ones) why we shouldn’t expect to see an option for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in a Tesla anytime soon…but that doesn’t mean I still can’t miss it.
Standard Charge Port
Teslas work like magic with their own Superchargers, but when charging anywhere else things can get a little annoying. Not only is there an adapter involved, but the Tesla’s charge port has a locking mechanism that needs to be manually disengaged (an extra step) on some occasions.
The good thing about Teslas is their range is so good, charging anywhere but at home (or at a Supercharger during road trips) is usually avoidable. But when you’ve already got a CCS standard charging station in your garage from your previous electric car purchase…
The Key Fob
The Model 3 is designed to use your smart phone as its key, unlocking the car and even starting it without you having to do a thing. And as a backup in case your phone is dead, missing, or incompatible, it uses a credit card-sized keycard that easily fits in a wallet. It’s great not having another bulky item on my keychain. The problem? The phones themselves differ in their reliability as a key. My phone, for example, frequently won’t unlock the car when it’s in my back pocket. So I do have to take out my phone (or make sure it’s in my front pocket) before approaching my car. I get Tesla’s impulses here, but they are basically ceding control of one of the most important features of the car to a third party (Apple, Samsung, HTC, etc.).
Yes, you can get an optional key fob, but it’s not perfect either. It will allow you to manually unlock and the start the vehicle, but it doesn’t do those automatically via proximity alone. (Why? For security reasons — the Model 3 uses a wireless standard that isn’t has hackable as typical auto key fobs. That’s why it requires a newer smart phone with the latest, most secure wireless protocols to work as a key.)
Tesla uses a “radar” sensor that’s got its plusses — like giving you an exact distance from obstacles as you park — but I still miss being able to see a live-view of the street/curb around me when I want/need it.
The “Bird’s Eye View” is especially great for parallel parking, as it lets you see when you’re in the red of a curb or not, as well as other visual details that the Tesla’s system misses.
Tesla’s blindspot detection feels like an afterthought. It lives in the center console, not on the sideview mirrors, where it belongs.
Behind-The-Steering-Wheel Instrument Cluster
Yes, I know the screen is one of the Model 3’s signature features, and something you quickly get used to. Your eyes only have to shift a couple degrees to get a quick glance at the odometer. And Mr. Musk makes a compelling argument against a traditional dashboard when he asks why would you ever need to look at one when the car is driving for you. But the car isn’t fully autonomous yet and won’t be for a long, long time. I might not even still have the car by the time self-driving becomes a functional reality.
A Range of Range (Estimates)
In a Chevy Bolt, right behind the steering wheel you’ll find three numbers — your estimated range based on driving habits and current conditions, a max range under ideal circumstances, and a minimum range if you blast the AC while driving only uphill without making any stops (i.e. terrible conditions for an EV). The center number is also quite dynamic. For example, when you turn the AC on, you instantly see how much it affects your estimated range (upwards of 20-30 miles on a full charge).
The Tesla offers the same amount of data, but it’s buried behind a couple menus. The only number that the Model 3 offers at a glance while driving is the “best guesstimate” (i.e., the equivalent of the number in the middle). Very useful, and pretty darn accurate, but the other numbers were nice to have, too.
Stronger Regenerative Braking
The Bolt offers what feels like true one-pedal driving. You can bring the car to a stop in almost any circumstance without ever having to engage the brake. The Tesla’s regenerative braking is pretty strong, too, but it won’t bring the car to a stop all on its own. (Side note: My passengers, on the other hand, are glad to say good-bye to the Bolt’s regen, as it made them a little nauseous…)
The Bolt’s More “Practical” Exterior
Tesla’s striking looks come at a cost — a literal cost — as even minor repairs can be quite costly. I now worry about potential scratch and ding in a way I didn’t with the less attractive Bolt, and its more practical exterior.
And one thing I definitely don’t miss…
The Bolt’s “Rear View Camera Mirror”
One of the Bolt’s premium features is the ability to flip a switch and turn your rear-view mirror into an actual video feed from the back of the vehicle. Sounds cool, right? A way to see what’s behind you with zero blindspots, even when the rear window is blocked by taller items?! In practice, I didn’t find it useful at all — and discomforting at worst. Simply put, it didn’t agree with my basic human biology. With an actual mirror, your eye doesn’t have to change focal points when you glance from the windshield to the rear-view mirror. But with a video screen, your eye DOES have to change focal points, readjusting its focus every time you take a peek to see what’s behind you. I kept the rear view mirror camera turned off.
Here’s where I reiterate that most of these are issues I knew to expect, and none of them are dealbreakers soiling my overall enjoyment of the car. The Model 3 is really a spectacular auto filled with some cutting edge tech the Bolt can only dream of — not to mention some standard car tech features that are inexplicably missing from the Bolt (like the ability to open a garage door). If this post hasn’t dissuaded you from your interest in getting a Model 3 (or any Tesla), feel free to use my unique Tesla referral link to get 6 months of free Supercharging: https://ts.la/eric64615
(Apparently, if you use my referral link and wind up buying a Tesla, not only do you get free Supercharging for half-a-year, but I get to send a photo into space, though I’m not entire sure what means! But here’s to SpaceX/Tesla synergy!)
I didn’t intend to do a comparison piece between the D-Link Omna and Logitech Logi Circle, but here I am, with both in my house, and I only need one. One has to go. But which is it?
First: Let’s talk about my needs. I’m really only looking for something to check in on my kids during the day. I want something more full-featured than a baby monitor, but it doesn’t need to be a full-fledged security cam (which I already have through my security company). I’m looking for something in between.
The Omna in all its glory.
The brand new Omna immediately stuck out to me. It’s the first web-enabled “security” camera with built-in HomeKit support, which I currently use with my Hue lights. (What is HomeKit? It’s a protocol that allows smart home devices from different companies to work with each other — and to blend seamlessly with Apple’s ecosystem of products and software.)
It also has a built-in microSD card slot allowing it to store video locally, no cloud service needed. Looking for a dedicated security cam? Don’t get this one, because if the crook steals the camera, they steal the video evidence of the crime too. But if the idea of paying $4-$10/month just for access to your own videos sounds like a pain, this is an alternative. Guess which boat I’m in? (The boat that doesn’t want to shell out any more bucks per month.)
Because it’s not cloud-enabled, there’s no need for a subscription to unlock core features. What you see if what you get. Zone motion detection? Check. Notifications when activity is caught on camera? Check. Ability to look at past events? Check. The only limitation to how much it can record is the size of the microSD card you put into it (which is an additional, albeit only one time, purchase, of course).
Above you can see the motion settings. You pick the zone. You pick the sensitivity. You pick how often it triggers (i.e. if it senses motion twice or more in a given amount of time, it only sends one notification).
Nice benefit: Even if your home internet goes down, the camera will still keep on recording when it senses motion.
Potential drawback: In only records in 20 second increments (the 20 seconds immediately following when it first senses motion).
The feature I love the most (and the main reason why I bought it)? Once it’s set-up, you don’t need the dedicated Omna app anymore…if you’re an Apple user. You can just use Apple’s Home app — the same app I use to control my Hue lights.
The ability to see my room specific lights, cameras, and other smart home devices on one screen is SUPER convenient. It also makes sharing with other people in the household a breeze. Once I set it up on my phone (which is done in 3 easy steps), the new camera automatically appeared on my wife’s Home app. Didn’t have to do anything at all on her phone.
So as you can tell, I bought the Omna. I set it up. And I was happy…until I went to Best Buy to get a microSD card and saw that the Logi Circle had just gone on sale.
Two days ago, the Logi Circle and the Omna were the same price — $200, which is why I went with the HomeKit-enabled Omna over the Logi Circle, despite it’s great write-up at thewirecutter.com (where tech reviewers go for reviews). But as of this writing, the Logi Circle is now only $130. That’s $70 in savings. With the Omna still in its return period, I had to check out the Logi Circle.
Both have the same basic (and free) functions: A live view of any room in your house and the ability to record motion-triggered events.
The Logi Circle has no local storage, though, so you’re dependent on Logitech’s cloud-based hosting of your video. At the free tier, you get a 24-hour recording archive. NOTE: That’s not 24 hours OF recordings. Just recordings FROM the last 24 hours. Like the Omna, the Logi Circle only records in snippets, based on when the motion sensor is first triggered. Unlike the Omna, the snippets vary in time and can go well-over 20 seconds.
Possible detriment: If you put the camera in a place with a lot of activity, that’s a lot of video uploading. It could tax the speed of your home network a bit.
But the cloud-service (even at the free level) does come with a perk: You can view a special time-lapse video (30 seconds in length) of all the activity over the previous 24 hours. And you have the option to pay $4 or $10/month for a 14-day or 31-day recording window. The $10/month option also unlocks the ability to record by zones (something free on the Omna), as well as some other features — like the ability to tell when a “person” triggers the motion sensor instead of an animal or the wind or something.
So that’s how they are the largely the same at the free level. But how are they different?
The Logi Circle is vastly more customizable.
You can choose another resolution if the 1080p setting uses up too much data (either uploading or downloading on your mobile device while on the go.
The ability to set up motion zones might be extra, but the Logi Circle has some free “alert” settings missing from the Omna, like “smart location” which checks to see if you (i.e. your phone) is home. It also has more generous delay times, up to 30m, which can keep your phone from getting cluttered with notifications for the same activity.
2. If your internet goes down, so does your ability to record anything on the Logi Circle. Not a problem with the Omna.
3. Degree of visibility and video quality. Both offer HD imaging, but not all HD is the same. Blurry pixels in HD are still blurry pixels. Also: The Omna has a much wider degree of visibility.
The Logi Circle’s 135 degrees of visibility.
The Omna is 180. Note: Both pics were taken from the same exact spot.
4. Night Vision. Both offer night vision. But the Logi Circle made a weird “click” noise whenever it enabled its night vision mode (i.e. anytime it senses motion in a dark environment, or you if you check-in for a live stream). I think that’s because the Circle senses for motion first (or waits to be contacted for a live stream), then looks for light, then enables the night vision mode if needed. The Omna senses its dark first and already has it’s night vision lights enabled (and ready) for when it senses motion. The click noise was definitely noticeable, and it draws attention to the camera.
5. As mentioned, the “alert” options are quite different. The Logi Circle’s added customizations results in much fewer notifications on my phone.
6. Apple Watch support! Because it’s HomeKit enabled, the Omna sends preview images to your Apple Watch whenever it senses motion. And you can also watch a (tiny) live stream of your home from your watch. The Logi Circle does none of the that. Even on your iPhone, you don’t even get a preview photo.
7. The Logi Circle has a battery! The Omna does not. The Omna is made to stay in one place. In fact, I tried moving to another room and had to set it up all over again (why? I’m thinking it’s because I have an eero system, and switching from one eero router to another changed the IP address assigned to the Omna, which confused it.) The Logi Circle can be taken off it’s dock (i.e. the permanent place in your house where it sits) and moved anywhere for up to a few hours. I had no issues moving it all over the house. Just know that the battery can drain quickly in a place with a lot of motion. (Putting it in battery saver mode turns off the motion sensor, saving energy because the camera only turns on for remote live viewing).
So which will I be keeping? I love the look of the Omna… I love the HomeKit integration, but for a saving of $70, I can do without those things. And I’ll get some other things, too, like a battery and some modest, free cloud storage. So I think I’m going with the Logi Circle… Or not. I need to think a little longer on it…
There’s a million comparisons already out there between Orbi, eero, and the other wireless “mesh” routers for home use (like AmpliFi, Luma, and Google WiFi). But because people are always looking for reviews to match their unique homes, I figure I’d toss this out there, see if it helps anyone still debating what to purchase.
Why am I just comparing Orbi and eero? Because I already had an eero set-up, but wasn’t 100% happy with it, so I thought I’d try out an Orbi. According to tech review sites like The Wircutter (which do much more comprehensive, all-purpose reviews than I can ever do), Orbi and eero tend to duke it for the top two spots.
The Orbi units quite literally tower over the eeros. That alone, might be a deciding point for many users without much vertical space for a wireless router.
First up: What’s my house’s set-up like?
When we moved in a few years ago, consumer-grade wireless mesh routers weren’t a thing yet, so I converted some phone jacks into ethernet jacks. That way the cable modem could be hooked up to two different wireless routers on both ends of the house. Both wireless routers would be set up with the same wifi credentials (network name and password).
ONE CABLE MODEM/ROUTER –> TWO WIRELESS ROUTERS (ON OPPOSITE ENDS OF THE HOUSE)
The upside to doing it that way? I could use equipment I already had (two Apple Airport routers) to cover the entire house.
Or so I thought. There was still a dead spot in my daughter’s room, which lies between two bathrooms (notorious wifi killers).
Also: The hand-off between the two (identical) wifi networks wasn’t always seamless as you moved from end of the house to the other, no matter how much I tweaked the network settings.
The two-router system worked okay overall, but it could be better (especially in my daughter’s room). So when eero came out, I had to give it a try.
I bought a three-pack, spreading them around the house. I plugged two directly into the wired ethernet ports. The third went in the middle of the house — right on top of the dead zone.
So what was wrong with the eero set-up?
Not much, actually. It really worked great for the most part. Set-up was easy, and I got great coverage with high speeds throughout the entire house, BUT:
The eero units don’t have many ethernet ports. (Only two per device) So I had to keep my old Apple Airport units around as dumb ethernet hubs. (With their wifi capabilities turned off.) The need for additional devices to provide more ethernet ports added complexity that would prove to be a problem down the line.
My Philips Hue lights started acting up. There was a very annoying (and very inconsistent) delay when using my phone to adjust the smart lights. The delay was not there when using the dedicated Philips Hue light switches we had around the house, which don’t use wifi (they use their own proprietary wireless signal). It was also not there when I adjusted the lights when away from home. The delay (which effectively rendered my phone useless as a light switch) only happened on my home wifi network.
I have a dedicated computer as both a Plex server and an iTunes media sharing machine. (Meaning, as long as the computer is on, I should can access a trove of media content from any other computer or device in the house.) Both Plex and iTunes media sharing stopped working in the early days of using the eero. After hours unplugging all the equipment and re-plugging them back in in different configurations, I eventually got iTunes media sharing working again, but not Plex.
One thing that was always suspect to me about the eero: Its constant need for internet access just to keep your local network functioning (even if you don’t need internet, like just wanting to connect to your Sonos speakers, Hue lights, etc.) Eero routers need to check in with the servers at eero headquarters just to function properly. Could that be creating some kind of proxy issue that’s confusing the Hue? The complexity of the network — a cable modem with a built-in router, two Apple Airports used as ethernet hubs, and three eero devices, all on the same network that’s both wireless and wired simultaneously — made things too complex to troubleshoot with ease.
One way to simplify things: Just get the Netgear Orbi!
The average American house only needs two Orbi units (compared to three eeros). And each Orbi unit has a bunch of ethernet ports built-in. I could finally do away with those Apple Airports (or any kind of ethernet hub)!
Also: The Orbi doesn’t require an internet connection just for the barest of functionality. With the Orbi, If your internet goes down, your home network should still stay up!
So I thought I’d give Orbi a try, and if it worked, give my eeros to a family member with simpler networking needs.
How did Orbi work out?
Long story short, not great for my needs. Remember how my home has some wired ethernet ports? One of them is in the family room. I plugged the “main” Orbi unit into the ethernet port in this room, and then plugged my Sonos, Blu-Ray player, and Apple TV directly into the Orbi. (No additional ethernet hub required!)
Unlike the eero, the “satellite” Orbi unit cannot be plugged into 2nd ethernet port (nor would you want to). It’s supposed to go in the center of the house. So that’s where I put it.
The resulting wifi network was great. Covered the whole house, and the download speeds even clocked a bit higher than with the eero.
What about that second ethernet port on the far side of the house? As far as wifi coverage is concerned, I didn’t need it anymore. But I still had to have my Philips Hue hub in that room (for proximity to the Hue light bulbs in our bedrooms). And the Hue hub NEEDS an ethernet connection. So I still had to use the ethernet port in that room.
And that’s where the Orbi was useless. No matter what I did, the Philips Hue hub was basically invisible to my Orbi-centric home network.
Here, let’s follow the signal from my phone to the Hue Hub:
On my phone, I hit a button to turn on a light –> My phone is wireless connected to the Orbi system via wifi –> the Orbi is connected via wired ethernet to my cable modem/router –> the cable modem/router is connected via ethernet to an ethernet hub –> the ethernet hub is connected to both the Philips Hue hub –> the Hue hub connects wirelessly to the various Hue bulbs in the house (via something other than wifi).
Oh, and also in the mix is an AppleTV, which is necessary to make HomeKit work. (HomeKit is Apple’s system for controlling smart home devices from your iPhone’s home screen.)
The fact that the Hue hub had a wired connection that went through the cable modem/router before going to the Orbi kept it treated as a second class citizen on the network. (as far as I could tell)
With the eero, there were no second class citizen devices.
So back to eero I went, and that’s what I’m using now, simply because the eero system incorporated my two wired ethernet ports into my home network better.
Yes, I still sometimes have a bad delay when using my Hue lights, but it still works most of the time. And that’s better than none of the time.
So if you’ve got a home network that’s a mix of wired and wireless connections…you might find a system like eero to be more your liking. Results may vary, though, as no two homes are exactly alike.
There are few things as unpleasant in life as getting a headphone cable snagged on a doorknob. Or the corner of a table. Or the watch of a total stranger passing me on the sidewalk. Because the cable runs the length of my body, from the earbuds on my head to the phone in my pants pocket, it’s way too easy for it to get caught on just about anything, and it’s a truly jarring experience every time it happens.
I don’t believe in internet ad blockers. I mean, I believe they exist, but I’m believer in advertising as a legitimate means to support content that’s provided to audiences for free. It’s the ultimate leveling-agent, allowing anyone — rich or poor — access to information and entertainment.
And then I notice stuff like this. Photo 1: The normal homepage of CNET.com, as it appears right now as I type this.
Photo 2: The same page at the same time with an ad blocker in effect.
See what’s missing?
(Hint: It’s the horrendously alarmist, fear-mongering “paid content” that has no place on a mainstream news site — let alone disguised as an actual article on that site.)
CNET, you can do better than this. You’re only giving ammunition to people who want to decimate your primary form of revenue.