The Apple Watch and other Activity Trackers

20 Years Without a Watch

Until recently, it had been about 20 years since I’d worn a watch. Back in the 1990s, my classic Casio analog watch cost under $20 and served me well for many years. In part, my desire to stop wearing a watch was a result of not wanting to be so focused on time, and it was one less object of distraction in my field of vision.

In October of 2016, I purchased an Apple Watch which arrived in November of 2016. Recently I had someone ask my opinion of the Apple Watch. Having used it for a few months, would I go back and do it again? In other words, is it a product that seems worthwhile owning. My response was not the typical enthusiastic fanboy reply that I’ve had with some products I own: “Yes! I love it! It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever owned!” Instead, I had to think a bit. Was it worth it?

What would I advise others about this almost embarrassingly expensive watch? The reply I’ve had from some people when I ask them about their Apple Watch has been “Oh, this? I didn’t buy it. It was a gift.” One person I talked to won theirs at a conference. These people wanted me to know that they would never have made such a frivolous ridiculously extravagant unnecessary purchase. Once over that hurdle, we’re able to talk about the watch. Usually people are proud to show off expensive clothing, handbags, or sports cars, but with the Apple Watch, for some people it seems almost embarrassingly excessive.

In the past, I’d been an early adopter of technologies, buying new technology the moment it becomes available, or even decades before it’s commonly available or used. That’s expensive. My first computer-attached CD drive was a big box that cost $1,200. Today they are $20. My first scanner was $1,200. Today they cost $40. We pay a premium when buying technology early. It may give you a competitive edge in business. Maybe not. Maybe it never catches on. Some buy technology early, without any concern about its longevity, because their purchase is to show others that they are a risk taker or so extravagantly wealthy they need not care about price.

Sometimes early adopters are viewed as ‘chumps’ who pay way too much for products just so they can impress their friends and gain attention by being the “first on their block” with some new technology. This presumably conveys to others that they are wealthy and have “money to burn” on something that has up until recently been so unnecessary as to be nonresistant. For some consumers this may be true. For many people, it’s good advice to avoid new technologies that tend to be expensive, buggy, and possibly short-lived.

As someone in the industry, I like to know about new emerging technologies, and I also like to feel I’m giving back financially to the industry I’m working in. It’s a way of joining with other consumers to tell manufacturers that we collectively want this new product to succeed. It’s what we refer to today as a kick-starter. When I first learned of CD drive technology for computers, I thought, “Hey, this CD drive seems like it might become a big deal.” So, in support of the concept, I bought one, and actually found it quite useful. I suppose the same was true for early adopters of automobiles — those people probably seemed foolish to purchase something that to that point was so unnecessary that it hadn’t even existed before.

It’s been about two years since the Apple Watch came out, and now other similar products are on the market. So, my purchase comes a little late in the product cycle. This article shares what I believe are some of its benefits and drawbacks. I offer this as advice to those thinking about purchasing a fitness activity tracker or wellness wearable device.

FitBit One (July 2013)

A few years ago, when I became interested in purchasing an activity tracker I wanted one that could clip on or fit in my pocket. In July of 2013, I decided on the FitBit One ($80 from Amazon). It has worked well for many years to track my daily activity (steps and stairs climbed) as well as my sleep time and quality. I find that the FitBit website and app provide an excellent comprehensive wellness hub for not just activity, but everything relating to a person’s overall health (exercise, sleep quantity/quality, food consumption, weight, water consumption, etc.).

Yesterday, watching “The Zoo” on Animal Planet, I was surprised to see the FitBit One being used at the Bronx Zoo for tracking activity and behavior of Fennec Foxes. Each fox actually had their own FitBit wellness dashboard where their steps were displayed. Very cool. The FitBit One was an ideal device to use because it’s small, light, very rugged, waterproof, and can be fitted into a collar.

Original Apple Watch (April 2015)

The Apple Watch was first released in April 2015. To me it seemed expensive, a bit bulky, short on battery life, and its functions were limited. I didn’t want to go back to wearing something on my wrist. The FitBit was providing me with activity tracking. My iPhone had all the features I’d ever need. I wasn’t so lazy that I couldn’t reach in my pocket and use my iPhone for anything that the Apple Watch would offer on my wrist, and with the iPhone I would have a much larger screen. At a cost of $350 to $17,000, it seemed to me that the Apple Watch was an expensive unnecessary extravagance that would quickly depreciate and soon be discontinued.

The Downfall of FitBit (August 2016)

By 2016, it seemed to me that the FitBit ecosystem was beginning to crumble. Here are a few core reasons why I became less enthusiastic about the FitBit system:

  1. Data. FitBit advertises that they believe a person’s personal health data is their own, and should be downloadable. Presumably some companies don’t offer an easy way to get information downloaded from their cloud services. So, FitBit was distinguishing themselves as data download friendly. In reality, their data download feature is quite limited, allowing for downloads only one month at a time. These downloads creates spreadsheets that are workbooks with multiple pages. So, there’s no way to click a button and download several years of data, and there’s no way to easily get all of your data in one place for longitudinal analysis. If you weigh in several times a day to check variations, you’ll be frustrated to see that the downloaded data only includes one weight measurement per day and no time is included.
  2. Food. The FitBit food database seems to increasingly have common foods that are not listed. In some cases, it seems that certain restaurant foods are listed, but some are missing. Other entries seem incorrect. When you look on the label and check what’s in the FitBit database, the information is sometimes wrong or incomplete. I eventually started manually entering my foods to make sure the values were correct.
  3. Sleep. FitBit had developed one of the best sleep analysis reporting systems available. Then they broke it. Here are a few of the things that no longer work properly.
    1. Ambiguous Tracking. In the past, the FitBit software would show when you were in deep sleep, light sleep, and awake during the night with the exact time displayed so you could look into what might be disrupting sleep. At some point in 2016 the software was ‘upgraded’ and the ability to see these details was gone.
    2. Bad Synchronization Issues. In the past, when you’d wake up in the morning and tap the “I’m Awake” button, you would immediately see your sleep chart. With their latest ‘improved’ version, it takes a long time for the chart to show up. It’s as if the FitBit One device is not synchronizing periodically throughout the night even though that setting is on. So, one must wait sometimes several minutes for it to work.
    3. Duplicate Synchronization. Sometimes an error message will appear on screen saying there is already a sleep entry for the current day. It’s as if the synchronization with the cloud results in some duplication.
    4. Problems Adjusting Sleep Range. When you go to make slight corrections in the sleep range, the chart immediately shows the adjustment, but then, before your eyes, it will adjust itself back to what it had been. So you change it again. This can happen a few times. It’s as if the cloud data has priority over the changes you’re making and so the cloud wins out unless you go slowly. Because the detailed time is no longer showing in the graph, it’s not possible to quickly tap on the graph to see when you went to sleep. In other words, if you’re entering your sleep time the following morning, and didn’t start the sleep timer the night before, or the sleep timer crashed, when you go to adjust that time, it’s guess work because you see red lines and blue lines but no indication of the actual time. So, each time you guess a time, and enter it, the chart adjusts and then goes back to what it had been. It’s a bit frustrating.
  4. Weight. The Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale was one of my favorite FitBit products. Every day I would weigh in, and moments later my weight and percent body fat would show up. There would be a delay, sometimes of several days, between the time I’d weigh in and when the weight would show up in my FitBit app or online. I began manually recording my weight every day, which defeats the purpose of having it automatically recorded. Eventually I went back to using my old Tanita Ironman InnerScan Body Composition Monitor which game me a much more comprehensive body composition analysis.

I’ve reported the above to FitBit and was told they will take these things under advisement. Since then, multiple firmware updates have been released and numerous app updates have been released. The company doesn’t seem to be interested in fixing the above issues. Becoming less enthusiastic with the FitBit caused me to look at what the Apple Watch might be able to do.

The Improved Apple Watch (September 2016)

In September of 2016, Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 models with some significant improvements over the original model. The Series 1 is the same as the original Apple Watch, but with improved internal computing power and lower price of $269. The Series 2 offers a faster processor, built-in GPS, water resistant enclosure, a brighter display, and other benefits. For $100 more than the Series 1, the Series 2 at $369 seems to be a better value.

Deciding to Purchase the Apple Watch

The improvements offered with the Apple Watch Series 2 were part of what motivated me to consider purchasing the Apple Watch. Here are some additional thoughts and considerations that motivated me to purchase the Apple Watch.

  • Brightness. One of my concerns about the original Apple Watch was that the screen seemed a bit dim. The Series 2 has a brighter screen.
  • Consumer Interest. When I purchase a product or service, I feel that in some way I’m offering my ‘vote of support’ for seeing that product continue to be developed and available in the future. In the past, I’ve purchased and used products while they were in their infancy, and so excessively costly that purchasing them was almost an act of absurdity. In the 1980s, while in college, I sat in lectures halls using a laptop computer (TANDY Model 100) about 15 years before laptop computers became widely available and economical. In the 1990s, when the Apple Newton became available, I paid about $800 for what was essentially the first iPad, about 20 years before the technology was widely adopted. As mentioned previously, my first scanner was $1,200 and my first CD ROM drive was also $1,200. These all became tools I used and relied on, but the act of being an early adopter to me was, in part, a way to support the industry and products. The Apple Watch is a product I want to be supportive of, even if in its current version it’s still a bit expensive, Early adopters help make it possible to have continued development of products so in the future they can be better and less expensive.
  • Cost. At a cost of $269 for the base model, the Apple Watch Series 1 is priced similarly to other fitness tracker smart watches and wellness wearables. TomTom offers more advanced smart watches for up to $350. Garmin has smart watches for up to $450. FitBit has activity trackers for up to $200. Polar has smart watches for as much as $372. So, at $369 for the Apple Watch Series 2, it’s not the most expensive smartwatch available.
  • Future of Wellness Wearables. There are some wearable wellness technologies on the horizon that I think will make wearable devices commonplace. The next generation of wellness wearables such as AIRO and the Healbe GoBe promise to provide realtime blood analysis to determine our actual caloric intake. The FDA has approved wearable pancreas technologies that may eliminate Diabetes. I’d like to embrace the idea of using wellness wearables, and the Apple Watch seems like a good place to start.
  • Improved Activity Tracking. I like the idea of more accurately tracking my other activities besides just tracking my steps during the day. The Apple Watch can track calories burned during bike riding, weight lifting, as well as exercise on elliptical and other fitness equipment. I like the idea of having a single consolidated data collection system for all my activities.
  • Informed Support Provider. As a tech support person, I find that immersion is the best way to learn a new technology. I want to know how to purchase, setup, use, diagnose, and fix the technologies that I support. In addition to that, I enjoy looking for creative ways to use technology that I can only discover once using it. So, even if I’m doing very little in the way of helping people purchase, setup, use, or fix these new all-in-one solid-state modular mobile technologies, I think what I can offer of value are insights into creative ways to use them.
  • Product Demand. Seeing the market expand with a wide array of similarly priced watches seems to indicate that wearables are not going to be a passing fad. I’ve seen more and more people using some kind of wellness wearable. So, I’m not concerned about potentially investing in a technology that won’t be around in a year or two.
  • Pulse Monitoring. Something my pocket FitBit doesn’t provide is pulse monitoring, and this got me thinking that smart phones can do just about anything, but they don’t offer realtime pulse monitoring while exercising. For that we need wearables.
  • Speed. One of my concerns about the original Apple Watch was that it seemed a bit slow to open apps and perform functions. The Series 2 has a faster processor which should work with future upgrades at least for a couple years.
  • Waterproof. A drawback to the original Apple Watch is that it can be easily damaged by water. I’m reluctant to purchase a product at any price that’s potentially damaged by exposure to a little bit of water. The new Apple Watch Series 2 is water resistant to 50 meters. That’s important to me. Whatever product I would be wearing, I want to be able to wear it in the rain on my bike, sweating at the gym, or while doing dishes.

Which Apple Watch Model to Purchase

With their various products, Apple typically offers some very persuasive reasons for spending a little more on an upgraded product. For example, a bigger screen on the iPhone is just $100 more. Getting 4-times as much memory (up from 32 to 128GB storage) is $100 more. Getting the newest model with improved features and camera rather than last year’s model is just $100 more (Apple offers the previous year product at a $100 discount off the current year). It seems foolish to spend so much money on a phone and not spend a few hundred dollars more to make it an amazingly fast, big, super-duper phone. Their laptop computers, desktop computers, iPad devices, and the Apple Watch have similar pricing that makes you want to get the nicer models for “just a little more money.”

When you visit the Apple Watch purchase and configuration page, you’ll see a list of models, features, and options to choose from:

  • Series – 1 or 2. The Apple Watch Series 1 costs $269. As mentioned above, for another $100 the Series 2 offers a long list of additional benefits such as a faster processor, built-in GPS, water resistant enclosure, a brighter display, and more. So, the Series 2 seems to be the best value.
  • Case Size – 38mm or 42mm. At a cost of about $30 more, it makes sense to have a larger display. For the Series 2, this brings the price to $400.
  • Case Material – Aluminum, Stainless Steel, or Ceramic. The case material is fairly important since the watch is something that will likely be bumped into objects. Aluminum and the accompanying watch crystal are more susceptible to scratches and damaged. Stainless Steel provides a much more durable case and crystal option. At a cost of $200 more, it makes sense to have such a costly product protected from damage. This brings the cost to $600. The Ceramic case version costs about $1,300 which makes it impractical for most people, although Ceramic is reportedly much stronger than Stainless Steel.
  • Watch Band. There are a variety of watch band options with the Apple Watch. The Sport band is a comfortable, durable, stain resistant band which happens to be the least expensive option.
  • Apple Care. For a cost of $49, it’s possible to get a two-year warranty rather than a one-year warranty. This also provides “up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a $69 service fee, plus applicable tax. In addition, you’ll get 24/7 priority access to Apple experts via chat or phone.”

So, an Apple Watch, Series 2, 42 mm, Stainless Steel Case, with the Apple Care extended service costs about $650 and seems to be a good choice. You can see how it’s fairly easy to reach a price that’s twice the cost of the basic model. Anyone wanting to save a few hundred dollars on the Apple watch could consider purchasing the basic model for $269. Those with less concern about cost, and desiring the latest style can spend $1,300 or more.

Most Used Apple Watch Features

Having used the Apple Watch over the past 5 months, here are some of the functions I find useful.

  • Driving. I’ve had a variety of GPS systems that work fairly well, but most distract me from my driving as I look to the map to double-check for my position and approaching turns. With the Apple Watch, I like having the vibration and sounds that alert me to upcoming turns without having to look away from the road to an on-screen map.
  • Messages. While riding my bike, if I receive an email, phone call, or text message, it’s nice to be alerted on my watch.
  • Payments. It’s handy at stores to use the Apple Watch for payment during checkout at the register. So, when going into stores that accept Apple Pay, I don’t need to carry my bag.
  • Pulse. In the past, I found it very convenient and accurate to use my $10 classic Casio analog watch to check my pulse. However, I do find it’s nice to have realtime ongoing monitoring of my pulse. I like being able to see my pulse at a glance while riding my bike or exercising — not having to interrupt my workout. At night, my pulse is monitored to provide enhanced sleep quality data.
  • Relaxation. A person doesn’t need a fancy watch to remind them to relax. Even so, it is nice to have the watch remind me to stand if I’ve been sitting for too long, and to do focused breathing periodically throughout the day.
  • Sleep. With the AutoSleep app ($2.99) it’s possible to use the Apple Watch for very advanced sleep tracking.
  • Time. In the past, I’ve not wanted the time to be so visible throughout the day. However, these days I’m finding it nice to be able to look at my wrist and see the time. If I decide I don’t want to be reminded of the time, it’s easy enough to display only the weather or my activity progress for the day. In the same way the Apple iPhone is often used for everything but phone calls, the Apple Watch is becoming a device that will be used for many tasks other than checking the time.
  • Weather. I’ve configured my watch to show (among other things) the temperature, daily predicted high/low temperature, and precipitation (if any). So, just lifting the watch, in one place as I’m going out the door, I know what outerwear I should grab for my walk, bike ride or other activity.
  • Workout. When walking, riding my bike, working out on the elliptical machine, or lifting weights, I like using the Apple Watch to track my workouts. The watch uses my pulse to calculate my level of exertion and calories burned. For outdoor activities, I can review a map of my route with variations in speed represented by red (slow), yellow (moderate), or green (fast). All of my activity during the day, week, and month can be charted.

Third-Party Programs

The above functions mostly make use of the built-in functions without additional third party software. For decades, whether using Windows or Apple computers, I’ve made a choice to do as much as I can with the included software. I find computers (or watches) tend to work faster, more reliably, and have a longer battery life. When necessary I’ll use a third party program or app, but I try not to overdo it. I consider how necessary it is, and whether or not I could do something similar with built-in features. I know there are other people who fill their computers, iPads, iPhones, and Apple Watches with hundreds of games, utilities, and programs many of which no longer get used. I try to avoid that other unnecessary clutter. With the Apple Watch, I don’t want too many distractions and pop-ups during the day. I can configure the watch to alert me to just what’s essential.

Concluding Thoughts

With regard to activity trackers, smart watches, and wellness wearables, there’s clearly no single obvious best choice for everyone. Each person will have their own needs, budget, and sensibility about what works best for them. I hope the above observations help those trying to decide what to do with their own wearable technology purchase.

Solid State Drives – SSD Size and Pricing Guide


As of 7 Mar 2017, the latest technology for SSD drives is the Crucial MX300. Click the size offerings below for the product page.

11 Benefits of Solid State Drives

Solid State Drives offer the following benefits over traditional hard drives that have spinning metal platters.

  1. Faster computer startup.
  2. Faster loading of programs and files.
  3. Lower energy usage.
  4. Produce no vibration.
  5. Produce no noise.
  6. Use less energy.
  7. Generate less heat.
  8. Offer greater reliability.
  9. More durable.
  10. Impact resistant.
  11. Can be used with mobile computers without concern of adverse impact from bumps, motion, impact, or dropping while in use.


For installation into a desktop computer, you’ll want a mounting bracket like the one shown below (drive not included). [Buy] Or, alternatively, the Corsair model is quite good.



Document History

Problems with Neat Receipts Cloud Scanning Software

After 14 years of building a very dedicated customer base and the world’s most successful and popular scanning platform, Neat has decided to scrap everything and start over with a new scanning solution. So far, reviews have been less than enthusiastic. Top company leadership are leaving and many employees are being laid off. (source)

This document lists some of the design problems with their new product as it relates to Apple users. This document will be updated over time with any new developments or discoveries.

  1. Apple Version Not Native. Rather than create an actual OS X application, the Apple version seems to have been developed on a non-standard emulator platform similar Adobe Air in the way it looks and feels. To find the program, you’ll look for it in Applications under the letter ‘N’ for Neat, but you won’t find it there. It’s in a folder named The Neat Company. To find it, look in The Neat Company > Neat Smart Organization System > Helium-shell > HeliumAppShell > and there you’ll find the familiar Neat program icon. This is where you’ll have to go if you need to drag the program icon to the Dock again, but don’t touch any of the other exposed program files because the entire fragile system will break down if you do.
  2. Columns Not Adjustable. The new program is broken into three primary columns. The left column shows the folders. The middle column shows the folder contents or the specifics of a particular entry. The right column is a preview window. These columns aren’t sizable or adjustable.
  3. Database Change. The database files are individually stored as PDF files in Documents > NeatScan > your name. Presumably if you mess with any of these files, the database index will be thrown off.
  4. Drag and Drop. In the previous versions of the Neat scanning software, it was possible to drag PDF files into the program and have them added, being scanned for OCR. In the new version, you must manually add files from the file menu.
  5. Item Type. When you change the item type from Document to Receipt (for example) the software goes through the ‘Processing’ step again.
  6. Slowness. To adequately test the speed of the Neat cloud-based scanning software, use a 100Mbps Internet connection, and a quad-core computer with 8 virtual cores, running on a solid state hard drive. When you test with this blazing fast computer, you’ll notice the system is slow to load receipt images — even with a database of only a dozen receipts.
  7. Zoom Issues. When you try to zoom in on a receipt using two finger zoom, the viewer zooms too fast.

Universal Wireless Keyboards for iOS, Android, Windows, Tablets and Computers


As people are increasingly using a variety of computing devices, it’s often necessary to switch between different devices while working. Universal keyboards save space by letting you have a single keyboard at your desk, and switch between devices. So, with one keyboard you can work on your smart phone, tablet, and desktop. Using a single keyboard is helpful because it takes up less space, and you can learn one keyboard rather than three or more. Not all keyboards feature easy switching, so you’ll need to look specifically for that feature.

Typing Efficiency

Laptop keyboards generally have a non-standard placement for arrow keys as well as the CTRL, ALT, Option, Fn (function), and Windows Start key (or Apple Command key). Variations between laptop keyboards, desktop keyboard, and Windows vs. Apple can limit your ability to have high familiarity and efficiency when moving from one computing device to another. Having a single standard keyboard that works on all devices (home, office, mobile) can help.

Keyboard Models

  • Anker® T320 Ultrathin Keyboard – Compatible across Android, iOS, and Windows, enabling you to mix and match with devices.
  • Logitech Wireless All-In-One Keyboard TK820 with Built-In Touchpad – This innovative keyboard seamlessly integrates typing, touch and gestures. So now you have everything you need to control and navigate your computer in one device. With a large, built-in touch pad, you can type and swipe comfortably together. It’s a new way to navigate—especially in Windows 8.
  • Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810 – Type in style with this elegantly designed, Bluetooth illuminated keyboard for Windows 8. Press one button to instantly switch between typing an email on your Windows PC, taking notes on your Apple iPad or replying to a text on your Android smartphone. With sharp, bright, backlit characters, this keyboard lets you create and communicate more easily on more devices—even in the dark.
  • Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard – For iPad, iPhone, Android devices, and Windows tablets. Operating system switch allows you to easily switch between devices.
  • Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard for Windows Tablets – This is a nicely styled keyboard, but primarily for Windows Tablet computers.
  • Minisuit BluBoard – BluBoard supports devices running Bluetooth 3.0 on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle, and Windows. Acer, Blackberry Playbook, Google Nexus, iPad, Mini 2nd Gen, Kindle Fire HD/HDx, Microsoft Surface, Motorola, Samsung Galaxy Note, Tab, and many more!

Photo Gallery

Below are images of the keyboards mentioned above.

SAFCO Wire Mobile File or Equipment Cart

As our world is moving more to digital storage rather than paper storage, old method of filing are less in demand. However, one product that can be quite useful is the SAFCO Wire Mobile File cart. It’s designed to hold hanging files, but if you put the metal wire shelf on the top instead, it works great as a printer stand or moveable surface for other office equipment and supplies.

Product Details

Here are the product details.

  • Wire steel construction
  • Accommodate letter or legal-size hanging folders
  • Four swivel casters (2 locking)
Brand Name Safco
Item Weight 12 pounds
Product Dimensions 24 x 14 x 20.5 inches
Item model number 5201BL
Color Black
Material Type Metal
Number of Items 1
Manufacturer Part Number 5201BL

Product Images

Click either image below for a larger gallery view.

Laptop Computer 2.5″ Solid State Hard Drive (SSD) Options

SSD Drives as of 2017

As of 7 Mar 2017, the latest technology for SSD drives is the Crucial MX300. Click the size offerings below for the product page. Click here for the latest solid state drive offerings.

The information below was current as of 2015 and remains here for reference purposes.

SSD Drives as of 2015

There are many 2.5″ solid state hard drives available. Crucial offers an excellent selection of solid state drives that offer speed, value, and reliability.

The MX200 model is the newest model as of January 2016. It is faster, uses less power, and has a longer lifespan. Prices shown below are as of 8 January 2016. [Buy Now]

  • 250GB ($89)
  • 500GB ($165)
  • 1TB ($351)

The MX200 also has many other reliability and security features included.

The BX100 is an older model that is slower, uses less power, and has a shorter lifespan. Prices shown here are as of 23 Feb 2015. [Buy Now]

  • 128GB ($68)
  • 250GB ($99)
  • 500GB ($184)
  • 1TB ($379)

Product Photos

The images below are for the BX100 but are similar to the MX200.


Document History

  • 7 Mar 2017 at 8:54 AM CST. The models and pricing were updated on 7 Mar 2017.
  • 23 Feb 2015 at 8:59 PM CST. This document was first published on 23 Feb 2015.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus Clear Cases

There are a variety of cases available for the iPhone 6 Plus. One of the best values is the Insignia clear case (shown below) available at Best Buy for about $15 or available from Amazon as the Flexion case for about $13.

Design Benefits

Here are some of the benefits of this case design:

  1. Slim. This case design is light, slim, and contoured so it retains the very thin design of the iPhone 6 Plus.
  2. Protective. It is thick enough to prevent scratches to the surface.
  3. Screen Care. There is a slightly raised edge on the face of the cover to protect the glass surface if the phone is placed face down.
  4. Secure Grip. The case has just the right amount of grip so the phone doesn’t slip out of your hand, yet slides into a pocket easily.
  5. Modifiable. As with just about any case, the power and volume buttons aren’t as easy to push with the case on. Fortunately with this case, a modification can be made by using a box cutter or similar sharp cutting tool to very carefully cut out a hole for easier access to the power button. Volume buttons are less of a concern since volume isn’t adjusted as frequently.

For the price, this is an excellent case. If you need something with more protection, you can view ruggedized cases on Amazon.

Insignia Clear Case

Click any image below for a larger gallery view. Click here to buy.

Flexion Clear Case

Click any image below for a larger gallery view. Click here to buy.

2014 Motorola Moto G and Moto X 2nd Generation Review

The 2014 Motorola Moto G and Moto X 2nd Generation phones have both been updated to offer faster performance compared to the previous years’ models, and each have their unique benefits. This article will briefly explore the advantages of each phone.

2014 Motorola Moto G ($180)

Although the Moto G is one of the least expensive Android phones on the market today, it’s actually one of the most advanced and serves as a standard by which all other phones can be measured. The Moto G is available in a US/Canada model (XT1064) and a Global GSM model (XT1063). Both are about $180 without a contract. [Buy Now]

Here are some of the features that make the Moto G one of the best phones available today:

  • Android 5 Lollipop. When you read the 14 page summary of new features offered in Android 5, you may agree that Android has surpassed all other smartphone operating systems. It’s not just a slightly modified version of Android 4.4.4, but a total redesign (familiar, yet so much better). This makes any phone with Android 5 an amazing phone. The Moto G (Global GSM Version) is one of the first phones on the planet to offer Android 5. Although the Nexus 6 is advertised as the only product to offer Android 5, the Nexus 6 remains sold out and unavailable to the average consumer. It’s important to note that it’s only the Global GSM Version of the Moto G that receives the free OTA (over the air / pushed out) automatic Android upgrade from 4.4.4 (KitKat). The US Model doesn’t offer this upgrade yet. If having access to Android 5 is a priority for you, then the Moto G Global Version is the only phone for you. There are unapproved ways of reprogramming other phones to load modified operating systems including Android 5, but these void the warranty. By the time you read this article, other phones may be receiving updates to Android 5, but you’ll need to check to verify this, and the updates sometimes get rolled out over a period of days or weeks so it’s not guaranteed. Where Android 5 is adopted by other manufacturers, it probably won’t be the pure (stock) Android version, but a heavily modified and tweaked version to make it compatible with the modifications and special apps from that manufacturer and the carrier. Moto G offers one of the purest cleanest Android 5 experience available.
  • Audio. The Moto G has two front facing stereo speakers that produce surprisingly good sound. Many other more expensive phones have only mono sound with a tiny speaker on the back of the phone where you might cover it with the palm of your hand, or have the sound muffled when the phone is sitting on a noise dampening surface such as a couch, bed, or blanket.
  • Case. The Moto G is durable enough that you may not feel a case is needed for protection. At only $180 for the phone, the cost of a case is significant — given that the price of some phone cases could be as much as 20% to 30% of the entire cost of the phone. Not having to buy a case saves considerable money and helps retain the thin light design of the phone.
  • Display. The Moto G has a very bright and colorful 5″ display that’s easy to read. When playing high quality 4K YouTube videos for example, it almost looks 3D. Even though the resolution is 720p (1280×720), it looks stunning and amazing.The AMOLED technology of the display makes it very pleasant to look at. The surface of the screen is made of Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 which is virtually indestructible. This is much preferred to other phones which seem to use ‘chimpanzee glass’ that shatters into a million pieces with the slightest provocation.
  • Feel. The Moto G has a very nice feel to it. The back of the phone is a smooth but not slippery surface that is very comfortable and soothing to the touch. The fit and finish where the back removable case meets the phone is almost seamless, so there are no rough or sharp edges.
  • Handling. The Moto G is thin and light, making it easy to handle and slip into your pocket.
  • Size. The Moto G isn’t much bigger than its 5″ display — which makes it easy to handle and operate with one hand. It’s tempting to have a larger phone that can double as a small tablet device. However, for all the times that one handed operation is needed, it’s preferable to have a smaller phone and buy a separate tablet device with the screen you really desire. Displays smaller than 5″ become less usable either because of having a limited viewing area and/or because of smaller fonts being hard to read.
  • Storage. Although the phone comes with only 8GB RAM, it can be easily expanded with an internal microSD memory card.

Drawbacks. There are a few drawbacks to the Moto G.

  • Camera. The camera quality in the Moto G is adequate, but not exceptional, and some people have reported difficulty getting the camera to focus precisely on what they want to be taking a photo of. If you swap out your camera app with the Google Camera rather than the build-in camera software, you may get better results. Keep in mind that these are not for award winning professional competition photos that can be enlarged. These cameras are primarily for quick snapshots of average quality.
  • Battery. The battery isn’t removable. For people who travel a lot, it’s nice to have a few extra fully charged batteries with you to swap out when the battery gets low. Or, if a battery becomes defective, removable batteries ensure that you only need to replace a battery instead of the entire phone.
  • Speed. Having a slightly slower processor than the more expensive phones, the Moto G may be sluggish when playing some games or when viewing very high resolution videos — depending on what else is running.
  • Storage. Despite having a removable microSD storage card for added expansion, the Moto G is still limited to the included 8GB storage for most system operations. Application and media can be stored on the microSD, but other system functions can’t be moved, so you may at some point reach the upper limit of the device’s storage capacity.

Moto X 2nd Generation ($424)

In 2014, Motorola announced the Moto X 2nd Generation phone. It’s an excellent choice for people who like the benefits of the Moto G, but want a more powerful processor and faster 4G LTE mobile data speeds. Based on the Moto G specs shown above, here are some points for those who are considering the phone.

  • Android. The Moto X comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat. Although it’s been announced that Android 5 is available for the Moto X, the update hasn’t been fully released yet. Availability will depend on when your carrier approves and releases the update. See more details above for the Android entry under Moto G.
  • Audio. The sound of the Moto X is quite good. However, it lacks the front facing speakers of the Moto G. Even so, audio quality while talking on the phone (top speaker) or listening to music and video is quite clear and loud.
  • Case. Any phone costing several hundred dollars or more should probably have a case, or bumper guard (rubber protection for edges). Fancier phones tend to have metal edges and fancier finishes that one would want to protect. So, with the Moto X, various cases are available. As with any phone, the use of a case will change the phone size and feel.
  • Custom Design. For anyone wanting a phone made partially of bamboo or wood, a customized Moto X is your only choice. Other phones on the market are made of metal and plastic. Having the natural feel of wood in your hand is very nice. Also, knowing that your phone is made partly from renewable, organic, compostable materials is kind of cool. The Motorola Moto Maker let’s you completely customize the colors and materials of your phone.
  • Feel. The Moto X has a nice feel to it, and depending on the material you choose for the back of the phone case, it can be customized to have a touch you’d like most including choices of bamboo, wood, leather, and more.
  • Handling. The Moto X is heavier than the Moto G, but otherwise feels good in the hand and easily slips into a pocket.
  • Size. The Moto X is almost identical to the Moto G in size and appearance. So, it has the optimal size for single handed operation.
  • Storage. The Moto X lacks the removable microSD option found on the Moto G, but it is possible to order it with storage capacity of 16 GB or 32 GB ($50 more). Any additional storage would need to be connected via the USB port.

Drawbacks. There are a few drawbacks to the Moto X.

  • Camera. The camera quality in the Moto X is adequate, but not exceptional, and some people have reported difficulty getting the camera to focus precisely on what they want to be taking a photo of. If you swap out your camera app with the Google Camera rather than the build-in camera software, you may get better results. Keep in mind that these are not for award winning professional competition photos that can be enlarged. These cameras are primarily for quick snapshots of average quality.
  • Battery. The battery isn’t removable. For people who travel a lot, it’s nice to have a few extra fully charged batteries with you to swap out when the battery gets low. Or, if a battery becomes defective, removable batteries ensure that you only need to replace a battery instead of the entire phone.
  • MicroSD. Most smartphones have a removable MicroSD. The Moto X does not. This means you’re limited to the internal memory, unless you connect an external USB storage device.

Other Considerations

  • 4G LTE. The latest cellular data service is 4G LTE and it is capable of delivering Internet speeds that are likely faster than what you have at home. In cities where the market is saturated with 4G LTE devices, there can be connectivity issues and slowness. This also happens at football games and other situations when the 4G LTE network is overloaded. When traveling, it’s likely that there won’t be 4G LTE service, so your phone will adjust to use slower networks, or no data at all for areas where only phone service is available. The Moto G doesn’t have 4G LTE capability. It has H+ capability which can deliver about 21 Mbps. Click here to learn more about various speeds and services.
  • Audio. Many people use headphones with their smart phones. So, the audio quality when playing videos and music on a smart phone is really only important for those who don’t plan to use headphones.
  • Battery. Most smart phones state that they can provide 8 hours or more of continuous use. However, getting to the end of the day typically requires a recharge, especially if you are using features like video viewing, GPS mapping, and hotspot wireless sharing. You could try to carry around an extra battery if your phone accommodates that. Otherwise, you may want to consider a charging pack (a small portable charging station). Also look for phones that have turbo (fast) charging features.
  • Camera Quality. Most mobile phones can take fairly good photos. At least, they look okay on the phone display. If photos get enlarged, or if you zoom in on a desktop computer, the quality diminishes. This is true even for the 41 megapixel phones. While the images look nice on screen, when uploaded to social media like Facebook or Pinterest, the quality can sometimes be degraded if images get compressed. So, ultimately, smartphones have a very difficult time competing with point and shoot cameras of almost the same size.The quality of point and shoot cameras has increased dramatically, size has decreased, and prices have come down. Any serious photographer will want to consider carrying a small point and shoot camera in addition to their phone. There are other more important considerations besides camera quality to have as a priority when choosing a phone.
  • Display Quality. In the same way mobile phones have been competing with higher megapixel cameras, displays are also increasing in their resolution and pixels per inch. With high-end DSLR cameras, we know that just adding more megapixels doesn’t necessarily result in higher quality photos. So, with displays the same is true. A lower resolution display might actually be brighter, more colorful, and easier to look at than a higher resolution display. The Moto G is an excellent example of this. Walk into an AT&T store, and compare all the phones, including those costing $800 or more. You’ll likely decide that the Moto G has the best display quality.
  • Processor Power. The processing power of smart phones, like computer, is dependent upon the computing CPU and available cache memory (a small amount of very fast memory close to the processor). The Moto G and Moto X are fast enough for most tasks. If you plan to do intensive gaming or other tasks, you may want to consider an even faster phone.
  • Storage. With data increasingly being stored in the cloud, it’s less important to have huge amounts of storage in your mobile device. In fact, if you do accumulate 32 GB or more of data stored up in your phone, it will take a long time to copy it off. Most phones have microSD expansion storage. Or, even if microSD storage isn’t available, you can get an OTG (on the go) cable and connect a USB flash drive or hard drive. Given these considerations, the actual built-in storage is less relevant.

Moto G as a WiFi Accessory Device

Given it’s low cost ($180), a person might consider purchasing a Moto G as an accessory for their existing phone. If you use hotspot (tethering) with your primary phone, you can have the Moto G connected to the Internet wherever you go. If your primary phone is an iOS (Apple) device, then it will give you the ability to use Android apps as well. It will give you an additional screen — like having side-by-side dual displays with a desktop computer. It will also give you a device to use for Internet access and other uses, thereby distributing your battery usage across two devices — extending your usable time.

Other Phones to Consider

There are hundreds of phones out there, and each person’s needs and use will dictate the best choice for them. There isn’t a specific phone that’s ‘the best phone’ for everyone. However, that said, you generally get what you pay for, and if you’re willing to pay a bit more here are some good choices:

Further Reading


AeroMobil: The Automobile Airplane is a Car that can Fly


AeroMobil. Beautiful flying car. Beautifully integrated. Transforms in seconds from an automobile to an airplane. Gives you freedom to move.

AeroMobil is a flying car that perfectly makes use of existing infrastructure created for automobiles and planes, and opens doors to real door-to-door travel. As a car it fits into any standard parking space, uses regular gasoline, and can be used in road traffic just like any other car. As a plane it can use any airport in the world, but can also take off and land using any grass strip or paved surface just a few hundred meters long.

The current flying car prototype AeroMobil 3.0 incorporates significant improvements and upgrades to the previous pre-prototype AeroMobil 2.5. It is now finalised and has been in regular flight-testing program in real flight conditions since October 2014.

The AeroMobil 3.0 is predominantly built from advanced composite material. That includes its body shell, wings, and wheels. It also contains all the main features that are likely to be incorporated into the final product, such as avionics equipment, autopilot and an advanced parachute deployment system.

AeroMobil 3.0 also implements a number of other advanced technologies, such as a variable angle of attack of the wings that significantly shortens the take-off requirements, and sturdy suspension that enables it to take-off and land even at relatively rough terrain.

Image Gallery


About the Video

Originally Published to YouTube on Oct 29, 2014

The current flying car prototype AeroMobil 3.0 incorporates significant improvements and upgrades. It is now being tested in real flight conditions since October 2014. Initially certified by the Slovak Federation of Ultra-Light Flying, it now entered a regular flight-testing program.

The AeroMobil 3.0 prototype is very close to the final product. It is predominantly built from the same materials as the final product, such as advanced composite materials for the body shell, wings, and wheels. It also contains all the main features that will be incorporated into the final product, such as avionics equipment, autopilot and an advanced parachute deployment system.

Credits AeroMobil 3.0 video

Produced by Protos Productions
Director: Jonáš Karásek
DOP: Tomáš Juríček
Producer: Michal Hlavačka
2nd DOP: Peter Bencsik, Ivo Miko
Editor: Michal Kondrla
Music: Michal Novinski

Camera equipment: Reproduction
Lighting crew: Shining
Grip: RSR, Majo Tardík, Palo Bachňa
Aerial photography: SkyEye
Production crew: Michal Torma, Samuel Vojtek Marek Tóth
Online postproduction: Ekran, Peter Koštál, Paľo Durák
Sound mix: Soundline
Making of: Juraj Valica, Juraj Ondáš, Lukáš Terén

Credits AeroMobil Photography

Photographer: Miro Minarovych
Photographer: Róbert Kňažko


For more information, contact AeroMobil at:


Thanks to Alex for letting us know about the AeroMobil.