This is not my normal blog post, but.. a while back someone from Synology contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their devices. Having never used one before I asked a few questions about running virtual machines on it and was sent a 1621+ which could run a small VM as it only has 4GB RAM. I wasn’t sure what I could do with this for what I was looking to test (backup/DR, running Cloudbuilder and a virtual router), but I was given a promise of something larger in a few months time where I could run multiple larger VMs. That was last summer and the person who sent the device has left Synology and now I’ve gotten a follow up from another person looking for my review. I did use the 1621+ for a few things while I was waiting for something that, unfortunately never materialized. I’ll detail those here.Continue reading Synology 1621+ Review
Some would call me an Apple Fan Boy, others merely call me Kevin. While the myriad of Apple devices in my house is symbolic to walking into the Apple Store at your local shopping mall or electronics store of choice, I have to say that I love aesthetically pleasing design. I remember in high school walking through and seeing rows and rows of the iToys I did have to chuckle:
The computer that I just got at home was screaming fast in comparison to these, plus I had Windows! I could install my own games browse the internet and we were one of the first residential areas to receive 3mb cable internet!
Now I know what you are thinking what does this have anything to do with the Apple Watch. Without telling how much I had a disdain for Apple in high school makes it hard to see how I have come full circle since that point. I have been an Apple Loyalist on the phone platform since the iPhone 3gs, even though I have tried several of the Android offering I found myself rebooting and thinking that I just want my phone to work at the end of the day. Since this time I preordered the iPad 2, the iPhone 4s, 5s, and 6 Plus as well as picking up an iMac, two Apple TV’s, another iPad Mini, and finally a MacBook Pro. Seeing the lay of the land in smart watches with the Pebble, Moto 360, and Samsung Gear I have felt something is missing with all of them, and the lack of iOS support amongst some has left me hanging. Hearing rumors of an Apple Watch over a year ago left me waiting idle until the new iWhatever would be released. Also knowing that Apple’s attention to detail would leave me satisfied aesthetically I decided to wait. That is until Apple announced the Apple Watch September 9, 2014…
Feverishly I spent the last few hours before preorder on April 10th ensuring my alarm clock was set for 2:45am as I was on Spring Break with my wife and children in Louisville. I woke up several times before 2:45am figuring that I had slept in past 3:00am and missed the alarm. Finally the alarm went off and I preordered and received a confirmation email by 3:05am, although bummed that I landed in the May 13-27 shipping window. While I patiently waited for what I thought was going to be week, I got a preparing to ship on April 27th! Although I was not in town for its arrival on April 29th I had it sitting there waiting for me when I did make it home.
May 6th 2015:
I arrived home and tried on my 42mm Space Gray Apple Watch Sport Edition. It is much lighter than I expected! Packaging however is top notch in true apple style with a wonderful plastic case to house the watch if you wanted to store it, or carry it in your laptop bag, gym bag, however both of those defeat the purpose. I was able to very easily and very quickly pair my watch to my phone. Also quickly able to send/receive text messages and take phone calls on my watch ‘Dick Tracy’ style. Battery came in about 70% charged and I had the watch on around 2:00pm. I proceeded to coach my sons soccer game pickup an after soccer dinner and bring it home, put the kids to bed, play with the watch settings and put it on the charger about 11:00pm still with 40% battery remaining.
May 7th 2015:
First full day wearing a smart watch and I am not sure what to expect. This day I needed to run to a few customer sites for appointments and discussions. I did experience something I was not expecting constant bluetooth issues in the car and in the home office while trying to utilize a bluetooth headset. While the devices appeared to be paired with the phone, they would constantly revert to using the iPhone as the audio device. Annoyed with this I plugged in a wired headset and continued on with my day driving and taking conference calls and fussing with this wired headset. I did find another weird thing this day, iPhone battery dropped to 30% remaining before 4:00pm and that is very unusual based upon my driving, talking, texting, and emailing habits, of course not at the same time. Again fiddled with some of the settings on the iPhone for the Apple Watch looked for some more Apple Watch enabled apps and hung it on the charger just after 10:15pm with 46% charge remaining. I was a bit surprised by how much battery life I am getting on the watch and how little I received on my phone.
May 8th 2015:
Annoyed with bluetooth and battery issues I reboot my phone this a.m. before taking the watch off the charger. This appears to have resolved the bluetooth issues as I was able to accept a phone call ‘Dick Tracy’ style and immediately move it to the bluetooth headset at home without being disappointed. Relieved with my success of the morning I have also found the battery life to be better on the iPhone as well. Now that we have the major sticking points resolved or somewhat resolved I am feeling better about my purchase. Now let’s test some of the apps and notifications! You think having a smart watch it will make your life easier, however I must say there is an adjustment period where you forget you have a smart watch, feel a tap on your wrist and automatically take out your iPhone to check your notification. Not sure how this happens but I am adjusting to it.
Text messaging is absolutely rock solid and the Siri integration on this component I feel is possibly better than on the iPhone itself. I am not sure how this is possible, but it just seems like Watch Siri listens to me better than iPhone Siri. Other integrations I am finding useful are the notifications for Twitter as well as calendar reminders and phone calls when my phone isn’t right next to me, or say I run upstairs for a cup of coffee and don’t bring my phone.
May 9th 2015:
Today we are busy busy busy with my daughters soccer game, sons karate, daughters birthday, and oh shoot I need a mothers day present. I setup a list on Clear and let it sync to the Watch so I can stay on task and figured I wouldn’t have to get out my phone. With 3rd party apps I am seeing a little bit of a delay loading their content, however this is a 1.0 product with 1.0 software I am sure it will be O.K. with a simple software update. Clear worked fantastic, I was able to update my list in real time after soccer, karate, and picking up those Mother’s Day presents as well as picking up dinner for my daughter’s birthday party. Just to be sure I can use this going forward I verified on the iPhone clearing the tasks actually took affect on the other side. Wonderful this may be a time saver! Hung the watch up around 11:30pm after moderate use all day with 42% battery remaining.
May 10th 2015:
Today is Mother’s Day and in tradition I take care of the kids all day and we serve breakfast in bed to my wife. Kids were up at 7:15am so I strapped on the watch and worked with my youngest getting a show on the Apple TV. The wonderful thing about this is that I was able to browse into Netflix and other movies purchased from iTunes directly from the watch! While I didn’t have to configure anything and reading further into it, it appears as though the watch can be paired directly so that the phone is not required. While I haven’t tried this it is good to know it is possible, however I usually use the remote. I tried a couple more things today on the watch such as the timer so that I could cook perfect over medium eggs for my wife as well as timing my kids screen time. Family photo time after lunch without a selfie stick or another person to take the picture, not a problem with Apple Watch just open the camera app and use the watch as a view finder and take a picture myself, hidden use case here for sure!
Also tried the App ’10’ this is actually one of the main reasons why I bought the watch, to use it as a remote for a GoPro camera while I am fly fishing. While I thought this was going to be absolutely fantastic to use as a live view while recording I am a little disappointed with the first iteration of this app and hope that GoPro make their app work with the Apple Watch. The lag is terrible, about 1-2 seconds, no live view, and mediocre results when hitting record or stopping record.
May 11th 2015:
While I haven’t really run this watch through its paces yet, I am very impressed with the seamless implementation of Apples first wearable. Again today I was notified of meetings with the same 15 minute window I have come to expect, and haven’t been required to dig my phone out of my pocket. It is 10:02pm and have had the watch on since 7:03am and I still have 56% battery remaining even after a 15 minute phone call ‘Dick Tracy’ style and checking stocks, email, texts, and Google Voice notifications (Yes I do use this even though it isn’t Apple). I could see this with a few more software iterations and potentially Apple Watch 2 hardware running well into 2-3 days of use.
Fantastic battery life considering the size of battery (205mah)
Seamless Integration with the iPhone
Mirroring notification from iPhone is a breeze for setup
Software make this device
‘Dick Tracy’ style phone calls
Sync last up to 500 photos!
Sync up to 2gb of Music
Pair bluetooth headphones with watch
No reply to email function (this would be painful with Siri anyway, but for quick replies, or forwards that would be excellent)
Google Voice – repeat the last description
Slow Loading 3rd party Apps – I am sure this will improve over the next software release
Haven’t found a way for Podcasts to sync over automatically
As this is the first iteration of the wearable market for Apple and the only shining star being the Pebble it is my opinion the Apple Watch is a shining star. Although there are a few things in the Cons category (mostly 3rd party apps) I think there is enough in the Pros category to warrant a purchase for anyone that relies heavily on the iPhone as their single information source during the day. Also this is light enough to wear while exercising, I have only been testing while coaching soccer followed by one on one instructional with mild scrimmage play after games. While you may read this and think it is just another Apple Fan Boy, I would encourage you to call me Kevin.
Tying into the vRA theme from prior posts here is an excellent article by coworker and fellow blogger deploying workloads from his Apple Watch: