jawbone jambox review

Time flies!  I wrote the first draft of this in May of 2011, and just noticed today that I hadn’t got around to posting it.  At this point the Jambox has a number of competitors, but the review still seems useful.

Wireless portable speakers are such a great idea.  The jambox is one of those devices that I feel has somehow slipped under the radar. I have the black one, and I find it adds to my quality of life in many unexpected ways. The jawbone website has a promo video with various hipsters using the device…. but to this day I’ve never come across anyone in real life besides me who actually uses one. That’s a shame, because it really is a versatile product.  Wirelessly pairing it via bluetooth to a device like a smartphone or tablet opens up a host of new opportunities.

Use cases: 1- You’ve got your ipad on the counter in the kitchen, and you’re streaming some content from Netflix or TW cable or Pandora or something while you fix a bite. With the jambox, you get super convenient, wireless sound which blows your ipad speakers away in quality and volume. Once you’ve paired the jambox, you simply turn it on and you’ve got sound.  Being wireless and having a great rechargeable battery means you can position it as you please.

2-It is also surprisingly great for gaming on the ipad.

3-You’re out at the beach getting some sun. Pair it to your smartphone and now you can share tunes with your buddies and go headphones free.

4-Riding your bike.  Toss it into your handlebar basket and now you can listen to tunes without the danger of earphones dangling in your ears.


I could go on and on.  I’ve used mine in all the use cases above and then some, and have been happy with the performance.  My attitude towards mobile data plans is since there is no “rollover” for data, if  I’m going to pay for a mobile data plan I’m going to get as much use out of it as I can.  The Jawbone Jambox is a surprisingly handy tool for extending the utility of my phone/tablet devices.  Sound quality is better than one would expect from an item of this size, and battery life is excellent.   I haven’t noticed any dropouts with bluetooth like one sees with the first generation airplay speakers, and unlike airplay one isn’t dependent on wifi.  The Jambox also doubles as a hands free speakerphone with Jawbone’s relatively excellent noise reduction.

Bottom line- this can improve your lifestyle.





natural glass water bottle review

Non-disposable water bottles are an interesting topic. Two big trends which seem to be driving sales are the environmental backlash against single use bottles and the health considerations of bpa. In response, I’ve seen a lot of metal options from companies like Sigg and bpa-free options from the folks at Nalgene.

My current option comes from Starbucks, and is made of glass. Glass works for me for a few reasons.  Not only is it the most flavor-neutral bpa free option, but unlike steel bottles it allows one to easily see how much water remains. I wouldn’t take this hiking, but it is of sufficient thickness that with its silicone sleeve it is plenty sturdy for daily urban use. The latch mechanism is watertight and simple to use, and in my opinion the level of design compares quite favorably to higher profile bottles like those from kor. Surprisingly, it costs $16.95 at Starbucks, which makes it a relative bargain in many ways. One of my current favorite items.

hela disc review

Hela Test Video from Hela Disc on Vimeo.

Thought it might be time to mix things up a bit and do some quick product reviews of stuff y’all might find interesting. The Hela disc is a fairly new product which is starting to build some buzz. If you are anything like me when you watch the above video you might immediately wonder if any special effects were employed.

When I first came across this product I was immediately intrigued because it checked off a few key boxes for me. I like being active and outdoors, and I’m a bit of a nerd. The idea of a more accurate frisbee sounded pretty sweet, so I ordered one which arrived yesterday. As soon as the work day ended I headed out to a local park with my Significant Other.

I’ll cut to the chase- I think the video is legit. After just a little practice I was able to throw the disc right where i wanted to in the short to middle range (50-100 feet) with much higher accuracy and consistency than I usually do with a conventional frisbee. The Hela requires much less arm effort per distance, and seems less prone to wind drift.

Pros: more accurate and consistent than a conventional frisbee, and greater distance is easily achievable.
Cons: the throw technique is different than a frisbee. If you go out with some friends and don’t practice, someone is going to throw your disc into the next zip code, never to be seen again. If you throw too hard, catching this thing can sting. More expensive than a regular frisbee.

Verdict: Not hype. This product does what it says it does. I’m happy with it.

apple pretentiousness is contagious

merlin mann is a funny dude.  so recently a company calling themselves “information architects” released an app called “writer” for the ipad.  it seems that this company generated a bit of buzz for their product rollout, exemplified in this gizmodo post.  merlin skewers them here.  not sure which i found funnier between the earnest press release and the sarcastic response.

on the road, virtually

day 6 of the long ride

it has been almost a week since my dad embarked on his big adventure.  one of the remarkable benefits of our modern times is that i have so many ways to participate virtually in his ride.  using google latitude, i can pull out my smartphone randomly during my workday and see where my dad is.  i try to text him at milestone moments, like when his ferry arrived back in the usa from vancouver island.

when he sends me pictures from his phone, i can use the latitude data to learn all kinds of things about the area he is in.  here’s a pic from day 6 (today) of his ride.  using google maps/the internet, i learned that the building they are approaching is a diner called “fat smitty’s” which is averaging 4.5 stars over 13 reviews on yelp.  the restaurant has a facebook page, and they seem to be  doing pretty well.

i can use google street view to look over the terrain my dad and his partner are riding on, and via the internet i can review the weather as they are riding.   this is all in real time.   what a world.   if i wanted to, right now i could call my dad and tell him what people think is good on the fat smitty’s menu.

i continue to worry, but i’m very grateful that our era allows me and my family to have these previously unavailable options.   the world continues to shrink.

fyi- it is not just hype

for some reason i get a lot of questions about the ipad.  by far, the most popular question is “isn’t it just a big ipod touch?”

understandable.  but really what people seem to want to know is what additional functionality they would get over an ipod/iphone.   a complete answer is more than i’m willing to take on today.  let me simply say the ipad should end up being worth the cost if you already use the internet at home.

it comes down to convenience and utility.  anyone who already pays to have internet service at home nowadays is very likely to have a wifi network.  if you are already paying for service, with the ipad actually using that service becomes much more convenient.  you already have an inkling of what i mean if you have an ipod touch or iphone.  these devices give near instant access and can be used with ease wherever you have wifi signal. where the ipad sets itself apart is in its utility.  having a large, portable touchscreen makes the ipad so useful it is actually the best web surfng device for many situations.

example: last night, in bed, i realized i had not completed my todo list.  i was supposed to review a user manual for a hiking gps, but had forgotten to.  without even getting out of bed, i picked up the ipad from the nightstand and found the online pdf file for that user manual.  i then reviewed it on the spot, from my bed.  i read it a  full page at a time, with no need to zoom around on a tiny screen and no need to boot up a laptop.

this device is truly a new way to surf the web, and is a real improvement.  and yes, that claimed 10 hour battery life is legit.