Just a quick unboxing of my Parrot Anafi Drone. Hopefully, I will have a full review available in the next month.
Anyone that knows me, knows I love gadgets, so I am not easily impressed. However, the Lacie DJI Copilot BOSS Computer-Free in-Field Direct Backup and Power Bank with SD Reader, 2000GB + 1mo Adobe CC All Apps (2TB) truly impressed me. This review will be longer than my typical review, but hopefully, it will help answer questions for those in the market for such a device.
First off, the packaging was first class. It reminded me of the excellent packaging you get from Apple. Secondly, they provided several cables and a power cable that came with many different connectors for traveling abroad. Most importantly, it looks rugged in its rubbery skin. The main cable that they provide for your phone or tablet tucks nicely into the device and the cable can be run around and tucked into a slit in the surface of the rubber. Then, you can use a removable rubber piece to cover the plugs so they aren’t exposed to the elements. My preference would have been for the rubber piece to stay connected, but it is a separate piece you don’t want to lose.
I thought this device would be a great way to back up SD cards on the road in case one of them got corrupted and this would save me from having to keep that second SD card backup that I use with my A7RIII. In other words, I just pop out my card, pop it into the Copilot and it will start to copy after hitting the “action button”. The LCD screen, which is very minimal, so don’t get too excited, will show you when the SD card is finished copying. At that point, I store the card and then reformat the second backup card and use it for shooting. This gives me a backup on the road without losing an additional SD card in the process. While I would prefer some way to actually see the photos that are copying on the screen, it is nice that I can just pop the iPhone out of my pocket and verify my photos are there (more about that later).
As I mentioned, the iPhone, which I always have on me, can connect to the device with their provided cable. I am a little bit concerned about what will happen if I lose this cable because I checked and didn’t see it for sell on Amazon. Maybe I will contact Lacie and see if I can buy a couple spares. I did test this with the mini-USB to lightning bolt cable that came with my Blue Raspberry Microphone, but it did not work.
When you use this with an iPhone, you download the CoPilot Boss app. This app was of great use to me. You can plug in an SD card or a USB thumb drive or both into the drive and access files on those devices directly from the iPhone, even when they files have not been copied to the drive. When a file format is not natively compatible, you can tell the app to use another app to view them. In my case, that was Infuse and VLC which I already had installed on my phone. I tested playing movies, Flac files, WMA lossless files, etc and the app found a way to play them or it would hand them off to another app that couple play them. This is ideal trips where you want to access music or movies from a thumb drive without taking up space on the Copilot drive, tablet, or phone. I should mention that I also tested this app on my iPad and it works the same way. Of course, files can move both ways. You can save them from the device or backup to the device.
One thing I did notice that is that the app showed my RAW Sony A7RIII on the screen with no problem. However, if I copied them to my iPhone, the Photos app does not see them. However, I could open them up with Lightroom and edit them and save them. I just have to get used to a bunch of blank files in my Photos app until Apple supports the format in iOS. It is fantastic that the file can be reviewed directly from the CoPilot app, though.
When using with a computer, it doesn’t require a separate app. I believe I had to hit the action button the first time I used it, but I haven’t found that necessary every time. I think that if you have used it with the computer once before and the CoPilot is on, it will just show up as an external drive. Anything connected to it…SD card or thumb drive will also show up in the computer’s menu of drives. This is so helpful for recent MBP owners if you don’t want to carry along a bunch of “dongles”. I was curious whether it could handle non-storage devices, so I plugged my DragonFly DAC into the Copilot and the computer recognized it as an audio device and it played back audio through the Dragonfly without any issues. Obviously, I am not commenting on whether sound quality is effected by this type of setup versus using a dongle, but I was happy to see that it works as a “dongle” for other devices.
Is this device perfect? No, the LCD could be better. I would prefer the detachable cover actually stayed attached. However, this device is ideal for my needs. It lets me transfer files, view them on my iPad and iPhone and copy them or backup my devices to its 2 terabyte drive. It also works to allow me to see (or backup) external devices plugged into it, which is ideal for those of us using MacBooks. Heck, in a pinch, it can be used to power your phone or tablet! This is easily one of my favorite, most useful, tech products. As you can tell, I am extremely happy with this device! Now I just have to find out how to get some backup cables!
I got the George Foreman grill mainly for making sandwiches at lunch and it hasn't failed to impress. I warm it up while I am putting together the sandwiches and I just throw them on for a few minutes and the bread it toasted and the cheese is melted.
I have also used the open sided sandwich attachment and it is awesome. It melts the cheese without making a mess. I have also cooked sausage and salmon on it and it comes out great. Just like cooking on any grill, you just have to watch the temperature of what you are cooking so it doesn't get overdone.
I have had George Foreman grills in the past and have never used the waffle plates. I did this time. You have to be careful not to overfill the plate or you will have a mess to clean up. (speaking from experience) However, they came out perfectly.
Clean up is typically easy because you can remove the plates with a touch of a button and pop them into the dishwasher. However in my experience, they don't always get perfectly clean, so a trip to the sink for a quick rubdown is sometimes necessary.
The power cord is pretty short, but it works for my needs. Also, while this unit is bulkier than my old George Foreman grill, it takes up less space when it isn't in use. It can stand up and be moved close to a wall (see top photo). It takes up much less space than my Kitchen Aide Mixer or any number of devices I have in my kitchen. Just make sure you wait for it to cool down and clean the plates before storing it.
I love this machine. The ability to control the temperature means I can cook pretty much anything on it. This level of control was not available on my prior George Foreman grill, so I am very happy with this unit. It has become the most used device in my kitchen. I have used it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it has never failed to impress.
I just wanted to put down some of my initial thoughts of Apple's newest announcements.
Personally, I only have an interest in the Max because prefer large displays. It looks pretty awesome, but that price makes me wonder if I should hold onto my decent iPhone 7 Plus and wait another year. Maybe I am getting close to the law of diminishing returns at this point? It is just hard to justify when I am not a fan of the notch or FaceID in comparison to the old phones with the chin and the forehead. The upside is the processing power that makes "computational" photography even better with DOF adjustment after the picture is taken. Also, OLED looks fantastic.
Just not sure it is worth the money for my needs, even with the payment plans that make it fairly affordable.
Apple Watch 4
While I have to complain about the lack of an option to leave the watch face on all the time, this watch is pretty fantastic. Of course, I am rocking the Original Apple Watch, so speed updates alone are a big deal. However, the new larger face makes it easier to read, the GPS features, and the new health features make me want to jump in and buy one. I am waiting to read more reviews before I get to excited and pull out my wallet. I don't really want a cellular payment plan, so I would probably end up with the $429 model.
I wrote about my initial impressions of the HomePod in prior articles, but Apple has updated it with one great new feature called AirPlay 2. This already works with AppleTV 4 and 4k. However, they also updated 2012 and later Airport Express units.
The thing that makes this so great with these other devices is that you can now say something like "Hey Siri, play Prince in the Den" and music can play over the stereo or home theater system you have connected to your AppleTV.
For me, this means, I can use voice control to send audio to my main music setup or the multiple setups I have around the house connected to an AppleTV or Airport Express.
The Microphones are Underestimated
All the reviews comparing the HomePod to Alexa mention some of Siri's current shortfalls. I understand that because I also have three Amazon Dots and an Amazon Spot. They have their upsides, so there is no argument there.
However, the thing that is often missed is that the HomePod can hear commands in loud rooms much better than any of my Echo devices. If I can listen to music and ask the HomePod to change what is playing in a normal voice without screaming, then I am more likely to use the feature. Of course, with the AppleTV, you get beautiful artwork and/or fantastic 4k screensavers:
iOS and Airplay 2
Of course, you don't have to own a HomePod, though it makes things ultra-convenient. You can simply use iOS with Airplay 2. This allows you to send the same audio stream to all of your Airplay 2 devices in sync, including the HomePod. It will also let you send a different audio stream to each Airplay 2 compatible device. It is a notable feature that has been missing from iOS for years. It always seemed strange to me since the WHAALE app allowed some of these features with the prior version of Airplay!
In the photo below, you can see that I am sending Prince to the Bedroom and Den. AC/DC is playing in the Living Room and Nirvana is playing in the Office.
In the picture below, I simply changed the Living Room from AC/DC and added it to the Prince audio stream.
For me, this is a long awaited feature that will keep me in Apple's ecosystem for a long time to come. It adds flexibility, ease of use, and great sound to nearly every room in my house!
The Netgear Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi System with built in cable modem was packaged well. I should mention that I already have an Orbi router and one satellite, but the idea of getting a cable modem/Wi-Fi router combo would mean getting rid of one more device in my cluttered office and it also allowed me to expand my network by one extra satellite. One thing that is noticeable is that this satellite is smaller than the original Orbi satellite, which makes it less noticeable on the shelf in your living room or bedroom.
As I said, I was already using Orbi at home and I have had a great experience. This prior ownership experience gave me confidence with going with this new Orbi to replace both my modem and my Wi-Fi router. In my old configuration, I was actually using a Netgear cable modem, a TP Link router with Wi-Fi turned off, and an Orbi router for wifi only. It was a bit cumbersome, but I felt like it saved me time with the setup, but I lost some of Orbi's networking features in that process. This new setup is all in on Orbi.
The setup was straight forward. You connect power and the coax cable and you wait for lights to turn blue. I then connected all my Ethernet cables that were feeding my TP Link and I was ready to set it up. I added the satellite that came with this Orbi using a Mac and I then connected to XFinity and it took about 20 minutes for them to set up my new router. I should mention that it was taking so long from my Mac that I logged into the page from my iPhone and the setup went a lot faster. After that, I reset my old satellite from my prior Orbi system and synced it to the new router. It was all straight forward and I was up and running.
I then tested speeds and I was surprised at the speeds I was getting from Xfinity to my iPhone. They showed a 175mbps down and almost 12 mbps up! Very fast! Also, I went out in the yard and had a great signal no matter where I went.
The app, in my experience, has been hit or miss. Yes, I was able to get it up and running and see my other devices on the network, and turn on and off the Guest network. However, when I set it up for Remote Access, so I could control certain features via Alexa, it would work, but after using the feature it would make it impossible to use my apps. In other words, I would tell Alex to have Netgear turn off my Guest Network, which it would do, but then my router became unreachable from the Orbi app. I always need to restart the Obi modem/router to get everything up and running properly again. To me, this defeats the whole point of using Alexa to control the router.
The Circle app (with Disney) would definitely be useful for those with kids. You can block certain sites from individual devices on the network. I tested this by creating a test user on my iPad and blocking Youtube. I could not access it from the app or a webpage. The Circle app has a premium side, too. However, I only tested the free features and they would be useful if I didn't live alone.
All in all, I am happy with the Orbi modem/router and satellite. I don't often manage my network after initial setup, so some of the weird issues I experienced with Alexa aren't really a problem for my typical use. I want a reliable wifi network, that is fast, and easy to setup and the Orbi fits my needs.
I just want to apologize for my long lay off. I know a lot of people come here daily to see my posts and I have been so busy that I just haven't had time to do a lot of extra work to get my blog back on track. I do have several products to review at home, so keep checking back to see my new updates. Hopefully I will get a chance to put up a new review by the evening of August 5th.
Why the long lay off?
I don't talk about my personal life much on this blog unless it relates to a review, but life has been crazy the last couple of years and this year started off with a bang. I split up with the woman that has been in my life for decades and that made my enthusiasm for reviews and many other things in my life less appealing.
While I certainly wasn't prepared for such a life changing event, things have been going great (for the most part). My family and friends offered a lot of support and I have managed to pick up the pieces and move on. I am now dating a wonderful lady and have been getting out of the house a lot more than normal. I think it is all for the better, but I do need to post some reviews so I will continue to get stuff to review down the road as life gets a little less hectic.
I have no intentions of giving up on this blog. I have an A7RIII, Orbi Modem, a laptop, Airplay 2, 2 Espresso machines, and many more things to review already.
Thanks again to everyone that continues to support this website by clicking on links or just sending emails or comments that let me know my time isn't being wasted.
I have another article about Apple and privacy, but I had to post this tweet.
I have posted responses and links to MKBHD's Youtube videos in the past and here we are again. He recently posted a video discussing Apple's Ecosystem and I thought it would be a great way to introduce users to the concept even if I don't agree with his final assessment (which I will discuss below). Anyway, here is the video:
The Apple Ecosystem
As many people know, Apple has a variety of products and services that work well together. As he mentions, there are two separate issues: "How well they work together" and their "Walled Garden".
How well they work together
There is no other company in the world that has as many profitable products and services that work as seamlessly together as Apple's products and services. That isn't just marketing jargon, it is undeniable fact.
In the world of creating Operating Systems, Apple really has only two competitors to speak of and everyone knows that is Microsoft and Google. These companies have different approaches, though. However, in either case, Apple has wider range of hardware and software.
Microsoft does not compete with Apple in the phone market and Google barely competes with them in the desktop/laptop/tablet market. Therefore, Microsoft and Google clients don't have the benefit of being able to seamless move from the phone, to the tablet, to the desktop, to the laptop. Even when you flip on the TV, AppleTV has advantages with access to iTunes on your computer, your photos instantly appearing in the Photos app, you Podcasts showing up, etc.
The Walled Garden
As MKBHD mentions, "everything you could ever want" is inside the garden. That sounds pretty good, actually, However, he also says "these walls around the garden are really tall and they don't want you exploring outside those walls". Personally, I think this statement is a bit crazy.
First off, yes Apple makes it very comfortable in their garden. In fact, it is like living on a continent with everything you need. If you want Disney World, it is in there. If you want, a trip to the Safari, it is in there. That being said, they don't let all of their goodies outside of the wall. In other words, if you want to ride the biggest roller coaster in the world, it isn't available outside those walls, if you want the best beaches in the world, it isn't available outside those walls, etc.
That being said, MKBHD makes the point that they don't want you looking outside those walls. Is that really true? Does Apple stop Google from putting Chrome, Google Play, Google Assistant, YouTube, GMAil, etc inside their walls? If I can see how great Google does these things, aren't I more susceptible to being moved to other Google devices? Microsoft has their incredible office suite on MacOS and iOS. Isn't that letting me peak outside the walls when Apple has their own suite of apps? Heck, they allow Adobe Premier and even Windows to run on Macs. As I said, they have an open gate where pretty much anyone can come in, but they don't let all of their goodies out.
Hooks into the Ecosystem
He also talks about how Apple devices work so well together that they become "hooks" into buying more Apple products. He shows how well the iPhone works with the Mac, then talks about how that hooks you into buying AirPods, Apple Watch, and HomePod. Of course, Apple wants you to buy their products, so they work to make the experience so great that you want to buy more. This is what they call "smart business". In fact, you could say it is one of the best business models if you care about market cap, revenues, and profits.
Also, he mentions how, if you want to leave Apple's Ecosystem, your AirPods aren't as useful. Of course, Apple makes hardware that works well together. If you leave, you lose that benefit. You aren't stuck with anything, though. If I wanted to get out of Apple products, I would just sell the stuff on eBay, Amazon, Gazelle, etc. There are many ways to get rid of tech you no longer want.
As an example, I wanted to upgrade my old speakers. However, if I bought new speakers, my old speakers would be rendered obsolete in my home. Does that mean I am stuck with those old speakers until I die? No, it means that I could sell them and use that money toward new stuff. In the case of Apple, that old stuff typically holds its value better than the competition, so you won't take as big of a hit selling an iPad as an Android tablet. Of course, you could get rid of the iPhone and still use your iPad or iPod Touch to control your HomePod and use your AirPods, so if you were someone that bought into the entire ecosystem, chances are you could still use a lot of stuff if you just got rid of an iPhone. The Mac and iPad don't require you to use an iPhone.
He also discusses moving from Apple Music to Spotify because it is "clearly better". Obviously, this is bias because it isn't backed up by facts. JD Power actually did a study in Sept 2016 and Apple Music came in first and Rhapsody came in second for Consumer Satisfaction. Also, moving your entire library over isn't even possible because Spotify doesn't match your music. So much for being "clearly better".
Hooks into the iPhone
Once again, he talks about the hooks into the iPhone. If you buy an Apple Watch, you are aware that you need an iPhone to use it. It is like saying the new tires on your car are a hook into keeping the car for a while. Yes, when people buy an accessory for a specific product, they do that will full knowledge that it is an accessory. If I (hypothetically) decide to move from Rolex to Apple Watch, chances are, I won't be keeping around that watch winder or my other Rolex bands because they have no use without that type of watch. They aren't really hooks, though. No one is keeping their Rolex because they bought an expensive band. They just sell it all off and start over. Personally, I have written about accessories that I have purchased for my Jeep Wrangler. They can be expensive and they will not transfer to most new vehicles. If I get rid of my Jeep, my only option is to sell the Jeep with the accessories or to take them out and sell them. I can tell you it is easier to sell an Apple Watch than a bumper for a 2017 Jeep Wrangler.
You could be missing out?
So, his main point is that even if another phone comes out with better features, the hooks into the Apple ecosystem make many still want to stay with Apple. This is actually true for the most part. When it comes to picking which tech I buy, I am not solely basing that decision on specs. Most Mac owners know what I am referring to, but it is how hardware and software work together. Apple is in another league in that area which is why MKBHD uses an iMac and Final Cut Pro X for editing his videos instead of a maxed out PC running Premier.
It is also why you look at how a 5 month iPhone blows away new flagship phones coming out today in many areas:
Personally, I think we are getting to a point of "pick your spec". Everyone went crazy because Google Pixel 2 had the best DxOMark phone camera rating when it came to market. DxOMark picks the specs that they value the most and come up with their score in that manner. They talk to companies like Google so that they can make their cameras in such a way that it performs best in their rating system. It doesn't mean that everyone values the way a camera works in the same way as DxOMark's rating system. Some like a camera that is best in low light, some want it to shoot video the best, some are mainly concerned with it shooting RAW rather than all of the processing done in phone, or frames per second. These tests tell you how things do in specific categories, but the rating score is subjective.
In other words, these "best DxOMark" or best "DisplayMate" scores are measured within specific criteria and that criteria may be different from person to person. The iPhone X had the highest score ever from DisplayMate, did everyone throw out their Android phones and switch to iOS on that day? No, because even Android owners live in an ecosystem. If they have apps that only work on Android and they need them, they aren't switching to iOS on a whim. It works both ways.
I actually fell into a category of "ecosystem" users that stayed with Apple because of Airplay. Back when I had an iPhone 4s, I held onto it a year longer than I would have because of Airplay. I have Airplay built into my receivers, Airport Express units, and speakers around the house. At the time, there weren't any other alternatives, other than spending a fortune for Sonos Connects, so I kept the iPhone 4s for a year longer than I would have because I was waiting on a larger phone from Apple. I looked at Android and I could not find any way around this issue and rumors were already out that Apple was coming out with the Plus model phones.
However, was this a bad thing? I value having music, in a high quality, in multiple places in my home and only Apple affordably fed that market at the time.
When it comes down to it, we all have our choices to make. I am not trapped by Apple products. I have sold much harder things to get rid of on eBay (5 tires for a Jeep, for example) and I am not trapped by the fact that I own a HomePod. I could sell it tomorrow without much of a problem.
Outside of getting rid of actual products, I already own Windows computers (including Windows running on Macs), so I could move to Microsoft without much issue.
I see the ecosystem as a huge reason I stay with Apple and find it to be the thing that separates them from being solely concerned with specs that really don't add as much satisfaction as features like Airdrop, Airplay, Continuity, Messages, etc.
In short, no one is really trapped by Apple's ecosystem. Most say it is one of the main reasons they stay with Apple, but it is because it provides a better, unique experience across multiple devices than any competitor can offer. It is like saying Tesla plans to lock their clients in because no one else has a battery powered car than can go to 60mph in 1.9 seconds. These are unique features, but they aren't locking anyone in.
To wrap up....I agree that Apple's ecosystem of devices keeps people buying Apple products and services. I believe it is because people make the choice to take advantage of the ecosystem because the ecosystem makes their lives easier in many different ways. No one is "walled in", though. People always have choice and many are choosing to buy Apple products. It is never "too late" to change things up when you can sell the HomePod, Apple Watch or any Apple product tomorrow. The fact that people don't want to lose Apple's unique features is more about choosing to live in the garden rather than being trapped in the garden.
Dog loving, Big Green Egg worshiping, Tech enthusiast, residing in Memphis, TN. Home of the Tigers, Grizzlies, Elvis, Al Green, Stax, Hi Records, Ardent Studios, Beale Street, Peabody Ducks, etc.. I have also added the Jeep Wrangler to the list of things I am enthusiastic about.
Flickr pics below