Apple AirPods Review (Second Day) – Running

I took the AirPods out for a run today to see how well it works.

For once, I actually felt good going for a run with earphones because there are no wires of any sort lingering around my shoulders or neck. My previous ATH-Sport4 Earphones has pretty stiff cables that tend to get in the way when I turn or tilt my head. With the AirPods, it felt freer.

While running, I tend to change the tracks when the music being played isn’t matching my mood or tempo at the moment in time. Since I wear the Apple Watch series 2 out during my runs, I do try to switch tracks from it but the whole process isn’t smooth. To switch track via the watch, I need to bring it into view, switch app to the music player, change track before switching back to the running app so that I know how far and my pacing.

With the ATH-Sport4, there is a fast forward button that doubles as the change track button, so I will reach up and change track from there. But the buttons are behind my ears due to the way I wear it and there is a need to hold the button for roughly three-seconds before the track is changed. It’s not very ideal but it’s better.

The AirPods improved on the whole experience of track change process. Since it relies on accelerometer to detect double tapping, the primary way of interaction with the AirPods, it’s faster. Secondly, it doesn’t feel awkward.

As I go further on my run, the AirPods didn’t feel perfect enough. Due to the shape of my ears, combined with the shock and vibration that went through your body as you run, they got pretty lose. The situation was made worse by sweat. Every decameters or so, I had to shove the AirPods back into my ears to prevent them from flying out.

External noise cancellation is practically non-existent and I could hear the sound of vehicles around me, people talking, etc. But I suppose it’s not that big of an issue.

I suppose I will give it a try a few more times before deciding if I want to go back to using the ATH-Sport4 for my runs.

Apple AirPods Review (First Day)

Ever since the AirPods was announced by Apple back in 2016, I always wanted it but wasn’t sure if it would fit my use cases. I know people have qualms about the design but I don’t. I have been using earphones from Audio-technica because of their decent balance between bass, mid, treble, and price. The earphones that I owned also have decent noise cancellation and doesn’t fall out of my ears. Due to the shape of my ears, most earphones do fall out if I swing or shake my head hard enough.

So today, 25 November 2017, I decided to buy the AirPods and give it a try. I do have a wireless earphone from Audio-Technica and it’s the Ath-Sport4 model.

I bought that because I wanted a non-wired version that I can wear when I go for runs. I didn’t want the cables to dangle and interfere with my arm movements.

The Ath-Sport4 was a decent earphone for its price. The pain point that I have with it was the short battery life of three hours. I had to be very sure that I charged it full before I leave the house. I encountered a couple of times where my earphone ran out of battery while I was outside and couldn’t charge it. Not a very good experience for me.

The AirPods set me back by SG$238. Rather expensive but I suppose that’s the price that I pay for convenience. You see, I invest so much money into Apple because of their privacy stance, great products, the premium feel, and convenience. Due to the well optimize software and hardware and the tight integration, everything was as seamless as possible. It makes my life better. It reduces decision or mental fatigue.

Let me digress a bit.

Think about it. How often have your Windows PC and your myriad of devices gave you headaches because of difference in operating system, software support, connectivity, etc.?

Back to the review.

Let’s go with some pictures of the box and the actual device. I took this chance to practice taking photos of products.

Front of the box. The plastic wrapping is still on it.

Side of the box.

Back of the box.

Took off the plastic wrapping and unboxed it.

Removed the box containing the booklets and manuals reveal the actual device.

It look so much smaller than I thought and really does look like a dental floss box that I have. I love the minimalistic, white design.

I love how the top opens and snaps back. It felt so intuitive and remind me of those boxes carrying gums or sweets.

Taking it out of the box and opening the cap reveals two of the earphones. They do look kind of cute and fun, reminding me of some kind of sauropods emerging of their eggs.

Taking the earphones out, they look really weird but interesting. Fun in a way and the design is pretty minimalistic too. Love it.

So I took the earphones for a spin, pairing it with my iPhone 7 Plus and listening to some music.

I got to say, I actually like the bass and the mid-range. I don’t really listen to music with high treble and so I don’t think it will affect me that much. Generally, I like bass music.

I also paired it with my MacBook Pro and watched Netflix with it. It was decent but Netflix has this issue where the audio volume is actually softer when you are using the browser to watch shows.

The next few things I tried with the earphone was with iTunes and YouTube. So far I really love the sounds produced by the earphones.

There is another use case that I need to test and that’s running. I will update again once I test them out. For now, I don’t know whether they will fall out while I’m running. If they do, I may have to fall back to using the ATH-Sport4 when I go for runs and I won’t consider $238 that well-spent anymore.

Movie Review #1 – Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Please note that there may be some spoilers.

I went to watch Kingsman: The Golden Circle with my friends on Sept 23, 2017 at Shaw Lido. It came out in Singapore on the Sept 21. This is my quick review of the show.

Some background first. I watched the first movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service, when it came out in 2014. I loved the first show due to its over-the-top action sequence with the occasional comedic scenes. The funniest scenes were always when Samuel L. Jackson is on. In that movie, we saw Eggsy, portrayed by Taron Egerton, grew from an anti-social youth to become a respected young man capable of dishing out heavy punishment on the bad guys.

In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, we saw Eggsy as a mature agent, able to fight off his enemies with relative ease. And when he’s not fighting or on the job, he was able to maintain a cover of a young adult who has a girlfriend, hanging out with his friends in his house.

About quarter way of the show, we get to see the Kingsman wiped out except for a few survivors — Eggsy and Merlin were the only those survivors.

From then on, the movie was about the remaining Kingsmen working with Statesman, the American counterpart to stop the villain, Poppy Adams, portrayed by Julianne Moore. She’s pretty good at portraying her character’s eccentricities.

Elton John stars in the movie too as a captive and generally serve to replace Samuel L. Jackson in the sense that his scenes were rather funny.

The action scenes were like the first, over-the-top yet maintaining some sense of believability. It’s generally a fun movie. During certain parts of the show, the CGI was pretty obvious. I’m not sure if it was intentional or what. Generally CGI in most Hollywood shows have a certain polish till the point where you almost couldn’t tell the difference between real and fake.

I give the movie 4/5 stars.

Food and Restaurant Review # 1 – Hana

Restuarant

My friends and I went to the Hana restaurant located at Forum The Shopping Center for dinner on Sept 23, 2017. It is a Japanese restaurant with an integrated bar. Alcoholic drinks like beers, wine, and Japanese Sake can be ordered.

If you are going to eat there, do take note of the opening hours as follows:

Lunch: 12pm to 2.30pm

Dinner: 6pm to 9.30pm

Ideally, you should make a reservation if you don’t want to share tables with other people. The restaurant itself is also rather small and can fill up rather fast.

In terms of service, it was decent enough. The staff were friendly. Presentation wise, it was clean but not quite minimalistic.

Food

We ordered a Sashimi Platter, regular-sized, for the price of $48.

I don’t think it is worth the price since there were only a few slices of Yellowtails, Tuna, scallops, farmed salmon and spot prawn. I could get bigger portion of the sashimis in the form of Kaisen Chirashi Don for the price of ~$27 at The Sushi Bar. Freshness wise, it was acceptable.

One of my friend and I ordered the Flying Cha Soba with Maki, which cost $18 each.

It was one of the more unique dishes on the menu. One of my friend called it a gimmick, which I agree. At the end of the day, it’s just soba presented in a different way. The food itself wasn’t that particularly good or bad. The main soba sauce, despite us adding the quail egg, seaweed, and spring onion in, it was mostly tasteless. My friend went to add the fake wasabi in for additional flavor but it didn’t work. The sauce is just too bland. The other sesame-based with half-boiled egg sauce was better and added a little more flavor to the otherwise bland noodles. I didn’t get to taste any hint of green tea from the noodles though.

For drinks, I didn’t order any alcoholic drinks and I personally prefer coffee over anything else. So I ordered a cup of ice Americano for $5.

The first sip gave me a good coffee kick. I quite like the taste of the coffee as it has the right balance of bitterness and sourness. Comparable to the Cold Brew I always order from Starbucks.

Conclusion

The final bill was $142 for three person, which I would say is on the slightly more expensive side. If you are nearby, want to eat Japanese food, and don’t mind paying a little more, you can go there. I haven’t try the other dishes, so I don’t think it would be fair of me to outright reject that place. For me, I don’t think I will go out of my way just to eat there. There are other better restaurants around Orchard Road.

Ogon Designs’s Stockholm V2 Smart Wallet Review

My original leather-based wallet was falling apart after one year.

So last Sunday, which is the 4th of June 2017, I decided that it was time for me to get a new one. This time, I wanted a more minimalistic, hard wallet. In a leather wallet, my cards tend to end up bent, which I dislike. In addition, with the increased use of contactless cards, preventing RFID scanning is important. I don’t want the possibility of having money deducted from my card without me knowing, although in Singapore, it is pretty safe.

But it does pay to be safe than sorry.

I went looking around online and found a company, Ogon Designs, which makes aluminium wallets. After browsing their catalogue, I found what I want and took an immediate liking to the Stockholm V2 Smart Wallet.

According to the company, the wallet itself is designed and made in France, which I thought is interesting, especially the latter. Most products these days are made in China and tend to be of a lower quality. Generally, I would prefer products that are made in their country of origin or in countries where the culture is such that the people is attentive to details and perfection. So without considering further, I ordered it from the website. It cost me about SG$137 and that included the DHL Express shipping fee.

The wallet arrived in Singapore on Friday, 9 June 2017, in a small brown box. Opening up the box revealed the wallet itself sitting in the middle of bubble wrap and white foam.

Here you can see the wallet itself encased in a clear case wrapped in plastic. I supposed the plastic case is to protect the aluminium body from scratches and dents.

Once you take the wallet out, it felt solid and compact in your hands. I love the black finish with the grooves along the front and back. The wallet is small enough that it actually fit in the palm of my hand. For an aluminium wallet, it felt light too, comparable to the leather wallet that I used.

Opening up the wallet revealed a small booklet with the OGON title in one of the slot. The interior was well-made and didn’t felt cheap in any sense.

Once you take the booklet out, you can see the wallet allows you to put up to six cards, which is fine by me as I don’t really have that many cards.

Although the wallet allows you to put cash in it, it wasn’t very feasible, especially in Singapore due to the use of polymer banknotes. It’s hard to fold those notes and if you have a lot of those, you will have a hard time closing the wallet. However, with Singapore moving towards being a cashless society, I supposed it is fine for me. Besides, I also rely more on my cards to make payment. Cash are only used at food stores in Singapore which still rely heavily on cash. Side Note: I’m personally not very happy with that.

But if you do need a bigger wallet to hold your cash and cards, then I suggest you get the Big Stockholm Wallet.