test : best sleep tracker next to AppleWatch ?

Question :

My AppleWatch is great. The only thing it doesn’t do, since you need to charge it every night, is sleep tracking.

Which sleep tracker would you recommend next to an AppleWatch ?

 

Answer :

If the only thing you really need is sleep tracking, I would still recommend an armband-like device. Armband-like sleep tracking devices are easier to carry around if you go on a business trip or holiday, they don’t require you to lie nearly still in your bed and they’re far less expensive than the other sleep tracking devices available. The only reason not to use an armband-like sleep tracking device is if you need extremely in-depth sleep tracking because of medical reasons.

Since you already own an AppleWatch and an iPhone (or iPad) to run the Watch-app on, you also have the iOS Health-app, so there isn’t any need for more than an extremely basic display on your sleep tracking armband device. Keep in mind that you don’t need a display while you’re sleeping, you can’t even use it during sleep…

Based on this observation, you’re best option is to choose the most basic and most affordable armband-like sleep tracker you can find. I’ve been testing these 2 side by side for a while now :

Xaiomi MiBand 1S : about €20 : buy it on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

Jawbone UP Move : about €15 : buy it on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

As an alternative, you might also consider the “upgraded versions” :

Xaiomi MiBand 2 : about €35  : buy it on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

Jawbone UP2 : about €40 : buy it on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

Jawbone UP3 : about €55 : buy it on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

Fitbit Flex 2 : about €85 : buy it on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

But, in the end, if it’s mainly for sleep tracking, these “upgraded versions” are quite a bit more expensive, but still, keep in mind that they are only different in features that have no added value for you since you already have an AppleWatch.

Reasons to choose the MiBand 1S over the UP Move (or the other way around) :

Xaiomi MiBand 1S – the pros :

  • automatically detects whether you are sleeping or not
  • USB-rechargeable battery ; one charge last at least one month
  • good quality armband ; no traces of wear and tear even after extensive use
  • very nice iOS MiFit-app
  • can be worn all day
  • minimalistic design
  • can take over activity tracking and (manual !) heart rate measuring when you’re not wearing your AppleWatch

Xaiomi MiBand 1S – the cons :

  • maybe not as waterproof as claimed ; probably water-resistant or splash-proof at the most, but suitable for showering (maybe not for swimming)
  • quality of individual devices differs, some may only last for a month or so
  • reset includes strange ‘put it in the fridge’ procedure
  • if something doesn’t work there’s hardly any feedback to what’s wrong
  • no way to directly use it as input device for iOS Health-app ; the MiFit-app is always needed
  • will irritate the skin when worn tightly (which is needed for heart rate measuring, but which you don’t need since you have an AppleWatch)

Jawbone UP Move – the pros :

  • easily exchangeable CR2032 cell battery ; will last up to 6 months per battery
  • very good iOS UP-app includes interactive coaching (sleep coaching also)
  • can be worn nearly all day (not for swimming or showering)
  • simple reset option (just take out the battery)
  • can take over activity tracking when you’re not wearing your AppleWatch (not heart rate measuring)

Jawbone UP Move – the cons :

  • switching to sleep tracking must be done manually
  • quality of the bracelet strap is dubious ; tends to break unrepairable after a few months
  • splash-proof only (not for showering)
  • design is slightly bulky compared to minimalistic armbands
  • no way to directly use it as input device for iOS Health-app ; the MiFit-app is always needed

CONCLUDING :

Both the Xaiomi MiBand 1S and the Jawbone UP Move are great choices ar sleep trackers next to your AppleWatch. Personally, I slightly prefer the MiBand 1S because of the fact that it automatically switches to sleep tracking when you fall asleep.

Note :

There is a reason that both the newer Jawbone UP3 and the Fitbit Flex 2 have nearly the same design as the older MiBand 1S : this design is the ‘near perfect’ design for such a simple armband device. In my opinion, the only reason to prefer the Fitbit Flex 2 over the MiBand 1S is the fact that is is very well suited for swimming… but it’s up to you to decide if that’s worth the extreme price difference, especially if you already own an AppleWatch.

Donate Button (MacManusNL)

Advertisements

BEWARE : these dangerous USB chargers are prohibited by Dutch authorities immediately

BEWARE !

This spring (2016), Dutch authorities have tested 230V USB chargers for electronic devices like iPhones and iPads. And the results are alarming : of the 41 chargers tested, 10 have tested ‘high risk of fire, explosion and injury’ (most of these were cheap unbranded USB-chargers) and another 14 have tested ‘dangerous because of missing safety documentation’ (these even included USB-chargers by Sony, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia). All these 24 USB-chargers have been banned from the Dutch market immediately, and selling these is now prohibited.

PLEASE BEWARE !

As you may already have purchased one of these dangerous USB-chargers, be sure to check the list below and compare with the USB-chargers within your household. If you find one, stop using it immediately !

The full list [with pictures] of USB-chargers tested can be found here (Google-translated into English) :

https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.inspectieresultaten.nvwa.nl%2Fproductonderzoek%2Fusb-laders%3Fsort_bef_combine%3Dweight%2BDESC

GREEN label = tested okay (no safety risk)

YELLOW label = dangerous because of missing documentation (safety risk)

RED label = hazardous (high safety risk)

 

Donate Button (MacManusNL)

test : is the HEMA 8pin Lightning-to-USB cable Apple Certified ?

Question :

I saw this good looking Lightning-to-USB cable for iPhone and iPad at my local (Dutch) HEMA store : HEMA has named it “8pin USB Charging Cable – extra long (2m)”.

Since it only costs €4 it’s far cheaper to have around as an extra than the original Apple Lightning-to-USB cables. But I’ve purchased some third party and white label Lightning-to-USB cables previously, and most cheaper ones all give the “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPhone.”-warning and I don’t want any new cables giving me that same error message.

How can I make sure that this HEMA Lightning-to-USB cable is ‘Apple Certified’ ?

Answer :

The HEMA Lightning-to-USB is available in various colors :

blue HEMA 8pin USB Charging Cable

orange HEMA 8pin USB Charging Cable

mint (pale green) HEMA 8pin USB Charging Cable

But there’s no way to be sure if it’s a 100% Apple Certified cable, since such a certification is not explicitly mentioned on the box…

The only things that are mentioned on the box are :

– for use with iOS-devices running up to iOS 7.1

– supported iOS-devices include the iPhone 5/5C/5S, iPad & iPad mini Retina, iPad mini, iPad Air, iPod nano, iPod Touch

…so basically, it’s a cable suited for any iOS-device that doesn’t have the ‘old’ broad (30pin) iPod-connector but the new (8pin) Lightning-connector, which would include the iPhone 6 & 6Plus also…

And what about iOS-devices running iOS 8 ?

That’s a “you won’t know until you try” situation :

From my own experience, I have not encountered the “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPhone.”-warning yet on these iOS-devices :

iPhone 5 (2012) & iOS 8.1

iPad mini (2012) & iOS 8.1

iPad mini 2 “Retina” (2013) & iOS 8.1

…that doesn’t mean that this cable will always be seen as a “Apple Certified”-cable at any time in the future however… there is mention that the “Not Certified”-warning did pop up in some situations, but the cause of those was not figured out… it might just have been an ill-produced sample, or it may have been incompatibility with iOS 8.0 only for some reason (which was then fixed with the release of iOS 8.1).

Conclusion : at this €4 price tag, this is a handy Lightning-to-USB cable to have one or two around as an extra, but keep in mind that this cable might not stay supported by Apple in the long run.

Note : if your iPhone’s (or iPad’s) battery is completely exhausted and it shuts itself down because of ‘lack of power’, using this cable to recharge will take notably longer before ‘minimum level to operate’ is achieved (might even take up to 60 seconds as opposed to the regular 10 seconds), probably because this cable is significantly longer (200cm as opposed to the regular 100cm)

😉

Donate Button (MacManusNL)

test : Albert Heijn (a.k.a. iClever) Apple-imitation bluetooth keyboard

The official Apple Bluetooth keyboard looks really cool and works smoothly, but it’s expensive… a little too expensive for most purposes people say…

Of course there have been lots of alternative wireless keyboards available, but none really got the looks of a genuine Apple one (for some that is a must). That’s probably the reason why some unknown asian company has made an un-branded ‘white label’ all-plastic knock-off imitation which – at first glance – looks nearly identical to the aluminum Apple bluetooth keyboard. This imitation keyboard is available under a wide variety of brands, like the iClever-brand in most of the world, but for instance also under the dutch supermarket Albert Heijn’s own private label.

The iClever wireless keyboard can be purchased from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk when you want a regular QWERTY-layout, and from Amazon.de if you want a german QWERTZ-layout.

Anyway, the main question is : is it any good ?

Simple answer : Yes, but…

Let me clarify : Yes, it’s a really nice keyboard to have and to use, with an interesting price tag below € 25 (sometimes even in the € 15 region). But it comes with a few flaws, so to quickly round up the verdict :

It’s an ideal low-budget wireless secondary keyboard for use with any Apple device that has a primary keyboard built-in.

To be more specific :

it’s a great low-budget wireless keyboard for use with an AppleTV

it’s a very nice low-budget wireless keyboard for use with an iPad or iPhone (but there might be quite a few handier options, like a iPad-cover with built-in keyboard)

it’s a good low-budget secondary keyboard for use with a MacBook (Air/Pro), for instance when your MacBook is closed and connected to a bigger screen

it’s a handy, but slightly tricky keyboard for use with a Mac mini, iMac or Mac Pro (for these Macs I would advice to keep an regular USB-keyboard at hand for emergencies)

Why ?

NOTE (*) : the top-left key (the one with the open square) on this keyboard is the [HOME] key

– it doesn’t have an Escape (ESC) key, so when any program on your Mac hangs, you will not be able to Force Quit the application with this keyboard…

UPDATE (*) : to [ESC], use this key-combo : [FN] + [HOME]

so, to Force Quit, use this key-combo : [CMD] + [ALT] + [FN] + [HOME]

– it doesn’t have an Eject key for the DVD/CD-drive, so when this is your only keyboard, you will not be able to get any CD or DVD out of your Mac easily… you will need to do the annoying drag-to-the-trash move using your mouse each and every time…

UPDATE (*) : to Eject, use this key (not a key-combo) : [F5]

– it doesn’t have any option to set the (energy saving) auto-disconnect function to a longer interval… which means that when your Mac also goes into (energy saving) sleep mode, the  keyboard has a lot of problems waking your Mac… (e.g. you will need to press any button for a prolonged time, but doing so also makes your Mac see that as input for any application that was still open… you might mess up your open Word-document with an enormous line of spaces in doing so…)

UPDATE (*) : to Wake From Sleep, use this key (not a key combo) : [HOME]

– the keyboard is often recognized too late when starting up your Mac, so you can’t use it to type your password during login, so you can’t start using your Mac… this is possibly only a problem for older Macs and/or older versions of MacOSX, but still…

I have tested this keyboard with Apple devices only, so I can’t tell about the compatibility with other devices, but I would think it will be similar : good to great for use with smartphones and tablets running Android and Windows Mobile, but rather troublesome for use with a Windows-PC…

😉

(*) special thanks to Arjan de Boer for these not-so-obvious, but very useful key-combos

test : affordable iPad styluses compared

Recently I came across a very interesting handwriting-note-taking app for the iPad : Notability

(after reading a lot of reviews and testing a few alternatives myself, I found this was the most useful note-taking app when wanting to use handwriting on an iPad ; the only downside I’ve found so far is it can only export to PDF)

So after I had decided on the app I wanted to use, I had to find an affordable stylus that can be used for handwriting.

The most important selection criteria I needed to test on where :

1- is the stylus responsive and accurate enough for handwriting on an iPad ?

2- does the stylus feel like an actual pen when handwriting on an iPad ?

3- is the price tag affordable, so below € 20, but preferably even below € 10 ?

The 7 styluses I selected are :

Muvit (T-Mobile) iPhone/iPad Stylus [2-pack]

AmazonBasics “Executive” Stylus

Ozaki “iStroke” Stylus+Pen

Boxwave “EverTouch” Micro-knit tip Stylus

ButterFox Micro-knit tip Stylus+Pen

TeckNet “MT-238” Micro-knit tip Stylus+Pen

NewTrent “Arcadia Clickpen” Micro-knit tip Stylus [2-pack]

The main findings of the test :

– rubber tip styluses (AmazonBasics, Ozaki) perform okay in responsiveness, but are significantly less responsive than the ones with micro-knit tips

– since the ‘capacitive touch’ screens used in iPhones and iPads were meant to be used with a finger and not with a stylus, the styluses will always need to mimic a fingertip… that makes the stylus-tip rather bulky and soft… which is a sharp contrast to what you would expect from a handwriting pen : a pointy and hard tip… so ‘actual pen-like’ responsiveness will always be a (small) bridge to far…

– for handwriting a stylus should feel like an actual pen in your hand, so not too light and with a good weight-balance

So, based on these outcomes my preference is [from BEST to WORST] :

1. TeckNet “MT-238” Micro-knit tip Stylus+Pen

2. ButterFox Micro-knit tip Stylus+Pen

3. Boxwave “EverTouch” Micro-knit tip Stylus

4. NewTrent “Arcadia Clickpen” Micro-knit tip Stylus [2-pack]

5. AmazonBasics “Executive” Stylus

6. Ozaki “iStroke” Stylus+Pen

7. Muvit (T-Mobile) iPhone/iPad Stylus [2-pack]

My ‘best buy’ is the TeckNet, with the ButterFox as a very close runner-up, with both of them priced at about € 8 max. I prefer the length of the TeckNet over the marginally better responsiveness of the ButterFox. Like the two test-winners, the Boxwave and the NewTrent both have micro-knit tips also, and even though I really like the idea of the NewTrent’s retractable tip, I would prefer the Boxwave since the NewTrent stylus feels very awkwardly unbalanced in your hand when writing… The AmazonBasics stylus is just plain okay but when handwriting not as responsive as the styluses with micro-knit tips. The Ozaki‘s performance is equal to the AmazonBasics, but the price-difference was 4 times higher, which made the Ozaki “little value for money”… The Muvit stylus is a disaster to write with, it sticks to the screen like chewing gum and it’s way too light & short to feel comfortable ; you’re better of using your index finger for writing…

So…

Happy note-taking !

Enjoy !

Donate Button (all)

fixed : 5V 4A car adapter for Samsung Optical SmartHub SE-208BW

Question :

I have a Samsung Optical SmartHub SE-208BW (all-in-one : WiFi-DVD player, media streamer,  WiFi-router and DVD+R burner), and since it is capable of streaming DVDs and HardDisk content to my iPhone/iPad using the Samsung SmartHub iOS-app, I thought it would be a great idea to use it in my car also.

However, if I power it using the USB-cable that comes with the SmartHub, it is limited to not act as a WiFi-device. So… I need a ‘dedicated’ car-adapter for it…

But… the power needed is 5V and 4A minimum… that’s a really rare combination… and Samsung does not sell any car adapters for the SmartHub, neither do they have any recommendation on a good solution…

What options do I have ?

Answer :

The Samsung Optical SmartHub SE-208BW is a rather unique piece of equipment. Combined with an iPhone/iPad and the SmartHub-app, it is a really versatile solution …if you keep in mind that it still has some little flaws…

If you ask Samsung how to power the Samsung Optical SmartHub SE-208BW in your car, they will recommend using a cigarette-lighter-to-220V-transformer…

…that’s a stupid ‘solution’, since transforming from 12V to 220V and back to 5V is both a complete waste of energy resources and it will drain your car battery…

So… after elaborate search and testing, I’ve found a ‘real’ car adapter solution for the SmartHub ; you should create a car-adapter yourself consisting of these three parts :

1- a USB to 5V DC Barrel H power cable like this one :

USB to 5V DC Barrel H power cable

2- a USB Y-connection cable (2x USB-male to 1x USB-female) like this one :

USB Y-connection able

3- a 5V 4.2A dual-USB car adapter ; at this moment, there is only one product like this that actually works :

5V 4.2A dual-USB car adapter

If you join these 3 parts together into, you’ll have exactly the car adapter you need for the Samsung Optical SmartHub SE-208BW.

Enjoy !

Donate Button (MacManusNL)

test : iPhone 5 covers compared

Searching for a good cover for a brand new iPhone 5, I had to do a lot of searching, since most iPhone 5 covers do not meet these three minimum requirements :

1- anonymity : it should not be too easy for others to see that I am holding an iPhone, so the Apple logo must be covered (the cover should preferably be plain black, distinguished in design and not too bulky)

2- small cut-out for the rear-camera : different from iPhone 3G(S) and iPhone 4(S) covers, most iPhone 5 covers have an extremely large cut-out for the rear-camera – this should be considered a design failure, since there is no technical need for this and it means that there will be two differently colored materials from the back of the iPhone visible in the cut-out… which looks extremely un-stylish…

3- ports & screen protection : the ports (audio headphone jack and lightning cable port) should be covered to not gather dust or sand, and the screen should be protected from accidental scratching (without having to turn to a flip-case design)

Luckily, during my elaborate search I found the solution(s) for the third requirement :

– the best ‘dust stopper’ is by far the “(unbranded) iPhone 5 Combined Headset and Lightning Dust Stopper“, because it’s flexible/elastic and you will not easily loose it since it stays fixed to the iPhone (thought the headphone jack) when you have to unplug it for charging

– probably the best ‘screen protector’ I’ve come across is the “Colorfone Screen Guard (Clear) for iPhone 5“, because it leaves the screen colors and sharpness intact, it has  extremely minimal cut-outs (for the menu-button, the front-speaker and the front-camera) and it took little effort to place without bubbles or dust-particles

The first two requirements however where too much for most cases, including my initially preferred brands like Belkin, Marware, STM and Griffin (and other ones like Kensington, Macally, Incase, Incipio, Gear4, Muvit, Rocketfish, Ozaki and Xqisit). So I ended up comparing these five iPhone 5 cases :

Speck CandyShell for the new iPhone (black)

SwitchEasy Tones for iPhone 5 (black)

Artwizz SeeJacket for iPhone 5 (black)

Terrapin Protector IP5 (black)

iGadgitz TPU Cover for iPhone 5 (black)

And the winner is…

even though all of the five cases tested (or rather : compared) are good products, and you might personally favor another case…

…my ‘best buy’ choice goes to the iGadgitz TPU Cover for iPhone 5 (black) because it it without a doubt the best value for money at only 1 GBP (ca. 1,50 euro), it is not bulky in any way, it fits tightly, the design is very chic, and it even has a screen protector film included (with rather minimalistic cut-outs)

my full comparison of these five iPhone 5 Covers is available here :

comparing 5 iPhone 5 covers

Note : judging from online reviews, I had high hopes for the Speck CandyShell and SwitchEasy Tones : they might provide slightly better protection than the iGadgitz Cover, but the very complete SwitchEasy Tones turns out to not be black at all (despite the name) and it’s tiny buttons are rather uncomfortable in use …and the Speck CandyShell turns out to look rather cheap due to low production quality and there’s a design fault since the perforation for the speakers doesn’t line up (which might even degrade the audio quality)…