Summer 2017 Roundup

I took a pretty big break from writing this summer. We did a lot of fantastic travel but I also wanted to maximize the weekends which meant cutting back on my writing time. With fall here, I hope to get back into a regular rhythm, but to set expectations I also have a lot of fall and winter travel so I might end up on a twice a month or monthly schedule.

To kick off the fall I thought I would recap all the interesting things I’ve acquired this summer.

GoPro Hero 5 and Karma Grip - 5 stars

My friend Mike got a GoPro earlier this summer. My first reaction was negative till I saw the short video that it created from a day our families spent together on Bainbridge Island. My perception of GoPro was that it was really for action sports - but in reality it's a great camera for all those in-between moments in life where you can gather a day of 10 second video clips and make a nice and short move with some good cuts and music to make for a bite sized and fun memory.

This summer I also purchased a DJI Spark Drone and learned the value of having some “smart” software basically create a short clip from a bunch of footage. The GoPro also made me realize that 4K video is vastly superior to 1080p. Which means I don't think my drone is long for this world. Not to mention flying a drone isn't easy despite huge progress in this space. The DJI software is pretty terrible having now experienced GoPro.

The GoPro is basically a tiny hand-held drone. I absolutely love using this thing. I use it to make clips of videos that I would not otherwise take with my iPhone. In addition the GoPro software is truly excellent. It excels at doing something I am very bad at - making a short and memorable video of some experience and then sharing with friends and family.

note: the GoPro Hero 6 is now available. It's more expensive than the Hero 5 so worth looking into the differences and see if that is worth the additional cost.

I also purchased the GoPro Karma Grip - a 3 axis gimbal. If you have never used a Gimbal it’s basically a stabilizer - what they use to film movies and such. It creates a silky smooth cinematic effect. It has the benefits that it’s also adds 2 hours of batter life to the GoPro.

I really look forward to using the GoPro on vacations, skiing, under water and for all those in between moments to capture our kids and our life in ways we never did before.

Here is a quick I made of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Disney World

Oura Sleep Ring - 4 stars

Another recommendation from Mike, a very sophisticated sleep tracking ring. I have used since this summer and learned a lot about my sleep patterns. They are weird. I still haven’t figured out what to do about the fact that I get almost no deep restorative sleep each night (but an abundance of REM sleep) but the whole idea that I’m able to track detailed information like this and then “biohack” my self is a project I’ll probably pay increasing attention to and hopefully AI and Machine Learning will improve to the point where we get useful recommendation that are proven to make us happier and healthier.

Rimowa Topas Stealth Carry-on - 5 stars

This summer I was able to improve my travel collection with (in my opinion) the pinnacle of carry on suitcase. I acquired this in Europe at a pretty steep discount and it makes me crazy happy. I would not reccomend buying this at retail in the US given how much Rimowa ends up being marked up here - see if you can score this on a trip to Europe.

This is my first aluminum suitcase and I love it. It's not reccomended if you are going to freak out when this thing gets scratched or dented. Go for the regular aluminum or polycarbonate if that's an issue.


Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE - 5 stars

I have owned 3 Apple Watches since launch and use every single day. I love this thing and the Series 3 is a huge improvement. It’s very fast, Siri speaks to you and the LTE feature is cool. I have left my phone behind on occasion and it’s wonderful to be able to stay connected in important ways but without the phone. I can make phone calls, send and reply to text messages. As a result of this feature I now actually use apps on the watch. For beach vacations or even going out to dinners on weekends without the watch, this should maybe center me a bit more without my head in my phone.

I have the black stainless watch (of course) - I love the sapphire crystal - never had a scratch in 3 years as well as the tough process that makes the watch very indestructible and scratch free (in black stainless).



iPhone 8 Plus - 5 stars

The iPhone X is going to be crazy awesome. When when we’ll be able to get them is a mystery to me. As such I have what I consider a bridge phone. Be prepared to not have your iPhone X till 2018 based on all the rumors of manufacturing difficulty and low yields.

The iPhone 8 is a big improvement over the 7. It’s very fast, has great battery life, the camera is improved in many ways, it has wireless charging but otherwise looks the same. I can’t speak to the glass back as I have the thing in a case since I’m taking care of this device for a few more weeks I hope. It also has a neat new mode for taking photos called Portrait mode that's improved over the iPhone 7 Plus. This photo was taken out doors in broad day light! Crazy!


But I can’t tell you how excited I am to get a physically smaller phone (the iPhone X) with the same size screen as the iPhone 8 Plus.

As it stands, the iPhone 8 Plus is the best phone Apple has ever made - if you don't get or plan to get the X this thing is a super computer.


Dyson Pure Cool Link WiFi-Enabled Air Purifier - 4 stars

My wife and I were looking for a tower floor fan and came across this combo fan and air purifier. My sister has one of these fans and loves it. 

Like all Dyson products this is very high quality. I enjoy the features a great deal such as automatic scheduling, an iPhone app to control it and Alexa integration. We felt the fan did a great job this summer of cooling down our room. When we had a week smoke from fires in Seattle it was interesting to see how it reported on our air quality.


Amazon Echo Show - 1 star

The most disappointing product of the summer for me is the Echo show. The level of hate for this thing is high. There is nothing useful about the screen that warrants how much space this thing takes up. It’s also very trigger happy - always beeping that it thinks we are talking to it. The previous device in our kitchen - the original Echo - never suffered from this. Further more the automatic video feature where you can “drop in” is creepy has hell. I could not convince my sister (who I gave one to) to also use the thing. So it gets 1 star. I’m planning to replace it with a Sonos One with Alexa.

I love the Echo and have many. Just not this one. Avoid.


Baseus 3-1 cable - 5 stars

I discovered this cable during the summer and ended up replacing many of my cables with this. Now that USB-C has achieved 50% penetration in my house I need to deal with the fact that I have many micro-usb devices, USB-C and Lightning connector. This is the cable that solves all those problems. The nice thing about this cable is that you can charge up to 3 devices at once from a single USB port. This saves a lot of desk space and clutter.