Tag Archives: gadgets

Coin – many cards in 1

Update: 20th Dec 2016
Unfortunately Coin was bought and subsequently shutdown before even Coin 2.0 was released. It was a nice idea, but I suspect the market is too saturated with competing and incompatible payment methods at the moment. At least Apple Pay is being accepted in more places.

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Recently I have been using the Coin credit card device https://onlycoin.com/. This credit card sized device can contain the details of many credit cards at once. There is a great video on their website showing how it works. When you go to buy something you simply push a button on the card to select the credit card details you want to swipe with. No more bulky wallet for multiple credit cards!

It uses Bluetooth to communicate with your iPhone or Android to unlock – so even if you left your Coin behind accidentally it will be locked out for anyone else to use. It also records the last location it was used at so you can go back and retrieve it if you left it.

There is a tap tap code you can use to unlock it without your phone, but I haven’t found that to be very easy yet. Out of all the places I have tried to use it only one place was not able to read the card, so I always card 1 back up card just in case.

The fun part is when you hand it to someone to swipe and they are looking at it and always ask me what it is – and then what a cool idea it is. I concur! The Coin 2.0 will be out soon which will work with chip enabled cards I will be interested to see how they implement this for multiple cards.

When you purchase the Coin it comes with a card swipe you plug into the headphone socket on your phone. Like how the Square payment method works. Using this you can swipe each card and save it to the Coin app and take a photo of the card. These details are then synced across Bluetooth to your Coin.

I will be very happy when I receive my Coin 2.0 for one major feature – the ability to give each card a nickname! The Coin screen just shows the card type (VISA, DISC) and the last 4 digits of the card number – so much easier to give each card a nickname.

Overall I am very happy with Coin and have found my wallet is nice and slim now – just got my Coin, debit card and driver license. Until Apply Pay becomes widespread this is a great alternative that works the majority of the time.

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Mota G2 Lite Smartwatch review

In my email last week I saw a Groupon offer for the Mota G2 smartwatch (sold out now) reduced to $49.99 for the original or $59.99 for the newer model. Of course, I liked the snazzy silver/red version which only comes in the newer model. I read the reviews for it on Amazon and it sounded like it would be fun to try out.

Mota G2 Lite

Mota G2 Lite

 

Shipping was fast – even though the tracking said estimated receive date was a week after when I actually received it. The box itself has been shipped in a lightly padded envelope and had got slightly damaged – just cosmetic, but still. The watch came almost fully charged which was a pleasant surprise – I don’t like to have to wait to play. Pairing the watch to my iPhone 5S was easy and after I read the manual I did set the correct time.

I will pause at this point to say I think this watch is more of a dumb smartwatch than a smart smartwatch! Really, I am waiting very impatiently for the long rumored Apple iWatch and this experience just reinforced my feeling that Apple is more likely to make something ‘smart’. For instance, why couldn’t the G2 get the time from the phone???

FEATURES

If you go to the Mota website and read about the features of the G2 it seems to do everything you would want in a low entry point device:

  • It has Bluetooth connectivity to both Android and Apple;
  • Vibrates with caller ID so you can decide to accept or ignore call;
  • Can be used as hands free speakerphone with built in speakers and microphone;
  • Can stream your music through the built in speakers;
  • Alerts when you go more than 10ft away from your phone;
  • Can be used to connect to Siri or Google Now for voice commands;
  • Looks stylish in a Star Trek communicator way.

This all sounds great – I was excited to get this device. The big thing for me was to get one button access to Siri without having to dig my phone out of my pocket or purse. I am still waiting to get this – no combination of button pushes could get this to work – unless I activated it from the phone first which defeats the purpose completely! The manual says to press button B which will change the display to speak and press button A to confirm. Nope, couldn’t get this to work and spent half the time turning the watch off by accident pressing button B for various lengths of time.

The watch did actually not look too bad on my wrist and the fit was comfortable – not too loose and not too tight. The display was clear enough, but a bit boring and small – no color. It was annoying to have to turn the screen on to display the time – some sort of motion sense or something should kick that off. It is a lot wider than my Jawbone Up band and I don’t think I would wear this out if I was dressed up.

Mota G2

Mota G2 Lite

Mota G2 Lite

I will say the streaming music and speakerphone for phone calls did work very well. Again, not sure how much I would really want to speak to my wrist and have everyone hear the caller. It was a novelty feature – I did want to access Siri this way and add calendar events quickly.

As for notifications, they only work for phone calls – I wanted to at least be able to see if there were any texts or messages I was missing. This is why I say the phone was more dumb than smart – there is no logic in this, it is purely a Bluetooth repeater.  I don’t want to have to turn my phone to silent before a meeting and then turn it back off when I come out of it. I watch my smart watch to figure out when I am in a meeting and silence my phone and vibrate notifications to me. At least vibrate to remind me I left the phone in silent mode!

Finally, the proximity alert for when you are more than 10ft from the phone seemed like a nice idea – except I now realize I purposely leave my phone quite often and I don’t need an alert about it. I do not take my phone the the bathroom, nor do I take it with me to pick up lunch at the cafe downstairs and I definitely don’t have it with me at all times in the house. If I am expecting a call I might have it with me more often, but this alarm thing was just too annoying. Then when you come back in range of the Bluetooth it beeps quite loudly. How about understanding my routine and only alerting me when I leave the phone outside of my normal locations?

Conclusion

I guess this foray into smart/dumb watches has more clearly defined in my head what I am really looking for in a smartwatch – hopefully the iWatch meets these desires:

  • Smart silences phone and vibrate watch when in meetings;
  • Smartly figure out if I am forgetting my phone or purposely leaving it;
  • One button access to Siri and display the results on the screen as well as talk them;
  • Access to phone contacts to initiate text message or voice call easily;
  • Have Bluetooth priority options – in the car always connect to the car first, etc
  • Always display the time or at least make it display when movement is detected;
  • Remind me of events/meetings or appointments I have coming up;
  • Importantly: look cool and stylish on either male or female wrists!

The Mota G2 has been repackaged and the return label printed off to send it back to its masters. Santa is however ready to order an iWatch so roll on Sept 9th Apple event – I am waiting!!!

 

Gadget Addiction

As anyone who has been paying attention to my Facebook comments can attest, I have been on a gadget purchasing spree lately.  Gadgets have always been fascinating to me – ever since watching those early Bond movies.  On the whole though, they have tended to disappoint after purchase. The calculator watch – yeah, that looked real pretty!  The early walkie-talkies – that weren’t wireless!

Now though, gadgets are actually living up to the literature and there are some decent bargains out there too. Couple of weeks ago I ordered a Touch wireless FM transmitter – $4.99 from some website. It works well enough for me. Yesterday I picked up my first Blue-tooth headset on clearance at Staples for a whopping $3.50. Wanted to test if it would work for Skype with my netbook – it does!

Last week Amazon sent an email featuring some electronics I might be interested in. Normally I would just delete it without even opening it, but I thought why not just check and see if there is anything. Not that I need anything, but just look (famous last words).

There was this Ooma product – free US and Canada calls for life. Uh-huh, what stupid thing is this? Have to plug it in to an always running PC? Buy a special phone for it? Get crap call reception?

I almost didn’t bother, but then I saw it had almost 5* reviews – I was more curious now. There was this one review by a guy who covered everything you would ever need to know about it. He was a VOIP engineer, but didn’t work for Ooma, just loved the product and wanted to see the company do well. Amazon page

I ordered it. Set it up in 5 minutes with my complicated network and can use my existing phones with it and no PC has to be on. Neat, one time $220 cost with free calls as long as the company stays in business. Even if it only last another year, it will have paid for itself.

So now I am feeling a bit gadget addicted – need a constant fix of new toys to play with! Good thing there are a lot of free or 99c apps for the Touch!!!

Wifi not so reliable…

I am just back from a vacation to Scotland – took some of my buds over with me!! In preparation for this trip I kind of went on a tech gadget spending spree.  Shock  horror, yes I spent some of my hard earned dosh.

Picked up my Ipod Touch and a netbook and some headphones with the special built in microphone for the Touch. Then I signed up to Skype, iCall and FlightStatus.

All of this was designed to make it easy for me to stay in touch with UK and US people while I was in the UK. Needless to say, actual performance of this did not live up to expectations.

Not that it was the hardware that was a problem. Wasn’t even the software that caused me much in the way of issues. No, it was the darn wifi network connectivity that was dismal!

The hotel wanted to charge me $15  for 24 hour wifi access – or use the PC for free in the reception area – guess what I chose! So then I was like, no biggie, just got to find one of these wifi cafe places – like McDonald’s or Starbucks. Yes, they had them, but we were never going to them when I needed the access. Can’t very well drag my friends of to McDonald’s while I make a Skype call to book a restaurant for dinner!

Even at the airport which had signs posted all around about free public wifi – never once was I or anyone around me able to connect to it. Sometimes I could connect, but the response was so slow I would have used up my battery before I got my tweet out!

In Edinburgh I gave up and bought a pay as you go cellphone for $50. The cellphones there are so much more advanced than US ones – it even has an FM radio in it! Everyone texts over there, and I now understand why it is so popular – no PC and always connected!

The Skype account was actually quite good – I created an online number that was local to the UK so that anyone calling me in the UK can use a cheap call to get to me – even when I am in the US. It also lets you forward the call to another phone number – cell or land-line and then to voicemail.

Verizon gave me  global cell phone before I left, but even with the plan it would have cost 99c a minute – even to check voicemail. I was much to worried to use it often. Wouldn’t bother with this again.

The touch was still good – even without my precious internet access.  I downloaded an app before I left called Stanza which is like an ebook reader. They have a bunch of library books that are free – got a nice Agatha Christie one and then a new release book too. Invaluable when jet-lag kicks in at 3.30am!!!

So next time, I will take my new phone over to the UK and just get a new SIM card for it – sound all geeky now, but the lady in Carphone Warehouse set the phone all up for me – phew!!! Then I can text my buds and not feel like such an offline loser when I have to ask how to send an SMS….

I am just so Touched!

A few weeks ago I bought an Ipod Touch. It was one of those gadgets that had been sitting at the back of my mind, but not enough to make me run out and buy one. I don’t know what happened though…oh yes, I remember now. I am going for a vacation trip to Scotland and won’t be staying with my Mum. How is one to stay connected on the web if you have no PC with you?

I didn’t want to bring a laptop – too much hassle. So I was looking for alternative. Just needed something that would let me surf basically. I looked into a blackberry, but I was dubious about the whole cell phone data transfer costs.

Into my radar pops the Touch – uses wifi so no cell phone contract and it looks cool and is cheaper than a laptop. Who could ask for more? Course, I had to have one right there and then – instant gratification and all that!

Oh, how it changed my life…well maybe not quite that extreme, but I do love it. Amazing how many places have wifi available now. I downloaded some free apps that let me do quick currency conversions, bank account checking, free voip calls, airline checking options, weather and time for specific locations, Google maps and toilet finder based on location and of course games.

I’m not a big gamer – but I am addicted to Solitaire again. It also changed my TV viewing habits. I can surf while I watch TV on the couch. /never realized how distracting Twitter could be when watching CSI!!! I now find that every 10 mins I have to check if I have new email of tweets. I check the news before I go to sleep at night. Ahhh, portable web surfing in the palm of your hand – I LOVE it!

And there are so many cool FREE apps that let you play. I have one that lets you make your own bobble heads out of any picture you have loaded. Another one lets you tap a drum set along with any music you are playing. Stupid little things, but fun to amuse friends with.

I got the 8gb version and I still have a load of space left. Probably if I was really into the games I would be better of with a bigger version. For now though, this little gadget suits me just fine.