Julie’s Gadget Diary 07-04-12 Happy 4th of July, Samsung Galaxy III and Other Tidbits

Happy Birthday USA, you’re looking pretty good for 236! Most of you are probably outside waiting for your charcoal to get hot, but for those of you that are still indoors enjoying the air conditioning and surfing the net, I thought I’d post a mashup article of miscellaneous thoughts, news, etc.

4G and the Samsung Galaxy III

Two weeks ago Verizon Wireless flipped the 4G switch in Columbus, Indiana. Since my only 4G device at the moment is the new iPad, my Verizon rep was generous enough to send me a Motorola Droid RAZR Android Smartphone and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, both with built in 4G. Although my iPad has 4G, I haven’t had the opportunity to really use it very often, so I was excited to do some speed tests comparing my iPhone 4S and the Droid RAZR.

3G 4G
iPhone 4S Verizon ping 114ms download 314kbps upload 853kbps ping 536ms download 138kbps upload 738kbps
ping 149ms download 420kbps upload 870kbps ping 146ms download 320kbps upload 770kbps
Motorola Razr Verizon ping 122ms download 512kbps upload 583kbps ping 69ms download 4840kbps upload 5046kbps
ping 128ms download 271kbps upload 978kbps ping 73ms download 7233kbps upload 5218kbps

 

The tests were done using the iOS and Android versions of the free Speedtest.net app. I alternated the tests so that they were done one at a time with the phones laying side by side. The first set of tests was earlier in the morning before 4G was turned on. Both phones had full bars at the time of the tests. Wow… 4G is crazy fast. Unfortunately, my iPhone 4S is only 3G. Also 4G coverage has not yet extended to where I live. But it’s in town were I spend 8hrs a day at work. That means I’m ready to pull the trigger on a 4G phone. Sure, I could wait till the iPhone 5 comes out this fall, but what fun would that be? I’m pretty sure that I’ll be pulling the trigger on a Samsung Galaxy S III next week. It will be the latest and greatest must have Android smartphone and I’m over due for a switcheroo.

Verizon is supposed to send me a loaner of the SGIII to review, but so far it’s not shown up yet. I haven’t decided if I should fork over full retail for it or take advantage of the discount and re-up my plan since I’m due. I also haven’t decided if the new Share Everything plan is a good deal for me. I think it might be since I’m already paying for the iPhone 4S, a feature phone and the wireless plan for the new iPad. I’m assuming that I’ll be able to share the data with the new iPad if I switch over to Share Everything. Has anyone done this yet?

I’m really looking forward to testing the SGIII. The hardware looks sexy and some of the new features I’ve been reading about really have me excited.

Gear Bag Tragedy

A few weeks ago, my trusty Timbuk2 messenger bag suffered an accident when one of the dangling buckles got caught in the revolving security gate at work. I felt a tug, heard a pop and when I looked down on the sidewalk, I saw…

Luckily the injury wasn’t fatal, but I sure wasn’t happy about it. I suppose that I should get it patched up, but I think the gear gods are really trying to tell me that I need a new gear bag. So I’ve been spending entirely too much time researching messenger bags. One part of me wants to order a brand spanking new custom Timbuk2 bag, another part wants me to find a new messenger bag company/brand to try and yet another part of me wants to try a DIM (do-it-myself) project and create my own. I’ve had a dream of making my very own modular messenger bag for close to 10 yrs now. I’ve even shopped the idea around to 2 big name bag companies, but sadly neither seemed interested in my ideas. I think I have a really cool idea for the ultimate bag system, so it might be time to try to make it a reality.

If / when I do get a replacement for my injured T2 bag, I might get it fixed and give it away in a contest. I’ve carried it with me everyday for the past 2 years, so it has some great gadget mojo.

Goodbye Diet Coke

In the spirit of Independence day, I’m going to announce my independence from Diet Coke. I’m typing this as I slurp on my last one ;) Really, I promise it’s my last one. I’ve been wanting to quit drinking them for a very LONG time and now that I’ve found an alternative that I’m happy with, I’m ready to do it. Why do I want to stop drinking Diet Coke? Because I don’t like the way diet sweeteners like Aspartame make me feel. When I regularly drink Diet Coke, my joints ache. When I stop for a week, they stop aching. I keep going back to them because I love the bite and fizz that soda provides. Regular water or even flavored waters just don’t cut it for me.

My alternative is to mix a glass of bottled seltzer, which is just carbonated water and NuNaturals Orange NuStevia drops. I’ve mentioned NuNaturals in some of my other diary posts and they actually contacted me a few months ago to tell me that they had two new flavors of their NuStevia drops. Orange and Lemon. I’d used Orange stevia drops before from another company (Sweetleaf) and wasn’t overly impressed because they always left an aftertaste. They informed me that these new drops would blow my mind because they taste so great. I said I’d try them and they sent me a few bottles along with some of their other products which I’ve also come to really enjoy.

Mixing a dropper of these Orange drops with a glass of cold seltzer water makes the yummiest soda I’ve had in a long time. The fact that it’s calorie free, doesn’t have artificial sweetener like Aspartame, no caffeine and no other questionable ingredients, makes me ready to finally stop the Diet Coke habit. I also enjoy NuNatural’s Vanilla drops too. They make a great Cream Soda type dring. But the Orange drops are my favorite. I hope they come out with more flavors. I’d absolutely love Grape, Berry or Cherry.

What I do is buy 5 or 6 liters of seltzer at Walmart for less than $1 each. I take a couple to work with me and just leave them on my desk. When I want some soda, I take my glass down to the cafeteria, fill it with ice, come back to my desk, pour the seltzer over the ice, add a dropper or so of the Orange drops, swirl around with a straw and enjoy. :)

The drops aren’t cheap at $14 a bottle, but they seem to last for a very long time.

All Purpose Gear iPad Sleeve

When you run a website like The Gadgeteer, you receive a LOT of emails every day with review offers. Because they are so popular, the bulk of those offers are for iPhone and iPad accessories and apps. After awhile, the cases, holders and stands all blur together into a big ball of ho-hum. Several weeks ago David from Apgear.com asked if I would review their iPad sleeve. I took a look at their website and wasn’t blown away by the looks of the sleeve and told him thanks but that I wasn’t interested in doing a review. David wrote back asking me to reconsider and offering to go ahead and send a sample even if I wasn’t planning to write about it. I caved and he shipped one.

When it arrived and I opened the package, I pulled it out and thought hmmmm, it’s actually quite nice if you don’t mind the drab color (it’s only available in Grey and Black). Color aside, the iPad sleeve is very well made. The outside is made of sailcloth, which is very strong, and the inside is lined with soft polyester with a polyurethane foam that is a good shock absorber. What I absolutely love is that this sleeve does not use Velcro, snaps or even a zipper to hold the flap closed. It uses magnets.

My iPad fit like a glove in this sleeve. The only improvements I’d make would be to make it a teeny tiny bit bigger so that the iPad with a smart cover would fit. As is, they fit, but it’s a tight squeeze, making removal a little difficult. I’d also like to see a loop along the bottom edge that would help you hold on to the sleeve while you are sliding out the iPad. But as is, the All Purpose Gear iPad sleeve is surprisingly nice. Bonus points that it’s been designed and is made entirely here in the US (Oregon). It’s a little pricey at $49, but I think this is one that might last forever.

Travel Journals

When you go on vacations, do you take your regular journal along with you, or do you take a special travel journal like the Midori Traveler’s notebook just for the trip? If you fall into the last group, Daycraft is offering a 128 page MyTravel Notebook. It’s available in yellow, black and white with a double cardboard cover that is held closed with a horizontal (instead of the typical vertical Moleskine style band) elastic band. The back cover includes a handy pocket for snippets and souvenirs. This notebook is priced at HK$199, which works out to about $26 US. Pretty pricey, but they do offer free worldwide shipping from Hong Kong if you’re interested.

Treadmill Desks

In addition to kicking the diet soda habit, it’s time for me to get more active. After sitting / laying around for 7 months last year during the whole cancer adventure, I find that the habit of sitting for most of the day has stuck with me. I need to break that habit asap. I have a desk job at work and then come home and sit in front of my iMac to work on Gadgeteer stuff. That makes for a whole day of sitting on my butt. Not good. My idea is to get a treadmill desk. I already have a treadmill, so I just need a flat surface for my Macbook Air and a mouse. Anyone else out there using a treadmill desk? How has it worked out for you?

If I do end up getting one, is there an interest in a review?

Ok folks, that’s enough rambling for this gadget diary entry. Go enjoy some fireworks; But be careful and remember this sage advice… It’s all fun and games till someone loses a finger…

Posted in: Articles

25 comments… add one

  • Swisspotluck July 4, 2012, 5:47 pm

    I would have a hard time giving up my Timbuk2 bag also. When that time comes, I am sure I will replace it with another Timbuk2 bag. I love them!

    Congrats on giving up the Diet Coke.

    • Julie July 4, 2012, 5:50 pm

      @Swisspotluck I love Timbuk2 too :) But like everything, I always wonder if there’s something better out there…

  • Jeff Mac July 4, 2012, 7:50 pm

    Julie, I am a big fan of Rickshaw bags for messengers. they have a modular approach currently (velcro on the inside for attaching various pockets and laptop sleeves).

    • Julie July 4, 2012, 8:51 pm

      @Jeff Mac What I want is a section of the bag that would be large enough to hold an iPad, stylus, small notebook, pen, wallet, phone and car keys. This section should be able to disconnect from the main messenger bag and be used by itself with the main shoulder strap. It would sort of be like a small messenger bag all by itself. I just haven’t figured out how it should connect to the main part bag. I hate Velcro, so I wouldn’t want to use that. I don’t want to just use another bag inside the main bag because I want everything to be integrated and only separate when I want it to be.

  • SJ July 4, 2012, 7:56 pm

    Congrats on giving up Diet Coke and thanks for the heads up on the new Orange flavor will have to check it out. I use many Sweetleaf flavors but you’re right – not a fan of their orange. I’ve not used a treadmill desk but I had a small stand that I sometimes used at work so I could stand and work on the computer. Ran across this article on MakeUseOf – the writer was converting to a standing desk – interesting comments and pictures http://tinyurl.com/85886sv And yes, if you go that way would definitely want a review.

  • Ben July 4, 2012, 9:16 pm

    sign me up for the Timbuk2 contest. You don’t even have o repair it, I have a sewing machine!!

    Gonna have to look into the nustevia drops

  • David July 4, 2012, 9:32 pm

    Thank you Julie for the review of our iPad sleeve.

    As always we follow your blog posts closely, and always look forward to your unbiased reviews of tech products.

    Hope you have a great 4th of July!

    David

  • Jeff Mac July 4, 2012, 11:29 pm

    @julie the closest thing I can think of is the Ful Joint Venture, http://ful.com/details.cfm?name=Joint_Venture

    I am working on a review, but frankly I don’t think it is executed very well…

    Waterfield Mambo Combo is close…
    http://www.sfbags.com/products/mambocombos/cargosuite.htm

  • Paul Grunwald July 5, 2012, 12:10 am

    Julie,

    Have you thought about one of these for a bag: http://www.maxpedition.com/store/pc/Kodiak-Gearslinger-2p938.htm

    There are some good reviews on YouTube. I just replaced a Targus laptop bag with this and never going back to a backpack for EDC again.

    -Paul

    • Julie July 5, 2012, 7:47 am

      @Jeff Mac, @Paul Thanks for the suggestions, but none of them are really what I want. I want to stick with the classic messenger shape like Timbuk2. I just want that extra feature of a removable section.

  • Betty Widerski July 5, 2012, 8:38 am

    I’ve been using a WorkFit-S Stand/Sit desk attachment for several months now. Since my work cubicle isn’t big enough for a treadmill I keep a mini-stair-stepper under my desk and get on it sometimes.

    Also, for traveling I’m excited that http://www.ninjastandingdesk.com/ will have a Kickstarter launching on July 11th.

  • Elias Rangel July 5, 2012, 10:51 am

    Julie, have you considered starting a Kickstarter project to develop your messenger bag or would that be overkill?

    • Julie July 5, 2012, 11:31 am

      @Elias Funny you should mention that, I’ve actually joked about doing just that… I wish I could work with an established crafter/bag company.

  • Mistermau July 5, 2012, 11:09 am

    I’d be interested in how your adventures upgrading your phone on Verizon go. I don’t think you’ll have the option of keeping your existing phone rather than switching to Share Everything, unless you pay the full unsubsidized price for your SGIII (In the $500+ range, I’d guess.)

    If I understand Share Everything correctly, then your minutes and text messages would be unlimited, you’d pay the base price for your data plan, and then you’d pay another $30 for your phone each month, and also another $10 for your tablet each month.

    Our plan is pretty complex. We have two smartphones, plus a dumbphone, and a corporate discount mixed in. We wanted to keep our unlimited data, so we added on a mobile hotspot just before Share Everything kicked in. The plan is to wait a couple of months, and then do the analysis to see if we’d save money by switching to Share Everything. My current prediction is that we will be able to save to save some $ by switching!

    • Julie July 5, 2012, 11:34 am

      @Mistermau My plan is as complex as yours. I have one smartphone, one dumbphone and a corporate discount. I want to also add in my 3rd gen iPad.

  • mistermau July 5, 2012, 1:19 pm

    @Julie In that case, figure another $30 to add the dumbphone. So you’re looking at your base data plan, plus $80.

  • Alastair July 5, 2012, 8:37 pm

    Congrats on getting off the Diet Coke bandwagon. A couple of years ago, I got off the same bandwagon, and devised a way to make my own cabonated water. I did this primarily because I hated lugging heavy bottles of carbonated waters (and the additional bonus is that you reduce your carbon footprint by not using plastic bottles). You can read on how to build your own carbonation system here: http://bit.ly/HomeCarbonation

    Cheers,

    Alastair

    • Julie July 6, 2012, 6:47 am

      @Alastair Thanks for the link to your article on a DIY carbonation system. I had purchased a little handheld carbonator called Fizz Giz with the thought of using it at work. I didn’t like the way it made the water taste. I was even using the food grade CO2 cartridges. I also had a hard time finding bottles that were compatible with his caps. I could get my Sodastream out of the closet and see if there’s anywhere local where I can refill them.

  • Alastair July 6, 2012, 12:56 pm

    Julie:

    My issue with the SodaStream is that the way they sell it in the U.S. is that you don’t own the bottles, just the machine. When you buy the bottles, you are really licensing the bottles and warranting that you will use SodaStream to refill the bottles. They put in a proprietary system to prevent others from being able to fill them. Perhaps its the lawyer in me, or maybe its the home hackmaster in me, but I rebelled at the idea of the monopoly on the refilling. This is actually how I came about to build my own system. As I wrote in that link, I get 2,000 liters out of a tank of CO2 (as opposed to 130 liters from the SodaStream), and refilling the cannisters is the same price – $20 bucks!

    As for the Fizz Gin, I found that the taste was also a bit metallic, and I think it is because the cartridges are so small and the metal to gas contact is greatly increased. With my carbonator, I haven’t had any problem with metallic taste.

    I love your articles – keep up the great work!

    Alastair

  • Bryan Sherman July 7, 2012, 9:43 pm

    You should check this site out on the Share Anything plan ;-)

    http://the-gadgeteer.com/2012/06/13/verizon-unveils-new-share-everything-plan/

    Basically you get unlimited voices, text messaging, and mobile hotspot. You pay $40 for every smartphone ($30 for basic phone) $10 for a tablet. Then you have to choose your data package that is shared across all devices. 1 GB for $50, 2 GB for $60 and you jump up 2GB for each additional $10. Data overages are painful ($15 for each GB over). So if you had 2 smartphones, and a tablet, and could live with 2 GB that would be 40 + 40 + 10 + 60 or $150. Bump to 4 GB and it would be $160. Since you get mobile hotspot, you could also just use the Wi-Fi from your phone with your tablet and save the $10 a month.

  • Bryan Sherman July 7, 2012, 9:46 pm

    Oh, and the only thing you lose (currently) if you buy a phone under subsidy is your ul data plan. You can continue any other plan, and you could convert the ul data to a 1 GB, 2 GB or whatever without going to shared data. That being said, that is why I pulled the trigger and pre-ordered the SGSIII before 6/28 instead of waiting for a chance to look at it and the INC4 before buying.

    • Julie July 7, 2012, 10:46 pm

      @Bryan Thanks for the added info. I’m going to pull the trigger on the share everything plan soon. I received an SGIII loaner yesterday and am trying to decide if I want to get one now or wait for the iPhone 5 in few months.

  • mercadeo en linea July 8, 2012, 5:14 pm

    My second Tom Bihn Bag, bought in 2006, is my Large Cafe Bag, a $60 messenger bag with north/south/portrait orientation which can hold letter size notebooks and paperwork. I use as an every day purse, a personal item carry-on, an essential car trip bag. Way cheaper than the backpack disasters I bought as a student. The Large Cafe Bag is unisex, my husband carries the second one I bought in 07, as a personal item. In the same order was a Small Cafe Bag, the $50 cute and small answer to quick errands, girl lunches and romantic stroll at the park. It can be scrunched up in the Brain Bag and unfold looking new.

  • Betty Widerski July 11, 2012, 8:59 am

    FYI, the Ninja Standing Desk Kickstarter is now live:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1886278358/ninja-standing-desk

  • Julie August 7, 2012, 12:44 pm

    @Ben do you still want my damaged Timbuk2 bag? If so, email me your address and I’ll box it up for you.

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