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Tag: Logitech UE Mobile Boombox

More Vacation with Less Tech

For once, the rusted nut I found wasn't the one in my head. Although my noggin did slide into vacation mode about six hours earlier than I would have preferred...

For once, the rusted nut I found wasn’t the one in my head. Although my noggin did slide into vacation mode about six hours earlier than I would have preferred…

I’m just back from a ‘relaxing’ family beach vacation at a cottage in the North Fork of Long Island… And let me just quickly admit that along with my favorite pair of flip-flops, I accidentally left most of my tech smarts at home.
(It doesn’t help when you pack your tech at the last minute, and you’ve got a ferry to catch!)

Not to pass the buck, but some bad Tech Karma also played a role in what was to come next…

Movie Night Cancelled
I brought along our brand new Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter to conveniently stream videos from my iPhone onto the cottage’s resident HDTV. But it ended up being an older TV without an HDMI output. So my plan to project videos onto a big screen for a larger crowd was foiled…

No Rocking the House
Then, I realized I had forgotten to bring my portable Bluetooth speaker (Logitech UE Mobile Boombox) to stream Pandora tunes off of my iPhone.
(D’oh!)

That said, the house did have one of those formerly-cool clock radios with an iPhone dock, but again, it was an older model with the old 30-pin connector…not the current Lightning connection my iPhone 6 Plus uses.
(Foiled again!)

Dangerous Beach Exposure
I also forgot to bring my son’s cheap, but waterproof ‘family’ COOLPIX S32 Nikon camera to use on the beach.
(When a typical pocket camera with a motor-driven zoom lens gets exposed to a sandy environment, it can get destroyed by a single grain of sand jamming into the wrong spot.)

Instead, I threw caution to the wind and brought along my aging Canon S100 advanced point and shoot.
(On the upside, it survived and took much better pics than the tough but mediocre Nikon ever could.)

I should also admit my iPhone 6 Plus satisfactorily handled its share of beach-time photo taking… The camera functionality was amazingly zippy, which was useful when my five year old brought over the latest hermit crab he just caught!
(But I was careful not to go too close to the water with my iPhone… An accidental drop in the drink would have really ruined the day!)

Home Alone
Even though my limited vacation brain and a touch of bad luck sidelined a bit of fun, all of my smart-home gear thankfully remained fully on duty. Back at the homestead, this tech did a stellar job keeping me informed that our home was indeed comfortable without any resident humans.

Nest Thermostat Keeps Its Cool
I’m always conflicted about whether to leave the windows open or closed before leaving on a late August vacation. Warm days and cool nights can be a perfect combination for a few open windows to successfully ventilate your house. But if a thunderstorm rolls through, those open windows will welcome in some damaging moisture you’re not around to wipe up…

And if you decide to batten down the hatches, you have to choose between letting your house get all hot and humid without air conditioning or running your AC and feel like you’re throwing money out the (closed) window…

Unless…

With my smart Nest Learning Thermostat, I was able to monitor my house’s internal temperature on my iPhone and remotely turn on the AC at night for a couple of hours if I felt my home needed it.
Sure, any programmable ‘dumb’ thermostat can handle that directive, but I’ve got to admit that having the flexibility to manually control the AC from the Nest app on my iPhone felt amazing.

Nest Connect Glows Green
My Nest app also showed me the happy ‘green circle’ status of my Nest Connect smoke detector. So I was pretty sure my house wasn’t burning down in my absence…

Foscam Camera Keeps Track
And while we’re talking about managing a few ‘irrational’ fears while vacationing…
Remember that Foscam Wi-Fi BabyCam I installed when my now kindergarten-bound boy was just a wee lad in his crib? Well, I’ve given my Foscam a new mission…

Now, the BabyCam just serves as a resident pair of digital eyes (well, just one) when nobody’s home. The FoscamPro app on my iPhone allows me to quickly take a look about whenever I want.

No, I couldn’t see throughout the entire house while simultaneously viewing the beach sunsets.
(I could if I had multiple Foscam cameras set up.)
But it’s still another data point that my house was remaining healthy all by itself.

Vacation Scoop
So I’m pleased to report my house had a wonderful vacation.
And as for me…?

I’m writing this final paragraph on my last full day away…

  • The sun is rising as I look out over the magical inlet in front of me.
  • The warmth of the sun joins the crisp morning beach air.
  • I’ve got my cup of Joe.

Perfection.
(I have found my Vacation Zen.)

Cup of Beach Joe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I’m happy to admit there was absolutely no technology connected to the moment above.
…Except for the little detail that I was tapping away on my iPhone…
(D’oh!)

It’s good to know that you can be at home without tech.
(Almost…)

Time to Buy a Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Do I own a Bluetooth speaker? Not yet. Do I need one? Absolutely! Which one should I buy? Let’s find out…

Do I own a Bluetooth speaker? Not yet. Do I need one? Absolutely! Which one should I buy? Let’s find out…

I’m not a big fan of Bluetooth tech.
Not yet.

I never really got into those tiny Bluetooth headsets for your mobile phone.
(Sure, they were cool when Lt. Uhura wore one on the Starship Enterprise. Now that they’re real… not so much.)

My first meaningful Bluetooth experience was with my first iMac’s mouse and keyboard.

I was so excited by the concept…

  • A clear desk without wires or clutter
  • Only the iMac
  • Just like in the commercials

Well, I quickly realized it would take more than the loss of a two wires to clean up my home workspace.
My desk is eternally populated with note-pad stickies attached to every inch of clear surface!
(If you know of a support group, please let me know!)

And then I faced the reality that you have to keep changing out batteries to maintain the Bluetooth fantasy.
Worse still, you need to occasionally trouble shoot a failed Bluetooth connection when you boot up your Mac.

Typically, the solution is manually reconnecting the Bluetooth device with your mouse. But how do you do that when it’s your Bluetooth mouse on the fritz?!
Years ago, I bought an old-school wired mouse as a back-up solution.

I proactively addressed the problem with my current iMac by acquiring both a Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad.
That way, when one Bluetooth device goes out, the other one can come to its rescue.
Very symbiotic, don’t you think?

So let’s just say I haven’t been wowed by Bluetooth.
Not yet…

Realizing the Universal Wisdom of Bluetooth
Last weekend my family and I were attending a little barbecue event at a friend’s house. Kids were running about and spraying each other with two garden hoses. (My son somehow managed to stay dry, yet remain in the action.)
Some of the parents were marveling the hearty vegetable garden.
Others were enjoying a cold drink.

Where was I?
Staring at a ‘mini’ black monolith, suspended by thin strings in a living room window.

I wanted to touch it.
I felt it held the answers to the universe.
The host walked up, and he handed me an animal femur to throw high into the air.
(no he didn’t)

But he did explain I was looking at his new battery-driven, portable
Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth Speaker.
It had been paired with an iPhone, resting not far away.
No wires…other than the occasional power cable to charge up its battery.

Not only was it born to project beautiful tunes via the iPhone, but it also does double duty as a speakerphone. (It even has its own microphone.)

Interesting…
I moved closer to the Monolith.
Contact.
I felt my brain growing…

The Search for Sweet Music in Every Room
My new knowledge quickly began percolating towards solving one of my home tech projects:
Bringing music (back) into every room in my house.

Once upon a time, I could just pop a radio or stereo into a few rooms, tune them to my favorite station, and presto, I had a whole-house music solution!

Actually, I don’t need music in every single room, but it would be nice to cover the major zones.
I’ve fallen a bit behind since terrestrial radio tech has become so passé.
(I don’t think I’ve turned one on at home in a year!)

My Grounded AirPort Express
I’ve tried using a few Apple AirPort Express units around the house to wirelessly connect up a few speakers to simulate the same effect using iTunes and music streaming. But I’ve encountered mixed results.

  • Sometimes, the AirPort Express units need to be rebooted.
  • Occasionally, I’ve experienced scratchy interference generated by some other selfish device like a microwave.
    (The fact that my Express units are the older ‘802.11g’ variety and not the newer ‘802.11n’ may have something to do with this problem.)
  • Plus, you’ve got to boot up a computer and then iTunes to get the music going. That’s never quite as fast as clicking a knob or pressing a stereo ‘on’ button.

It’s just not been a quick ‘set it and forget it’ solution.

Sure, I know you can hard wire your house for audio…but I don’t have the appetite for such a major project right now.

But if I can’t have music in every room I walk into, maybe the solution is to bring the music with me into whatever room I happen to be in…

…via Bluetooth!
(cue the angelic chorus)

So Many Choices!
Buy a portable Bluetooth speaker and then move it wherever you need it.
(Yeah, that’s the ticket.)

So I began my research, and it was at this point I felt a bit like Rip Van Winkle.
Portable Bluetooth speakers are hardly a new item.
They’ve been around for a few years; the Jambox was a sensation back in 2010.

But now, there’s a veritable army of them out there to choose from.
This year’s CES was filled with them.

Many of the newer ones are designed for outdoor rugged-on-the-road or at-the-beach use.

The good news is my durability requirements are slightly less ambitious…
(That said, I do have a three year old!)

Let the Shopping Begin…

So which Bluetooth speaker to buy?
I went online to see if I could identify a cyber consensus.
And a few trends began to emerge…

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II
Everyone seems to agree that the
Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II is the best one out there.
But it’s wicked expensive at $299.

There’s also Bose’s brand new SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker at $199.
It starts shipping on July 1, and the initial buzz is strong.
(When was the last time Bose didn’t come up with a product that was amazing, but overpriced?)

Jawbone Jambox

Jawbone Jambox
Compared to today’s competition, the Jawbone Jambox is still a strong contender, but isn’t as universally adored as it once was. It’s also considered too expensive at its base price of $180, considering the cost/value analysis of the competition.
(You can pick it up from Amazon for only $129.79)

There’s also the Jambox’s newer and larger cousin, the Jawbone Big Jambox.
The reviews say it’s…yes, bigger and better.
But it’s added power comes at a cost…$299.00.
($272.33 on Amazon.)

Logitech UE Mobile Boombox

Logitech UE Mobile Boombox
The Logitech UE Mobile Boombox hits the sweet spot.
It’s only $100 and gets great reviews-

This is the closest I’ve come to finding online consensus for anything in quite a while…

How Low Can You Go?
A hundred smackers isn’t an unbreakable baseline.
You’ve got a plethora of choices in the sub-$100 arena too.
And cheap does not equal bad.

Philips SoundShooter Wireless

Philips SoundShooter Wireless
One example is the Philips SoundShooter Wireless, which garners positive reviews considering its $50 price tag. ($46.86 on Amazon)
(Plus, you know how much I’m into Philips these days with their cool LED light bulbs.)

It can’t match the more expensive competition, but reviews like CNET’s say it’s surprisingly good…

Any Color of the Rainbow?
Henry Ford was famous for allegedly saying that people could have any color of his 1909 Model T car they wanted… so long as it was black.
Bose follows the same philosophy, and the basic black works just fine for me.
(Actually, the $299 Bose also comes in silver and white.)

But I should mention the other companies above have an explosion of colors to offer the more colorful mindset.

And the Winner Is…
So it’s hard to go wrong these days buying a Bluetooth portable speaker.
Whether you spend $50 or $300, you’re going to get a device that blasts out your tunes and doubles as a speaker phone to boot!

As a bonus, Bluetooth speakers can also give more audio oomph to the visuals on your laptop or iPad.

You can debate the sound quality and battery life of each speaker… but essentially the job is going to get done.

Drum roll please…
Yesterday, I pulled the trigger on the Logitech UE Mobile Boombox.
It strikes the perfect balance between price and quality.

Got it from Amazon Prime for $98.95.
(Today, it’s listed for $97.94.  D’oh!)

It’s already in the mail, but if you’ve got your own recommendations, I’m listening…
(I could always return the Logitech…)

Either way, I’m hopeful this singular sound solution will soon be bringing the music back into my life.

I’ve joined the Bluetooth generation.
(Yay, Barrett.)

But does this mean since I’ve finally embraced Bluetooth tech, it’s now doomed to near obsolescence?

Not yet…

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