Xiaomi Mi Band 2

I finally made a brave decision and went for Xiaomi Mi Band 2. Well, it’s almost a no-brainer for me since it was one of the cheapest of all fitness band. I was not sure what I will gain from going for those higher-end smartwatch or fitness watch. After all, I was using my mobile phone majority of the time to tell me the current date and time rather than a watch, which I was wearing most of the time. In fact, my watch was either showing incorrect time when daylight saving time changed or incorrect date after a month without 31 days and I did not take notice of it.

Before I made the purchase, I looked online in order to know how to differentiate an original Xiaomi Mi Band 2 and a fake one as I was quite worried that the one that I am going to buy will turn up as a fake one. The post came and thankfully, it did not take long for me to verify that the one I bought is a real Xiaomi Mi Band 2.

Anyway, I have had Xiaomi Mi Band 2 for about a month now and I have used it for telling me the time more than the watch I used to wear. In some way, I am quite glad that I did not spend more than a hundred pounds for a fitness band or a smartwatch. In other way, I am hoping that the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 could do more. Well, what more can I ask for when I bought it only for £32.

When I first looked for fitness band, I was hoping that it could track how well I sleep and also act as a silent alarm. To be honest, I am quite satisfied with how Xiaomi Mi Band 2 tracks my sleep. It is controlled by the Mi Fit app and it separates my sleep session into light sleep and deep sleep. During the sleep session, it will also track my heart rate but the information is not shown in Mi Fit app. I guess it uses the heart rate data to determine whether I am in my light or deep sleep.

For the silent alarm, Xiaomi Mi Band 2’s customisation is limited. Basically, you set a time and when it vibrates, you press the band to stop the alarm. If you do not do anything, it will vibrate intermittently. What I find is that the alarm will also stop if I shake the band.  That leads me to think that the alarm will stop once it thinks you have woken up. However, it does not always work. Most of the time, there were no subsequent alarm. I am quite a deep sleeper, so it does not work for me.

Fortunately, there are other apps that are compatible with Xiaomi Mi Band 2. I believe that Mi Band Tools is the most talked about app for Xiaomi Mi Bands. I bought it but I wish I did not. Mi Fit app is quite sufficient for me without the extras in Mi Band Tools. The one works best for me is Notify & Fitness app for Mi Band. It shows the heart rates which are recorded during sleep session and it has an alarm function which cannot be turned off using the band. How cool is that? With the latest update, it can show the full text when I get a text message or Whatsapp message. Well, this function is annoying as there is no way to turn off the vibration when the band is displaying the message. Imagine that the band keeps vibrating while displaying a message of hundred words long. Bear in mind that Xiaomi Mi Band 2 can only show a small line of scrolling text. The app does have a note saying that it is a limitation of the band. I am hoping that it is more of a firmware rather than hardware issues. It is worth noting that when I bought the band, it is not even possible to show a line of text. When receiving a call or a text, only an icon is being displayed. Caller ID was added after that and third party apps make use of the caller ID line to display custom texts.

Some users said that their Xiaomi Mi Band 2s only need recharging every three weeks or so. I probably need to recharge it every 10 days or so. I believe it is because I use the alarm quite a lot. As I am a deep sleeper, the alarm has to work harder too.

Overall, I am quite satisfied with Xiaomi Mi Band 2. Sometimes, I did not even realise that I was wearing it. Smartwatches look cool but I think all of them require charging on a daily basis. Furthermore, I do not think that it will be comfortable wearing smartwatch while sleeping. Having said all these, I could actually do without it. It is just another gadget to keep myself occupied. It is interesting to see the data but not essential. I do not think that I will recommend it for people who are serious about keeping fit indoor or outdoor.

Computer Setup

I finally managed to setup our computer table to how I want it. It is now running Lenovo X230 laptop with two 19″ monitors. I cleared the desk over the weekend just to make enough space for the whole installation. Initially, I had been wanting to install wall shelves above the computer table. In fact, we went to IKEA several times and bought a few types of wall shelves but we were not satisfied with all of them. First, we bought the KALLAX because I thought it is big and it can be used to store quite a lot of things. I assembled it and to our surprise, it actually overshadowed the computer table. Well, it goes to show that what looks good in IKEA, does not necessarily mean it will look good at home.

Next, we tried the smaller but more attractive Valje. It’s more expensive for sure but we managed to find some units in the bargain corner. It’s smaller than KALLAX but installation is hard work because they are separate box unit compared to KALLAX which is just one whole unit with multiple boxes. I assembled one and still, we thought it’s a little bit big.

Immediately after that, I thought why not just buy a document drawer unit since our sole purpose is to store documents. It will also save me from drilling holes on the wall. Our next visit to IKEA will be to return the shelves and just buy ourselves a document drawer unit.

Back to the computer table setup. During our last visit to IKEA, I used their IKEA family machine to see what’s on offer. A computer table caught my eyes and it was unbelievably cheap. The original price was over a hundred pound but on screen, it’s about twelve pounds. I did not believe it’s that cheap but still hold some hope that I might get myself a bargain. It will be perfect for my kind of setup. When we got to the table and furniture area, the price label showed otherwise. I have seen google images where people have two screens, a printer, a scanner, two PCs, multimedia speaker and even a presonus audiobox 1818vsl. That’s how big the table is. Anyway, we just have to make do with our Micke table where the design has been discontinued since it’s not worth buying another table just because I like it.

Fitness Band

Before, I was not interested in fitness band at all. It was until recently, the week leading to Black Friday sales to be precise, when I saw the Fitbit Flex 2 on a 50% discount. I started to read its specifications and discovered a silent alarm feature. It is actually quite a simple function where it vibrates to wake you up. To tell you the truth, I have been carrying my phone to sleep; set it to aeroplane mode, set and mute the alarm so that it only vibrates. Well, I have a 5.7″ Nexus 6P and it is not really an ideal alarm clock to be carrying while I sleep.

Fitbit Flex 2
Fitbit Flex 2

At 50% discount, the Fitbit Flex 2 is still quite expensive at £30 – £40. It does not have a screen and only a number of LED lights as indicators. Hence, the search for the cheapest and best fitness band begins.

It’s around Black Friday period when I started looking for any deals. I thought there would be a lot but there were not. Withings had a few Fitness watch products on sale and they were still quite expensive to me, priced at more than £70. The best price was their Withings Pulse OX at £40, which was at 50% discount. I always quite like Withings products as I thought they are quite innovative. At one point, I almost bought their Withings Home Network Surveillance Camera. I considered for a long time and finally decided that we do not actually need it.

Withings Pulse OX
Withings Pulse OX

Anyway, my purpose of having a fitness band is to wear it almost 24/7 and utilises the sleep tracking function. So, wearing Withings Pulse OX while at sleep does not seem like a good idea as it looks quite bulky. Hence, the search goes on.

I know that my brother has just got a new Xiaomi Mi Band which is like the Fitbit Flex and it is a lot cheaper than Fitbit Flex. I then started to search for Chinese fitness band products. There are lots of them. It turns out that they have launched a new Xiaomi Mi Band 2 back in June.  It is a basically like a Xiaomi Mi Band with a screen and enhanced Heart Rate monitor.

Unfortunately, Xiaomi products are not officially sold in UK. The easiest way to find them is through eBay and Amazon. However, it is difficult to find trusted seller as there are already fake Mi Band products in the market. Basically, Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is priced around £30. It could be cheaper on China’s official websites but there could be tax added when the item arrived in the UK.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2
Xiaomi Mi Band 2

I believe this Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is actually what I want. It is cheap and it is small and it should be quite comfortable to wear it in bed. I have been watching reviews and most of the reviewers commented that they did not even feel like they were wearing it after some time. I shall do a little bit more research into Xiaomi Mi Band 2 although I am quite certain this will be the product for me, unless Fitbit magically reduces all its products to half price or more.

Lenovo Thinkpad X230

I have recently bought a used laptop to replace our old desktop computer. It actually took me quite a while to find one that I really like. I looked at a few other sites; facebook, gumtree and preloved. Surprisingly, there were more laptops on sales in facebook than gumtree and preloved. And to my surprise, there were not many people looking for used laptops because many of the posts did not have any queries against them. Most laptops that were sold were mainly because of the color and the look of them. However, I was quite determine when I saw a Lenovo Thinkpad X230 post.

To be honest, if it’s just a Lenovo laptop, not the Thinkpad series, I would probably pass. I paid £120 for it and the original post was £160. I think at £120, it’s really a bargain considering it’s a Intel Core i5-3320M with 4GB RAM with a 12.5″ screen size and comes with Windows 7 Pro 64-bit. It weights the same as my MacBook Air but much bulkier. It’s probably three times thicker than my MacBook Air.

I was actually a little bit worried since I know that Windows 10 free upgrade has already expired. It means that I may be stuck with Windows 7 Pro on this Lenovo Thinkpad X230. However, a search on the internet reveals that the free upgrade is still available for users who use assistive technologies. The good news is that it doesn’t check if the person who is upgrading their Windows actually uses assistive technologies. Hence, it’s still free for all and at the moment, Microsoft has not set an expiry on the upgrade.

This Lenovo Thinkpad X230 also comes with a fingerprint scanner. I have to say that after upgrading to Windows 10, it takes a bit of time in loading the login screen as it is trying to detect the fingerprint scanner. It’s about a good five seconds before I can either use the fingerprint scanner or keyboard to login. However, I was a bit surprised last night. I had shut it down the night before and the fingerprint scanner flashed intermittently when I opened the lid. I tried to scan it with my finger and the laptop started up itself and logged straight in to Windows. That’s something I didn’t expect it to do.

On the downside, the WiFi only supports 2.4GHz which is not really a problem. I just like to use newer technologies and using 2.4GHz is a step down for me but I can live with it. Lenovo Thinkpad X230 actually started its life later than my MacBook Air but I am able to connect to 5GHz network using my MacBook Air.

By logging into Lenovo website and typed in the serial number of my Lenovo Thinkpad X230, I found out that it was purchased in December 2013 and it still has warranty until the end of this month. How cool is that?

I find myself using Lenovo Thinkpad X230 more often that I have not touched my Macbook Air in the last week or so. It is a fast machine though starting it up takes a lot longer than the Macbook Air. Furthermore, I cannot leave it on standby as it will not last overnight. Macbook Air, on the other hand, can be on standby for weeks. However, by using the fingerprint function, I can just swipe my finger and it will boot into Windows and log in straightaway.

The screen itself is difficult to work with. Hence, I hooked the Lenovo Thinkpad X230 to a 19″ Hanns-G monitor. I am planning to hook another 19″ Hanns-G monitor on it through the mini display port but there is not space on the computer table currently. The idea is to get some shelves from IKEA and the computer table will be de-cluttered and there will be a space for two monitors by then.

Till then, I am really satisfied with the purchase. It is fit for purpose and nippy for daily use. Luckily, I do not play PC games anymore as I do not think it will fare very well. The Lenovo Thinkpad X230 handles Tiberium Alliances pretty well though, better than the Macbook Air.

HTC Desire VS Google Nexus 6P VS iPhones

No, I am not an idiot. I do know that it’s not a fair comparison. However, it should show that how much Android has progressed. Before I bought HTC Desire, I looked at the specifications and thought, it’s as good as an iPhone at the time but without the couple hundred more pounds. There also had been rave reviews on HTC Desire across most review websites. Well, most people were wrong then. The specifications mean nothing.

After using HTC Desire for a year, I switched to iPhone 5. I have been happily using iPhone 5 for almost four years. As mentioned in my previous post, I made the switch from iPhone 5 to Nexus 6P because Mee found Android complicated after a week of use. To be honest, I am still quite happy to use iPhone 5 now if we hadn’t bought Nexus 6P. I didn’t even think about moving on to the new iPhones when they were out. The only thing that I wish my iPhone 5 had was fingerprint, but then again, it’s not essential.

Coming back to HTC Desire, even though it came with a 4GB microSD card which is expandable to 32GB, the real space that can be used to install apps and games is the internal RAM; 576MB. In actual fact, I had so much fun trying to find ways and means to utilise the 576MB and using apps to move apps to microSD in order to free up the 576RAM. However, as hard as I tried, I was always on the verge of using up the whole 576MB because not all apps were happy running on microSD. The most significant disadvantage of running apps on microSD was the speed. It lagged the phone so much. Anyway, the fun stopped when the day my HTC Desire told me that it failed to recognise my microSD.

I had to try iPhone, I thought to myself. It’s expensive but maybe I would get more out of it. Indeed I have. Before that, I couldn’t imagine myself owning a phone for more than a year, let alone four years! Well, I am still using it once in a while and I have even upgraded it to iOS 10. It just keeps going. My iPad 2 has been terrible since upgrading it to iOS 7 but that’s another story. Thinking about it now, it would actually save me a lot of time had I gone for an iPhone in the first place. By the way, the apps on Android were actually kind of horrible when compared to apps made for iOS.

Moving on the Google Nexus 6P. It’s like a whole new world again. At first use, it’s fast and complicated at the same time. When I first tried to setup the phone, I actually stopped for a few moment trying to think where to go. What I am about to say may come as a surprise. I don’t actually feel Nexus 6P a lot faster than when I was using iPhone 5. As always, iOS apps are better than Android’s apps. I use Flipboard a lot and I enjoy using it on my iPhone 5 than Nexus 6P. I think the biggger screen and Android OS are just about the difference between the two. Oh, 64GB definitely feels good compared to iPhone 5 16GB.

iOS is very good indeed. Android is an OS that tries to do too much. The Android customisation is to no end. I still don’t like the look of iPhones after iPhone 5S. Maybe iPhone 8 will change my mind but if my Nexus 6P is still as good as now, I will stick to it for many years to come.