A Dumb Phone in 2017 – LG B470

When I was planning on myself and Splinters honeymoon this year, there was something that I was adamant about, and that was that I was going to be as tech-free as possible. I was not going to take my smartphone with me (at least, not my daily driver) and I was going to take a hiatus from all forms of social media and internet dependency.

This leads to a couple of issues while travelling; firstly how were you going to get from place to place if you couldn’t book a Lyft to the airport, and when you get to the airport how were you going to get through security without your boarding pass? These were all challenges I was going to have to face without having a handset on hand to do all of these tasks for me that I would have just taken for granted. What I learned is that I certainly do take these things for granted, my iPad served as a grading surrogate for a lot of these unusual tasks. However, it all got done, and our honeymoon went relatively unhindered as a result.

For the honeymoon, myself and Splintor went travelling a fair bit of it. We went to New York to see some of the Pocketnow crew for a few days, then we went to Orlando for five days to go and look at the parks and finally a week in Cancun to rest from all of the running around of the week prior. It leads to a fundamental problem – how am I going to call people or arrange to meet people while I’m over there? If myself and Mark are going to book a reservation for a restaurant, how are we meant to do that completely phone free? Turns out that bit, we can’t.

medium03So, we had to come to some arrangement. How could we remain connected and disconnected at the same time? The solution to that question came in the form of the LG B470, a dumb phone surviving in 2017.

As an AT&T exclusive, it’s not got the highest specs in the world, nor does it have the best camera.

Summary
Screen Size 2.2 inches
Screen Resolution 220 x 176 pixels
Battery Capacity 950 mAh
Camera Resolution 1.3 MP
Processor
Memory
Storage
Carrier AT&T
Other Features Text & Multimedia Messaging, Mobile Web, Text to Speech
Series B470

Though, as laughable as the concept may be for $25 per handset including the prepaid credit that was already on the phone it served our needs perfectly. We could make calls, tell the time, (an unexpected hindrance of continually being attached to a smartwatch. When you don’t bring the smartphone, you tend not to bring the smartwatch either!) and text people were required.

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I remember trying to walk out of Best Buy to text Jules to see which Starbucks near Central Park we were meant to meet and struggling tremendously with the concept of T9. Stopping in the middle of the shop, swearing under my breath as this was something I hadn’t done since my early teens and it had escaped me. I felt like I’d blasted to some point in the future when technology will at some stage get away from my grasp, and I had the confusion I see in my elders. It hit me with the full force of that knowledge, and I was angry that I’d lost that part of my ability. I remember being able to text without looking under my desk in class (Sorry, Mam) and being able to write perfect messages because I had everything down to muscle memory.

It slowly came back, like riding a bike, and over those few days, I discussed with my tech Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 03.15.18friends the concept of reverting to something like this for the two-week process. People were curious how were we going to document our experiences without something there always at hand for us to use. There was a sense of nostalgia looking at a flip phone like this and lamenting for a simpler time.

I don’t think that lamentation is misplaced, and it is a simpler place to be. A simpler place to sit. A simpler place to just exist. I found myself not wanting to be anywhere else except where I was. It gave me an opportunity to be present and with the people who were around me. That’s not something that I get to feel in everyday life; there is some much that is around us that calls for our attention regularly. So, for me at least it was a beautiful gift to give not just to myself but for the people around me. It was what I hoped to get from spending my time being disconnected from the digital world for a bit.

I would highly recommend it, even just for a little while. To force yourself to tune out and turn off. Give yourself and the people you love the time just to be. It just goes to show that sometimes, going a few steps back can push you a few steps forward.

My time with the Bose QC35

A short time with my Bose Q35’s

When you think about high-quality headphones with a solid reputation for both build quality and sound fidelity, it’s possible the brand Bose would be one that would pop into mind. Bose is a brand that is synonymous with best in class noise cancelling and has a reputation for producing high-quality headphones.

My Bose QC35’s were not my first experience with the brand, as I’d picked up a set of

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beautiful mint green/blue SoundTrue on-ear headphones a few Christmases ago. They were a set of headphones that I used them daily until they eventually succumbed to the inevitable pressure of time. I’d purchased them during a flash sale when I just happened to be in the shop at the right time.

Splintor was always someone who was obsessed with there QuietComfort Range. Even for someone who doesn’t have to travel regularly he always loved the idea of just getting lost in the silence or the beat of the music without consideration for the noise of the outside world. I’ve never had such longings; I’m a bit of a headphone snob, so I change them regularly once the nuance of a set of headphones loses its wonder. I also have tinnitus and other sorts of audio processing issues. So, the noise cancelling settings on the QC35’s always made my ears feel like they were going to explode. Which, as the Bose Reps assured me, is not meant to happen.

So why buy them? I’m not a noise-cancelling fan and if I go through headphones quite regularly, why bother dropping €375 on them?

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Well, I received them as a gift for my wedding. Someone very generously gave the QC35’s as a gift, given how much travel I’ve had to do of late. So, there is no excuse not to give these headphones with a good run through and see what is what!

I wanted to like them, I did. But, I don’t. I’ve used these headphones on and off for the last six months, and I can’t convince myself to use them regularly or even at all. There are several reasons why, and part of me is curious about the fact that I may just have received a dodgy unit. However, in saying that, it hasn’t prompted me to try and return them. I don’t think even if I did that I’d be willing to give them a second chance.

I’m aware this is an unpopular opinion. There are plenty of my tech friends who do nothing but rave about these headphones. For a fun review of the more positive elements of these headphones, I’d encourage you to go and check out Mr Mobiles Review. Michael loved these headphones so much he bought them twice which is a testament to just how good these headphones can be with the proper appreciation.

I guess proper appreciation might be a little unfair to my overall opinion of them. I do however think that there is something for everyone and this may just not be for me. My main complaints can be summarised quite easily.

The Bluetooth connection was irregular at best, and that was a difference between moving from an LG G6 to a Samsung Galaxy Note 8. It would cut out randomly between songs depending on where I was. My daily commute to get in and out of town usually consists of a good 20 to 30-minute walk to get to my local bus stop then another hour on that bus to then have to walk for another 20 or 30 minutes to get to my final destination. I would have to resync the headphones regularly. Or they would randomly cut out mid-song. After a while, the process of just connecting and reconnecting would get annoying at best.

The battery life on the QC35 was great for the first week of commuting and then regularly after that the battery life would become equally as sporadic. Some weeks I’d get a regular commuting week out of them. Other weeks, I’d barely make it through a round trip before getting a low battery warning. While the QC35’s does come with a cable so that you can still use them wired to a standard 3.5 headphone jack, you lose that precious noise cancellation in the process, and that is where one of my biggest complaints would be.

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The Noice Cancelation didn’t work consistently. Somedays it would be like the noise cancellation would either be on super low or would just cut in and out randomly throughout the day. This was causing me more usage issues than anything else, as I mentioned previously I don’t have a good history with the noise cancelling on the QuietComfort range not creating me some discomfort in the process of using them.

Now, before anyone mentions it in the comments; Yes, I did use the app, and I have done all of the firmware updates. But none of them made any considerable improvement in my overall experience and honestly I don’t know if there is much more to be said about it. I’ve had people who had bought them in a similar time frame to me who have had related issues and had had merely their headphones replaced. Something that is undoubtedly in Bose favour here is that their customer support team have always been steady and reliable, so I’ve no concerns about returning to them and getting a resolution to this issue.

However, I’m left with a sense of them that I don’t want to. Maybe the headphones aren’t the problem, but that it’s got more to do with me, perhaps these just aren’t my holy grail headphones. Ultimately, I think that’s ok with me too. They’ll find a home with Splintor for the time being until I can find a set of headphones to call my own.

Beginners Guide To Battery Packs

This is a quick beginner guide as to what to look out for when you’re purchasing your first battery pack.

Technology. It’s great. You have an entirely digital world at your fingertips. From getting some much-needed work done at home or at the office to capturing those special moments when you’re out and about. If there is one thing we need to help us to stay on the pulse of things around us is power! This is a quick beginner guide as to what to look out for when you’re purchasing your first battery pack.

anker
Anker PowerCore+ mini 3350mAh

Battery Cases

So let’s start with our smartphones. By far these tiny glowing screens are one of the most used things in our modern lives, and the most complained about the problem with smartphones is battery life. Mophie aims to solve this issue with their charging cases, and these are some of the leading ranges of built-in battery packs. They cover a broad variety of devices from the latest iPhones to Samsung’s and HTCs. These cases are a perfect solution for those of us who need a little-added juice!

Battery Packs

Battery packs come in all shapes and sizes, but their purpose is the same. To keep you connected at a time when you need it most! Most battery packs won’t only charge your phone when you’re in a pinch. With the new opportunities that USB Type C introduces (A blog on this will be written soon so keep an eye out!), it’s time to actually start thinking about how these pockets full of power can be used to help you!

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There are two things you really need to know regarding battery packs which are what size do you need your battery pack to be and what are you charging?

MaH (MiliAmp Per Hour)

Most lipstick style chargers or smaller thinner chargers are only designed with a small battery pack in mind. Smaller chargers tend to be lighter and hold less charge than their bigger counterparts which can often weigh up to a pound! So always be sure to check to see if the battery pack you want is a proper weight for you to be carrying around with you. Always try and get a battery pack that has the charge capacity and form factor that suits your style best.

The Power of Charge

The second thing you need to keep in mind is Amperage or A, you’ll see this on most of the spec sheets you’ll see on your chargers or your technology. As a general rule of thumb (this certainly doesn’t apply to everything but its a good start) 1Amp is ideal for phones and portable games consoles. 2.1 amp is perfect for larger tablets, laptops and things that would have bigger batteries. Typically, think of 2.1 amp for things that would have the biggest

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Pearl: Compact Mirror + USB Battery Pack 3000mAh

battery. Not all chargers would have this as an option, so it is always best to check your options before you purchase any battery packs, so that it suits whatever your charging.  
So what do you think? Are there any battery packs that you swear by? Are there any tips and tricks that you’d recommend to others? Tell us about them in the comments below. Be sure to give this video a thumbs up if you liked what you saw, hit that subscribe button and share this blog on your favourite social media. Keep an eye out for the video version of this blog on our Should You Care – Youtube channel

Tech Bags for Women

As someone who carries a lot of tech with them, I am invariably torn by wanting a really nice bag vs something that I know will protect my kit. So standard issue black, executive laptop bags that will basically only hold that and nothing else. Doesn’t really cut it for me. But neither, does my trusty Coach Tote that I’ve had for years prior to this!

Update 1/2/17: Got an update from Pad & Quill about the process around creating leather totes.

The Problem as it stands

As someone who carries a lot of tech with them, I am invariably torn by wanting a really nice bag vs. something that I know will protect my kit. So standard issue black, executive laptop bags that will basically only hold that and nothing else. Doesn’t really cut it for me. But neither, does my trusty Coach Tote that I’ve had for years before this! Even with my MacBook Pro having a hard shell on it, it says nothing for the sake of my Vita, 3DS, Books, Lunch that has to go in on top of it!

That is what lead to me asking the question “Are there any tech bags out there for women?” and also led me to a followup question of “Why should people care about this?”. So, should you care about it? Absolutely! Everyone needs to protect their technology, and most people want to do it in a way that is not only convenient but fashion conscious. Letting people know that there are more options out there than just regular tote bags the more people options people can have for finding a bag that suits them!

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Michael Kors Studio Mercer Leather Tote

So let’s look at a quick use case, shall we? A lot of the bags that I see my friends and colleagues carry are Michael Kors. They have some breathtaking bags ranging from the $160 – $260+, and they’re awesome don’t get me wrong. But, I feel if you’re putting your laptop, purse, phone, etc. You’re going to, in most cases, be putting a lot of valuable stuff in your bag. So it makes sense that you’d want to protect them. Some of these bags aren’t designed with protective laptop spaces inside. So they aren’t ideal. But I can see the appeal of them, they’re super cute they’re known for being durable and reliable, and it has brand power.

The Solution

So I decided to ask around the mobile tech community for alternatives to this. Where you can get beautiful, functional, bags that will tick all those boxes? Of course, everyone has their own favourites that sometimes cost an awful lot less! Don’t worry, though, some of these bags aren’t just specifically for women, anyone can wear these bags. It’s all down to your personal style!

Juan Carlos Bagnell recommended STM and Booq. So we’ll start with Booq.

Booq

Booq aims to create high-quality products that can be worn by men and women alike, with

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Booq – Daypack

No gender stereotyping. All bags are made from a ballistic nylon material and feature numerous compartments to ensure they are versatile for both men and women, for work and leisure. When I was talking to the lovely people of Booq, the rep who I was talking with recommended the Daypack as being one of her top picks. Just for the sheer versatility of the backpack. Booq takes pride in these bags being ethically sourced and environmentally conscious. So, this is always a big bonus for consumers who have that as a requirement!

STM

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STM – Deluxe Laptop Sleeve

STM’s Grace line was the brainchild of STM’s co-
Founder Andia Jacobs. The Grace
A collection
of women’s laptop bags and sleeves are a reflection of Adina’s design ethos of simple, elegant, and fun, now focused directly on a female customer. With a focus on slimmer and simpler products, you won’t find an extensive range nor should you expect to fit a mountain of gear in these sleeves. At the time of writing, there was one deluxe laptop sleeve, laptop sleeve and a clutch. However, the elegant design and form factor should be a must-see for anyone who likes to carry light.

Waterfield Design / Peralta

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Peralta – Balani Backpack

Serenity Caldwell of imore recommends Padandquill and SF/Peralta. San Francisco’s
WaterField Designs, a veteran of locally-crafted bags and cases announces a new women’s handbag line—PERALTA. PERALTA’s debut bag, the Balani Backpack is designed to be multipurpose with a focus on a professional women’s’ everyday working life. As one of the only traditional backpacks on this list, it’s really worth a look if you’re interested in a classic twist on a traditional design.

Pad & Quill

When talking to the super people of Pad & Quill, they described their mission as a pure

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Pad & Quill – Laptop Tote

one. They want to make good art. Each of their bags bears the signature of the artisan who created it, and they have a warranty on their bags for 25 years. Leather bags like these tend to be more gender neutral, making it wearable for anyone. However, for those who don’t like backpack styles, they do have a tote version of their leather bag which has enough room in it to fit your tech with room to spare.

The leather totes are 100% full-grain leather! They are constructed with UV-resistant nylon stitching and solid nickel hardware, so the bags can easily stand the test of time. Instead of cutting a bunch of different pieces of leather and stitching them together, they use unique pieces. Less stitching means less chance of the bag falling apart after only a few years.
While they are not certified cruelty free, the leather we use does come from cattle who’ve lived cruelty-free lives. The leather producer/tannery purchase animals that are raised in beautiful pastureland. In our bags, you may notice slight scarring/marks. The cattle’s entire body gets used, from the hide to the meat, so that nothing to waste.
They also are committed to strong ethical practices in everything we do. The companies they partner with to produce and create our bags are as well. So for those who are a little bit concerned about where the leather comes from, this should help to alleviate some fears!

Timbuk2

Florence Ion recommends Timbuk2. Which, is a bag that I ended up getting from this list. They do a dedicated women’s line, which is some of the biggest that I’ve seen in my searching
the following for women’s bags. They have everything from messenger bags, backpacks, totes, duffle bags. So it’s really worth a look to see what fits your style. I got the Custom Prospect Laptop Messenger Bag, which I got in all

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Black with a blue trim and I adore it. My record so far for getting stuff in the bag is the following: my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, 5 Hardback books, an umbrella, 2 ready meals, 2 ciabattas and some ham and cheese. This is along with all
of the random crap in the front pocket and the internal pocket which keeps things like medicines and other essentials. That’s an insane amount of stuff! And Yes. It was damn heavy. But never once on the 30-minute trek home from my local shopping centre was it ever actually uncomfortable. As heavy as the contents were the straps never once cut into me nor did I have to shuffle around any of the contents for better weight distribution. So needless to say, I can safely recommend going and looking at these collections of bags.

William J. Mills Inc & Brenthaven

However this I couldn’t possibly complete this segment without Michael Fisher aka

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MrMobile thoughts on the best tech bags. In his hometown, there’s a sailmaker called William J. Mills Inc., and they make his favourite companion bags of all time: the Classic Duffel. He’s had it for years, and he swears by it. However, for his present daily driver, he’s currently using the Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag for the Surface Pro 4. You can find his thoughts on the bag in his Winter Wearables video so I won’t ruin any surprises for you! Both the duffle bags and the messenger bags all have a classic style about them, so could be a perfect fit for anyone.

Rounding Out

So what do you think? Are there any bags here that would make you ditch your daily driver? Do you have any recommendations for bags that didn’t make a list? Tell me about them in the comments below. All of the links to each of the bags and people I’ve mentioned today will be in the text above so be sure to check them out. Be sure to Like, Share and Subscribe if you liked this blog and be sure to check out the video version of this blog by checking out the Should You Care? Tech channel.