Can I buy a future-proof laptop to last 10 years?

There are three classes of laptop to consider. First are the business machines aimed mainly at large enterprises. The leading brands are Lenovo ThinkPads (originally, an IBM brand), Dell Latitude laptops and HP EliteBooks. Second, you could choose a mobile workstation, as these usually offer more configuration options. The models to consider include the ThinkPad P1, Dell’s Precision range and HP’s ZBook 14u G5. Third, there are gaming laptops, such as the Gigabyte Aero 14 and the Razer Blade Stealth, which is now available with a 13.3in screen. Dell, HP and Lenovo also sell gaming laptops… More here.

And so the article goes on, and on.

Buy a Mac. If you want 10 years buy a Mac unless you are prepared to change many of the internals and effectively buy a new PC anyway. If you want Windows, buy a Mac and put Windows on it. You are welcome.

Fitbit Inspire HR (quick) review

I am persevering with Fitbit despite the many problems I, and others, have experienced with the recent trackers and smartwatches from the company. Up until the Fitbit Charge 3 everything was OK with fairly accurate step tracking and flights recorded as they should be.

And then the newer devices appeared and things started to go wrong. Some people experience steps and flights recorded while driving to the point that the flight tracking has become meaningless. There are multiple threads on this at the Fitbit Community and despite the occasional interaction from moderators telling people to reset their device to return it, the problems carry on.

These little tips continue, but by and large the threads are ignored by the company despite multiple examples of real-world evidence confirming the problems. Obviously this should put anyone off buying another Fitbit, but for me there is a problem and it is the software.

I don’t wear an Apple Watch, or any smartwatch, because I love me real watch. I won’t use Garmin because the related phone app is garbage and it is a hassle to enter calories consumed. So I am left with Fitbit because it covers everything and I have the Aria scales which also connect to the same app; everything in one place makes for an efficient and usable experience.

Also, I can go by trends and (to a point) trust that a device saying I got 10,000 steps yesterday should be able to be relatively accurate, or inaccurate, to the same level consistently.

So, I decided to give the Inspire HR a try. It is cheap at £89, non-HR version is £20 less, but offers almost all of the same functionality as the Charge 3.

It sits somewhere in between the Charge 3 and Alta in terms of width, but offers a very strange design which shouldn’t work the way it does. The Alta HR is not as wide yet manages to sit higher on the wrist because it is longer and for such a small tracker does not use its size well at all. The Inspire, however, wraps around the wrist thanks to the strap design and the way it attaches to the device itself. There is no extra width at all and this makes for a surprisingly pleasing effect when on the wrist.

In terms of features you get all that you would expect; step tracking, sleep etc etc, but it is in the ease of use that it works so well. You can start an exercise on the Inspire without needing to touch your phone and there is a decent amount of information available on the tiny screen at any one time. It feels much more like the Charge 3 software-wise than it does the Alta which is an advantage.

Some aspects of the tracking are superb. I believe that Fitbit has nailed sleep tracking and calorie tracking is exceptionally easy in the phone app. If it included a UK food database for food barcode scanning that would tick the final box for me.

Battery life is slightly short at 5 days and this is noticeable if you are coming from something like the Alta which offers 7 days, but if you are coming from an Apple Watch you will notice it in a much more positive light.

Overall I have been impressed with the Inspire HR. It is a no nonsense tracker that never gets in the way, that offers a decent amount of information on screen at any time and just enough battery life to feel practical on every level. If I could trust the accuracy of the exercise and step tracking it would be close to perfect, but to be fair there doesn’t seem to be a tracker available today, including the Apple Watch, that tracks with what could be described as very good accuracy.

Is this the best value Fitbit tracker on the market today? Yes, it probably is.

The new TWA Hotel

The soaring, yet spartan, 200,000-square-foot lobby was still being put together on opening day, but it buzzed with energy all the same. Guests enjoyed cocktails in the red-carpeted Sunken Lounge, served from two round bar stations on either side. The hotel’s vintage Lockheed Constellation and part of Terminal 5 can be viewed through floor-to-ceiling windows. The main entrance to the former TWA terminal is to the right, out of frame… More here.


Queuing for Everest

Officials and mountaineering agencies confirmed to NBC News on Friday that three Indian nationals died Thursday while trying to climb the world’s highest mountain, which sits on the border of Nepal and Tibet, an autonomous region of southwest China… More here.

Look closely at the image above and consider that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest, in 1953. That isn’t so long ago and now people are queuing…

Life in Miniature

Kath Holden is an artist of the everyday. Inspired by the world around her, Kath’s creations are whimsical yet keenly observed, and a far cry from the genteel museum pieces that her contemporaries are producing. A proud Yorkshire woman, Kath reflects on her life and art as she carves a place for herself in the precious world of miniatures.


iN TECH® Bluetooth Earphones quick review

Really quick review. My Beats X broke (again!) and I wanted to go for a run that day. I had decided to run in silence, apart from the voices in my head, but needed to get petrol that morning and I happened upon some iN TECH® Bluetooth Earphones in my local petrol station.

Knowing they would be rubbish I asked how much they were and when the man said £14.99 I decided that they would be OK for a few runs until I finally decided on the next set for me. And anyway, my wife could use them on her runs if hers broke because the music she likes does not need good quality headphones anyway;) Bon Jovi sound pretty bad no matter what.

Anyway, I left them charging and once the little blue light appeared I paired them to my iPhone which happened with no hassle at all. I popped them in my ears, took them out again and installed the largest included buds, moulded the rather nice bendy plastic stalks around the back of my ears and pressed play.

F*ck! No word of a lie they sound better than my Beats X. They sound better than AirPods. The sound very good indeed and are close to the Jabras I tried recently. There is no sound leakage and there is decent noise cancellation and they stayed steady for the entire run. Even a call during the run was of decent quality for both parties which is not always the case with bluetooth headphones.

Battery life is not great at 2-3 hours, but the charging port is standard and there simply has to be a downside at under £15. Seriously, if you need a pair of cheap backup wireless headphones these could be the ones. Available here.

The Apple Store lustre

There was the time he visited the Easton Town Center location to buy a laptop for his 11-year-old daughter and spent almost 20 minutes getting an employee to accept his credit card. In January, Smith was buying a monitor and kept asking store workers to check him out, but they couldn’t because they were Apple “Geniuses” handling tech support and not sales.

“It took me forever to get someone to sell me the product,” says Smith, who runs 2PM Inc., an e-commerce research and consulting firm. “It’s become harder to buy something, even when the place isn’t busy. Buying a product there used to be a revered thing, now you don’t want to bother with the inconvenience.” More here.

I was in an Apple Store at the weekend and the article rings true. There was a time when it felt welcoming and as if the staff would do anything to help. It is still better than almost every other retailer, but there is no doubt a lot of the lustre has gone.

Fitness trackers ‘add miles to your marathon’

It found that the least reliable was the Garmin Vivosmart 4, which underestimated the distance by 10.8 miles – meaning the researcher actually ran 37 miles.

Garmin said it was because that particular tracker did not contain GPS.

It described the Vivosmart 4 as an “all-round smart fitness tracker” and suggested that marathon runners use its Forerunner range which is GPS-enabled.

Of the eight Apple models involved in the test, the Apple Watch series 1 was the most accurate, over-estimating the distance by 1%, while the series 3 overestimated by 13% – stating that the runner had completed the marathon distance after 22.8 miles… More here.

I have tried and used trackers from Apple, Fitbit, Garmin and others over a few years now and not one of them has proved to be anywhere near accurate.

There are obvious reasons for this because stride length cannot be measured accurately and it will change depending on what you are doing. However, saying that the lack of GPS causes a problem is not a good thing because the tracker in question should not be offering to track treadmill running and other activities in the first place.

Trends are all you can look at. Accept the inherent inaccuracies and look to build the trend over time.