Monday, February 16, 2015

Resetting Blackberry Q10 to Factory Defaults

I decided to sell one of my Blackberry Q10 phones that I had since getting my Blackberry Passport and having a spare Blackberry Q10 as a backup "keyboard" phone. I had used my Blackberry Q10 phone for approximately 1.5 years before opting to sell it and the internal memory on the device was almost completely used (~14.5GB of 16GB). I also had a 2GB microSD memory card in the device.

I generally encrypt my devices and with my Blackberry Q10 (and the 2GB microSD memory card inside it), I encrypted both as well. Before selling my device, I needed to reinitialize it back to factory defaults.

The first step to doing this since I wanted to keep the information on the microSD memory card was to unencrypt the microSD card. Forgetting this step would mean that the information on the microSD card would be permanently encrypted. To unencrypt the microSD memory card, I went into the Settings menu, Encryption, and then turned off the Media Card encryption. My microSD memory card was not completely filled (and it was only a 2GB microSD memory card on top of that and not a 32GB memory card) so the amount of time that it took me to unencrypt the memory card was not too long. After the memory card was unencrypted so that I wouldn't forget it in the phone when I sold it, I ejected it from my Blackberry Q10.

The next thing that I did was to issue the command to reinitialize my Blackberry Q10. As mentioned, I used my Blackberry Q10 for approximately 1.5 years and the amount of free memory on the device was a little over 1GB (and my Blackberry Q10 was encrypted). I wasn't sure how long it would take so I kept my Blackberry Q10 plugged into the electrical outlet and initiated the reinitialization process.

It took roughly 7 hours for my Blackberry Q10 to reinitialize itself. During that time, the Blackberry Q10 was completely unusable and I was somewhat worried since for a large portion of that time, it appeared as if wasn't doing anything. About 2 hours into the reinitialization process, since I wasn't sure how long it would take, I decided that I would go to bed and hopefully it would be done by the time I woke up. However, it wasn't finished by the time I woke up. I then decided to unplug the Blackberry Q10 from the AC outlet and bring it with me to work. When I arrived at work, I looked at the Blackberry Q10 screen and it had finished reinitializing itself. The total amount of time between when I started the reinitialization process of my Blackberry Q10 and when I looked at my Blackberry Q10 was ~7 hours so I was lucky that I had decided not to reinitialize it in front of the seller or start the reinitialization process at work since I was meeting the buyer during my lunch.

One of the reasons it might have taken ~7 hours to reinitialize my Blackberrry Q10 to factory defaults is because my Blackberry Q10 was encrypted and only ~1GB of free memory (out of ~16GB) existed on the device.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment which contains a URL link (whether it is embedded or not) will automatically be labelled as spam and will not be posted.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fitbit Charge HR Review

I was interested in a fitness band and because I had the Fitbit Aria scale, I was split between one of the higher end Fitbit fitness bands (Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Charge HR, or Fitbit Surge) for easy integration with my Fitbit account. The only product that was available in Canada was the Fitbit Charge. I wanted something to monitor my heart rate so I was mainly interested in either the Fitbit Charge HR or the Fitbit Surge.

During my recent trip to the US, I saw a Fitbit Charge HR so I decided to buy it rather than wait for it to become available in Canada. I've been using it for ~2 weeks since coming back from the US and I thought that I would write a review on the product.

Some of the features of the Fitbit Charge HR include the ability to monitor your heart rate, monitor your sleep, track your distance, monitor your calories, caller ID, and silent alarm. I use the product mainly for the heart rate feature, the pedometer feature (as well as the number of floors climbed), and the sleep monitor.

You can download a PDF manual for the Charge HR either from Fitbit's website or you can also download it directly from my blog *HERE* (which saves you from having to look for it).

Installation of the Fitbit Charge HR was pretty straightforward. It involved inserting a USB dongle which came with the product into a USB port on my computer and downloading/installing the application program. In my case, after installing the Windows program, it detected my Fitbit Charge HR which was nearby and updated the firmware on the fitness band. After setting up the software on my computer, I rarely ever perform a synchronization using the USB dongle and my computer. I will perform the synchronizations using the Fitbit application on my Android smartphone.

Everything for the Fitbit Charge HR is configured on the Fitbit website. I configured the unit of measurement for metric and the time was set based on the 24 hour display that I prefer. 

The Fitbit Charge HR is what I would classify as being water resistant but not really water proof. The manual suggests not using it when swimming nor using it when taking a shower but also mentions that it is capable of getting wet either from rain or from the sweatiest workout.

It isn't necessary to tightly place the Fitbit Charge HR on your wrist. I have it in place on my wrist not really loose but not tight enough to cause any marks on my wrist. In terms of the accuracy of the heart rate readings, I find it to be relatively accurate bearing in mind that it is not really a medical instrument. When I work out, I have noticed that sometimes it will take a longer time to calculate/display my heart rate. I have the heart rate monitoring set for automatic continuous monitoring. The Fitbit Charge HR monitors heart rate by using shining a light on the skin and detecting the change in light patterns.

I believe that the pedometer (number of steps) feature is very accurate. It is more accurate than my U8 Pro Smartwatch. Of course, you can increase the number of steps taken by shaking/moving the fitness band in a certain way but I find the Fitbit Charge HR to work well even when I have my hands in my winter coat pocket while I'm walking. I tested this by counting 25 steps and then checked the Fitbit Charge HR and it correctly displayed 25 steps whereas my U8 Pro Smartwatch displayed 27 steps.

What I find really amazing is the sleep monitoring capabilities of the Fitbit Charge HR. My U8 Pro Smartwatch also "monitored" sleep patterns but with this smartwatch, sometimes it will say that I'm asleep when I'm sitting in front of my computer at work, typing for a few hours. With the Fitbit Charge HR, there are 2 settings for the sleep monitoring (normal & sensitive). I set mine on "sensitive" and I'm amazed that it actually knows when I'm in bed and it also knows when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes in the morning, I will remove my Fitbit Charge HR and charge it and even though the Fitbit Charge HR is not moving, it will know that I'm not asleep which I find amazing. In certain cases, you might want to modify your actual sleep period and you can do so via your Fitbit account on their website.

The battery life of the product mentions that you can 5+ days of usage before recharging. During my tests and my usage pattern, I have only gotten 4-5 days before needing to recharge it. Recharging is done via a proprietary USB cable which is plugged into the back of the fitness/activity band. Depending on the current battery level, recharging can take up to 2 hours. I tested this when I received a battery low warning on my Fitbit account on the Fitbit website, my Fitbit application on my smartphone, as well as a warning on the Fitbit Charge HR itself and it does fully recharge in 2 hours.

The Fitbit Charge HR mentions that it will display the phone number or the callerID information on the display (and vibrate) when someone calls your smartphone. I've tested this feature and it does work but because it requires the Fitbit application on the smartphone to relay the callerID information, it doesn't instantaneously notify you of the call. Your smartphone might ring 1-3 times before the Fitbit Charge HR notifies you that you are receiving a call. This delay can in some cases make you miss your call. I believe that the reason for this "limitation" is that it is not constantly connected via bluetooth to the smartphone but connects via bluetooth when necessary (either when the Fitbit Charge HR is syncing information to the smartphone or when the smartphone is relaying the callerID information from the smartphone to the Fitbit Charge HR). This is unlike my U8 Pro smartwatch which displays the callerID information almost instantaneously but it requires a constant bluetooth connection to my smartphone. The Fitbit Charge HR will only display the callerID information and does not work as a bluetooth/wireless speakerphone (unlike my U8 Pro smartwatch which displays the callerID information and works as a bluetooth wireless speakerphone).

One other feature that I use is the silent alarm feature which I wanted to mention. The fitness/activity band can be set to vibrate at a certain time in order to wake you up without disturbing anyone else. I find the vibration to be strong enough to wake me up from a restful sleep.

The one negative that I can say about the Fitbit Charge HR is that it uses a proprietary USB charging cable. I personally would have preferred it if the product used a standard USB cable where the end that plugs into the Fitbit Charge HR is a standard microUSB cable. One other thing that I personally don't like is that it is a bit difficult to remove the Fitbit Charge HR from one's wrist because the loop where the excess band goes underneath/through has a "piece" that "locks" into one of the holes used when strapping the fitness/activity band to your wrist. In order to remove the excess band from the loop, one must life the loop slightly to ensure that the "piece" isn't in the wristband's holes and then you will be able to easily slide the excess band through the loop and remove the band (similar to what you would do with a watch). I would have preferred that this loop be similar to the ones found on watches without the extra "piece" that "locks" (or goes) into one of the holes on the wristband.

After using the product for approximately 2 weeks, I don't have any issues recommending the Fitbit Charge HR. I find that it works very well and is very comfortable and provides a lot of useful information.

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Blackberry Passport Review

I received my Blackberry Passport ~1 month ago and I've been using it since that time so I thought that now was the perfect time for me to write my thoughts on the Blackberry Passport.

As shown in my other blog entries, I use a wide variety of phones (Android, iPhone, Blackberry, etc.). In terms of Blackberry phones, I've used a Blackberry Bold 9700, a Blackberry Q10, and now a Blackberry Passport.

I won't go into the Blackberry 10 OS but the Blackberry Passport ships with Blackberry OS 10.3.x and includes the Amazon AppStore. This review blog will mainly be my thoughts on the Blackberry Passport when I compare it with my old Blackberry Q10.

With lots of phone manufacturers making phablets, the size and shape of the Blackberry Passport takes some time to get used to. It is about the same size as a Canadian Passport (although obviously thicker).

I find that the Blackberry Passport is speedier and more responsive than my older Blackberry Q10. What I like about the Blackberry Passport is the larger screen size and the additional memory that the phone ships with. I also like the fact that the Blackberry 10 browser renders webpages very well.

In terms of what I'm not crazy about when it comes to the Blackberry Passport, one of the things that I'm still trying to get used to is that there aren't any physical keys for the numbers and you must use the onscreen numeric keyboard when you want to type numbers. This is not really a big deal except that I've discovered an app that doesn't show the onscreen numeric keyboard (it is possible that there are other apps as well) so it isn't possible to type a number when using this app.

The physical keys also don't feel like the keys on my old Blackberry Bold 9700 nor do they feel like the keys on my Blackberry Q10. Personally, I find that the Blackberry Passport keys feel a bit "cheaper" compared to the other 2 models that I mentioned but others might have a different opinion. However, the Blackberry Passport's keyboard has "trackpad" functionality. It is difficult for me to explain this but by moving your finger over the keyboard, you can control the cursor and depending on the finger gesture on the keyboard, you can also delete words that you've typed very easily.

Currently a lot of the apps (both from Blackberry App Store as well as Android applications) don't appear perfectly on the Blackberry Passport. Even programs that show up correctly on the Blackberry Q10 sometimes don't appear perfectly on the Blackberry Passport. At the time of this writing there are also quite a few apps that I installed on my Blackberry Q10 which are listed as incompatible on the Blackberry Passport.

The Blackberry Passport uses the newer nanoSIM (my Blackberry Bold 9700 used a standard miniSIM & my Blackberry Q10 used a microSIM). I know that phone manufacturers like to use smaller footprints whenever possible and using a smaller SIM card is part of this philosophy but personally I would prefer that they stick with the microSIM sized SIM.

As mentioned, the Blackberry Passport ships with Blackberry 10.3.x and one of the benefits of Blackberry 10.3.x is Blackberry Blend which allows people to access their Blackberry Hub from their computers or certain tablets using the Blackberry Blend program. This is great if you forget your Blackberry at home and want to access BBM to send/receive messages. Another benefit with Blackberry Blend is that I can keep my Blackberry Passport in my vest pocket and send/reply to BBM messages as well as access my Blackberry's e-mails without constantly having to remove my Blackberry Passport from my pocket.

For the Blackberry Passport User Guide, you can get it from Blackberry's site or you can get it *HERE*. If you're interested in the Discover Blackberry Passport The Guide to Working Wide, you can download it *HERE*.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment which contains a URL link (whether it is embedded or not) will automatically be labelled as spam and will not be posted.