Initial Reactions after a week with an Apple Watch

If you’ve read this before and want to jump to my conclusion click here.

There’s been a lot of hype about the Apple Watch and being in the business of making accessories for the iPhone a lot of people has been asking me if it will have an impact on what we do. My answer to that question is yes, it will have a positive impact. My reasoning being that the Apple Watch relies so heavily on the iPhone that if anything it should increase iPhone sales and hence build a bigger market for our accessories.

Before I get into my thoughts on using an Apple Watch I want to make two things clear.

1) I’m not a watch person. I have never worn one and don’t like having anything attached to my body. My wife insisted I wear a wedding ring and that is the only object that has remained on my body for more than a month. I have tried fitness trackers and they usually get about a week before I stop wearing them. It will be interesting to see if I am still wearing my Apple Watch this time next week.

2) I am an industrial designer and I love Apple products. I grey imported the very first model of the iPhone from the US way before they were available in Australia. Using it is where I came up with the idea for Quad Lock so I am always pretty keen to try out new Apple products to see if they generate any new ideas.

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The Chronograph Watch Face

Day 1

Unboxing

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Seriously Apple? Does a watch really require this much packaging?

The packaging is typical of Apple, a long white box with nothing but the Apple Watch logo embossed on the top.  I was surprised with the large size and weight of the box. It seemed excessive. Considering Apple ships millions of these things around the globe it seemed very wasteful having so much excess ‘air’. You could easily package them in a thin box allowing four watches be shipped in the same volume as one in the current packaging.

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Did you really have to mention that the tiny pin on the band is 316 Stainless Steel? Guess So…

Inside the white box you will find a high gloss injection molded capsule. I assume Apple provided this as something you could store your watch in but seriously I don’t think anyone will. It would make a pretty nice pencil or storage case but when you remove the form fitting tray from the box the lid has nothing to locate with so that rules our that idea. No other Apple products come packaged with this type of storage case and again its excessive. It would add a fair chunk of cost to the product and I don’t think it adds much value.

First reactions

When I finally get the box apart my first reaction to the watch is that it’s tiny! Its a lot smaller than I thought it would be. I ordered the 38mm sports watch as I have small wrists but still, its smaller than I thought it would be. The design and quality is amazing but you’d expect nothing less from Apple and would be disappointed if it wasn’t. The material used in the sports watch strap feels awesome, its kind of like a cross between rubber and leather. It’s also very light. I haven’t compared it with the stainless steel version but when its on you barely notice it.

Putting it on for the first time it feels pretty good. The strap is easy to use and fits my wrist really well. Comparing it to the 42mm I am glad I went with the 38mm. Syncing with the iPhone is super easy and is done so using the iPhone camera. Once it see’s a trippy video on the Watch screen it’s synced. This must be how it recognize which watch to sync to if there are multiple watches close by. Navigating through the various screens takes a little getting used to. Its very different to the iPhone and I found I was pushing the button to go back when I should have been pressing the crown.

Force touch is very cool and I can see this being added to the next iPhone. Sending drawings as text messages is cool but the screen is so small you can’t really draw much except for dick picks. Sending your heart rate is cool but a novelty which will wear off quickly, but it does the vibration from a heart beat does feel pretty cool. Taking phone calls from your wrist makes you look and feel  like a dick but its handy if someone is calling you and you can’t find your phone.

The fitness tracking features of the watch are killer and this is one of the main applications I see people using the Apple Watch. It easily stomps on all other fitness trackers I have tried. It gives you live updates of pace, distance, calories and heart rate and is super easy to use. I’ve only used it while walking home from work but it did a pretty good job of it. So far I really like it. Apart from feeling a little sweaty under the band I don’t mind wearing it as much as I thought I would, but time will tell (pardon the pun).

Day 2

Still got it on my wrist! Liking it so far. The integration with Apple TV and the remote App is pretty handy as I hate it when I can’t find the remote. Being able to control Apple TV from my wrist is pretty cool.

Day 3

Went for a drive using the Apple Maps navigation and discovered that the Apple Watch sync’s with the turn by turn direction giving you 3 clicks for left, 3 different clicks for right and one click to go straight. Nice touch Apple.

Day 4

I am looking at and using my iPhone a lot less since strapping on the Apple Watch. Main behavioural change is from viewing text messages that don’t need to be replied to from the Apple Watch. I’ve also turned off a lot of the notifications from other Apps as they were getting annoying.

Day 5

The novelty factor has started to wear off. The main reason I am using the watch for now is checking the time (duh!). The watch face I am using has room for 3 different time zones “complications” which has been handy when organising Skype calls with people in the US and UK. Besides time, I am also using it for tracking activity and viewing text messages but apart from that not much else…. How long will it last on my wrist is anyones guess.

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The Modular watch face that after a few days both Joel and I settled on using.

Day 6

I’m starting to forget I have the Watch on which is a credit to how comfortable it is on the wrist but also an indicator that the excitement level is no longer there and I am not using as much as I thought I would. Again the main uses are checking time, viewing text messages and as a remote for Apple TV/Netflix.

Day 7

I forgot to put on my Apple Watch this morning but I didn’t notice until later afternoon. Uh oh…

Conclusion

After seven days with an Apple Watch yes I’m still wearing it, but I don’t know if I will continue too… At least not every day. I am in no way near attached to it like I was my original iPhone. I went to the extend of importing an iPhone from the USA as they weren’t available in Australia when first release. I recall spending ever spare second I had playing with it for almost two weeks. It was a serious game changer and was the spark that ignited the idea for Quad Lock. Alas, unfortunately for me, the Apple Watch has not had the same effect.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the product and think the engineers and designers at Apple have done an amazing job fitting so much technology into such a small, beautifully designed package, but I am just not using it as much as I thought I would.

As I have said before, I am not a watch person so it was always going to be an uphill battle to get me just to wear the damn thing. Unfortunately the limited functionality it provides isn’t enough to convince me to strap the device to my wrist everyday. Keep in mind we don’t have Apple Pay in Australia, which is one of the Apple Watches core features, but when we do it may be enough to change my mind. However if I could completely replace my phone with an Apple Watch I would do so in a second. Why?

Because the best part about the Watch, and I might sound a bit contradictory here, is that you wear it. Unlike a phone its very unlikely that you will lose it or accidently leave it somewhere like in the back seat of a taxi. It’s strapped to you, not in your pocket so you never miss a call or a text message. And you spend a lot less time wondering where the remote for the Apple TV is because you can use your watch!

I will not be the first to admit that taking a phone call on the wrist makes you feel like a wanker but if there was a small bluetooth ear piece or even head phones which paired with the phone I would be more than happy to ditch my iPhone completely and run with just a watch. Sure the screen is too small for email and browsing the web but I can do that on my iPad or my Laptop and hey, if more people had watches instead of phones there might be more social interaction instead of people staring blankly at their smartphones!

So should you buy an Apple Watch? If you’re a watch person, can handle the price and don’t mind charging it daily (which is pretty effortless using the magnetic inductive charger) then sure go for it. But if your hoping the Apple Watch will change your life… maybe hold off for version two…

 

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Form1+ 3D printer review – Upgrading from a Form1

 

Update – 20th May 2015: Having spent a good 18 months using a Form1/ 1+ I thought it’s about time I updated my thoughts on the device. In the 18 months we have been using a Form1 we have had the machine replaced twice. Our original Form1 developed issues where the parts had rough surfaces and what appeared to be thin fins growing on the part. From what I read this was related to Laser issues, even though FormLabs.

The machine was eventually replaced after months of trouble shooting. We wasted considerable time and resin going through the various tests and eventually FormLabs agreed to replace the machine, as long as we would pay for shipping it to and and from America. The replacement Form1+ was a much better machine but within four months the same problems appeared. Again the trouble shooting process started and after months of no improvements after checking, cleaning and even replacing a mirror that appeared to have absolutely nothing wrong with it FormLabs agreed to replace the machine, again as long as we paid the very expensive shipping bill. Everything I read pointed to a laser issue however FormLabs insisted it was an optical path problem.

Would I recommend this machine? When it is working it prints great parts but unless you’re prepared to have it replaced every 6 months its a tough sell unless you are located in the USA so return shipments don’t cost a small fortune.

 

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FormLabs have just announced a welcomed update to the Form1 3D printer. Dubbed the Form1+ (the plus indicating the additional upgrades) the machine looks identical as the original Form1 on the outside but on the inside, the Form1 team have upgraded key components which allow it to print more accurately, more reliably and up to four times faster then the original Form1.

The Form1+ Upgrades include:

  • Second-generation laser module
  • Updated galvanometer control board
  • Reinforced mechanical peel system
  • Complete factory recalibration
  • New, redesigned resin tank
  • Extended 1 year warranty

Introducing the Form 1+ from Formlabs on Vimeo.

If you’re reading this theres a fair chance you are already aware that the Form1 was one of the first low cost SLA 3D printers to take the focus away from FDM 3D Printers that were dominating the entry level 3D printer market at the time. It received huge amounts of interest from industrial designers and engineers as it gave hope to be able to print highly detailed, very accurate parts on your desktop. I was especially excited as the products we develop were all a size that fit nicely within the 120mm envelop.

We received our Form1 in March 2013 and had it printing within 15mins of taking it out of the box. The ease of setup and operation are a testament to the FormLabs team. You can read my review on it here. The parts it produced were much more detailed compared to the parts coming off our Cube 3D printer but thats expected when comparing SLA parts to FDM parts. However the more I used the machine the more I started to notice that the parts were not as accurate as I had hoped and fine small detail was getting lost when the resin to cured between features. Over time this got worse and eventually the parts started to print with weird gill like features making the parts totally unusable. At this point I contacted FormLabs to see what was going on. After many emails back and forth the FormLabs support engineer diagnosed the printer as having a faulty laser. He informed me that I would need to ship the machine back to FormLabs in the USA to get it repaired, however FormLabs would not cover the shipping costs, not even one way! Not exactly impressed with the situation we figured the machine was useless in its current state so we bit the bullet and paid the shipping fee and sent off our Form1 for repair, luckily we had hung on to the packaging.

As time dragged on FormLabs contacted me to let me know that the machine would be upgraded with the new laser and peel system which would be released on their new model. Getting wind of the new model I asked if we could upgrade to the new version of which they eventually agreed to what we would be getting back would effectively be the same as the new Form1+. Unfortunately we didn’t get the extended 12 months warranty as we’re located in Australia but you can’t have everything. I believe FormLabs is no longer accepting orders from Australia so I guess we’re lucky to have actually have a Form1 in OZ.

Three months after the initial contact with FormLabs support we finally received our replacement Form1+ and could get printing again! Out of the box it looked identical to the Form1. I plugged it in, updated the software and firmware on the machine, filled up the resin tray and set of a print. The first thing I noticed is the peel system sounded different and the clicking sound it makes when homing the build tray against the build platform was much quieter than the Form1. The platform plunged into the resin and the laser started firing. Straight away I could see that the laser was much brighter and moved a lot faster than the original. As I was printing a fairly small part the peeling between each layer was the most time consuming part of the print. Two hours later I had a part which would have taken 4-5 hours on the Form1. I removed the build tray and removed the part. Straight away I could see that part was miles ahead of the parts printed on the Form1. The detail was clear with crisp sharp edges and you could see the consistency in the layers. In fact the part was that detailed that I could actually see the tessellation’s in the STL file and this was at the course setting of 0.1mm layers. Note to self, export STL files at higher resolution from now on…

The mounting system I designed (Quad Lock) requires very fine tolerance for the male mount plate to connect with the female recess. Parts I had printed on the Form1 would not fit together as extra resin had solidified on areas it wasn’t meant to making it impossible for parts to interlock without lots of manual adjustment and sanding. However parts on the Form1+ went together straight out of the machine! No sanding required.

I’m much happier with the Form1+ as its now much closer to my expectations of what the Form1 should have been capable from originally. And I am not alone with this opinion as you can see on the FormLabs forums.

If your looking for a great low cost SLA 3D printer I can highly recommend the Form1+. It’s not going to give you the same level of detail as you will get from a professional SLA 3D printer but for the money it is exceptional value.

If you are looking to upgrade your Form1 you can do so here – http://formlabs.com/store/us/buy-upgrade/

 

 

 

 

 

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