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Re: The 'Look What the Postman Brought Me' Thread - Technology Edition

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2022 12:35 pm
by Raid
Had these for a little while now, so figured it's time for a mini-review:

The entire Google Pixel phone ecosystem; Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel Watch, Pixel Buds Pro

I hate changing phones. I have so little interest in camera upgrades or screen resolution or what silicone my phone is running on, so I end up buying an unlocked high-end phone that'll last me for a good few years and then just don't worry about it. My Pixel 2 XL lasted me four and a half years which I think is fairly decent (but by the end it was barely receiving calls, and notifications wouldn't arrive without me unlocking the phone), and given that Pixels have all of the Android features without the bloat, I decided to stick with the brand. Google threw in a free Pixel Watch for going for the higher-end version (the freebie for the smaller one was a set of Pixel Buds, which I already owned), and I'd fallen out with my Samsung one, I decided to take advantage.

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The phone: It's... a slab of glass with a big screen on top. There's a circular cut-out for the front camera, and there's a fingerprint reader underneath the screen. You can unlock the phone with face detection, but it's apparently not secure enough for actual security stuff like bank app logins, so you have to use both. The camera bump, something I really don't like about modern phones, is now a bar that stretches the entire width of the handset, so at least it doesn't wobble when trying to use it on a desk. The front and back of the phone are glass covered.

It's... fine. It's extremely quick, the screen looks fantastic, but one of the reasons I liked my Pixel 2 so much was the coating on the back (I think it was plastic coated metal, but it just felt really nice in the hand) and the fact that it didn't have the second speaker on the bottom (meaning that if you held it landscape you didn't cover one side of the audio with your hand). The main camera is an improvement in shots I can replicate easily, but it's difficult to tell unless you zoom right in and frankly if I want to pixel peep I'll grab my full-frame mirrorless - phone cameras are infinitely more convenient, but they'll never even approach the quality of a dedicated camera unless engineers learn how to break the laws of physics. It does have a telephoto and wide-angle option (unique to the Pro model), but the quality is vastly worse in certain modes. This is the problem with phone cameras; it achieves the improved quality with the main camera by adding in information from the wide angle and telephoto ones - it's all extremely clever, I'm sure, but it means that you can't do half of the stuff with the wide angle that you can with the other two, because you'd be missing that same data exchange for the outer parts of the photo. These things are sold on their capabilities in low light and such, but you can't do half of it with one of the lens options.

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The Watch is nice enough, I guess; it's very simply looking being just another slab of glass with a circular screen embedded (the bezels are huge but you can't see them because the interface hides the edge of the lit area for the most part). It has two physical controls; one button and a crown with push capability. The crown is a bloody useless way of operating a device like this - Samsung's offerings have this functionality built into a ring that surrounds the entire device, so you can scroll quite a way with one rotation, but the crown scrolls so slowly that you just end up using the touchscreen instead. But the massive problem with this device is that all of the health stuff is based on Fitbit's software, and I have a massive problem with their calorie counts. They're just wildly inaccurate - I've checked every personal stat I could find in their software, but it's giving me calorie counts that are astronomically higher than Samsung's, and given my experience with weight loss this year, the Samsung ones appear to be accurate. I had this same problem with the Fitbit Charge I had a few years ago (without knowing about it until I got the Samsung watch), and it meant I lost no weight whatsoever despite it suggesting I ought to be. The counts are as much as 50-70% higher than they should be. It's functionally useless as a weight loss tool.

It's a better smartwatch than the Samsung, or at least it operates better with my phone. Part of my issue with the Samsung was the two ecosystems didn't mesh properly; Samsung insist on using their proprietary services which simply aren't as good as Google's. Samsung pay stopped communicating with my bank, the only assistant option was the bloody useless Bixby, and it kept generating permission errors on the phone. The Spotify integration for some reason stopped the media controls on my headphones from working, which couldn't be rectified without rebooting the watch, so I was stuck with the generic Android media controls (which were mostly fine, but I'd have to get the phone out to change playlists). The Pixel watch has none of these issues, the integration is seemless, and the Google assistant is actually worth using.

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The Pixel Buds Pro are, thankfully, the good news part of this post. I actually bought them a few months back with the idea of supplementing the phenomenally good Sony WH-1000XM3s that I think half the forum use. Firstly I absolutely cannot get the Sonys to play with my laptop - I have tried every troubleshooting method I can find - they'll pair but Windows won't see them as an audio device. The Sonys also aren't waterproof, which meant I had to put them away if there were rain and wind happening at the same time, and I live in the North West of England so for the winter months there are always wind and rain happening at the same time. They're also uncomfortable to walk any significant distance in the summer for me, as the ear-enclosing design means I have sweat running down the side of my face by the half-hour mark.

The audio quality of the earbuds is... well it's shit in comparison, there's no way around that. The Sonys feel like I've got a recording booth strapped to my head and the ANC noise isolation is phenomenal. The earbuds don't even approach them, in fact I had to check repeatedly that the ANC was actually working when I first got them, I'd been so spoiled. It deadens or muffles the outside sound rather than removing it, but it does the same job of meaning the music coming through the buds is always entirely audible regardless of what traffic is passing, it's just that I can still hear the cars during the quiet bits.

But the fact of the matter is that I've basically not grabbed the Sonys in months. There's been one occasion where I opted for the Sonys; when my neighbour was having the rendering jackhammered off the front of their house, and the vibration carried so perfectly through into mine that I could feel my desk moving. The Pixel Buds are just *so* much more convenient; I can walk into a supermarket and leave them in, which I didn't feel comfortable doing with the Sonys because despite both having perfectly good audio-passthrough modes, other people around you assume you can't hear them if you have an obvious set of headphones on. The battery life isn't as good, but when it comes down to charging them every week instead of every three, that's not really a concern. Just the fact that they cooperate with my laptop and phone at the same time is almost worth it alone (if a call comes through, whatever is playing on the laptop pauses and the audio automatically switches to the phone).


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With the exception of the clearly wrong calorie counting on the watch, I do actually like all of this stuff, but I just find it difficult to be enthusiastic about because the way I use all of it is basically the same as what I had before. I still use the same apps on the phone, it's not as if they're bringing massive improvements to my quality of life.

My verdict: Buy them. Or don't. What am I, your mother?

Re: The 'Look What the Postman Brought Me' Thread - Technology Edition

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2022 3:09 pm
by arqueturus
Raid wrote:
Mon Nov 07, 2022 12:35 pm
Had these for a little while now, so figured it's time for a mini-review:

The entire Google Pixel phone ecosystem; Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel Watch, Pixel Buds Pro

I hate changing phones. I have so little interest in camera upgrades or screen resolution or what silicone my phone is running on, so I end up buying an unlocked high-end phone that'll last me for a good few years and then just don't worry about it. My Pixel 2 XL lasted me four and a half years which I think is fairly decent (but by the end it was barely receiving calls, and notifications wouldn't arrive without me unlocking the phone), and given that Pixels have all of the Android features without the bloat, I decided to stick with the brand. Google threw in a free Pixel Watch for going for the higher-end version (the freebie for the smaller one was a set of Pixel Buds, which I already owned), and I'd fallen out with my Samsung one, I decided to take advantage. []
Interesting thoughts, like you, I'm a big fan of the Pixel and got a Pro 6 last year and was quite surprised at the release of the Pixel 7 so soon (not sure why) . It's not worth replacing at this point but more than anything I'm pretty disapointed with the Pixel watch simply because of the battery life 24 hrs is terrible and it doesn't even manage that. For me wearables need to be last 3 days or something to become really useful. This is very much just me but I want them to not look like a watch too. I like wearing real watches - I use a Gear Fit 2 and that is suffiently non watchy to work.

Re: The 'Look What the Postman Brought Me' Thread - Technology Edition

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2022 4:18 pm
by Raid
It's a valid point, but given that it's rare for me to go away, not a massive issue for me. It would help if it worked with that reverse wireless charging that phones do these days, but although this apparently says it's charging, it's so slow as to basically be pointless. I did actually try it with the Pixel Buds and could neither get those to charge, and putting the phone on even the slightest of inclines (and I'm talking about my PC desk that the spirit level is perfectly happy to claim is level) made the case slip off because the glass surface on the back of the phone is so insanely smooth.

It's possible I've spoken a bit too soon about the calorie counting by the way, seemingly there's been a software update recently that has changed the counts for when you're inactive (it's still recording exercise too high, but my overall counts for the day are coming down closer to what I'd expect), and Google are now acknowledging that there seems to be something to fix.

Re: The 'Look What the Postman Brought Me' Thread - Technology Edition

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2022 12:38 am
by Mantis
I got a Pixel 6 a few months ago because my Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus had been nothing but one problem after another since I got it.

The Pixel is alright, the software is thankfully fairly bug free now but I have noticed a random rattling sound in the camera lense which started one morning when I hadn't done anything to the phone to cause it.

I genuinely think the best Android phone was the Nexus 6. Everything I've had since then has given me grief in some shape or form. I had the Nexus for as long as I possibly could hold onto it for and it never gave me a single issue.

Re: The 'Look What the Postman Brought Me' Thread - Technology Edition

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2022 10:25 am
by Snowy
I take the same approach with phones, but I have been with Apple for years and am too used to them to change to Android. I also buy a high end phone, keep it for yonks then replace it, have the battery replaced and the old phone goes to my wife who is happy with PAYG and doesn't really use a phone much.

Re: The 'Look What the Postman Brought Me' Thread - Technology Edition

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2022 1:54 pm
by Raid
Mantis wrote:
Tue Nov 08, 2022 12:38 am

The Pixel is alright, the software is thankfully fairly bug free now but I have noticed a random rattling sound in the camera lense which started one morning when I hadn't done anything to the phone to cause it.
I actually have a rattle in mine too which I hadn't noticed until you mentioned yours. Try turning on the camera and getting it to focus on something and see if it disappears. If it does, then it'll be the optical stabiliser and it's probably perfectly normal. It's a little disconcerting, but even my £1000 mirrorless lens does it.

Re: The 'Look What the Postman Brought Me' Thread - Technology Edition

Posted: Fri Nov 25, 2022 8:15 am
by Paul
I currently have the Sony Xperia 1 III, because camera.

It is simultaneously the best and worst phone I have ever had. The results you can achieve with the camera are incredible. It's quick performance wise, and the 120hz screen is a dream... but oh my god, it is infuriating to use at times. The fingerprint sensor is absolutely hopeless. I mean, it's just pure shit. Sometimes you touch it once and the phone insists there have been too many attempts / use your unlock pattern, sometimes it doesn't work at all... to be honest, it fails a good 80% of the time. Given that fingerprint sensors on much older (Sony!) phones worked like a dream, I don't get it. I don't get it and I kinda hate it.

[EDIT] phone buzzed when I clicked 'submit' on this post. I went to unlock it and... ](*,)