Why I won’t by buying the Nexus 6

I’ve been a fan of the Google Nexus phones for a couple of years, and have written in the past about getting my hands on a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 5 before they were available in Ireland. And like of lot of other fans, I was quite excited to learn what was coming next.

The major attraction of the Nexus mobiles is that you were able to get a top-performing phone at a discount price, but with the new Nexus 6 announced yesterday, you’re still getting a top-performing phone but it’s now got a premium price tag attached. And, let’s face it, the screen is way too big!

With the Nexus 6, they have deviated from a winning formula, and potentially upset a lot of fans.  The whole point of getting a Nexus 4 or Nexus 5 was that you could ditch those expensive mobile contracts, buy a reasonably-priced smartphone SIM-free for about €350, and save a fortune over the life of a phone.  The Nexus 6 price is more likely to be cost €650 SIM-free in Ireland – almost double.

It’s interesting that Google still intends to keep selling the Nexus 5, which is still a strongly performing phone, even if it is a year old now. It understands that a lot of people are not interested in the ‘phablet’ sized Nexus 6, and so have kept the Nexus 5 available for sale.

But here’s the thing… I’m an early adopter of technology, and I like to feel that I have the ‘latest and greatest’ technology, and have got used to replacing my mobile every year. But at the moment, I have no upgrade path. I have no motivation to put my hand in my pocket and hand over some money.

So for now, it seems I’ll be keeping hold of my Nexus 5 – which will probably come as bad news to my wife, who had plans to take it off me once I upgraded.

Cloning Remote Control Fobs

In my apartment block there’s an underground car park that’s accessed using a remote-control key fob. We have one allocated car parking spot down there, and as such the management company for the block only issued us with one key fob.

My wife uses the key fob for her car, but I also have a requirement to get in and out of the car park, because that’s where I lock up my bikes.

When we moved in around 18 months ago I approached the management company of the apartments to try and get a second remote control. And despite me explaining the situation, they refused to issue another one to me – even though I offered to pay the €70 they said it would cost.

After some discussion they reluctantly agreed to give me a key to the pedestrian gate, which I’ve been using ever since – but the inconvenience is annoying.

But then I was on the internet one day and found that you can buy cloning remote control fobs that can copy existing fobs, they’re less than a ten quid to buy, and they work perfectly!

Remote Control Cloning Key Fob
Remote Control Cloning Key Fob

I got myself one last week from an ebay seller, but they’re also available on Amazon and other places. The initial programming can be a little tricky to be begin with, but after that it works like a dream.

Obviously in order to clone a key fob you need an existing working fob for the gate/door:

  • To start the programming, press and hold the top two buttons (A and B) together for between 5-10 seconds, until the light blinks rapidly, and then release. This action puts the fob into learning mode, and also wipes any codes already stored on the fob, so if you want to program a new button you have to start again and program them all.
  • Touch the two key fobs together, and press and hold the button you want to program (say the A button) at the same time as the corresponding button on the original fob that you want to clone from. You may need to move the fobs around at different angles to pick up the signal in the cloning fob (end to side seems to work), and when you do the light will flash rapidly to say it’s finished learning. Then simply repeat the process for any other buttons you want to clone.
  • Timing can be an issue during the programming process, as the fob only stays in learning mode for so long – so you need to be fairly quick. Have everything ready to go, and have a few practice goes.
  • I actually stood next to the car park gate to do my programming, so that I could check the original fob was working (it was opening the gate correctly) during the learning process.

If you get into trouble, take a quick search on YouTube for key fob cloning tutorials.  When I first got my fob I thought it wasn’t working, but that’s because I wasn’t programming it correctly.

BluAmp – HiFi Amp with Bluetooth

Have you heard of Kickstarter? It’s a crowd-funding website, whereby people can support creative projects by pledging money to help get a new product or service off the ground.

For a technology fan and early-adopter like me, it’s a great place to check out ideas for new products, and potentially get access to those gadgets ahead of the general market. And one thing that’s taking my fancy at the moment is the BluAmp – a bluetooth enabled hifi amplifier.

Picture of the BluAmp bluetooth hifi amplifier on Kickstarter
BluAmp Bluetooth Amplifier

I quite like the idea of a simple piece of hifi equipment that I could hook up to speakers, and then stream music from my MacBook/iPad/iPhone from anywhere in the room. Using wires to plug-in a device is a bit clunky and inconvenient, and so an amplifier that uses a bluetooth stream seems like a great idea.

I currently do some music streaming over wifi, using the AirPlay feature of an Airport Express, but that relies upon several different bits of technology (wifi router, airport express and hifi amp) all playing nicely together, and my experience shows they sometimes don’t.

The big draw for me about the BluAmp is its simplicity. I already have a decent pair of hifi speakers sat at home not being used, and I could plug them directly into the back of the BluAmp and have music straight away from my phone – or any other bluetooth enabled device I had to hand.

Of course, the BluAmp – or any other Kickstarter project – only gets built if it reaches its funding goal. And at the time of writing it’s only half way there, so it may not happen. But there’s another 2 weeks to go, and it looks like they only need around another 75 supporters to reach their target.