Want: Haiku Fan

My ceiling fan’s remote controller recently ran out of juice. It’s paired to a Harbor Breeze Platinum model with a six-speed DC motor. Prior to the remote’s batteries giving out, the fan was in its natural breeze setting, and without any 23AE batteries on hand, it remained stuck in an unending cycle of powering up and spinning down.

This was unfortunate, because there was considerable noise coming from the fan: both a rattling and a whirring. I was able to eliminate the rattling by removing the dome cover for its lighting module, but the whirring noise remained, growing louder as the fan motor spun up. I attributed it to bearing noise. The combination of the two was driving me crazy.

Enter Big Ass Fans (founded 1999): they made a name for themselves by designing and producing fans for commercial and industrial spaces.

In 2016, the company made an entry into the B2C market with Haiku fan, marketed under Haiku Home (haikuhome.com).

At the time that this post was published, there are four distinct lines of Haiku fans (haikuhome.com/fans):

  • Luxe Series – highest end offering, starting at $1595
    • Show off your ceiling in style with our brushed aluminum ceiling fans. Our Luxe Series fans are American made, hand-crafted by our expert technicians from aircraft-grade aluminum and engineered to stand the test of time.
  • H Series – starting at $995
    • Explore features and options of H Series Ceiling Fans from Haiku. Winner of more than 50 international awards and built from premium materials.
  • I Series – starting at $895
    • A powerful combination of design, performance and technology. I Series moves up to 50% more air than L Series fans and features onboard SenseME™ technology for maximum convenience and efficiency.
  • L Series – starting at $450
    • Haiku’s signature design elements, energy efficiency and effectiveness at a more accessible price point. Available in stylish black or white and features a built-in LED light.

The information above comes from haikuhome.com/compare-haiku-fans

Moving down the line, materials become cheaper, and energy efficiency drops off. Even so, the L Series exceeds ENERGY STAR® certification requirements by four times. The Luxe and H Series exceed ENERGY STAR® requirements by a whopping twelve times!

With the exception of the L Series, all Haiku fans sold in North America are made in the USA.

Additionally, the L Series loses integrated SenseME technology. More on Haiku Home’s SenseME Technology (haikuhome.com/senseme)

The Haiku L series is the only one that comes standard with a lighting kit – for all other Haiku fans, the Haiku lighting kit can be added on for an extra $95. It’s also the only series presently available on Amazon.com.

On Big Ass Fan’s page dedicated to their Haiku fans (bigassfans.com/products/haiku/), they claim that Haiku fans hold the top 19 spots on ENERGY STAR® ceiling fan listings.

Sure enough, all Haiku fans are ENERGY STAR® certified (EnergyStar.gov)

Curious to quantify the difference that a Haiku fan would make in my life, I compared it against my noisy fan, a Harbor Breeze Platinum Portes 52″ LP8293
(Lowe’s): the Haiku L series fan is 42% more efficient at maximum speed (295 ft3/min/W vs 208 ft3/min/W).

Want: Apple MacBook 2016 Refresh

Apple just announced the refreshed Apple MacBook with Retina display this morning (Apple Updates MacBook with Latest Processors, Longer Battery Life & New Rose Gold Finish, Apple Press Info).

The machines now feature Intel’s sixth-generation “Skylake” processors, Intel HD Graphics 515 (replacing Intel HD Graphics 5300), improved battery life (41.4 Wh [up from 39.7 Wh] rated for 10 hours of web browsing, 11 hours of iTunes movie playback), faster PCIe-based flash storage, and come standard with 8GB of 1866MHz LPDDR3. Cosmetically, Apple has added Rose Gold as a color option to existing Gold, Silver, and Space Gray.

The base model starts at $1,299 and comes with a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor (Intel Core m3-6Y30, Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz), and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage.

The high-end model starts at $1,599 and comes with a 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m5 processor (Intel Core m5-6Y54, Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz), and 512GB PCIe-based flash storage.

Upgrading the processor to the 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core m7 (Intel Core m7-6Y75, Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz) is a $250 option on the base model ($1,549 BTAX), and a $150 option on the high-end model ($1,749 BTAX).

A table outlining the differences between the original 2015 Apple MacBook and the 2016 refresh is available through AnandTech.com (Apple Refreshes MacBook with Skylake-based Core M and New Rose Gold Color, AnandTech.com)

Want: Microsoft Band

Microsoft’s first entry into the wearables market has my attention like no other.

My history with wearables started with the first-generation Jawbone Up, which hit the market in November 2011. I wrote about Jawbone’s fantastic response to a potentially disastrous engineering defect back in November 2012. Since my Jawbone Up failed, I observed the evolving market for wearable technology from the sidelines, waiting to see what devices would come out next. A short-lived love/hate relationship with Google Glass took place earlier this year. For a while, nothing.

Microsoft surprised tech journalists with the announcement of the Microsoft Band on October 29, 2014. With Band, Microsoft has developed a potential game-changer: Band goes beyond other wearables by offering a bevy of sensors and cross-platform compatibility on an open platform.

First, let’s take a quick look at the sensors on Microsoft Band:

  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • Gyrometer
  • GPS
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Skin temperature sensor
  • UV sensor
  • Capacitive sensor
  • Galvanic skin response

A few notable ones jump out to this reader:

  1. Skin temperature sensor: might be useful for inferring increased metabolic activity following high-intensity exercise, which has traditionally been outside the domain of fitness monitors. Abnormal skin temperature readings in the presence of normal heart rate may indicate ailments or physical illness.
  2. UV sensor: Microsoft claims that this will help users know whether to apply sunscreen before heading out
  3. Galvanic skin response: might be useful for measuring stress and emotional state

The sensor array promises to acquire a wider range of data than any other wearable on the market today. Users will benefit from actionable insights when this data is combined with analysis on Microsoft Health. Microsoft suggests that analysis may reap insights such as:

  • Fitness performance relative to work schedule
  • Whether eating breakfast helps you run faster
  • If the number of meetings during the day impacts sleep quality.

I’m very excited to see how Microsoft will continue working with existing players in health and fitness. At launch, they have announced relationships with UP by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, (the venerable) MyFitnessPal, and Runkeeper.

Unfortunately, iOS and Android users are being left out in the cold on some of Band’s smart features. Band will provide Microsoft Phone users with access to notifications from their smartphones, even integrating with Cortana. I hope that Microsoft can make a push to broaden support for Band’s productivity features on competing platforms, but it’s possible that this may never happen.

Wearable technology has been at a nascent state for the past few years, and I’m pleased that Microsoft is pushing the field forward. At the very least, Microsoft Band will put pressure on its competitors to develop more sensor-laden devices. At best, it could be one of Microsoft’s most exciting hardware products in a long time.

I have already reached out to a friend of mine who is working at Microsoft to see about getting Band for myself. As a health-conscious, data-loving, technophile, Band is too interesting for me to resist. I just hope it’s as good as it sounds on paper 🙂

Microsoft Band retails for $199, and is available to purchase now through Microsoft Store.com or your nearest Microsoft Store. Sizing chart is available online.

Want: Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6

I was down at the Apple Store yesterday morning to see about the iPhone 6 Plus (more on that, later)

They had the usual spread of headphones available to demo: your Beats, Bose, and Bowers & Wilkins. Then my eyes caught sight of something I hadn’t seen before.

The distinctive B&O lettering begged a closer look at this pair

b&o beoplay h6 cup

I put them on after an approving nod at their generous use of leather throughout

b&o beoplay h6 leather

b&o beoplay h6 leather detail

Bang and Olufsen apparently takes the leather treatment very seriously

The solid cowhide leather on the headphones comes from New Zealand where the cows roam in controlled pastures. Only the highest quality hides are selected. Each leather product is completely natural and the leather is dyed with a tanning process that provides colours in rich and warm tones.

The B&O BeoPlay H6 feature memory foam around-ear cups dressed in lambskin. They were quite comfortable to wear, and the closed-back design provided welcome isolation from the din of new Mac owners and Apple geniuses to my immediate left.

My listening was limited to the music that was preloaded onto the iPod Touch in front of me. I found “Starlight” by Muse and “Bad Blood” by Bastille. The sound signature of the H6 was refreshing – it doesn’t have the boosted bass featured in many of today’s fashion headphones.

I walked away from the Apple Store to attend to other errands, but made a note to investigate the BeoPlay H6 further. They certainly made a good first impression.

User reviews on Amazon.com as well as Head-Fi.org are generally positive. Users laud the H6 for its comfortable fit and great sound. I especially enjoyed reading KimBongUn420’s detailed review of the BeoPlay H6 on Amazon.com:

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have NEVER heard a closed-back headphone with a soundstage that was as expansive and encompassing as the stage produced by the H6. Nothing else I have listened to even comes close. It is incredibly accurate and fully convincing. There are many high-end open back headphones that cannot reproduce the soundstage that the H6 does; I would put it at least on par with the Beyer DT990. The P5 attempts to match the soundstage, and the P7 comes a bit closer, but there’s still a rather large gap between the stage that the P7 can produce and the one that the H6 reproduces so brilliantly.

The H6 is a very flat, neutral headphone; there are no noticeable frequency spikes and the mid and treble is evenly reproduced along the frequency spectrum. They are precise and accurately reproduce music. If you are looking for a headphone with “character” in the sound then I suggest looking elsewhere, but if you are looking for precise, true sound, the H6 excels. Trebles are beautiful, but not overly bright, and the mid is powerful and evenly distributed. I have often had the experience of re-listening to songs in my library several times because the H6 draws out tones or sounds in the song that I have not been able to hear with other headphones. It truly sounds like you have a front-row seat for the artist with every single genre. I’ve thrown classical (which is simply incredible on the H6), jazz, rock, soul, EDM, pop, and many more genres at the H6 and it has been able to faithfully reproduce every instrument, voice, and sound.

If high-fidelity reproduction of the source is important to you, the BeoPlay H6 warrant your consideration. I’d love to run an A/B test of these headphones against my Sennheiser HD 650.

B&O BeoPlay H6 Technical Specifications

40 mm custom designed drivers with a neodymium magnet in a closed headphone design
Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 22,000 kHz
Impedance: 30 ohms
Other Features: Foldable, With Remote and Mic, Sound Isolating
Form Factor: Over Ear
Cable Length: 4.1 ft./1.25 m

I could only find one source offering a frequency response curve of the B&O BeoPlay H6 (InnerFidelity)

Note on the remote: the three-button remote on the BeoPlay H6 is designed to work with Apple devices. Extended functionality won’t work with Android phones.

The B&O BeoPlay H6 are offered in natural brown and black leather, as well as several Special Edition colors. From left to right: Blue Stone, Graphite Blush, and Bronzed Hazel.

b&o beoplay h6 special editions

The B&O BeoPlay H6 list at $399 and are available to purchase direct from Bang and Olufsen and Amazon.com

Links to Amazon.com for all current color offerings of the BeoPlay H6:

BeoPlay H6 Black
BeoPlay H6 Natural Leather
BeoPlay H6 Blue Stone
BeoPlay H6 Graphite Blush
BeoPlay H6 Bronzed Hazel