REVIEW: My experience with Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Bone Conducting headphones

I bought the Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction headphones ( on a whim on a recent trip to Boston. I don’t usually listen to music while running but Brookstone had an awesome offer running on this pair and I got it for almost 70% off.

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones

For the uninitiated (like I was till I saw these), bone conduction technology transmits sound waves directly to the inner ear via the bones of the skull, as opposed to via the outer and middle ear (eardrum) like in conventional headphones (for more, read this and that).

By now, the Geek and the famous Indian Value Seeker in me were both aroused, so I decided to give it a whirl in the store before committing.

The main difference from a user’s point of view is that there is no “earpiece” to place over or inside your ears. The “speakers” are actually some kind of motorised vibrators placed on the bone just in front of the ear,Trekz Bone Conduction Headphones leaving the ears open to ambient sounds. Other than that, they are very similar to any other wireless in-ear sports headphones – bluetooth enabled, need to be charged, light and portable, sweat-resistant etc.

My first impression was this tingling sensation caused by the substantial vibrations of the “speakers”. It wasn’t painful or pleasurable – just weird, irritating even. And I felt sure there is no way I can do a long run with this buzzing in my face! The sound quality didn’t seem too great either. As can be expected, low frequencies were weak and the sound felt almost tin-ny.

I decided this was not for me, but the fancy tech and the price proved irresistible and I bought the headphones anyway. I figured I’ll just gift it to someone.

For nearly 3 weeks after I returned, the headphones just lay packed in their box. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with it. Finally a couple of weeks ago I decided to try them out in real-world conditions. I have to admit I have been pleasantly surprised and been using them regularly since.

The tingling sensation I was worried about? I didn’t even notice it while running. The sound quality, while still not even comparable to any good quality in-ears (my other headset is a Bose Sound Sport in-ear), is actually VERY good considering the technology and certainly more than good enough for casual sports use. The low-frequency response is really not that bad, it’s just that you won’t (to paraphrase) “feel the music”.

The convenience of wireless sound (these are my first wireless headphones) is much more than I expected. The bluetooth signal is fine most of the time, but there has been the odd occasion when the signal is scratchy, and on one occasion, I lost the signal entirely for a good 30-odd seconds. I don’t have a point of comparison so am not sure how it fares v/s other bluetooth headphones.

Battery life is fine, my estimate is around 6-8 hours of continuous play. Again, not sure how this compares with other similar products, but with less than 6 hours of running a week, this works fine for me even if I were to use the headphones for every run.

The fit is absolutely fantastic. No problem at all of the headset moving around while running. Although one has to be careful while wiping off sweat from the face – a problem I have faced with most headphones.

One of the main claimed safety advantages of these headphones for sports is that since the ears are not covered you can hear ambient sound. I found that if you are listening to music at a high volume, it may still not be as safe, but at a mid to low volume, you can actually have a conversation with someone while the music is playing in your head (literally :-)).

However, how this pans out for non-sports use, I am not sure. I am pretty certain these headphones would be a bad choice for noisy places like airports and your local CCD on a Saturday evening!

All in all, I must say I am quite happy with the headphones. I’m sure I can get much better sounding headphones with similar benefits, but the fact that they serve my limited purpose, AND have novelty value, I will continue to use them for sometime.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Gadgets & Tech, India, Life, Music

Jaguar Land Rover – Letter Over Spirit in customer service?

Genuine question about my experience with customer service at Jaguar Land Rover.

The facts are as follows:

  1. My car warranty expired on 21st May.
  2. As per their normal process, I received a reminder email before 21st May, and a call from the dealer (on 25th May) to schedule my 3rd routine service which I did for the 26th.
  3. During their check-up they found that the battery was “weak and needed replacement”. This would normally have been covered under warranty, but since my car was out of warranty I would have to pay for it!


I knew my warranty was to expire sometime in May but was not sure of the exact date. So the moot question is, in this case, should JLR go by the spirit of the warranty or the letter?

I did not dilly-dally on scheduling the service, the date of the scheduled service was no more than FIVE days from the expiry of the warranty. This battery issue in all likelihood would have come up had the car come in before the 21st (I doubt my battery suddenly started to fail in the past 5 days), and they would very well have replaced it then.

Shouldn’t this service be considered as part of the warranty service? Or is JLR simply being opportunistic in taking advantage of the fact that technically my car was out of warranty? Personally, I am very surprised that this even needed so much discussion.


The matter did not end there. When I requested that the replacement should be considered under warranty, they came back and offered me a choice:

a. Take a free replacement of the battery, but no warranty (absolutely reasonable since my car warranty had already expired), OR

b. Pay 50% of the battery cost and get the full 3 year warranty on the new battery.

I chose the former. Guess what? They called back saying they had made a mistake in offering the first option (“internal miscommunication”) and regretted that I really only had the 2nd option!


I decided to take this matter up with JLR.

  1. Their website has NO number or email ID to call customer service.
  2. There is a form which I completed (on the 26th or 27th of May), to which, to date, I have no response.
  3. The 2 emails to the dealership have gone unanswered.
  4. Finally I had to resort to Twitter, to which I received a response after approx 15hrs. No number or email ID, just a promise someone will call.
  5. Someone DID call shorty thereafter. Someone very efficient, very polite, very firm, but ZERO empathy.
  6. The gist of the response is the same – my warranty expired on 21st, my car came in on the 26th, so sorry, no replacement. i.e. Letter overrides Spirit.
  7. On the issue of the dealer going back on their offer, JLR conveniently hid behind the argument that the dealership is a separate entity from JLR. I would have thought that JLR should have taken ownership of the entire experience.


It so happens that I was offered, and had availed myself of, the extended warranty on my vehicle. When I received the offer, I specifically inquired if the extended warranty would, at the least, cover everything the original manufacturer’s warranty would cover. In response, I was provided a flyer with Inclusions and Exclusions, and a covering note that all inclusions and exclusions are listed in the flyer. There is no exclusion of battery or electrical parts in the extended warranty. Yet I have been told that batteries are not covered in extended warranty. And what of the fact that there is no specific exclusion of the same in the offer document? “Oh well, shit happens.” (they didn’t actually say this, but was pretty much the message :-)).

The final outcome, BTW, was that they eventually offered me a replacement as a “goodwill gesture” where I would have to pay 20% of the cost of the battery, which also would be reimbursed in a subsequent service. So while I did get a “free” replacement, you know what? The experience still sucks and has left a bad taste in my mouth:

  1. I shouldn’t have had to fight so much for it
  2. I shouldn’t have had to pay for it at all – it should have been a legitimate free replacement under warranty, and not some goodwill largesse!!!

As you can see clearly, I am very disappointed. But yet, I would be genuinely like to know if the disappointment is justified? What’s your take?

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Business & Economy, Marketing, Social Marketing

Music Albums – The whole is greater than the sum of the parts

Pink Floyd DSOTM

As with any other great album, what makes The Dark Side of the Moon special is that the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. Almost all the tracks on the album are individually brilliant. However, what you get when you hear it end-to-end is a whole journey.

With DSOTM, one can pretty much go through an entire cycle of angst with each song (and I am talking more about the music than the lyrics). Speak To Me and Breathe build up the melancholy, presenting the extreme depressive state. On the Run seems to indicate a building up of Defiance. Time shifts gears, musically a bit more angry and defiant, but lyrically still, its a losing battle.
The Great Gig In The Sky is like the bawling after a bout of anger, as the hopelessness sets in again. With Money you start to externalise the causes of your pain, even getting philosophical. Us and Them takes the philosophising a bit further, musically indicating a resignation to fate.
Any Colour You Like is the most interesting on this mood continuum. Its like the cauldron of emotions one might go through after resignation – happy, trying to have fun, angry, sad, tripping, all at the same time.
Brain Damage signals the onset of a grim resolve – “enough is enough, am going to do something about this!”
Eclipse is the grand dramatic end, building up to a crescendo indicative of the final act, only to lay you down gently. The final strains of “mooooooooon” almost make you feel the relief that the “end” brings – relief and release from the excruciating mental and psychological pain.
Its an emotional roller-coaster ride from inside the mind of the protagonist.
Which are the other albums where the whole is MUCH greater than the sum of the parts? Do share your musical epics.
Posted in Music, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters

Emirates Airlines – Hello, Cheats!

I have generally had a pretty neutral experience flying Emirates so far – they do their job, nothing more, nothing less, and they do it well. Which suits me just fine. And which is why when it was time to plan a long-haul journey across continents, I chose Emirates over a couple of other options. They are efficient, had good connections to my destination, and while not the cheapest, they were reasonably priced, not least because I was booking 5-6 months in advance.

The trouble started when I decided to upgrade to Business Class given the length of the journey. I had booked my tickets from their website and headed there to “manage my booking”. All the sectors for my dates were showing as available, a fare difference was shown, which I accepted and proceeded to book. However, after I entered my credit card information, I got a message saying, “Sorry the modification to your booking failed – please contact your local Emirates office.”

After multiple calls to the local Emirates offices, emails and tweets, the end result was that the airline simply refused to acknowledge the fare I was being shown on their website (not just on that day but for many days thereafter which I kept supporting with screenshots), and therefore refusing to honour the same. So my only option was to accept a much higher fare from their call centre although their website consistently showed a lower fare. Not only that, every executive I spoke to cooked up some different story (excuse) for not being able to upgrade my ticket at the fare shown on the website.

As a result, I simply canceled my ticket and booked it on another airline. And all this when I was actually seeking to GIVE Emirates MORE money. Here’s a summary of the kind of cock-and-bull they tried to feed me at various times:

1. “The reason you are not able to book online is because those seats/fares are no longer available for one of your sectors. Its perhaps showing available on the website but not in our system.” I checked again, the same time, later in the day and then again a few days later, the same sectors and fares were still available.

2. In another call on the same day, another executive categorically says both, the website as well as the call centre front-ends access the same reservation system so there was no question of availability or fares being different. And yet he was not seeing the same fare!!! He asks me to send screenshots of my fares and my failed booking which he forwards to the Dubai office. They revert in a couple of hours saying that unless a reservation is completed they cannot honour a fare. And since my reservation did not go through, they cannot give me the same fare.  I tried to argue that the reservation failed because of their system, not because of any problem with my card or entry details, but to no avail.

3. Another person on another day, asks me to try “after some time”. I do so to humour him, as much as to get my ticket. But failed for the same reason again. So yet again, although the two systems are the same, they keep showing different fares. Or so Emirates tells me, perhaps just to avoid giving the correct fare? In fact they are available as on the date of this blog post, a good 3 weeks after my tussle with the airline.

4. Here are screenshots of my conversation with Emirates on Twitter, after a frustrating week on the phone with their call centre.

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.55.58 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.56.34 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.56.51 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.57.04 pm


Not sure what kind of a templates response this is!! He’s just repeating my problem!! And the nonsense he call centre has already told me which is why I am writing on twitter in the first place!!!

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.57.18 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.57.32 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.57.45 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.57.57 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.58.08 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.58.19 pm


No explanation or even regret for website and back-end fares being different!!

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.58.32 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.58.42 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.58.54 pm

Emirates Cheating on Fares

Emirates Cheating on Fares

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.59.15 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.59.30 pm

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 2.59.39 pm

Even if I give the benefit of doubt to Emirates that there may have genuinely been some system issue, what has really appalled me is to see that they are not seeing that a customer (a frequent flyer who is looking to spend more money, no less) is facing a genuine issue and making any effort to solve the problem – investigate why there is a difference and offer a coherent explanation, make an executive decision and offer me the website fare which they can clearly see I am not making up, or at the very least acknowledge that I am facing a genuine problem. All their conversations are so defensive, their tone almost seems “we have no clue nor do we care what you’re talking about. Here’s what we have to offer, take to or leave it!”

I chose to leave it – for at least as long as I am not compelled to fly Emirates!


Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Business & Economy, Travel

Nokia Lumia 920 / Windows Phone 8 Review

I’ve been using an iPhone since around 2008 and finally in February this year, I decided I had enough of an OS that was really not innovating fast enough. I sold my 4-month old iPhone 5 and switched to Lumia 920. The Windows OS looked sufficiently alluring and refreshingly different from iOS and Android.

The experience has been mixed, but by far the most frustrating part has been using the phone while running/exercising. I nearly yanked off and threw away my phone this morning!

I’ve tried Endomondo, SportsTracker, and RunKeeper but face huge reliability problems in all. The GPS just disconnects randomly mid-run leaving me with no track of my run. This is particularly frustrating while running in new areas where I have no distance markers. Have written to Nokia and Windows on Twitter but with no solution. Of around 6 runs I have tried with the phone, I have been able to record only ONE complete run.

As if that were not enough, the music interface on Nokia is infuriating to say the least. Initially I was very excited about Nokia Mix Music. I still think it is great to have readily mixed music on tap. And it streams quite well. The trouble is with the interface to access the music. To start with there are two entry points – Nokia Music and Music + Videos. Not sure of the difference between the two. Once you get to Nokia Music (which takes all of 4 seconds to start!!!) its a task getting to your own music collection. And then to browse by Artist/Album/Songs is another few clicks/slides. So lets take a very common use case for me – if I just want to start shuffling all my songs, on an iphone I just double-click home button, and click the Play button. Or better still, with my headphones on, just double click the headphone button.

I CANNOT do all this on the Lumia. To start playing my music, I have to launch the music app, scroll to my collection, and then songs and then slide down to reveal the Shuffle button. To make matters worse, even with shuffle on, sometimes it just plays one song and then stops. So you have to keep unlocking the phone and clicking to the next song!

Now imagine all this happening while you are running and have the Lumia strapped on with an armband. It is a task to simply want to play music while tracking your run.

And headphones which allow you to control both, song play as well as volume are hardly available. I think only the official Nokia accessories have that facility (which is probably 2-3 expensive models).

Running apart, I have otherwise had a mixed experience with the Lumia/Windows. The screen is great (the right size to my mind), the windows interface is definitely a refreshing change and quick smooth. Some things are actually easier to do – like setting up short-cuts for speed dial or frequent tasks etc. However, there is still a lot to be desired:

1. The browser sucks!! It is not HTML5 compliant and also does not always parse pages properly to show them in once screen. And the worst part is there are NO 3rd party browsers you can download and use. You’re stuck with the standard issue.

2. No Notifications center! If you miss a notification, good luck. They claim the Live Tiles are meant to fulfill that, but they don’t. Its okay for a missed call or SMS, but say an NDTV notification or an FB notification is very poorly integrated.

3. Usability, while in some cases is better than iPhone, overall its a bit worse (music is terrible!) For instance putting the phone on Silent is 3 clicks/actions!

4. The Nokia Lumia 920 is bulky, unwieldy in shape, and of a texture that makes it easy to slip out of your hands. Battery life sucks, even compared to the iPhone 5, although if data is turned off (like when roaming), its actually amazing. And the phone heats up quite often especially when using data.

5. Multitasking is VERY basic and difficult to use.

All in all, I think Windows Phone 8 has a good thing going and I would really like for it to give Android and iOS a tough run (and I think it can). But the next update of WP8 better be a serious improvement for me to continue to stick with it.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Gadgets & Tech, Music

I’m bigger than my body – John Mayer

So here’s a theory that has been twirling in my mind the last few days. It is a theory about mankind in general that seems to neatly straddle science and religion (well at least reinforces the Hindu philosophy of the conscious, the “aatma” being our real self).

I think evolution has put us on a path which is taking human beings to a point where our bodies, or indeed the entire physical world, will be redundant. Everything we have striven for and continue to strive seems to be about increasing the efficiency of our bodies, and of the physical world around us.

The evolution of our physical form was driven by man’s quest for breaking free from existing limitations, doing more, and getting rid of whatever was not required any more. The upright stance, opposable thumbs, getting rid of the tail, thick fur….

From the discovery of fire and invention of the wheel, to the modern age, all the gadgets and things we come up with are designed to reduce our dependence on our bodies and of the physical world.

From cars and remote controls, to cloning, embedded chips, robots, and what have you – we can almost foresee that we won’t need eyes to see, brain for memory, legs to be mobile, mouth to nourish ourselves or communicate…..we are effectively “getting rid” of our bodies.

We suddenly worry that we’re not using our bodies enough and that is leading to health problems, so we encourage more use of the body, more exercise. Sure we need to take care of our bodies at least as long as we have them, but if we take a few steps back, what if that is just a case of our bodies not evolving fast enough to keep pace with the creativity of the mind? What if it’s a sign that our bodies are coming in the way of our unlimited creative potential?

Similarly our “exploitation” of the environment and the earth – we’ve always seen it as destruction. What if we step back and start looking at it as part of that same continuum – in the really long run, the physical environment is holding us back?

Or rather, it is nothing but a container for our infinite creative self which is manifesting itself in various ways?

Hindu philosophy has suggested that while we seek our happiness and ourselves in the outside world, it really lies within. What if we were to look at our seemingly “destructive” behaviour from a different point of view? What if this destruction (symbolised by Shiva) accompanied by creation (Brahma) is nothing but our path and progression towards the self? [UPDATE] And in any case, from all accounts, this “destruction” of our planet, our sun, this universe, WILL happen despite man, in the normal course of nature.[UPDATE] So its almost as if man cannot be held “responsible”, its pre-ordained. It is the way it is, because that is our ultimate destination?

[UPDATE] It is not my opinion that if the above is true, it gives a license to humankind to go ahead and destroy ourselves, each other and the planet. But if it is true, the understanding might just help in keeping things in perspective and better managing “civilisation” and “progress”.[UPDATE]

As I said, its just a theory, which I have not even begun to research (intend to do so as much as is possible online). So I’m sure there’s plenty of holes to be punched.

I would love to hear your views, and even pointers to any relevant reading material/research.

And no, I’m not drinking, smoking or sniffing anything 🙂

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Life

iCloud : just a pretty puff of gas?

Spent some part of the Sunday playing around with iCloud, checking if it makes my multi-device syncing life any better. By the end of it, I had pretty much switched most of the iCloud services off. And here’s why. But first, some context:

1. I use mainly 3 iDevices – MacBook pro, iPad 1 and iPhone 4.
2. I sync my contacts with Google contacts (through iTunes, not over the air), Notes using my iMap email account, and use Google Calendar for my appointments.

And my problems with ICloud:

1. If I switch on Contacts in iCloud, it shows me all my 1700-odd contacts twice on my MBP.

2. I cannot sync my contacts with Google then. Which is not good because not only does Google Contacts serve as a nice “non-Apple” back-up of my contacts, it gives me all my contacts for use with my gmail account. If I sync with iCloud, I will not have my updated contacts in gmail.

3. Turning on iCloud for calendar moves my Mac calendar to the cloud. Which is fine, but the reason I use Google calendar is because it allows me to invite attendees when setting up a meeting from my iPhone. Which a regular account on the iPhone does not allow, god knows why! So it does not help me eliminate google calendar.

UPDATE: Actually with iCloud I can now invite attendees for meetings from iPhone, so I have moved from Google Calendar to iCloud Calendar.

4. Mail and Notes requires me to set up a .me account. Can do without another new account. Am happy with my office, gmail, hotmail and accounts. So my office iMap account works fine for these. Notes on iMap works exactly like iCloud and syncs across all my iDevices.

5. Back on the cloud: nice idea but I like the convenience of having a back-up at hand locally whenever I need it (and I HAVE needed it from time to time), whenever I need to retrieve and old SMS or data. So i prefer to back up through iTunes sync. Plus with backups on, the 5GB free limit gets used up pretty quickly.

So for now, I am only using iCloud for PhotoStream and Documents (mainly keynote). Maybe iCloud requires a mind shift and change in habits. Will definitely revisit in a few days.

What’s your experience like with iCloud?

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Gadgets & Tech