Friday, November 6, 2015

Garmin Vivofit 2M Steps and Battery Change

Garmin Vivofit Review at 2,000,000+ Steps

I froze in horror when the Garmin Connect site said it was time to change the battery in my 18 month-old Garmin Vivofit. But, they provided a link to a simple, step-by-step video and the process only took a few minutes to complete. Now that it's fully recharged, here are my observations at the 2,000,000+ step milestone. 

Previous Posts: 

Garmin Vivofit 1000000 Steps
Garmin Vivofit 500000 Steps
Garmin Vivofit 400000 Steps
Garmin Vivofit First 300000 Steps

Garmin Vivofit on Amazon (Affiliate Link)


In 18 months I have only removed the Vivofit in order to dress a turkey. Just couldn't see getting all of that "ick" on the band. Otherwise, it has been on my wrist nearly 24x7. That's why I was so hesitant to change the battery. Waterproof? Yep. Water park, swimming pool, dishes, yard work, showers, baths, hot tubs, wading across the river, it just works.

The RED "Move Bar" is motivating without being annoying. 

The Sleep functionality was the biggest surprise. Watching sleep cycles over days and weeks gave me insight into long work weeks, crash and burn weekends (12 hours in bed?!?) and the train schedule - tossing and turning at the exact some time every night when the train passes by.  


I went on a long summer vacation and did not sync prior to leaving. The Garmin Vivofit keeps about two weeks of data. When I got home... I had lost a couple weeks of data. You have to get in the habit of syncing every week, and need to make sure to sync prior to any ling vacation. The ANT stick required for sync should probably be replaced by a simple Bluetooth connection. 

The Vivofit also does not like shopping carts. When pushing a cart around a grocery store the lack of arm swing (motion) does not trigger step counts. I've been pushing carts with my right hand, just to allow the Vivofit to swing properly. 


The only "ugly" is that my model didn't have any heart rate monitoring features. Prices have fallen (a lot) and the basic pedometer functionality is just fine. But my MD was only a little supporting of my 1000 mile accomplishment. She said walking is just not enough. When I'm ready to upgrade I'll include heart-rate monitoring so I can demonstrate that yard work is aerobic exercise.      

The Bottom Line

If you need to get up off the couch and get started, the Garmin Vivofit at $50 is a good deal. It works as advertised, and provides enough subtle motivation to keep moving.  For the more active, the Vivofit doesn't do the all the things that a $250+ device can do... so look a bit higher in the feature and cost curve. 

BMW 328i 12000 Mile Review

BMW 328i - 12,000 Miles of Very Nice

Elle is 14 months old and has clocked in a bit over 12,000 miles. No, fuss, no muss, all very nice. In fact, a bit too nice. Texas roads tend to be wide, flat, fast with long, slow-sweeping curves. Mustangs, Chargers, Challengers, Corvettes, Camaros... they are all over the place. Texas roads are just fine for American muscle cars. Elle finds these roads boring. 

Old Posts: 

The Good 

Trading down from the inline 6 to the 2.0l proved to be a very reasonable trade. The new engine spins a lot more, but with the transmission in Sport mode it moves along just fine. With the addition of Auto Stop/Start the gas mileage is 5 MPG better than my older 328ix. I give the improvement almost entirely to AS/S. I've never been able to accumulate significant savings under ECO-Mode. Where my normal commute is about 20 minutes, it can stretch to 30 depending on stop lights. AS/S means I'm not burning fuel during most of that 10 minute pause. 

The Bad 

  • Eco-Pro Mode seems to be ineffective. With the exception of releasing the transmission to allow "coasting" this feature seems weak. 
  • AS/S yes, it provides fuel efficiency, but rough restarts and engine turn-offs while waiting for let turns are still annoying. Parking in the garage has proved exciting on several occasions when the engine restarted... BMW provides more than a few ways to defeat this feature, but some logic tied to engaging hand-brake when at a full stop wold be nice. 
  • The phone book and contacts feature forced me to reconsider and change my telephone usage. The trade-off of Stereo pre-sets for telephone numbers is merely OK.  See the links above for longer discussion. 

The Ugly 

  • There is not enough open road in the entire state of Texas. And, I don't have enough money to pay for any exercise of speed that would equate to "fun". 
  • I didn't get the xDrive. Totally blew it. Unlike Alex, Elle is willing to slide around under hard acceleration, especially in right turns - going uphill. In Texas we might go weeks between rain. Then we get inches of rain and the street become very slick. xDrive is the answer - probably my biggest disappointment.   
  • The engine Double-Tap to turn off - hate it. 

Bottom Line

Eagerly waiting for June 2017 to take European delivery of an M2 with xDrive. I want smaller, faster and more fun... will all four wheels on the ground.   

Monday, July 13, 2015

2014 BMW 328i - 10000 Mile Review

2014 BMW 328i - 10000 Mile Review

My current BMW, Elle, finally rolled over the 10,000 mile mark. Lessons from previous reviews remain (mostly) intact. I had the chance to drive a couple other cars - an older Pontiac G6 and  and new Jetta SE, while on vacation. This helped sharpen my opinion. 

First, the other cars: The G6 was one of the last, best Pontiacs. The seats were firm and deeply bolstered. The G6 has a smooth, strong engine, efficient transmission, and sporty suspension. On the curvy roads in PA it was a pretty good ride. 

The second car was a Jetta SE. The VW driving experience was tight, but the small engine always seemed to be hunting for the correct gear. On the freeways of PA, NJ, NY and MA the Jetta was much quieter than the Pontiac, and the VW handled the expansion seems much better. The Pontiac delivered a strong report at each seam. As a long-time VW driver I know that I have my bias, so add a grain of salt to my preference for the VW.

As an aside: Texas toll roads make sense - fully automated, wide-open, 80 MPH limits. Toll roads back east are crowded, poorly maintained, and have people in booths to collect $1.70 tolls(?). Advantage - Texas.  

Alex - my first BMW. 

The Good

The first 10,000 miles were totally uneventful. Elle notified me when her oil needed to be changed (about 8500 miles). Acceleration is still great, gas mileage is still great, and overall ride is still smooth and luxurious. Sport mode is fun. In fact, BMW should only ship cars with Sport Mode. 

2014 BMW 328i - previous posts: 

The Bad

Two features just need to be dropped from future versions. ECO mode isn't worth the savings. In one of my previous posts I called it "Corolla-esque", which might be disparaging to the Toyota. Much like the Jetta, ECO mode forces low RPM and a lot of shifting in heavy traffic. The second feature that should be dropped in the rotation of the passenger side mirror when backing up. It seems logical to want to see the curb, but most of my backing is not into curbside spaces.

When the seats are compared to the Pontiac and VW the BMW seats seem a bit flat and un-supportive. The seats in the 2011 328i were better. 

The Ugly

While Elle gets a clean review, Austin BMW does not. A basic oil change led to preemptive windshield wiper replacement ($100+). And the only part that I actually requested, the small circular sticker that holds the floor mat in place, is still outstanding -- 2 months later. 

Redmond BMW has their stuff together, Austin BMW still needs work. 

Bottom Line

Elle is a nice car. But I miss Alex. 

I'm not even a full year into the lease and I'm lusting after the new 340ix.