Tooth technology: Oral B Genius 8000 connected toothbrush review

oral b genius 8000 review erinI research a lot of technology trends.  One thing that’s been popping up again and again is the technology of teeth.  Specifically toothbrush technology.  In fact, high-tech toothbrushes are so common and advanced now, I’ve got a blog and YouTube series in the works about all the options. It kicks off today with the Oral B Genus 8000 smart toothbrush. You can also read about two brushes in the Philips series, the Platinum and the Diamond here.

The Genius is a rechargeable electric toothbrush that uses vibration and an oscillating head to deep-clean your teeth. It also pairs with an app so that you can track and record your toothbrushing habits in real time and get feedback on how you’re doing.

Oral B Genius 8000 – What’s in the box

oral b genius 8000 whats in boxI was sent a sample brush to try out and review over several weeks.  As I unboxed the Oral B 8000, I saw there are a heck of a lot of pieces in the box.

There’s a travel kit, and an at home charging station. Plus storage cases for the brushes. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first but once it makes sense you realize you’re getting a lot for your money.

The kit also comes with a special bracket to hold your cell phone to a mirror right in front of the area where you brush. More about why you need that later…

The toothbrush has a waterproof handle and is designed to get wet so there should be no safety concerns. It’s charged by placing it on a small base. The charging level is indicated on the handle display, and a full charge takes about 12 hours and should give you 12 days of regular brushing (which Oral-B says is about twice a day for two minutes).

Getting Oral B Genius 8000 set uporal b genius 8000 app whats in box

Getting the brush set up and connecting it to your smart phone is easy enough. You download the Oral-B app and it guides you through the entire set up and pairing process. I was connected in no time with just a few clicks.

Using your toothbrush with an app

It’s a bit weird to adapt to using your smartphone while you brush, but to get the most from this brush, you’ll need to connect the Oral B app.  With it you get a timer function and a mapping function.

Timer function
Using the timer function the brush and app will tell you if you’re brushing long enough.  While you’re using it, local weather, news stories, and photos of the day will come up on your cell phone screen to entertain you while you brush.When you’re done your dentist recommended two minute brushing time, the timer will signal you with a long stuttering sound and a flashing ring of light. If you have the professional timer set up, you’ll get a short stuttering sound and flashing of the smart ring light at 30 second intervals to tell you to move to the next quadrant of your mouth.

I also have to say I find it a struggle to brush for the required two minutes. Obviously I’ve been brushing my teeth for years for far less time than I should be, because when I make it the full allotted time, it feels like I’be been scrubbing my teeth forever!

oral b genius 8000 app whats in boxPosition Detection Function
Using the position detection feature is very eye-opening. You think you’re getting all the areas of your mouth but the app proves that you’re not, and then shows you where you need to focus more or less time.

To use it you need to mount your smartphone to the mirror in front of your brushing area, then position your face in a small circle so the app can ‘see’ your mouth and monitor your position. The app will then show you a graph that measures how well you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth.

Gameifying your brushing experience
The Oral B Genius is gameified; which should be fun for some folks. Once you’re finished doing the position detection technique, you’ll get a score. The app will encourage you to beat your score again next time. gameifying ordinary experiences is a neat and smart way to get you to think more about them and make them more purposeful.

Travelling with Genius 8000

The included travel case will charge both your toothbrush and your smart phone if you need it. Rather surprisingly, to give the case a full charge can take up to 12 hours, so make sure you get it juiced up well in advance.

The inside lid of the travel case has a built in smartphone holder which allows you to prop up your phone so the app can still see you brush.

Using the Oral B Genius 8000

Pressure control ring
One feature I found particularly helpful is the pressure control light up Ring. The light around the top of the toothbrush will turn red if you start brushing too hard. If you’re also using the app at the same time, it will also give you an on-screen message telling you the same. As someone Who consistently brushes too hard, I found this very helpful.

That light up ring also has several other features. When it’s white, the default color, it just tells you that it’s working and act as a visual timer. You can also choose your individual colour for the slight inside the app. A blue light indicates the brush is in Bluetooth pairing mode.

Vibration
The Oral B Genius 8000 uses strong vibrations and an oscillating brush head to clean your teeth. As Oral B explains is, “this highly advanced brush features a dentist-inspired round head that surrounds and cups each tooth with dynamic oscillating, rotating and pulsating movements to remove up to 100% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.”

Overall review – Can Oral B Genius 8000 deliver?

oral b genius 8000 app whats in boxAt first I found the brush very … aggressive.  The vibrations are quite strong. I also started out with the small round brush head, the CrossAction, which was significantly smaller than I’ve used before. between the new head, the vibrations, the size of the handle and adapting to using the app, I wasn’t sure if I liked the brush overall.  But after a few days I adapted, and started to notice me teeth actually felt… cleaner.  You know how when it’s almost time to visit the dentist, your teeth start to feel… less clean overall?  I was near that part of the dental cycle, but after two weeks with the brush I felt like I had just been to the dentist. I was impressed.

I didn’t need to recharge the brush during that whole time either, so I ended up putting the charging base away to de-clutter my bathroom. when it does need juice, I’ll just whip it out and leave it to re-charge for a few hours.

After testing, I really liked this brush; I feel like it cleans well, lasts a long time on a charge and will give me a clean even my dentist would approve of.

The brush handle starter kits sell for about $269CAD and replacement brushes are about $36 for a 3-pack, so buying and maintaining use of one of these is not without its costs. is it worth it… I’m going to keep using the brush for longer to see. if you’re curious, hit me up with a comment after a couple months and I’ll let you know.

There’s more info on the brush here.

Check out more in my series on smart dental technology – read about two brushes in the Philips series, the Platinum and the Diamond here.

Polaroid Zip review – mini photo printer

When was the last time you printed a photo? If you’re like most people, it’s been quite a while. Many of us take hundreds of photos every year, but very few of them get to escape the digital prison that is our smart phones.

There are now mini photo printers on the market. These pocket-sized photo printers are very portable and easy to use meaning it’s now very convenient to print photos.

Continue reading “Polaroid Zip review – mini photo printer”

Photo gear from Joby lets you go handsfree

With so many of us relying solely on our smartphones for the bulk of our photography, it’s too bad we don’t put much effort into making the shots truly great. While lighting, luck and skill are definitely part of getting a good photo, you can improve your snaps with a few key accessories. Joby is a large company that makes photo accessories and gear for DSLR cameras, and action video cameras like GoPro, but it’s also got some gadgets that can help you with the photos you take on your phone. Continue reading “Photo gear from Joby lets you go handsfree”

Polaroid SnapTouch camera & printer review

Since the world has become a fully digital place, no one prints photos any more. An array of small photo-specific printers on the market aims to change that habit by making printing easy and adding some fun elements to the experience.
The Polaroid SnapTouch camera and photo printer is one of those gadgets. (I’ve also reviewed the older generation Polaroid SocialMatic camera. Read that review here)

Small and compact, the SnapTouch looks cool and sleek right out of the box. It uses Polaroid’s Zink paper to spit out small 3”x2” prints. The backings are adhesive, so these tiny prints can also double as stickers.

Polaroid SnapTouch Camera + Video Specs

erinlyyc polaroid snaptouch camera printer
The SnapTouch has a very small internal memory.

The camera is a 13 megapixel camera. By comparison, the iPhone 6 has just 8 megapixels, so the photos should be pretty good. The SnapTouch also takes 1080p video and can store images and videos on a 128 GB Micro SD card (not included).

Unfortunately, neither the package, nor the Polaroid website tell you how much storage is on the camera without a micro SD card, so I snapped photos until it told me the internal hard drive was full – that’s a grand total of 15 photos. (And by the way, there’s no bulk delete feature I could find; each photo must be manually deleted, which was tedious)

Without that micro SD card you can record less that 30 seconds of video. The lens will also constantly refocus the image so it looks like it’s wavering as the autofocus constantly adjusts. I think it’s a terrible idea to have so little internal storage, but I guess that’s common with cameras, that you need to purchase additional memory. It would be nice if that’s spelled out on the package.

Set Up – Polaroid SnapTouch

Setting up the camera is reasonably simple. You’ll need Polaroid’s SnapTouch app to access some features but for the most part you can take photos and print them instantly right from the camera. You snap the picture, then hit the print button right on the back of the screen.

Things get a bit more complicated when you want to use the camera as a printer and send photos from your smartphone, but we’ll get to that…

Delayed image capture

It’s worth noting the photography is not fast here. There is a delay of about a second or two from the time you press the shutter button until the image is captured. While this will be frustrating but adaptable for adults, kids are bound to keep hitting the shutter button or moving the camera, not realizing image capture is already in progress.

The camera was going to sleep relatively quickly during my testing, but it can be woken up almost immediately by touching the shutter button lightly. I discovered soon after there is a setting in the menu that allows you to extend that screen timeout option up to 2 minutes.

Printing Options, Effects and Filters

polaroid snaptouch camera printer erinlyyc
You can add filters, but they’re a bit much

You can choose a variety of different colour borders that look like a vintage Polaroid camera frame when you want to print. While that original ‘Polaroid’ style photo paper no longer belongs to Polaroid (read why here) you can still print a faux Polaroid border with special effects.

If you don’t opt for that, these prints come out edge-to-edge.

There are also a variety of different effects and filters like Instagram, though they’re quite limited as far as choice goes, and honestly, they’re quite garish and extreme.

polaroid snaptouch camera printer erinlyycA touch screen on the back of the camera let you access photos, delete, edit them, share them, or print. There are also digital ‘stickers’ or emojis you can add to the photos. By touching the emoji or icon, you can drag it around the screen and place it on the photo wherever you want. That function worked easily enough, though the emojis are limited to a flower, a heart, lips, sunglasses and a smiley face, as you can see at right. You’re not exactly going to become Rembrandt here.

Print speed of the Polaroid SnapTouch camera

While it takes a second or two from the time you hit the print button for the process to begin, the printing of the image takes an awfully long time; almost 30 seconds. With that said, if you compare this Polaroid printer to a device like the Fujifilm Instax Share printer, the overall wait times might be quite similar.

The Polaroid printer takes about 30 seconds to spit out the print, but when it’s done, the print is fully ready and rendered in color. With the Instax Share, it may print the photo much faster, but you’ll still need to wait a minute or so for the image to develop on the paper.

erinlyyc polaroid snaptouch camera printer
A selection of printed photos from the SnapTouch camera

Printing from your smartphone to the camera

The SnapTouch camera gives you the option of sending photos from your smartphone or other device to the camera for instant printing.

Set up for this option is slightly different. You’ll need to connect the phone and the camera, and doing this is not intuitive, nor does the camera or app walk you through it.

There is nothing within the app which will tell you why your printer is not talking to your phone. Fortunately for me, I’ve dealt with enough of these devices that I know you need to go to your phone’s Settings menu, find the Bluetooth settings screen, then look for the Polaroid SnapTouch to appear in the Bluetooth list.

Click to connect it, and you should hear the device emit a tone that lets you know it is finally connected. Return to the app and you should see confirmation of that fact. From there you can select the photo you’d like to print.

erinlyyc polaroid snaptouch camera printer
Photo printed from iPhone 6 to the SnapTouch printer. The print is much darker than the original.

Constant reconnection to Bluetooth

It’s worth taking note that each time the camera powers off, it loses the connection to Bluetooth, and each time you need to reconnect via your smartphone’s settings menu.  That was annoying, but not an uncommon problem in other similar printers I’ve been testing, like the Fujifilm Instax Share SP2 printer. (Read that review to see which of these photo printers comes out on top.)

When picking a photo from the camera roll, I noticed the Polaroid app frequently zooms in the photos by quite a bit. The app asks you to pinch to adjust the zoom, but it won’t actually let you do it.  Weird.

Finicky Printing

Every time I tried to print from my phone, the SnapTouch did that weird zoom thing. Finally, I found that by adjusting the orientation of the film on the camera screen I could disable the zoom effect. By the time I’d reverted the photo from upside down back to right side up, it had snapped back to normal size without the zoom. Also weird.

Sometimes I would connect to the SnapTouch in order to print, select the photo I wanted, and then click print, but nothing would happen. I would get an error message in the app telling me the printer was busy, but nothing would print out, and nothing else would happen. No error messages, no warnings, no indication if the SnapTouch was out of paper… nothing.

Turning the camera off and then turning it back on again seemed to deal with the worst of this trouble, but of course then you need to re-connect to Bluetooth.

SnapTouch Print Speed from smartphone

It takes the Polaroid SnapTouch about 6 seconds, and even up to 10 seconds on some attempts from the time you hit the print button in the app, until your photo begins printing from a smartphone (in my tests and iPhone 6 plus). Once you get used to this it’s OK I guess, but the first few times, you’ll have no idea the photo was actually about to print so you think you should start over, or keep hitting print. Sometimes it omes out eventually, other times, nothing happened, and maybe I confused its little circuits.

I found many things on this camera were slow; from the image capture, to printing being initiated. It made the camera feel quite old, clunky, and outdated.

No fun effects when connected to your smartphone

One final note on printing from your smartphone; filters and borders will not work on photos that are printed from your smart phone. (If they do, I couldn’t figure it out, and there seemed to be no easy explanation found on the Polaroid website.) In order for this effect to work, you must snap the photo using the camera.

Polaroid SnapTouch photo quality

polaroid snaptouch camera printer erinlyyc
A look at the same digital photo as seen on iPhone 6, the SnapTouch camera screen, and the SnapTouch print.

I was really, really unhappy with the photo quality of the Polaroid prints. The colours were not accurate, the prints more often than not looked washed out, and on many of the photos I printed, I was left with odd lines across the print. For a 13 mp camera, what was coming out the back didn’t seem right. Comparing it to my 8mp iPhone camera and viewing those on my iPhone screen, the Polaroid SnapTouch looks and feels like a toy by comparison.

Overall impressions of the SnapTouch camera

I would absolutely not buy this camera for myself.  I didn’t like the photo quality because the Zink paper seemed washed out and it didn’t provide true colour in my opinion. For the price (+$200) I think you could do much better.  Polaroid snap touch printer camera erinlyyc

Set up and operation is not intuitive on this device when pairing it with a smartphone. Yes, you can figure it out but it wasn’t easy. Plus the fact that none of the much touted special effects or filters can be added to the photos when printed from a smart phone is a big oversight. Those are only available on photos taken using this SnapTouch camera.

The camera overall feels like a toy, and maybe that’s all it needs to be, but I think this device would be frustrating for kids and tweens too because of the slowness of its operations. Plus, I think it should be spelled out on the package that you need a Micro SD card, and that one is not included.

While I loved the idea of this gadget, it just doesn’t have the quality and versatility I look for in a device. I don’t feel it performed well as either a camera or a photo printer. And the bottom line for me is that many of the photos I printed, from both the iPhone and the camera are such low quality, in some cases, they’re not worth having. You can also get

The Polaroid Snaptouch Camera and Printer sells at Best Buy for $239CAD.

You can also get more info from Polaroid’s website.

Ventev Mobile accessories & charging gadgets come to Canada

There’s a new provider of mobile and wireless accessories like cables, power banks and charging gadgets. Ventev, a US-based maker of gadgetry and smartphone gear, has arrived in Canada.

I recently had a chance to try out some of the gear, and was very impressed with its durability, sleek styling, simple design and versatility. Continue reading “Ventev Mobile accessories & charging gadgets come to Canada”