Saturday 26 October 2013

Let the music play! Review : JABRA Sports Wireless+

No too long ago, the good people at Jabra Malaysia has asked me to review one of their latest Bluetooth wireless sports earphones. Of course I was excited about it; especially when it came to gadgets. I was loaned one set to be tested and generally I was quite pleased with the results.

This review is going to be general and it  at least covers on general usage like using it during workouts and other normal day usage.

The day when I received the package,I was pretty excited. Basically because I was eager to try it with my new tablet/phone(or what most refer to as a phablet). Yes,the big chunky thing of a phone that some of you are still laughing about. Long story short; had to get this since previous phone decided to take a"swim"during the last Great Eastern Live Great Run.

Let's cut to the chase and see the unboxing.

The Unboxing

The Jabra Sport Wireless+ comes in this lovely hard box; featuring Ironman Champion Craig Alexander. Now if you have Crowie endorsing this product, you know this is some tough, durable device. More on that later on. And no, you won't be like Crowie after wearing this. You still need hard work to train to be a top triathlete. At least it's not Justin (Beaver) endorsing it. That would be a HUGE turn off.


On the side of the box, it quickly states the features of the device (as you can read above) and the it's contents.

Opening the box reveals a message from Crowie himself. Listen to the man. PERFORMANCE.

The moment I read rain, dust, shock protection, performance ; it's sorta like telling me "Andrew, this is SERIOUSLY for you".

Well, I'm very accident prone. I always have a tendency to abuse my electronic devices or even lose it. Getting things wet is another. Recall my wet phone story?

What's Inside?

Inside the box reveals the sexy looking ear piece. Also in it is a 3 month Endomondo Premium access. Not going to elaborate much on this but I personally use Endomondo for tracking my cycling activities and it's wonderful. Endomondo also allows you to connect with the Polar Bluetooth Wearlink to track your heart rate. This exist for the free version and the premium version would have a more elaborated summary including HR Sports Zone.

Included in the box as well are the accessories to compliment the device. A quick start guide book, and armband, Micro USB cable (not pictured) and a set of 7 pieces of ear gels are included. The ear gels (or ear buds) are customizable to fit your ears; there is bound to be one that fits you! This is definitely a plus point as we would want a fit that fits perfectly for us. With that said, the down side is that too. Once you have to many to choose from, you start to contradict.  Nonetheless, I found my perfect fit. I chose the one that directly transfer the sound to the ear canal; similarly like the IRONMAN Yurbuds that I'm using. 

A Closer Look.

The first moment you touch and feel this Jabra unit, you will notice it's durable and robust build. It's certified weather and shock proof by US Military standards. I've abused my unit quite a bit from all the running. Sweat is definitely not an issue and can be just easily wipe clean with a cloth after use. However, do bear in mind that this is NOT waterproof; so please don't go swimming with it. ;)

Don't just take my word for it. Here is a video to get you convinced.

The device uses a ear lock-in system that doesn't fall out. It hugs snugly behind the ear for a comfort yet sturdy fit.

The overall outlook is simple and has quite a minimalist approach. Buttons are easy to access and you don't need to be a genius to operate it. On both sides of the device are the Omni-directional microphone. This is to ensure that it picks up your voice during voice calls and reduces the environmental sound to a minimal. Next to the microphone is the PLAY button that functions as an ON/OFF & Play Button.

On the right ear piece, there are 3 buttons. 2 mainly for volume and the FM  button is to listen to the radio. The Volume buttons speaks for themselves but it also doubles as a track skip on a long press. The FM function is quite a miss. I wasn't able to receive any radio stations even if I tried it at different locations. It's mostly a hit or miss thing as it randomly seeks a radio frequency. The most I got was some station speaking some gibberish I couldn't understand. Alien frequency perhaps?

Above the volume button is a small LED light indicator to indicate charging, battery life and charging.

There are no buttons or functions on the left ear piece.

The next highlight is the connecting cables between the ear pieces. It utilizes a thin nano cable that won't tangle and can be adjusted with a provided adjuster for an optimum fit. Be sure not to tightened it too tight as it will pop open the adjuster.

Charging the device is a breeze! It utilizes a Micro USB port (which is very common in current Android devices). I'm glad that it doesn't use a proprietary charger cause usually those things cause a massive headache when travelling. A Full charge takes approximately 2 hours and it would last up to 4.5 hours of talk time, 4 hours of music and 5 days of standby time. This is pretty much accurate during my usage. I'm able to manage a whole movie that would last at about 3-4 hours which I would say it's fair.

The Wear-ability and Fit. 

Wearing the ear pieces is easy. It's pretty similar to the Sony W-Series Walkman I have been using for years minus the rigid connecting band in between. The fit is pretty much perfect and not too tight into the ear canal. I've let a few of my lady friends try it and the results vary. If you have smaller ears, the grip may not be as optimal but easily solved with a different ear gel or adjusting the cable in between. Be patient as it may take some getting use to at the beginning.

Once the fitting is correctly done, you still should be able to hear the environment around you. This is not a noise cancelling device so you won't find the ear gels too tightly sealed into the ear canal. This is only fair and safe for workout outdoors. You need to be aware of traffic around you as well, right?

Use the adjuster to adjust the tightness behind your ears. This to ensure you have a more optimal fit and it wouldn't wobble around when working out.

Pretty simple, right? :)


Connection to any Bluetooth devices is simple as long the device supports BT3.0 onwards. In my case, I've used my smartphone (BT 3.0) and phablet (BT 4.0). Connection is easily established (a bit more quicker with BT 4.0). In case you are clueless on this, worry not. The device actually has a special lovely lady's VOICE OVER feature that will explain to you each step of the way. This is excellent for those who are lazy to read through the guide book (like me). It will also speak out commands for every button that you've pressed like ON/OFF, Play and etc. This pretty much mimics the pre-Siri Apple days of the Ipod Shuffles; minus of course the horrendous robotic voice.

The REAL Test (How does it REALLY Sound?)

Close, long time friends would know I'm quite a music lover. In my days, I had a fair share of Walkmans, Discmans and MP3 players. One would agree that I had loads of earphones and headphones to compare sound quality with. Although I ain't a professional audiophile but I could still tell what a good sounding earphones are like.

The first try is always dance music with loads of deep bass. Although I'm initially excited of it's advertised "Powerful Bass" feature; sadly I was underwhelmed by it's performance in this department. I wouldn't say it was bad either but the driver could had pushed a bit more rather than sounding a bit flat.

However it worked well with acoustics. Any song played with mid bass like RnB, Jazz, Pop (or music of that sort) fared better. Voices could be heard clearly and has a subtle bass lingering.

Justin Timberlake sounds good and sharp as long as you don't crank the volume to the max. Doing so would distort the sound higher notes and it's seriously bad for the ears.

Watching movies is equally awesome especially it involves a lot of talking. I've watched a few long episodes of IRONMAN TV when I was on my treadmill workout days and voice overs could be heard clearly without sounding too like a "deep voice radio DJ". Thumbs up on this! :)

As for voice calls, it's pretty much do what it says it do. However, periodically it would sometime have some interruption like the recipient not able to hear your voice or disconnecting. Something that could be solved by just reconnecting the Bluetooth device again. Sound clarity is good but could be better.

The Conclusion

The JABRA Sports Wireless+ is definitely something worth thinking about especially for rugged use and sports enthusiast like many of us. Despite it's shortcomings on the bass performance, it's won't deter you from looking away. It makes up in it's finishing, durability and performance. The sound performance is good to keep you motivated in your workouts. Definitely worth the consideration if you are looking for something that gives you more freedom in your workouts.

The JABRA Sports Wireless+ is available at all Authorized Jabra Malaysia Resellers. and retails at RM499.

Note : Jabra Malaysia has loaned this unit to me for a month to review.

Good News Everyone! (2XU Compression Run Malaysia 2013 Participants)

If you had signed up for the upcoming 2XU Compression Run Malaysia 2013, you should had received a special offer from Jabra Malaysia to purchase this lovely babies for a special price of RM350! Follow the instructions on the email and confirmation of transaction shall be sent to you once firmed. Participants with successful paid transactions for item would be able to collect the during the race pack collection. Don't miss it out!

Tuesday 15 October 2013

SCKLM 2013 : Race Report. The Blood, Sweat & Tears Marathon

The Finisher medal for SCKLM 2013
Wow! It has been 2 weeks already. I'm still in the midst of getting out from my 20 day post-marathon blues (in a way) but still manage to throw in a few recover runs along the way. I had my moody days but generally it was all great.

And now the recap.

KL Marathon or Standard Chartered KL Marathon is finally back this year with a (delayed) bang. Since registering early this year, I had a good 6 months to train ahead till June. That was of course the haze took place and the marathon was postponed to end September.
It was like a blessing in disguise as I was still recovering from my viral fever that I contracted 2 weeks before the race. Albeit recovering in time, I still felt quite weak to actually push on and was pretty doubtful of my Sub-5 goal. Nonetheless, I still planned to brave it on and go ahead irregardless.

Then of course the postponement came and I had another good 3 months to train. (Yippie!)
Since then, I had to re-tweaked all my training plans (with the help of ACTraining) and put on a little more effort on my weekend LSDs and weekday short runs. Looking back at all the trainings now, it looked freaking-ishly scary considering I’ve never trained this hard for just one race and my last FM was a good 15 months back.

But with all that said, I did enjoy all the trainings and I’ve discovered many things along this journey.


Fooling around when we checked in.
The eve of race day and as per standard ritual of mine, I’ve checked into BackHome. This time round Kenny, Manson, Julie, Sharon, Cheryl and Chew tagged along. Had a few good hours of sleep (I actually did go into dream state) and was awake by around 2.30am. Sharon was the first one to be up and followed by Julie and me. I quickly did my business, changed and was trying mentally to be prepared. We joked around and I kept reminding myself that I needed to chill instead of being so serious. As we walked towards the race site, we bumped into Shariff (SG Bladerunner), Mohan Marathon & many other Singaporeans along the way. They came in full force! I joked with Mohan that I didn’t want to see him during the race cause I’m very afraid of hearing his whistle. I said the same thing to Kelvin (who is the official 5:30 pacer) earlier a few days about his “loudspeaker / La-Pa” charismatic voice. We shared a few laughs, took a few pictures and head towards the pens.

With GCAM gang and others
With Ironman/Ultra experts Dr.Yap & Yim
I quickly took a few photos with whoever I’m able to meet along the way. I tried to find a quiet corner to get into the “zone” but it was crowded. I started to jog around to get myself warmed up and not soon later the pens were opened....

It just felt warm inside but I wasn’t too bothered. I was already sweating as I made my way closer to the front. Another few quick hellos and photos with whomever I’m bumped into; most recognizably are the GCAM group who were grouped together; ever ready.
The emcees kept everyone in check as they began the countdown. I turned on the GPS on my camera, set my HR monitor on standby and closed my eyes as I hear the countdown.

This is it...

Whatever it is, it’s going to happened.

I quietly said a prayer, heard the gun, opened my eyes and slowly made my way to the start line.

Boom! Off I go! Photo courtesy of SCKLM

The first 2kms I’ve withheld back my pace. Edan advised me a few days ago that the first 2km I should consider it as a “warm up” and let everyone pass me. As strange as it sounds, I’ve never let that happened in my previous races cause I’m too kiasu! Anyhow I did and started to cringe as a few regulars started over taking me.

“Be patient!” I kept reminding myself.

I’ve written a time band on my arms earlier on to keep myself in check. I’ve never done this before and it has sure helped me tremendously on this race. The first 2ks has past and I’ve picked up the pace a little.

5K – a little behind.

10K – gained a minute.

I started smiling as I suddenly found a surge of effortless strength coming through my body. I went a little faster than expected but not too fast that I will burned out later. I didn't want to repeat my Sundown mistake where I crashed too early.

20K – gained 2 minutes.

21K – gained 3 minutes!

I was definitely getting high at this point. A quick Hi to Jotphal as he was waiting for his turn for the Ekiden race. Bumped into Don (from our ACTraing group who was volenteering) and a quick wave.

I was feeling great but kept reminding myself that I still need to be conservative on my pace. At some points of the route I try to gain some speed coming down some elevation. So far so good.


“Brace yourself, Andrew”. I kept muttering to myself after passing KL Tower.

“Don’t let it happen.”

For the past 2 SCKLM, I started to feel some cramps at this point.

“Just don’t think about it. Just smile and be cheerful. Say hi to the volunteers. Say Hi to strangers”.

Of course I did get a few calls from a few leftover party goers passing by Beach Club. I just reply with a few hoots of “Woots!”. The runner next to me thought I’m insane as he stared at me like a lunatic. I smiled back and overtook him. I was already too in the zone to be bothered.

I kept saying Hi to everyone I met; whether I knew them or not. But I guess in the running world, everyone is your friend or family. We pushed each other on.

Before I knew it, I was already back at Jalan Tun Razak, passing Instana Budaya.

No cramps yet.

Bloody Fantastic!


I did tell Jolene before that this was the part I felt down the most; especially all the honking from Bulatan Pahang, all way to 35K mark of Bulatan Jalan Duta. Her advise was that I don’t even think about it and never ever set whatever point that you might think you will “crumble”. Just look forward and run. Just enjoy the experience.


Music went dead. Oh no!

No more uplifting music to keep me company and the uncle in the taxi kept honking beside me. I looked at him, smiled and gave him thumbs up. I didn’t know why I did that. It just came out naturally. Awkwardly enough, he stopped. Either he thinks I’m crazy or maybe reverse psychology does work.

I kept humming songs in my head. At times, I prayed. I kept repeating Phil 3:14 from time to time. And suddenly everything just went ................. quiet.

Surprisingly there was a calm still along Jalan Ipoh after Sentul. It was just peaceful.
Amazed as I continued on. I still felt good as another few regulars (namely kahwai, Ashe and Alvin) overtooked me and encouraged me to push on. I just feel so encouraged as they pushed me on. Ashe paced with me for a little just after Taman Rainbow.


30K – no buffer time. On the dot.

Every seasoned marathon runner will tell you the real race starts from this point onwards. It’s going to be a mental challenge from here on.

Honestly, I still felt good. I kept myself hydrated and kept my body cool by pouring water on myself at every water station available. (Thanks to all the volunteers. You guys were tremendous!)

I realised that my pace started to slow down and picked it up wherever possible. Mentally I felt good and felt very positive.

I still smiled whenever possible.


35K – Dammit. Stupid cramps!

I started to feel some tingling at 34K but I ignored it and tried to think of some happy thoughts. But then it happened as the elevation towards Bulatan Jalan Duta proved to be too much.

From afar I already saw the Rasid (the Golden Boy) already walking and holding on to his legs. Then my cramp happened. WITHOUT ANY WARNING.

I just stopped for the first time in the race and looked down at my legs. There was a pull on the back of my left thigh and the front of my right quads. I thought to myself that I have to convince myself to not let it cramp any further to a much bigger, painful cramp. I scuttle along as Frank tap me on my back and told me to move on.

There was a TPRC van nearby and I was hoping for some muscle spray. I shouted from afar asking for help and the lady apologetically looked at me and told me that she didn’t have spray. I thanked her and moved on. The cramp is lingering around but I was prepared to fight it back. I wasn’t going to let it win. NOT this round.


36K corner – Salvation.

Salvation at 36! Photo courtesy of Kelvin.
As I turned into Jalan Bukit Tunku, a couple was cheering me on. The lady made a remark on my bright coloured outfit.

“Outstanding colour! Good job!”

I said thanks and a thumbs up.

And a water station with spray!

I quickly scuttled to the station and the back of my right arm started to cramp as well.

“C’mon!” I shouted. “You gotta be kidding me”. My arm was about to seize.

The kind volunteer started to spray me and I grabbed another one (I don’t even remember from where. Did I snatch it from someone?) to spray on my shoulders. As if a miracle had happened, the cooling effect started to take effect and the cramps slowly subsided. I managed into slow run and started to smile uncontrollably! I even let out a few chuckles along the way.

Noticing the unofficial (yet the most happening) water stations of the LYNN Runners and June Malik’s FMV; I was so delighted that I took out my camera and started to snap pictures. Did I mention that I’ve not taken a single shot since the race started.

I saw a few regulars at LYNN as they cheered me on. I was so happy that I’ve forgotten my pain.

I saw June from afar and thanked her and her team for being there for us. She drove all the way from Johor! I quickly downed a cup of Coke (Oh...Coke never tasted so good) and went on my way.


6KM to go on “training route”.

I do not know how many times me and the regulars have been training on Jalan Bukit Tunku. So much so that we know every nooks and corners of the entire stretch. The cramps hit again; albeit now as bad as before but it was good enough to slow me down. A quick glance at my pace and I knew I was going to over shoot my target time and I wasn’t sure how much I’m gonna over shoot. At this point of time I just told myself that I would just need to finish the race; even if I had to crawl on my hands and knees. Bumped in to Nick several times, as we kept pushing each other till 40K mark and he decided to push on.


The finishing.

I dunno why I suddenly broke into this pose.
Photo courtesy of

2KM more to go.

I was shouting out ramblings randomly. It was just to push myself through (at the same time to scare away “walkers”). The road isn’t as crowded yet and I kept my manoeuvring to a minimal. I kept my eyes open for my ACTraining gang with the orange balloons just before the finishing. With 200M to go, I saw them. I gave them a nod of acknowledgement, shouted a few “Woots” and dashed to the finishing. I didn’t even bother to look at the time until I saw the big giant timer as I crossed the finishing.

The only selfie I have of myself just after crossing the finishing line.

I smiled and told myself “Well done”.


The “Smack in your face” feeling.

"The crying game". 
I was still pretty jovial when I went to collect my goodie bag, medal and finisher-T. I met a few of the guys and chatted for a while. I met Cheryl along the way and I told her “9 minutes over. Sigh....” But she still congratulated me as we walked towards where the ACTraining Group were.
Then it suddenly dawn at me. Right smack into my face was the reality of what had just happened.

All this while, I’ve always aimed for a 4:30 FM; but in actual fact that was just a guide for me. What I really wanted was really a Sub-5.

“Oh Shoot..... I just did a Sub-5........ Oh dear Lord, I just did a Sub-5”. The thought just kept repeating in my head. And I started counting and tabulating the mathematics as I walked.
“ 21 , 22, 25, 26, 27, 28....Hmmm.... 28 minutes........” I stopped momentarily and started thinking really hard. It came to me that I find it hard to absorb this feeling. 28 minutes was what I slashed from my last FM timing. That is HUGE!

Before I knew it, a few of the ACTraining kakis came running towards me and started congratulating me. Then out of no where I said, “I think I’m going to cry now.....” and I just covered my face; sobbing.

I couldn’t remember who was there around me but judging from the photos, I think Colin was there to hug me and Ashe, Lynn, Omar, Edan and several others was cheering on. And I heard alot of cameras clicking!

Oh lovely. It’s quite rarely I get this emotional but I guess it’s finally good to let it all out. Indeed all the hard trainings had paid off.

Alas I told the guys that this isn’t over yet. I need to shave the 9 minutes!

With my awesome ACTraining gang.

In a nutshell (about SCKLM)

1. Excellent organization, everything was so well thought out. Thumbs up again to Dirigo and all the parties involved.
2. Ample water stations. Seriously a lot. Loving it.
3. Complimentary gels were well prepared and ever ready standby before we reached.
4. All the volunteers were excellent (extending out to the arm forces as well). I really wanted to shake every one of your hands that day if I could. Besides being physically there so early in the morning (and so many hours); it was your unspoken heartfelt hardwork that was really beyond words. If you think we runners are the "stars of the show"; we really don't deserve it. You guys were the "LIFE SOURCE" of this whole experience.

Cons :
Seriously none lar. I got nothing bad to say but if I need to pin point, it's the last 2K of walkers we have to manevour around every year. But by far this year, it's really well managed.

The conclusion (or the beginning...?)

Now that SCKLM is over, it has indeed paved many new challenges for me in the future. Many races are coming up but I need to be selective in what I do next. Many encouraged that I should take up Ultra Marathons instead! I laughed and replied "In the pipeline". It took me almost 3 years to convince myself to do my first "Fool-marathon"; imagine how long it's gonna for me to be mentally prepared for Ultra.

Anyways, there is no rush. Cause I know no matter what; you guys will always be there to welcome me on the road. :)

Last but not least, I will like to thank to Coach Edan and Jolene for guiding me throughout this journey. Not forgetting to all me pals at ACTraining and the companionship during our long (often odd hours) morning/night runs. I'm sure there are many more to come! 
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