Stately

Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

The Eargo Neo - First Impressions

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


We've been hearing (pardon the pun) a lot of buzz about the Eargo Neo. As a hearing aid wearer, I've always been interested in new technology. Since this device has a 45-day return period* I figured I didn't have a lot to lose by giving them a try.

Warning: This is going to be long because I have a lot of background to share. I researched like crazy (as is usual for me) before I made the purchase.

This is a Class 1 FDA-Approved hearing device for mild to moderate hearing loss. This means it can be legally called a hearing aid, unlike the myriad of amplifiers and boosters on the market. The difference is that anyone can order a pair without going through an audiologist. Yep, there are pros and cons to that, and I'll go over those later on.

I ordered a pair off of Amazon (fulfilled by Eargo) and sprung for two-day shipping. They arrived overnight! Joy! Well, almost. I spent the better part of the day stalking tracking the UPS delivery because these require a signature. They finally showed up at 7:30 yesterday evening.

This is the basic equipment:

Eargo1.jpg

That little round box is for storage and charging, just like Air Pods. It also has a Bluetooth chip inside to connect to the phone. The app is fairly basic, but it will allow you to change the program without whacking your ear (more on that in a bit) and will allow their on-staff hearing professionals to send updates through your phone to the devices. 

Also in the box are a USB-C cable and charger, a Quick Start Guide, a microfiber cloth, a cleaning brush, regular and large sized Flexi Palms, and an earwax guard dispenser.

Sadly, there is no Bluetooth streaming, but that's not a common feature on such small devices. How small are they? Here is one next to a quarter for size reference:

Eargo2.jpg

That's fine and dandy, but how does it compare to a regular behind the ear model? Let's take a look:

Eargo3.jpg

Dang, that's small. Of course, hearing aids that fit in the ear canal are getting really tiny, but this was still cool to see.

That "pinecone" thing on the end is called a Flexi Palm. It's made of silicone and is fairly comfortable. They ship fitted with the medium size, but there are larger ones in the box. This allows for an open fit while providing more support for high range hearing assistance. From what I've read, it's not really good for people with more than minimal low-range hearing loss. Most age-related loss is in the high frequencies.

So, how are they working out? Pairing has been an utter failure. The first try produced a serial number mismatch error. I gave it an hour and tried again, and that time the app couldn't even find the charger. Oh, yes, I tried the usual stuff, so I used the app to contact customer support.

They promise a welcome e-mail and phone call, but I figured those would come today. They never arrived, so I initiated a chat when their bot came online. Their bot had a human call me. I think I had the call in ten or 15 minutes. She went through the troubleshooting steps and said she was going to have someone else call me. About ten minutes later the second person called and we went through the steps again. I think that first call was my welcome call, now that I look back on it. Oops. Anyway, after the second call they arranged an appointment for an app specialist to call and go through more troubleshooting steps. 

The call came through at the appointed time, and we got through all the steps and she said it was likely a bad Bluetooth chip. They're sending a new one along with pre-paid return packaging.

As part of the welcome call, the licensed hearing professional is supposed to talk about your hearing needs and make any any initial adjustments. Mine is supposed to be following up later this afternoon, but since she can't make any adjustments they've extended my return period by two weeks.

Then my daily spam report arrived and I discovered several emails from Eargo stuck in my spam filter. They'd started emailing me this morning right about the time I contacted them. Well, that's embarrassing. I didn't think about that because the reply to the email I sent to support last night asking about the charger had come right through. Go figure.

So, how do they work? Well, for the first day, I'm mildly impressed. Voices sound a bit tinny to me, but they can work on that, but it won't be until after the new charger arrives. I did pretty well with the TV last night and I wore them while I did my morning errands. Adjustments will be needed, but right out of the box they ain't bad.

The devices have four programs. I've read that the second two do more noise reduction. I'll be anxious to check that out. Noisy settings have been the bane of my hearing aid experience, and a big reason I wanted to try these. In order to change the program I have to tap on the outside of my ear. This means if you see me whacking myself on the side of the head, it's probably not anything to be concerned about. I'm just adjusting my Eargos. As I said above, the programs can also be changed from the app. Also, the program in each ear can be changed independently. 

At this point you may be asking how they determine what adjustments to make. I kinda wondered if they just didn't roll a D20 and see what came up, but there's more science involved. The devices collect data about what's going on around me. I don't think they're actually recording what's going on. They're too small for that. But that data gets stored in the charger when the hearing aids are docked, and that data can be sent to Eargo. The hearing professionals can analyze and make adjustments based on what they see in the data and from reports from the customer.

At least that's how I think it works. I plan to get more details during my next call. Y'all know me, I'm enough of a geek that I have to know how these things work.

So far the customer service has been excellent, and the reps have been a joy to work with. This company has a bit of an attitude when it comes to dealing with hearing loss and pitching their product. It's a bit snarky, and that's okay. I'm a snarky person, and it's a bit of a fresh attitude. There's a sense of humor, and it shows when dealing with their reps, too.

There are a couple of things to be aware of if you're interested. First, you can order directly from Eargo and get free shipping, or you can order from Amazon and pay an extra $25. They also offer a free, non-working trial pair so you can test the fit.

So, what are the downsides? One possible downside is the price. The Neo is $2,750, but there's a $200 off deal going on right now, and that's also available on Amazon. That's still less than a lot of hearing aids on the market, but more expensive than the low-end models from say, Costco. While it's my understanding that their licensed hearing professionals are audiologists, you're not going to get the same in-depth service you would get at an office. They certainly can't look in your ears with an otoscope and see if they're clogged with earwax. The other downside is that some of their accessories ain't cheap. Don't lose your charger! The warranty is one year.  You'll do better on that front with hearing aids from an audiologist. Like most of the ones you buy from an audiologist, you do get free lifetime support. 

Eargo has two other, somewhat less expensive models, and I suggest you check them out. I went for the Neo partly because of the technology (the noise reduction in particular), but also due to the size. If I'm going to get an in-canal device, I might as well get one that's tiny.

Am I going to keep them? Well, I have several killer tests planned over the next month or so. There will be crowded restaurants, my bowling league, and FenCon next month. I'll be really impressed if I can hear better in those situations. The acid test, of course, will be how well I hear my husband. I hear all the low frequencies, but not the higher ones, and it sounds to me like he's mumbling. We shall see - or more accurately, hear - what happens.

And finally, the standard disclaimer. I purchased these and receive no compensation from Eargo. This is how I roll. If I haven't purchased any item I review, then I've probably borrowed it from a friend. This site takes no advertising. But if you want to throw a couple of bucks my way, I won't complain. There's a link!

*A restocking fee applies, but apparently not through Amazon. But you do pay for shipping on Amazon.

Filed under: Hearing   Eargo         
8/16/2019 2:12:27 PM
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Friday Is For Felines

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


It's a cool enough day today (a rarity in the Texas summer), that I opened the blast curtain to the patio door and let the cats enjoy the day.

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They've both been sunning and playing there all morning.

These kitties are growing. If you follow me on Facebook, you can track their progress. (Oh, and if you friend me there, do me a favor and comment here so I know who you are. I've had some rather spammy friend requests lately.)

And yes, it's a blast curtain. our patio faces south and gets the brunt of the afternoon sun. We purchased a curtain that blocks light and has some insulation, and it seems to have made a difference in the temperature of the room. I have similar curtains on the north window, but I don't deploy them unless it's really hot or cold because that window is in the shade and has a bamboo shade that stays down for most of the time. That does a pretty good job of regulating the temperature in that part of the room.

It's Friday, and I'm catching up with laundry and working in the studio, sewing out some patches for a friend and doing some more organization. The latter task is a never-ending job. Seems every time I get it approaching organized, I tear the place apart looking for something. Part of today's job is going to be labeling bins. They're clear, but I still have to take them down off the shelf to see what's in them. My biggest problem is that I keep forgetting about the bin full of fascinator hat bases, and then I go make more bases for more hats. I really ought to work though my stock first!

Enjoy your weekend! 

Filed under: Cats   Pictures         
7/26/2019 11:06:59 AM
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Paul Revere House

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett



My Dearest Abigail,

By now you have word of the Battle Of Logan Airport. Truthfully told, it was more of a skirmish. We picked the redcoats off one by one as they emerged from the passenger concourse, after which we retired to the airport bar for drinks. I fear all battles will not be that brief. Our only injury was when the fife player tripped on the baggage carousel. We are indeed fortunate, as is if he had he played "Yankee Doodle" one more time, our commander would have placed the fife somewhere not entirely dandy, if understand my meaning. Give my regards to the children, and you will always have my love.

Yours,
Robert

For more odds and ends, check out the Nostalgia area!


Filed under: Nostalgia            
7/9/2019 3:47:56 PM
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It's The Big SoonerCon Round Up Post! (Kermit Flail!)

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


We had a great time at SoonerCon this year. But of course. 

The con moved to the Embassy Suites in Norman this year. It was a closer drive for us. No fighting Friday afternoon rush hour in OKC. (It's like Dallas and Austin Friday rush hours, in that it just goes on all day.) Of course, some people probably had a worse drive compared to before. I'd been at that hotel several years ago for a con, and liked it. It's showing its age a bit now and looks ready for a major refresh. (More on that in a bit.) But it's still a good venue for this type of event.

Since Paul was taking K-9 this year, we decided to rent a minivan. That was nice, even though it was a bit of a behemoth compared to our C-Max.

We arrived early Friday afternoon and the hotel had rooms ready for us. Yay! We got moved in, and I set up in the Art Show and got all the gear ready for the 4:00 Wearable Electronics panel. 

Saturday was busy indeed. Paul was off showing K-9 for most of the day, and I had three panels plus the radio show. (Of course, Paul was also involved in the radio show.) Technically, I think we did a much better job on the show this year, but I've realized that I need to go back and open the show with a brief explanation of what we're doing. SoonerCon has grown so much that a good deal of the crowd is new to what we do. I'll keep that in mind for next year. 

Sunday morning was a Kaffeeklatch and then in the afternoon I had a buckram blocking workshop. We had 10 of the 11 slots full, and I think everyone enjoyed it, even if it was a tad messy. 

The one problem with this facility isn't the con's fault. There are a LOT of airwalls in that place, and I was having trouble hearing people. Also, the battery on my right hearing aid didn't get all the way in on Saturday, and it was only half working. Grr. I think I'm going to ask the audiologist if there's anything they can do go program in a setting that will help. I suspect this will be a problem at FenCon as well. 

I also discovered that my foot isn't healed as well as I thought it was (for those who don't follow me on Facebook, I had an altercation with the credenza in my office a couple of months ago). I'm trying to stay off of it as much as possible for the next couple of days to promote healing.

All in all, SoonerCon was a blast. It's nice to get away to a con that I'm not running, and it's nice to be appreciated for the things that I do.

Major thanks to everyone who helped put on this event. I know how hard it is. Now go get some rest.

Filed under: Conventions            
6/11/2019 11:57:14 AM
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Some Kittens Have Names!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Two kittens, in Amazon boxes:

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Amazing what Amazon delivers.

So, some kittens have names. We've named the Aby Daenerys and the tortie Arya. 

Arya was pretty evident. She's a fierce little kitten with claws like needles. And she buries her business in the box like she buries her enemies.

Dany is apparently the Mother Of Mousies. We've never seen a kitten get so attached to a catnip mouse before.

More kitten shenanigans coming. But of course.

Filed under: Cats   Pictures         
4/16/2019 4:54:09 PM
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Say Hello To The Newest Kitten!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Finally, the Abyssinian has arrived!
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Isn't she a cutie?

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Of course, the first thing she did was find a high perch. What do you expect from an Abyssinian?

More later, including kitten names!

Filed under: Pictures   Cats         
4/16/2019 4:44:11 PM
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Meet The Kitten

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


You knew we couldn't be without cat for long. Meet the new kitten!

tortie1.jpg

She's a muted tortoiseshell, and if you know us with cats, you know we don't have a name yet. We're kind of waiting on her to tell us. Names usually become apparent to us at some point.

Have some more kitten pictures!

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tortie3.jpg

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That's probably enough cuteness overload for now. As always, check out the Facebook page for cat pictures and other things going on at Stately Barrett Manor.



Filed under: Cats   Pictures         
3/30/2019 3:08:51 PM
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Signs Of Spring

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


It's cold, but here are a couple of pictures to warm you up!

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Something is blooming in the front yard, and it looks like it might have survived a couple of nights of frigid temperatures. It's been in the lower 20s here the last couple of nights.

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Shadow on the fence.

Now I'm going to warm up so I can leave the house again. I have stuff to do!

Filed under: Pictures            
3/5/2019 11:52:40 AM
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Another Nostalgia Section Update!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Post Cards from Maryland and the Washington, D. C. area.


We lived there for a bit when I was younger. I'm glad we had the opportunity to visit Washington.

You'll find links to these cards on the travel page.


Filed under: Nostalgia   Houskeeping         
2/22/2019 3:20:47 PM
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New Stuff in Nostalgia!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett




These items are from a cache of greeting cards that my Grandmother exchanged with friends around 1900. I handled these with care so you don't have to.

Enjoy!

Filed under: Housekeeping   Nostalgia         
2/21/2019 4:31:20 PM
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