Narrative Clip 2: Reliability Issues in the System
Narrative is making progress with the battery issues I complained about in previous posts. With the 1.0.0 and 1.2.0 firmware versions, it's now possible to leave your Narrative Clip 2 unplugged from a power source over night without having a dead clip at your hand in the morning. It's also possible to leave it in a dark place during a long day at the office and still have enough battery to record your way home.
I haven't had a chance to test the current state of battery usage in continuous use. Last time I did, I got the impression that the 1.0.0 firmware had actually decreased the overall time somewhat again. I'll be finding out soon enough, as I'm heading for a conference in two weeks.
Other progress is being made with the WiFi connection (I can now connect it to my home WLAN with the long password) and the Uploader. I do actually use the Uploader to upload photos, not the clip's WiFi. That is because the Uploader gives me local backups of my photos and that's something I need. And this is the point that is currently not looking so good:
Overall, the system's reliability is currently lacking. Its job is to take photos, reliably, over a certain amount of time and then show them to me. This is not working so great right now, in my experience.
It starts on the clip itself. I sometimes find that it skipped taking photos. I have it set to the standard 30 second interval, I'm walking along a road, with the clip attached to the front of my coat. Yet I sometimes find intervals of 1 or even 2 minutes between photos. Narrative Support pointed out that the camera may skip photos if the view was blocked, but there was no way that it was blocked in the above scenario.
Worse, it sometimes doesn't record at all for longer amounts of time. It seems to be a wakeup issue, from what I can tell. The Narrative Clip 1 can take up to two minutes to wake up when it was, say, lying face down on your desk over night and you clip it on in the morning when you leave the house. That's an acceptable compromise between having a sleep mode to save on battery and usability. The Clip 2 sometimes - but not always, and not very often, thankfully - can take much longer to wake up. Just yesterday, I did my weekend shopping. Yet the clip only started taking pictures when I was already paying for my groceries and was heading back home. It's about 10 minutes to the shop in question, plus the time I was in there, that it didn't record. My daily trip to the baker (and back) in the morning takes about 10 minutes total and while the Clip 2 does record it most of the time, it sometimes doesn't, for no apparent reason.
Next is the Uploader. As mentioned above, I rely on it to upload my photos. Yet, sometimes it doesn't. I plug in the camera, it transfers photos (and makes a local backup) and seems to upload something - yet the photos do not appear in the Narrative App (iOS or Web). Then I quit the Uploader and start it again and it suddenly starts uploading a lot of photos. Peeking into the upload queue, I often find files that are several days old.
And finally, the Narrative App is also sometimes hiding perfectly good photos from me; which is why I keep the local backup. I know that Narrative keeps all the uploaded photos, even the bad ones, but the current algorithm the Narrative App uses to decide which ones to show to me leaves some things to be desired.
So while there is noticeable (and very necessary) progress regarding the battery life, I think it's time that Narrative's engineers take a good look at these little issues and how they affect the entire Narrative "experience" (to use that worn-out buzzword).