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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 27, 2016 0 comments
DISH’s new HopperGO doesn’t fit neatly into a single product category. Unlike the Hopper 3—or any of DISH’s satellite DVRs—the HopperGO costs real money—$99—to purchase (rather than being part of your satellite service subscription). On the other hand, it doesn’t require any monthly fees. Nor does it have a built-in satellite tuner (nor any other kind of tuner, for that matter). No matter how hard you search, you won’t find an HDMI jack on the HopperGO. (Don’t look for an LCD or OLED screen, either. There isn’t one.) It’s small enough to get lost in a shirt pocket. So just what the hell is the HopperGO?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 16, 2016 1 comments
In my experience, if you talk with anyone (who actually knows what they are) about bone-conduction headphones, nine times out of ten you’ll hear something along the lines of “cool technology” with the quickly added caveat, “sounds like crap.” While both can be accurate, one man’s crap is another man’s…um, let me rephrase that. When it comes to a product or technology, it’s important to consider the ends while evaluating the means...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 11, 2016 9 comments
Last week, Nest announced they were pulling the plug on all their customers' Revolv smart home hubs. Why am I happy about this?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 23, 2016 4 comments
Despite the fact that some (many—okay, most) people tell me I’m an idiot, I’m not. As proof, I can point to a variety of complicated tasks that I’ve managed to complete without requiring an inordinate amount of outside help. I’ve built a chicken coop; installed and programmed a Lutron RadioRA 2 lighting control system; raised three children; assembled two bicycles at 3 AM one Christmas morning; and founded a multi-billion dollar non-profit foundation dedicated to making it easy and understandable to install and use a high-speed wireless router in your home. Yeah, well, that last one? Not so much. In fact, if there’s anything in this world that makes me feel like more of an idiot than I really am, it’s dealing with wireless routers. And that’s why I’ve been smitten of late with Synology’s newest introduction, the Synology Router RT1900ac.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 10, 2016 4 comments
Except for the Nest Protect and First Alert’s Onelink Wi-Fi Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm, smoke alarms (and their common live-in companions, carbon monoxide detectors) aren’t super-exciting to talk about. Of course, there’s the usual “pre-order yours now” coming-soon cadre of smart smoke/CO detectors clambering for attention. I’ll be one of the first to admit that these two shipping-soon smart smoke/CO alarms do look pretty damn awesome: 1) the Birdi (that includes “unique environmental sensing” to protect occupants “against pollen spikes, allergen outbreaks, harsh UV & emergencies” and supposedly “predicts air pollution and even when it will rain or snow — down to the minute — at your exact location”); and 2) the Halo+ (that offers “an embedded weather radio [that] keeps you informed in the event of a weather threat like a tornado or hurricane.”) In general, though, fire alarms are dull and boring—and a lot of times highly annoying. Batteries suffer from the same lame, yawn-inspiring existence. So you’d think that a battery (snore…) made for smoke/CO detectors (better make that a double espresso…) wouldn’t be the sort of thing you’d want to spend the next several minutes reading about. You should, though, because the new Roost Smart Battery is a unique Wi-Fi-equipped 9-volt battery that just might save your life.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 26, 2016 4 comments
It won’t make international news (or national news, for that matter), nor will it overshadow coverage of the latest dazzling Kickstarter darling in most of the tech press outlets. But the three new home entertainment and automation controllers Control4 announced (and began shipping!) today are likely to be the most exciting and impactful smart home-related hardware that will actually make it into people’s homes in all of 2016—and I say that fully cognizant of the fact that we have 11 more months yet to go in the year.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 21, 2016 4 comments
There’s no dearth of smart outlets with Wi-Fi connectivity, but you might not know of their existence because they really don’t get much ink (or pixels) in the press. Fancy smart home hubs and biometric door locks are much more exciting to talk about than an electrical outlet that you can turn on and off via Wi-Fi using an app on your smartphone. I’ve fallen into the same “been there, written about that” trap myself. But a review sample of the Smart Outlet from ConnectSense showed up on my doorstep a few days after CES 2016 ended, and it is a Wi-Fi-enabled smart outlet that’s definitely worth spending some time talking about.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2016 4 comments
A look at the smart home category and why it didn’t have quite the sizzle at CES 2016 as it has had during past shows.
Posted: Jan 09, 2016 2 comments
Although not as buzzy as at last year’s CES, smart light bulbs, locks, thermostats, and pet feeders were still well-represented this year. Rather than overwhelm attendees with a bunch of new products and hubs, Nexia highlighted the fact that the company “is one of the oldest and most established smart-home pioneers with nearly a decade of experience with systems in hundreds of thousands of homes.” But, as I asked them, what has Nexia done for me lately?
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2016 5 comments
At first glance, I thought the folks at BeON Home must have a hole in their collective heads for promoting LED lights with holes in the middle of them. The BeON bulbs are smart bulbs, too, but with a difference. Can’t these guys do anything normal?
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2016 3 comments
Synology makes network attached storage (NAS) servers. If your home entertainment life revolves solely around media you can stream—or you store you entire life in the cloud (on someone else’s remote server)—it’s unlikely you’ll have need of a NAS server. On the other hand, if you have thousands of digital images, movies, and songs in your collection, and you’d like to have easy access to them, a NAS server is one of the most essential digital storage components you can have. Fortunately for people with lots of files to store but not so much money, Synology introduced the DiskStation DS416j—a 4-bay NAS device the company has designed for home and small office use and budgets.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2016 1 comments
I’ve used LOKSAK’s awesome waterproof phone and tablet bags for a couple of years now, and I’m a huge fan. That’s because LOKSAK’s resealable, see-through, storage bags create a hermetic, airtight seal that prevents water from getting inside—or letting whatever is inside out—even when submerged down to 60 meters (200 ft). In addition to protecting against water, LOKSAK’s also protect against microscopic particles like dust and sand. They’re reusable and recyclable. You can make and receive phone calls while your phone is in a sealed LOKSAK, but the best feature of all is that all touchscreens work—including capacitance touch screens—inside the bag. Now LOKSAK has a new series of bags that protect against something even smaller than water molecules and microbes: RF (radio frequency) and IR (infrared).
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2016 2 comments
The world in which our smart cars drive us to and from our smart homes isn’t here just quite yet, but Control4 is already doing its part to make that smart home living dream come true.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2016 1 comments
Cassia Networks demonstrated what the company is calling, “the world’s first Bluetooth router which uses a new enabling technology that redefines what’s possible with Bluetooth.” The word router isn’t one that’s normally heard in association with Bluetooth. Nor is the term “long-range”. (I’ve used another choice term or two when talking about Bluetooth, but we’ll leave those unspoken for the moment.)
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 07, 2016 Published: Jan 08, 2016 3 comments
Anyone who ever writes about consumer electronics—especially at shows like CES and CEDIA—runs the risk of praising a really cool product that, unfortunately, never sees the light of day. (It’s also the curse of anyone who covers Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns.) So I’ll begin this post with the following caveat: I have no idea whether or not the folks at Senic in Germany will be able to bring their Nuimo “Universal Control for Your Smart Home” to life as a real, honest-to-goodness product. But I sure as hell hope they do.

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