REMOTELY POSSIBLE

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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: Nov 28, 2012 2 comments
What I’m about to say borders on heresy. But before I risk being virtually burned at the digital stake, let me tell you that, although I am older than most of the writers in this industry, I am not old-fashioned. I don’t pine for the days of spending hours at the record store flipping through bins of vinyl albums, nor do I miss fiddling with my Nakamichi BX-300 (I couldn’t afford a Dragon...) in order to make cassette tapes of those albums for my car. I like - no, I love - most modern technology and crave more of it. (Bring on the domestic robots, I say! Just don’t make them with any of those scary-ass faces some Japanese researchers have designed. If they’re going to be our overlords, I want them to at least look good.)

Now for the heresy.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 05, 2014 0 comments
The so-called smart home is built on a foundation of three pillars. As with the architecture of a real home, each pillar must be equally as strong, or you run the risk of the entire structure collapsing. Fortunately, the virtual-world failure of a smart home system is nowhere near as likely to result in physical injury as is the falling ceiling and walls of a real-world building. Obviously, though, having a smart home that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do is a waste of money. Having a system that only works some of the time is even worse because there’s a period of intense frustration before the homeowner finally gives up and quits using the system entirely.

The three pillars of the smart home are...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 16, 2013 1 comments
On the 12 Days of Christmas, please don’t get these gifts for me…
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 07, 2014 2 comments
For three short days in April, I had one pair each of new flagship speakers from two of the hottest companies in the audio business today: Definitive Technology and GoldenEar Technology. Both models are so new that, in the case of Def Tech, the Mythos ST-L SuperTower is on very tight allocation to dealers. The new Triton One Tower speakers aren’t even listed yet on GoldenEar Technology’s website. (As of right now, anyway.) Both models are $5,000/pair, which means that, if you’re interested in high-performance audio and can afford to indulge your passion for music (and home theater), chances are only one pair of these two speakers will find its way into your home. So the inevitable question is going to be: Which one is the better speaker?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 10, 2012 0 comments
Looking for a stocking stuffer that's extremely useful, extraordinarily convenient, stupidly simple to use... and shockingly cheap?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 18, 2014 0 comments
I’m on a quest to find the best of the affordable smart home automation systems that are available (or will be shortly). The first couple of review samples have come in, and one of the primary aspects these two systems have in common is the impressive amount of engineering and design effort put into making installation and set up as easy as possible. That’s vitally important because for home automation to really get its foot in the door (so to speak) and appeal to more than just gadget-freaks like me, the system controllers need to be smart enough that the end user doesn’t have to commit an overwhelming amount of brainpower to the process of setting them up and getting them running. If the initial installation of a smart home automation controller is anything close to the pain involved in creating a bunch of macros in a programmable universal remote control, there’s going to be a lot of product returns from unhappy customers.

The first system to arrive was...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 04, 2017 0 comments
In general, air purifiers have always seemed a bit like, um, smoke and mirrors to me. After all, most of them just sit in the room; and, frankly, I can never tell if they’re actually doing anything at all other than taking up space. It only took about 30 seconds for the Airmega folks to give me visual confirmation of their claim that the company’s Airmega Smart Air Purifier models remove more than 99 percent of the particulate matter in the air in the room...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 07, 2014 0 comments
I spent a tense 30 minutes the other night huddled on the floor in the hallway outside my father’s hospital room. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for the area, and the hospital had gone into “Weather Plan 2” mode. Everyone in the building—even the patients who couldn’t get out of bed—had to gather in the hallways. My father was one of those temporarily bed-ridden patients, and I’m sure that the mind-twisting aftereffects of anesthesia coupled with post-op morphine made the hurried, bumpy rush from his room to a hall full of two dozen other patients seem even more surreal than it was for me. It became even more surreal after all the patients were returned to their rooms following an “all clear” announcement when, within minutes, the whole process was repeated (albeit with significantly more grumbling from the patients and staff.)

As I was busily texting and tweeting about the collective predicament we were in (it’s actually not true that I caused a small riot when I ran through the hallway yelling “Morphine for all!”), the flickering of the hallway lights during the height of the storm started me thinking about how incredibly dependent we are on technology - technology that most of us take totally for granted until it doesn’t work anymore...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 05, 2017 Published: Jan 06, 2017 0 comments
AXIS says the company’s Gear is “the first shading solution designed specifically to motorize existing window shades.” In addition to being one of the few devices engineered for use with traditional shades and curtains (basically any window treatment with a “loop” chain or cable), the Gear is one of the simplest, easiest, least-intimidating smart home automation device to install I think I’ve ever seen.

Gear consists of a...

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 05, 2016 1 comments
Although you might mistake the company’s name, Beddit, for something likely to be sold in an adult video store, the Beddit Smart Sleep Tracker isn’t all fun and games. In fact, the new Beddit Smart Sleep Tracker is super-serious about helping you get a good night’s sleep—and get even better sleep as time goes on.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 22, 2015 1 comments
I heard what seemed like hundreds of vendor pitches and saw thousands of new products at CEDIA EXPO 2015 before it closed on Saturday, October 17th. Here are some of the coolest things we didn't cover previously in our (should have been) award-winning CEDIA blog...
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2016 3 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?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 17, 2015 0 comments
Remote controls suck. Even the best remote controls, such as the Harmony Ultimate Home, suffer from issues that are inextricable parts of what make a remote control a remote control. For instance, there are buttons to press. They’ll either be too small for some people, or the layout won’t be ideal for others. Then there’s the fact that it’s easy to misplace a remote control. Some wind up in between the cushions on the couch. Others—and this happens more often than you would think—have been known to mysteriously make their way inside the kitchen refrigerator. Those are just two of the many problems associated with remote controls for the average person. Now think about that remote control from the standpoint of someone who is up in years and is perhaps suffering from arthritis and/or poor eyesight. For the elderly, remote controls don’t just suck, they’re often impossible to use...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2017 0 comments
Lockitron’s latest smart door lock iteration, the Lockitron Bolt, is unlocking a new level of affordability in DIY smart locks. Unlike the original crowdfunded Lockitron, the fit over existing deadbolts, the Lockitron Bolt is a full replacement deadbolt device that includes a Key Match feature allowing for the Bolt cylinder to be used with the homeowner’s or apartment renter’s original key. Since the Bolt is designed to replace an existing deadbolt—rather than fit over an existing mechanism—the new smart lock is smaller (1.1-inches deep, 7-inches tall, and 2.75-inches wide) with a knob that is only 0.7-inches deep. The center point of the knob is 1.2 inches from the bottom of the unit, so there is plenty of room for use with separate doorknobs and doorhandles.

The standard Bolt has...

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