REMOTELY POSSIBLE

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 28, 2015 1 comments
I’m not a terribly big fan of Nest, but I don’t hate them, either. I own a Nest Thermostat, and I like it—for the most part. What I don’t understand is the gushing amount of praise a lot of writers give it, both as a standalone thermostat and a major smart home device/controller. You get the feeling that if God needed a thermostat, the Nest would be the one He’d buy. Despite what you might read, the NEST thermostat has its flaws, two of which are its inability to detect occupancy in other areas of the home and its requirement for an always-on Internet connection when used with other smart home systems.

But I have to give the Nest folks a great deal of credit for doing a very honorable thing recently...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 02, 2015 0 comments
Get ready for the onslaught of Apple HomeKit support announcements. Lutron Electronics announced today that the company’s new 2nd generation Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge DIY home lighting automation hub now supports Apple’s HomeKit. The new Lutron Smart Bridge (L-BDG2-WH) is available now in Apple stores and from numerous other retailers
 and online stores as part of the Caseta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit for $229.95.

At the moment, the most significant advantage of the Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge’s support for Apple HomeKit is...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 08, 2013 1 comments
Several months ago, Win Jeanfreau, the Founder/Director of Aperion Audio, asked if I would take a listen to the company’s Allaire ARIS Wireless Speaker System. Technically, the Allaire ARIS isn’t a new wireless speaker system from Aperion. It’s been available for a little over a year. In fact, we ran a very favorable review of the ARIS in October of 2012. So what gives? This is an industry that thrives on the newest, the latest, and anything that can lay claim to being enhanced, upgraded, or otherwise improved.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 13, 2012 0 comments
I recently had to send my favorite watch in for repair. I am especially fond of this watch because, in addition to looking expensive, it has both an analog dial and a digital display. Unlike with audio, about which one can argue whether digital or analog sounds better, the two timekeeping technologies combined in my watch are identical in terms of displaying the correct time. And, quite the opposite of so many digital AV devices nowadays, in the 12 years I’ve owned this watch, I’ve never once had to download new firmware or a new time-deciphering codec in order to keep the watch current.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 01, 2013 1 comments
Einstein disliked it, famously calling the phenomenon “spooky action at a distance”; but if a team of scientists at the Linear Research Particle Accelerator (LRPA) facility have their way, the bizarre effects of “quantum entanglement” could bring about loudspeakers that are both truly wireless and totally invisible.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 30, 2013 0 comments
“Use only as directed” is great advice when it comes to not taking Tylenol if you’re drinking alcohol and then not smearing Preparation H on your puffy eyes the next morning (when it’s okay to take Tylenol to relieve the effects of the previous night’s imbibing). But I don’t always do things as directed. I don’t even do a lot of things as suggested. Half the time I don’t even look at an instruction manual until I’ve encountered a near fatal error whenever I’m putting something together or learning how to operate it. (This often includes power tools. It’s a wonder I still have all my fingers…and toes.) So it’s no surprise that I forgot to put the protective dust cover on the outdoor TV sitting on my back deck before winter set in...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 04, 2015 2 comments
50, 25, 7, and 1. Those were the numbers my son told me about when I helped him and his wife move from one apartment to another over the weekend. We wouldn’t have had the conversation at all were it not for Comcast. Because moving isn’t already painful enough, Comcast was able to add to the misery by wasting an hour of our time with a needless trip to one of their “service” centers—and, of course, add a $35 service charge for the trouble. (Considering that Comcast had to pay at least two service representatives to act like utter dimwits, $35 is really a bargain.) Since my son and daughter-in-law only need high-speed Internet and couldn’t care less about cable TV, I wondered aloud if they’d considered switching to another ISP.

Competition being what it isn’t, my son told me the sordid broadband story...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 08, 2014 2 comments
Not long ago, I had an extended conversation with Mark Walters, the Chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance. Our discussion ranged pretty much across the board as far as the smart home topic was concerned, including how quickly the landscape is changing (not quite daily, although it seems that way) and the various companies – both large and small – that are trying to stake their technological claims in this relatively new territory. Clearly, the consensus is that there’s lots of money to be made in the smart home automation business. The problem, however, for both manufacturers and retailers is choosing a space that’s full of milk and honey rather than settling in what will eventually become a electronic ghost town complete with rolling tumbleweeds of discarded protocols and standards. Consumers, by the way, are basically collateral-damage-in-waiting during this high-tech land grab. (But that’s part of the risk you take as an early adopter, I suppose.)
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 30, 2014 1 comments
The future of home automation, the so-called “smart home”, is so bright, you’re going to have to wear shades—you’re BS shades, that is. If you believe the seriously over-heated hype, the new smart home hubs and home automation systems will save you money, keep you safe, make your life more convenient, improve your love life, grow hair where you want it (and keep it from growing where you don’t), and promote peace and harmony (the noun, not the remote control company) around the world. The enthusiasm is genuinely infectious, and I have to remind myself every now and then that the promised techno-utopia and the eventual techno-reality are often quite disparate. But dreams of a better smart home future give us something to strive for, and that Jetsons-like journey begins with small steps. Buying one of the new smart home hubs and installing a couple of sensors and devices, however, may be a bigger step than you’re ready for. What happens if you’re interested in home automation, but all you’re comfortable with now is sticking your big toe over the starting line...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 23, 2013 0 comments
It didn’t start out being about knowing what time it is. Nor did it have anything to do with making a techno-fashion statement. It all stemmed from a random comment I heard on the radio about so-called “smart watches”. “I’d have no use,” the voice declared, “for a smart watch of any kind...unless maybe it displayed the caller ID from my smart phone so I could look at my wrist instead of pulling my phone out of my pocket to decide whether or not to take the call.” That thought sent a tweet to my cerebral cortex, which then forwarded on an email to one of my frontal lobes which then flashed an Instagram picture. “I’d like that, too,” I thought. “But,” my normally incoherent pattern of thought went on, “I’d really like it if I could use the watch to control my home theater – or, better yet, control the entire Control4/Lutron automation system in my house.” Of course, once you’re on this kind of a roll, it’s hard to stop anywhere near reality. “And I want it to have voice recognition for commands – like Siri, but without the sulking “unable to take requests” rebuffs – so I can just talk to my watch and make things happen!”

Oh, Lady Technology, you can be such a tease...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 19, 2013 4 comments
If the folks at SONTE have their way, the company’s new Kickstarter project is going to be curtains for the window treatment industry. Or, rather, it won’t be curtains…
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 29, 2013 0 comments
Portable Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen; and, based on the way they sound, that’s about all some of them are worth. Good portable Bluetooth speakers are much more difficult to find. Really good portable Bluetooth speakers that are also weather-resistant and include a long-lasting, built-in rechargeable battery – heck, while we’re at it, let’s include that they’re not ultra-techie-looking, too – are about as easy to come across as a Big Foot cavorting through the woods wearing a bikini.

Soundcast Systems, the people who make the outstanding OutCast and OutCast Jr., dynamic duo of weather-resistant, wireless, transportable speakers, have been hinting for months about a new portable Bluetooth speaker that they think is so much better than anything else on the market that it’s more than simply the equivalent of finding a Big Foot in a bikini, it’s more akin to stumbling across a bikini-clad Big Foot pole dancing in a forest clearing. (What Soundcast actually claims is that Melody is “What other Bluetooth speakers want to be when they grow up.” Okay, that’s cool. But I think my pole-dancing Big Foot mental image is a more memorable.)

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2013 0 comments
From a sea of new earbuds and headphones to a jaw-dropping virtual surround demo, HT's resident comedian Darryl Wilkinson takes one last look at some of CES 2013's coolest things...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 23, 2012 0 comments
Imagine a world in which headphone cords and other obnoxious wires can stretch from here...to...there. Researchers at North Carolina State University have and we have the video to prove it. (And, to make it even more awesome, it involves liquid metal, too!)
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 08, 2012 0 comments
We lost a pioneer of the modern loudspeaker industry with the passing of William (Bill) Hecht earlier this year on September 12th at age 89. I was only five years old (and I imagine many of you reading this weren’t even born yet) in 1967 when Bill Hecht patented his signature contribution to the audio world, the soft-dome tweeter, arguably the most widely used speaker driver worldwide for the last 30 years. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hecht once during my career. In this age of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the endless onslaught of 24/7 self-promotion, Bill Hecht was a quiet, self-effacing man who seemed most comfortable behind the scenes. Indeed, throughout his career, Hecht and his company, United Speaker Systems, was known for making the speakers that made other speaker companies famous.

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