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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 10, 2016 0 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 0 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 0 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 0 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.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2016 0 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?
Posted: Jan 09, 2016 0 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 0 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 0 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 0 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 07, 2016 Published: Jan 08, 2016 0 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.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2016 0 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 0 comments
There’s certainly no lack of interesting DIY home monitoring cameras at CES2016. The original Oco is here, still featuring self-learning sound and motion-detection algorithms, night vision capability, and two-way audio communication. But the diminutive 1280 x 720 (25 fps) camera isn’t alone at the company’s booth.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 07, 2016 0 comments
Have you heard of Riva Audio? Yeah, me neither—until earlier this evening when I attended a press reception in the Riva Audio suite at the Westgate Hotel in the midst of all the craziness that is CES. Riva currently offers two extremely well-reviewed models of portable, rechargeable, Bluetooth speakers: the water-resistant Turbo S and the larger, more powerful Turbo X. (You can read Lauren Dragan’s review of the Turbo X here. But that’s just the beginning for the young company, because Riva plans to introduce a wireless, multiroom speaker ecosystem later this year.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 07, 2016 0 comments
EZVIZ makes cheap—no, that’s not right, because they’re high-quality so let’s say very affordable—cameras for DIYers to use to monitor homes and apartments without breaking the bank in the process. The company’s cameras are also small, unobtrusive, and, importantly, not ugly. I tried out the EZVIZ Mini last year and was quite impressed with the performance and form factor, especially considering the $69 price. Now EZVIZ is introducing several new models that, if they live up to their pre-release promises, will be even more exciting.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2016 0 comments
Most battery-powered smoke detectors are designed to give a warning when the battery is running low, and that’s a good thing. On the other hand, it’s almost inevitable that your smoke detector will wait until the middle of the night before it starts emitting that purposely annoying chirp warning sound. The Roost Smart Battery For Smoke Alarms is a dead-simple, very affordable device that will prevent middle-of-the-night chirping and also add some smarts to your “dumb” smoke alarm.

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