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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 22, 2014 0 comments
CES is just too big for any one human being - or, in our case, nine human beings - to cover completely. And, unless you’re a word-factory like my compatriot, John “The Sciacca” (who, I believe, outsources his blogs and reviews to a small company in Sri Lanka), it’s damn near impossible to write about everything you see at CES while you’re in Las Vegas. And then, of course, there are all the things you didn’t see but wished you had...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2014 Published: Jan 11, 2014 0 comments
ivee Sleek is a “hands-free, voice-activated, internet-connected assistant for the home that answers questions, obeys commands and controls other internet-connected devices.” ivee Sleek uses the AT&T Speech API powered by the AT&T Watson speech recognition engine to begin the process of turning voice commands or questions into system actions or answers. ivee Sleek has the smarts and the capabilities to understand and answer questions in 33 categories, including time and weather conditions and stock prices. The smart assistant is also able to integrate with Iris from Lowe’s and Staples Connect systems, giving it the ability to control internet-connected devices, such as smart thermostats, motorized locks, security cameras, and smart plugs. Oh, yeah, it’s also a digital clock, too. ivee Sleek is available for pre-order now for $229.99. No subscription fees are required.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2014 0 comments
Samsung Electronics thinks your home should be smart – as long as it’s filled with Samsung Smart TVs, Samsung home appliances, and Samsung smartphones that are all connected and managed through Samsung’s Smart Home platform. Samsung’s Smart Home is designed to enable homeowners to control and manage many of the devices in their homes via a single, simple app. The devices that Samsung envisions to be part of the Smart Home ecosystem will include refrigerators, washing machines, Smart TVs, digital cameras, smartphones, and wearable devices (such as the Galaxy Gear). In the beginning, Samsung Smart Home will offer three features: Device Control, Home View, and Smart Customer Service. Device Control provides what you would think from the name: the ability to monitor and control home gear, such as turning the house HVAC on/off or changing lighting scenes. Interestingly, Smart Home will offer a voice command function on all of the controller devices. According to Samsung, “Users can also use chat control on their smartphone app as a fun, convenient way to communicate with their devices.” (Only as long as the appliances don’t start talking back…) Home View will allow users to view their home in real-time thanks to cameras built into Samsung appliances. (So, that means no walking around in the kitchen in your underwear…) The Smart Home’s Smart Customer Service will notify customers “when it’s time to service appliances or replace consumables, and provides assistance in after-sales servicing.” The company has developed a dedicated Smart Home software protocol (SHP) to facilitate communication between Samsung devices as well as (hopefully) other manufacturers’ appliances and devices.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2014 0 comments
EcoHarvester is a startup company that uses “green technology” to engineer consumer electronics devices that do not require batteries. Instead, the devices are “human-powered” and rely on power generated by the users’ own movements or micro-kinetic energy. The company’s first product, the BonsaiLight, is a desk/tabletop dimmable LED lamp that comes with a battery-less wireless on/off switch that uses “a razor thin mechanism to capture motion, yielding a significantly larger amount of power-for-size than other battery-free switches…” Because the wireless switch “harvests” the power it needs from the kinetic energy expended when the user turns the switch, it can be mounted anywhere without the need for running new wires. The BonsaiLights will likely incorporate Bluetooth connectivity and other wireless protocols. The company anticipates beginning a Kickstarter campaign within the next several months, with production to begin as soon as possible. Exact pricing of the hardware was not available, although the wireless switches will hopefully sell for under $40 each.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2014 1 comments
SANUS gave an X-ray view of its upcoming In-wall Power and Cable System that’s designed to make it easy for homeowners and DIYers to install flat-panel TVs – and soundbars – on the wall and hide the wires without having to hire an installer and/or an electrician. The basic kit includes a single- or double-gang in-wall receptacle, a matching in-wall AC connection box, and an extension cable that plugs in to an existing AC outlet. You can basically think of it as a safe, uncluttered way of running an extension cable in the wall along with all of the necessary AV connecting cables. The wide ELM809 in-wall mounting box is designed to go behind wall-mounted soundbars and provide access to AC as well as AV cables that are hidden in the wall. The basic package will sell for $99 with the soundbar solution being priced at $49. Both products should be available this spring.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
Metra Home Theater hates cords and cables more than you do. The company’s new 3.1 Audio Mount Sound Bar combines an active soundbar with a 160-watt class D amp with a wall mount capable of handling 50- to 90-inch TVs. But Metra didn’t stop there. It also incorporates a powered subwoofer into the mount itself, possibly making the 3.1 Audio Mount Sound Bar the world’s easiest-to-install and cleanest-looking AV system ever. The MSRP for the 3.1 Audio Mount Sound Bar will be $899 with the product shipping early this year.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2014 Published: Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
Two new items from Digital Innovations caught my eye at CES2014. The first was the company’s new antimicrobial formulation for its line of ScreenDr. portable screen and device cleaner. The new cleaner includes antimicrobial ingredients that “stab” bacteria to kill them rather than employ a resistance-building antibiotic ingredient. The fluid in the Screen Dr. cleans the surface of your portable device or flat-screen TV and helps prevent the re-growth of bacteria and microorganisms on the treated surface. The patented all-in-one bottle/cap/cloth holder design is extremely convenient, too. Two ounce bottles are available for $9.99. Five ounce bottles are available for $14.99. Nine ounce bottles – ideally suited for use on large-screen displays – sell for $19.99. The Digital Innovations folks say that the best value is the combo pack containing a two-ounce and a five-ounce bottle for $19.99. Also available from Digital Innovations is the cleverly designed Nest Earbud Case that quickly stores earbud cables and allows them to be removed tangle-free with a single pull. The soft, flexible silicone case is available in blue, pink, and green for $9.99.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
At CEDIA2013, MartinLogan teased us with a sneak peak at a prototype AirPlay/Bluetooth speaker that was absolutely beautiful and sure to sound fantastic thanks, in large part, to its use of MartinLogan’s amazing Folded Motion tweeters. The new Crescendo wireless stereo speaker has burst out of its prototype cocoon and become an official product that includes AirPlay and Bluetooth connectivity. The remote control, normally an item manufacturers tend to overlook, included with the Crescendo is made from extruded aluminum and is extremely well designed with rubberized button caps that are easy to find and use without looking at the remote. Twin Folded Motion tweeters flank the central 5x7-inch woofer. The tweeters are also positioned to fire away from one another to the sides of the room, a design that helps to dramatically widen the stereo soundstage of the Crescendo, and it includes a subwoofer output. The gorgeous sound machine will be available in “early 2014” for $899. Of all the small speaker systems I’ve heard so far at CES2014, the MartinLogan Crescendo is unquestionably at the top of the tall stack.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
You wouldn’t think that an ultra-fast 3-port USB hub would be exciting enough to write about, but Innergie’s LifeHub is special because it looks fantastic and has multiple features that make the LifeHub one of the most convenient multi-port USB hubs on the market. The LifeHub has three 2.1-amp, ultra-fast charging USB ports plus s 4.5 meter (14.7 feet) power cord. It’s excellently thought out CableCradle Manager provides power cord storage as well as a stable, magnetized base on which the rounded LifeHub securely sits. The InnerShield Power Protection includes short circuit, over current, and over voltage protection; and the GreenSense Technology incorporates high-performance, energy-efficient, power-saving charging capability. The beautifully designed LifeHub is available now for $54.99.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2014 0 comments
One of the most exciting products I’ve seen so far at CES2014 bills itself as “the first home security and automation device that combines panoramic video, Z-Wave home automation and environmental sensors into a single elegant product that you interact with on your smartphone or tablet.” Or, as the company says, “Piper is the new way to monitor and interact with your home.” Piper has an extremely impressive array of features, including three customizable security modes with a motion detector, two-way audio, and 105 dB built-in siren; full Z-Wave compatibility allowing use of a huge variety of Z-Wave home automation-oriented accessories; an HD Panoramic camera with a 180-degree fisheye lens that offers pan, tilt, and zoom in 1080p; built-in environmental sensors for temperature, humidity, ambient light, and sound; 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity; as well as Android and iOS smartphone and tablet apps for controlling the system. The user interface is clean and intuitive. Piper is available for pre-order now and is expected to begin shipping by the end of January 2014 for $239. There are no monthly or other recurring service fees.

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