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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 10, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $7,750 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
New DSP for low-frequency tuning
Totally redesigned midrange drivers
Balanced crossover with polypropylene capacitors
Minus
Bright blue power LED on back of tower

THE VERDICT
With the hindsight of four years of product development, GoldenEar reboots their very first speaker with updated drivers, crossover, and low-frequency DSP—to quite stellar results.

Unfortunately, the first GoldenEar Technology Triton Two loudspeaker I ever saw didn’t work. It wasn’t the result of shoddy workmanship, chintzy materials, or some brutal, shipping-induced internal hemorrhage of crossovers and cables. Truth be told, the speaker wasn’t technically a Triton Two because, at the time (in early January during CES 2010), GoldenEar Technology didn’t officially exist. The tall, dark tower standing silently in front of me was a cosmetic mock-up of what would become the Triton Two— GoldenEar’s first speaker. In other words, this mute monolith, wrapped in black fabric, was merely a hollow shell of its future towerful self.

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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 19, 2016 4 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Auto-senses and adjusts output for vertical and horizontal orientations
Trueplay room EQ
Capacitance touch controls with audible feedback
Pure butt-kicking sound
Minus
Slight high-frequency edginess when used vertically
Tiny feet bumps are visible on sides of speaker

THE VERDICT
The Sonos PLAY:5 gets a radical makeover that adds $100 to the price but combines an amazing user experience with stunning audio performance.

Here’s the bad news: After six years, Sonos has stopped making the company’s first and, until now, best all-in-one wireless speaker system, the PLAY:5. Now for the good news: Sonos has a replacement for the PLAY:5 called…wait for it…the PLAY:5. (Confusing, I know.) At $499, though, the new PLAY:5 is $100 more than the original. For multiple reasons, the original PLAY:5 was my all-around favorite wireless speaker. Will its replacement prove worthy of its heritage—and the higher price?

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?
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
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 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.

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