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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 28, 2016 0 comments

The so-called “smart home” has had a sleepy, low-key year in 2016 as it recovered from several years of over promising and under delivering. The fact is, though, that there are plenty of stellar smart devices on the market. Many of these gadgets can be incorporated into a whole-house automation system or used solo as one of the many parts found in a “clever home”. Here are some of the devices that have “I Want” written all over them.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 14, 2016 Published: Nov 15, 2016 0 comments
I wish smoke alarms were sexier. Most of them are dull, white pucks that try to look as unobtrusive as possible. Even the squarish Nest Protect with the swirling perforation pattern on the cover isn’t something that most people will want to highlight as it hangs on the wall or ceiling. But there’s no doubt that smoke/carbon monoxide alarms save lives. The American Red Cross says that the organization’s Home Fire Campaign, which has “a goal to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25% by 2020” by getting more smoke alarms installed in more homes, has already demonstrably saved 111 lives in the short time since the program began in 2014. And since it’s recommended that you should check the working status of the smoke alarms in your home on the days when Daylight Saving Time begins and ends every year, it’s a good time to take a brief look at Roost’s brand new and—at $80 MSRP—nicely affordable RSA-400 Smart Smoke Alarm...

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 02, 2016 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Nexia Bridge, $87; Trane XL824, $334

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Nexia Diagnostics monitors real-time HVAC performance
Z-Wave-supported Nexia Bridge built into thermostat
Minus
$9.99/month subscription fee
Cloud-based automation works slower than local systems

THE VERDICT
The Nexia system is unique in that it appeals to both do-it-yourselfers and those who want it done for them. Its combination of a simple programming structure with an assortment of welcoming and intuitive user interfaces makes it a system you’ll actually enjoy using.

I was beginning to worry that we’d run out of acronyms. After all, what would we do if we had to speak or write actual words instead of just using three- or four-letter shorthand? Saying “do-it-yourself” is so much more time-consuming than “DIY.” Thank goodness there’s a new acronym making the rounds: DIFM, which stands for do-it-forme. Although people have always wanted to have things done for them, the appearance of the acronym DIFM is the result of the wicked hangover that the DIY smart-home industry is suffering, after a couple of years when rapacious startup enthusiasm sucked all of the rational oxygen out of the air. The fact is that there are plenty of rooms in the smart home to accommodate the yourselfers, the for-me-ers, and the dedicated custom installers.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 26, 2016 0 comments
Voice integration and what it means for the future of home automation was a hot topic at CEDIA 2016, which attracted more than 500 exhibitors and almost 19,000 attendees.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 17, 2016 Published: Sep 18, 2016 0 comments
Slovenian company, Qubino, says the Qubino Weather Station is “the world's first Z-Wave supported weather station to collect 10 essential values: indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, rainfall and wind direction, speed, gust, temperature and chill.” All measured data is then sent to the Z-Wave network for use by user’s control system in order to respond to changes in weather conditions as necessary.

The Qubino Weather Station’s sensors include...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 17, 2016 0 comments
SunBriteTV is bringing out a new series of weatherproof televisions called Veranda. The new TVs will be available in three screen sizes (43, 55, and 65 inches), and each model incorporates a direct-lit 4K UHD screen plus built-in down-firing speakers.

The models in SunBriteTV’s Veranda series are designed to be used in...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 17, 2016 0 comments
Amongst the many announcements concerning Amazon Alexa integration with higher-end control systems—including Control4, Crestron, Savant, and others—one of the more exciting reveals was the news that Lutron is adding Alexa integration to its HomeWorks QS and RadioRA2 lighting control systems, providing voice-activated control of lights, shades, and temperature setting via an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, or Amazon Fire TV.

Lutron, of course, is no stranger to the voice-activated world of Amazon Alexa having introduced integration...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2016 0 comments
iPort’s new xPress Audio Keypad is a small, low-power Wi-Fi-equipped keypad that can be set up to control any Sonos device directly. The keypad offers some of the most commonly used functions, such as Play/Pause, Track Forward, Volume Control and toggling through Sonos Favorites.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2016 0 comments
GoControl’s new Smart Doorbell Camera joins the growing list of retrofit-engineered smart doorbells with built-in video cameras and wireless connectivity. This model from GoControl is Wi-Fi-enabled, includes a 720p HD video camera with a 180-degree wide-angle lens, and features two-way audio enabling homeowners to have a conversation with whomever (friend or foe) is at the door.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 15, 2016 0 comments
SurgeX always has the most non-shocking demos at CEDIA, and this year was no exception as the company once again demonstrated “the industry’s only surge elimination technology.” Called by SurgeX, Advanced Series Mode, the proprietary surge elimination technology stops surge energy up to 6,000 volts without introducing other unwanted problems, such as ground contamination or common-mode disturbances. In addition, the method SurgeX uses—unlike many competing surge protection technologies—is completely non-sacrificial, which means SurgeX devices don’t destroy themselves as part of the process of stopping an incoming electrical surge.

As any of us who’ve suffered some major losses due to lightning strikes or other surge-producing events know, having good surge protection can save...

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