Archive for December 2016

Gadgets :: December 28, 2016

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

Every month for the past year I’ve covered smart home products in this column, including everything from frying pans to toilets to alarm systems.

Smart home products let you control and automate items around your house.

They are have come a long way as far setup, usage and cost, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding what products you want. Additionally, keep in mind these smart home features while shopping around.

· Do they integrate with Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit

· Is a hub needed or will it work with your existing hub

· Will the product work on Wifi for connecting anywhere or Bluetooth, requiring you to stay within 33 feet of the device.

· Setup: Can you do it yourself or will professional installation be needed

· Power: is it battery or AC powered, or even solar in some cases

· Is a subscription or any pay service required

I’ve come across many great Smart Home products and there’s going to be a lot of new products announced at next month’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. Here are a few of my favorites from this past year.

With a simple setup, including connecting the Rachio to your existing Wi-Fi network, you’ll have your lawn watering for however long you want in as many zones as you choose.

The installation was surprisingly simple, assuming you have a sprinkler system already in place so you just have to swap out the controller box.

Once the hardware is connected, you control the system with the Rachio app, which lets you schedule watering days and how long for each zone. The app shows you how much water you have used along with how much has been saved due to shutting the system down for rain and automatically changing the water times as the seasons change.

http://rachio.com $199.99 for a 8 zone controller

eveElgato’s Eve Smart Home products work with Apple HomeKit and include wireless motion, window and air quality controls through plugs for controlling just about everything in your home. Everything is hub-free and has easy setups.

The newest product to the Eve line is the connected wall switch ($49.95). This can be an addition or to replace an existing light switch. Once installed the app control lights with a tap on the switch or with a Siri voice command on an Apple device.

You can create a single or multi light setup and even group multiple Eve wall switches within the app to an intelligent lighting system.

The wall switch is connected with Bluetooth or as I tested it, over the Internet with an Apple TV.

Check the Eve website for electrical requirements and setup.

www.elgato.com

All you need is Wi-Fi and the free Arlo app to get the Arlo security cameras working. The HD cameras are 100 percent wire-free, have integrated infared lights for night vision and are weatherproof.

You even get free cloud storage to save your recordings for a week for up to five cameras. If you want them saved longer, paid upgrade options are available.

The Arlo app sets everything up including schedules and alerts when motion is detected.

http://arlo.com $144 for a single camera, kits are available

The August Smart Lock replaces the inside deadbolt latch for controlling a lock with a smartphone.

After the installation you’ll need the free/password protected August app and a financial-level digital security protected account.

The app lets you set the lock to open hands-free as you approach it and control who has access to the lock.

Your account keeps a 24/7 activity log of when the lock is locked or unlocked. The lock can be controlled via Wi-Fi by adding the August Connect plug, which connects to a wall power outlet within 30 feet of the lock.

Four AA batteries to power the lock are included; you’ll be notified by the August app when they need replacing.

http://august.com $199.99 for the lock, $79 for the Connect plug

Gadgets :: December 14, 2016

By Gregg Ellman

(@Greggellman)

Time is running out for holiday shopping.  Here are 10 items with brief explanations of why you need them on your gift list. Prices here are MSRP; shop around, I’m sure you may find them for less.

Oregon Scientific’s Radio Controlled Projection Alarm Clock is a portable nightstand battery (two AAA’s) or USB powered clock with a 180-degree rotating arm to project the time on a wall or ceiling. The time is set automatically and displayed on an LCD with the indoor temperature, date and dual alarms.

http://global.oregonscientific.com $19.99

 

The SwitchEasy iPhone 7/7 Plus case is touted as the world’s first see-through glass back case, built with 7H hardness glass and 90 percent optical transparency so the phone design is always visible. The structure of the hard core, yet attractive case is composed of aluminum and glass and a patent pending wireless pass-through design gives users a better wireless experience than other metal cases.

www.switcheasy.com iPhone 7 $39.99, 7 Plus $44.99

 

Android users will love iHome’s new iBN350 music system with built-in Qi wireless charging on a top-side wireless charging pad and NFC quick pairing along with Bluetooth for streaming music. It has a front-facing time display with automatic clock setting, dual alarms, an aux in port. mic for handsfree calls and USB out charging.

www.iHomeAudio.com $129.99

 

With the new iPhone eliminating the headphone port, everyone will need the Scosche BT100 wireless earbuds with a built-in mic and music controls. They have a rechargeable battery, good for 3 hours of music listening and choices of red, blue, pink or white colors.

www.scosche.com $29.99

 

PolarPro’s swappable modules, which attaches securely to a small sliding plate on the back of the drop tested Otterbox uniVERSE iPhone case. The modules include a wireless speaker, fisheye lens, bike mount, tripods, a wallet and a 2100-mAh battery pack.

www.otterbox.com, www.polarprofilters.com prices vary from the bike mount $24,99 to $49.99 for the battery or speaker

 

The Ventev USBcharginghub rq600 with six charging USB ports is perfect for every power hungry family. The AC powered ports charge simultaneously;  five provide up to 2.4 amps each and the sixth is a Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 port, to charge compatible devices up to 75 percent faster

https://mobileaccessories.ventev.com $49.99

 

Big sound comes from the Libratone ZIPP 360-degree 100 watt wireless desktop WiFi speaker. You can connect up to six to play simultaneously with a Bluetooth, USB, Apple Airplay, Spotify connection or a direct 3.5 mm wired connection.

www.libratone.com $249 in several color choices

 

Cave Tools kabob skewers rack (14.5-by-10-by-2-inches) holds up to five packed skewers and rotates them 360-degrees for even cooking. The rack holds the skewers a few inches off a hot grill and a built-in food slider makes it simple to push the cooked food off the skewer and onto your plate.

https://cavetools.com $15.99

 

Marshall Major II Bluetooth headphones are built with 40mm dynamic drivers, providing crystal-clear audio in both ears with comfortable padded ear cups and a rechargeable battery, good for 30 hours. They work wirelessly or with the included coil cord, which has an inline mic and music control.

http://marshallheadphones.com $150

 

The Crosley C200 turntable brings back the vinyl sound you miss of the needle dropping on your 33 or 45 rpm records, which is an industry making a great comeback. It’s built with a direct drive, high-torque motor and has a start stop button, an adjustable counter-weight balanced, hydraulic lift control arm and sets up in minutes.

www.crosleyradio.com $279

Gadgets :: December 7, 2016

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

CanvasPop takes you outside the box to create wall art, even from cell phones, that make great personalized gifts for this holiday season.

I took CanvasPop up on an offer to take a mobile photo of mine and make a top-quality canvas print.The did it to perfection.

I had my doubts about what the quality would be from a cell phone image I used (taken with an iPhone 6) but after opening the package I was a believer.

The company offers choices of every size you could possibly want from 12-by-18-inches to custom sizes of 76-by-76-inches.

I went with a basic canvas wrap, sized 12-by-18 inches ($42) with a 1.5-inch deep frame ($51).

Two days after placing my order they emailed me a proof, which allowed me to see exactly what the canvas wrap would look like before it’s printed and framed. In my case they were just want I wanted.

CanvasPop provides a free service allowing designers to adjust and optimize contrast, sharpness and remove red eye.

Other choices during the editing process include the depth of the frame, from.75-inches up to 2.5-inches or just a black, white or espresso wood frame. You can also have filters, effects and other digital services added.

Once you upload your image, the user-friendly website walks your through each step along with pricing.

www.canvaspop.com

Cave Tools beer can chicken roasting rack and vegetable spikes grill accessory make any grill enthusiast a chef.

Just attach the chicken to the wide and tip-proof stainless steel base, which is also extra deep to keep grease from overflowing. Once you’re done the set is dishwasher safe.

Whole vegetables, potatoes or anything you want cooked can be attach to the four vegetable spikes.

The built-in stainless steel canister can be used for beer but if you have a different preference of spices, wine, etc., go for it.

Cave Tools includes 25 cooking recipes with step-by-step instructions that were easy for a non-chef like me.

Once your grilling is complete, the Cave Tool grill brush is the best I’ve ever used. Effortlessly the stainless steel bristles clean the grates and you can even leave it outside with i s 100-perfect rust-proof design.

The cleaning power comes from three stainless steel brushes, which are built tight together for maximum cleaning power to effortlessly scrub the grill’s grates while holding the 18-inch handle.

www.CaveTools.com beer can chicken rack $19.99, brush $11.99

You might think a flashlight is just a flashlight but you’ll think differently after you see BulbHead’s Atomic Beam ultra-bright tactical flashlight.

It has multiple modes including high, medium and low for different environments along with a self-defense strobe and SOS settings.

The body is a tough-grade aluminum storing the ultra bright LED’s, which emit up to 5,000 LUX of light. According to the company that is 40 times brighter than ordinary flashlights.

An on/off button on the bottom also changes the modes. The beam focus is controlled by pulling both ends of the flashlight away from each other.

Three AAA batteries or 1 Lithium Ion battery power the 5-inch long flashlight, which is shock, water and extreme temperature resistant.

www.bulbhead.com $19.99

The BodyGuardz Pure 2 glass screen protector and the Ace Pro case are as good a combination as any for protecting a cell phone while keeping it stylish.

The case is built with impact-absorbing technology, the same Unequal technology professional athletes use on the field for impact protection, according to Bodyguardz.

On an iPhone 7, the case ($34.95) keeps the slim profile of the device while protecting it from small drops, bangs and scratches.

The rounded perimeter of the case has a soft bumper with a rigid transparent back, while a raised bezel protects the front.

The case-friendly BodyGuardz Pure 2 glass screen protector ($39.95) works perfectly with the case to protect the full touchscreen LCD, while keeping it fully functional.

This makes your screen scratch-resistance and reduces breakage during drops. It easily installed and just as the instructions pointed out any minor bubbles visible were gone after a day.

www.bodyguardz.com