Archives For Accessories

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I’m back…finally. :-)

Intro

For the past few months, I’ve been on a mission to find the best home WiFi. The “best” does not necessarily mean the fastest. It means the most reliable as we move around the house from room to room. It also means The Mrs. will not curse our stupid and slow home internet. This year, we have seen the rise of consumer wireless mesh networks that has typically been only available to corporate environments. Products from eero (that Dave endorses), Ubiquiti, Securifi, and Netgear are vying for you to upgrade your current router with the promise of whole home WiFi goodness!

Our residence is a newer-built detached single family home with two floors and a basement. Over the years, I’ve silently replaced our main router as newer technology has been released. I say silently, as my test for this was basically to see if The Mrs. would notice or comment on our home wireless network. Would she just look at me and ask why I was staring at her while she used her tablet…or would she throw that tablet to the ground screaming to the WiFi gods. In the past, I’ve tried multiple scenarios for our home network. The ONE ROUTER TO RULE THEM ALL approach. The Router + Powerline + Access Point approach. The Router + Extend Me approach.

While all of these might have worked initially, each scenario failed at some point whether it was clients being too far away from the router, or clients not being able to hand off properly to the different access points. Each scenario failed at our house. That’s why the wireless mesh network intrigued me so much. And with the big names finally getting into the ballgame, I thought it was time to try the Netgear Orbi.

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Earlier this week the eagerly anticipated, yet somewhat overdue, GoPro Hero 5 made its first prelaunch appearance… packing a new touchscreen. And today, via the FCC, multiple “Hero5 Black” filings have surfaced indicating the presence of WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS capabilities for video location tagging – a first for the line. While you’d think these hardware updates might increase the action cam’s bulk, the GoPro Hero5 is somewhat slimmer the the GoPro Hero 4 Black and about 30 grams lighter. Of course, the downside to the redesign is you’ll be on the hook for new accessories should you upgrade to the incoming flagship GoPro camera later this year.

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Philips just released firmware for the Philips Hue bridge that may permanently sever access to any “non-approved” ZigBee bulbs. We previously covered third party support in January 2015, when Philips indicated it was not blocked – and have since benefited.

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The recent change seems to suggest any non-Philips bulbs from manufacturers such as Cree, GE, and Osram will not be supported in many situations, whereas “Friends of Hue” branded product are. At the time of publication, it’s unclear whether 3rd party bulbs will stop working immediately after the firmware update or if they may only become inaccessible after the bridge is reset. We’re also not sure if being “reset” means rebooted or factory reset. This appears to apply to both the round v1 bridge and square v2 HomeKit-compatible bridge after the latest firmware update is applied. Continue Reading…

hue-homekitAs promised (to me personally, natch), all Hue HomeKit details will be revealed this month… and they’ve started trickling out a bit earlier than Philips had anticipated.

By way of two overseas leaks, we get a sense of the updated Hue bridge. The squarer, more sophisticated-looking unit will be available as a standalone purchase, for possibly 60 euros, enabling folks to retrofit an existing Hue household for Siri control via iPhone or iPad. Presumably, we’ll also see new Hue bundles featuring this hub. I imagine the HomeKit portion is additive — If you have Apple devices, bonus. If not, no problem, just use the existing app and functionality.

Meanwhile, I’m not overly impressed with the new dimmer, but am still awaiting brighter Hue lighting and really need some BR30s in the Lux all-white line.

The Google OnHub announcement led to a cacophony of polarizing views regarding this new, unexpected router. And now, after having deployed it within the Miarka house the past 24 hours, my thoughts fluctuate — I love the ease of setup and administration, but find myself perplexed by some of the performance I see throughout the house. Read on for more impressions of Google’s first router as it exists today.

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I tend to avoid most gadgety Kickstarters, given their poor track record in delivering high quality products on time, if at all. But Sideclick deserves some special attention — as this accessory meets a real need and they’re far enough along in development that they’ve been able to send some review samples out.

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As those of us with Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV are well aware, their respective diminutive remotes don’t control our televisions. And not all situations should require a Harmony investment. Enter Sideclick, a clever modular accessory that consists of an IR learning remote and a replaceable cradle custom fit for your particular streamer. What you lose in ergonomics and beauty, you presumably more than make up for with less clutter and improved convenience.

Looks like they’re shooting for an early 2016 launch, running about $30 for a remote and cradle bundle, with replacement cradles running perhaps $8 a pop. I personally don’t feel the need to pre-order, especially with new Apple TV and Fire TV hardware on the horizon. But color me interested.

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A former colleague shipped me his company’s highly regarded Playstation 4 Afterglow wireless headset to check out. Unfortunately, as an owner of the far superior Xbox One (heh heh), I’m unable to partake – and we decided to share the love.

From the (after)glowing review on KSTP:

PDP’s Afterglow wireless headset for the PS4 is awesome. I liked everything about it. […] The first thing I noticed when I put on the headset was that it was very comfortable. […] At the end of the left speaker is a flexible noise cancelling microphone. I used this a lot when I was playing with my friends and they said that they could hear me perfectly and there wasn’t any distortion. […] The audio sounds amazing.

So if you’re in need of a PS4 headset upgrade, this giveaway is for you. Simply leave a comment declaring your interest and we’ll pick a winner at random in the next couple days. US residents only, please.

In preparation for the new features of iOS9, specifically around keyboard shortcuts, I thought it was time to finally figure out a keyboard solution for my iPad. After some research, I narrowed it down to either the Logitech Keys-to-Go and the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard. Both keyboards are similar in terms of features and dedicated buttons for quickly accessing iPad functions. But in the end, I preferred one over the other.

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If you value how the keyboard “feels” when typing, the Keys To Go (K2G) are more responsive compared to the Microsoft Universal Mobile and the soft material makes the keys nicer to the touch. The K2G is water resistant if you decide to spill that drink on it at the office desk or pot of pasta sauce at the kitchen. :-) Also, the K2G has a physical on/off switch which I prefer. You know that the keyboard is actually off. The MS Universal, you turn if off by putting on the top cover which is kinda cool, but there are times when you wonder whether it’s really turned off. Continue Reading…