Archives For Gadgets

mobitv-connect

Next up in the streaming stick space is the MobiTV Connect… that just passed thru the FCC. The company originally known for streaming amazingly low resolution television content to Sprint phones clearly continues to pivot. And, back in September, MobiTV told The Donohue Report their HDMI hardware would launch via two US wireless carriers in early 2015. More akin to Chromecast than Amazon Fire TV Stick, the microUSB-powered dongle is designed to be controlled via smartphone. Indeed, the FCC-published manual includes Android screenshots used for wireless pairing – with both Bluetooth LE and WiFi making appearances. Of course, much more interesting than the stick hardware itself, are the over-the-top video services that may be made available … and at what cost.

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Background

Three years ago, Nest announced their first smart thermostat clocking in at $250. While others balked at the price, I saw the value of something that could potentially reduce our family energy expenditure. And save money we did! Despite the upfront cost of the Nest, after having used the device that first twelve months, I estimated we dropped our gas and electric bill by $500 for the year. The second year, the savings continued. I offloaded my 1st generation Nest and upgraded to the 2nd generation Nest along with adding a few of the Nest Protect smoke alarms to the house.

But despite seemingly being all-in on the Nest platform, there recently have been a few changes to both their products and the thermostat market in general that have me rethinking our current setup – including potentially switching out to a new brand. First, Google acquired Nest. As much as I appreciate Google’s ability to find pretty much anything on the Internet, I have reservations in providing them too much data, especially when it comes to our home. Call me paranoid all you want, but that’s simply how I feel.

Second, the Protect product seemed so promising at first release. Our Nest is situated in the dining room which is rarely accessed when we are in the house, therefore the Nest can not accurately tell when we are home or not.  With the wired Protects, Nest would be able to monitor our house for motion and help adjust the auto features which would alleviate the Nest from not being able to “see” us when we were home.  I found that this really didn’t work so well when we had our four-legged furry friends running around the house during the day. I was hoping that the Protects would help build a better picture of our occupancy of our home, but it really didn’t seem to add much smarts to the Nest, just false alarms for movement.

Enter Ecobee3

To tell you the truth, I really didn’t pay that much attention to the Ecobee3 launch back in September. For the most part, I was happy with my Nest and really didn’t see much benefit to the Ecobee3. I was wrong. After noticing a few of the tech sites I follow start to post more about the Ecobee3, the more I became interested. This was especially the case when I payed attention to the remote sensors that can be added to the Ecobee3. Could this solve the problem that my current Nest platform has with not being able to determine not only occupancy of the house, but also the correct temperature for the different rooms? Continue Reading…

After 12 hours with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, some thoughts…

The remote feels exceedingly cheap compared to the premium clicker that ships with the full-fledged Fire TV box and I had some difficulty removing the battery cover. Having said that, a flimsy remote is infinitely more valuable than no remote… versus Google Chromecast, which requires a smartphone for interaction.

In the app department, the Fire TV UI remains somewhat unwieldy compared to Roku given its expected emphasis of Amazon services – but it’s certainly manageable, More importantly, the third party content selection is still lacking. For example, our kitchen TV is perfectly suited for CNN or Sky News (as seen on Apple TV) background noise, yet neither are available. Also missing, but expected soon, is HBO GO. I had no problems streaming Netflix and WatchESPN – both looked great. Plex also seems to be working wellContinue Reading…

Refurb Kindle Paperwhite @ $79

Dave Zatz —  November 10, 2014 — 14 Comments

paperwhite-pool

While I failed to post on last week’s fantabulous refurb Kindle Fire HDX deal, despite getting in myself, the Paperwhite is similarly on sale now for 24 hours. The $79 refurb

is a pre-owned Kindle Paperwhite that has been refurbished, tested, and certified to look and work like new. Includes a full one-year limited warranty, just like a brand-new Kindle Paperwhite.

Indeed, my recently received HDX looks brand-spanking-new (as we’ve been enjoying ESPN and the FiOS app at the kitchen table, Alpha House in bed). And, as far as Amazon’s e-readers go, the Paperwhite represents the best value – even sweeter at this price point and despite the retired physical page turn buttons. I’ve quite enjoyed my glowing touchscreen reader over the last year, as has Nathan (who?).

Amazon just surprised everyone with a crazy speaker that talks to you

dlink-window-sensorBy way of the FCC (1, 2), we learn D-Link intends to expand its range of home monitoring products beyond WiFi and into the realm of Z-Wave with a pair of new CR123A-powered environmental sensors. From the product manuals:

The sensor DCH-Z110/Z120 have PIR or door/window integrated with, temperature and illumination, which are 3 sensors function in one, based on Z-Wave technology.

Beyond that arcane product labeling, these will also be known as the myllink Z-Wave Motion Sensor and the mydlink Z-Wave Door/Window Sensor. We can’t say we’re entirely surprised to see D-Link go further down the smart home path, given their collaboration with Zonoff to produce the new Staples Connect hub – which communicates via WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee… and, of course, Z-Wave.

roku-google-play

After the debacle that was Google TV and the aborted Nexus Q sideshow, Google bounced back nicely with the inexpensive and effective $35 Chromecast streaming stick. Not content to leave well enough alone, Android TV was announced at Google I/O and the Asus Nexus Player recently hit the market ahead of a revised, second generation Chromecast. And, as these two new products ramp up while project management fails to present a clear vision, Google has hedged their bets… by launching their Google Play video store on Roku. Given Logitech’s abandonment of Google TV and ASUS’ prior streaming efforts, Amazon Fire TV is the “Android TV” I’d go with or that aforementioned Roku for those deep into Google’s ecosystem. While Amazon similarly provides its video service to competing devices, including TiVo, the retailer’s business model and approach is better defined.