Archives For Smartphone

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Good news, folks! Motion sensing triggers will soon be available to further trick out our Philips Hue lighting installations, without complicating matters with yet another hub and ecosystem — like Smartthings. From the FCC submission, we glean the Philips Hue Motion Sensor (with ambient light sensor) is both battery-powered and Zigbee-endowed. While we’d typically expect an accessory like this to be fueled by a watch battery, an overseas retailer Alza indicates a pair of common AAA batteries will be required — conceivably reinforcing what looks to be a 2×2″ profile. Further, the description indicates a 100 degree field of view over 5 meters. And, if we use their pricing as a guide, we should expect the Hue Motion Sensor to land somewhere in the $40-60 range when it hits within the next few weeks. Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 6, 2015

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Comcast Announces new Xfinity remote with voice control
You don’t have to learn a new language or speak like a robot. Just press the blue button, say what you want to watch and it appears on screen. It’s easy, just like watching TV should be.

JetBlue to Offer Amazon Prime Members Free Wi-Fi to Stream Video
Amazon is taking to the skies in its battle with Netflix: The e-commerce giant announced a deal with JetBlue, under which Prime members will have free, unlimited access to in-flight Wi-Fi — fast enough to stream video right to their seats.

TiVo Survey Indicates Majority of OTA Cord Cutters Come From Satellite
TiVo Inc., a leader in monetizing over the air signals for operators, today released the findings of an in-depth survey of Over The Air (OTA) TV consumers revealing that a materially higher percentage of cord cutters are coming from former satellite TV service subscribers.

Cable companies want you to pay twice for On Demand with Hulu Plus deal
In another sign that operators are increasingly willing to bring over-the-top streaming services directly to their subscribers, Hulu has announced that it has reached agreements with five multichannel operators to offer Hulu’s subscription streaming service to their customers.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 5, 2015

smartthings-watch

SmartThings iOS app adds Apple Watch capabilities
The fact that this update is coming to the iOS app for Apple Watch “further highlights SmartThings and Samsung’s commitment to an open platform,” The team behind SmartThings have released the SmartThings iOS app version 1.7.3 with Apple Watch integration.

Cable Cozies Up to TiVo & OTT
What a difference a few years makes. Former upstart TiVo was shunned by the cable industry for the better part of a decade, and Netflix has often ranked as enemy number one both for producing scads of Internet traffic, and for offering a competitive service to cable’s video-on-demand (VoD). Fast forward to today, however, and the cable industry has decided to mend fences all around.

Apple TV Remote Expected to Add Touch Pad in Redesign
The touch pad can be used for scrolling around and there will also be two physical buttons, the person said. The remote’s thicker size is comparable to the remote control for Amazon’s wireless speaker, the Echo, the person added.

Comast unveils Xfinity Share
Through Comcast’s new Xfinity Share app, X1 customers can live stream or send photos and recorded videos to their TV, or to the TV of another X1 customer, as well as live stream and share content to mobile phones.

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Back in September, Wink announced the addition of Relay to their ever growing lineup of home automation products. The Relay is a wall mounted touch screen device that connects to your Wink home automation system and is powered by an Android variant. It features Wifi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth communication protocols, but missing are the Z-Wave and Lutron ClearConnect capabilities included in the original Wink Hub. For $300, you might reasonably expect that that the Relay could replace the Wink Hub. Alas, not. Continue Reading…

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Back in 2013, Kwikset released Kevo ($219), a deadbolt created by Unikey that let users lock and unlock their doors with just their phone. This process utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE 4.0) to determine the location of your phone or a keyfob and whether or not it’s inside or outside the door. So far, the release of Kevo has only been compatible with the iPhone 4s and later because of the BTLE requirement. But according to their support page, Android development is currently underway.

Now connected door locks have been around for a while in one form or another, but Kevo was the first to incorporate Bluetooth into a standard looking door lock. There have been others such as Lockitron and Jawbone’s August, but these are still not fully released. I had originally backed Lockitron, but after waiting a year and a half for the thing to ship, I cancelled my order. The August lock is set to ship later this year.

As for Kevo, they have just released a substantial update. These new features include:

  • New Guest and Scheduled eKeys
  • Faster Lock / Unlock Speeds
  • Improved User Interface

Let’s take a look at the Kevo itself, then go into each feature listed above. Continue Reading…

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Within the last week, both Sonos and Nest released new products. And, while each is somewhat compelling in its own right, I can’t say I’m in the market for either.

First, Nest has beautified and modernized another mundane home appliance. But the connected Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector runs a lofty $129 and, with 5 existing detectors, I don’t care enough to spend the kind of money needed to outfit my house. Further, unlike the Nest Thermostat, there’s no potential energy savings to offset and perhaps mentally justify the cost. Lastly, for reasons unknown, my Nest Thermostat has a tendency to reboot and the motion sensor hasn’t been very responsive — neither of which motivates me to entrust my safety to Nest, despite the Protect’s imminent UL endorsement.

Sonos, by comparison, has released a $199 speaker… which almost makes the multi-sensor Nest Protect appear a reasonable proposition. But Sonos has never been inexpensive and the connected speaker market has featured outrageous pricing across the board these last few years. But ya gotta pay to play, and like my TiVo Mini, I’ve been willing to drop the cash on the best solution irrespective of a company’s profit margins. If I hadn’t recently outfit a couple more rooms with the $299 Play:3, I’d have saved some coin and went with the new and more attractive Play:1.

But what if these two companies hooked up… Continue Reading…

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Late last week, AT&T Moto X owners were treated to a software update largely focused on improving camera performance. And, having had a unit in the house the last couple weeks, I can tell you its 10 megapixel camera is now more consistent, shot-to-shot, and white balance is more accurate. However, at the end of the day, while the visuals are serviceable they’re also unremarkable — with my year old iPhone 5 and Galaxy Note 2 taking at least equivalent photos at a much quicker clip. For folks with dedicated point-and-shoots or dSLRs, I can’t imagine this is a big deal. Yet, I’ve been camera-less for several years now and photography, both the mundane and the notable, is a primary smartphone function. There is so much to love about the Moto X, starting with perhaps the perfect form factor, but I just can’t justify a purchase out of contract… and suspect I’ll end up with an iPhone 5s prior to CES (despite any pastel craziness).

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I am past due for a smartphone upgrade, and my HTC Thunderbolt shows it. But after going big (as in screen size) two years ago to get a phone with Verizon LTE, I’m more determined than ever to find a model this time around that fits a little more snugly in my pocket.

The good news is there are a couple of “mini” Android smartphone models to choose from. The bad news is none of them come with top-of-the-line specs. I don’t need an incredible camera or tons of storage space, but there are other bells and whistles I’d really like to have.

NFC support, for example. Do I need NFC? Continue Reading…