HomeKit comes to Hue

Adam Miarka —  October 7, 2015 — 12 Comments

01 new hue hub

Back in June, Philips announced that the Hue ecosystem would be compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. There was speculation if we’d need to purchase another Hue hub, or if the existing hub could be updated via software to support HomeKit. After plenty of leaks, and even a hands-on prior to launching, Philips has officially released a new Hue bridge to the masses.  Turns out that if you want HomeKit compatibility, you will need to purchase a new hub.  This falls inline with other vendors who have had to “relaunch” their products with updated hardware to meet Apple’s security requirements.  The good news for existing Hue customers though, is that Philips will offer a 33% discount to upgrade.  I won’t recap the physical changes to the new Hue hub as they are documented on multiple sites. What I want to do is walk thru the actual transfer process from the old Hue hub to the new one and some general observations, specifically around HomeKit and compatibility.

Transitioning from the old hub

The first thing you will need to do is make sure you have the latest Hue app. Philips released an updated version for earlier this week (iOS / Google Play) which supports transitioning hubs. Once updated, you will also need to make sure that the Hub itself has the latest firmware. You will be prompted to update automatically.

Philips has made it incredibly easy to transition bulbs and scenes from your old hub to the new one.   This is contrary to my Lutron experience which required me to unpair all lights/switches and repair them to the new hub. It can’t be understated how much this will make existing customers happy. Continue Reading…

Roku 4, For Real This Time

Dave Zatz —  October 6, 2015 — 42 Comments

After weeks of leaks, the Roku 4 finally breaks cover. As expected, new 4K and 801.11ac capabilities receive top billing, Also, not too shabby is the additional of optical output, unlike the majority of its streaming competition. And the mystery of that top port or sensor is finally solved. It’s neither. But, rather, a remote finder button used in conjunction with a small speaker grill on the back of an updated remote. To contain the upgraded tech, including a new quad core processor, the iconic Roku puck is no more — replaced with something that resembles a hotplate.


On the app side, Roku boasts more 4K content than others — beyond the requisite Amazon and Netflix, the HDCP 2.2 platform will also bring Vudu and M-Go at launch. But these app updates could end up replicating what one finds natively on their 4K televisions. And why it pains me that Roku didn’t sneak an OTA tuner or HDMI pass-thru into the larger chassis this time around. They’ve got a pleasant and efficient user interface (that already includes television support) and could keep non-DVR folks pinned to Input 1. Perhaps they disagree on the value of unifying that OTA linear and over-the-top content, like a TiVo or Xbox. Or maybe they’ve got some sort of non-compete in place with their television partners. Another missed opportunity is cleaning up that remote. Roku’s top tier streamer breaks the $100 threshold for the first time, clocking in at $130 – $30 more than the 4k Fire TV. I’d think this flagship model could easily do away with the spam buttons. And one reason why I may never upgrade from my 2014 Roku 3.

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TiVo-Roamio-OTA-dealThe new TiVonomics got you down? Fortunately for you, TiVo is blowing our select Roamio inventory post Bolt intro. And this Roamio OTA is bundled with Lifetime service for a very attractive $300. For comparison, the 4-tuner Bolt starts at the same $300 but, after year one, requires either $150/year for ongoing service or $600 for Lifetime. Granted, Bolt does 4k… but, with a limited selection of content, it’s likely not yet a motivating for most. The main thing you give up is the Bolt’s controversial new look and integrated stream capabilities. One is likely irrelevant and the other can be corrected with an even more capable $130 Stream accessory, should you so choose. But you better strike while the iron is hot as TiVo will run out of inventory at some point and will surely cease sales once the OTA-only Bolt is unveiled later this year to prevent cannibalization. (Thanks David!)

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While Philips Hue HomeKit-compatible gear isn’t officially expected until October 6, the A19 Starter Kit has begun appearing at various retail locations. Indeed, I literally got my hands on the v2 hub bridge. It’s smaller and squarer than the existing model, with a nicer matte finish and generally more tasteful presentation… that is entirely irrelevant since you’ll be plugging it into your router somewhere out of sight. There are three indicators, plus a glowing ring that surrounds the much larger pairing button.

As Philips moves the line to HomeKit, pricing of Hue bundles looks to remain unchanged (in the US, anyway). What’s not yet clear, but should be revealed within the next 48 hours, is the cost of a standalone HomeKit bridge to retrofit the bazillions of Hue homes that sport iOS (like mine). Also unclear, as I’m pretty sure an App Store update is required, is the extent of Siri voice control. For example, will it best Amazon Echo’s existing but limited (tho useful) Hue interaction?

UPDATE: The HomeKit replacement hub has popped up on Amazon for $60… But I’m waiting to learn more about Siri’s capabilities before making my purchase.

As we continue to hunt the elusive Roku 4, a source has provided the below image… which, after a long absence, indicates the triumphant return of S/PDIF optical audio to the Roku platform. And what makes this detail even more compelling is that Amazon has dropped optical from their competing 4K Fire TV this generation, to the consternation of some.


Beyond these restored audio capabilities, which we’d expect from a flagship streamer, we know the Roku 4 serves up 4K video hand in hand with 802.11ac wireless for the first time. A previously disclosed full frontal photo (below) more clearly depicts a new elongated form (“the hotplate“) and from the FCC filing we know there’s a handy new finger-depressable reset button on the bottom. What we don’t know are specific 4k-specific details, like HDMI version or potential support for HDR. Plus, it’s unclear what that sensor or port on the top of the Roku is all about. Lastly, and possibly related, I’m hopeful Roku’s got some software surprises for us. Continue Reading…

Didn’t I tell you Best Buy would be the place to get Amazon’s 4k Fire TV ahead of the official October 5th release? Whereas I’d assumed in-store inventory was ripe for abuse, it turns out the advantage was gained via online sales. Folks who’d pre-ordered had units shipped early on 9/30. And, as you can clearly see from the imagery below, they’ve started arriving. This slip-up isn’t on par with, say, iPhones arriving ahead of official reviews, but I can still appreciate as a gadget agent of chaos.


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tivo-hatBeyond TiVo VP Margret Schmidt operating well out of her lane to periodically chime in on the TiVo Community Forum, the site that TiVo once bankrolled hasn’t seen much company participation in recent years. That changed today with a marathon QA session handled by TiVo Chief Marketing Officer Ira Bahr. I appreciate his frank engagement with the community and his message (even if the Investor Relations group may not).

Ira provides quite a bit of insight into their market strategy with Bolt and intention to keep the hardcore happy with a more suitable product offering next year. I still think the Bolt has an uphill battle, as currently presented… but perhaps there’s time to deliver a more economical cord cutter-centric “Aereo Edition” this year or flip up pricing should they receive the lukewarm response I expect.

A sampling of the good stuff, chopped up and reassembled: Continue Reading…

Verizon launched a new online video service of some sort  — and I suspect I might too old, too cranky, or just too discerning to appreciate it. However, if you’re a VZW customer like me, creating a go90 account from your smartphone will net you a bonus 2GB of data for a period of three months. So why not?


(Thanks Chris!)