A few months back, I got into the home automation game thanks to encouragement from Dave and Adam. I’ve experimented with a few different platforms thus far, and particularly like Philips Hue alongside Staples Connect.They work well together.

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Some people, for example, believe probably incorrectly that we are on a path to interplanetary teleportation. Should we include the estimated bandwidth for that as well?

-FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly

Sling TV from Dish with ESPN on iPad

Many, many other writers have reviewed Sling TV (the new online video service from Dish that was announced at CES), so I won’t belabor the points they’ve already covered. There are licensing issues. Not all features are available on every channel. It’d be nice to have more on-demand television content instead of mainly VOD movies.

But, on the other hand, ESPN is pretty great (plus Disney, HGTV, etc.). And any-screen access for live TV is a plus.

What struck me about Sling TV, however, is how much it doesn’t feel like TV. It feels like Netflix.

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Sonos 5.3 Beta

Within the last few days, a new APK for the Sonos Android app popped up online. And, throwing caution to the wind, I went ahead and installed the 5.3 beta. While I’m not privy to the release notes, and therefore not necessarily aware of all changes, it seems likely that massive usability enhancements headline this release.

Upon opening the app, we’re presented with our Sonos Favorites (which I now have reason to flesh out). Further, certain functionality like switching zones or enabling timers is more apparent, while requiring fewer clicks, as Sonos more sensibly surfaces these features. And beyond the new raft of top-level contextual menuing, the now playing bar gains new functionality in rating, where appropriate – like I Heart Radio and Pandora music streaming services. Continue Reading…

What a long strange trip it’s been. Vudu initially launched in 2006 as a $400 dedicated movie streaming box. The requisite price cuts and pivots followed, including serving up apps like Flickr and then feeding smart televisions, before Walmart swooped in. Since then, the video service has focused on its own mobile and set-top video streaming app … that’s landed on a whole host of set-tops and mobile platforms. And, here we are again, back to a dedicated piece of hardware in the new Vudu Spark. Having launched in Walmart stores just a few weeks ago, at $25, of course I had to pick one up. Continue Reading…

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Back in July, we reviewed the Kevo smart lock ($220) in light of the newer features that had just been released (scheduling, guest keys, performance improvements). Later in 2014, August, another Bluetooth based lock ($250), started to ship both pre-orders and to retail stores. Being the curiously obsessed gadget guy that I am, I had to at least try the August to see how it compared with the Kevo.

Fundamentally the Kevo and August work the same. Using your phone’s Bluetooth as a key, you can lock and unlock the device. Whereas you need to replace your entire door lock for the Kevo, with the August, you just need to replace just the inside portion of the lock. Installing the August was very simple and a much quicker than the Kevo as you are just removing the back of the lock. Continue Reading…

Jan 19