Archives For Accessories

Ooma Preps Office Phone

Dave Zatz —  March 26, 2018 — 4 Comments

As so many of us have replaced both land and VoIP lines with cellular service, and given the telco-cable incumbents largely cornering the residential VoIP market, Ooma appears to have successfully expanded their telephonic services into business sector. And now, via the FCC, we learn Ooma intends to similarly expand their hardware into Cisco and Avaya territory with the corporate-looking DP1 Desk Phone. Although, interestingly, the DP1 manual indicates Ooma Telo hub pairing is required (and the display does indicate home office)… vs. Ooma Office. Presumably, this core competency initiative will fare better than their smart home aspirations that have been overshadowed by well-established and noisier competitors.

Back when the cellular providers offered very few minutes for very many dollars, I swore by Ooma – especially when working 3,000 miles from the office. And I will fondly remember them and their stellar performance as I currently drink of the unlimited Verizon and T-Mobile firehose (and try to take as few calls as possible).

While core FiOS TV visuals have languished, amidst at least one possibly jettisoned reboot, they’ve continued to expand functionality … and introduced an Alexa skill just a few weeks back to enable DVR voice control.

With Fios TV and Amazon Alexa, you can enjoy easy, hands-free voice control over your TV. You can tell Alexa what you want to watch, search for TV shows, movies, and actors from the guide and Video On Demand catalog. Use your voice to pause, play, fast-forward, or rewind.

Alexa integration requires internet-connected Fios Multi-Room DVR Enhanced or Premium service and is compatible with all Echo devices including: Echo Plus, Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, or Echo Show.

Verizon may be new to Alexa, but they first implemented app-based voice control nearly two years ago – which isn’t as convenient as a somewhat ubiquitous and always-listening device. Initial FiOS skill reviews are mixed, as they often are at launch, but will hopefully improve over time. And, hey, at least they beat TiVo to market?

As with every CES, all sorts of sexy gadgetry parades about the various show venues. And, while I wasn’t in attendance this year, you can bet I was obsessively ingesting of the tech blog coverage and press release fire hose. While some swooned over recycled approaches that are unlikely to move markets and televisions only corporate entities could entertain, I found myself smitten with an inexpensive Anker accessory.

The Internet of Everything seemed to be the overarching theme this year, with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant garnering much attention through all sorts of integrations. Yeah, many of these are superfluous with a number of open questions regarding security, privacy, and reliability. But, but gadgets! As such, the $50 Anker Roav VIVA caught my eye. It’s cheap, fun, and … shipping next month — something you can’t say about so many CES unveilings. No, I don’t need Alexa in my car. But that didn’t stop me from driving around with an Echo Dot like Alan Wolk. In many ways, Alexa is largely inferior to the native Android or iPhone voice assistants as an automative communicator (think text messaging and navigation). Yet, Alexa is so much better with random queries and sports a humgo list of skills (and my daughter loves calling Elmo). Continue Reading…

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In trying to determine if the new Apple Watch 2 it might meet my aquatic needs, I’ve found Apple’s marketing and support pages largely devoid of detailed information. Fortunately, I’ve been able to turn up Apple Watch 2 details by querying a number of reviewers and via Apple Insider’s swim-centric overview. And, although Apple Watch looks to be a solid solution for those for swim continuously, my enthusiasm has been tempered:

Where the Apple Watch’s swim tracking starts to fall short is for people looking to do more varied swim workouts based around swim sets and focused exercises like stroke drills and kicking […] The Apple Watch’s pace calculation also becomes less useful if you’re doing interval-based sets, as it’s simply going to tell you the interval you were going on instead of your actual swimming pace unless you manually pause the workout as you finish each repeat and resume before starting the next one.

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Netgear Arlo Cams Go Pro

Dave Zatz —  October 13, 2016

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Arlo has long been my preferred network camera, handily besting the likes of Nest due to a generous free tier of service and unrivaled placement flexibility — weather-proof, battery-powered, and wireless. Well, Netgear has just upped the ante with the Arlo Pro line of cameras. In addition to what sounds like generally improved optics (and now audio) to possibly match the Arlo Q model, the two new features that have me contemplating an upgrade are rechargeable batteries (supposedly good for 6 months) and USB video storage. However, these refinements do come at a cost. Whereas my original Arlo 4-pack ran $500, the equivalent Pro bundle goes for $650. It seems I could add enhanced Pro cameras to my current config, but local storage does require the new hub.

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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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gopro-hero5

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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