Archives For Accessories

Amongst the 70 devices (!) Amazon announced was… a clock. An old, school analog clock. Or so it appears upon casual inspection. But, in actuality, the $30 Echo Wall Clock is a smart home accessory, that communicates to a linked Echo over Bluetooth. As such, your time will always be set, including adjustments for DST. Further, up to three Alexa timers can be set (by speaking to that aforementioned linked Echo) with lighted tick marks providing various visual status indicators. Watch CNET’s event video below, it’ll make more sense. Or maybe not. :)  Continue Reading…

Don’t know what sort of stockings you’re sporting this time of year, but here are a few decent deals on some low ticket items that might interest you.

Aukey USB Charger – $6
I replaced an older, bulkier two-port Anker model with this little guy back in February and have been pleased. It’s unobtrusive in the kitchen, travels well, and simply does what it’s supposed to do. Use code FORMOM32 to knock $2 off and it’s shipped free via Prime. If you need more power (for iPads) or faster charging, this somewhat larger Anker is also on sale for $9.

Anker SoundBuds Slim – $20
I’ve been rocking these since December and use them more frequently than my Apple AirPods (for music) given the customizable fit (see the multiple options above) and comparatively superior blockage of ambient noise. Decent sound, decent battery life, and fairly quick recharging. I also appreciate the

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Ooma Preps Office Phone

Dave Zatz —  March 26, 2018

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…

apple_watch_swim_in_progress

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

arlo-pro-family

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.