Archives For Smart Home

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).

Google has finally joined the doorbell camera fray with the Nest Hello. First introduced way back in September, they’ve met their first quarter target as the $229 units are now available at a variety of retailers, including select Home Depot and Fry’s… although the official street date is supposedly tomorrow, March 15th. I find Nest camera hardware and service pricey, compared to much of the competition and for similar functionality (with continuous recording something of a deficit in my estimation), so I’m awaiting Adam’s thoughts when he (temporarily?) swaps his Ring Pro, as I have no intention of making a purchase.

As the regulars know, I’ve been a huge proponent of Arlo wire-free cameras. And, since hopping on early, Netgear’s continued to expand the ecosystem by incorporating indoor cameras, cellular cameras, a variety of accessories, and home automation integrations… including Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit. So it wasn’t a huge surprise last fall when the company signaled full-on smart home hardware intentions by announcing the Arlo Security Light.

At the time, there wasn’t a lot of the detail. Now, from the recently published Amazon pre-order page, we learn an Arlo light two-pack will set you back $250 and a variety of product performance elements were reiterated: Continue Reading…

As TiVo puts the finishing touches on their CES experience, we can clearly see from the “booth” signage (above) that they’re expanding beyond newly introduced native voice control to embrace third parties. While TiVo “Vox” offers far deeper integration and control, including stacked commands, than Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can provide, those offerings are always-listening (for better or worse) and already installed in many TiVo customer’s homes… and options are good. No word yet on availability, but I assume this will come to all Hydra-endowed retail units and whichever MSOs choose to integrate (who may be limited by regional availability). Continue Reading…

Although announced last spring and having missed Belkin’s promised fall release, we knew the HomeKit-endowed WeMo Bridge was poised for release… and here it is. The Bridge does exactly what it says in linking up (a subset of) WeMo hardware to Apple’s smart home control — not only do you get direct Siri control of WeMo accessories, they’ll easily interoperate with all other devices in the ecosystem. For example, a WeMo motion sensor could be configured to trigger competing Hue lighting. Or the Philips Hue Motion Sensor, which I highly recommend, could trigger a WeMo Smart Outlet.

While WeMo Bridge pricing is reasonable at $40, it’s an easy decision for me to abstain. No, it’s not my well-documented frustrations with WeMo (since lessened) and HomeKit tepidness. It’s that Belkin has clearly abandoned the portion of the WeMo product line that I continue to rely on.

Well will you look at that… While Sonos’ April FCC filing turns out to be rather pedestrian, a brand spanking new, though heavily redacted (until February 28th) FCC filing confirms one new connected speaker with integrated voice control:

The EUT is 802.11 a/b/g/n (HT20) Client Device. Product model S13 is a high-performance all-in-one wireless smart speaker and part of Sonos’ home sound system. S13 adds integrated voice control functionality with far field microphones. Moreover, the device will support multiple voice platforms and music services, allowing customers to effortlessly control their music on Sonos.

So, not only will Sonos be gaining voice control from Alexa-powered hardware and apps, the streaming pioneer will also bring native hardware integration. From the included imagery, there will obviously be a mic button (or, more likely, touchable surface like the Play:5) – on what I assume is the first refresh of their entire speaker line. But will the speaker(s) also provide always-listening capability like Amazon, Google, and Apple? And which voice services, beyond Alexa, might we expect?

I can’t tell you if this is an entirely new model or replaces an existing one, but with CEDIA around the corner, perhaps the wait won’t be long…

No surprise, other than the delays, that Sonos is poised to drop their highly anticipated voice control. And we’re talking weeks, not months. While the connected speaker pioneer had previously suggested integration with multiple services, as they do music, I believe I can confirm Alexa as their sole, initial partner and that the Skill, accessed via Amazon hardware, may launch as a public beta (perhaps given a frustrating early implementation, per one source). Although, like Variety, we also wonder if new mic-enabled hardware is en-route … although it’s seemingly more likely they intend to stick with software integrations. In any event, the competition is about to heat up with the Siri-powered Apple HomePod and a more acoustically-focused Amazon Echo with whole-home aspirations on our fall agenda.