Incandescents have enjoyed a good century as the light bulb of choice, but times are changing. So too are efficiency standards, which are set to jump to a new, even higher threshold starting January 1st. Once that happens, it'll be time to bid adieu to 60- and 40-watt incandescents. Don't be too quick to mourn, though. Recent advancements in LED technology have brought prices down on these highly efficient, long-lasting bulbs even faster than anticipated, with some creeping down below the $10 mark. What's more, there's an increasing number of choices when it comes to color … Read more
While the majority of the TV industry prattles on about higher and higher resolutions, few talk about improving other, more important aspects of the TVs picture: contrast ratio and color.
Dolby, though best known for its audio technologies, has been doing a lot with video recently too. The latest development addresses dynamic range, or difference between light and dark, for televisions. The company says it wants to enhance not just contrast ratios, but the richness and realism of color as well.
Dolby won't be announcing the official name of this tech until CES next month, but for now let's call it the Dolby High-Dynamic Range Television System because it shares a lot of the same characteristics of HDR imaging. Here's why it's cool (potentially). … Read more
This review was updated on February 20th to account for the new Android app.
Piper is a $239 Wi-Fi-enabled home security system with an intriguing all-in-one style that diverges from the DIY security system mainstream. Lately we've seen a lot of starter kits that come with motion and door/window sensors, but no camera. Examples include $199 iSmartAlarm, $199 Oplink Security TripleShield, $229 Viper Home, and $229 SimpliSafe. It's tempting to compare Piper with simpler IP-based cameras like the Dropcam Pro, but it does much more than that.
While these systems offer individual accessories, and therefore more installation … Read more
Most of today's home automation options come in the form of old-guard systems like Insteon or crowdfunded Internet startups like SmartThings. The Iris Home Management System, a descendant of the UK-based AlertMe, is a little bit different, as it has the full backing of US retail giant Lowe's. You can order Iris online, or pick it up from one of the hundreds of Lowe's across the country that showcase the system, along with the multitude of compatible Z-Wave switches and sensors you can add to it.
As a system capable of working with such a wide range … Read more
Samsung announced Tuesday that it is extending compatibility of its HomeSync media center to more Android devices, including those made by other companies.
The $299 device, which launched in the US in October, lets people store, sync, and stream content from their mobile devices to their TVs while at home or on the go. HomeSync also provides 1TB of storage for up to eight separate accounts and gives each user the option to sync photo albums, video, and music and to upload and download mobile content.
While HomeSync initially worked only with Samsung mobile devices equipped with Samsung Link, the … Read more
Belkin's WeMo Switch smart power plug is one of our favorite smart-home devices because it provides such a low-risk home automation entry point. The new model, the $59.99 Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, has the same capabilities as the $49.99 original -- remote device power control, programmability, IFTTT support -- along with a more compact design, and the surprisingly deep ability to track the energy consumption of any gadget you plug into it.
Are those extras worth the $10 price premium? The smaller housing is more visually appealing than the original. For many people that alone will be … Read more
Curious about home automation? If so, you'll want to be sure to consider SmartThings. With a variety of helpful, multifunctional sensors, wide product compatibility, and a slick-looking smartphone app to control it all, last year's Kickstarter-born startup is one of the most appealing smart-home offerings yet. At $99 for a standalone SmartThings Hub and with sensor-rich kits starting at $199, it's a relatively affordable option, too -- especially given the fact that SmartThings doesn't charge its users a monthly fee.
This is a system that takes full advantage of home automation's immense potential. The sensors … Read more
Home canning has been around for a long time. And while there's nothing necessarily wrong with grandma's approach, traditional water-bath canning is a fairly arduous process. From preheating the jars to removing the preserved food from the boiling water, you have to actively monitor, well, everything. If you don't, your food runs a greater risk of carrying harmful bacteria.
Enter Jarden Home Brands' $299.99 Ball Freshtech Automatic Home Canning System. Yes, you still have to prepare the recipe for canning and clean the jars, lids, and bands beforehand, but this appliance will preheat your jars and … Read more
With televisions, HDMI is the most common connector. But if you want to connect a computer to your TV (or you've got a new computer monitor), the options tend to be HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, and sometimes old-school VGA.
Each connection has its pros and cons, and perhaps the best cable to use with your display is more than just "what it came with."
Here are the differences.… Read more