That's what Alex Hawkinson, chief executive of SmartThings, envisions. His startup makes a family of Internet-connected devices for the home. SmartThings also runs a platform service that helps people remotely control all of the other disparate devices made by different companies that are beginning to make their way … Read more
At less than 24 inches tall, the Klipsch Heresy III is the shortest floor-standing speaker I've ever tested. Don't let its diminutive stature fool you. This speaker can outrun many a tower speaker -- and outlast them. In an age of disposable tech, any speaker that sticks around for five years or more is noteworthy, but Klipsch's Heresy has been in continuous production since 1957. And the Heresy III outshines most contemporary high-end speakers in a few key performance areas.
Dynamic impact and bass "slam," courtesy of the Heresy III's 12-inch woofer, are extraordinary. … Read more
Surely you've heard the term "Internet of Things" this year, and perhaps you're even intrigued by the concept. Smart devices ranging from thermostats to locks to light bulbs captured our attention this year. The reason in part is because adding some connected smarts to these household basics offers up benefits that are easy for consumers to understand. Whether you want to monitor the comings and goings in your home, save energy, or simply glide through a fully-automated world of connected devices, the appeal is clear.
Extend that idea to large appliances and the benefits become less … Read more
Incandescents have enjoyed a good century as the light bulb of choice, but times are changing. So too are efficiency standards, which jumped to a new, even higher threshold back on January 1, officially rendering 40-and 60-watt bulbs obsolete. Despite Congressional leaders postponing the official phase-out for the time being, manufacturers are continuing to lead the charge into a new era of higher efficiency lighting -- and largely leaving incandescents by the wayside.
Don't be too quick to mourn them though. Recent advancements in LED technology have brought prices down on these highly efficient, long-lasting bulbs even faster than … 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