I bought an apartment in October. You can imagine the joy at the thought that it'd be my future family's home, terror at the sight of the mortgage value on the signed contract, and all the excitement about getting to set up a house from scratch. I could pick everything that I loved from design to materials to colors to organization, and yes, also automation.
I wanted lights that turn on when the doors open, A/C units that cool the place when I'm coming home and the outside heat is too much to bear, cameras that catch intruders the moment they are detected, a washing machine that notifies me when the load is done, colored lights that coordinate with whatever I'm watching on TV, blinds that open and close with the sunset and sunrise, and much more. Read More
The history of Android on tablets is complicated. Just as Apple had done in 2007 with the first iPhone, the iPad's release in 2010 set a very high standard for the rest of the market. The next year, Google released Android 3.0 Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom, designed specifically with tablets in mind. The Xoom wasn't the iPad killer that Motorola had hoped for, and there have been very few Android tablets that could stack up to Apple's iPad line.
Since Honeycomb, Android has shifted away from most tablet-specific features in favor of a shared UI on all screen sizes. There's still a large number of major applications clearly not designed for tablets (Hangouts comes to mind). Read More
I'm reviewing Google Wifi because my apartment sucks. Well, specifically: my apartment's walls suck. And the placement of my router is far from ideal. You see, because I need a hardline to my desktop PC in my office, that means keeping the router in the office, too, or snaking around fifty feet of unsightly ethernet from my living room along the wall (in-wall cabling is not an option for me). This presents a conundrum, because it means that if I want my apartment to have well-distributed Wi-Fi, I need a big, ugly, long cable running the length of the place. If I don't want to run the cable, it means lopsided Wi-Fi coverage. Read More
The market for wireless noise canceling headphones has been booming over the past couple of years. One day, we were struggling to find one pair of headphones that offered both Bluetooth connectivity and noise cancelation, the next there were more choices than we could fit in one Amazon result page. Plantronics, Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, B&O, and more brands are coming on the market with their own take on the matter and the options can be a little confusing for everyone.
Do you go for the trusted noise cancelation of the $349 Bose Quiet Comfort 35, pay the extravagant sum of $499 to get a new Beoplay H9, believe the hype over the $399 Sony MDR1000X, or prefer the well-known $350-400 Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 or its newer offering, the $399 Sennheiser PXC 550? Read More
For the past 4 years, I've been wearing a Fitbit device of some sort. I started with the One, which stuck with me for the better part of 3 years, then I tried the Blaze, the Alta, and the Charge 2. My main complaint with each of these trackers was the lack of water-resistance, which meant that I couldn't wear them in the pool or track my swims with them. I've tried several swim trackers including the Misfit Shine 2 Swim Edition and Amiigo, looking for something that could replace Fitbit, but the best that I found was the Garmin vivoactive, which has excellent swim tracking and can send the main stats to Fitbit through MyFitnessPal. Read More
A couple of weeks ago, I got my hands on Google Home and immediately set out to use it and record my initial impressions. Now that I've given this odd little device a chance to prove its worth in my home, the time has come to finish the review. Out of the gate, I must confess to a little personal surprise at just how little my opinions have changed from the first 24 hours I had to spend with the device. As such, I'm not going to repeat everything I said in my first post. This is an addendum. I will touch on all of the subjects again and add details where there is more to say – because there is still a lot to say. Read More
The Lenovo Phab2 Pro is not the first device to have Google's Tango augmented reality platform, but it's the first one to be aimed at consumers. It's also the first Lenovo-branded smartphone to launch in the US. With the Phab2 Pro, you can see virtual items overlaid in the real world, or explore virtual worlds by moving around in the real one. But let's not forget, this is a phone too. People will presumably buy this product to carry around with them on a daily basis, but it's only available as a $500 unlocked device. So, it's up to Lenovo to make a good pitch to US phone buyers who have more choices than ever before. Read More
When I first heard about the Blink security cameras, I was immediately impressed and intrigued. Having tried both the Piper and Canary in my pharmacy, to more or less mitigated results, the Blink seemed like the perfect solution.
Piper (full review) suffers from one major flaw: the camera doesn't turn itself back on after a power failure if the back-up battery is empty (and since we have lots of blackouts here in Lebanon, I got tired of buying new batteries every two or three weeks). It also doesn't have a native scheduled arm/disarm feature; I really shouldn't have to manually arm and disarm my cameras when a simple time-based schedule is easy to implement. Read More
When shopping for a budget or mid-range phone, there is always an element of compromise. How many high-end features, how much capability are you willing to give up for the sake of a few hundred dollars? It's a similar proposition in just about any field - from a multi-year car purchase to a simple meal - but the scales are tipping for mobile. The last few years have been marked by amazing value, and thus less and less compromise, in the mid-range segment.
Which brings us to LeEco. Previously exclusive to the Chinese market, the company's debut in the US is highlighted by the LePro 3. Read More
Amazon's Echo success took me a little by surprise. It seemed like we went overnight from questioning the idea of a voice assistant in a speaker to almost everyone owning an Echo and companies rushing to add Alexa support for their services and products. Part of what seemed like a quick success is due to the Echo Dot, the smaller cheaper version that you can sprinkle around the house in places where you don't care about excellent sound quality.
The second generation Echo Dot builds on that. Unlike the first one, you can order it directly from Amazon without having to use another Echo. Read More