If you live in a house with no central climate control, or if you're making an expansion to your house and it's impossible to get a ducted system in place, a ductless setup may be your only hope. Nest, Ecobee, and the dozen other smart thermostats we often talk about aren't compatible with ductless systems, so you have to start thinking creatively if you want connected climate control. The solution comes in the form of small units that can send the same infrared signals as an air conditioner's (AC) remote, but that are themselves WiFi-enabled for remote access. Read More
Many of us hope for the eternal dream of convergence, that the day may come when a phone can serve double duty as a laptop via a bit of cheap, dumb hardware. Motorola had its mediocre Lapdock, and Canonical tried and failed to crowdfund the Ubuntu Edge. More recently, Samsung's DeX dock has built a small fanbase for its desktop-like experience. But in 2016, the Superbook hit Kickstarter, promising to turn smartphones into laptops for only $99. Over two years later, the Superbook technically delivers on the abstract concept, but it's an unpleasant and rough experience. Read More
When it was first released, Essential's entry into the phone market was a bit of a flop. Reviews for the PH-1 weren't profoundly negative, but the phone's almost $700 price was humorously high considering its features and problems at the time. A bit over a year later, many of its early issues have been fixed or improved, the phone is one of just a handful to be updated to Android 9 Pie, and it's dropped down as cheap as $250 for Amazon Prime Day — though it's closer to $330 now. Read More
Polk had the interesting idea of putting an Echo Dot into a soundbar, not only offering something that sounds better than your TV's speakers, but also adding Alexa to your living room. This all-in-one solution was dubbed the Command Bar, an unassuming soundbar that also happens to have what looks like an actual Echo Dot shoved in the middle. Read More
As headphone jacks keep dying off, wireless headphones keep being relevant. And unless you're at peace with wrangling dongles, that means the average price of decent earbuds is rising. The days of swinging by Target on your way to the airport to grab a passable pair of $10 buds are numbered. C'est la vie.
Jaybird is aware of the rising cost of mobile audio accessories, though, which is why it's introduced the Tarah, a more affordable take on its X series of headphones with fewer bells and whistles. And while I applaud the company's initiative in introducing an entry-level Bluetooth headset to its lineup, at $99.99, the Tarah are plainly too expensive for what you get. Read More
For several years now, Sony fans and critics have been calling for the Japanese company to move away from its boxy, dated hardware design language and join its rivals in releasing a modern Android smartphone. When the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact arrived at MWC 2018 in February, we hailed them as a small step in the right direction. Curved glass and greatly reduced bezels around an 18:9 screen combined with high-end internals and a relatively stock treatment of Android — a recipe that was also followed for the overpriced XZ2 Premium that came in the summer.
It’s somewhat surprising that we’re talking about another flagship Sony phone so soon, yet the Xperia XZ3 stole the show at IFA 2018 and goes on sale at the beginning of October, just six months after the XZ2 was released and three months after the XZ2 Premium. Read More
The dashcam market is pretty saturated these days, with products ranging in price from $9 (yes, $9) all the way up to $600 or so. As a result, it can be pretty difficult to even get started with your search without being blasted with options. In the ~$100 price range, we've already checked out Anker's Roav C1 Pro and C2 Pro, which we found to be solid offerings.
This time around, we're checking out a dashcam from one of Anker's direct competitors: RAVPower (which owns VAVA). VAVA's Dash Cam 2K can record higher-resolution video than most at this price point, but sacrifices some features to keep costs competitive. Read More
As the name might suggest, Sphero's claim to fame is its sphere-shaped toy robots. These include the original Sphero, Sphero 2.0, Sphero Mini, BB-8, and BB-9E. The company has also been marketing some of its products towards education as STEM learning tools, particularly with the SPRK+.
Sphero's latest product is another educational robot - the Bolt. It's a minor upgrade from the existing SPRK+, with a configurable LED matrix display, infrared sensors for communicating with other robots, and "more than two hours of continuous play."
I think the Sphero Bolt is a well-designed product, but I'm not sure there's enough value to justify the $150 price tag, especially when it's only an iterative improvement over the company's existing robots. Read More
Password managers are becoming more and more of a hot topic nowadays. We live a lot of our lives online and that requires a growing number of accounts and identities; yet with multiplying security risks and hacks popping up left and right, it's crucial to use a password manager to stay on top of your login details. Most managers fall in one of two categories: the cloud solutions like LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane, or the local solutions with a cloud backup option like Enpass (my personal favorite) or SafeInCloud or Keepass. Myki straddles the line between the two, being neither this nor that, but having resemblances to both, plus some very unique attributes that make it intriguing... Read More
There is no shortage of portable 360-degree cameras. The most well-known in our circles is Samsung's Gear 360, but that only works with Samsung phones and iOS. Insta360's 'ONE' and 'Nano' cameras are also popular, though the latter only works with select iPhone models.
If price is no object, one of the leading devices in this category has been Ricoh's Theta V camera. It's tiny, but it packs a 4K sensor and the ability to record surround-sound audio (with a separate module). The camera's functionality can be extended by a variety of plug-ins, like one for streaming to YouTube or uploading media to Google Photos. Read More