Home Automation

May 03 2017

News - ecobee4 is now official, sports Amazon Alexa support

The ecobee4 fortold by Zatz Not Funny! has arrived. Well sort of - you can now pre-order the smart thermostat for $249 (or $313 to include two additonal sensors) with an expected ship date of May 15th. Not bad at all considering that it suports Amazon Alexa (saving you a Dot purchase) and includes a remote sensor.

Feb 28 2017

News - Z-Wave diagnostic tool now available

I like Z-Wave. Compared to "smart" IOT IP devices, it usually just works - as long as you have a good home automation controller (HAC). In the past, when you did have a little trouble it was very difficult to figure out what was going on (usually range problem IME). Fortunately, there's now a tool for installers or curious DIYers that will help you map and troubleshoot any issues with the network. At $250, it's a little pricey, but could be well worth it in the long run.

Jan 05 2017

News - D-Link announces first Apple HomeKit compatible camera

The Apple HomeKit ecosystem has been a bit sluggish (relative to other Apple kit), so it's nice that their finally getting a camera via the D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD (DSH-C310). No word on price though...

Full PR after the break.

Dec 15 2016

News - CPCR guide for DIY survelience system

I've been leaning heavilty towards building a DIY NVR solution. If you've also thought about it, but weren't quite sure where to start - this is a great guide, even if you opt not to go with the hardware they selected.

Nov 22 2016

News - VidaBox addes two Apple device wall mounts to their collection

Placing a tablet or similar "smart" device in, or on, a wall is a very popular way to get touchscreen control device around the house at a faction of the price of a proprietary, and less functional, alternative. Depending on your preference, iPad or iPod and budget you should be covered.

Oct 25 2016

News - Amazon Echo now controls Harmony via "Skill"

If you have an Amazon Echo (or Echo Dot) you can now natively control your Logitech Harmony Smart Hub via a "Skill". It is US only for the moment (suck), but I was able to have a brief play with it anyway (shhh). Overall, it's nice that it's there. But, lacks some of the flexibility avaiable with ha-bridge integration (e.g. renaming activities to whatever you want). That said, not everyone want to spin up a box to host a 3rd party bridge app.

Oct 12 2016

News - Loki "smart" Wi-Fi thermometer Kickstart[er]s today

As a fan of "smart" technology and cooking, I was immediately interested in the Loki thermometer when I heard about it. From what I understand the orb senses when your food is going to be ready and let's you know that it's time to take it off. Making it much easier to get the perfect, bloody (or not) meat. For someone who can never get that my pork loin quite right (always overshooting, grrr...), I'm going to have to join the early queue.

Sep 05 2016

News - NETATMO announces smart radiator valves

People may poke fun at IoT and Smart Home, but these smart radiator valves are exactly the kind of thing that I think sell the home automation (HA) story. They increase efficiency, reduce the need to intervene, and provide useful feedback on what's goin on in my home while potentially saving me money. Perfect.

The valves are £59.99 and you need their £149 Smart theromostat, so not crazy expensive especially compared to some of the other players in the UK Smart heat control market (and they look a bit nicer IMO). There was no mention of how the valves are powered though, which would be something I'd want to know before splashing out.

Update: the valves are powered by two AA batteries which should last about two years.

Apr 10 2016

News - DUNE HD Solo 4K

Just finished reading the PR for DUNE HD's upcoming Solo 4K player. WOW, there is a lot of information to be had. First off, the player itself looks fantastic. Small, lots of power, all the great stuff we've come to expect from DUNE HD's "just plays" experience, and with DVB-T/T2 tuners and 2.5" HDD for DVR support we have a great start for a complete media player. Add in Sigma Design's VXP video processing engine (which is supposed to be amazing), and the news that they've made the switch to ARM which should make it easier for DUNE HD to support, as well as enabling the Android OS boot option, and it's looking even better. Finally slather on a built-in Z-Wave HAC (Home Automation Controller), and I think you'll have to agree that this is something to get excited about. MSRP is a reasonable $349/€349, so the only real question is when.

Mar 14 2016

News - Observer makes copy pissing on Smart Home tech

While I can see the author's point ("Smart Home" technology doesn't play nice together), I'm not convinced his approach is valid. Yes, the market is fragmented. Yes, there is a serious lack of agreement on standards. Yes, it can be very, very frustrating. But, it's a new thing. We are very much still in the early adopter phase. I'd rather have this Darwinian experiement where the strong and agile survive than something handed to me by Comcast, Verizon, or ADT.

More importantly. If you just want something that works. Stop whinging and do your homework before buying. Pick a holistic solution. Sure there might be compromises, and you won't get the best-of-breed flavor of the month, but it will work. Or, if you don't want to revise - get a Z-Wave + IP system (like the Vera). Been around for ages, works great.

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