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I must admit; I had never heard of SimpliSafe before I was contacted to do a review for them. It turns out that this home security company is quite popular over in the States and they are hoping to replicate this success in the UK market.

Another admission, I only have a vague awareness of monitored alarm systems, always assuming it is something that rich people have and they sound like too much trouble than they are worth.

SimpliSafe eases some of these concerns, for a start, it is self-install, so no expensive installations. The starter kit is £279 so not exactly cheap, but it comes with an indoor security camera, and it is not substantially more than the unmonitored Yale Smart Home Alarm. Furthermore, you have three monitoring options, no monitoring, Pro and Pro Premium. It's monthly, with no contracts and the cheapest Pro plan, will set you back £12.99.

The differences between the two plans are that the Pro only has 24/7 Live Alarm Monitoring, Cellular Connection and Environmental Monitoring.

The Pro Premium has all that, and they will call the police for you, you can arm your system remotely, receive alerts on your phone, secret alerts, video alarm verification and unlimited camera recording. That’s quite a lot extra for just £7 more a month. So much so I feel like a few of those features could be on the Pro plan, such as phone alerts.

Without a subscription you will only be able to use this as a traditional alarm, disarming and arming it.

In comparison, the only pricing I can find for ADT is £361 or £398 per year for monitoring or monitoring with police response. That works out as £30 and £33, which is quite a big difference.

ADT products are only available from ADT and must be installed by ADT, so there are no DIY options. This includes the smart options, which often are possible to install yourself. 

The other curious thing about SimpliSafe is that there is no ugly alarm box on the side of your house. Some may argue this is a bad thing, the alarm box can act as a deterrent, but I am inclined to think that most burglars ignore that nowadays. SimpliSafe does include 2 window decals to advertise the fact you have this alarm and a yardstick, how very American.

Instead of an alarm box, this uses a base station, which is the hub and alarm in one, this makes the physical installation idiot proof even for the worst DIYer, all the modules use double sided tape to stick to their appropriate surface, so the whole install is drill and screw free.

As far as hubs go, it is quite attractive so you can place it on a side table without it making your room ugly. It uses microUSB for power but has battery backup, and it features cellular connectivity as well as Wi-Fi, allowing it to work independently from your Internet, but also independently from a contract.

The system is modular, the base package which is £279 includes an entry sensor to cover your main door, plus a motion sensor for an extra layer of protection and then an indoor camera.

For larger homes or individual wanting more comprehensive protection, there is the Bamburgh package which includes a glass break sensor, two motion sensors, three entry sensors, an extra 105dB siren, and two key fobs. This will cost £504

You can then add additional sensors to the system (or build your own custom system). This is another area SimpliSafe stands out from the crowd, it won't just monitor your home for burglaries, but can incorporate a smoke detector, flood/water sensor and freeze sensor.

Set up

Set up is quite easy, this is a smart system, so you can control everything via the app. Though it is possible to do everything via the keypad and the rest of the settings via the website where you activate your system

I set everything up via the app, mainly out of habit. Some of the settings you will need to go through are the subscriptions and if you want Similisafe to be able to drop in on your cameras in the event of an alarm. When you go through the setup procedure, you will be warned that the system will enter learning mode for a few days, this is so you can get used to things without them sending out police in the event you make a mistake.

Part of the set up will ask you to set up secondary contacts, and a safeword and the only way to prevent the police from being called (if you have that setup) is by providing the safeword.  

All the components themselves are pre-paired with the base station and keypad so all you have to do is unpack everything, remove the tab that stops the batteries running down and the backing from the sticky pads before pressing the sensors into position.

Setting up the main pin was done on the keypad rather than in the app, or at least that’s how I did it.

If you have a large home with a lot of sensors, you can set up two profiles, home and away. So with the home profile only a few sensors activate, allowing you to arm it when you go to sleep without triggering it.

Unfortunately, there is no third-party integration, so this won’t be able to link up with your lights, door lock, doorbell or other smart devices that may benefit from integration.

In use

I think one of the most important aspects of an alarm system is ease of use, and thankfully this system does that. The only time you need to type in your pin is to disarm it. You can enable it via the main keypad with the home or away options, or you can arm it via your phone (or a keyfob but I don’t have one of them).

The app replicates the functions of the keypad so you can change settings such as the volume of the voice on the base station, how long the siren sounds for when the alarm is triggered and more. There is an extensive number of settings to tweak things to your liking. You can also see the status of all sensors, plus any..

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I have talked about Plex a few times over the years, it is a fantastic application, and I have one of the lifetime licences to make the most out of it.

Like most users, I use it to manage my locally stored media, providing access from a server to all the streaming devices in the home.

A while ago Plex released an update that allowed you to run the Plex Server on your Shield directly. While this may not be the perfect Plex set-up, it is convenient for a lot of users, being smaller, cheaper and quieter than NAS or server solutions.

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Plex Features

I am sure you have heard of Plex and know all about its features, but if you haven’t then it is one of the most comprehensive solutions to organise and stream your personal collection of movies, TV, music, and photos. There have been regular updates to the service over the years expanding the functionality with some of the newer features including the ability to watch and record live TV, stream news from various free to air services, subscribe to podcasts and stream music from Tidal.

To make the most of it you need a server which will store all your personal media, and this then serves all the clients. Some of the features are also restricted to Plex Pass subscribers, though a lot are free, and more than enough for most users.

Plex server can be installed on various devices from home built servers, to off the shelf network attached servers and the Nvidia Shield. Unlike Kodi, Plex Server offers shared libraries and remote streaming out of the box, so it is arguably a superior solution to Kodi for a lot of people (I actually use both apps, and love them both equally). Plex Server currently has download options for Windows, MacOS, Linux and FreeBSD. There are then NAS specific options for Synology, Netgear, QNAP, Unraid and more. You can also run the server inside a Docker container.

Due to the popularity of Plex, the client software runs on almost any modern smart devices, it is available Windows, Mac, Linux. Then dozens of streaming devices and smart TVs, this includes Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox, and more.

My personal favourite streaming device is the Fire TV 4K HDR, it is cheap and has Dolby Vision compatibility which my Sony AF8 OLED uses.

In the future, I will do some set up guides for Plex on a server or NAS, but this guide and review is based on the Nvidia Shield.

Plex Pass

To achieve most out of Plex you will need a Plex Pass, though if you don’t want live TV, then you can probably get by without it.

If you want to try it out, then the monthly option is only £3.99, while a yearly pass is £31.99, and a lifetime pass is £94.99.

The lifetime offer goes on sale from time to time so I’d be tempted to try it out with the monthly, see if you like it and try and grab a lifetime around Black Friday.

Some of the useful features of Plex pass includes:

  • Live TV & DVR
  • Mobile Sync (for offline viewing)
  • Multiple users
  • Automatic camera uploading and tagging

You can read the full comparison here.

Setting up Plex & Plex server on the shield

There is not much to do here, you just download the Plex app to your Shield, open Plex app and then link it to your Plex Pass Account from a web browser. You can then go into the settings to enable the Plex Media Server.

With the Server running you can then manage it from a web browser. Depending on your router setting you can either access it from the dedicated Plex login (app.plex.tv) or via the IP address of your Shield. Plex uses port 32400 by default so you will have to go to http://192.168.x.x:32400/ to gain access.

If your router is stopping outgoing connections, you can open up the ports and set things up within the remote access part of the settings.  

Indexing local and networked media files

My Shield is the 16GB version, which is no use at all for sharing media between devices, but thankfully the Shield has several USB ports, and as soon as you plug in a hard drive you will be able to add any media on it to Plex.

This bit, again is simple, if you edit TV shows, select browse folders, browse for media folder then select the external folder and then whatever folder your TV is in. For this set up I only added a couple of TV shows.

If for some reason you have networked folders but want the Shield to be your Plex server, for example, you may have a NAS without the ability to run Plex, or not powerful enough to transcode media, you can enable network shares.

The SHIELD makes use of the “SMB” protocol to connect to network locations, so you will want to ensure that your network device supports that (nearly all do).

You may need to configure a username and password on your NAS or network share to access it across a network. Please consult your NAS or other device’s documentation for details and to ensure access privileges are correctly set up.

  1. Open the Nvidia Shield device Settings.
  2. Choose Storage & reset then Network Storage.
  3. Under Available Network Storage, select your device and then choose Connect as a registered user.
  4. Enter the username and password for the network location.
  5. You can now verify that the location was mounted successfully: 1 mounted will appear under Network Storage in the list. You can select that for details.

The network location is now available for use with libraries on your Plex Media Server.

Once your libraries are added, it takes a while for it to index everything, this is because Plex pulls in all the relevant data for the shows including thumbnails and synopsis.

Once everything is indexed, all your media is laid out beautifully and easy to navigate. It is like having your own Netflix at home, and I personally find the interface superior that is more user-friendly to navigate.

Setting up HDHomeRun

HDHomeRun is a fantastic little piece of tech that has a tuner built into it then broadcasts the live TV to your networked devices. You don’t need to use Plex with it, it supports dozens of devices separately. If you use HDHomeRun separately and want the DVR function you have to pay for it, whereas with Plex you bypasses this, though you still have to pay for the Plex Pass.

Setting this up is another straighforward process, though I found it required a little patience. The first steps include:

  1.  Attach the coax cable from your antenna to the input on the rear of the HDHomeRun.
  2. Connect the Ethernet cable to your HDHomeRun and output on your router.
  3. Hook up the power cable and watch the lights come on to make sure everything is OK so far.

That's everything you need to do with the box. The rest of the setup takes place on your PC.

  1. Head over to my.hdhomerun.com.
  2. The site should automatically detect your box.
  3. You can then run the scan directly from your browser, it will redirect to the IP address of the box and you can hit detect channels. This is the bit that required patience as it takes a long time.
  4. You can also optionally update the firmware if required.

Once set up, if you don’t want to use Plex you can use the HDHomeRun app on many devices. It works well but the design isn’t as nice as Plex.

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Originally posted in March 2018 I have no updated the post for 2019 to reflect some of the new tech and suggestions. This includes some reader recommendations too

In the past couple of years, the home automation industry has boomed, and the traditional Z-wave based systems have lost ground to the new wave of AI-based speakers from Amazon and Google.

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Controllers / Gateways Amazon Alexa or Google Home

While they are not strictly a controller in the traditional sense, the new AI speakers from Amazon and Google have brought home automation to the masses, and they provide the cheapest and easiest way to get into home automation. I have used both Alexa and Google home, and even though I prefer Google as a company, Alexa is my choice of controller. The available skills and combined skills far outnumber Google Home at the moment.

Samsung SmartThings
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Anker produces some of the best affordable robotic vacuums and they have just updated their models to the new Max series and for a limited time, you can get a 25% discount via their pre-order deal.

For £1 you will receive a 25% discount code valid for the first 3days of the product launch. The 11S Max will be launched on July the 1st at £239.99 so £179.99 with the pre-order discount.

Both models feature enhanced suction power, an integrated washable filter and a redesigned dust-collection system.

The older RoboVac 11S T2108 used to have a suction rating of 1300Pa while the new 11S Max T2126 can achieve 2000pa.

The odler models had a 3-layer seperate filter that was not washable, this has now been upgraded to an integrated washable filter.

The mouth of the RobocVac has been designed to improve dust collection and minimise blockages.

Both the models have a 2.85 in / 72.5mm ultra-slim design which enables the RoboVac to clean under furniture and reduces the chances of getting stuck

The 11s model is controlled via a remote or the buttons on the top of the unit, whereas the 15c can be controlled via the EufyHome app as well as Alexa or Google Assistant.

The 15c isn't being launched in the UK straight away, but it should be in two or three months time.

Post from: Mighty Gadget - Gadget and Technology Blog

Anker RoboVac Max 11s & 15c launched with 25% discount

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Following my review of the Hive Hub 360 and the outdoor camera, Hive has just announced the launch of Hive Radiator Valves as part of the home heating range.

I am a huge fan of zoned heating, it used to be limited to just Genius Hub, Z-Wave and Honeywell. In recent years Tado and Netatmo have launched smart TRVs and now Hive is joining in.

While the TRVs are painfully expensive (if you want to use them on all your radiators), they should pay for themselves. Using these you can switch off heating to rooms when not in use, use different temperatures throughout the day, or boost the temperature of a room if and when needed, all without heating the rest of the house.

While I use a different system, functionally they are the same. I work from home, so during the day in the winter I have the heating on in just my office with the rest of the house off. In the evenings I switch the office and upstairs off, while have the living areas on.

It is a bit hard to work out if or when these will pay for themselves, but I know of people claiming to reduce their heating bills by 25%+ per year and this saving covers the cost in under 18 months.

The Hive Radiator Valve Product Pricing

  • 1 for £54
  • 3 for £139
  • 5 for £199

You can buy the valves direct from Hive here

Details from press release:

Hive Radiator Valves let you easily manage and monitor the heating in each room of your home, which means no more guesswork or wasting money. Each can be set to an exact temperature in degrees, rather than just selecting a setting between 1-5. So you can keep your bedroom cool during the day then schedule your radiator to turn up before you head to bed.

When working with Hive Active Heating, Hive Radiator Valves are smarter and give even more control, as you can turn up a radiator even when your normal heating schedule is off. Twist the Hive Radiator Valve, or use the Hive app and it will tell your Hive Active Heating to kick in, without affecting the heating in the rest of your home.


Hive Radiator Valves also work without Hive Active Heating, working in conjunction with the Hive Hub to connect to your smartphone.

Hive Radiator Valves are easy to install, thanks to the simple interactive installation instructions in the Hive app; simply unscrew your existing thermostatic radiator valve head and replace it with a Hive Radiator Valve.

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Hive Heating gets zoned control with smart radiator valves

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Originally starting out as a smart thermostat company developed by British Gas, Hive have expanded their range of product to be a comprehensive smart home solution.

The range of smart home products includes heating, lighting, cameras, sensors, and plugs, all of which are controlled via a main hub. One of the interesting sensors that are not found in most other smart home systems is the Hive Leak Sensor that can spot if there’s an unusual amount of water flowing around your home which could be a leak.

Hive has also announced radiator valves which will allow zoned control over your home's heating, which now makes the system competitive with Heat Genius and Tado.

Launched last year the Hive Hub 360 is designed to be the heart of your Hive smart home that has more smarts of its own than most hubs from other companies. It is a slightly unusual product with not many if any on the market like it. As well as being a hub for all your hive devices, it acts as a security monitor too, being able to identify smoke alarms, break-ins and your dog barking. This is no smart smoke alarm though, it is an always-on microphone which identifies sounds within your home, so it will give your dumb smart alarm the ability to notify your remotely.

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The official pricing of the Hive Hub 360 is £99 while the older hub with has no smart features other than being a hub is £80. Amazon pricing is £79 compared to £68, so if you are thinking about getting Hive I see no reason to get the older hub even if you are not particularly bothered about the 360 security features.

The Hive Outdoor Security Camera launched this year, joins the even expending market of home security cameras. Unlike the popular Arlo system or competing Eufy and D-Link options, the Hive is a wired camera, similar to the Yale Outdoor Camera or perhaps its closest competitor the Nest Cam Outdoor security camera.

Priced at £139.97 on Amazon or £179 RRP it is cheaper than the Nest Cam, and if you already have a Hive up it will be a cheaper initial investment than Arlo and Eufy Security.

Similar to many other cameras of this nature, you will be pushed into a subscription for cloud recording. For 1 camera it is £3.99 pcm or £39.00, 2 cameras is £5.99 pcm, and 5 cameras is £9.99.

With Arlo, you will pay £6.49 for 10 cameras with no cheaper options. Ring is £2.50 for one device or £8 for unlimited. So no service particularly stands out as being better than the other, it depends on the number of cameras and requirements.

Hive Hub 360 Overview

In order to use any of the hive products, you need a hub. With options such as Arlo and Eufy, the cameras are sold with the hub as one products, but as Hive have an eclectic range of products you can buy the hub separately or there are budled options too.

The are several differences between this and the older hub. The design is completely revamped to be attractive so you can place it visibly in your home. It then has audio detection, which can be used to detect smoke alarms, break-ins, and dogs barking. It also connects your router via WiFi rather than ethernet, giving you a bit more flexibility in placement. This hub also allows you to maintain smart home functionality in the event of it losing connection to your router. Beyond that, I am not aware of any differences, as I haven’t used the older hub. There are however to USB ports on the back of this, but I am not sure what they are used for, probably for future functionality. Overall, if you are getting a new hive system, this is well worth small extra cost over the older hub.

Hive Hub 360 Setup & Performance

I had some issues setting up the hub with my Huawei P30 Pro, when I tried to create a new account it forced closed all the time. Trying it on the Oppo RX17 Pro worked straight away, so it could have been an issue with the phone or one of my apps or settings breaking things.

Beyond that, the set up was easy, as it uses Bluetooth, there were no awkward stages where you had to switch between Wi-Fi networks to pass the data over. It was a bit on the slow side pairing everything up, but that’s about it.

By default, it came with the microphone off, once you switch it on it will allow you to be notified about dog barks, smoke alarms and break-ins, and you can optionally switch off notifications for any of them. During my review, none of these happened, so it wasn’t exactly tested properly.

It is a curious feature, I can see how the smoke alarm detection could be very useful, and maybe if I had a dog, I would appreciate knowing if or when he barked. For break-in detection it would need to be placed somewhere in the house where it heard the break-in, I have quite a large house so I am not sure it would cover every room.

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Smart door locks have been a little slow to take off in the UK. In the US they have had August for years, but that is only compatible with the less secure deadbolt style locks.

In the UK, with our multi-point locks, the best solution has been the Yale Conexis L1, which is excellent and surprisingly affordable. The problem is that it requires you to change the entire lock and handle.

Nuki launched a couple of years ago, but they are new to me, and recently they launched their Nuki Smart Lock 2.0 which aims to eliminate mounting incompatibilities. Their solution is both simple and ingenious at the same time. They realise that not all door locks are the same, there are various cylinder shapes, sizes and fittings. So rather than target just one style, or make dozens of options the best solution would be to allow the user to keep the existing lock and for their solution to simply mount around the lock and key, which can then turn the key automatically for you.

This solution means that their smart lock works on all locking mechanism apart from the American deadbolt or the secondary night latch style lock.

It also should make installing it far easier than competing options; there is no requirement to swap out your existing lock, this fits neatly over what you already have.

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Physical Installation
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One of the big issues with wireless CCTV cameras is the regular need to charge or replace the batteries. With some companies, like Eufy, you can go several months between charges, while Reolink offers a solar adaptor to provide some extra juice.

The Soliom Solar Cam follows a similar concept as Reolink, but the solar charging is built into the unit while costing just  £117.21, making it one of the cheapest wireless CCTV systems I have reviewed.

Design and Features

The Soliom is a fully integrated unit, there is no hub that you need to wire up inside the house. It features 1080p video, and the footage is recorded to a microSD, though no card is provided. Along with the low purchase price, the onboard storage means you save money in cloud subscriptions. The camera does come with free cloud storage too

The camera has a PIR and motion sensor, allowing you to receive notifications when motion is detector, or for motion based recording.

The camera has a built-in speaker and microphone, allowing you to do two wall audio, and it is rated at IP66.

Inside the package, there is a decent quality screw mount, though there is no option for a magnetic mount.

The camera itself is of OK quality, it feels a bit cheap, and the microUSB port cover is fiddly, but overall it is decent enough, and the mount is far superior to the plasticky one you get with Blink XT.

Set up

Before setting the camera up you should fully charge it first, Soliom doesn’t state how long the battery will last without solar power.

I had some issues getting the camera set up the first couple of times, I can’t be sure what the issue was. However, three times lucky, after resetting the camera, on the third attempt it worked without issue. To set it up, you have to type in your SSID and password, show the QR code to the camera, and then it will pair by making some audible beeping noises. On my third attempt, this was quick and easy to do, but the fact that I had issues the first two times would indicate this may be more tricky than other systems to set up.

With the camera set up, you can tweak the various settings, motion detection can be disabled, set to low, medium or high. There is a setting for dormancy time, which has no explanation but I suspect this is the re-trigger time so avoid unnecessary notifications and recordings.

You also have the option to set the environment, which includes normal, backlight compensation, night IR, and dynamic. These will adjust the video settings to improve picture quality.

In the above photos I used an existing camera mount, but the Soliom one is similar, though white in colour.

Performance

The performance of the camera is decent, video footage is clear and covers a wide angle. Motion detection works but there are fewer settings to tweak than some competitors so fine-tuning the settings to your liking is a little harder.

The app is the weakest part of the camera, it isn’t bad, there is just a lot better out there. The scrolling style to get to events is not very good, it is easy to miss the event, I found it easier to select the storage option at the bottom of the app and manually select events. The recorded footage is quite short, nearly all of mine were 8 seconds which is fine most of the time, but if I needed to see something important it may be helpful to have a longer recording.

If you do want to use the speaker,..

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Genius Hub formerly Heat Genius has been around for a few years now, launching when the smart home heating market was just taking off. At the time they were about the only company to offer zoned heating on the market.

Zoned heating allows you to control more than just your boiler, you can have radiators on a schedule using different temperatures throughout the day, and with Heat Genius you can even have presence detection.

Since then the competition has ramped up with Tado, Honeywell, Netatmo, Eve and others all offering zoned options. There is also RadBot which sort of sits in the middle between a dumb TRV and a smart programmable valve.

I have been lucky enough to use Genius Hub for a few years now, I have not switched to one of the better-known brands, and I would say this is a testament to how good their system is. I have had some of the radiator valves since version one, all of which have been discontinued, be the Genius system still supports them, and I have not been forced to swap out old for new.

Over the years, Genius has carved a niche for themselves in the market,  becoming popular with larger homes, hotels and businesses. The reason being, of course, is that zoned heating can save a fortune when you are dealing with dozens of rooms and all the radiators.

Unlike most of the alternatives, Genius offers more than just radiator control too; they provide control of underfloor heating, electric radiators and hot water tanks, plus smart plugs.

There are also various other accessories you can get to improve the system, the main two being the thermostat, and room sensor. Both of these keep track of the temperature in a room giving you granular control of your heating. With the room sensor, it can detect if someone is in the room and adjust the heating based on that. While the room thermostat works like a traditional wall mounted thermostat, it shows the temperature and then you can raise the desired temperature which will boost the system for one hour maintaining that new setting.

With their system appealing towards many high-end installations, Genius realised that many people don’t want a white plastic radiator valve. If you have opted for a traditionally styled radiator in let's say, copper, it will look a bit out of place with a big white valve on it. Therefore, Genius can now colour match their valves to any colour you want (for a price).

While their system is appealing to high-end users and business alike, they are still popular with your average household wanting to save money in the long term. The cost of the system can be a little intimidating if you price up based on all of your radiators, but quite frequently people will buy the system with valves for their most used rooms. You can then optionally add on valves at a later date, and this is what I have done over the years.

For the initial installation, I would recommend getting them to professionally fit the system, but for any valves or accessories you buy at a later date, it is a simple process to do yourself.

Recently, Alasdair for Genius came to my house, to upgrade some of my components and expand the system a little. I swapped out some of my old V1 valves to the new ones which now have temperature monitoring built in, I then moved my old ones to rooms that don’t get used much.

The process is quite simple to do, mounting the valve is not much more involved than mounting a dumb TRV, apart from you have to install batteries.

Then within the app, you can add your devices using the Doctor function. Each device requires different button presses to put it into pairing mode, the Doctor will guide you through everything you need to do. Nothing is particularly difficult to add, for example, with the valves, you hold down a button as you add the batteries and wait for it to flash. Pairing is quick and I managed to add all my devices in one attempt.

When the devices are added, you need to assign it to a room. If there is a chance you will ever move that device, for example, the room sensors, or wall thermostats, it is advisable to note the device ID on the device itself, or things may get confusing in the future.

In general, that’s all you need to do for set-up, however, unlike other systems, there is quite a lot of other settings you can use to tweak the system to your liking.

For example, a wall thermostat doesn’t have to be assigned to just one room, if you want to use it in a more traditional sense, you can assign it to the home, or you can assign it to multiple rooms. So for me, I have one for our downstairs living areas which we use in the evening, and then bedrooms and office for the morning. So then when I boost the downstairs thermostat it will raise the temperature in all my downstairs rooms to the new selected temperature.

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Yesterday Google launched the new Nest Hub Max, with Nest Hub being the new branding for Home Hub.

As the Max name implies, this is the Home Hub but bigger and better; the screen has been upgraded to 10-inches and a new smart camera that helps you keep an eye on your home and keep in touch with family and friends.

However, the Nest Hub Max also does what the JBL Link View and Echo Show have done to smart displays, bolt a big speaker on its rear side making this much more flexible as a device. For me at least, a device like this is perfect in the kitchen, offering a decent speaker plus access to all the smart display functions.

So how does the Google Nest Hub Max compared against the Link View and Echo Show?

Price

Price is a significant factor, and unlike the Pixel pricing, Google has priced this keenly at just £219, which suspiciously is exactly the same price as the All-New Echo Show (2nd Gen) and cheaper than the JBL which costs £249.99.

Speaker

The official specification for the Nest Hub Max speaker is Stereo speaker system (2x 18mm 10W tweeters, 1x 75mm 30W subwoofer)

For the Echo Show they state Dual 2″ drivers with a passive bass radiator

The JBL has 2 x 51mm (2″) full range driver 2 x 10W RMS and a 5-inch, rear-mounted passive radiator.

It is hard to get a good idea of how the three compete, exact specifications are difficult to find. The tweeters of each speaker appear to be rated at the same volume, but the Amazon and JBL are 51mm drivers while Google is 18mm so this could make a large difference.

The subwoofer performance will make a large impact too, I have only personally used the JBL Link View, if anything it is over-dominant in the bass department and it can be a bit boomy, though this could be a placement issue as it was located in a kitchen on hard surfaces. The JBL has forward facing speakers which will likely help it with the overall audio quality.

Display

Both the Google and Amazon device has a nice large 10-inch touchscreen whereas the JBL has a much smaller 8-inch screen

Design

Google and Amazon adopt a very similar design and their overall dimensions look similar. The Nest Hub Max is 250mm wide and 182mm high while the Echo Show is 246mm wide and 174mm high.

The JBL is awkwardly shaped, being 332mm wide and 152mm high. With the speakers sticking out the side and the comparatively small screen I don’t think it is particularly good looking either, not that the other two look fantastic, but they look much nicer.

Both the Nest Hub Max and Link View weigh in at 1.32 kg while the Echo Show is 1.755kg. Not that weight matters, but sometimes it can be a good indication of the speakers inside, bigger heavier speakers will often perform better.

JBL Link View
Camera

Google has introduced a front-facing camera with this model, allowing you to do video calls and other features. The specification of this camera is 6.5-megapixel camera with 127-degree wide field of view and auto-framing, it also has face match technology and there is a mic and camera privacy switch.

The face match feature sounds impressive and creepy at the same time. . Like Voice Match, this will allow Google Assistant to recognise your face and give you a personalised experience. That means that when you approach the Nest Hub Max, it will be able to serve you your calendar, for example.

The change of name to Nest is because they have built-in nest functionality to this, so the camera can work as part of your home security. I am not a big fan of indoor cameras, but if you are it is worth considering as it will save money on buying two separate devices, assuming you want to commit to Nest cameras.

Finally, the camera also enables gestures. This will let you pause and play music and videos without having to use your voice or physically touch the display.

Both the Amazon and JBL have 5MP front-facing cameras with not much else listed in terms of spec.

Overall

I am quite excited about this device when I first got the JBL Link View for review I was not so sure about it, but once I placed it in the Kitchen, I started to love it. It is a bit ugly though, and quite expensive. When it comes to devices for music, I prefer Google as I find it integrates better with Spotify, whereas Amazon pushes their own service too much.

So in theory, the Google Nest Hub Max appears to be the best option for me, however, its speaker configuration doesn’t look as good on paper and how well this performs will make it or break it for me.

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Last updated on 8th May 2019 5:33 am

Post from: Mighty Gadget - Gadget and Technology Blog

Google Nest Hub Max vs JBL Link View vs Amazon Echo Show

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