Remotely Possible

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Darryl Wilkinson  |  Aug 04, 2015  |  3 comments
50, 25, 7, and 1. Those were the numbers my son told me about when I helped him and his wife move from one apartment to another over the weekend. We wouldn’t have had the conversation at all were it not for Comcast. Because moving isn’t already painful enough, Comcast was able to add to the misery by wasting an hour of our time with a needless trip to one of their “service” centers—and, of course, add a $35 service charge for the trouble. (Considering that Comcast had to pay at least two service representatives to act like utter dimwits, $35 is really a bargain.) Since my son and daughter-in-law only need high-speed Internet and couldn’t care less about cable TV, I wondered aloud if they’d considered switching to another ISP.

Competition being what it isn’t, my son told me the sordid broadband story...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Aug 08, 2014  |  2 comments
Not long ago, I had an extended conversation with Mark Walters, the Chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance. Our discussion ranged pretty much across the board as far as the smart home topic was concerned, including how quickly the landscape is changing (not quite daily, although it seems that way) and the various companies – both large and small – that are trying to stake their technological claims in this relatively new territory. Clearly, the consensus is that there’s lots of money to be made in the smart home automation business. The problem, however, for both manufacturers and retailers is choosing a space that’s full of milk and honey rather than settling in what will eventually become a electronic ghost town complete with rolling tumbleweeds of discarded protocols and standards. Consumers, by the way, are basically collateral-damage-in-waiting during this high-tech land grab. (But that’s part of the risk you take as an early adopter, I suppose.)
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jun 30, 2014  |  1 comments
The future of home automation, the so-called “smart home”, is so bright, you’re going to have to wear shades—you’re BS shades, that is. If you believe the seriously over-heated hype, the new smart home hubs and home automation systems will save you money, keep you safe, make your life more convenient, improve your love life, grow hair where you want it (and keep it from growing where you don’t), and promote peace and harmony (the noun, not the remote control company) around the world. The enthusiasm is genuinely infectious, and I have to remind myself every now and then that the promised techno-utopia and the eventual techno-reality are often quite disparate. But dreams of a better smart home future give us something to strive for, and that Jetsons-like journey begins with small steps. Buying one of the new smart home hubs and installing a couple of sensors and devices, however, may be a bigger step than you’re ready for. What happens if you’re interested in home automation, but all you’re comfortable with now is sticking your big toe over the starting line...
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 06, 2017  |  0 comments
I always thought that Invoxia’s original Triby was a great concept, but that the cosmetics of the “Smart Portable Speaker with Alexa Voice Service” were a little too childish. The new model, the Triby IO, maintains all the smartness, portability, and Alexa integration found in the Triby; but it’s packed into a smaller chassis with a more sophisticated, grownup design. Magnets mounted on the rear of the Triby IO allow for it to be securely-but-temporarily placed on a refrigerator or other metal surface, while retaining the convenience of a portable, battery-powered, Wi-Fi-connected device.

The Inovoxia Triby IO adds...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 23, 2013  |  0 comments
It didn’t start out being about knowing what time it is. Nor did it have anything to do with making a techno-fashion statement. It all stemmed from a random comment I heard on the radio about so-called “smart watches”. “I’d have no use,” the voice declared, “for a smart watch of any kind...unless maybe it displayed the caller ID from my smart phone so I could look at my wrist instead of pulling my phone out of my pocket to decide whether or not to take the call.” That thought sent a tweet to my cerebral cortex, which then forwarded on an email to one of my frontal lobes which then flashed an Instagram picture. “I’d like that, too,” I thought. “But,” my normally incoherent pattern of thought went on, “I’d really like it if I could use the watch to control my home theater – or, better yet, control the entire Control4/Lutron automation system in my house.” Of course, once you’re on this kind of a roll, it’s hard to stop anywhere near reality. “And I want it to have voice recognition for commands – like Siri, but without the sulking “unable to take requests” rebuffs – so I can just talk to my watch and make things happen!”

Oh, Lady Technology, you can be such a tease...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jun 08, 2018  |  0 comments
It may be hard to believe, but it's been under four years since the Amazon Echo was first introduced in late 2014. Since then, the number of companies offering or developing so-called "smart speakers" has mushroomed to the point where smart speakers have become yawningly commonplace. The recently introduced Sonos Beam, though, takes the concept of a smart speaker to an entirely new level—and into a previously neglected room. When Beam begins shipping on July 17 of this year, it will include Amazon Alexa as a built-in voice-control service; and, Sonos says, Beam will have...
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Dec 14, 2015  |  0 comments
Sonos Trueplay. What is it, and can it make a stuffed bear disappear?
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Apr 19, 2013  |  4 comments
If the folks at SONTE have their way, the company’s new Kickstarter project is going to be curtains for the window treatment industry. Or, rather, it won’t be curtains…
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Mar 13, 2018  |  1 comments
A couple of weeks ago, I received a package from Soundcast, the makers of outdoor, water-resistant, portable, Bluetooth loudspeakers, such as the original OutCast series; the smaller, easier-to-carry Melody; and the new VG-series models (including the VG10 and VG7). Inside the box was the "first production press sample" of the company's latest speaker, the latest introduction, the VG5. Along with the VG5 was a sample of Soundcast's VGtx, "a long-range wireless stereo transmitter featuring Bluetooth 4.2 and the aptX Low Latency codec."

I've never had much love for Bluetooth...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jun 29, 2013  |  0 comments
Portable Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen; and, based on the way they sound, that’s about all some of them are worth. Good portable Bluetooth speakers are much more difficult to find. Really good portable Bluetooth speakers that are also weather-resistant and include a long-lasting, built-in rechargeable battery – heck, while we’re at it, let’s include that they’re not ultra-techie-looking, too – are about as easy to come across as a Big Foot cavorting through the woods wearing a bikini.

Soundcast Systems, the people who make the outstanding OutCast and OutCast Jr., dynamic duo of weather-resistant, wireless, transportable speakers, have been hinting for months about a new portable Bluetooth speaker that they think is so much better than anything else on the market that it’s more than simply the equivalent of finding a Big Foot in a bikini, it’s more akin to stumbling across a bikini-clad Big Foot pole dancing in a forest clearing. (What Soundcast actually claims is that Melody is “What other Bluetooth speakers want to be when they grow up.” Okay, that’s cool. But I think my pole-dancing Big Foot mental image is a more memorable.)

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 07, 2017  |  1 comments
Here’s a brief rundown on the most unusual piece of clothing I’ve seen so far at CES 2017. From SPARTAN, the new SPARTAN Boxer Brief is the underwear for the 21st Century connected man.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 18, 2013  |  0 comments
From a sea of new earbuds and headphones to a jaw-dropping virtual surround demo, HT's resident comedian Darryl Wilkinson takes one last look at some of CES 2013's coolest things...
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Dec 23, 2012  |  0 comments
Imagine a world in which headphone cords and other obnoxious wires can stretch from here...to...there. Researchers at North Carolina State University have and we have the video to prove it. (And, to make it even more awesome, it involves liquid metal, too!)
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 17, 2016  |  0 comments
SunBriteTV is bringing out a new series of weatherproof televisions called Veranda. The new TVs will be available in three screen sizes (43, 55, and 65 inches), and each model incorporates a direct-lit 4K UHD screen plus built-in down-firing speakers.

The models in SunBriteTV’s Veranda series are designed to be used in...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 06, 2017  |  1 comments
I’m cheap—in large part because I don’t have very much money. So to save a bit of cash, I’m shacking up with several other journalists (who are also, coincidentally, cheap—for the very same reason) at a swanky vacation home rental in La Jolla that we got a super-sweet deal on for the duration of CEDIA 2017. It’s almost embarrassingly nice—certainly too nice for the likes of the crowd I run with.

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