Insteon Apple HomeKit-Enabled Automation Hub
Insteon is offering a smart home hub that works with Apple Homekit, as well as a new app that works with the Apple home automation platform. Announced in June 2014, HomeKit allows users to control devices individually or in pairs, all via Apple’s Siri voice assistant. This means you can say things like “Bedtime, Siri” to any Siri-enabled iOS devices, and have the system dim the lights, lock the doors, and turn down the thermostat.
It also means that when HomeKit-enabled products start flooding store shelves, you’ll be able to easily integrate them with Insteon devices and control everything using this new app.
If you need something to add to your HomeKit setup, Insteon’s HomeKit-enabled automation hub will allow you to blend HomeKit gadgets with Insteon’s line of switches, outlets, thermostats, and light bulbs.
In addition to using the Insteon app to control lights, door locks, garage doors, thermostats, and other HomeKit-enabled products, the app lets you manage multiple rooms, zones, and houses, as well as schedule scenes and add new devices.
The new Insteon app is free and compatible with all HomeKit-enabled products, regardless of the manufacturer.
MSRP for the Insteon Hub featuring HomeKit technology: $149.99 (Amazon.com and Smarthome.com)
Awair Smart Air Quality Monitor
A smart thermostat can deliver a more comfortable temperature around the house. However, hot and cold air doesn’t always make for better breathing conditions.
Bitfinder’s Awair is a new smart air monitor, which can track and analyze the indoor air quality of your home. Once it gathers the data, it doesn’t just put it out there and expect you to fend for yourself. Instead, it provides personalized solutions on how to improve the condition of the air. It even manages to learn about your preferences and health conditions over time.
The Awair collects data from the user’s environment using four sensors for indoor temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2), fine dust particles (PM2.5), and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Then, it makes recommendations based on your lifestyle and health needs. All of the info is displayed in the Awair app for iOS and Android devices.
The Awair can also communicate with smart vacuum cleaners, smart thermostats, and other devices. It can even turn humidifiers and purifiers into smart devices to deliver the best breathing experience possible.
The Awair is currently available for pre-order, with shipments expected sometime early this fall.
MSRP: $149 for a single unit; $249 for two units; $479 for four units
Nest DIY Surveillance Camera & Updated Thermostat
The biggest news to come from Nest is the introduction of the Nest Cam, a new 1080p security camera. The company isn’t planning to ditch support for its original Dropcam and Dropcam Pro just yet. In fact, they are adding both to the Nest app (which we’ll get to in a minute). However, the new Wi-Fi-enabled Nest Cam is sleeker looking and has a new magnetic base, options for wall-mounting, and most importantly, better video.
Like the Dropcam, the Nest Cam can be viewed over an app or the web. It boasts security via a 2048-bit RSA key and a 128-bit SSL connection. One interesting perk is that the Nest Cam has sensors that can distinguish differences between sunlight and flashlight, so the camera won’t get confused and deliver false alerts. Other features include eight infrared LEDs for night vision, motion detection, and integration with YouTube to deliver live streaming content. Nest is also planning to launch a subscription-based service that will give Nest Cam users access to video history, highlights, clips and time lapses, advanced motion sensing, and Activity Zones. The latter can create zones around particular areas of interest, such as the front door.
Along with the Nest Cam, the company is launching the second-gen Nest Protect. Like the older model, this one will speak to you when there’s a problem. However, the new version of the smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm is smaller than its predecessor and can be mounted more flush against the ceiling or wall. Other features include a brighter Pathlight, a Split-Spectrum Sensor for assessing fast- and slow-burning fires, and a monthly “Sound Check.”
The Nest Protect has a few interesting app features. You can test the alarm once a month from the Nest app, checking the power, Wi-Fi connection, sensors, and alarms. The app also allows you to silence the Nest Protect from your phone. This way, you won’t have to worry about accidentally silencing the device in case of an emergency, but can also easily turn it off once you have that bacon mishap under control.
The Nest Protect has also added something called the Nightly Promise, which ensures that your batteries will make it through the night without that dreaded “chirp.” If the sensors are emitting a green glow, you’re good to go. If you see yellow, you may want to think about changing batteries before hitting the pillow.
Nest is also planning to spruce up the Nest thermostat. The new Nest Learning Thermostat software 4.5 will add features to both the first- and second-generation products, as well as integration with the Nest Protect. The biggest feature is that the Nest thermostat will now send messages if your home gets too cold or too hot. In the winter, you can avoid the nightmare of frozen pipes. In the summer, you won’t have to worry about that vinyl collection melting—or having the family pet suffer.
The Nest Protect integration includes the option for smoke and CO alerts right on the thermostat. Also, in case of an emergency, the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect will work together to shut off forced air heating/cooling systems in the home. There’s also a new option to control up to 20 thermostats in one home, all from within the Nest app.
Speaking of which: Nest is launching a redesigned Nest app 5.0 for Android and iOS devices. This brings all three Nest products (the thermostat, the Nest Protect, and Nest Cam) together for the first time. It also has a new look, easier functionality, a home screen with icons for each product, and the option to show live previews of each Nest Cam. As mentioned, it even provides access to the Safety Checkup and App Silence for Nest Protect users. If you have the Nest Cam or a Dropcam, you can tap into zoom and enhance features, Nest Aware with Video History subscriptions, and more.
MSRP: $199 for the Nest Cam (The camera can be purchased alone or with options for a 10-day video history for $100 per year) or 30 days for $300 per year.); $99 for the Nest Protect
Elite Screens’ AcousticPro UHD for 4K Home Theaters
We’ve seen a lot of 4K TVs this year. However, not as many manufacturers are talking about projectors and screens for the 4K home theater. Elite Screens is looking to become a bigger part of that conversation, by introducing the Saker Tab-Tension with AcousticPro UHD. This motorized projection screen features a moiré-free acoustically transparent projection material. This means that the screen has that acoustic transparency to allow sound from speakers behind it to fire through cleanly, but it can still deliver a super-sharp, theater-sized image to the 4K home theater.
The Saker Tab-Tension with AcousticPro UHD has a tab-tensioned design, which boasts a better surface flatness, even when speakers are located right behind it. The screen has a 1.0 gain and is fine enough to be used with 1080p and 4K projectors. It includes black masking borders, with additional black masking available for high-ceiling installations. Standard control accessories include an infrared/radio-frequency (IR/RF) wireless control package with a three-way wall box, an RJ-45 connection for third-party control system integration, and a wireless 5-12-volt trigger.
MSRP: $899 to $1,399
Hisense H7 Series 4K TVs
Those 4K TVs are getting closer to your living room every day—or at least closer to the amount of money you’re willing to spend on a TV for your living room. Hisense just announced the H7 Series, which will be available for $598.
Currently, this lineup has other HDTVs, but as far as 4K TVs, there’s just a lone 50-incher. There’s no word on whether or not the company plans to add additional 4K models to the series. This one Hisense H7 Series 4K Ultra HD Smart TV features a
3840 x 2160 resolution, which means it has four times the image of a 1080p HDTV. Besides an eye-popping picture, the H7 Series offers 4K upconversion via all of the set’s HDMI 2.0 inputs. It’s also HDCP 2.2 compliant.
Of course, being a new 4K TV, the H7 Series has all of the smart TV features you’d expect. It’s actually one of the models to get the “Netflix Recommended TV” seal of approval, which means that the streaming service is not only available on this model—but they’ve put this set through various tests to make sure it delivers an awesome user experience.
Other features include 2Ãƒ–2 dual-band Wi-Fi, one-touch hot keys for launching on-demand services, and Total Technology from dbx-tv sound. The latter includes Total Sonics audio technologies and Total Surround for boosting the TV’s sound for a more immersive listening experience.
The H7 Series is available exclusively at more than 2,000 Walmart stores and the Walmart website.
Russound Class D Multi-room Amps
The tech giant Apple recently joined a crowded audio market when it announced the launch of its Apple Music subscription streaming service. Helping homeowners distribute Apple Music, as well as other popular services, including Pandora, Spotify, and Tidal, is electronics manufacturer Russound.
The company’s new multi-room audio system amps support the ability to play and distribute streaming audio, digital audio files, legacy formats such as CD, and even vinyl to speakers throughout a home.
Priced at $1,250, the eight-channel D850 amp features auto sensing, line inputs, bridged outputs, independent zone triggering and outputs, bus audio input, individual left and right channel volume trim controls per zone, and individual turn-off delays per zone. The D850 is rated to deliver 50 watts into an 8-ohm load. When operating in a bridged mode (combining two channels from the same zone), the amp is rated to produce 160 watts of power.
The D850’s big brother is the $1,679 16-channel D1650. This amplifier offers the same set of features and power ratings as the D850, but adds the ability to power eight pairs of speakers in a multi-room audio system rather than the D850’s four-pair capability.
WeMo Osram LED Lightify Starter Kits
We’ve been talking about companies partnering up with Belkin’s WeMo. However, it’s time to stop talking and start buying. Belkin recently announced that three WeMo-enabled Osram LED Lightify starter kits are now available for purchase.
The new Osram LED Lightify bundles feature lighting solutions for indoors and outside, with options for colored lighting. Each kit includes the WeMo Link ZigBee-to-WiFi bridge and specific Osram LED Lightify products, such as the Gardenspot Mini RGB, the Flex RGBW, and the Tunable White A19 LED Bulb.
All bundled Lightify products work with the included WeMo Link and the WeMo app for iOS and Android devices. The app allows users to turn lights on and off remotely, as well as tweak colors and color temperature, create schedules, organize groups, dim, set a sleep fader, and more. Also, the app has options for IFTTT (“If This Then That”), so users can create automation “recipes” that allow the lights to interact with other smart devices in the home.
The WeMo + Osram Lightify Gardenspot Mini RGB Starter Set is an option that adds color to the great outdoors. Designed for gardens, decks, or walkways, the set includes a 14-foot string of nine Gardenspot Mini LED lights, the WeMo Link, a power supply, and a Lightify controller.
The WeMo + Osram Lightify Tunable White Starter Set comes with two tunable, 60-watt LED bulbs and the WeMo Link. This kit can deliver easy, automated indoor lighting, with a temperature range of 2,700 to 6,500 Kelvin. This allows users to switch between refreshing blue-tone whites and warmer yellow-tone whites to match the mood or decor.
Finally, the WeMo + Lightify Flex RGBW Starter Set can highlight everything from a hallway to a piece of furniture. It’s very flexible—literally. The kit comes with three 2-foot LED strips that can be attached almost anywhere, using self-adhesive backing. The set promises thousands of colors and a full range of whites. This package also includes WeMo Link, a power supply, and a Lightify controller.
MSRP: $129.99 for the WeMo + Osram Lightify Gardenspot Mini RGB Starter Set; $99.99 for the Tunable White Starter Set; $119.99 for the Flex RGBW Starter Set
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