Wolverine Data Wireless Outdoor Speakers
For your ever-changing music listening needs, Wolverine Data offers the WIOS-5.8. These outdoor speakers are portable and wireless, and use both standard 5.8GHz wireless and Bluetooth technology to crank out sound. The system uses a transmitter to deliver that sound to the speakers. If you have a clear line of sight with the 5.8GHz wireless, you should get a range of about 262 feet; otherwise, the company says the system has a 200-foot reach. Other perks include three AC power adapters and an audio cable for connecting devices to the transmitter via a headphone jack.
Each WIOS-5.8 system comes with two 10-watt outdoor speakers, but you can add as many as six additional speakers. Once the system is set up, the transmitter can be controlled via the included remote. Wolverine Data also sells an optional Wireless Receiver box, so you can integrate your existing sound system with the WIOS-5.8 setup.
Boasting battery and AC power options, each of these speakers includes a flip-up handle for easy portability, a weather-resistant enclosure, and more.
MSRP: $179.99 per pair
Smart & Green Outdoor Ball Lamps
Whether projecting warm, white light or bright, perky colors, we’re so used to smart lighting looking, well… like a light bulb. Sure, some of those bulb options often come in different shapes, strengths, and even colors. However, if you’re looking for a few truly unique outdoor lighting ideas, check out Smart & Green’s Ball Lamps.
Ball Lamps are exactly what they sound like. These circular lights come in three sizes, suitable for all of your crazy, curvy, outdoor landscaping plans; they even float on water. While we wouldn’t recommend using one for a game of water polo, the company says that each one is waterproof, shockproof, and cordless.
If you’re not a pool or patio person, the Ball Lamp can also be used indoors. In fact, each Ball Lamp is portable, so you can move it from the yard to the porch to the living room very easily. Each one features three different modes for your different lighting needs: static in white, red, blue or green; dynamic with thousands of colors changing automatically; and the candle effect.
An optional Pebble remote control, which uses radio frequency, can control up to 100 lamps individually or in groups, up to 66 feet away. Also, the bulbs in the Ball Lamps are rechargeable: one six-hour charge can provide between 8 and 20 hours of power, depending on the mode you’re using.
Smart & Green’s Ball Lamps are currently available in 10-, 14-, and 20-inch sizes, with a starting price around $119 each. The Pebble remote is an extra $40.
Tri Cascade’s i-BRIGHT 7x Smart Meter
Smart meter devices typically come in the form of an outlet or a power strip. The latter is probably the easiest electronic device you’ll ever own: You plug it into an available AC outlet, plug devices that you want to control into the strip, and download the smart meter app to control those plugged-in devices.
One of the newest smart meters on the market is the i-BRIGHT 7x Smart Surge Protector from Tri Cascade. This Wi-Fi-enabled energy management solution goes beyond the on/off switch. It also features online scheduling and power consumption metering on the Microsoft Cloud. This means that you can schedule the lights and/or appliances to go on to make your home appear occupied while you’re away, for example. Of course, you can also power on and off devices manually, via the BRIGHTenergy website or app for the iPhone.
This smart meter has seven outlets, including two “always on” options and five “simultaneously schedulable.” It even has two USB charging ports. Other features include an 802.11n Wi-Fi range extender, parental controls, one-touch power for up to five devices, 3,150 joules of surge protection, and the ability to support power loads up to 1,875 watts.
MSRP: $119 (The company plans to release a second version, which will feature an interface for Android and Windows 10 devices.)
Samsung PowerBot VR9000
To date, the home robot market has been pretty much dominated by the good people at iRobot. Oh sure, there have been a few cool gadgets here and there. Now Samsung is putting its well-known name into that list of home helpers for smart houses.
Earlier this year, the Samsung PowerBot VR9000 made a big debut at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Now, it’s selling at Best Buy under the product name VR20H9050UW (catchy, huh?). If you thought iRobot’s offerings were pricey, the Samsung PowerBot VR9000 should provide a hearty dose of sticker shock. The vacuum is listed at $1,000.
For the price, Samsung promises “an array of advanced technologies”—and the ability to clean on both hardwood and carpet. It does all of those dirty jobs with a powerful Digital Inverter Motor and an extra-wide rectangular brush, which eliminates the need for side brushes, all while making sure the vacuum catches dirt and debris on its first pass.
Of course, the robot packs in plenty of other fancy sounding features for smart houses. It employs CycloneForce technology, which keeps particles moving to prevent clogging, as well as the Height Performance FullView Sensor, for avoiding even the smallest obstacles in a wide area. The PowerBot VR9000 also has an on-board digital camera that works in conjunction with the Visionary Mapping Plus System, in order to calculate the best cleaning path.
Other features include Easy Pass Wheels and Point Cleaning Technology. The latter is pretty awesome, since it basically lets you take over the vacuum via the included remote control.
Available in a black-and-white color scheme, the Samsung PowerBot VR9000 is ready to clean up messes in smart houses everywhere.
Yamaha 4K Receivers and Speakers
You’ve just purchased a new 4K TV. Chances are, you spent a lot of time researching the perfect set—and saving up the money to buy it. You should be putting the same effort into the audio, but Yamaha wants to make that process a simple one. The company just released three home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) systems that make adding audio easy, affordable, and pretty awesome.
The new lineup includes the YHT-3920UBL, the YHT-4920UBL, and the YHT-5920UBL. Each one of these new 5.1-channel systems features a Yamaha receiver, Yamaha speakers, and a Yamaha subwoofer. To make sure these models are compatible with the latest and greatest home theaters, the company has packed each one with 4K Ultra HD pass-through with HDCP 2.2 support, as well as Bluetooth wireless music streaming capabilities.
The receiver will drive the five speakers and the powered 100-watt subwoofer. Besides the aforementioned 4K Ultra HD at 60p 4:2:0 and HDCP 2.2 features, all three models have Yamaha’s YPAO automatic calibration system and the Compressed Music Enhancer to boost audio quality during Bluetooth streaming. These systems also have Yamaha’s Virtual Cinema Front technology, so users can place all five speakers at the front of a room and still get that surround-sound effect. And since each system is designed for newer home theaters, you can count on each one to include support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats.
The YHT-5920UBL is a standout because it also features added connectivity, so you can tap into networked music around the house. In addition to Bluetooth support, the Yamaha receivers included with these audio packages have built-in Wi-Fi, AirPlay, vTuner Internet Radio, and support for Pandora and Spotify. They can even support high-resolution audio, including 192kHz/24-bit FLAC, WAV or AIFF files, as well as Apple Lossless and DSD formats (2.8MHz/5.6MHz) from networked music sources. Everything can be controlled using Yamaha’s free AV Controller app for iOS and Android devices.
MSRP: YHT-3920UBL, $479.95; YHT-4920UBL, $529.95; YHT-5920UBL, $699.95
Sharp Android 4K TV
If 4K TV images and ginormous screen sizes aren’t enough to make you pull out your wallet, Sharp Electronics is adding a little something else to its latest crop of TVs: Android TV.
The company just announced five new 4K TV screens, which will be part of the UH30 and UE30 series. All five TVs have four times the pixel resolution of a full 1080p HDTV, as well as Sharp’s Revelation Upscaler, to boost all of your everyday TV content to a near-4K quality, plus built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.
However, the new hook is that this an Android TV, which is a first for Sharp. In addition to the SmartCentral smart TV platform, this option can deliver Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, and tons of other web-based content to each 4K TV. Even better, it can put a ton of Google Play videos, music, games, and apps on that big screen.
It’s a ton of content, but Android TV makes it all easy to navigate, thanks to the incorporation of voice search. There’s also a Google Cast feature, which allows you to “cast” content from your iOS and Android devices right to the TV.
Available in 60-, 70- and 80-inch screen sizes, the UE30 series has AquoMotion 480 technology to smooth out fast-moving images, AquoDimming for a better contrast, a quad-core processor, four HDMI inputs, and three USB ports.
The UH30 series has AquoMotion 960 and AquoDimming, the SPECTROS Rich Color Display, the quad-core processor, an SD card reader, four HDMI inputs, three USB ports, and a touchpad remote. The 70-incher also has THX 4K certification, but if you’re willing to go without, there’s also an 80-inch UH30 model.
The UH30 series features the 70-inch LC-70UH30U ($3,299.99) and the 80-inch LC-80UH30U ($6,299.99); the UH30 lineup includes the 60-inch LC-60UE30U ($2,099.99), the 70-inch LC-70UE30U ($2,899.99), and the 80-inch LC-80UE30U ($5,599.99).
Polk Hinge Wireless Headphones
Thanks to the evolution of headphones, we’ve become accustomed to taking really good audio on the go. However, whenever you want to listen to music, you typically have to deal with a giant ball of tangles, only to have that cord flopping in your face.
The newest in the company’s Heritage Collection includes Bluetooth with aptX technology. The on-ear model has an ergonomic, lightweight headband, and pivoting ear cups, as well as a foldable design that’s perfect for travel.
Of course, Polk wants to put something a little extra into this set, so Hinge Wireless headphones also feature SoundClear technology to cut down on ambient noise for a more detailed listening experience. This and the built-in microphone are especially awesome if you want to use the headphones for phone conversations. It even has “Polk Optimized Electro-acoustic Tuning,” which is designed to pump up the overall audio balance, depth, and quality.
This model, available in black, camel, and blue, has a 40mm driver, a frequency response of (-12 dB) 10-21 kHz (+/-5 dB), and a sensitivity rating of 107dB. Other features include NFC, for easy one-touch pairing to compatible music sources, a jog dial built into the right ear cup, and a rechargeable battery that boasts 12 hours of playtime. Also worth noting is that this set has a sturdy, leatherette-wrapped headband and silver matte-finished hinges.
Panasonic Home Monitoring Packages
Home monitoring isn’t new, but Panasonic’s Home Monitoring System is—and comes in four different flavors. Each package combines both telephone and video technology, with a DECT-enabled hub that connects to your home’s Wi-Fi router. Once that’s in place, you can connect devices to the system and a smartphone, tablet, or the system’s handset, up to 1,000 feet. No Ethernet connection or PC is needed.
The Baby Monitoring Kit (KX-HN6001) includes the hub and one indoor camera, priced at $179.99. The DIY Home Surveillance Kit (KX-HN6002) adds in an extra camera and a 4GB micro SD card for recording video for later playback ($299.95).
For something slightly more advanced, the Home Monitoring and Control Kit (pictured, KX-HN6003) adds control into the monitoring setup. So if you peek in and see lights off or on, you can access and control them, as well as get three-way alert notifications via a smartphone, your home phone, or even an outside landline. This package has the hub, a cordless handset, two window/door sensors, a motion sensor, a smart plug, and an MSRP of $249.95. The Home Safety Starter Kit (KX-HN6000) is basically the same package, without the smart plug and one less window/door sensor, which brings the price down to $179.95.