Hands on with the OOMI Starter Kit

One of the many things that I was able to witness at CES was how it seems that everyone wants a “connected home”. It is very apparent that certain homes that are being built in the present are being prepared for the future, so that all of the electronics can be taken control via smartphone/tablet.

I can’t remember at what CES I saw this at, but OOMI was there. This was when they were just getting started, so it must have been a few years ago. They must have truly bloomed, as I had a chance to try out their OOMI Home Lighting Starter Kit.

This thing came with just about everything. It came with a tablet, which at first seemed odd to me. After all, there are lots of tablets available with iPad from Apple, many from Android, and probably a lot of Windows and others that I don’t know about.

Now before I forget later, I’m going to tell you that OOMI does have an app. Granted, it wasn’t rated high on the Android store, but I’m just going to assume that it can do everything that the included tablet can do.

So, the moment that I turned on the tablet, it told me what to do after hooking up to my wireless network. The OOMI tablet told me to plug in the security camera, and said that it would turn green or blue when it was hooked up. Then all I had to do is join a dot on the back of the tablet with the one on the back of the camera. In less than a minute, I was looking at myself on the screen of the tablet.

I honestly don’t know how it could have joined so quickly, so I am going to guess some kind of NFC tech. There was a lot of other quick instructions that the tablet gave, but I’m not certain what I quickly passed over. I did find that it was user-friendly, so much so that I decided to connect one of the smartbulbs and just join its spot with the tablet’s.

Needless to say, I was able to take command of the bulb, provided it was given power. Oh, this is required for set-up as well. so with one touch on the screen, the light is on or off, and from there, I can take control of its color with 12 standby shades. I can even make rainbow or pattern or even random shades to create a very interesting mood of the room.

Then it doesn’t stop there, as there is an OOMI plug, which looks as if it can give you control of an appliance, as well as seeing how much energy is being used.

I’m told that it still doesn’t stop there as you can use other Z-wave appliances as well. I’m going to just guess that OOMI designed this Lighting Starter Kit as a good method for those who want a connected home to have a connected home, without the experience. To that, I say it is a good investment, and it is available for purchase on the OOMI shop for $499.00.

Our Review of the Sengled Classic Kit A19

After reviewing that Sengled Pulse Solo stereo light bulb, I was anxious to see what the company also had. I had a great time reviewing the Sengled Element Classic Kit A19, and I’m going to tell you all about it.

In fact, there is a funny story behind this. I asked to review the A19, which is a light bulb that you can take control of with your smartphone/tablet. Unfortunately, all I got was the light bulb. Seriously, that happened.

Yes, as you can see in this illustration, the Element Classic Kit A19 comes with two smartbulbs and this white square with rounded edges. What you need to do is hook up that white square to your router, and this allows you to take control of the light bulbs.

What you need to do is download some kind of application after you plug in the white square. I found that it was pretty easy to set up with the included light bulbs. If I wanted to set up with another lightbulb, it is pretty simple to set it up, provided you can get your smartphone/tablet to scan the QR code on it.

The application allows you to turn your lightbulbs on and off, and you can adjust the brightness as well. It was a shame that the basic kit didn’t have a way to adjust the colors, because that would be quite cool.

It is worth getting this particular kit, as you can purchase the kit on the Sengled site for $49.99. Additional light bulbs can be purchased for $9.99.

The Apollo Cloud from Promise Technology

apollo-square-frontSince I am in the holiday season, I am going to be reviewing a lot of products that will make great gifts. For those that want the gift of space, I will highly recommend the Apollo Cloud. I am not talking about space in the household, but space for all your digital files.

Yes, I realize that everyone is on some kind of cloud today. I mean, where else are you going to put all your files, on your computer? I mean, you have files on your phone, tablet, computer, and…oh my gosh.

The thing about the cloud is it is a cloud. I mean, it is made to be very nebulous, and it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Now imagine that the cloud could somehow be lassoed down and brought to your house, and this is the necessity of the Apollo Cloud that you want.

Why do you want it: I can think of four reasons, and there are all terabytes. Yes, this has 4 TB of cloud storage for your files. If you think that you might run out of room, then you have more than 440 hours of HD video, or more than 220,000 photos, or 500,000 songs.

You get the idea. It is a lot of room, and it is easy to set up. All you need to do is plug it into your router, and then plug it into the wall. It’s pretty easy to set up the software after that, and you can just drag an drop your files. There is even the option of using hot keys, and I haven’t even figured out that part just yet. It is also possible to just connect a USB drive and directly upload files and folders to the Apollo Cloud as fast as one click.

Of course, what good is a device like this without an app? Yeah, it’s got one on the Apple store and Google Play for free, which will really help you manage your files on mobile devices.

You can find out more about the Apollo Cloud on the Promise Technology site here, and it is available on Amazon and the Apple Store. Are you surprised that it is available on the Apple Store? I’m not. I mean, look at how white this thing is, it just fits in with the Apple aesthetic. I found it on Amazon for $249.00 and on Apple for $299.99.

Nest is killing the Revolv Hub

revolv_hub_and_app_smart_home_automation-100387760-origI’m sure that you have probably heard of Nest, that smart thermostat that you can control remotely. Google bought the company in 2014, and then Nest bought this company Revolv which sold this hub to allow its users to control the lights of their homes.

It has been a lot of controversy because Nest apparently was not interested in Revolv technology, but just wanted to get Revolv’s engineers on Nest projects. So much so that Revolv hub and application won’t even work after May 15, 2016.

In other words, Nest, is just going to let this device die of procrastination. If it simply stopped supporting Revolv devices, then devices could have found security flaws in Revolv devices and make other people’s electronic devices go wacky, I guess.

At this point, there are a lot of products that can control your homes in a connected fashion, like the one from Belkin and one from iHome that I personally reviewed.

So, I suppose this is a lesson that companies become outdated, and just let their own products die. Is this is lesson on how corporations screw up, or…you know what, what is the lesson here?


iHome Part 1: The SmartPlug iSP5

iHome Smart PlugWe managed to get a hole of three particular iHome products this week, and we are going to be looking at them one at a time. We’ll start first with the iHome Control SmartPlug, or iSP5.

I will start by saying that yes, this is a product that is already being made from several competitors, as having a connected home is kind of the thing to do these days. In particular is to make a connected home simple, so adding something to an outlet and plugging in an appliance is about as simple as it gets.

Also, using Wi-Fi is pretty simple too, and this is Wi-Fi enabled with no hub required, working on appliances up to 1800 watts and under. It is recommended for devices such as lights, window air conditioners, fans, portable heaters, coffee makers, as well as home audio systems.

This SmartPlug is certified for the Apple HomeKit, which works with Sir for turning devices on or off. It can do more than just that, as there is an application that works with multiple SmartPlugs for creating “scenes” that enable maximum control. By the way, the SmartPlug works with both the Wink app and Nest as well.

If this sounds like something that you want, head on over to the iHome site and lay down $39.99 for it.

The WeMo Insight Switch from Belkin

WeMoI had a chance to review a Belkin product a while ago with the WeMo LED Lighting Set, and I have just had a chance to review the WeMo Insight Switch. As you can see, it is a literal plug-in that you just plug in to an outlet.

From there, you can just plug in an appliance and monitor it from anywhere with the help of a customized application. You can turn devices on or off, program customized notifications and change the device status, provided your tablet or smartphone is getting some bars. It is good for space heaters, TVs, washers, dryers, and anything else you can plug in.

There is a lot of versatility with this particular device as it will show you a laundry cycle, and it will even monitor your energy usage. If you want to reduce your electric bill, turn off the device from a distance. By the way, this WeMo collection is modular with other WeMo products.

If you want to try this out, feel free to head on over to the Belkin site and lay down $59.99 for it.

The Greatest Case, a Kickstarter project that needs to live up to its name

The Greatest CaseYes, I have reviewed a lot of cases on this blog, and I think it is interesting that someone has made one known as The Greatest Case. So what can I say, is it really? Well, it has lot of competition with Otterbox, Lifeproof, and other names associated with protecting ones mobile devices. Perhaps what makes it interesting is why it is the Greatest Case.

Here’s a clue: it is the grip. Considering how big phones are getting with the iPhone 6 Plus and the Galaxy Note series, this is going to keep them out of our pocket and into our hand. Hands are slippery tools, so it is probably good that the Greatest Case has so many ways to grab it so it will not slip. When you boil it down, it is a case with a pretty “hole-y” back so the chances of it slipping are slimmer than those with a backside of one surface.

Anyway, The Greatest Case has exceeded its Kickstarter goals, which means that it will probably be out very soon. The creators have stated on their Kickstarter site that “a survey will be sent out to determine which model phone you need case for”. The case is meant to be made for the iPhone 6 Plus, Nokia 1520, as well as the Galaxy Note 3 and Note 4.


Insteon Starter Kit, LED Bulb, and Mini Remote

InsteonI’ve talked about a Connected Home before, and how I saw it a lot at CES 2015. I reviewed the Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set, and this time, it is Insteon.

I’ll start with the Insteon Starter Kit, which is one way to make your home more under your smartphone or tablet’s control. This particular Starter Kit, also known as the 2244-234, comes with an Insteon Hub Home Automation Controller as well as two LampLinc Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Modules.

The Hub itself is what controls your your Insteon network, and it is something that is actually pretty cheap on its own. Let me just say that setting this up allows you control devices via smartphone and tablet thanks to the power of the Insteon app. What kind of devices? Try thermostats, cameras, sensors, and much more, like the included Dimmer Modules.

The Lamp Dimmer, or LampLinc, allows the Insteon network user to control a light remotely. Not only can you do on and off, but control all kinds of multiple lighting design scenes in just minutes. By the way, it can double as an access point, by relaying signals to other powerline-only devices.

If you want in on the Insteon 2244-234 Starter Kit, head on over to a site known as Smarthome and pay $119.99 for it.

InsteonNow time to talk about the Insteon LED Bulb, and according to my source, it is the first remotely controllable, fully dimmable networked light bulb on the market. You can hook this up to the Hub, and control it with the smartphone or tablet. You can also then use the controllers like keypads, door sensor, motion sensor, and a switch (which I’ll tackle later).

Basically, you set the Insteon controller into linking mode, and replace a regular light bulb in your lamp. Now you can make it glow brightly or dimly. Oh, if only it came in different colors. It should be known that the Insteon 2672-222 LED Bulb or “The Smartest Bulb in the World”, is a 9 Watt bulb that can shine as bright as a 60 Watt bulb.

You should be able to get the LED Bulb for about $29.99 on the Smarthome site.

InsteonOkay, this leads me to the last device, a Mini-Remote with 4 Scenes. What is a Scene? Think of it as a way of manipulating the way lighting is done in a room. For example, if you want to light up one room, but not another, you can do that.

Unlike other remotes, you can recharge this one. It has one of those micro-USB ports, and once it is recharged, it is good for 3 months. So you can just keep this remote in case you want some really quick control.

Now, if you want to get in this remote, the 2342-432 Mini Remote to be exact, head on over to the Smarthome site and pay $58.49 for it.

Okay, so that concludes our awesome Insteon day of reviews. Hopefully you had a good President’s Day, as this review of Insteon products had pretty much nothing to do with that.

Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set

BelkinWhile I was at CES 2015, I kept hearing a lot on “the connected home”, and this is related to the whole concept of The Internet of Things, where you can just control pretty much anything through your phone.

Belkin, a company whose products that I have reviewed before, has created the WeMo, a system that takes the connected home to a new level. The WeMo LED Lighting Starter Kit is a good place to start, as it is pretty simple to use.

What you need to do is just screw in the light bulbs, which only consume about 10 watts of energy and very little heat. You can then plug the WeMo Link into any outlet, and connect its network to your phone. From there, it is very easy to turn the lights on and off with the touch of a button.

Now I had a chance to try them, and I was able to master the on and off well, but the WeMo series allows for a lot more control of that. For example, you can create dimming and all kinds of schedules for all kinds of devices. This type of control can be done over a business.

In short, it is going to be pretty obvious that everyone will have a connected home, and you are going to see products like WeMo in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if every new home has some kind of connectivity feature built right in. If you want to get ahead of this obvious trend, head over to the Belkin WeMo site and lay down $99.99 for it.