Category Archives: review

iTENS Wearable Electrotherapy Review



itensAs many of you know in 2004 I had a very serious back injury which resulted in steel rods,  screws and assorted hardware supporting my L1 Vertebrae, which essentially got smashed like a pancake during a swimming pool accident. I suffer today from chronic back pain, and I refuse to medicate. Through monthly Shiatsu treatments I am able to keep most of my symptoms at bay. For day to day relief though, I have for many years now had via prescription a “wired” Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) device, that I keep in my bedroom that connects via clumsy wires. While it does a great job it’s kinda pain to use due to the wires.

So when I got the opportunity to review the highly portable wearable iTENS controlled via an App, which does the same exact thing as my wired device without the wires I could not wait to give it a try. During the week I was at NAB I was spending a lot of time on my feet 8-10hrs a day resulting in a very very stiff and sore lower back. Each evening back at the hotel I attached the iTENS Wearable Electrotherapy device and from my iPhone was able to command the iTENS in several modes from muscle massage and muscle relaxation to get some needed relief.  I suppose I could have worn it during the show, but I think that would have been a little weird.

For those of you that have used a (TENS) before you know their value. For me my (TENS) has always been about pain relief, and its benefit of not having to ask or maintain a muscle relaxer prescription.  Overall the iTENS treatment I performed on myself convinced me that the folks at iTENS have put together a product that I can stand behind and give my full endorsement!  I do not do this lightly and for someone that has used a wired (TENS) device for years these folks have a winner!

Priced @ $99.00 this is a great investment. You will have to purchase replacement gel pads from time to time, but if you follow the instructions  you will get 10+ uses out of one set.  Every once in a while a product comes to market that can be used by millions and this is it.

 


LG GPad X 10.1 Review



lgpadThe LG GPad X 10.1 is probably the largest Android Tablet I have reviewed. I used this one over the course of two weeks in ways most people use tablets today, playing games, watching videos, responding to email, and interacting on social media. It was a true pleasure to lay in bed with this tablet and kick on a movie. For its size it is very lite for the size and was comfortable holding. The screen brightness is not as bright as some Samsung tablets I have reviewed, but I personally like really bright screens much to the annoyance of my wife.

Specifications of the LG G Pad X 10.1 include:

10.1 inch 1920 x 1200 pixels resolution IPS LCD screen
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.26 GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM
32GB of internal storage with microSD expansion card slot
Android 5.1.1
7400 mAh battery
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS
Rear 8 megapixel camera and 2 megapixel front facing camera

I was able to use it on two very long flights without the device running out of power. LG says 10 hours, and I probably got a little more than that out of it. The finish of the table is nice with beveled edges, with the Micro CD card stashed along the edge with the std on/off, volume controls on the side as well. Headphone jack was at the bottom of the screen.. The camera was nice and created images that I would expect for a device in this price range. Priced @ AT&T for $249 with a qualified service plan or $17.50 for 20 months the price is really a bargain for what you get.

Powered by AT&T network performance is what you would expect from AT&T and I had no issues with signal quality even in some pretty dense buildings and environments from my travel.


Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Review



sAMNSUNGTAB2I have had my hands on a lot of tablets over the past 3-4 years, and doing a reviews on them can be challenging so my approach is the same as if I am considering buying one. I look for what I like in a tablet. The majority of the tablets run Android so it’s not like we are discussing the finer points of the operating system, so here are the things that got my attention when reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.

The Screen clarity and brilliance blew me away. It really was the thing that sets this tablet apart from all others I have reviewed recently.   The 9.7 inch model, has a 2,048 x 1,536 pixel resolution, and the screens are Super AMOLED, which explains the richness of the colors. I honestly have no other tablet to compare it to at this time, other than an iPad of which the Galaxy Tab S2 easily holds it’s own.

This tablet is light and very very thin. Manufacture spec of  5.6mm thin the tablet is thinner than the iPad Air 2 and weighs less as well.  The body is not aluminum which explains the weight advantage.

App loading Speed is fast unlike some of my older tablets, as more people are using tablets for everyday functions their can be no lag in executing apps or switching between them. This tablet loads apps amazingly fast as well as switching between them. With 32GB of internal storage space, and a MicroSD card slot for adding another 128GB there is plenty of storage.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 I reviewed was powered by the AT&T Network, and while not on Wifi the user experience was equally as impressive.  This tablets Performance and screen quality will require you to pay a small premium priced at $499 @ AT&T with qualifying service or $30 a month on a 20 month installment agreement you cannot go wrong with this tablet.


LG V10 Mobile Phone Review



lgv10For the past couple of weeks I have been using the LG V10 as my primary mobile phone on the AT&T Mobile network. In today’s marketplace it is very hard to quantify what one likes about one mobile phone over the other but some very specific things on this phone really makes it stand out.

First of all the camera is simply exceptional. With a rear 16mp and forward 5mp camera I am truly astonished by the color clarity of the pictures it takes. The video recording capability is equally impressive with full 4k UHD.

Our phones literally live in our hands so hand-ability and texture is super important these days. The stainless steel body of the LG guarantees it will provide nice protection to the mobile. The V10 has an exceptional finish, yet the backside of the device has a dimpled nice to the touch texture that guarantees the phone will not slip out of your hand when you are using it one handed, and has a pleasant overall feel.

The LG V10 has a unique double tap screen feature that either wakes the phones screen up, or puts it to sleep. The LG V10 has this nice feature where the very top section of the screen is always lightly illuminated that allows you to see the time, cell signal strength etc. Waking a phone up to see the time has always been annoying LG fixes that.

Battery life was incredible lasting nearly 24 hours in standard use cases of texting, social media, web browsing etc.

An AT&T announcement yesterday is saying the LG V10 will be getting the Android Marshmallow update so this is a big win for those considering the mobile or those that have it already.

Using the mobile with standard social apps, the phone was fast and the AT&T mobile network delivered as expected great speed in data delivery and the pushing of media.

I will say that the LG V10 is by far one of the nicest Android based phones I have ever used and it will be painful to send back. If you are considering a new mobile it would be worth your while to check out the LG V10.  Prices start at around $23.00 a month with contract at AT&T or $699 with qualified service. You will want to visit an AT&T Mobile store or you can shop online today from the AT&T Website.


Devolo Home Control Hands-On Review



Devolo LogoOver the past month, I’ve been using Devolo’s smart home system, Home Control. Regular readers of GNC will have seen the previous articles on the unboxing and a more detailed look at the hardware. In the last of the series, I focus on the set-up and usability of Devolo’s Home Control. Let’s take a look.

Getting Started

There are two ways to get started but both start with plugging in the Central Unit into a power socket. If the house already has other dLAN Powerline adaptors, then the Central Unit can be added into the network in the normal ways and it will connect back to through the router to the internet. In this instance, the Central Unit can be located somewhere convenient but preferably centrally in the building.

If there’s no Powerline networking, then the Central Unit will need to be plugged in close to the router or broadband modem. A network cable then connects the Central Unit to the router. If this is the case, the location is likely to be restricted by practicality.

My Devolo PortalOnce the Central Unit is powered up, the next part uses a web browser to sign-up for a login at www.mydevolo.com. Mostly it’s as expected, though for the Home Control configuration, your home address is required. Apparently it’s only for weather forecasts so if you’re concerned about giving the information, it doesn’t need to be 100% accurate. The configuration auto detected my Home Control unit and no technical knowledge was required.

Once into the Home Control, it looks as below. At this point, there are no devices, as it’s only the Control Unit. Along the top are the key areas for smart home control and the first time each area is accessed, Devolo helpfully overlays a semi-transparent set of instructions showing what needs to be done.

My Devolo Portal

Adding Sensors and Controls

Adding the sensors and controls is similarly straightforward. Click on Devices and then “+”. The page then prompts for the type of device to be added to the system before then showing you a series of YouTube videos on how to correctly turn on and pair the sensor with the Home Control unit. Here’s a screenshot for the motion sensor.

Add Devolo Motion Sensor

After adding all sensors and controls, the Devices tab will fill up. The Status column gives the detail for each sensor or controller parameter. Looking at the Door Switch in the top row, it’s currently open, triggered at 00:17, temperature is 17.5 Celsius and brightness is only 2%. Each device can have an icon which will switch to show changes in state to give visual feedback. Battery level is reported back too, which is handy and Statistics shows historical activity.

Devolo Devices

Similarly, the Dashboard will now look similar to this, filling up with key devices. The Dashboard is editable and you can choose what elements appear on display. The devices give a high-level view of their state and measurements.

My Devolo Portal

With all the devices added to the Control Unit, you can then start on make your home smarter. Without labouring the various points too much, the Groups tab lets you set up collections of devices, both by type and by location. At the moment, the only types that can be pooled seem to be smart plugs and thermostats but as I only had one of each device, I couldn’t test further. Assembling the sensors and controls is a drag’n’drop affair.

Locations threw up the first minor irritation. Although you can define a location, such as “Bedroom”, it’s not possible to add things to the location in the Groups tab. You have to go back to the Devices tab and choose the location from the drop-down.

Schedules and Scenes

As you might imagine, Schedule allows the setting of timers. In most instances this is obvious: turn on a smart socket for my electric blanket at 23:15, turn it off at 9.00.

Devolo Schedule

Schedule can also turn on things like scenes and rules. Say you’ve set up a rule to email you when motion is detected by a sensor. You don’t want that rule working while you are in the house, so perhaps you set a schedule such that the rule is only in effect when you are out at work, so the schedule says 9-5, Mon-Fri.

Devolo ScenesScenes are combinations of devices and states. You could have a scene called “Nighttime” that sets thermostats lower and turns off a smart socket that has, say, a light plugged in. The scene can be run directly or you can set-up a rule to run it, perhaps when you press a switch or button.

Notifications

Notifications can take the form of emails, SMS or push to devices. For each of those types, you can enter your mobile number, email address or devices. The SMS appears to be a paid-for option where you get a number of free SMS notifications but after that you have to buy additional texts. Consequently, the sensible thing is to use SMS only for really important things, like fire alarms.

The notifications can be used in the rules but on their own, notifications don’t do anything. There is supposed to be a special notification for low batteries, though I couldn’t figure out how to configure it. The error said, “No devices available! Please add devices to the group.” without any indication of how to add devices to the group.

Rules

Devolo Rules 1Finally, Rules. These are what make the smart home smart. Here’s a really simple rule that I can use if I want to go to bed early. If press button 1 on my keyfob, it turns on the smart socket for my electric blanket.

Creating rules uses drag’n’drop to develop both the “if” and “then” sides of the rule. The only limit seems to be your imagination and the number / type of devices that you have.

Devolo Rules Maker

 

If I understand the functionality correctly, rules can execute continually, e.g. send a notification every time the front door is opened, or a rule can be turned off once it’s been executed once, e.g. send a notification once when there’s motion to say a child is home from school.

The App

Devolo AppDevolo AppDevolo have a smart phone app that pulls all their products, including dLAN, web cams and Home Control into a single app. However, it’s for appearance only and the app hands the owner off to a simplified light version of the web site. It’s a little bit clunky in the places as the smartphone back button doesn’t always do what’s expected. As a light version, there are also some limitations but for day-to-day checking of sensors or to turn devices on remotely, it’s fine.

To be honest, I’d prefer a proper native app for smartphones and tablets but some may like using Home Control from a web browser.

The Verdict

Overall, I think that it would be fair to say that Devolo’s Home Control is a good first generation product. It was easy to setup and I particularly liked the videos shown during the pairing process. It was reliable, with rules triggering when they were supposed and there were no connectivity problems; sensors stayed connected. The web interface is good visually too, with the drag’n’drop and easy combination elements. As a fan of Powerline networking, I’m all in with the hub also being a dLAN adaptor.

Equipment-wise, it’s a good selection of sensors and controllers. Just three things to say. Having a fire alarm in the range is excellent, but there’s no camera and the red LED on motion and door sensors is unnecessary. All the gear is priced competitively in the market.

Also on the downside, the system sometimes betrays its Germanic roots with the odd “Suchen” popping up instead of “Search” and the web interface can be idiosyncratic in places. I’d also prefer a proper native app for my smartphone or tablet. However, these are minor quibbles and I guess my biggest concerns are about presence and connectivity to other systems, like Philips Hue.

With regard to presence, Devolo Home Control doesn’t have any features for locating the owner and family. Consequently, geofencing isn’t possible so lights can’t be turned on when driving up to the house, or the home alarmed automatically when people leave. Obviously the keyfob remote control can be used for convenience in some of these respects but it’s not quite the same.

Moving onto the lights, as it stands right now, lamps can only be controlled by plugging them into the smart socket and turning the socket on or off. There’s no integration with any of the main lighting systems on the market.

While that’s the bad news, the good news is that Devolo are working on lighting control and that an announcement about connectivity to third party systems like Hue and recipe app IFTTT is expected very shortly. If this upgrade is as suggested, this should address both of the concerns above.

To finish, the smart home market is new and there are lots of competitors in the space. Devolo’s Home Control currently has a few rough edges, but with a bit of polish and an integration upgrade, it’s a contender. Definitely worth considering for straightforward setup, useful range of sensors and controls, and web-based UI.

Thanks to Devolo for providing the Home Control system for review.


K40 – RLS2 Radar / Laser Detector Review



k40It has been some time since I have used a radar detector so I was very excited to review the RLS2 Radar / Laser Detector from K40. In Hawaii the local law enforcement utilize Laser exclusively, and the motorcycle patrol has a fondness for hiding out on highways and streets that are often marked way under a reasonable speed limit.

My first few days with the detector resulted in no detection’s but on the third day on a popular area for HPD to add money to the counties coffers, I received a laser alter that went off with adequate warning before encountering the officer looking for customers. Over the past month, I will say that having the the device has alerted accurately on numerous occasions in numerous driving conditions.

This past week I have been on travel in the mainland US and brought the RLS2 Radar / Laser Detector with me on the trip. Interesting to me was the number of warnings I received on city streets. Some legitimate some false.. The RLS2 has a GPS mark feature, that allows you to mark the location of false alerts for future reference.

It comes with 13 programmable features and has one of the most unique guarantees in the industry. K40’s Exclusive RLS2 Radar Detector Guarantees: If you get a radar or laser speeding ticket, they will pay for it. See their website for details.

Overall I am very impressed with this Radar / Laser detector visit their website @ www.k40.com/product/rls2-radar-detector to get all the specs on the unit and to review the 13 programmable modes. Retailing at $399 the RLS2 Radar / Laser Detector is one of the best on the market and will provide you stress free driving as you will know that you are protected from all North American-approved police radar bands.


Devolo Home Control Hardware Review



Devolo LogoPowerline specialists Devolo have moved into the smart home business with Home Control, a Z-Wave based system that incorporates powerline networking. Regular readers will have seen two unboxing videos previously. This post has more photos and details of the various components, sensors and accessories available.

Central Unit

The central unit is at the heart of the Home Control system and communicates via Z-Wave with all the sensors. Part of the Starter Pack, it’s a Devolo dLAN powerline adaptor too, so can be incorporated into an existing powerline network, though this feature doesn’t seem to be advertised very well. This is the UK version, as can be seen from the plug and it has a single network port which is used to connect to a router if there is no existing dLAN network.

Devolo Control Unit

Devolo Control Unit

Devolo Control Unit

Currently, the USB port is not used.

Smart Metering Plug

As with the Control Unit, this is the UK spec version of the Smart Metering Plug. As might be guessed from the name, not only can the plug be switch on and off remotely, it can provide power consumption information to show how much power is being used by the connected devices. The crystal LED lights up to show when the plug is on and it works as a manual on / off button too.

Smart Metering Socket

Smart Metering Socket

Motion Sensor and Door / Window Contact

The Motion Sensor and the Door / Window Contact are different sensors but physically they look the same – long half cylinders with a PIR-style window at the top. Obviously one detects motion and the other when a door or window is opened or closed by the proximity of magnet. In addition, both units measure temperature and brightness. Slightly annoyingly, a red LED lights up when both sensors are activated.

Motion Sensor

Motion Sensor

Key-fob Switch

The Key-fob Switch is a four button unit with two larger buttons and two smaller buttons. The Key-fob seems well made in metal which will put up with abuse from nearby keys and there’s a sliding plastic covered that will prevent accidental presses. Within the Devolo portal, each press can initiate an action, e.g. turning on lights, but more on this in the next post.

Devolo Keyfob Closed

Devolo Keyfob Open

Room Thermostat

The Room Thermostat is a co-branded Danfoss unit which works with two temperatures, the sensed room temperature and a target temperature. The target temperature can be adjusted both by the up and down switches on the front of the thermostat and remotely through the Devolo portal. The thermostat is powered by two batteries so can be located anywhere within range of the Control Unit. Although it doesn’t show in the pictures, the thermostat display is backlight and comes on when a button is pressed.

Devolo Thermostat
Devolo Room Thermostat
Devolo Room Thermostat
Devolo Room Thermostat

Wall Switch

The Wall Switch is very much in the style of continental light switches rather than the UK’s narrower style but it’s still a very useful addition to the range of accessories. Powered by CR2032 battery, the switch can be configured either as a single or double switch and although it looks like a rocker switch, it’s more of a push switch with four switches – upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right. Consequently the message from the switch is typically “button x was pushed (and released)” rather than “button x is currently pressed”.

The switch disassembles to change the battery or change from single to double switch, though you have to be brave when pulling it apart!

Wall Switch Wall Switch Wall Switch

Smoke Detector

The Smoke Detector is much like other smoke detectors in that there’s a very loud alarm when smoke is detected. Unlike the average detector, the Devolo version also fires off a message to the Control Unit via Z-Wave, which can then be responded to using rules configured in the Devolo portal.

There’s a test button on the top of the smoke detector as expected; press for a few seconds to check the battery, which is a small CR123 3V battery rather than a 9V PP9.
Smoke Detector

Smoke Detector

Radiator Thermostat

The Radiator Thermostat is a user-fit replacement for many thermostatically-controlled radiators. Simply, the old thermostat is removed and the new smart thermostat is put in its place. It’s straightforward and no plumbing knowledge is required other than how to get the old ‘stat off. The Devolo manual (.pdf) lists compatibility and it comes with two adapter rings, though in my instance I have to further purchase a thread converter (M28 to M30) to fit my old valves.

It takes two AA batteries and works very similarly to the Room Thermostat in terms of measuring and setting temperature. The photo below isn’t the best as it’s not showing the temperature – it won’t until it’s actually connected to a radiator.

Radiator Thermostat

Radiator Thermostat

Summary

Devolo has created a portfolio of useful sensors and actuators for a comprehensive smart home solution, although it seems that most of the devices are rebranded from a number of OEMs (Danfoss, Philio Tech, TKB, Popp). Regardless, the units all work well together and have a similar finish so it’s a minor point. Note that some of the photos make the devices look a little creamy; in reality they’re all a good clean white.

In the next post, I’ll be looking a Devolo’s  Home Control portal, which is where all the rules and notifications are setup to really make the home smart.

Thanks to Devolo for all the Home Control review units.


Product Review: 1byone Outdoor/Shower Bluetooth Speaker



1byone logoIt’s a basic rule of safety when using personal electronics: water and electricity don’t mix. It’s super important to take caution when using electronic devices in bathrooms or outdoor environments. Fortunately, there are products that are designed specifically to be used in these situations. With this in mind, I was given a new 1byone Outdoor Sports & Shower 4.0 Bluetooth Speaker to test out and review.

1byone Bluetooth speaker box
1byone Bluetooth speaker box
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing

The speaker comes with a user manual, a hook for hanging the speaker and a USB cable for charging and connecting to a computer. Using the speaker is pretty straightforward. Hold down the power button and when the speaker powers on, a voice prompt lets you know if the device is connected to an external sound source, either via Bluetooth or USB. Pairing the speaker to my iPad worked flawlessly, triggering another voice prompt from the speaker indicating that it was connected via Bluetooth.

I tested the Bluetooth speaker by sending spoken-word audio from a couple of different podcast apps. The connection worked but it had some issues. By nature, spoken-word audio has some gaps of silence. And when the podcasts I was playing would have a moment or two of silence, the audio stream would cut out and “skip” to the next portion with audible speaking. This made it difficult to listen to spoken-word audio via the Bluetooth speaker. (For the sake of troubleshooting, I tried a couple of different podcast apps and two different Bluetooth devices but the problem never went away.)

I also tested the Bluetooth speaker by playing some music (most likely what the speaker is designed for) and in that case, it operated as expected without any of the issues I experienced while listening to podcasts. I suspect the speaker itself is designed to go into some kind of “low power” mode when the incoming audio drops below a certain threshold. Thus, causing the speaker to try and “turn off” when the podcast audio reaches a silent part.

The speaker is charged over USB and it can also be connected to a computer to use as a USB speaker. When I connected the speaker to my Mac, a voice prompt announced that the device was in USB mode. But the speaker never appeared as an available sound source in my Mac’s Sound System Preferences. The speaker can also play back media from a TF/Micro SD card but I don’t have a card in this format so I can’t test that out.

The 1byone Bluetooth speaker has no display. It provides its status thru voice prompts. The device is controlled by a series of buttons on its side. This includes power on/off, play/pause, volume up/down which also doubles as track forward/backward, a “phone” button for answering/ending phone calls and a “mode reset” button. The controls are molded into the chassis of the device and they are difficult to see in low-light conditions. Having the volume and track controls be shared by the same buttons can be a bit awkward as it’s necessary to hold the buttons down to adjust volume, while pressing the buttons once will skip ahead/rewind depending on the type of app you’re using to send audio to the speaker.

1byone Bluetooth speaker controls
1byone Bluetooth speaker controls

I tested the speaker by letting it play in the shower, The speaker has more than enough volume capacity to be heard over the running water. And while I didn’t position the speaker in a place where it’d get too wet, it did get some water on it and it came thru just fine. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to fully submerge the speaker (why you’d want to do that is beyond me, anyway) but you shouldn’t have to worry about operating it in damp environments. Also, the speaker is very sturdy. It’s covered by a rubber shell that should protect it from most of the accidents that can occur in a typical day.

The 1byone Bluetooth speaker is available direct from the manufacturer for $45.99 (link above) or at a nice discount from Amazon for $19.99.


Product Review: 1byone Smart LED Bluetooth Light Bulb with Speaker



1byone logoI’m intrigued by a lot of these new “connected home” devices. My inner geek gets abnormally excited by the idea of being able to control everything (or at least most things) from a smart device or computer. That’s why I was excited when electronics manufacturer 1byone offered to send me one of its Smart LED Bluetooth Light Bulbs.

1byone Smart LED Bulb
1byone Smart LED Bulb box

 

1byone Smart LED Bulb Unboxing
1byone Smart LED Bulb Unboxed

Unboxing the LED bulb is pretty straightforward. Remove the bulb and the manual is under a cardboard support underneath. The manual’s kinda small but it’s the proper form to fit in this box. Installing the bulb is equally straightforward. It uses an E27-style socket, which is pretty standard in North America and Europe. Just cut power to your light fixture, remove the existing bulb, and replace it with the 1byone bulb.

For testing purposes, I plugged my 1byone bulb into one of the fixtures on my kitchen track light. I then turned the light on at the wall and the 1byone bulb came to life by lighting up and playing a little jingle.

1byone smart LED bulb, powered off
1byone smart LED bulb, powered off

 

1byone smart LED bulb, powered on
1byone smart LED bulb, powered on

To control the bulb, it’s necessary to download a free mobile app for Android, or in my case, iOS. (The manual has a handy QR code that takes you to an app download page.) Once the app is installed, you’ll need to pair your mobile device with the LED bulb via Bluetooth.

1byone LED bulb Bluetooth pairing
1byone LED bulb Bluetooth pairing

The light bulb controller app has five sections: Connect, Music, Lamp, Off/On, and settings. The Connect section allows you to select the bulb you want to control and the Music section allows you to select music from your device’s onboard media library to stream to the bulb’s built-in speaker. I didn’t test the in-app music section as I had no media stored on my iPad.

1byone LED smart bulb app
1byone LED smart bulb app

You can always turn the bulb on/off from a wall switch but you can also do that from within the app. This is handy if you want to turn the light off but still stream audio to the bulb’s speaker (more on that later).

1byone LED smart bulb app
1byone LED smart bulb app

The LED bulb has a range of available colors to choose from. Tap the “Manual” button and then pick your favorite color. The bulb automatically changes to that color. (My photos don’t do a lot of justice to how the bulb looks when it’s colored. But, at any color, the bulb produces a pleasing, soft light.) The app also offers an “Auto” option that causes the bulb to flash different colors randomly. It’s unclear as to what exactly this is supposed to accomplish.

1byone smart bulb set to blue color
1byone smart bulb set to bluish color

 

1byone smart bulb set to red color
1byone smart bulb set to reddish color

 

1byone Smart LED bulb vs. standard bulb
1byone Smart LED bulb set to “neutral” (white) vs. standard light bulb

The app also has a timer that can turn the bulb off at a specific time. The timer is a bit odd, as it’s based on an analog clock. I was testing the bulb just before 10:30AM so I set the timer to 10:30AM and the bulb powered off at the specified time.

1byone LED smart bulb app
1byone LED smart bulb app

Instead of using the app’s included music streamer, I decided instead to use AirPlay to stream audio from a couple different apps to the bulb’s built-in speaker. First, I played some podcasts thru Stitcher. Then, I played some music from YouTube. AirPlay worked flawlessly with the bulb and the overall sound for both purposes was surprisingly good. And LOUD. Cranking the bulb’s volume filled the room with sound.

In the world of connected lighting, the 1byone smart bulb is very much an entry-level device. It doesn’t do much more out of the box than what I’ve shown here. Still, it is a cool gadget and could be good for someone who’d like a fully-featured bulb but doesn’t want to invest in a larger setup. The smart LED bulb can be purchased directly from 1byone for $30.99 or from Amazon for the same price.


Product Review: 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna



1byone logoI recently moved my one and only television, a Samsun 52″ LCD HDTV, from the front room of my home into the back room. In doing this, I lost the connection to a TV antenna I had mounted on the outside of my home. While I don’t watch a lot of over-the-air TV, it was nice to have access to the channels I could get. I tried a basic set of non-powered rabbit ears to pick up some channels after the TV move. But it didn’t pick up anything. I figured for sure I’d either have to move my external TV antenna (not a fun task) or just give up on over-the-air TV all together. Luckily for me, I was offered the chance to review a 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna.

ibyone HDTV antenna box front
ibyone HDTV antenna box front

 

ibyone HDTV antenna box back
ibyone HDTV antenna box back

 

1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna unboxed
1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna unboxed

The 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna comes with everything you need to use it: The antenna with built-in ten-foot coaxial cable, the inline amplifier, A/C adapter for the amplifier, three double-sided 3M adhesive pads, and the product manual. Installation is pretty straightforward. Connect the amplifier to your television’s antenna input, connect the antenna to the amplifier, connect the amplifier to the A/C adapter, and plug the adapter into an available power outlet.

1byone HDTV amplifier
HDTV amplifier’s LED shows it’s powered on

Thanks to a handy guide from AntennaWeb, I know that most of the TV transmitters in my area are positioned to the northwest. My first attempt with the 1byone antenna was to hang it as high as possible in the northwestern-facing corner of my room.

1byone HDTV on the wall
1byone HDTV antenna on the wall

I ran the auto program feature on my TV. It didn’t pick up any channels.

0 channels found
Zero channels found

In the antenna’s manual, it states that if you have trouble getting TV signals, you should place the antenna as high as possible and/or put it near a window. For good measure, I moved the antenna to the opposite corner of my room, ran the auto program sequence and again, came up with nothing.

I then moved the antenna next to a window and tried again. This time, success!

6 channels found!
6 channels found!

With the antenna next to the window, I was now able to receive six channels. A nice improvement over the other attempts. The HD picture and sound were crystal clear and the stability of the signal was rock solid with no dropouts.

HDTV picture
HDTV picture

I know some readers will see the result of six channels as unacceptable. But, I think it’s great. I don’t live in a major metropolitan area, and even with my external antenna, I didn’t get many more channels than this. The 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna promises a range of up to 50 miles. I’m certain that if you live in the orbit of a large city, you’ll be able to easily pick up many more chances with this antenna.

1byone describes this antenna as “paper thin” and they’re not kidding. The antenna is very thin and light. It’s easy to move about the room and try in different locations. I’d recommend using one of the supplied double-adhesive pads until you’ve found a permanent place for the antenna. It’s light enough that one adhesive pad will hold it on the wall, but you’d probably want to use more than one to hold it in place long term.

The 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna is available for purchase for $36.99 direct from 1byone. It’s also currently available on Amazon for $29.99.