Category Archives: review

Dell XPS 12 2-in-1 (Laptop or Tablet) Review



xps124Last year I reviewed an Dell XPS 13 and absolutely fell in love with the Laptop, so when given a chance to review the Dell XPS 12 2-in-1 (Laptop or Tablet) and a bunch of accessories I jumped at the chance. With any device that I review they get a real world test, in this case I have been using the Dell XPS 12 2-in-1 now for three weeks which included a two week road trip as my only Laptop / Tablet.

I have never had a Laptop with a detachable screen so my main concern was not so much it being detachable, my concern was more based on performance. Would the XPS 12 act more like a Tablet or a Laptop. My typical travel does not require me to edit video, but on this trip beyond normal work stuff, I had 4 videos that I needed to edit for a client and the XPS 12 handled them like a champ. I was actually taken back a little bit, encoding video is typically the true test on a computers performance and the XPS 12 performed remarkably well with the Intel 6th Generation M5 Processor.

The Dell XPS line has set the bar in workmanship, just like other XPS models this one utilizes premium materials such as Carbon Fiber, Machined Aluminum and screen hardened with Corning Gorilla Glass. Weighing in at 2.8lbs with the keyboard base of 1.75lbs with just the tablet. The build of the Dell XPS 12 2-in-1 is solid and elegant. While XPS Laptops are thin to begin with this one has already garnered a lot of attention by the folks I have exposed it to.

The screen docking utilizes magnets to snap it into place to establish a solid link between the keyboard and the screen. The 12.5 inch 4k Ultra HD display using the XPS 12 in tablet mode is simply incredible bright and vibrant. When you detach the screen from the keyboard you are asked if you want to stay in PC mode or switch to Tablet. Either choice is fine with Windows 10 the experience is pretty much seamless. The screen features a 352 DPI and has 8 million pixels resulting in an incredible screen experience. I cannot say it enough the screens of the XPS line is really what sets Dell apart from the competition.

The XPS comes with 2 cameras a 5MP user facing camera an 8MP world facing camera. Perfect for high res photos or web-chatting. Thunderbolt 3 has arrived in a big way the XPS 12 has two Thunderbolt 3 ports with the new Type-C connector for blazing fast file transfers.

xps123Let’s talk about the keyboard’s, when you order your XPS 12 you will be able to choose between two keyboard’s. When I tested the XPS 13 last year, I felt that the keyboard on that laptop, was the best keyboard ever designed for a laptop. When I received the XPS 12 with it came their Premier Keyboard with Premier Magnetic Folio which has a 1.9mm travel, when I expressed to the Dell team that I really loved the XPS 13 keyboard they surprised me by sending me the XPS Slim 12 Keyboard – with 1.3mm travel and adjustable viewing angles up to 150 degrees. xps122This blew me away, in that I could have “my” choice of keyboards. Do not get me wrong the premier keyboard is a great keyboard, if you like a little deeper keyboard action the premier is for you.

The XPS fits into a business environment with all the management and security features of a Latitude. The new Dell Thunderbolt dock, a story in itself connects to the XPS 12 with a single cable. I will be talking in detail in a later article about dock and other key peripherals.

For travel the Dell Adapter – USB Type C to HDMI/ VGA / Ethernet / USB 3.0 allows you to quickly connect for presentations and or hard wired networks. The Dell Active Pen allows you to interact with the XPS 12 with a stylus.

During my last trip, I was late in preparing a report for my company, which required about 4 hours of work. So while on the plane ride home, in coach I was able to knock out the report in laptop mode and then watch a 4k movie with plenty of battery life left comfortably on the tray table. It’s a sweet time to have this much power and versatility.

No longer do you have to travel with a massive laptop to get the performance and screen real-estate to get work done. Whether I am crunching multiple spreadsheets one moment in laptop mode, or watching a video in bed in tablet mode the Dell XPS 12 2-in-1 (Laptop or Tablet) is the perfect business or travel device. In a world where versatility in being able to get multiple functions out of one device the XPS 12 has allowed me to lighten my travel load while at the same time provide the power I need to do what I do whether at the office, home or travel.

Bit of a side note if you’re looking at other options. I used a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 recently for a few hours so it’s not a full comparison here. But if I was asked to choose between one or the other the choice is very easy, my pick is the Dell XPS 12 2-in-1.

Disclaimer: I have been provided the Dell XPS 12 2-in-1 (Laptop or Tablet) to review from Dell. The views and commentary are my own and represent my experience with the product line.

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Azoi Kito+ Health Tracker Review



Kito+ logoAfter interviewing Azoi at Gadget Show Live, the team there sent me a Kito+ to review. I’ve been using it to check my vital signs over the past few weeks. If you didn’t read or listen to the original interview, the Kito+ is a credit-card sized health tracker that measures heart rate (pulse), respiration rate (breathing), blood oxygen, skin temperature and ECG.

Kito+ Box

The Kito+ sends all the data via Bluetooth to a nearby smartphone or tablet which displays the readings in real-time.  It’s even more impressive when you consider the Kito+ costs GB£100 (around US$140). The Kito+ can work as a standalone device with both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, or it can be embedded into a case for the iPhone 6 series of phones from Apple. Let’s take a look.

Kito+ In Box

The box opens up to show the Kito+ on the left with the iPhone cases and charging adapter on the right. Beneath the lids are instructions and a USB cable. There are two sizes of iPhone 6 case included, one for the standard iPhone 6 and one for the Plus versions. The magnetic charging adapter snaps into place and the micro-USB cable powers it up. Fully charged, the Kito+ is good for a whole month of tests.

Kito+

Turning to the Kito+ itself, it’s flat on one side with the sensors and buttons on the other. There are four sensors, an “on” button and two contacts for the charging adapter. The Kito+ is easy to use – simply hold in two hands with thumbs on the flat side, forefingers on the big shiny metal sensors and index fingers on the lower two smaller sensors.

As mentioned earlier, the Kito+ sends data to an app for processing, display and recording. It’s a straightforward app without too many bells and whistles, but it does have some good touches, such as being able to email your data to a doctor or physician.

When starting the app, you can either login to track your stats over time or you can go without a login, which is handy if you want a friend to try the Kito+. Once in, the next step is to press a small button on the Kito+ to prep the link between it and the smartphone. I found that occasionally this step didn’t always work but turning Bluetooth off and on again usually resolved it.

When successfully connected up, the smartphone shows how to hold the Kito+ and then moves into the measuring mode. This shows a real-time ECG graph and other figures as they are acquired over around 30 seconds. When the measuring phase is done, you can review your vital statistics.

Azoi Kito+ ReadingsAzoi Kito+ ECG

I can’t comment on the accuracy of the figures or the ECG but they seemed to be in the ballpark when I tried to measure my own heart and respiration rate. The blood oxygen measurement didn’t always succeed and it seemed very dependent on correct positioning of fingers and no movement during the test period. However, all the other measurements recorded correctly every time and I never had any figures that were so outlandish as to be unbelievable.

If you are logged into the app as an individual , the data is saved against the date and you can review your historical measurements if desired.

Azoi Kito+

Overall, I think the Azoi Kito+ is a great little device, especially considering the price (GB£100). I can see a number of potential users, from athletes and sportsman, or people who have a heart condition that can use the Kito+ under the guidance of a physician. I’m not medically trained so any docs who read GNC should chip in with comments on their view of the Kito+ and its potential.

For a full unboxing and demo run, there’s a video below. Thanks to Azoi for supplying the Kito+ for review.

 


iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker Review



iClever LogoOn review here is the iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker IC-BTS03. It’s an IP65 water resistant Bluetooth speaker with a 10 hour playtime. Perfect for outdoor tunes! Let’s take a look.

The iClever Speaker is a orange and black cuboid with speaker grilles on two sides, controls on the top, inputs on one side and a camera mount on the bottom with a rubber carrying strap on one corner. Roughly, 10 x 9 x 5 cm, there’s a bit of a ruggedness to the speaker too with a rubberised exterior and informal drop tests show that it’ll stand up to the odd accident. IP65 specifies that the speaker is totally protected against dust (6) and it’s sealed against low pressure water (5). Basically, it means that it’s ok to get splashed or dropped in shallow water.

iClever Wireless Outdoor Speaker

In the cardboard box, there’s the speaker, a USB-to-microUSB cable, a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm jack cable and instructions. The USB cable is used for charging only and can’t be used to play music from a PC or laptop. Both the microUSB charging port and the aux in socket are under a rubber flap that needs to be peeled away to get access. iClever Wireless Outdoor SpeakerWhen charging, the sole LED on the front will light up red and it’s green when the aux socket is in use.

Across the top, the controls are straightforward – power, volume down, play/pause/answer, volume up. When turned on, the BTS03 is straight into pairing mode with the LED flashing blue. A voice helpfully intones, “Power on. Pairing”. You can then connect to the speaker in the normal way, receiving “Connected” when done and the LED goes a solid blue. As a bonus, the iClever can work as a speakerphone too – it’s kind of fun (or bonkers) if you are with a group of friends.

On the bottom, there’s a standard camera screw fitting which makes it compatible with a wide range of mounting accessories.

iClever Wireless Outdoor SpeakerThat’s the physical out of the way. What does it sound like? Well, if you are expecting this to sound like a $500 Sonos, then you are going to be disappointed. If you expect it to be a $30 5W portable speaker weighing less than 300g that you can throw into a bag for a day at the beach, you’re going to be happy enough. The sound is clear, with vocals coming across well. As you’d expect, the bass is under-represented but crank up the volume and there’s a fair beat. It’s not massively loud but it fills a room well enough.

Overall the iClever Outlook Wireless Speaker ticks all the boxes for an outdoor speaker. Semi-rugged, long battery life, splashproof and reasonably loud. It’s available now from Amazon.com (US$30) and Amazon.co.uk for GB£17.

Thanks to iClever for the review unit. Unboxing below.


iClever Tri-Folding Bluetooth Keyboard Review



iClever LogoI’ve always had a soft spot for folding keyboards, starting with the Palm Portable Keyboard from over fifteen years ago. On review here is the iClever Tri-folding Bluetooth Keyboard (IC-BK05), which brings the folding keyboard up-to-date with wireless connectivity and funky LED backlights. Let’s take a look.

iClever Folding Keyboard Folded

The keyboard comes in a small cardboard box with the iClever keyboard itself, a USB to microUSB cable, a cloth carrying bag and instructions. The keyboard’s dimensions unfolded are 29.1 x 11.7 x 0.8 cm and 16.6 x 12.0 x 1.5 cm when folded. The back or outer shell of the keyboard is metal, so it’s well protected when all closed up, and there are some magnetic catches to keep the keyboard close up. Unfolded, the keyboard feels a little flimsy in the hand, but once it’s on a firm surface with the two outer rests flipped down, the keyboard is solid enough. The iClever Folding Keyboard’s hinge mechanism is on display and looks neat, while also being part of the support for the keyboard.

iClever Folding Keyboard Unfolded

The IC-BK05 has a couple of notable features. First, it works with Android, iOS and Windows. Second, it connects both with Bluetooth and USB. Finally, it has coloured LED key backlights which can be cycled through red, green and blue. The keys are chiclet style with five rows of full size keys and a small sixth set of function keys across the top.

iClever Folding Keyboard HingeThe function keys provide a range of additional functions such as Home, Search, Cut, Copy, Paste, Play/Pause and so on. There’s some variation depending on what OS is in use but I found it handy to have a Home key with Android tablets.

The keyboard can be connected to two devices at the same time, though one has to wired via USB and the other wirelessly via Bluetooth. I’m typing this via a wired connection to a Windows 10 laptop but can switch back to my Nexus 9 with a quick function key.

The IC-BK05 turns on automatically when the keyboard is unfolded. Battery-life is a claimed 300 hours without backlight, but reduces to only 5 hours when the lights are on. The lights have two levels of brightness but I never typed long enough to find out if the estimate is correct. As expected, the keyboard is charged via the USB port.

iClever Folding KeyboardI used the iClever Folding Keyboard wirelessly with my Nexus 9 over a couple days to write a few articles for Geek News Central and found it very productive. I can touch-type and didn’t have any difficulty getting used to the spacing for the vast majority of the keys and everything was where it should have been on the keyboard. It’s worth noting that this is US (not UK keyboard) layout, so there’s no £ sign and @ is where ” normally is. Obviously the lettering on the keys can be overridden in the layout settings but it’s worth pointing out.

I only had one minor problem with the keyboard and that was with a couple of plastic covers on the hinges which had a tendency to pop off when pulling the keyboard out of the drawstring bag. The covers were easily popped back in and I suspect a drop of glue would keep them in place.

Overall, I liked iClever Tri-folding Bluetooth Keyboard and its definitely worth getting this or a similar keyboard if you are going to be doing lots of typing on a tablet. Priced at around GB£35 or US$55, it’s also worth considering non-backlight version (IC-BK03) which will save £10 / $20. The keyboard is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Unboxing video below.

Thanks to iClever for the review unit.

 


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.