Garry's Smart Home Summer 17 - Fascinating Tech Magazine Archivee

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Garry's Smart Home Summer 17

Archived Issues > Summer 2017 Issue

Garry's Smart Home

Follow up from last issue

Energenie MiHome

It says a lot that whilst we were intending to review the Energenie MiHome system last issue we just ran out of time to cover all the products in the range.  To recap this is vased on 433mhz technology similar to but not quite the same as LightWaveRF and HomeEasy. The range is really comprehensive from replacement light switches and sockets, through energy monitoring plugs (we really like this) and Radiator controls this really is whole house automation. 

The system is controlled by a small hub device which is paired with an app on your Phone. 

We still  love the simplicity and layout of the app which makes complex concepts like timers and scenes really easy. 

We continue to be incredibly impressed with this system. One of our favourite devices is the MiHome Adaptor Plus this smart plug allows you to remotely switch on or off a device. If that was all it did we would have to say it does it really well, being really easy to set up and pair, but wait there is more. The Plus in the name is because it also includes energy monitoring. Yes you can also remotely monitor the energy usage of the device attached to the socket. This is so simple to use with usage just appearing in the MiHome app. Another Energenie winner.

 A TrulyFascinating Award Winner

The Woolet Two long term test

This is a wallet you shouldn't be able to lose as it has built in Blue Tooth Low Energy tracking

First thoughts in our review last issue were that whilst over one hundred pounds may be a bit steep for some for a wallet, this is a really nice and well crafted wallet with a really clever set of bonus tracking features. We said we would return to this to see how it had worn. 

I'm pleased to say so far so good. No signs of obvious wear or tear and the Woolet alerts have saved the day on a couple of absent minded occasions - in one case saving me from losing my phone. The only slight annoyance has been the 'w' logo on the outside which has caught in pockets a couple of times.

The price is obviously high and you will have to decide if it is for you but it does do what it says on the box and des it well

Edifier Speakers

We covered Amazon's Alexa last issue and one of things we liked about the smaller Echo Dot was its ability to talk to any bluetooth speaker but what speaker to pair it with? Edifier have a couple of really good contenders.

First up the Edifier MP233

This is a really nice budget portable Bluetooth speaker. We love the slim design and the long battery life. It is very light and portable but still seems to pack Edifier's trademark punch. It is a tiny bit muddy on the bass perhaps but it  does have a bass response that outclasses many devices in this price range. Midrange is very precise - perfect for Alexa Announcements. 

Having a battery it can easilly be taken into the garden and indeed comes with a wrist strap to aid portability. The battery seems to last for ever - Edifier claim 12 hours.

We love the simplicity of Bluetooth pairing with none of the over the top voice announcements that many Chinese manufacturers seem to love to go in for. Bluetooth whilst not including some of the more modern standards like Apt-X was very reliable with no dropouts in our testing. If you have NFC in your phone pairing is even easier with the speaker including NFC tap pairing.

It also has a 3.5mm aux in and an SD card slot for playback.

We really like this speaker. Highly recommended for the price (currently 42GBP.) As an added bonus if you pair it with your phone you can use it as a speakerphone.

Specifications from Edifier:
  • Total Power Output:2 x 4.5W
  • SNR:≧80dBA
  • Input Sensitivity:900±50mV
  • Frequency Range:200Hz-20KHz
  • Bass Control:Yes
  • Power Supply:Built-in Li-ion Battery / 5V DC
  • Dimension:182.5 × 70 × 36 mm
    • Weight:0.45 Kg

    Next up the S100DB HiFi Active Bookshelf Speakers

    We previously looked at these in last year's gift guide but I wanted to revisit them in conjunction with a new music service I'm testing.

    These traditional looking bookshelf speakers are a little powerhouse. Perfect for music reproduction from Amazon or other streaming sources. The Bluetooth setup is excellent supporting Apt-X as well as all the other Bluetooth 4 audio stacks. Now whilst Apt-X isn't supported by the Echo Dot it is supported by my Macbook. Coupling these speakers with the Qobuzz HiRes Streaming service I am currently testing on the MacBook was a revelation. More on Qobuzz in the next issue but it provides much higher bit rate than most other streaming services with minimal compression. With the S1000DBs on Apt-X you can really tell the difference.

    Using this service really highlighted the extreme clarity of these speakers. This time round the bass didn't seem so overpowering and that may be down to using them in a different room environment. They do seem sensitive to the surface they are standing on. 

    Highly recommended.

    Thunderbolt 3

    Finally talking about my Macbook I've been testing StartTech's Thunderbolt 3 to 4K60 Dual DisplayPort adapter.

    This allows modern devices such as the new MacBook Pro that only have Thunderbolt 3 enabled  USB-C ports to talk to screens that use DisplayPort technology. It is a very simple arrangement of a smallish box with two full-size DisplayPort sockets and a short trailing lead with a USB-C plug. 

    The most important thing I can say is that this just worked. Every display and resolution I threw at it synched perfectly including demanding 4K material at  60 frames per second. The build oozes quality and you never doubt its reliability. What really impressed me was its ability to have two 4K streams showing on different monitors - that is a lot of throughput.

    At around 80GBP on Amazon this is not the cheapest adapter and if you don't need dual 4K there are cheaper alternatives but if you do want dual 4K then this is really worth looking at.

    Garry follows up on last issues Energenie and Wolet reviews. He also looks at some fantastic Edifier Speakers

    Ruth is back this issue and looks at the Huawei Watch 2, Acer Chromebook and a great STM Bag

    A Video Editing review special, a Virtual space visit and a special day out with Acer
    Peter harnesses the Sun's energy
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