As I enter CNET's New York offices each morning, like clockwork, I silence my Galaxy S III, adjust the brightness, and turn on Wi-Fi. These actions have become so routine that I barely recognize I am doing them, but it doesn't have to be this way.Android is a unique platform that gives users the ability to customize just about everything on their device, including being able to set up automated tasks that can be triggered by a specific action or location.
Perhaps the most overwhelming thing about the smart home revolution that's seemingly under way is the fact that so many of these new gadgets come with their own separate apps and control hubs. If you buy more than one or two, you'll end up needing a whole bookcase to store all of the blinking control centers plugged into your router, not to mention the fact that your various automation rules and schedules will probably be scattered across several different apps and Web sites. Wasn't home automation supposed to make things easier?
It's a reality that's … Read more
The race is on to anchor the smart home. Office supply retailer Staples became an early entrant this morning with its announcement of Staples Connect. Comprising an app and a $99 wireless Connect Hub, Staples Connect is designed to give consumers a single point of control for their various connected household devices.
The force driving Connect is the growing number of formerly mundane products that now boast wireless connectivity. Products like the Philips Hue connected LED lightbulbs, Honeywell's Z-Wave Thermostat (as opposed to the more recent Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat), and Bot Home Automation's wireless camera-equipped doorbell, DoorBot, … Read more
When CNET last wrote about DoorBot, Bot Home Automation was pitching its Wi-Fi-enabled doorbell/security camera combo device on crowd-funding site Christie Street. Having achieved its $250,000 goal, DoorBot is now almost ready to ship to its initial round of backers.
The company was on-hand at the PepCom event in New York City with a DoorBot demo (hence our video above). Since we first heard about the product, a few things have changed in regard to its specs and pricing. Its core function, letting you see who's at your door through a mobile app, remains intact.
Some of … Read more
Light bulbs have long been seen as symbolizing good ideas, and that's exactly how Insteon hopes you'll see its LED bulb. For starters, the Insteon LED Bulb will shine as brightly as a 60-watt incandescent bulb while using only 8 watts' worth of energy, putting it squarely in line with other energy-saving LED bulbs. But this is Insteon we're talking about, and sure enough, this bulb is fully automatable on Insteon's network, no separate dimmer module required. Just pick a lamp or light fixture, screw in the Insteon LED Bulb, and you'll be able to … Read more
The Belkin WeMo Light Switch comes with a switch, a faceplate, and four wire connectors. If you aren't familiar with electrical wiring, please enlist help from a handy friend before getting started. If you've installed a switch before, this shouldn't take more than 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish.
Step 1: Turn off power to your light switch at your circuit breaker. Use a voltage tester if you want to be absolutely sure that the power to that switch is turned off. This tester can cost as little as $10 at your local hardware store.… Read more
The installation process on the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat will be different depending on your existing heating and cooling system setup. Keep this in mind when you're starting out so you don't get too frustrated along the way.
Step 1: Go to your circuit breaker and switch off power to your thermostat.
Step 2: Remove your current thermostat and make note of the wires attached to the base plate; this will not be the same for everyone. My old thermostat had a G, a W, a Y, and an Rh wire.
Step 3: Make sure that you tag … Read more
If you're looking for a start in home automation that's free from fuss -- and, more importantly, free from monthly fees -- then you might want to consider the Insteon Starter Kit, available for $119 exclusively at Best Buy. Insteon claims that with its line of automation products and its free smartphone app, "your home is with you wherever you go."
You should temper your expectations here, as the Starter Kit, with its two LampLinc dimmers and the router-esque Insteon Hub, will only allow you to automate a pair of lamps. Automating just two lamps is … Read more
Belkin announced a new WeMo product last week that's similar to the existing WeMo Switch but with a pretty big twist. It's called the WeMo Insight Switch and it will set you back $10 more than Belkin's current WeMo Switch.
So what does the Insight Switch give you for your extra $10? The existing $49 WeMo Switch allows you to turn your electronics on and off and program them remotely via the WeMo app. For the most part, the WeMo Insight Switch does the same thing. You can turn your gadgets on and off and set schedules … Read more
Nine months ago, I got the call to move from New York to Kentucky and start up a new review team to write about the coming onslaught of smart home appliances -- connected refrigerators, robot vacuums, Wi-Fi light bulbs, and the like.
And here we are. Here's our new page. I couldn't be more excited.
Welcome, then, to CNET's brand-new appliance review section, which I alluded to earlier this summer. We are indeed diving into the world of the connected kitchen. And the connected laundry room. And the connected porch light.
Call it the "Internet of … Read more