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Gadget Ogling: Eyes on Google
October 3, 2015
Chromecast helps people easily stream whatever they want through their TV via a simple dongle. Now Google's adding a splash of color to the device, along with a string of new features. Instead of resembling a USB stick, Chromecast 2 is more like a colorful button, and Google says it is easier to plug into an HDMI slot. Also, it apparently can stream videos faster and with less buffering.
Nest Labs Opens Door to 3rd-Party Devs
October 2, 2015
Nest Labs on Thursday said it would open its communications platform to third-party developers for the first time, which will allow outside home device makers to set up products that communicate directly with Nest products. Nest announced an update to its Nest Weave communications protocol that will allow outside developers to link other home devices to its own.
Logitech Adds Portability to Home Monitoring
October 1, 2015
Logitech on Wednesday announced a new monitoring system that links users to live feeds of their homes via an app. Called "Logi Circle," it picks up Nest's Dropcam model and expands it with mobility. On one end of the system is the app, available for both Android and iOS, which lets consumers view high-definition camera feeds live. On the other end is a portable camera, the size of a webcam.
TiVo Bolt Zaps Ads
October 1, 2015
TiVo on Wednesday urged users to give commercials the finger with its Bolt set-top box, which allows ad-skipping on some shows. The Bolt is available immediately online, and it will show up on store shelves this weekend. It comes in 500-GB and 1-TB versions, priced at $300 and $400, respectively, inclusive of one year of service. After that, users will pay $150 a year for the service.
New Sonos Speaker Costs $500 but New Smart Tuner Is Free
September 30, 2015
Sonos has unveiled a new version of its top-of-the-line Play:5 speaker, which includes three mid-woofers and three tweeters. It can be set up in three orientations: by itself, or paired with another speaker -- either vertically for tight sound, or horizontally for a more immersive experience. Sonos also introduced Trueplay, an iOS app for tuning its wireless speakers to a room's acoustic profile.
Google Lines Up a Batch of Marshmallow-Ready Hardware
September 30, 2015
Google on Tuesday introduced a pair of new phablets, a couple of Chromecasts and the first tablet it built by itself. The unveilings took place at its Nexus event in San Francisco. Months of leaks drew very accurate portraits of the $499 Huawei Nexus 6P and $379 LG Nexus 5X and other Android hardware, but Google filled in the details ahead of Android Marshmallow's expected Oct. 5 release.
Gadget Ogling: Pebble Goes Round, VR Hits Movies, and Smart Locks Lose Keypads
September 26, 2015
The latest Pebble looks a touch different from previous models of the smartwatch. Instead of a square screen with rounded edges, it bears a circular watch face. The Pebble Time Round also is thinner and lighter than its siblings, but it's not as water-resistant. More importantly, the battery doesn't last as long -- a couple of days rather than a week. That earns it a black mark.
Amazon Fans Fire's Flames
September 21, 2015
Amazon last week confirmed and detailed the bare-bones Fire tablet, which will sell for just $49 -- and it announced five other Fire family additions while it was at it. Flanking the Fire tablet are the refreshed Fire HD, the Fire TV with 4K, the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote and the updated Fire Kids Edition. Amazon announced two flavors of the revisited Fire HD.
New Roomba Knows Its Way Around
September 17, 2015
iRobot has unveiled its latest robotic vacuum cleaning system, the Roomba 980. The device combines adaptive navigation with visual localization, cloud-connected app control and increased cleaning power. It is the most capable model to date, said the company, which has been a pioneer in robotic cleaning tools. The Roomba 980 includes new sensors that allow it to create a map of its environment.
Trust and Value Will Bring IoT Home
September 17, 2015
The connected car and smart home markets are at an early stage of development, but in many ways they have been growing in parallel. Both markets are enabled by the falling costs of sensors, networking technologies and data, as well as by expanded cloud services, the mass penetration of smartphones, and consumer demand for the connected lifestyle. These ecosystems now are beginning to converge.
Will the IoT Be Held for Ransom?
September 17, 2015
A perfect cybercrime storm is brewing, and two of the main ingredients are ransomware and the Internet of Things. Cybercrime has become an industry with all the operational trappings of any legitimate sector, McAfee Labs noted earlier this month. It has its own supply chain, market segments, service providers, and finance and trading systems. It has its own business models.
Gadget Ogling: All About Apple
September 12, 2015
Apple's latest iPhones -- the 6s and 6s Plus -- are faster, stronger and smarter than the previous models. A zippier processor and faster Touch ID, LTE, and WiFi feature among the incremental upgrades. There are a couple of interesting new features with this generation, primarily 3D Touch. This makes the screen receptive to pressure beyond lightly tapping or holding one's finger on an icon.
New Apple TV Goes All-In for Apps
September 9, 2015
Apple on Wednesday held a mammoth two-hour event to introduce a long-awaited new Apple TV set-top box, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the expected iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Further, Apple announced new Apple Watch colors and bands, and a special collaboration with Hermes. While the iPhone is clearly Apple's most important product, it's arguable that the Apple TV is its most important new addition.
Samsung's IoT Products Make Themselves at Home
September 9, 2015
Samsung last week plunged into the Internet of Things for the home market, unveiling a new hub to control connected gadgets, home and sleep monitors, and a smart washing machine. The company made the announcements at IFA 2015. The SmartThings Hub for home devices is built around a powerful processor that enables video monitoring, and it includes a battery backup that lasts up to 10 hours.
Baby Monitors Riddled With Security Holes
September 2, 2015
Rapid7 has released a report on an assortment of new vulnerabilities found in baby monitors: predictable information leaks; backdoor credentials; reflective, stored XSS; direct browsing; authentication bypass; and privilege escalation. "Many of the issues would allow video and audio from the device to be viewed by an attacker," said Mark Stanislav, senior security consultant at Rapid7.
Apple TV May Finally Grab the Spotlight
August 31, 2015
The next version of the Apple TV set-top box could be ready for prime time in October, priced at either $149 or $199, based on rumors circulating Monday. The current version goes for $99. With the higher price could come a seriously upgraded device: It will include support for Siri, a new touchscreen remote control, and a new and more intuitive interface.
Come September, Apple TV Will Outshine the iPhone
August 29, 2015
About Apple's September event... Apple's annual September media event is an oxymoron -- it's become almost entirely predictable. One year it introduces a major new iPhone redesign and the next it offers incremental iPhone improvements. And make no mistake about it, despite last year's Apple Watch debut, at the core of the September event is the critically important iPhone.
Gadget Ogling: Swimming Aids, Drinks Fixers, and Sleep Rings
August 22, 2015
As an occasional swimmer, I'd like a better way of monitoring how well I'm doing. It's not so easy to use a stopwatch on my phone in the pool as it is while out for a jog. So, Misfit is looking to bring wearables to the water with a new version of its Shine activity tracker, developed with Speedo. The Speedo Shine apparently can monitor your progress on laps across all types of strokes.
Bring On the New Apple TV - Streaming Service or Not
August 5, 2015
I've been waiting for a new Apple TV from Apple for years, and I've been disappointed each time a major Apple event came and went without one. Plus, I've been waiting for Apple to come along and disrupt the cable/satellite TV bundling status quo with some sort of a la carte streaming service, also to no avail. Now I don't think that second wish matters much at all.
Gadget Ogling: Useful Smartwatches, Orbital Cameras, and an Un-Procrastinator
August 1, 2015
Dot is a smartwatch that may have life-changing implications. Rather than trying to convey information through tiny text on a small screen, Dot intends to provide visually impaired wearers with notifications through Braille. Four sets of the six dots that signify characters in the Braille system raise and lower as quickly as 100 times per second to denote four characters simultaneously.
Apple Leaves Nest Thermostat Out in the Cold
July 24, 2015
Apple reportedly has pulled the Nest smart thermostat from both its online and brick-and-mortar stores, possibly paving the way for its own line of smart home appliances. The thermostat disappeared from Apple's product offerings earlier this month. Apple's stores now are selling the Ecobee 3, a thermostat that works with Apple's HomeKit, an Internet of Things platform that's part of iOS.
Gadget Ogling: An Amped-Up Smartphone, a Giant USB Charger and a Gun Detector
July 18, 2015
Marshall, best known for its guitar amplifiers and headphones, is moving into the smartphone market. Its first device, London, has dual front-facing speakers and a pair of audio outputs, making it easy to share what you're listening to with a friend who's also wearing headphones, assuming you're in a setting where you don't have the option of playing the audio over speakers.
Tech Tools to Make Your Next Move Less Painful
July 13, 2015
My wife and I just completed a move from California to Oregon, and it was far less painful than it could have been, thanks to technology. It used to be incredibly painful to move. While a lot of the pain is still there, technology has advanced a lot since we last moved -- about 18 years ago -- and at least some parts of the process now are far easier.
Gadget Ogling: Unobtrusive Audio, Connected Flora, and a Water Jet Cleaner
July 11, 2015
Dot is billing itself as the world's smallest Bluetooth headset. That might be mere marketing claptrap, but there's no doubt it's an impressive piece of kit. It runs for six hours of playback and nine hours of call time before it needs to recharge, and it has an 80-hour standby time. When Dot does need more power, you can simply plug it into the protective case.

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Do you want to live in an Internet-connected home?
Yes -- I have some smart things, and I want more.
Yes -- I'm looking forward to all the conveniences.
Not sure -- I have security and privacy concerns.
No -- the technology isn't good enough yet.
No -- it's a ridiculous waste of money.
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