Cutting Edge Technology Resources​

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Rewards and incentives are a great way to boost your market research insights and response rates. But should you use instant rewards, sweepstakes, or points-to-rewards?

It is no exaggeration to say that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd is a company that built the history of Japan’s manufacturing industry.

There’s an art to growing leads and maintaining successful relationships with customers. When you want to give your sales and marketing teams a digital advantage,

Ultimately, the consistent and reliable flow of data across people, teams and business functions is crucial to an organization’s survival and ability to innovate.

Ultimately, the consistent and reliable flow of data across people, teams and business functions is crucial to an organization’s survival and ability to innovate.

Organizations’ top data priorities over the next two years fall into three areas, all supported by wider adoption of cloud platforms:

  • Is single-pass the future for display graphics production?

    At Fujifilm, we are committed to delivering cutting-edge solutions that not only meet the expectations of our customers, but exceed them too, and we do this by embracing innovation.

  • Make UV-LED printing the future of your prints and the planet

    Since launching the first UV printer with white ink in 2004, Mimaki have been a trailblazer in the development of innovative UV-LED technology.

  • So Drupa… what was it really like

    A long time coming after an eight-year absence, much was expected from Drupa 2024. But did it live up to expectations and deliver what the market hoped for? LFR lifts the lid on the print industry’s largest trade event…

  • Soyang blog: Embracing personalisation with DTF

    Personalisation has been one of the stand-out trends in the print industry for some time now, offering customers the opportunity to create unique pieces and put their own stamp on products.

  • Why the Ricoh stand at drupa could not be missed

    The Ricoh stand at drupa was the subject of a lot of attention. It’s bold, colourful design is as distinctive as it is striking. Quite unlike anything else to be found in the sprawling Messe showground with its 17 halls.

  • Easy to apply, bubble-free graphics. What does this mean?

    Keeping bubbles out of signage and print applications is key to the success of a project. After all, there is little worse than producing a fantastic, eye-catching piece of printed work only for all this to come undone when unsightly bubbles appear during the installation process.

      • US eyeing new rules to keep Chinese software out of cars

        Photo by Jia Tianyong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images The US Commerce Department is expected to issue new rules in August placing limits on vehicle software that comes from China, according to Reuters. The new rules come as the Biden administration ramps up its scrutiny of Chinese auto imports, in an effort to prevent the country from flooding the market with cheap electric vehicles. While speaking at a forum in Colorado, Alan Estevez, who serves as Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security, said that the department would propose rules that would require certain vehicle software be made in the US or by its trade partners. The rules would pertain to “key driver components of the vehicle that manage the software and manage the data around that car,” Estevez said, according to... Continue reading…

      • Canon’s new pro cameras have eye-controlled autofocus and stacked sensors

        Canon EOS R5 Mark II | Image: Canon Canon’s new EOS R5 Mark II and EOS R1 cameras both have better autofocus performance than their predecessors, with computations powered by a new Digic X processor. That includes a Digic Accelerator that is behind a new Dual Pixel Intelligent AF autofocus system capable of body, joint, and head area estimation, as well as focusing on people other than the subject. Both cameras share much-needed upgrades, like backside illuminated sensors with faster readouts and Canon’s unique eye-controlled autofocus, which was only available in the R3. Also, one of the most requested features for filmmakers, support for Canon Log 2 color profile, is now included. Image: Canon R5 Mark II The R5 Mark II is Canon’s sweet spot... Continue reading…

      • The best Prime Day phone and accessory deals you can get right now

        The pricey Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is marked down to just under $1,000. | Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge It’s the most Prime-iest day of the year, which is to say, Prime Day is back. Also back: some of the best prices of the year on phones and accessories. It’s an especially good time to stock up on things like chargers, cables, and stands, but if you’ve been waiting for a good price on a Pixel phone or one of Motorola’s new foldables, well, your patience is about to be rewarded. The best Prime Day Apple iPhone deals The best Prime Day Samsung Galaxy deals The best Prime Day Google Pixel deals The best Prime Day Motorola phone deals Best Prime Day OnePlus phone deals The best Prime Day phone accessory deals You can charge your iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch simultaneously with Belkin’s 3-in-1 MagSafe stand. A version... Continue reading…

      • The best budget robot vacuums

        Illustration: The Verge You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a robot clean your floors. Here’s our pick of the most cost-effective bots you can buy right now. Continue reading…

      • The best Prime Day deals on Amazon devices

        The Kindle Scribe is down to an all-time low price. | Image: Amelia Holowaty Krales Amazon Prime Day 2024 has officially arrived. We’ve already published a detailed guide to the best Prime Day deals, but if you’re just interested in Amazon devices, this is where you’ll find the ones that are actually worthwhile. From Alexa-based Echo smart speakers to video doorbells, Amazon is discounting a wide range of gadgets, some of which are currently seeing their lowest prices to date. Of course, the main caveat here is that you’ll have to be an active Amazon Prime member to take advantage of any and all Prime Day deals. Luckily, Amazon makes it pretty easy to sign up, especially since new members can take advantage of the exclusive discounts with a free 30-day trial. The best streaming device and TV deals If you’re... Continue reading…

      • Cadillac is giving its gas-powered Escalade an EV glow-up

        Image: Cadillac The Cadillac Escalade IQ, the electric version of the automaker’s yacht-sized luxury SUV, won’t be out until later this year, so in the meantime, the automaker is hoping to whet appetites by giving the gas-powered version an EV makeover. Starting the front grille, the new 2025 Escalade will have new vertically positioned headlights inspired by the Cadillac Lyriq and Celestiq, as well as an illuminated Cadillac badge in the center. And on the V-series, Premium Luxury, and Platinum trims, there is also an LED border that outlines the grille — which also calls to mind the illuminated grilles of Cadillac’s EV lineup. Moving inside, the interior has been totally redesigned to give over a lot more real estate to screens. The Escalade will now... Continue reading…

      • Microsoft’s Designer app arrives on iOS and Android with AI editing and creation

        Image: Microsoft Microsoft’s AI-powered Designer app is coming out of preview today for both iOS and Android users. Microsoft Designer lets you use templates to create custom images, stickers, greeting cards, invitations, and more. Designer can also use AI to edit images and restyle them or create collages of images. Originally available on the web or through Microsoft Edge, Designer has been in preview for nearly a year. It’s now generally available to anyone with a personal Microsoft account and as a free app for Windows, iOS, and Android. The mobile app includes the ability to create images and edit them on the go. Image: Microsoft The Microsoft Designer editor view. Microsoft Designer includes the usual text prompt for... Continue reading…

      • The best Prime Day gaming deals

        You can get a refurbished Xbox Series X for well under $400 today — if you don’t mind buying refurbished. | Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge If you’ve worked hard this year, you deserve to play even harder, and you can do that on a modest budget with some of the Prime Day gaming deals available right now. Amazon’s Prime Day 2024 sale runs through the end of today, July 17th, offering plenty of discounts on video games, controllers, headsets, storage, and other gear and accessories to level up your experience. We’re seeing new all-time low prices on some of the top games that have been released over the past couple of years. There’s a healthy assortment of titles to consider, whether you’re playing on PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, or Xbox Series X / S. There’s also quite a few deals for actual hardware, too — though no consoles apart from the Meta Quest 3 as of now. We’ll... Continue reading…

      • The UK will start feeding lab-grown meat to pets this year

        Image: Meatly The UK is now the first European country to green-light the sale of lab-grown meat, but with pets instead of human consumers as its first guinea pigs. The UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs granted London-based startup Meatly regulatory approval to produce lab-grown pet food, which described the clearance as a “huge leap forward for the cultivated meat industry.” “Pet parents are crying out for a better way to feed their cats and dogs meat,” Meatly CEO Owen Ensor said in a statement, pitching that the company’s cultivated pet food would allow them to do so “in a way that is kinder to our planet and other animals.” Meatly says it plans to launch commercial samples of its first... Continue reading…

      • The best Apple deals available for Amazon Prime Day 2024

        The latest iPad is down to an all-time low price. | Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge Thanks to Amazon Prime Day, you don’t need to wait until Black Friday this year to save big on Apple gadgets. Despite being an Amazon event, some of the best deals surprisingly include popular Apple products, ranging from the high-end latest AirPods Pro to the entry-level third-gen AirPods — both of which have new all-time low prices. It’s not just AirPods that are receiving steep discounts, though, but also the Apple Watch Series 9, the latest iPad, and other excellent Apple devices. Below, we’ve rounded up the cream of the crop to make diving through the deals easier. If you’re interested in deals outside of the Apple ecosystem, check out our main Prime Day roundup so you can save even more. The best AirPods deals Normally $549.99,... Continue reading…

      • Mowrator S1 4WD review: Like cutting your grass with an RC car

        At a glanceExpert's Rating Pros21-inch cutting radiusHighly maneuverableOutstanding remote controlRiding-mower build and cut qualityConsVery heavy (120 pounds)Disappointing autonomous obstacle avoidanceOur VerdictWhile its obstacle avoidance feels like an afterthought, everything else about the remote-controlled Mowrator S1 robot lawn mower is high end and lots of fun. Robot lawn mowers are great for busy families, people with disabilities, or those who just want to spend more time making their yard look good and less time pushing a mower. But not everyone is ready to accept our outdoor robot overlords. I can’t count the number of people who’ve driven by my house while I was testing one, stopped, and peppered me with questions. While many say, “I need that!” others say, “Cool, but I still like mowing my grass.” The Mowrator S1 is built for that latter class of gardener. Despite its robot-sounding name, the Mowrator is closer to a remote-controlled car with a mower attached to it than an autonomous vehicle. It’s also built differently: where most robot mowers are fabricated with copious amounts of plastic, the Mowrator is built from the same steel and aluminum materials used in traditional riding mowers. The Mowrator S1 came from the factory set to run at its highest speed, which had me feeling like I was driving a high-end RC car. The result is an absolute beast. The Mowrator S1 weighs more than 120 pounds, making it three times heavier than the Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD I reviewed in October, 2020—and that bot is no lightweight. Assembled—a task that requires two people—the Mowrator S1 is nearly two feet wide, a foot-and-a-half tall, and about three feet long, which means it’s no smaller than a conventional push mower. Unlike most robot lawnmowers, the Mowrator is not entirely autonomous. You control it with a remote, much like an aerial drone or an RC car. Unlike most robot lawnmowers, the Mowrator is not entirely autonomous. You control it with a remote, much like an aerial drone or an RC car.Ed Oswald/Foundry Unlike most robot lawnmowers, the Mowrator is not entirely autonomous. You control it with a remote, much like an aerial drone or an RC car.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry I was glad the manufacturer sent its 4WD model ($3,999). It has a front axle that allows its wheels to tilt up and down, giving it outstanding control on uneven terrain, which my yard has a fair amount of. The $2,999 model S1 2WD has rear-wheel drive, which works best on flat yards and very gradual slopes. Mowrator offers a couple of options for both models, which I did not receive for this review. There’s a $499 auto-dumping grass bag that can also be controlled with the remote, and a $299 vacuum kit for sucking up leaves and other light debris. While the Mowrator has some rudimentary obstacle avoidance and features like cruise control and auto U-turn that endow it with a modicum of intelligence, that’s the extent of its automation. You’re responsible for controlling the mower wherever it goes. Setup Given its size and weight, I thought the Mowrator S1 would be difficult to set up, even with two people. Fortunately, the machine comes mostly preassembled—apart from its wheels—and the need for two people is mostly to get it out of the box. I suppose one person could do it if you cut its box out from around it, but that could complicate a return if you decide it’s not for you. But you’ll still need a helper to tilt the mower while you attach its wheels. I also recommend placing the mower on blocks to keep its axles off the ground while you’re doing that. The wheels attach easily enough, thanks to grooves inside each tire that match the grooves on the mower’s drive motor. The grass bag goes together like any other mower, and an included chute plug allows you to mulch clippings instead of disposing of them (the latter is better for your lawn). The Mowrator has manual height adjustment and can cut grass as high as 20 inches. The Mowrator has manual height adjustment and can cut grass as high as 20 inches.Ed Oswald/Foundry The Mowrator has manual height adjustment and can cut grass as high as 20 inches.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry Mowrator provides all the tools you’ll need, and while some of the screws were difficult to get precisely in their respective holes, I had the job done in about 45 minutes with the help of one other person. If you use an iOS device, you’ll want to know that Mowrator only has an Android version of its app right now. That downsize is mitigated, however, by the fact that the app is pretty much needed only for updating the machine’s firmware. And the product has only just begun shipping to Kickstarter backers, so it’s very early. Operation The manufacturer says the Mowrator S1’s battery should deliver a 2.25-hour runtime, which seems accurate based on my experience. Before my first test run, I charged its partially depleted battery (it was at somewhere between 50- and 75 percent) in less than 30 minutes. After an hour of grass cutting, the battery level was at 65 percent, and it was at 40 percent after an additional 30 minutes of use. The included 600-watt “supercharger” works as fast as any battery charger I’ve seen. The Mowrator is powered by a replaceable 18Ah battery. The Mowrator is powered by a replaceable 18Ah battery.Ed Oswald/Foundry The Mowrator is powered by a replaceable 18Ah battery.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry Unless you’re a skilled RC operator, I highly recommend keeping the Mowrator S1’s obstacle avoidance setting activated. The mower arrived from the factory set to run at its highest speed, which had me feeling like I was driving a high-powered RC car, not a powerful lawn mower with a 21-inch cutting radius. And it’s just as fun as one of those toys, with incredibly responsive controls (I’ll discuss its remote shortly) and the ability to turn on a dime. Once I got the hang of it—start with slower speed setting while you’re mastering it—I finished mowing my ¼-acre yard in less than 20 minutes. I was particularly impressed with the mower’s ability to scale inclines. The play in its front-axle helps it roll over uneven surfaces, such as the steep transition from the sidewalk to my lawn in front of my house. That’s proven to be a near-insurmountable obstacle for many of the robot mowers I’ve tested, but the Mowrator S1 barely flinched. I also tested it on my neighbors’ yard, which has an even steeper slope, and it had no problem. The mower’s obstacle avoidance tech, however, can’t seem to distinguish between solid objects and tall weeds. If it encountered anything other than tall grass—it’s adjustable deck can handle grass up to 20 inches high—it would stop and refuse to move. That’s a significant flaw in a mower in this price range. Have a sloped yard? The Mowrator S1 AWD handles inclines with ease.  Have a sloped yard? The Mowrator S1 AWD handles inclines with ease. Ed Oswald/Foundry Have a sloped yard? The Mowrator S1 AWD handles inclines with ease. Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry You can turn obstacle avoidance off if you want complete control of the mower to put it anywhere you want, or you can turn on its cruise-control and auto U-turn features and just sit back and watch it do its thing—just make sure your yard is free of obstructions. You’ll also need to account for the mower’s grass bag, which makes it more difficult to maneuver in tight spots. That got caught on bushes and shrubs enough times that I ended up removing it. The Mowrator S1 uses a fan blade to cut grass, and its cutting quality is about the same as a conventional push or riding mower. The spinning razor blades on robot mowers are easier on your lawn, but if you mulch the Mowrator’s clippings, you’ll get good results. The Mowrator S1’s remote control is solidly constructed, with large buttons spaced perfectly to reduce the chances of your hitting one by mistake. And isn’t as heavy as it looks. As a safety feature, you must hold down buttons on the top of the remote to start the blades, and then tap “start” on its display. While some may see this as an annoyance, I think it’s a good safety feature. If you’re familiar with aerial drones, this controller works much like them. In fact, Mowerator was founded by a team of former-DJI employees. DJI’s aerial drones are a blast, and they’re easy to fly. We were disappointed in the Mowrator S1’s obstacle avoidance, despite the multiple proximity sensors in its bumper and body. We were disappointed in the Mowrator S1’s obstacle avoidance, despite the multiple proximity sensors in its bumper and body.Ed Oswald/Foundry We were disappointed in the Mowrator S1’s obstacle avoidance, despite the multiple proximity sensors in its bumper and body.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry Should you buy a Mowrator S1? Given its metal construction, maneuverability, battery life, and overall cutting performance, it would be better to compare the Mowrator S1 to a zero-turn riding mower instead of an autonomous robot mower. Perhaps robot lawn mowers have made me lazy, but I was initially skeptical of this one that depends on me for 90 percent of its operations. After several sessions cutting my grass with the Mowrator S1, however, the only remaining reservation is related to its obstacle avoidance. If you have a good-sized yard—say, an acre or more—and this machine’s $4,000 price tag isn’t a barrier, you’ll find the money well spent. Robotics, Smart Gardens

      • Torras Coolify Cyber Neck Air Conditioner review: Just chillin’

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsHands-free neck fanCools neck area fast and well insideSimple app controlsComfortableConsNoisy at full blastLess useful outsidePriceyOur VerdictThe Torras Coolify Cyber is a one-person wearable, wireless cooler that can blow cooled or warmed air around your neck, upper shoulders, and lower head. It’s comfortable and does a good job when used inside, although we were less impressed with it during tests on a hot day outside. Price When Reviewed£225 Best Prices Today: Torras Coolify Cyber Neck Air Conditioner Retailer Price Torras £225 View Deal £394.87 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Product Price Price comparison from Backmarket Not everyone has air conditioning at home or in the office, and nobody has it when outside. Unless you carry an old-fashioned paper fan or miniature motorized power fan, you’ll need to sit in front of a rooted-to-the-spot desk or room fan. Even the best fans can’t rival a proper air-conditioning system, but they are more affordable and flexible. But that flexibility usually depends very much on the flex—the power cable between the fan and the power socket. The Torras Coolify Cyber Neck Air Conditioner is something different. It’s a wearable, wireless, portable neck fan that can blow cold or hot air through its three outlets at the back and sides. As the unit simply loops round the back of your neck, your hands remain free and it shouldn’t encumber your movement in any way. Cooling your neck is a fast way to reduce your body temperature, or at the very least start feeling less hot and bothered. The large blood vessels and nerves at the back of the neck have the closest connection to the brain. Medics recommend applying cold water or ice to strategic points on the body where the veins are close to the surface—such as the wrists, neck, chest, and temples—to quickly lower the temperature of the blood running through these veins. The Coolify Cyber does this by blasting cooled and fanned air. It’s a personal rather than environmental cooler. Slip it on at home when the room gets too hot, or as soon as you reach the office after a hot journey in the hope of drying that sweating back before anyone notices. Torras Torras Torras Design If it looks heavy, it isn’t. The Coolify Cyber weighs just 17.5 ounces. You soon forget its bulk, and it’s comfortable to wear during the day. It’s certainly not a device to keep you cool while sleeping, as it would be too cumbersome, uncomfortable, and noisy to wear lying down in bed. Unlike most basic fans there are no blades, so long-haired users needn’t worry about getting their hair caught in the cooling collar. The Coolify Cyber has the appearance of something from the movie Dune, and someone maybe unkindly described it to me as looking like a restraining collar from Planet Of The Apes. But it doesn’t make the wearer look stupid. The Dyson Zone it is not. To risk a pun, you might even look quite cool packing this gadget. It’s like having a sci-fi pair of headphones slung around your neck, or a sci-fi travel neck cushion. It has an adjustable fit to accommodate different neck sizes, and is available in two basic black and silver colors, although Torras calls them Cascade Black and Natural Titanium. Via Amazon there’s a special edition Stainless Steel version. In fact, except for its giveaway noise, onlookers might not even notice you are wearing the Coolify Cyber—but when they do, everyone is excited to try it out. It is certainly more socially acceptable than the Torras Waist Fan, which might not look so great on someone with a wider waistline. How Coolify works and performs The Coolify Cyber has dual exhaust vents—six blowing up and and two downwards. These airways form a convection system that Torras claims creates a “3D full-body cold air surround”. While wearing it I didn’t find my hands, legs or feet cooled by its gushing air, but it certainly produced a pleasant cooling effect to my neck and shoulders. After a while the device itself gets quite cold on the back of your neck, which furthers the cooling experience. The neck cooler is powered by four aerodynamic motors spinning at 7,200 rotations per minute to create the flow around your upper shoulders. It does more than simply fan air around your neck like other wearable fans. It features a graphene cooling plate—an upgrade on the previous model’s ceramic cooling plate—at the back that quickly chills, and, according to Torras, can provide a temperature drop of 10 degrees Celsius with 366 cooling particles. Coolify blows either cold or hot air at your neck, upper back, and, to an extent, around the back and sides of your head. The cooling zone is around 65 degrees F, or about 18 degrees C. There are three modes—Fan, Cool, and Heat Therapy—and multiple fan speeds, with adjustments from 0 to 100 via the app. An Auto mode adjusts based on ambient and body temperature, and there’s also a timer feature. The airflow and temperature can be controlled from the device itself or via an uncomplicated, straightforward app. Foundry Foundry Foundry On the device, short-press the power button to cycle through Low, Medium and High in Fan (green light) or Cool (blue). Long-press the power button to change to heat Mode (orange). Using the app, you can control fan speeds with more accuracy than pushing the physical buttons and it’s easier to select the different fan zones. Foundry Foundry Foundry Inside or out Torras has lots of pictures of people wearing the Coolify out and about, hiking, gardening, and going about their outside business. This may work in not-too-hot environments, but in my experience the device worked best indoors. Coolify could be your sweat-beating friend in a room without air-conditioning, whether that’s working from home, away from the office AC, or when returning from time spent in the outside heat. Gamers on a marathon session surrounded by their heat-producing equipment might find it increases their reaction times to keep cool in the heat of a virtual battle. I road-tested the Coolify Cyber on a 20-minute walk at 92°F/33°C, and in these conditions I couldn’t feel much benefit even with the device turned to maximum fan cooling. When I got back from the walk and was thankfully back inside, the Coolify was much better appreciated. Sitting in a warm outside bar watching football, the neck fan gave some relief and lasted 90 minutes on a medium setting. You can also set Coolify to blow non-cooled air or heated air when you want to warm up quickly. These work in the same way as the cooling. Turned to Heat, it works like an electronic heated scarf. I’m less comfortable with keeping something hot on my neck for a long time, but the increased temperature is noticeable. Torras Torras Torras Fan volume Back to that noise… If you have all the vents turned to maximum, the Coolify sounds like a small hairdryer. It’s not at the level of a washroom hand dryer, but it is certainly noticeable to people nearby. Whisper-quiet it is not, unless the whisperer is hard of hearing. Neighboring passengers on a bus or train might not appreciate the noise, or the fact that you are feeling cooler than them. At full blast, it’s also not too easy to hear people talking to you. At lower levels the noise is not too bad, and acceptable to people sitting nearby. Cool power As you might imagine, all that blowing and heat generation takes its toll on battery life. Torras claims its 6000mAh battery can keep going for up to 15 hours, but that depends a lot on how hard you push it and in which modes. The 15-hour maximum is in Wind Mode at a low setting. At full cooling mode, expect about two hours of operation. At maximum Heat, it should keep going for three hours. That’s probably as long as we’d want it cooling or heating our neck anyway. The Coolify features 20W fast charging, and can be powered back up to full juice in about two hours. The included right-angled USB-C charging cable means you can comfortably charge it while still wearing the device round your neck. If out and about, you could connect a power bank battery pack for extra hours of usage. Foundry Foundry Foundry Price The Torras Coolify Cyber costs $279, which is a notable investment in anyone’s book. Amazon also has a special Stainless Steel color version for $329. You can buy cheaper electronic handheld fans but these, by definition, reduce your ability to do much else while fanning yourself. There are also cheaper—and more expensive—desk and room fans you might considers. The Coolify Cyber is quite different to those types of standard fan, so it’s maybe unfair to judge it by comparing prices. Torras has cheaper neck fan options, such as its $150 Coolify Air. This has a slower motor (5000rpm vs the Cyber’s 7200rpm) and a smaller battery (5000mAh vs 6000mAh), which might be why the Air is 100g lighter than the Cyber. The Cyber’s easy app controls are not available on the Air, so you’ll get less pinpoint gradations of cooling power. It comes with a luxe-looking protective case that includes a pocket to stash the right-angled USB-C charging cable Should you buy the Torras Coolify Cyber? The Torras Coolify Cyber is a one-person wearable, wireless neck fan that can blow cooled or warmed air around your neck, upper shoulders and lower head. It’s comfortable and does a good job when used inside, though we were less impressed during tests on a hot day outside. The cooling collar will quickly cool you down when you need it, and the graphene back plate feels great against a hot neck. It’s more affordable than turning on the AC in your house if it’s just you that needs cooling down. Of itself, it’s not cheap, but if this device can keep you cool in uncomfortably hot situations. You may well thank yourself for the initial outlay every time you slip it on and feel the cool relief blowing up and down your neck. This review was first published on Tech Advisor, our sibling site. Smart Appliances, Thermostats, Wearables

      • Aiper’s budget robotic pool cleaner is 37% off on Prime Day

        Would you rather spend hours swimming in your pool, or hours cleaning it? Dumb question, right? The Aiper Seagull SE will automate that thankless task for you, and it’s on sale for Prime Day for 37% off. This model crawls along the floor of your pool, patiently vacuuming up leaves and other light debris. We raved about its performance in our review, and it remains our top pick in the budget-priced category. It’s designed for smaller pools—up to about 850 square feet—and its battery will run for about 90 minutes on a full charge. It should park itself at the edge of the pool when it’s finished, so you can retrieve with a hook attached to a pole. The Aiper Seagull SE is only $158 todayGET THIS PRIME DAY DEAL AT AMAZON The Aiper Seagull SE is a very basic cleaner, so it can’t scrub the pool’s floor or climb its walls to do the same, but models that can do that cost $1,000 to $2,000 and more (you’ll find reviews of those and other models in our roundup of the best robotic pool cleaners of 2024). But you’ll likely find that running it on a daily basis will free you from the chore of doing it yourself. We called it a bargain at $249.99, but you can grab one during Prime Day for just $158. More Amazon Prime Day deals Best Philips Hue smart light deals for Prime Day 2024 SimpliSafe home security bundles 50% off for Prime Day 2024 Roborock Q7 Max robot mop/vac combo 63% off for Prime Day Robot Vacuums and Cleaning, Robotics, Smart Gardens

      • Sling TV serves up 4K streaming for no extra cost

        Sling TV has just joined the (rather slim) ranks of live streaming TV services that offer 4K resolution, and it’s doing so without imposing any additional charges.  Sling will kick off its 4K streaming with the 2024 MLB All-Star Game on Fox Sports tonight, while upcoming 4K sporting events include the 2024 Paris Olympics on NBCUniversal’s USA Network and professional football games on FS1 and ESPN.  While Sling’s new 4K streaming capabilities won’t cost anything extra, there are some caveats, including the fact that Sling’s 4K support is (for now, anyway) limited to “supported” Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices.  This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best live TV streaming services. Specifically, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, the 4K Max, and the Fire TV Cube will offer 4K streaming through Sling. Supported Roku devices include the Streaming Stick 4K+, the Streambar, the Ultra, the Express 4K+, and 4K Roku TVs.  Left out in the cold are Apple TV and Google Chromecast users, as well as those with Nvidia Shield streaming players. Sling says “additional 4K streaming devices” will be added in the “coming months.”  Also left out of the Sling 4K streaming party is Sling’s own cloud DVR, although that functionality is “coming soon,” the company says.  Sling’s first 4K streaming event, the 2024 MLB All-Star Game, will stream in “select markets” starting at 8 p.m. ET on July 16—tonight.  The 4K MLB stream will be available to all Sling Blue subscribers.   For $45 a month, Sling Blue offers a mix of sports (minus ESPN) and general-interest programming plus access to local live stations, while the $40/month Sling Orange adds ESPN channels but loses the local affiliates and many of the non-ESPN sports channels. Sling Orange plus Blue goes for $60 a month.  Sling’s 4K offering is a bit unusual in that it’s not charging extra for the privilege. YouTube TV, for example, offers 4K streaming only as a $9.99/month add-on.  Starting at $72.99 a month (not counting the 4K add-on), YouTube TV is considerably more expensive than Sling; that said, YouTube TV offers a wider selection of live TV channels than Sling does.  Meanwhile, Hulu + Live TV doesn’t currently offer 4K streaming.  Streaming Media

      • This Roborock vac-mop combo is a crazy 63% off for Prime Day

        New to robot vacuums or ready to upgrade? You can snag the Roborock Q7 Max for a whopping 63% off on Prime Day. A robot cleaner that both vacuums and mops, the Roborock Q7 Max boasts up to 4,200 Pa of suction power, good for extracting stubborn dirt and debris from your floors and carpets.  For mopping, the Q7 Max packs an electric pump for evenly distributing water from the 350ml water tank (there’s also a 470ml dust receptible), while 11 ounces of downward pressure helps the bot to scrub difficult stains.   The Q7 Max employs LiDAR navigation to map your rooms and navigate around furniture, meaning there’s no need to rearrange chairs or close doors before starting cleaning jobs. You can also set go and no-go zones for spot cleaning, or to keep the robot from wandering into the wrong area.  The Roborock app can display your finished maps in 2D and 3D perspectives, and it also lets you program regular cleaning schedules. Even better, the app will warn you when it’s time to replace the vacuum’s filter and brushes.  The Roborock Q7 Max already delivers plenty of value at its $599.99 list price, but for just $219.99 during Prime Day, it’s an absolute steal.   The Roborock Q7 Max is only $219.99 right nowGet this Prime Day deal at Amazon Remember, this Roborock Prime Deal is for Prime members only, but non-Prime members can still scoop up the savings by signing up for a 30-day Amazon Prime trial.  And for more robot vac coverage, check out our top picks for the best robot vacuums of 2024. More Amazon Prime Day deals  Best Philips Hue smart light deals for Prime Day 2024  SimpliSafe home security bundles 50% off for Prime Day 2024  Robot Vacuums and Cleaning

      • Lutron’s new Diva smart dimmer is ideal for low-voltage lighting

        Lutron’s Caséta family is our favorite smart in-wall lighting control, and today the company announced a specialized dimmer designed for low-voltage applications such as undercabinet, track, accent, and tape lighting. This new model is based on Lutron’s Diva design aesthetic, which means it has a paddle-style on/off switch with a slider on the right-hand side for dimming. This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart dimmers and switches. The “plus” at the end of the Diva Smart Dimmer ELV+’s brand name indicates it can control electronic low-voltage (ELV), magnetic low-voltage (MLV), halogen, LED, incandescent, and other types lighting loads. Dimmers work by reducing the voltage to the bulb(s) they control, changing the shape of the 60Hz sine wave of alternating current (AC), chopping off either the wave’s leading edge (aka forward phase) or trailing edge (aka reverse phase). The more of the sine wave that is chopped, the less voltage that is sent to the bulb and the dimmer the bulb will glow. Lutron’s Pico Paddle Remote Controls can be operated handheld, on a tabletop pedastal, or mounted to a wall inside a wall plate. They deliver the convenience of 3-way control without needing any new wiring. Lutron’s Pico Paddle Remote Controls can be operated handheld, on a tabletop pedastal, or mounted to a wall inside a wall plate. They deliver the convenience of 3-way control without needing any new wiring.Lutron Lutron’s Pico Paddle Remote Controls can be operated handheld, on a tabletop pedastal, or mounted to a wall inside a wall plate. They deliver the convenience of 3-way control without needing any new wiring.Lutron Lutron Dimming ELV lighting requires reverse-phase dimming, while MLV lighting depends on forward phase dimming, so the new switch is phase-selectable, meaning the installer can program the switch accordingly using either the Lutron app or at the device itself. While the Diva Smart Dimmer ELV+ is principally designed for custom installers and will be sold at brick-and-mortar resellers that cater to the trades, it will also be available to for consumers to purchase online ($129.95) at Home Depot and Lowe’s. In addition to its new in-wall product, Lutron also announced that its Pico Paddle Remote controls will be available in five new colors, in addition to white: black, brown, light almond, gray, and ivory. The Pico Paddle Remote can be used as a second switch to control the same load as the dimmer while held in the hand, on a tabletop pedestal, or mounted to the wall inside a wall plate without the need to pull wire to that location. The remote comes with a 10-year battery and doesn’t require Wi-Fi or a hub, although adding Lutron’s Caséta Smart Bridge adds a host of benefits for more sophisticated smart homes. The Lutron Diva Smart Dimmer ELV+ is available now for $129.95, as are the five new versions of the Pico Paddle Remote ($39.95 each). Lighting

      • Degrii Smart Thermostat review: Unexpected features, and flaws

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsGeofencing supportSupports up to 12 optional remote sensor/controls for other roomsAdapter kit provided if there’s no C-wire in your wallVery affordableConsSimplistic on-device display, with a rudimentary interfaceThermostat doesn’t have a persistent display, you must press a button to read itNo secondary cover plate for hiding holes left by earlier thermostatsOur VerdictDegrii’s Smart Thermostat offers some features that usually found only on much more expensive models, but it also has a few important shortcomings. The Degrii Smart Thermostat is one of the least-expensive products in its class—its $60 MSRP makes it $20 less than Amazon’s smart thermostat, and we found it discounted online to just $49 as we were preparing this review. That’s a great price for a true smart thermostat with a mobile app, especially one that features geofencing and that supports optional remote sensors for other rooms in your home (those cost $30 each). If you opt for those (up to 12 are supported), the Degrii will monitor the occupancy and temperatures in those other rooms and average their readings along with the thermostat’s measurements and strive to achieve a happy medium temperature for the whole home. But before you drop one in your cart, know that the Degrii Smart Thermostat has some shortcomings that you might not be able to tolerate, even with the low price. The Degrii Smart Thermostat is a good option if you’re working with a very tight budget. Installation and setup Degrii says its smart thermostat will work with 95 percent of HVAC systems, including heat pump systems; gas, oil, and electric furnaces; boilers; and air conditioners. If there’s no C wire coming from your HVAC system to thermostat for power, Degrii includes a conversion kit in the box that you’ll need to install at the unit itself. Multi-zone systems found in larger homes, however, are not supported. I found the thermostat easy to install, with the Degrii app guiding me through the wiring portion, but the app offers little to no such user guidance once the hardware is hooked up and you’ve downloaded the latest firmware update. A sticker on the device informs you that the thermostat will need about 30 minutes to calibrate itself before it can read the ambient temperature accurately, but neither the thermostat nor the app informs when the calibration has been completed. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart thermostats. Degrii also doesn’t provide a cosmetic back plate—in the box or as an optional accessory—that can cover the holes that might be left exposed when you uninstall your old thermostat. That’s an issue for me, since I sometimes review several smart thermostats every year. Unlike the Amazon Smart Thermostat, the Degrii Smart Thermostat is compatible with Google Home as well as Alexa; neither product is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem. Design and features You can monitor the temperature in up to 12 additional rooms with these remote sensors ($30 each).  The Degrii Smart Thermostat will average the readings from these and from the thermostat itself and set your HVAC system to heat or cool as necessary to achieve your desired temperature.  You can monitor the temperature in up to 12 additional rooms with these remote sensors ($30 each).  The Degrii Smart Thermostat will average the readings from these and from the thermostat itself and set your HVAC system to heat or cool as necessary to achieve your desired temperature. Jason D’Aprile You can monitor the temperature in up to 12 additional rooms with these remote sensors ($30 each).  The Degrii Smart Thermostat will average the readings from these and from the thermostat itself and set your HVAC system to heat or cool as necessary to achieve your desired temperature. Jason D’Aprile Jason D’Aprile If you like simple design, you’ll love the Degrii Smart Thermostat—at least until you want to know what the temperature is. The sleek, black plastic, oval-shaped device features a monochrome display that shows the current temperature in a dot matrix. There are three control buttons on its bottom of the thermostat: the left and right buttons change the desired target temperature, and there’s a button in the middle that calls up a rudimentary menu for functions such as changing HVAC modes and turning the fan on. You can perform the same tasks with the Degrii app, so you might never touch the thermostat itself. My biggest complaint about the Degrii Smart Thermostat is that it not only doesn’t persistently display the ambient temperature, but it also lacks a proximity sensor that would reveal that information as you approach. If you want to see its display, you must push one of its buttons. As a consolation, the thermostat can be integrated with the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant ecosystems, so you can use voice commands to get the information you want and to otherwise control it. On the bright side, the Degrii supports geofencing, which enables it to warm or cool your home based on your location—well, the location of your smartphone. This can save energy by setting target temperatures that are different when you’re home and when you’re away. Degrii’s app does a great job helping you install the thermostat, but you’re pretty much on your own figuring out how to use the device after that.  Degrii’s app does a great job helping you install the thermostat, but you’re pretty much on your own figuring out how to use the device after that. Jason D’Aprile Degrii’s app does a great job helping you install the thermostat, but you’re pretty much on your own figuring out how to use the device after that. Jason D’Aprile Jason D’Aprile I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Degrii offers remote sensors for up to 12 rooms as optional add-ons ($30 each on Amazon). These can help eliminate hot and cool spots in your home by monitoring the ambient temperature and humidity in the rooms where they’re deployed and reporting that information to the thermostat. In turn, the thermostat will average these readings along with its own and trigger your HVAC system to heat or cool accordingly. So, if you have your HVAC system set with a target temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 C), and the ambient temperature at the location where the thermostat is installed is already at 68 F, but the sensor in the kitchen is reading 75 F (24 C) and the one in the living room with the southern-facing picture window is at 78 F (25 C), the Degrii will run the HVAC system until the average ambient temperature reading of all the sensors reaches 68 F. These remote devices also have occupancy sensors and the thermostat can be programmed to ignore the readings for empty rooms that don’t need temperature control at the moment. The remotes are also outfitted with their own buttons for adjusting the temperature. Should you buy the Degrii Smart Thermostat? The Degrii Smart Thermostat is a good option if you’re working with a very tight budget. You’ll give up some features in exchange, but you’ll have the option to eliminate hot and cool spots in your home, depending on how many of those remote sensors you can squeeze in. And this thermostat’s geofencing options should help reduce your energy consumption, too. You’ll be highly reliant on Degrii’s app to program and operate the thermostat, as its display is extremely limited; but for the price, it’s a good value. Thermostats

      • Best smart thermostat: Reviews and buying advice

        Installing a smart thermostat–or upgrading the one you already have–will have an outsize impact not only how comfortable you are in your home, but also on your household budget. Heating and cooling your home accounts for nearly half of the average home’s utility bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A programmable thermostat can help reduce those costs by turning your HVAC system on when you anticipate being home, and off when you don’t think you’ll need indoor climate control. A smart thermostat goes far beyond relying on a simple schedule. It will enable you to create more sophisticated schedules for every day of the week, and give you complete control over your HVAC system, even when you’re away from home. We continually test and evaluate smart thermostats and can help you find the right one for your home. Why you should trust us TechHive’s editors and contributors have been testing smart thermostats for more than a decade, installing them in our own homes to gain truly real-world experience before we commit to our opinions. We continuously test the latest smart thermostats, along with the apps that control them. We blend those experiences with our general knowledge of smart home devices, so we’re able to assess how well these products integrate with other smart system you’ll want to use. Updated July 16, 2024 with a link to our Degrii Smart Thermostat review. Best smart thermostat for every budget and HVAC system type Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium — Best smart thermostat overall Pros Beautiful industrial design Broad compatibility with other smart home ecosystems Outstanding user interface, both in the excellent app and on the device itself Radar-based motion detection, plus support for remote temperature/motion sensors Supremely easy to install and configure Cons Siri support requires the presence of an Apple HomePod or HomePod mini Air quality sensor won't trigger your HVAC system's fan to circulate air Pricey Best Prices Today: $249.99 at Lowe’s£297.59 at Amazon Why we like the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium The Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium is simply one of the finest smart home products in any category. It’s spectacularly useful as a standalone device, but it’s designed to work with other important smart home platform on the market today. An included smart sensor allows you to monitor temperature and occupancy in a second location in your home. The user interface is polished and easy to use. Who should buy the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium Anyone who’s looking to install a smart thermostat should consider this Ecobee model. The only caveat for homeowners who want to use Siri voice commands is that you’ll need an Apple HomePod or HomePod mini to use as an interface with the Ecobee. Read our full Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium review Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd generation) — Best smart thermostat overall, runner-up Pros The best algorithms on the market Excellent interface and easy set-up Top-notch industrial design Cons Overly reliant on its built-in motion sensor (or your buying other Nest products) Nest doesn’t like geofencing, so it thinks you shouldn’t either Incompatible with Apple's HomeKit ecosystem Best Prices Today: $249 at Google Play Store Why we like the Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd generation) Nest practically invented the smart thermostat category when it released its first learning thermostat in 2011. Google offers detailed instructions that make installation relatively easy for inexperienced do-it-yourselfers. While the Nest is designed to learn your habits and automatically control your home’s temperature, there’s a robust set of manual controls for users who prefer to keep a closer watch over their home’s environment. Who should buy the Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd generation) Nest is still the best for choice users who don’t want to think about their thermostat. Since Nest is now manufactured by Google, it’s designed to work best with other devices in company’s ecosystem, including security cameras and smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. the thermostat is also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa smart home speakers and displays, and its Matter implementation enables it to work in the Apple Home ecosystem as well. Read our full Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd generation) review Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced — Best mid-range smart thermostat Pros Attractive glass touchscreen Best-in-class user interface, both onboard and in app Radar-based motion sensor HomeKit compatible Cons Buy a remote sensor and you’re at the same price as the Premium model Best Prices Today: £259 at Amazon Why we like the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced The Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced shares the user interface of the more expensive Premium model at a lower price. The Enhanced has all the features of the more expensive model except for the Premium’s fancy radar technology and the fact that it doesn’t come with Ecobee’s remote room/occupancy sensors–but you can add one later if you’d like. Who should buy the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced The Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced is a great choice if you find the Premium model to be too expensive. You’ll have the option to add a remote temperature/occupancy sensor if you decide you want one later, and the total price will be approximately the same as a Premium model. You will also need a smart speaker in your smart home setup if you want to use voice commands with this thermostat. Read our full Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced review Amazon Smart Thermostat — Best budget-priced smart thermostat Pros Automatically learns your heating and cooling needs Can be controlled with Alexa voice commands Broadly compatible with 24V HVAC systems Cons Not compatible with Google Assistant Not compatible with Apple HomeKit Power adapter kit costs extra if your HVAC system doesn’t have a C-wire Why we like the Amazon Smart Thermostat Amazon Smart Thermostat uses cloud-based machine learning to analyze how you use your HVAC system, and then uses what Amazon calls “Hunches” to predict when to heat or cool your home. The thermostat performance improves as it learns your habits over time. Who should buy the Amazon Smart Thermostat The Amazon Smart Thermostat is designed to work with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, so it’s best for homeowners who’ve already committed to Amazon smart home products, especially since it’s not compatible with Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit. Read our full Amazon Smart Thermostat review Nest Thermostat — Best budget-priced smart thermostat, runner-up Pros Attractive industrial design, available in four colors Very easy to install, program, and use Monitors your HVAC system for potential problems Energy Star certified Cons No support for remote room sensors Not suited to more complex HVAC systems Backplate for covering holes from previous installations is a $15 option Why we like the Nest Thermostat Google has designed its entry-level Nest Thermostat for users who think the flagship Nest Learning Thermostat is too expensive. At this price, you get a similarly attractive design and the same polished approach to programming and controls, but you won’t get remote sensors that can help your HVAC system achieve a balanced climate for your entire home. Who should buy the Nest Thermostat The Nest Thermostat will only read the temperature in the room where it’s installed, since it lacks the remote sensors that can connect to the Nest’s more expensive model and help refine its programming. This model is best for smaller home or apartments or for properties that don’t have much temperature fluctuation from room to room. Read our full Nest Thermostat review Mysa Smart Thermostat — Best smart thermostat for high-voltage heaters Pros Wi-Fi adapter is built in, no additional-cost bridge required Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit Easy-to-use mobile app Stylish industrial design Cons Minimalist design limits the amount of information the device itself can display Not compatible with Samsung SmartThings (compatibility was added after our review) Wiring can seem confusing compared to the thermostat you’re replacing Why we like the Mysa Smart Thermostat If you’ve got a high-voltage heating system designed for baseboard, radiant, fan-forced convector, and similar types of heaters, the Mysa Smart Thermostat will do the job. It looks great, has Wi-Fi capabilities built in, and has an easy-to-use mobile app with support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. Who should buy the Mysa Smart Thermostat There aren’t many choices on the market if you’ve got a high-voltage heating system. Fortunately, Mysa has designed a thermostat that meets the standard set by the other thermostats on our list. Unlike homes with a central HVAC system, you’ll need to install a Mysa Smart Thermostat for each of your individual heating units in different rooms of your house. Read our full Mysa Smart Thermostat review Sensibo Air Pro — Best controller for a stand-alone air conditioner Pros Adds smart features to many models of “dumb” air conditioners and heat pumps Indoor air quality sensor is a good addition to a great device Very easy to set up and use Works with Sensibo’s remote sensors and its smart air purifier Cons Only works with air conditioners with infrared remotes (not Bluetooth) Costs $40 model than the earlier Sensibo Air Won’t mitigate poor indoor air quality by triggering your air conditioner’s fan to circulate air Limited to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks Best Prices Today: £129 at Amazon Why we like the Sensibo Air Pro The Sensibo Air Pro adds smart home capabilities to standalone heat pump and window unit air conditioners, and the Pro model features an integrated indoor air quality sensor. Sensibo has designed a product that’s easy to set up and use. Who should buy the Sensibo Air Pro Since the Sensibo Air Pro has no physical buttons, you’ll need to control the thermostat with a phone app. For the unit to work, your air conditioner will require an infrared remote instead of a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi remote. If you use an in-room AC unit, Sensibo can offer you many of the same features enjoyed by people with a whole-home HVAC system. Read our full Sensibo Air Pro review Cielo Breez Plus — Best controller for a stand-alone air conditioner, runner-up Pros Incredibly easy to set up and use Tracks humidity as well as temperature Broad compatibility with various models of air conditioners Cons Fragile build quality Unattractive industrial design Scheduling section of display is difficult to read Why we like the Cielo Breez Plus The Cielo Breez Plus is remarkably easy to set up and use. It’s also quite versatile, since it can record humidity and supports geofencing in addition to controlling the temperature for a single-room air conditioner.  Who should buy the Cielo Breez Plus The Cielo Breez Plus may not look as good as other models we tested, but we’ve included it here because it’s compatible with more air conditioner models that any of its competitors in this category. The Cielo smartphone app is well-designed and absurdly easy to use. Read our full Cielo Breez Plus review Frequently asked questions about smart thermostats Are smart thermostats hard to install? A thermostat shouldn’t be difficult to install, even if you’re only moderately handy. The manufacturer should provide comprehensive, yet easy-to-understand instructions with plenty of photographs or illustrations to guide you through the process. The thermostat itself should be clearly indicate which wires go where, and most companies provide labels that you can attach to the wires coming out of the wall as you disconnect and remove your old model. The wires themselves should be color coded, but a good practice is to photograph your old thermostat for reference before you take it down. Do I need a C wire to use a smart thermostat? Smart thermostats typically require more electrical power than a set of batteries can provide. Fortunately, they don’t require so much power than they need to be plugged into the wall. They rely instead on low-voltage power provided by your HVAC system. Many smart thermostats require the presence of a dedicated C (common) wire for this purpose, while others can siphon electricity from another source, typically the R (power) wire. But the latter practice is known to cause problems with some HVAC systems, including permanent damage. If you pull out your existing thermostat to install a smart model and find no C wire connected to it, look inside the wall to see if there’s one that hasn’t been connected. If there’s no C wire, our advice is to have one installed. Some smart thermostats–including our top pick, the Ecobee Premium, come with power adapter kits that can be installed if you don’t have a C wire and don’t want to pay to have one installed. Do smart thermostats support multi-zone HVAC systems? The short answer is typically yes, because you’ll install a smart thermostat in each of your existing zones. Here’s a longer explanation if you’re not sure what a multi-zone HVAC system is. If you have a larger home, your HVAC contractor might have installed a zoned system that lets you set a temperature target for different rooms–or different levels–instead of heating or cooling your entire home to a single target temperature. In this case, you’ll have multiple thermostats–one for each zone–that connect to a central control panel. The control panel opens or closes the dampers in each zone as needed to bring that zone to your preferred temperature. You’ll program the entire system using a single app. Do smart thermostats support multi-stage HVAC systems? Better HVAC systems offer multi-stage heating and cooling, meaning they can operate in steps, versus simply switching between on and off states. A two-stage system, for example, might have a “low” setting and a “high” setting, while a three-stage system might have “low,” “medium,” and “high.” When the ambient temperature is already close to your desired temperature, the system doesn’t need to ramp up to its full power to reach your target temperature. Conversely, when the ambient temperature is far from your desired temperature, the system can kick on at full tilt and then switch to a lower-power mode as it approaches the target. As a result, multi-stage HVAC systems are more efficient than single-state. Virtually all modern smart thermostats support both single- and multi-stage HVAC systems. Do smart thermostats work with heat pumps? All of the smart thermostats we’ve reviewed–apart from the ones designed work with portland and window air conditioners–are compatible with heat pumps. Not sure what a heat pump is? It’s an appliance that redistributes warm and cold air. In heat mode, it draws warmth from the air outside your home and releases it inside (a ground-source heat pump absorbs heat from the ground). This is a greener method of heating in that it doesn’t consume fossil fuels, such as natural gas. In cooling mode, a heat pump absorbs warm air inside your home and releases it outside. These appliances work best in milder climates that don’t experience freezing temperatures, although they can be combined with a conventional furnace for heating when outdoor temperatures get very low. Do smart thermostats work with portable and window air conditioners? Most smart thermostats are designed to work with central air conditioners, but there is a class of device that can control portable air conditioners (the type with casters that vent out a window) and window air conditioners (the type that sit on your window sill). These types of thermostats typically depend on the air conditioner in question have a remote control, as many modern units do. The Sensibo Air is our top pick in this category. Do smart thermostats work with high-voltage heaters? Most smart thermostats are designed to work with central HVAC systems. If your home is heated by high-voltage heaters (baseboard, radiant, or fan-forced convector, for example), you’ll need a thermostat that’s specifically designed to work with that type of heater. The Mysa Smart Thermostat is our top pick if you’re looking for a smart thermostat for a high-voltage heating system. What is geofencing? Geofencing uses a thermostat’s app and your smartphone’s GPS chip to establish a perimeter encircling your home. When you leave the perimeter, you presumably no longer need to heat and cool your home, or you can at least have the thermostat adjust the temperature so that it’s not running unnecessarily. When you cross the perimeter again as you come home, your HVAC system can kick into action so your house is comfortable when you walk in the door. Do all smart thermostats come with remote sensors? Geofencing is great—provided everyone who lives in the home has a smartphone. Motion and proximity sensors offer an alternative means of determining if your home is occupied and therefore in need of climate control. Some remote sensors deliver the added benefit of monitoring the temperature in remote locations, which can help reduce problems with hot and cold spots. Some smart thermostats can also tap into door and window sensors as well as the motion sensors for your home security system. And proximity sensors on the thermostat itself can trigger its display to turn on when you walk past it, making the screens a handy feature in their own right, even if for no other reason than providing a nighttime pathway light. You’ll find remote sensors with a growing number of high-end smart thermostats from Ecobee, Nest, Honeywell, and other manufacturers. Can I control a smart thermostat from anywhere? Smart thermostats connect to your Wi-Fi network and from there to the internet. This means you can monitor the temperature inside your home and control that status of your HVAC system–whether it’s heating, cooling, or just running its ventilation fan–from anywhere you have internet access–typically using the thermostat app on your smartphone. Can I integrate a smart thermostat into my smart home system? Every smart thermostat comes with an app so you can control it with your smartphone or tablet, but the best models can also be integrated with other smart-home devices and broader smart-home systems. This can range from being able to adjust the temperature with a voice command via an Amazon Echo (Alexa), Google Home (Google Assistant), or Apple HomePod (Siri) smart speaker to linking the thermostat to your smoke detector. That last feature will automatically turn off the system’s fan if smoke or fire are detected, which will preven smoke from being circulated throughout your home. Other options to consider include IFTTT support, Apple HomeKit compatibility, smart-vent connectivity, and tie-ins with home security systems. What’s a landlord thermostat? A landlord thermostat is just like any other thermostat except that it’s controlled by the person who owns the home or apartment and is renting it to a tenant. These are typically installed in residences where the landlord or a building manager is for paying for heating and cooling and therefore has a financial interest in keeping those costs under control. Even in situations where tenants are responsible for the heating and cooling bills, a smart thermostat can contribute to a more energy-efficient building. The thermostat usually has tamper-resistant features that prevent anyone else from making adjustments to it. While it might seem that the landlord is benefitting the most from installing a smart thermostat, smart home features–including smart thermostats–are an attractive feature for renters, who likely are willing to pay more rent in exchange for the convenience and the opportunity to reduce their energy costs. How we test smart thermostats We install thermostats in a single-family home with a conventional HVAC system and use each one for a week or more to determine how effective it is at maintaining a comfortable environment. The home’s existing thermostat was wired with G, R, W, and Y wires. There was also a C wire in the wall that was connected to the furnace, but that had not been previously used. While there is no regulated standard for color-coding HVAC wires, industry practice has the G wire connecting the thermostat to the fan. This wire is typically green. The R wire, typically red, is for power. Some systems have separate power wires for heating and cooling and are labeled RH and RC respectively. The typically white W wire is for auxiliary heat; i.e., a second source of heat. The Y wire, which is typically yellow, connects the thermostat to your air conditioner. Finally, the C or “common” wire is used to carry power and is typically blue (think cerulean if you need a mnemonic). Sensors, Smart Home, Thermostats

      • SimpliSafe home security bundles 50% off for Prime Day 2024

        SimpliSafe makes one of our favorite DIY smart home security systems, and you can pick up one of its bundles for 50% off at Amazon during its SimpliSafe’s Prime Day sale July 16 and 17. SimpliSafe makes basic, easy-to-install, and expandable home security systems powered by a battery-backed central hub and a numeric keypad for arming and disarming. They support entry sensors for doors and windows; motion, glass-break, water, freeze sensors; smoke; and carbon dioxide detectors; indoor and outdoor security cameras, sirens, panic buttons, remote key fobs, and smart entry locks. Professional monitoring, in which remote professionals watch over your system and can summon first responders in the event of a burglary or fire is available as an optional subscription service for about $30 per month. One month of monitoring is free; otherwise, these discounts don’t apply to the monitoring service. SimpliSafe systems are designed solely for home security, so you won’t get the ability to integrate the broader range of smart home devices, such as lighting and thermostats. But you can control the system with Amazon Alexa or Google Home voice commands. You can compare SimpliSafe’s offering to TechHive’s other favorite smart home systems. SimpliSafe’s bundles are differentiated by the number of products included in the package (they all include the central hub and a numeric keypad for arming and disarming the system). You can add compatible accessories on an ad hoc basis. SimpliSafe Prime Day deals SimpliSafe 5-piece bundle (1 entry sensor, 1 motion sensor, 1 key fob): $99.99 (50% off on Amazon) SimpliSafe 7-piece bundle (2 entry sensors, 1 key fob, 2 outdoor cameras): $224.99 (50% off on Amazon) SimpliSafe 8-piece bundle (4 entry sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 panic button): $119.99 (50% off on Amazon) SimpliSafe 9-piece bundle (4 entry sensors, 2 motion sensors, 1 indoor camera): $149.99 (50% off on Amazon) SimpliSafe 10-piece bundle (4 entry sensors, 2 motion sensors, 1 indoor camera, 1 outdoor camera): $214.99 (50% off at Amazon) Half off is a great deal in anyone’s book, but you’ll see that not all the bundles include security cameras. If you’re looking for basic security, you should first consider the number of doors and windows you want to monitor, and then worry about cameras. Protect entry doors first and then street-level windows that open. Upstairs windows that open should be of less concern unless there’s a nearby tree or a structure that makes them easily accessible from outside. For rooms with lots of windows that open, consider placing a motion sensor in the room instead. It won’t trigger the alarm before an intruder is already in the house, but the delay is likely to be seconds, not minutes, and that protection is a lot more cost effective. As I mentioned earlier, you can add sensors, cameras, and other components on an ad hoc basis later on; hopefully, when those accessories on are sale! Home Security

      • Best Philips Hue smart light deals for Prime Day 2024: Save big on Hue bulbs!

        There’s no better time than Amazon’s Prime Day spectacular to stock up on Philips Hue smart lights, and this year we have an expansive crop of discounted bulbs, downlights, and even Hue light strips that can sync with your TV.  A wide variety of Hue A19 and BR30 bulbs are on sale for Prime Day, including “starter kits” that come bundled with the Hue Bridge (which is necessary for more elaborate smart lighting setups). Hue is also offering some ceiling-mounted downlights for sale, along with price drops on Hue’s gradient light strips that sync with your TV when used with the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box.  I’ve worked as a consumer tech writer and editor for more than 20 years, and I know a good Philips Hue smart bulb deal when I see one. When considering which deals to pick, I considered such factors as the size of the discount, the price histories of the various products, Amazon customer reviews, and any direct experience I’ve had with the featured items.  Prime Day 2024 deals on A19 and BR30 Philips Hue smart bulbs  Philips Hue A19 White and Color Ambiance bulbs, 3-pack, $79.99 (41% off on Amazon)   Philips Hue A19 Starter Kit, 2 White and Color Ambiance bulbs with Hue Bridge, $89.99 (31% off on Amazon)  Philips Hue A19 Starter Kit, 3 White and Color Ambiance bulbs, 1 Smart Button, Hue Bridge, $125.99 (30% off on Amazon)   Philips Hue A19 Starter Kit, 2 White and Color Ambiance bulbs, 1 Dimmer Switch, 1 Hue Bridge, $119.99 (25% off on Amazon)    If you’re just getting started with smart lights, you can’t go wrong with Philips Hue’s various starter kits, each of which comes with the optional Hue Bridge for enabling more advanced smart lighting scenarios (more about the Hue Bridge in a moment). If you already own the Hue Bridge or you’re content to control your Hue lights via Bluetooth, consider a Hue bundle that doesn’t include the Bridge.  Prime Day 2024 deals on Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box and TV light strips  Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance light strip for 65-inch TVs, requires Hue Bridge and Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, $188.99 (30% off on Amazon)  Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance light strip for 55-inch TVs, requires Hue Bridge and Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, $150 (40% off on Amazon)  Want your Hue lights to sync with the colors on your TV screen? The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box takes video from your various video sources (like an Apple TV 4K or a Roku streaming player) and syncs the images in real time with your Hue lights, including the discounted Hue light strips mentioned above (keep in mind that the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box and a Hue Bridge is required for the light strips to work).   Prime Day 2024 deals on Philips Hue ceiling lights   Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance 5/6-inch slim downlight, 6-pack, $314.96 (19% off on Amazon)  Set the mood in any room with these color-capable downlights from Philips Hue. Note that these ceiling mounted lights connect to in-ceiling wiring.  Frequently asked questions  Is the Philips Hue Bridge required to use Philips Hue smart lights?  With a few exceptions, all recent Philips Hue can be controlled via Bluetooth. That said, you’ll be missing some cool smart lighting features without the Hue Bridge. Installing the Bridge will allow you to control more than 10 Hue bulbs, and you’ll also be able to take charge of your Hue lights when you’re away from home. The Hue Bridge also enables more elaborate automations, including sunrise and sunset routines, as well as the ability to group your bulbs. As noted earlier, a Hue Bridge is required for using the Hue Play HDMI Sync box and its associated TV light strips. What’s the difference between Philips Hue’s “White and Color Ambiance,” “White Ambiance,” and “White” bulbs? A White and Color Ambiance bulb from Philips Hue is color-capable and dimmable, and its white-light color can be turned from a comfy warm glow to a cool light suitable for illuminating workspaces. A White Ambiance bulb is both tunable and dimmable, but doesn’t offer color. Finally, a White bulb is dimmable but not tunable (it’s generally set at a warm 2,700-Kelvin white-color temperature). What’s the difference between an A19 bulb and a BR30 bulb? An A19 bulb (aka an “Edison” bulb) has the familiar shape of a standard light bulb, while a BR30 bulb has the thick, wide, circular shape of a typical flood light. What are the best smart lights according to TechHive? Check out TechHive’s top picks for the best smart lights of 2024. Lighting

      • Sutro Smart Pool Monitor review: an XXL chemical monitor

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsTakes frequent measurements, every 4 hoursUses more common and intuitive free chlorine readingBuilt like a tankConsEnormous size mars a pool’s aestheticsFree chlorine reading tops out too lowVery expensiveOur VerdictSutro’s pool chemistry monitor is wildly expensive and has a few too many limitations for us to recommend it over less-expensive solutions. Owning a pool is like owning any other high-dollar product: What begins as a fun diversion soon becomes an obsession, one that demands far more oversight than you contemplated before you acquired it. Optimizing pool chemistry is a complex task with surprisingly little guidance available for novices, which is why most people end up outsourcing their pool maintenance to a third party. But having the pool guy come once a week to scoop leaves and toss some chemicals in still leaves you six full days to worry about the water. Is the pool actually full of invisible germs? Is the chlorine too low or too high? If I go swimming, will I break out in a rash? The second-guessing can become all-encompassing. Fortunately, a variety of high-tech tools are available to help you keep an eye on key chemical readings without the need to manually perform testing with test kits or strips, a few of which I’ve already reviewed here, including solutions from WaterGuru and ioPool. In this review I look at the Sutro Smart Pool Water Monitor, which is a direct competitor to both of those. How it works The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor’s bridge connects to your Wi-Fi network, but it also has a charging bay for a spare battery to power the testing module that floats in your pool. The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor’s bridge connects to your Wi-Fi network, but it also has a charging bay for a spare battery to power the testing module that floats in your pool.Christopher Null/Foundry The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor’s bridge connects to your Wi-Fi network, but it also has a charging bay for a spare battery to power the testing module that floats in your pool.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Operationally, the device is closer to ioPool’s offering, as it’s a detached device that floats freely in the water and communicates with a bridge that is permanently plugged in to a power outlet closer to your router. Setup begins with this bridge, whose primary function is to provide a connection between the pool monitor and your wireless network (2.4GHz networks only). The disc-shaped device features a lid that pops up to reveal a battery charger. This is used to charge the pool monitor’s removable battery, two of which are included, so you’ll always have one fully charged and ready to go when the installed battery dies (after about two months in the water, based on my testing). To get things configured, you connect the Sutro app to the hub, then pair the hub to the monitor by pressing a small button on each unit when instructed. This process failed for me the first couple of times I tried it, but eventually I was able to get the two devices properly paired with the aid of Sutro’s tech support. The top of the pool monitor unit unscrews to reveal sockets for both the battery and a consumables cartridge (a rubber gasket prevents water from getting inside). The cartridge works much like the WaterGuru device, offering about a month’s worth of testing before it needs to be replaced. Without a cartridge, Sutro can’t really do anything. Both cartridge and battery snap in place easily, after which the unit is ready to be sealed up and dropped into the pool. The first 48 hours of use, Sutro says, won’t result in reliable readings, as the unit must first calibrate (an automatic process, unlike ioPool’s). Sure enough, by day three, I was receiving regular reports of my pool’s water chemistry. The top of the Sutro Smart Pool Monitor unscrews to expose a bay that houses a testing cartridge and a rechargeable battery. The top of the Sutro Smart Pool Monitor unscrews to expose a bay that houses a testing cartridge and a rechargeable battery.Christopher Null/Foundry The top of the Sutro Smart Pool Monitor unscrews to expose a bay that houses a testing cartridge and a rechargeable battery.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry How does it compare to the competition? The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor reports the two major pool chemistry readings—pH and free chlorine—while also measuring water temperature. While the ioPool measures the more esoteric “disinfection potential,” Sutro, like WaterGuru, provides a more traditional measurement of free chlorine. That’s good news, because most pool owners have a natural understanding of what free chlorine means, but it does mean that the testing can’t be done electronically like ioPool does it. And that means Sutro’s method requires more consumables. Sutro one-ups WaterGuru, however, with an every-4-hours regimen of testing; WaterGuru checks conditions only once a day. As such, Sutro’s strategy provides a much more granular view of pool conditions, and while it doesn’t quite compare to ioPool’s every-15-minutes testing schedule, Sutro’s reporting has been plenty frequent for my needs. As for accuracy, Sutro’s pH readings tend to run just a bit high compared to analog measurements, but like both ioPool and WaterGuru, they’re good enough for backyard use. As with other pool monitoring solutions, Sutro provides clear instructions on how you can correct your pool chemistry. A settings menu lets you specify what type and concentration of chemicals you use, so you get personalized advice based on the size of your pool and your additives of choice. (Sutro does not sell chemicals.) Pluses and minuses Sutro’s mobile app tracks the sensor’s every-4-hour readings, but its vague Free Chlorine reading of “5+” leaves you in the dark until the level drops back down to 5 or less (you won’t want to swim in a pool with a Free Chlorine level much higher than 5). Sutro’s mobile app tracks the sensor’s every-4-hour readings, but its vague Free Chlorine reading of “5+” leaves you in the dark until the level drops back down to 5 or less (you won’t want to swim in a pool with a Free Chlorine level much higher than 5).Christopher Null/Foundry Sutro’s mobile app tracks the sensor’s every-4-hour readings, but its vague Free Chlorine reading of “5+” leaves you in the dark until the level drops back down to 5 or less (you won’t want to swim in a pool with a Free Chlorine level much higher than 5).Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor sounds like a great product on paper—and it is in many ways—but the device has some nagging flaws that make me less likely to recommend it to people looking for a pool monitoring solution. First, and most obviously, is its extreme size. Compared to the slender ioPool, the Sutro device is monstrous, measuring 15 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter. It bobs in the pool like a Stanley tumbler that someone left behind, to the point where it’s something of an eyesore. The battery and testing cartridge are quite small in comparison, which makes one wonder why the casing of the in-pool element is so enormous. From a scientific standpoint, another surprising issue is that Sutro’s free chlorine reading maxes out at 5 ppm. My pool’s chlorine regularly goes higher than 5 ppm, particularly right after servicing. While it’s not generally a great idea to swim when the pool has free chlorine of more than 5 or 6 ppm, I like to monitor the level and watch as it drops back into the safe zone. WaterGuru’s FC reading tops out at 10 ppm, so you can easily estimate when free chlorine will fall into the green. Sutro’s vague reading of “5+” leaves you in the dark until it drops below 5. The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor bridge, shown here with its lid closed. will only connect to 2.5GHz Wi-Fi networks. The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor bridge, shown here with its lid closed. will only connect to 2.5GHz Wi-Fi networks.Christopher Null/Foundry The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor bridge, shown here with its lid closed. will only connect to 2.5GHz Wi-Fi networks.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Sutro’s app is also not my favorite, as functions are often unintuitive and, when you do find them, slow to load. The app keeps a history of readings—but, inexplicably, only for one week before they are overwritten. Anyone nerdy enough to test their pool chemistry every 4 hours will want to retain that data at least for several months in order to see long-term trends. Also, some settings (such as managing your subscription or pausing readings during the winter) must be configured on Sutro’s website, because those settings aren’t available in the app. A final–and big—issue is cost: At $499, the Sutro system is by far the most expensive pool monitor I’ve tested, and that doesn’t include consumables, which cost $29 or $39 per month. The cheaper plan gets you a new cartridge every month, while $10 extra gets you access to “VIP” support and access to experts who can help troubleshoot water issues. Sutro signed me up for the basic plan, which promises that a new cartridge will be shipped out automatically when it has 35 or fewer tests remaining; but due to an apparent glitch, I never received a cartridge until the unit was nearly spent and I asked for a new one via a support email. Should you buy the Sutro Smart Pool Monitor? The Sutro Smart Pool Monitor will cost you a jaw-dropping $818 in your first year of operation, and while I love the frequency of its tests, the cost, size, and limitations to its free chlorine reading keep me from giving it a strong recommendation. Smart Home

      • Tineco Floor One S7 Pro review: This mopping vacuum is tops

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsExcellent cleaning performanceDoesn’t leave streaksEasy to maneuverAuto dirt detectionSelf-cleaningConsDoesn’t completely dry its brush rollerCan’t be used on carpetsRequires detailed maintenanceExpensiveOur VerdictIf you want a simpler, more effective way to maintain your hard floors, the Tineco Floor One S7 Pro is the tool to use. It will give you a deeper clean with less effort. Price When Reviewed£599.99 Best Prices Today: Tineco Floor One S7 Pro Retailer Price £449 View Deal £599 View Deal Tineco £799 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Product Price Price comparison from Backmarket Tineco’s cordless vacuums and mops have ranked among my favorite cleaning appliances. No surprise, then, that I was wowed by its latest, the Floor One S7 Pro. A cordless mopping vacuum designed to clean hard floors (no carpets), the Floor One S7 Pro worked so effectively it almost made me look forward to this chore. The Tineco Floor One S7 Pro is one of the most expensive mopping vacuums around, but it’s also one of the best. Design The Floor One S7 Pro resembles a slim upright vacuum. It doesn’t have a dust bin, though; instead, all solid debris is sucked into a 0.72-liter tank on the front along with the wastewater. A second 0.85-liter water tank on the back is where you load clean water along with Tineco’s included cleaning solution. A vibrant 3.6-inch LED display on top of the S7 Pro’s body provides visual feedback while you’re cleaning and as it conducts self-cleaning maintenance. This includes real-time updates on battery life, suction power, and maintenance needs, making it easy to monitor the vacuum’s status during use. A voice assistant chimes in occasionally to let you know when the clean water tank is low or when it’s time to recharge the battery. The charging dock holds accessories and performs self-cleaning cycles. The charging dock holds accessories and performs self-cleaning cycles. Michael Ansaldo/IDG The charging dock holds accessories and performs self-cleaning cycles. Michael Ansaldo/IDG Michael Ansaldo/IDG The vacuum comes with a charging dock and power supply, an extra brush roller and filter, a cleaning tool, and a bottle of deodorizing cleaning solution. The S7 Pro comes almost fully assembled. You only need to insert the handle into the body and add an accessory holder to the charging dock. Features and operation Operating the S7 Pro is a breeze. It begins cleaning when you power it on and recline the handle. The vacuum is self-propelled, so pushing and pulling it around isn’t cumbersome, and it pivots easily around corners and furniture legs. Cleaning defaults to Auto mode, which uses iLoop Smart Sensor technology to detect both wet and dry messes and adjust the suction power and water flow accordingly. The dirt-detection indicator encircles the LED screen, glowing red when the S7 Pro recognizes a dirty patch of floor and gradually turning blue as it’s cleaned. In theory, the floor is dirt-free when the circle is completely blue, but that wasn’t always the case in practice. The LED provides real-time info about cleaning modes, battery level, and maintenance needs. The LED provides real-time info about cleaning modes, battery level, and maintenance needs. Michael Ansaldo/IDG The LED provides real-time info about cleaning modes, battery level, and maintenance needs. Michael Ansaldo/IDG Michael Ansaldo/IDG You can switch to other cleaning modes by pressing the mode button on the handle. Max mode applies maximum suction and sprays water on the floor to better clean embedded stains. Suction mode absorbs water from wet surfaces. A Custom mode can be enabled by pairing the S7 Pro with the Tineco Life app, which allows you to set your own suction power and water-spray parameters to tailor cleaning to specific needs. Performance I primarily used Auto mode in my testing which was fantastic for general cleaning. It easily cleaned small and large debris such as dust, dirt, coffee grounds, food crumbs, and even pet hair in a single pass. Liquid spills, stains, and caked-in grime took multiple passes and sometimes bumping up to Max mode to remove. I was particularly impressed by the coverage the S7 Pro provides. Its floor head hugs the baseboards allowing the brush to get to the fine debris that typically collects there, and it’s slim enough to slip into cabinet toe spaces and do the same. These areas, which are left untouched by many robot vacuums, were completely clean after each use. I also liked that the S7 Pro didn’t leave pools of water in its wake, which can damage hard floors, and it never pushed dirt from one spot to another because fresh water is continually flushed through the roller to keep it clean. To run a self-cleaning cycle, which you should do after every use, you place the S7 Pro in its dock and press the self-cleaning button on top of its handle. There are two options: “Quick” self-cleaning takes two minutes and “Super” self-cleaning option takes 6 minutes. In either case, the roller brush is soaked and air-dried and the main pipe is flushed out. The dirty-water tank should be cleaned and emptied after every cleaning job. The dirty-water tank should be cleaned and emptied after every cleaning job. Michael Ansaldo/IDG The dirty-water tank should be cleaned and emptied after every cleaning job. Michael Ansaldo/IDG Michael Ansaldo/IDG The drying process is one of the few things I didn’t like about the S7 Pro. It only lasts about 1-4 minutes, depending on if you’re running Quick or Super self-cleaning, which isn’t nearly long enough to completely dry the brush. Because of that, I swapped in the extra brush after my first cleaning and left the wet one in the sun to dry, continuing that rotation throughout my testing. Be advised, though, that self-cleaning is not the extent of the S7 Pro’s maintenance requirements. You’ll also need to empty and clean the dirty water tank after each cleaning job to prevent the buildup of some pretty disgusting odors. This was easily my least favorite part of using the S7 Pro (or any wet and dry vacuum) as it involves handling a gross brew of dirty water and assorted solid waste. The provided wire-bristle cleaning brush helps immensely with the solid stuff, but then you need to clean and dry the brush itself, as well as the tank. It’s also a good idea to remove the roller brush after each cleaning job–whether you plan to swap in the spare or no–so that you can remove any debris the self-cleaning missed and clean and dry the brush chamber. You’ll also want to wipe down and dry the brush cover. This sounds like a lot of physical maintenance for a self-cleaning vacuum, but it’s imperative to keep everything clean and dry to prevent mildew and odors. Specifications Weight: 21.5 pounds Maximum run time: 40 minutes Charge time: 4 hours Clean water tank capacity: 0.85l Dirty water tank capacity: 0.72l Display: 3.6-inch LED Should you buy the Tineco Floor One S7 Pro? Even with its maintenance requirements, using the S7 Pro is far more convenient and way less icky than handling a stick mop and bucket. It also provided a more even and thorough cleaning than any manual mopping I’ve ever used and beat the performance of all the other wet-and-dry vacuums I’ve tested. At $799 (Tineco was offering a $250 discount at the time of publication), the Tineco Floor One S7 Pro is one of the most expensive mopping vacuums around, but it’s also one of the best. If your budget can accommodate it, put it at the top of your shopping list. Robot Vacuums and Cleaning

      • How we test home security cameras at TechHive

        Home security cameras have become essential tools for safeguarding our homes and loved ones. With a wide range of options available, choosing the precisely right model can be overwhelming. Our goal is to provide you with reliable, detailed reviews that help you make informed decisions. Our meticulous evaluation process takes place in real homes and begins the moment we unbox a camera. Here’s an in-depth look at how we put cameras through their paces to ensure our reviews are thorough and reliable. This story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best home security cameras. Installation and setup A big attraction of Wi-Fi security cameras is they don’t require professional installation. That makes it vital that any home security camera we review be easy to install and set up, even for those who aren’t tech-savvy. We begin by timing the installation process as outlined in the camera’s user manual, noting any difficulties or special tools required. Whether it’s a battery-powered camera or a wired one, the ease of installation can make a significant difference in the user experience. The setup process involves connecting the camera to Wi-Fi and configuring it through the vendor’s app. We follow the steps provided by the manufacturer, documenting any issues or complications. The more straightforward the setup process is, the sooner you can get the camera up and running quickly. Arlo Pro 5S 2K (model number VMC4060P) Read our review Price When Reviewed: £219.99 Best Prices Today: £129.99 at Amazon Prime | £219.99 at Amazon | £219.99 at Arlo Build quality and design Build quality and design are important for both indoor and outdoor security cameras, but the criteria for each are a bit different. Durability is paramount for outdoor cameras. They must withstand various weather conditions, including rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. We note the camera’s material quality and IP (Ingress Protection) rating, which indicates resistance to dust and water. (You can take a deeper dive into IP ratings at the preceding link.) While we’re not always able to test cameras in all types of weather, where possible we expose them to simulated weather conditions such as sprayed water from a garden hose. Indoor cameras, though less exposed to harsh conditions, still require solid build quality. They should be sturdy enough to handle accidental bumps or falls. Design aesthetics are more crucial for indoor cameras as they need to blend with home decor. We evaluate their size, shape, and color options to evaluate how seamlessly they fit into various interior styles. Video quality The first feature we evaluate is video quality, which is crucial for identifying details in your footage. In the event of a security breach or suspicious activity, clear footage can be the difference between identifying a suspect and having inconclusive evidence. Video clarity also impacts the effectiveness of other camera features, such as night vision and motion detection. We start by examining the camera’s resolution and frame rate. Higher resolutions, like 1080p or 4K, offer more detailed images—making facial features, license plate numbers, and other important details more easily identifiable—while a higher frame rate ensures smoother video playback. To test these, we record footage at various settings, comparing the clarity and fluidity of the video. Field of view (FOV) is another critical factor. A wide FOV means the camera can cover more area, reducing the number of cameras needed for complete surveillance. We evaluate this by positioning the camera in different locations and noting the extent of the coverage. This helps us determine whether a camera can effectively monitor large areas or if it’s better suited for smaller spaces. Night vision is essential for round-the-clock security. We test the camera’s performance in both low light and completely dark environments to assess the clarity and range of its night vision capabilities. This involves setting up scenarios with varying levels of darkness and observing how well the camera captures details. For cameras that offer color night vision, we also assess the color accuracy in the captured video. Ring Stick Up Cam Pro Read our review Price When Reviewed: £159.99 Best Prices Today: £109.99 at Amazon Prime | £158 at Ring | £159 at AO Audio quality Next, we evaluate audio quality, focusing on two-way audio and noise cancellation. Two-way audio allows you to communicate with anyone on the other side of the camera, whether it’s a delivery person or a potential intruder. To test this, we conduct conversations through the camera, noting the clarity of the microphone and speaker. Noise cancellation is equally important, especially in noisy environments. We introduce background noise, such as music or if Mother Nature cooperates, wind, and assess how well the camera filters it out. We also assess the quality of audio captured in video recordings. This aspect is often overlooked but is essential for providing a complete understanding of events. Clear audio recordings can capture important details, such as conversations, the sound of breaking glass, or other indicators of suspicious activity. To evaluate this, we pay close attention to the clarity of voices and ambient sounds when reviewing recorded footage. Motion detection and alerts One of the most important security camera performance aspects is motion detection. A camera that accurately detects motion and distinguishes between different types of movement can help reduce false alerts. We test this by walking in front of the camera at various speeds and distances, observing how well it picks up motion and how quickly it sends alerts. For cameras that support multiple types of smart detection—for example, person, pet, package, and vehicle—we evaluate how well it differentiates between these objects. When motion is detected, the camera should promptly notify you via the app so that you have time to open it and view the video feed and intervene if necessary before the person leaves the scene. We test this by triggering the camera and timing how quickly notifications are received. Consistency and reliability are key here; the camera should alert you accurately and without delay every time. Wyze Cam v4 Read our review App Experience The app experience can make or break a home security camera’s usability. A well-designed app should be intuitive, easy to navigate, and provide all the necessary features without being overwhelming. We start by evaluating the user interface. This involves navigating through the app, performing common tasks like viewing the live feed, adjusting settings, and accessing recorded footage. We pay attention to how easily these tasks can be accomplished and whether the app layout is user-friendly. Features within the app are also important. We look at functionalities such as live streaming, playback of recorded videos, setting motion detection zones, and receiving real-time alerts. Each feature is tested extensively to ensure it works as advertised. For instance, we test live streaming by viewing the feed at different times of the day and in various lighting conditions. Playback is assessed by reviewing recorded footage, and noting the ease of accessing and navigating through the videos. Storage options When it comes to storage, home security cameras typically offer cloud storage, local storage, or a combination of both. Each option has its pros and cons, and we evaluate them to help you understand which might be the best fit for your needs. Cloud storage involves uploading recorded footage to a remote server, where it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. We test this by uploading footage and then retrieving it, noting any delays or issues. We also assess the cost and benefits of the available cloud storage plans, considering factors like storage capacity, retention period, and subscription fees. Local storage options, such as microSD cards or external drives, provide a way to keep your footage on-site. We test these by saving videos to the supported local storage medium and then playing them back, checking for any data transfer issues or playback problems. This allows us to evaluate the reliability and practicality of local storage solutions. Eufy Security SoloCam S340 Read our review Best Prices Today: £129 at Amazon Prime | £179 at Amazon | £192.2 at Currys Power options A security camera’s power source greatly influences its flexibility and reliability. Battery-powered cameras offer ease of installation and placement but require regular recharging or battery replacement. We evaluate battery life and compare it to the manufacturer’s battery rating, noting how often it needs to be recharged under normal usage conditions. Some battery-powered cameras can be connected to a solar panel to keep their battery topped off. The solar panel might come in the box or even be integrated into the camera itself, or you might need to purchase it as an add-on accessory. Wired cameras, on the other hand, typically provide more consistent power but may require more complex installation. We assess the ease of access to power sources, particularly for outdoor installations, and the reliability of wired connections to ensure the camera remains powered and functional at all times. Connectivity and compatibility Reliable connectivity is essential for any home security camera. We test Wi-Fi strength and stability by measuring the camera’s ability to maintain a connection at various distances from the router. This includes testing in different locations around the house—or in the case of outdoor cameras, different locations outside the house—to ensure the camera can provide consistent performance. Compatibility with smart home systems is another key feature. We check how well the camera integrates with popular smart home platforms like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. This involves setting up the camera with each system and testing its functionality, such as voice commands and automation routines. Blink Wired Floodlight Cam Read our review Privacy and security In an era in which data privacy is a significant concern, it’s important that a home security camera provide effective security measures to protect your data. We start by looking at the encryption protocols used for data transmission and storage. This includes checking for industry-standard encryption methods that protect your footage from unauthorized access. Firmware updates are another critical aspect. Regular updates can address vulnerabilities and improve functionality. When possible, we test the process of updating the camera’s firmware, noting the ease of updates. A camera that receives regular updates is more likely to stay secure and perform well over time. Value for money Evaluating a security camera’s bang for the buck involves comparing its features and performance against its price tag. We look at the overall package, considering aspects like video quality, audio clarity, ease of installation, and app functionality. Additionally, we take into account any recurring costs, such as subscription fees for cloud storage or additional features. This comprehensive evaluation helps us determine whether a camera offers good value relative to its cost and how it stacks up against similar products on the market. How we use our home security camera test results We compile all the data from our testing period into detailed reviews that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each home security camera. Our commitment to thorough testing and unbiased reviews ensures that you can trust our recommendations. Whether you’re looking for a camera with exceptional video quality, reliable motion detection, or seamless smart home integration, our reviews are designed to help you find the perfect solution for your home security needs. Home Security, Security Cameras

      • SmartThings and Airzone transform A/C units into smart appliances

        Airzone Control says three of the air conditioner controllers in its Aidoo product line can now be integrated with the Samsung SmartThings smart home ecosystem, allowing homeowners with popular inverter and VRF (variable refrigerant flow) air conditioners from the likes of Daiken, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, and many other brands—including older models—to be converted into smart appliances. The three SmartThings-certified controllers are Airzone’s Aidoo Pro, the company’s flagship product; the Aidoo Wi-Fi; and for the European Union only, the Aidoo Pro Fancoil. Where some competing devices control the HVAC unit via RF commands, each of Airzone’s products connects directly to the HVAC unit—i.e., it is hardwired—to provide bi-directional communication. And rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, Airzone collaborates directly with more than 90 air-conditioning equipment brands to build specific controllers for each model, which the respective manufacturer then tests and approves before Airzone offers them for sale. This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart thermostats. For homes with multiple units—e.g., mini-splits in several rooms—an Aidoo controller can be added to each one, so that they can all be managed and scheduled using Airzone’s app via the cloud. Aidoo says this is an easy DIY project requiring only a screwdriver. The Aidoo Wi-Fi ($160 on Amazon) is compatible with many models of mini-split, cassette, and ducted units (you can check for compatibility on Airzone’s website). It allows you to define schedules and scenes, monitor your HVAC system from anywhere, and control each unit individually with voice commands. The more expensive Aidoo Pro (final price depends on the device you intend to control) is more sophisticated, allowing you to integrate inverter and VRF units with third-party smart thermostats, third-party cloud services, and—for commercial installers and smart home integrators—building-management systems. Airzone launched a Z-Wave-compatible Aidoo controller earlier this spring. Thermostats

      • No, streaming isn’t cable TV all over again

        If only I had a penny for every time someone said streaming TV was turning into cable again. Here’s the latest, from CNN’s Brian Lowry, in a story about efforts to package various streaming services together: Streaming appears poised to undergo what some have called “The Great Re-Bundling,” with services merging, combining or forming alliances that will essentially reconstruct the cable “bundle” that consumers relied upon for decades. As always, reports of the cable-style bundle’s resurgence are greatly exaggerated. At best, streaming service bundles are happening piecemeal, don’t resemble cable at all, and might not even be successful. If you enjoy the freedom and flexibility that cord-cutting brought, you shouldn’t worry losing it anytime soon. The “Great Re-Bundling” is more like a small gathering It’s true that some streamers are finding new ways of working together. Comcast, for instance, recently assembled a $15-per-month “StreamSaver” bundle for its home internet customers, consisting of Netflix (with ads), Peacock (with ads), and Apple TV+. Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are working on their own bundle of Disney+, Hulu, and Max for a still-undisclosed price, and Verizon offers a bundle of Netflix and Max (both with ads) for $10 per month with its latest mobile and home internet plans. But if this is a trend, it’s happening in slow motion. Throwing two or three streaming services together does not constitute a cable-style bundle, especially when you need a specific wireless carrier or home internet provider to take advantage. Calls for a “Spotify for TV” model, which would combine everything into one big package, are also unrealistic for reasons I just wrote about last week. Some TV bundles are shrinking This fall, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Fox plan to launch “Venu Sports,” a new live TV streaming service that only includes channels with live sports, which means no Fox News, CNN, FX, or HGTV. While CNN’s story casts Venu Sports as an example of the “Great Re-Bundling,” it’s really an unbundling that provides a cheaper alternative to the likes of YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV. Meanwhile, Spectrum now offers a $40-per-month TV package that excludes those broadcast and sports channels but still offers CNN and Fox News. It’s essentially the inverse of Venu Sports, aimed at folks who just want news and entertainment. Programmers have always insisted on packaging all their cable channels together, but the pressures of cord-cutting are finally forcing them to trim the fat. You still call the shots Streaming providers must still answer directly to their customers. With every price hike, password-sharing crackdown, or content removal comes a risk of higher cancellation rates or more piracy. Meanwhile, younger viewers are tuning into YouTube and TikTok instead, showing little interest in paying for expensive TV packages. In light of all this, I can’t envision a scenario where you’re forced to pay upwards of $60 per month for an entire bundle of streaming services just to watch a particular movie or show. (How quickly we forget this is how things worked in the cable era.) There’s too much pressure to offer cheaper, standalone entry points, with discounts for the savvier deal-hunters among us. The real future of TV The “Great Re-Bundling” was coined in 2020 by TVRev analyst Alan Wolk, but it’s since become a catch-all term for any type of collaboration in the streaming business, much of which isn’t new. I’ve seen it used to describe all kinds of things, from Amazon’s “Channels” marketplace (which has been around since 2015), to the freebies you get with some wireless plans (a trend that began roughly seven years ago), to industry consolidation (which has been happening for decades). Having that broad a definition strips the term of any significant meaning. To the extent that a true re-bundling does happen, it’ll look more like a bunch of mini-cables than one big package. Netflix is already becoming more cable-like, with a growing interest in live events and sports, and that’s putting pressure on traditional TV companies to be more like Netflix, with broad entertainment offerings that still cost less than cable. That means slimming down in some cases, bundling in others, and generally slicing and dicing their offerings to reach different audiences. That’s an interesting trend to watch, but it’s not at all like cable, no matter how many times people suggest otherwise. Sign up for Jared’s Cord Cutter Weekly newsletter for more streaming TV advice and insights. Streaming Media