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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:

  • Sign & Digital UK 2024: a new era

    At the end of this week the doors open to Sign & Digital UK 2024, LFR looks ahead to the show and picks out some of the highlights we can expect over the three days at the NEC.

  • What can double-sided tapes do for you?

    While high-quality adhesive tapes allow users to take on all manner of work and assist them with creating applications of all shapes and sizes, you can push the boundaries even further by thinking outside the box with double-sided tapes.

  • Developing market-leading wide format inks

    In a world of raw materials shortages, as well as rapidly developing printing technologies, Gemma Osborne, Research Development Section Head at Fujifilm Ink Solutions Group, explains what it takes to continue to produce wide format inks of the highest quality.

  • Price It Right: A guide to print services package pricing

    One of the most challenging aspects of any business, especially if you are just setting up shop, is how do you know what prices to set for your products and services?

  • Storage conditions and environmental factors for print media

    As the seasons change and we move through the winter, we are all taking steps to ensure we are ready for the cold and wet weather. This might be something as simple as putting on more layers when out and about or making sure the pressure on your car tyres is at the right level.

  • Corrugated packaging – threats and opportunities

    To say that the packaging industry has been on a rollercoaster ride for the last few years would be an understatement! For the corrugated packaging sector, the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 ended up being somewhat of a record-breaker.

    • Stack Overflow opens API to Google’s Gemini

      Stack Overflow, the popular question-and-answer portal for developers, has partnered with Google’s cloud computing arm to develop an API that will give Google’s Gemini AI model access to Stack Overflow’s knowledge base.Dubbed the Overflow API, the new offering will inform Gemini’s coding assistance capabilities for Google Cloud, delivered to developers via the Google Cloud Console. The suggestions made by Gemini will cite Stack Overflow sources, the companies said in a statement.To read this article in full, please click here

    • OpenJDK proposal would streamline Java records creation

      Java developers would gain an easier way to create records, and more streamlined code for declaring record classes, through derived record creation, a preview language feature being considered by the OpenJDK community.Derived record creation would allow developers to create new records from existing records, specifying only the components that are different. Goals of the proposal include providing a concise means to create new record values from existing ones and streamlining the declaration of record classes by eliminating the need to provide explicit wither methods, which are the immutable analogue of setter methods.To read this article in full, please click here

    • Google delivers Gemini LLM support to BigQuery data warehouse

      Google is integrating its Gemini 1.0 Pro large language model with its AI and machine learning platform, Vertex AI, to help enterprises unlock new capabilities of large language models (LLMs), including analysis of text, image and video.The Gemini API, which has been made generally available, can also be used in Google’s data warehouse, BigQuery, to develop generative AI-based analytical applications.To read this article in full, please click here

    • Google Cloud adds vector support to all its database offerings

      Google Cloud on Thursday said it is adding vector support and integrating LangChain with all of its database offerings in an effort to outdo rival cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, and Oracle.Cloud service providers have been locked in a race to add generative AI and AI-related capabilities to their database offerings to have the first mover advantage in order to garner a bigger pie of the growing AI and generative AI market.To read this article in full, please click here

    • Why passkeys will replace passwords

      With the growth of sophisticated attacks against critical software and infrastructure systems, multi-factor authentication (MFA) has emerged as a critical layer of defense against unauthorized access. An increasing number of enterprise and developer-facing technology applications and platforms, from GitHub to Salesforce to Amazon Web Services, are making MFA mandatory for users.That said, we are all used to passwords, and many people like the status quo. Not surprisingly, the introduction of MFA has added friction to the login process. This can negatively impact the user experience.A newer technology that can provide even greater security benefits than MFA is now becoming more widely deployed. That technology is called passkeys. Based on widely accepted industry standards, passkeys offers the tantalizing promise of eliminating the need for passwords and the risks passwords create without adding user experience friction like MFA.To read this article in full, please click here

    • Diving into Microsoft’s dev tunnels

      One of Microsoft’s goals for recent releases of Windows was to improve the developer experience, with the aim of making it the preferred platform for modern application development. That goal has led to the release of the Windows Subsystems for Linux and Android, resilient Dev Drive storage based on the ReFS file system, the WinGet package manager, and the Dev Home control panel.To read this article in full, please click here

    • Facebook plans to shut down its news tab in the U.S. and Australia

      Meta is trying to distance itself from news media-related regulations and payment complexities as it is planning to remove the news tab on Facebook in the U.S. and Australia. The company said today that it will sunset the product in April 2024. Last year, Meta discontinued Facebook News in the UK, Germany, and France saying © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • Google removes some Indian apps over Play Store fees violation

      Google began removing some apps in India on Friday after warning earlier in the day that it will be taking actions against developers who are not complying with its billing policies, taking a definitive step on a three-year matter in what is the company’s largest market by users. Google said that 10 companies in the © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • Intuitive Machines’ first moon lander also broke ground with safer, cheaper rocket-style propulsion

      Intuitive Machines’ first lunar lander officially lost power today after spending seven days on the moon. The lander made history for being the first American hardware to reach the lunar surface since 1972 and the first privately built spacecraft to land on the moon. But the lander, called Odysseus, will be remembered for another reason: © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • Lordstown Motors charged with misleading investors about the sales potential of its EV pickup

      The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged bankrupt Lordstown Motors with misleading investors about the sales prospects of its Endurance electric pickup truck. Lordstown has agreed to pay $25.5 million as a result — money that the SEC says will go toward settling a number of pending class action lawsuits against the company. “We allege © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • A minor league baseball team trolls Disney with its ‘Steamboat Willie’ jerseys

      I’ve seen enough: The prize for the best use of public domain Mickey Mouse goes to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. For its public domain theme night, the minor league baseball team will wear jerseys made entirely of iconic images that are no longer protected by copyright: Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” King Kong, and the earliest © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • Fisker is laying off 15% of staff and says it needs more cash ahead of a ‘difficult year’

      Electric vehicle startup Fisker is planning to lay off 15% of its workforce and says it likely does not have enough cash on hand to survive the next 12 months. The company says it is trying to find a way to raise that money as it works through a pivot from direct sales to a © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

      • Facebook will remove its News tab, and stop paying publishers for news

        Facebook News US launch promo | Image: Facebook Facebook’s News tab launched in 2019 with millions of dollars in content deals for publishers (a reported $10 million for the Wall Street Journal, $20 million for the New York Times, and $3 million for CNN), but in April it’s going away for good. Meta says it will “deprecate” Facebook News in the US and Australia in April 2024, it won’t enter new commercial deals for news, and it “will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.” A support page for Facebook News drops the “deprecate” wording and is much more direct about its earlier European shutdown and what’s next for the US and Australia: Facebook News, located in the News tab, is no longer available in The United Kingdom, France and Germany.... Continue reading…

      • UnitedHealth says Blackcat is the reason healthcare providers are going unpaid

        Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Health insurance provider UnitedHealth has identified Blackcat as the group behind a debilitating cyber attack that has disrupted healthcare providers nationwide, Reuters is reporting. The attack has led to more than a week-long outage of the the United-owned Change Healthcare system, disrupting payments at hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies across the nation. Since Change Healthcare acts as a middleman between healthcare providers and insurance companies, the breach has hindered everyday transactions like electronic pharmacy refills and new insurance claims. The company first identified suspicious activity on its IT systems on February 21st, according to an SEC filing. The breach could last for weeks, UnitedHealth Group Chief... Continue reading…

      • Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 review: redemption never sounded so good

        The company has always delivered on audio quality, but after stumbling with some bugs and hardware issues on the Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds, Sennheiser is focusing on the little things — and it shows. Continue reading…

      • Here’s your first look at Tron: Ares, premiering in 2025

        Image: Disney The third Tron movie is nearing release. Disney announced that production on Tron: Ares — a follow-up to Tron: Legacy, which itself was a sequel to the 1982 original — began in January and that the plan is for the film to premiere in 2025. As part of the announcement, the first image for the film was also released. It definitely has Tron vibes but also wouldn’t be out of place as a skin in a shooter like Destiny or Fortnite. Here’s the full thing: Image: Disney According to Disney, the new film is about “a highly sophisticated Program, Ares, who is sent from the digital world into the real world on a dangerous mission, marking humankind’s first encounter with AI beings.” It’s being directed by Joachim Rønning, who... Continue reading…

      • Google Chrome packs more searches into the Search Bar

        Google If you’ve ever opened a new browser tab with no clue what to search for, today’s Chrome updates may help. First off, the Google Search box on Chrome will now display suggested queries based on your previous searches before you’ve started typing. In Google’s example, a user who had previously searched for the Korean noodle dish japchae would see images of similar Korean dishes beside the search box under the heading “People also search for.” Some of the search suggestions will also include images. It’s not an entirely new feature. As Search Engine Roundtable points out, Google started testing a “People also search for” suggestion bar in 2020. The Verge tested the updated Chrome search suggestions feature. Typing in “pesto sandwich... Continue reading…

      • Setapp is opening its subscription-only iOS app store

        Image: MacPaw One of the first third-party app stores on iOS is getting ready to open up in the European Union. The software company MacPaw has announced that it’s releasing its Setapp store in beta on Thursday, with an official launch planned for April. Setapp is currently only available on macOS and offers users access to over 240 third-party apps for a $9.99 per month subscription. Some examples of the curated apps available through Setapp include music software n-Track Studio, project planner MindNode, and the productivity app Session. The new app store on iOS will feature a “carefully selected assortment of apps, including fan favorites from the Setapp catalog.” In addition to productivity and business tools, Setapp on iOS will also offer design... Continue reading…

      • Definitely don’t start your Final Fantasy VII experience with Rebirth

        Image: Square Enix Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is an excellent game and an important evolution for the franchise. It mashes together a traditional RPG with a large open world, managing to feel both modern and like it’s sticking to its 32-bit roots. What it is not, however, is a good place to get started with the multipart story that is Final Fantasy VII — despite what its creators might say. Prior to Rebirth’s launch, creative director and zipper aficionado Tetsuya Nomura talked about how the game was designed in part to be welcoming to newcomers (always a commendable goal). “In fact,” he said in 2022, “new players might even enjoy starting their Final Fantasy VII journey with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.” Meanwhile, on launch day, producer Yoshinori Kitase... Continue reading…

      • Sony’s new ‘slim’ PlayStation 5 is already on sale with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

        Sony’s latest console is still a big boi, even if it is more than 30 percent smaller. | Photo by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge PlayStation 5 sales have already surpassed 50 million units — a solid figure for a console that has rarely received a substantial price drop since it arrived on the scene more than three years ago. If you have yet to pick up Sony’s latest console, however, Best Buy is now offering the new PS5 “slim” with a digital copy of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 for $449.99 ($50 off), which marks the first discount we’ve seen on the bundle. The revised PS5 isn’t all that different from Sony’s standard disc-based offering. The midcycle refresh is slightly smaller and more refined, and it tackles all the same games as the original models at the same 4K graphical fidelity. The biggest change is the detachable disc drive — which you can easily remove and... Continue reading…

      • Final Fantasy VII Rebirth: all the news and updates

        Image: Square Enix In Rebirth, our heroes get to explore beyond the confines of Midgar. Continue reading…

      • Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s creators want you to embrace the stress

        Image: Square Enix Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of ‘wonder and excitement’ to embrace as well. Continue reading…

      • Facebook Killing Hard-To-Find News Tab Because It Says Users Don't Care About News

        Facebook plans to “deprecate” its News tab for users in the United States and Australia by April, according to an announcement published Thursday night. What does that mean? As best we can tell, it means Facebook doesn’t want anyone to use the platform for news anymore and will be killing its dedicated News tab. Read more...

      • The First Tron: Ares Image Has a Very Juicy Easter Egg

        After almost 15 years of development hell, the third Tron movie is finally in production. Star Jared Leto made the news official by dropping the first image of his character, Ares, for the 2025 release called Tron: Ares.Read more...

      • Kevin Conroy's Batman Will Reunite With Mark Hamill's Joker One Last Time

        The era-defining, iconic Batman and Joker pairing of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill will square off one more time in Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths - Part Three.Read more...

      • Jack Teixeira, Pentagon Leak Suspect, Expected to Plead Guilty

        Jack Teixeira was only 21-years-old last year when he was arrested and charged with one of the worst U.S. military leaks in recent history. A former airman with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Teixeira has been accused by the government of leaking “Top Secret” U.S. intelligence, including classified details…Read more...

      • There’s an International Manhunt Underway for Whoever Stole a Race Car Driver's AirPods

        A pair of AirPods are at the center of an international mystery after Formula One driver Louis Delétraz left his headphones on a United Airlines flight. Delétraz, who said he left the Airpods under a seat in row 16 of a flight to Geneva, Switzerland, tracked the headphones as they flew across the globe. But when they…Read more...

      • Denis Villeneuve on Why He Chose to End Dune: Part Two Like That

        When Dune: Part One ended on a breathless cliffhanger, audiences at least knew Dune: Part Two was on the way. Part Two does something similar, and while the odds are good that there will be a sequel, it’s not coming immediately. Read more...

      • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12 Review: Great Build but Underwhelming Performance

        Lenovo’s ThinkPad series is meant for serious business. They’re not as flashy and pretty as its Yoga line or as heavy and gaming-focused as its Legion line. ThinkPads are hardcore in terms of specs and quite boring regarding aesthetics. They’re made for professionals and are best known for their portability. Read more...

      • James Gunn Declares Superman: Legacy Is Now Just Superman in New Suit Tease

        Just when you’d gotten used to the sound of Superman: Legacy, James Gunn—the film’s writer and director, as well as co-head of DC Studios—has a slight adjustment to make. In a social media post marking today’s start of filming, Gunn updated the title to just be... Superman.Read more...

      • Ultra-Processed Foods Have Disturbing Health Effects, Large Review Finds

        A lifetime of snacking and frozen food dinners may affect your body in lots of surprising ways, new research suggests. The study, a large-scale review of the existing evidence, found an association between regularly eating ultra-processed foods and a higher risk of many health problems. It also found that these foods…Read more...

      • The Best Earbuds for Under $150

        Upgrading to a better pair of buds doesn’t always require splurging. If you’re looking for a modest, no-frills pair of buds that checks most of the must-haves list, we have a few recommendations for you for $150 or under. The must-haves list can be decent audio, a comfortable fit, intuitive controls, a battery that…Read more...

      • Amazon Slaps Apple's iPhone 15 FineWoven Case With 'Frequently Returned' Warning

        Apple’s Finewoven case for the iPhone 15 has received so many returns that Amazon has started putting a warning label on the product. What, exactly, is the issue? Many people are complaining it’s uncomfortable to hold and scratches easily.Read more...

      • Science Journal That Published ‘Rat Dck’ AI Gibberish Speaks Out

        Don’t worry—the rat dck can no longer hurt you. The open-access paper that contained bizarre, AI-generated imagery of rat genitalia and gibberish graphics has been retracted by its publisher, which said that the study authors violated the journal’s guidelines.Read more...

      • The FBI Is Using Push Notifications to Catch Sexual Predators

        Most people turn on mobile push notifications and then promptly forget about them. However, it turns out that if you’re up to no good, those notifications could get you thrown in prison. The Washington Post reports that the FBI has been using mobile push notification data to unmask people suspected of serious crimes,…Read more...

      • The Long History of How the Rebels Originally Stole the Death Star Plans

        In current Star Wars canon, the plot to steal the Death Star’s technical plans is incredibly straight forward: it’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the tale of Galen Erso’s sacrifice and the ragtag team that swooped down to Scarif and gave their lives to ensure that data fell into Rebel hands. But in the expanded…Read more...

      • This Is the First Song Ever Released as a Physical Slice of Pizza

        And they say physical media is dead. The popularity of vinyl records continues to explode, and even the humble CD is staging a comeback after revenue from physical music sales hit a decade high. That’s great if you’re into the whole nostalgia thing, but one Kentucky band dares to dream of something more. Read more...

      • Ikea’s long-awaited Matter update just went into beta

        The long-awaited Matter update for Ikea’s Dirigera smart hub is–finally–coming in for a landing.  An Ikea spokesperson told TechHive that Dirigera’s Matter update is available now to beta testers using the Ikea Home app, and that the patch will arrive “in the future” for “all customers and more products.”  Ikea didn’t provide a timeline as to when we can expect the final release for the Matter update, but the fact that it’s reached beta testing suggests development of the update is—at last—wrapping up.  Here’s Ikea’s full statement about its Matter update:  At IKEA, we are excited to unveil the first version of Matter support for the DIRIGERA hub, available now for beta users through the IKEA Home smart app. The initial release transforms the DIRIGERA hub into a Matter bridge, allowing Zigbee devices to be compatible with Matter networks. We are piloting this innovative feature with a focus on lighting products exclusively for our beta users. We are gathering feedback from users during this testing phase, which will help improve the overall experience when the update is expanded to include all customers and more products in the future. More details to follow, so stay tuned.  We’ve reach out for more details, as well as for clarification about the Matter beta test being “focused” on lighting products.  Ikea’s smart home portfolio is primarily comprised of smart lights as well as smart remotes and light switches, but the company also offers smart shades, Wi-Fi speakers (some made in collaboration with Sonos), and smart air purifiers.  Ikea first unveiled the Dirigera smart hub, the successor to the company’s original Tradfri gateway, way back in 2022. At the same time, Ikea announced that the Dirigera would eventually support Matter.  But then the wait began.  While unveiling three new smart sensors (pictured above) last November, Ikea broke the news that it was delaying its Matter update, citing the need for “more development time to secure good functionality.”  Following the lengthy delay, some Ikea smart home users began speculating that the company had scuttled its Matter update. But for now, Ikea’s Matter plans appears back on track.  Delays have been the name of the game for Matter, the new smart home standard that aims to unite the major smart home platforms via a common IoT protocol. Matter was delayed twice before finally getting off the ground in late 2022. After a rocky start that saw a handful of companies (including Philips Hue) delay their Matter own updates, the standard seems to have hit its stride, with a recent Matter specification update adding 9 new device types.  Smart Appliances

      • Own this video doorbell? Take it down now

        Think twice before buying that dirt-cheap, no-name video doorbell on Amazon.  A lengthy exposé from Consumer Reports reveals that major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Sears are selling thousands of “cheap” but “insecure” video doorbells that are rife with “egregious” security holes.  The doorbells, sold under such brands as Eken, Tuck, Fishbot, and Rakeblue, can leave users wide open to attack, allowing hackers to hijack the devices, spy on the owner’s comings and goings, and even grab their IP addresses and Wi-Fi credentials, according to the Consumer Reports story.  This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best video doorbells. The shoddy video doorbells spotted by Consumer Reports represent only “a drop in the flood of cheap, insecure electronics” from China that are widely available in U.S. retails channels, the publication says.  Several of the doorbells mentioned by Consumer Reports are still available on Amazon, including an Eken doorbell that’s currently selling for less than $30.  The story describes in hair-raising detail how an attacker could simply walk up to one of these vulnerable doorbells, put it into pairing mode with the push of a button, and then take control of it with a mobile app.   Even after the rightful owner of the doorbell regained control of the doorbell, the attacker would still have access to the doorbell’s video feed, Consumer Reports says.  Of course, retailers such as Amazon bear some of the responsibility for allowing these dangerously insecure doorbells to remain available on their digital storefronts.   Some of the devices have even earned “overall pick” badges on Amazon—although as Consumer Reports points out, most Amazon’s Choice awards are picked by algorithms rather than people.  So, what can shoppers do? Steering clear of no-name doorbell and security camera brands is a good place to start, as well as being leery of video doorbells that cost less than a streaming movie purchase.  Among the security cam brands we do trust include Amazon’s Blink and Ring, TP-Link’s Tapo, Google’s Nest, and Logitech, and you’ll find our favorite models for those brands among our top picks for video doorbells.  But if you’re circling a video doorbell from a brand you’ve never heard of that’s priced for a song, well, buyer beware.  And if you own any of the suspect video doorbells named in the Consumer Reports story, take them down ASAP.  Video Doorbells

      • DRM remains a stumbling block for DVRs embracing ATSC 3.0

        Broadcasters want you to know they’re not out to kill over-the-air DVR. The industry group A3SA, which is in charge of digital rights management (DRM) for ATSC 3.0, released a specification this week for recording encrypted ATSC 3.0 channels from an antenna. This is supposed to give over-the-air DVR makers a clear path for supporting NextGen TV broadcasts, whose key features include HDR video, Dolby dialog boosting, and additional content. A3SA says the specification provides “a blueprint for a variety of new ATSC 3.0 recording devices” to come. It may also be an attempt to fend off criticism of ATSC 3.0, whose embrace of DRM last year has made it toxic in some cord-cutting circles. But while clear accommodations for DVR are helpful, they still leave plenty of questions and concerns unaddressed. ATSC 3.0 DVR: The story so far ATSC 3.0 is the newest standard for over-the-air TV, and it’s been gradually rolling out over the past four years with plans to reach 75 percent of U.S. markets in 2024. While ATSC 3.0 support is now built into some TVs, it’s not compatible with the ATSC 1.0 tuners in many existing televisions, so broadcasters are now simulcasting their channels in both standards. That will continue for at least another three years, and possibly longer. In the meantime, cord-cutters who want ATSC 3.0 without a new TV can buy external ATSC 3.0 tuner boxes, two of which also support recording local channels from an antenna. But because ATSC 3.0 also allows broadcasters to encrypt their channels, these DVRs’ recording capabilities are limited: The Zapperbox M1 can play all ATSC 3.0 channels, but can only record unencrypted ones. The SiliconDust HDHomeRun Flex 4K can play and record unencrypted channels, but doesn’t support encrypted ATSC 3.0 playback at all. The Zapperbox M1 can play encrypted ATSC 3.0 channels, but it can’t record them yet.Jared Newman / Foundry Based on data from the RabbitEars website, nearly 24 percent of all ATSC 3.0 stations in the United States are now encrypted, up from 16 percent last July. Broadcasters started making a big encryption push for ATSC 3.0 last year, and both SiliconDust and Zapperbox have been scrambling to build out DRM support ever since. Gopal Miglani, Zapperbox’s founder and president, told me he hopes to support DVR for encrypted ATSC 3.0 channels in mid-March. Another update tentatively scheduled for June could allow owners of multiple Zapperbox’s to access all their recordings across both devices. In an email, he praised the A3SA for formalizing how device makers should handle secure content. “Now we have a clear roadmap and test suites to implement home gateway functionality,” he said. ZapperBox M1 Read our review The roadmap for HDHomeRun Flex 4K owners is cloudier. The HDHomeRun is a networked tuner that handles recordings through an external server device, such as a desktop PC or NAS box. Users can then stream the video through the HDHomeRun app on Roku, Android TV, Fire TV, LG TVs, Xbox consoles, Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. While all of this works as intended with unencrypted channels, SiliconDust CEO Nick Kelsey has described numerous obstacles to encrypted ATSC 3.0 playback in the company’s forums: Apple TVs and Xbox console don’t support the Google Widevine DRM that ATSC 3.0 requires, and Kelsey doesn’t expect this to change anytime soon. Roku devices and LG TVs don’t meet A3SA requirements for undisclosed reasons, and Kelsey doesn’t expect this to change anytime soon. There is “activity happening” on Android TV and Fire TV support, but no timeline for launch. HDHomeRun can still record unencrypted ATSC 3.0 and ATSC 1.0 broadcasts, but the latter top out at 720p or 1080i (versus 1080p and potentially 4K), and it doesn’t support ATSC 3.0 features such as HDR video and Dolby dialog boosting. ATSC 3.0 DVR limitations The fourth-generation Tablo only works with ATSC 1.0 broadcasts.Nuvyyo USA The concerns around ATSC 3.0 DRM don’t just apply to one product from a single vendor. As I’ve previously reported, the standard currently has several other restrictions that can hinder over-the-air DVR and have kept would-be products off the market. Most notably, it allows broadcasters to block or set time limits on recordings for ATSC 3.0-exclusive channels. A3SA has tried to downplay this, pointing to rules that prohibit broadcasters from limiting recordings for any channel simulcast in ATSC 1.0, but that still opens the door to further restrictions after broadcasters sunset the old standard. The new standard also doesn’t yet support out-of-home viewing, offers no way to export recordings from the device that made them, and requires an internet connection for multi-room DVR setups. It also requires independent certification for third-party apps, potentially hindering solutions such as Channels DVR and Plex that tap into HDHomeRun tuners. All that’s on top of SiliconDust’s claims about not being able to stream ATSC 3.0 content from an HDHomeRun tuner to Roku devices, Apple TV boxes, or LG TVs. ATSC 3.0 creates new obstacles for third-party DVR software, such as Channels DVR.Jared Newman / Foundry Whether ATSC 3.0 will eventually solve these problems depends on who you ask. Dave Arland, a spokesman for A3SA, said out-of-home viewing is on the group’s roadmap along with a way to transfer recordings to another device. Multi-room DVR will continue to require broadband access, though he questions how many DVR users are operating offline. As for device support, Arland said conversations are “underway between Apple and A3SA.” While A3SA’s press release claims that playback will be possible on popular streaming platforms such as Roku, Fire TV, Samsung’s Tizen, and LG’s WebOS, Arland did not directly address why Nick Kelsey of SiliconDust is claiming otherwise. “With all due respect to Nick, while he has an opinion and is a licensee as well as a valued member of our Technical Contributors Working Group, he is not privy to all conversations,” Arland said. (Kelsey did not respond to numerous requests for comment.) Laura Slater, a spokeswoman the Tablo DVR maker Nuvyyo, acknowledged that the spec provides a clearer path forward for a Tablo with ATSC 3.0 support, as the current fourth-gen Tablo only supports ATSC 1.0 broadcasts. But she pointed to the unrelated matter of AC4 audio support, which is still limited on many streaming platforms. “Until more streaming and mobile devices offer support for that codec, DVR manufacturers will not be able to provide the whole-home viewing experience consumers enjoy for ATSC 1.0 broadcasts today,” Slater said. HDHomeRun Flex 4K Read our review Best Prices Today: $199.99 at SiliconDust Jon Maddox, the co-founder of Channels DVR, says the company is still in “wait and see” mode. He fears a lengthy and expensive certification process for DVR software, reminiscent of the pain the company went through when trying to get decryption approval for HDHomeRun’s CableCARD models. “These new updates don’t really spark much hope in us in terms of keeping broadcast TV accessible to American consumers,” Maddox said via email. “We’re as pessimistic about it as we were last week.” Why it matters While over-the-air DVR is a niche interest, it’s an important escape valve for cord-cutters fed up with the increasing aggravations of streaming. For those with solid antenna reception, it allows for a substantial on-demand video catalog along with the ability to skip through commercials, all for a fraction of what major networks charge for their streaming services. Broadcasters want to show that they’re willing to accommodate these users, especially after the outcry that followed last year’s encryption push. YouTube creators Lon Seidman and Tyler “Antenna Man” Kleinle have been especially vocal about the perils of DRM in over-the-air TV, and they’ve encouraged viewers to take their complaints to the FCC, which ultimately will decide when to sunset the old ATSC 1.0 standard. Of course, none of this would be an issue if ATSC 3.0 didn’t bother with encryption in the first place, and one might argue that content delivered over the public airwaves shouldn’t come with any restrictions on what you can do with it. Zapperbox’s Gopal Miglani takes a different view, noting that streaming services already use DRM themselves, and that broadcasters want a level playing field for protecting their content as they support features such as 4K resolution, HDR, and Dolby Atmos. He points out that no major content distribution technology has launched in the internet age without some form of DRM, and that the concept of encrypting over-the-air broadcasts will not go away. “No one likes change,” he said, “but it is inevitable.” Sign up for Jared’s Cord Cutter Weekly newsletter to get columns like this one every Friday. Streaming Devices

      • Tapo D230S1 video doorbell review: Feature-rich and easy-to-use

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsEasy to useHigh resolution: 2560 x 1920 pixelsFeature richHub can support a user-provided microSD card up to 512GBConsYou can’t establish motion-detection zones Hub must be hardwired to your router No option to run on low-voltage power Subscription required for cloud storage and some featuresOur VerdictThe Tapo D230S1 is a feature-rich and easy-to-use video doorbell with good image quality in all light conditions. The only real downside is that a paid subscription is required to access all its features and to store its video clips in the cloud. Best Prices Today: TP-Link Tapo D230S1 Retailer Price £99.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Product Price Price comparison from Backmarket Plenty of cameras allow you to monitor your home, both inside and out. But sometimes you might also want to communicate with the person being filmed, especially if it’s an expected and/or welcome visitor. This is where video doorbells come in handy. A video doorbell replaces (or complements) an existing doorbell. When someone rings the doorbell, you receive a notification on your mobile phone and can also see that person. You can then use the doorbell camera’s speaker to talk to the visitor and ask them to come back, wait a little while, or whatever you want them to do. One such video doorbell is the Tapo D230S1 (Tapo is TP-Link’s second smart home brand; Kasa Smart is the other). The Tapo D230S1 video doorbell is feature-rich, but also very easy to use. Installation and setup Installing the Tapo D230S1 is easy. You can either just stick it on a smooth surface or attach it with the included screws. In the latter case, some drilling might be required. There are no wires to worry about as the Tapo D230S1 is completely wireless. It’s battery powered and connects wirelessly to your router and local network. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best video doorbells. Or rather, it connects wirelessly to the included hub, which in turn connects to your router or switch with an ethernet cable. The hub also has an onboard chime and is powered by a wall wart. The Tapo D230S1 video doorbell with its hub/chime.Jan Sandbladh The hub has additional functions as well. It also works as a chime, alerting you when someone pushes the doorbell’s button, and it has a microSD card slot for local storage of its video recordings. You’ll need to provide the card, but it can handle capacities as high as 512GB.Once you’ve installed the Tapo app on your smartphone, setting up both the hub and doorbell is a very easy process. Feature set Once up and running, I found the Tapo D230S1 to be feature-rich, but also very easy to use. You can easily do everything from choosing resolution and picture quality, setting up smart motion recognition and watching recorded videos, to answering the doorbell (either by yourself or with a pre-recorded message). The only thing missing is the ability to set up motion-detection zones, which reduce unnecessary motion alerts. You can, however, establish privacy zones to block views of your neighbors’ doors or windows. Motion in these zones will be ignored, but that’s not as desirable as being able to ignore the motion from people walking down a sidewalk or a swaying bush in the camera’s field of view Another downside is that a paid Tapocare subscription is required to take full advantage of the camera (this is a common issue with security cameras). While the presence of the microSD card slot in the hub mostly makes up for not having any cloud storage without a subscription, you also won’t get rich notifications (push notifications with thumbnail images and/or video clips when motion is detected or someone rings the bell) without a sub, and you won’t be able to sort your recordings with tags. Tapocare subscriptions start at $3.49 per month ($34.99 per year), cover up to 10 cameras, and include 30 days of cloud storage. TP-Link offers a 30-day free trial. The Tapo D230S1 in daylight…Jan Sandbladh The Tapo D230S1 can record in color at night if there’s sufficient ambient light.Jan Sandbladh The doorbell also has an integrated spotlight.Jan Sandbladh Finally, the Tapo D230S1 delivers very good B&W night vision.Jan Sandbladh Should you buy the Tapo D230S1 video doorbell? The TP-link Tapo D230S1 impresses with a really good image quality, regardless of lighting conditions. The image is sharp and clear in daylight, as well as in lamplight and darkness. A built-in spotlight with adjustable brightness is very useful. too. I didn’t encounter any problems with the doorbell dropping off my Wi-Fi network, and it always responded quickly to motion detection and doorbell calls. Overall, the TP-link Tapo D230S1 is a feature-rich, easy-to-use, and affordable video doorbell without any major flaws. In other words, it’s a smart home product we can highly recommend. Specifications Camera resolution: 2560 x 1920 pixels Viewing angle: 160 degrees diagonal Privacy zones: None Motion detection zones: None Night vision: Infrared, up to 25 feet Audio: Two-way via onboard mic and speakers Indoor chime: Yes, must be hardwired to your router Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz only Local storage: Yes, with user-provided microSD card (up to 512GB) Cloud storage: Up to 30 days with paid subscription Weatherization: IP64 Dimensions: 5.7 x 2.1 x 1.4 inches (HxWxD) (14.6 x 5.4 x 3.5 centimeters) Operating temperature: -4° F ~113 °F (-20° C ~45° C) Editors’ note: This review was originally published on TechHive’s sibling site M3.se and has been translated from Swedish. Computer Accessories, Consumer Electronics, Security Software and Services

      • Best video doorbells 2024: Reviews and buying advice

        Your front door isn’t the only place that would benefit from the installation of a video doorbell (aka doorbell camera). Since they are essentially video surveillance systems, you might find it useful to have one at every entry point into your home: side entrances, at your garage door, and the door to your backyard, for example. Whether you’re watching for trouble-makers, monitoring for parcel deliveries, waiting for friends to visit, or hiding from that weird neighbor who keeps asking to borrow your lawn mower, video doorbells are becoming essential security tools. Why you should trust us TechHive’s editors and contributors have been testing video doorbells since 2014, and we continuously evaluate the latest devices along with their accompanying apps. We’ve checked out a wide range of video doorbells, including hardwired and battery-powered models; high-end and budget units; doorbells that can detect motion, people, and packages; and video doorbells and peephole cameras for apartment dwellers. You can trust us to guide you to the right video doorbell for your needs and budget. Updated February 29, 2024: We’ve added a link to our Tapo D230S1 video doorbell review, a moderately priced doorbell camera packing a high-resolution camera (2560 x 1920 pixels), a 160-degree field of view, and person detection. It also comes with an indoor hub/chime featuring a microSD card slot for local storage; it can accommodate cards with capacities up to 512GB. As with many video doorbells, you’ll need a subscription to receive push notifications and to get storage in the cloud. And the Tapo D230S1 can only connect to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks. The doorbell runs on battery power only, there’s no option to connect it to low-voltage power. That said, the Tapo D230S1’s combination of features and its moderate price tag are good enough for us to name it a runner-up as the best video doorbell for most people. Our top picks in video doorbells Ring Battery Doorbell Plus — Best video doorbell for most people Pros High-res video: 1536 x 1536 pixels Package detection 1:1 aspect ratio shows visitors from head to toe Ring’s smart home and home security ecosystems are deep and wide Operates on either battery or low-voltage power Cons 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connectivity only Color pre-roll video is not supported Ring Protect subscription required to unlock all features, including recording Price When Reviewed: £159.99 Best Prices Today: £129.99 at Amazon£159.99 at Ring Why we like the Ring Battery Doorbell Plus Ring made significant improvements to video resolution and aspect ratio and added package detection to maintain its position as the best video doorbell for most people. Buying this doorbell camera is a no-brainer if you already own other Ring products, especially if you’re already paying for a Ring Protect subscription. If your smart home revolves around Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit, on the other hand, take a look at our more relevant recommendations. Who should buy the Ring Battery Doorbell Plus If you’ve settled on either Ring or Amazon Alexa as your smart home ecosystem–and that goes double if you own a Ring Alarm or Ring Alarm Pro system–the Ring Battery Doorbell Plus is the best mainstream video doorbell you can buy. It’s loaded with features, including package detection and a 1:1 aspect ratio that shows your visitors from head to toe, and it can operate on either battery or low-voltage power if you’re replacing an old-school doorbell. Read our full Ring Battery Doorbell Plus review TP-Link Tapo D230S1 — Best video doorbell for most people, runner-up Pros Easy to use High resolution: 2560 x 1920 pixels Feature rich Hub can support a user-provided microSD card up to 512GB Cons You can't establish motion-detection zones Hub must be hardwired to your router No option to run on low-voltage power Subscription required for cloud storage and some features Best Prices Today: £99.99 at Amazon Why we like the Tapo D230S1 video doorbell This moderately priced doorbell cam is bursting with features you might not expect to find selling for $100 online. And unlike many of its competitors, you can tap most of its features without needing to pay for a subscription. You’ll need one for cloud storage, although the in-house hub has a microSD card slot that can accommodate cards with up to 512GB of capacity, and you’ll need one for push notifications, but nearly all of its other features remain intact without a monthly fee. Who should buy the Tapo D230S1 If our higher-priced battery-powered video doorbell recommendations are out of your price range, and you don’t need Apple HomeKit support (Tapo’s product does support Amazon Alexa and Google Home), the Tapo D230S1 offers a huge amount of value. And if you want to unlock all its features, a Tapocare subscription costs less than a Ring Protect plan and it covers more than one camera (up to five). This video doorbell would be even better if it offered the option to run on low-voltage power, but the manufacturer says it will run on battery power for up to six months–and you can buy a spare battery for $25. Read our full TP-Link Tapo D230S1 review Nest Doorbell (Battery) — Best battery-powered video doorbell for Google Home users Pros Battery powered, so it can be installed anywhere (it can also run on wired power and will integrate with your existing chime) Accurate and fast detection On-device video processing Cons Subscription required for all but the most basic use Poor integration with Amazon’s smart home infrastructure Price When Reviewed: £179.99 Best Prices Today: £168 at AO£172 at Amazon£179.99 at Argos Why we like the Nest Doorbell (Battery) Despite its name, Google’s powerful and versatile Nest Doorbell (battery) can operate on either battery power or your home’s existing low-voltage wiring that powers your current doorbell. This smart home device was supremely easy to install and configure, it delivered crisp and clear video recordings, and it was consistently accurate with its alerts and notifications. Who should buy the Nest Doorbell (Battery) Needless to say, Google Assistant and Nest Aware users will get the most out of the Nest Doorbell (Battery), as will apartment dwellers who lack doorbell wiring and/or have limited installation options. And if you’re dead-set against paying for a subscription, the Nest Doorbell (Battery) does offer on-device people and package detection, although a subscription is required for cloud video storage (there is no local storage option). If you’re firmly in the Alexa or Apple camp of smart speakers and displays, however, you’ll want to stick with an Alexa- or HomeKit-compatible doorbell. Read our full Nest Doorbell (Battery) review Nest Doorbell (Wired) — Best wired video doorbell for Google Home users Pros On-device video processing Image classification Accurate and fast detection Cons Subscription required to unlock all its features Requires low-voltage wiring Incompatible with Apple HomeKit Why we like the Nest Video Doorbell (Wired) Nest’s Video Doorbell (Wired) builds on the excellent Nest Hello and improves it with on-device video processing, recording during power loss, and image classification. Opt in to a Nest Aware subscription, and you’ll also get 24/7 recording for up to 10 days, among other features. Who should buy the Nest Video Doorbell (Wired) Google Home and Nest Aware users make up the prime audience for the Nest Video Doorbell (Wired), as it’s not compatible with Alexa or Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem. And since this particular Nest video doorbell relies on wired power, apartment dwellers or anyone who doesn’t want to mess with doorbell wiring should opt for the Nest Video Doorbell (Battery) instead. Read our full Nest Doorbell (Wired) review Ring Video Doorbell Wired — Best budget-priced, wired video doorbell Pros Easy to install 1080p video resolution Good night vision Very affordable Cons Poor performance in low light conditions (e.g., at dawn and dusk, before night vision kicks in) Installation bypasses your existing doorbell chime People Only mode doesn’t deliver on its promise Price When Reviewed: £49.99 Best Prices Today: £49.99 at Amazon£49.99 at Argos£49.99 at Currys Why we like the Ring Video Doorbell Wired Ring wins this category by building an inexpensive-but-strong video doorbell that can be integrated with the company’s increasingly diverse smart home ecosystem. Yes, it’s a single-band Wi-Fi device; and yes, it can’t ring your existing chime despite being wired to it. But it delivers pretty good 1080p video in daylight and very good black-and-white night vision when it gets dark. Who should buy the Ring Video Doorbell Wired The Ring Video Doorbell Wired is a clear choice for budget-minded homeowners who want to stay in the Ring ecosystem–assuming you’re not married to your existing door chime, of course. But if you want a head-to-toe view of visitors, consider the Ring Battery Doorbell Plus instead. Read our full Ring Video Doorbell Wired review Blink Video Doorbell — Best budget-priced, battery-powered video doorbell Pros Several image and detection adjustment options No requirement for an ongoing subscription Tight integration with Amazon Alexa Cons No on-demand live view without the optional Blink Video Module No Google Home or Apple HomeKit support Price When Reviewed: From £59.99 (£89.99 with Sync module) Best Prices Today: £59.99 at Amazon£59.99 at John Lewis£69.99 at Argos Why we like the Blink Video Doorbell While it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of more expensive porch sentinels, the Blink Video Doorbell is very good for the price. Its quality and reliability is a step above many of the other budget-priced video doorbells we’ve tested. If you’re considering buying it, take a look at the optional Sync Module 2 ($35), which enables an on-demand live view as well as local storage. Who should buy the Blink Video Doorbell If you have a tight budget for a video doorbell and don’t have the existing low-voltage wiring that the Ring Video Doorbell Wired depends on, you should definitely consider the Blink Video Doorbell, which can operate on either wired or battery power and it has a strong set of features. However, you’ll want to also buy the optional Blink Sync Module 2 to squeeze the most value out of this device. Read our full Blink Video Doorbell review Wyze Video Doorbell Pro — Best budget-priced video doorbell, runner-up Pros Operates on battery power or connected to low-voltage wiring Very easy to install and set up A well-made, sturdy device Cons Advanced detection modes require a subscription There are no detection or privacy zones Why we like the Wyze Video Doorbell Pro The Wyze Video Doorbell Pro is a well-made, sturdy doorbell that works well, and it comes with a remote chime at no additional cost. It’s ability to operate on either battery power or connected to a low-voltage power supply is another big positive. But as with Ring’s doorbells and home security cameras–and a number of other competitors–you’ll need to buy a subscription package to get the full value from it. Who should buy the Wyze Video Doorbell Pro Those who’ve invested in Wyze security cameras would do well to pair them with the Wyze Video Doorbell Pro, particularly if you’re already signed up for a Wyze subscription plan. This Wyze doorbell will also be a good fit for newcomers to the video doorbell space, as this well-made unit is a snap to set up and configure. Logitech Circle View Doorbell — Best video doorbell for Apple HomeKit users Pros Full support for Apple’s Homekit Secure Video Records crisp video with HDR Excellent night vision, including color night vision Superb motion sensing, facial recognition, and privacy features Cons Will be of no interest to folks outside the Apple ecosystem Some competitors offer higher resolution and wider viewing angles Slightly more complicated to install than competing doorbells Best Prices Today: $199.99 at Logitech Why we like the Logitech Circle View Doorbell Logitech takes full advantage of what HomeKit has to offer with its Circle View Doorbell, including HomeKit Secure Video, which uses the Apple hardware in your home to process captured video locally, versus uploading it to a server in the cloud that you have no real control over. The Circle View Doorbell also boasts crisp HDR video, terrific night vision performance, and precision motion sensing. Who should buy the Logitech Circle View Doorbell The $200 Logitech Circle View Doorbell is aimed at a very specific audience: homeowners with wired doorbells who’ve embraced Apple’s rapidly growing HomeKit smart home ecosystem. This is not a cross-platform product: Android users need not apply; nor is there any support for Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Read our full Logitech Circle View Doorbell review Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell — Best video doorbell for Apple HomeKit users, runner-up Pros Posh industrial design Apple HomeKit support Local video storage Good video quality Absolutely no subscription fees Cons Fiddly installation Limited detection modes No Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant support Price When Reviewed: £269.99 Best Prices Today: £264 at Currys$299.99 at Netatmo What we like about the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell has some attractive features, impressive video quality, a sleek design, and–best of all–it is one of the few premium video doorbells that doesn’t require a monthly subscription. Who should buy the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell As with the Logitech Circle View Doorbell, the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell is exclusively for Apple HomeKit users, meaning those invested in the Alexa or Google Home ecosystems should look elsewhere. And while those on a budget might be spooked by the $300 price tag, they’ll end up saving money since there’s no need for a subscription plan. Read our full Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell review Ring Peephole Cam — Best video doorbell alternative Pros Simple wireless installation Excellent video quality and motion detection Easy integration with the broad universe of Ring smart home products Cons Requires a peephole Paid subscription required to save recordings Why we like the Ring Peephole Camera The Ring Peephole Cam gives renters the same peace of mind that homeowners enjoy when they install a video doorbell–all you need is a peephole in the door you want to install it in. There’s no need to drill holes for new screws or cables; instead, you simply swap it for your existing door viewer. Video quality is sharp with rich, accurate color, and infrared night vision is enabled automatically when ambient lighting dims. Who should buy the Ring Peephole Camera The Ring Peephole Camera is an excellent choice for tenants who want to install a video doorbell without angering their landlord. It’s also a great solution for anyone who lives in an apartment or condo with an entry door that already has a peephole. Read our full Ring Peephole Cam review Remo+ DoorCam 2 — Best video doorbell alternative if your door doesn't have a peephole Pros Easy installation on most entry doors–no peephole required No drilling or fastening required Good video image Cons No doorbell function Won’t fit over doors with ornate features Limited motion zone and sensitivity settings Best Prices Today: $199 at Remo+ Why we like the Remo+ DoorCam 2 The Remo+ DoorCam 2 sits over the top of your door, so you can keep watch without drilling holes or going inside a wall. It doesn’t have a doorbell function, but it will alert you to anyone on your porch. Two-way audio allows you to chat with people on the other side of the door without opening it. Who should buy the Remo+ DoorCam 2 Renters who can’t install a doorbell or don’t even have a peephole will get the most out of the Remo+ DoorCam 2, and its video quality is perfectly adequate for seeing who’s waiting on your doorstep. Read our full Remo+ DoorCam 2 review What to look for when shopping for a video doorbell Here’s a guide to some of the key operation features in the video doorbell market. Be sure to keep these features in mind as you shop. Aspect ratio If you want to catch porch pirates in the act, make sure to pick a video doorbell with a square or vertically-oriented aspect ratio. Such a “head-to-toe” view makes it easier for the doorbell’s camera to capture activity on your doorstep–like the theft of a package–that a camera with a wider angle might miss. Motion detection Most video doorbells come equipped with motion sensors that trigger video recordings when they detect movement. The best models, however, will also be able to differentiate between random movement in the frame (such as tree branches swaying in the wind, insects scurrying across the lens, or infrared light-illuminated flecks of dust floating in the air) from movement you might be more interested in, such as that caused by people, pets, packages, and vehicles. Such advanced, AI-powered motion detection will cut down on the number of nuisance video events you’ll need to wade through. That said, advanced motion detection often (though not always) requires a subscription plan. Also, while some video doorbells rely on the cloud to detect person, pet, package, or vehicle events, others can process motion events locally; such “on-device” motion detection is preferable both in terms of responsiveness as well as privacy. Motion and privacy zones Motion zones allow you to designate only specific areas within the frame where motion would trigger an alert; for example, you might set up a motion zone that covers the area in front of your doorstep but excludes the sidewalk or street beyond. Privacy zones, on the other hand, let you block out an area of the frame where you don’t want any motion detection or recording at all, useful if you want to preserve the privacy of a neighbor’s window. Night vision and two-way talk Porch pirates love to operate in the dark, so night vision is a key feature to look for in a video doorbell. Color night vision is also nice to have, but it usually requires at least some ambient light, or else the footage will only be in black and white. Two-way talk is another standard video doorbell feature, which is necessary for speaking to visitors when you’re not home or otherwise can’t come to the door. Local storage Some video doorbells can store video events locally rather than in the cloud. Local storage usually involves a removable memory card that’s installed either inside the device itself on a nearby smart hub. Either way, locally stored videos could save you the monthly cost of cloud storage–although subscription plans usually offer other benefits besides cloud storage, such as advanced motion detection and rich mobile notifications. Another potential benefit to local storage is 24/7 video recording. (Most cloud storage options only store video from detected motion events, not the time periods between them). Questions and answers about video doorbells 1. Can battery-powered video doorbells also be connected to existing doorbell wiring? If your house has existing low-voltage doorbell wiring, take advantage of it so you don’t need to worry about recharging a battery. Many battery-powered video doorbells can tap a wired connection to keep the doorbell’s battery charged. If you do want to buy a battery-powered model, make sure the battery can be easily removed for charging and that you can buy a spare battery, so you can swap it for one that’s on the charger. 2. Are there video doorbell options for renters? If you’re renting your domicile and can’t install a video doorbell (or if you just want to make sure you can take it with you when you move out), consider one of our video doorbell alternatives that either connect to your entry door’s peephole or hang on top of the door. 3. Do video doorbells require a subscription plan? Most video doorbells will work without a paid service plan, but you’ll often miss out on the doorbell’s best features if you don’t pay up. For example, advanced motion detection (for people, pets, vehicles, and packages) will frequently require a paid subscription plan. The same goes for motion and privacy zones, as well as rich mobile alerts that include a snapshot or a clip of a recorded motion event. Most importantly (and unless your video doorbell offers local storage), a subscription plan may provide the only way to store and review recorded video events. Depending on the manufacturer, some plans offer anywhere from 30 to 90 days of rolling video storage. The length of each clip may also be capped. Be sure to check out TechHive’s comparison of the most popular security camera subscription plans. (The feature focuses on dedicated security cams, but it applies to video doorbells, too.) 4. Will my new video doorbell work with my existing security system? If you’re also thinking of adding indoor and/or outdoor security cameras for additional protection, or if you intend to integrate your video doorbell with a comprehensive smart home or home security system, explore your compatibility options, so you don’t find yourself juggling two or three different apps.  Other notable video doorbells we’ve reviewed We’ve evaluated many other video doorbells. If none of our top picks check all the boxes for you, take a look at these other products. Arlo has some excellent indoor and outdoor security cameras, and if you own some of them, you’ll want a doorbell in the same ecosystem. Fortunately, the Arlo Video Doorbell is not only excellent, it’s also affordable at $150 (just be aware that Arlo’s not-really-optional subscription has jumped in price to $7.99 per month–for a single camera). This is a wired doorbell, however; there is no battery-power option. TP-Link’s wired Kasa Smart Doorbell is a great value at $50–it earned 3.5 stars from us–and it comes with a remote chime and local storage (you’ll need to supply your own microSD card). But you’ll need to sign up for a subscription to be able to share video clips from within the app. People looking for HomeKit compatibility have another option in the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell, a $250 wired doorbell with a dual-band Wi-Fi adapter. It’s on the chunky side, though, and Belkin–the company behind the Wemo brand–has stepped back from its pledge to support the Matter smart home standard for the time being. The $150 Nooie Cam Doorbell is from a less-familiar brand, but the battery-powered device earned a 4-star review. Video Doorbells

      • LIFX is back with new outdoor smart lights

        LIFX, a smart lighting brand that’s been flying under the radar following years of financial uncertainty, is stepping out again with a quartet of Matter-enabled outdoor lights.  Now owned by Feit Electric, LIFX‘s new outdoor products include decorative string lights, a path light, a flexible “rope” light, and a spotlight.  Two of the new lights support Matter out of the box, while the other two lights are slated to get future Matter updates.  This news is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart lighting. First up, the 24-foot-long LIFX Smart String Light ($149) comes with 12 cylindrical café-style LED fixtures that offer three zones of color.  Feit Electric Capable of emitting up to 600 lumens of brightness, the LIFX Smart String Light boasts an IP66 rating, meaning it should be completely dust-proof, while also being resistant to powerful jets of water sprayed in any direction.  The LIFX app will let you put the string on a schedule, as well as assign various “hypnotic” lighting effects, ranging from “shifting sunsets or rolling rainbows to gently flowing icy whites,” LIFX promises.  Connecting to your home network via Wi-Fi, the LIFX Smart String Light will support Matter once the slated software update arrives.  Also available now is the LIFX Smart Path Light, which comes in both round ($149) and square ($109.97) versions.  Like the LIFX string light, the 10-inch-tall Smart Path Light has an IP66 weatherization rating, and lights can shine with up to 800 lumens of brightness for the round version and 500 lumens for the square model. The Path can also deliver “blended” colors thanks to its six addressable color zones.  Feit Electric The Wi-Fi-enabled LIFX Smart Path Lights will support Matter out of the box.  Another new LIFX light is the Smart Neon Flex Light ($169.97), which boasts a flexible “rope”-style design similar to Govee’s Neon Rope light.  The multicolor 16-foot Smart Neon Flex Light casts up to 2,150 lumens of brightness, while its IP67 rating denotes resistance to immersion in a meter of water for 30 minutes. As with other LIFX lights, the Smart Neon Flex Light can be scheduled using the LIFX app, and it also offers plenty of lighting effects.  Feit Electric The LIFX Smart Neon Flex Light connects via Wi-Fi and will eventually get a Matter update.  Finally, the LIFX Smart Spotlight ($99.97) is a “color-blending” spotlight with (again) an IP66 rating and up to 1,600 lumens of brightness.  The LIFX Smart Spotlight will work with Matter out of the box. The new LIFX lights will go on sale by the “end of February”–in other words, any day now. Besides being LIFX’s first decorative outdoor lights (LIFX has offered outdoor smart bulbs in the past), these are the first new lights we’ve seen from LIFX since it was acquired by California-based Feit Electric.  Established back in 2012, the same year the first Philips Hue smart bulbs came to market, LIFX manufactured a wide array of well-regarded smart bulbs but struggled to stay in the black. LIFX was snapped up by Buddy Technologies in 2019, but then Buddy ran into its own financial turbulence. Feit finally scooped up LIFX’s assets in August 2022.  Stay tuned for full reviews of LIFX’s new lights. Updated shortly after publication with new naming, pricing, and specification details supplied by LIFX following an earlier pre-briefing. Lighting

      • Wyze Cam Floodlight v2 review: Budget smart lighting & security

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsNearly as powerful as the top-shelf Wyze Cam Floodlight ProEasy hardware installation and easier wireless setupAmbient lighting options, including dimmingConsStill a bit chunky, design-wiseColor temperature fixed at 5000KWyze experienced a privacy breach during our evaluation Our VerdictWyze upgrades its entry-level floodlight camera with better resolution, stronger lights, and a lower price tag–what’s not to like? The entry-level Wyze Cam Floodlight v2 is an incremental improvement over first-generation model, which TechHive didn’t get a chance to review. It joins the higher-end Wyze Cam Floodlight Pro, which earned a TechHive Editors’ Choice award in late 2023. The higher-priced Pro remains an option for users with more sophisticated needs; namely, brighter lighting covering a wider area and support for 5GHz Wi-Fi. Like Wyze’s other floodlight cameras, this is a hardwired solution intended to replace an existing outdoor light, attaching to a standard electrical box and connecting to household electrical wiring. All the hardware you need to complete this connection is included in the package, although I needed to use different size wire nuts with my wiring. The 2.76-pound device installs in just a few minutes if you have experience with home wiring connections, relying on a single bolt running through the center of the housing to attach it to the box’s mounting bracket. Once it’s wired up, the device’s two large, adjustable floodlamps perch above its central camera and motion sensor, ready to light up the night. The Wyze Cam Floodlight v2 is the cheapest floodlight camera model going. Design Since we didn’t review the original Cam Floodlight, an apples-to-apples comparison is a little difficult, but here’s a look at what’s new in the second-gen model, based on published specs. The changes are modest but measurable upgrades. First, camera resolution is up a bit from 1920 x 1080 pixels to the current 2304 x 1296 pixels. The field of view has increased from 130 degrees to a very wide 160 degrees, as well. The lights are just a bit brighter, up from 2600 to 2800 lumens, still at a relatively cool 5000K color temperature. An ambient light mode lets you set the lights to turn on and off on a schedule, regardless of motion. You can also dial in the lights’ brightness, although you can’t change their color temperature.Christopher Null/Foundry Some things haven’t changed, including the siren’s volume level (105dB), the inclusion of both standard IR and Starlight color night vision, and support for only 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. Support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT also remain standard. Size, weight, and an IP65 weatherproof rating have not changed, but the v2 is now available in your choice of black or white (the first-gen device was only available in white). The overall design has changed modestly, with a more compact camera housing that Wyze refers to as “more robust” and which, frankly, just looks a bit cleaner. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best security cameras. One feature has been removed, however: The ability to connect an additional Wyze camera to the Floodlight via USB. In the original Cam Floodlight, this secondary cam could be powered by a USB port built into the flood’s housing, giving you the option for extra video coverage without a separate power cable run, but the port has been removed in the new model. For the sake of completeness and comparison, the Cam Floodlight Pro is still more advanced across most dimensions, including brighter floods (3000 lumens), marginally higher resolution, an even wider viewing angle, and support for both 2.4- and 5GHz Wi-Fi. As with all Wyze products, setup of the Cam Floodlight v2 is done via the Wyze app, and the company has made things a bit easier with this product by eliminating the need to scan a QR code on the hardware during configuration. Now, app connections can be done completely wirelessly, which can save you an extra trip up a ladder. After I had all my hardware connections made, it only took a quick firmware update to get up and running with video. Performance Using the Cam Floodlight v2 was a near-identical experience to the Floodlight Pro, as many of the same features of the Pro have been ported to this device—especially if you have a Wyze Cam Plus subscription (more on this below). In fact, the system works much like Wyze’s other cameras, the primary interface providing a live view of the area covered, with “recent events” appearing beneath, in chronological order. You can drill down to additional events on a subsequent page, where they are organized by date. Clips load quickly and video looks good under daylight, night vision, or (especially) under those powerful floods. The app presents no surprises. As is typical of this class of product, you’ll need to pony up for a subscription to get the full benefit of the product.Christopher Null/Foundry I experienced no real problems with the camera during two weeks of testing, although I did receive a notice from Wyze on one day stating “Events are down,” which caused no event recordings to appear under the events tab. As it turns out, this was related to a “widespread service outage followed by a security breach that exposed private video events to more than 13,000 of its users,” as reported by TechHive’s Ben Patterson. While I wasn’t among the Wyze users who were able to see thumbnails of video events from other Wyze owners’ cameras, I don’t know if other Wyze camera owners were able to see thumbnails from my camera. In any event, all my recordings returned in about 48 hours. I’ll leave it up to the reader to determine if that breach is a showstopper or not. I found the Wyze Cam Floodlight v2’s motion sensitivity to be far less trigger-happy than the Wyze Cam Floodlight Pro, and even on maximum sensitivity levels it didn’t record when bugs flew by or shadows crossed its path. This might be a pro or a con depending on your point of view, but my Pro’s event listing is of late filled with false positives where nothing is actually happening. The v2’s video quality is solid, and its viewing angle provides very spacious coverage without too much fish-eye distortion. The Wyze Cam Floodlight v2 features a microSD card slot for local storage of your video recordings.Wyze Labs The dual floodlights are powerful, though not noticeably different than the Pro’s three floodlights; and unlike the original Cam Floodlight, the v2 can be set to provide always-on ambient lighting on a schedule you set, instead of being tied to motion detection. Brightness can be dialed up and down as needed—and you can also set the motion sensor to fire off the siren if movement is detected (and flash the lights along with it). As is common on Wyze cameras, you are free to record video locally to a microSD card or opt for a cloud subscription. The Wyze Cam Plus plan hasn’t changed since our last encounter, providing online storage and much more useful person/pet/package/vehicle detection for $3/month ($20/year) for one camera, or $10/month ($99/year) for unlimited cameras. You can turn any Wyze camera into a security system with professional monitoring via the Wyze Cam Protect plan, which costs $4/month per camera ($40/year). Again, these are useful upgrades; namely, since if you don’t subscribe to one plan or another, you’re restricted to a lengthy 5-minute cooldown between recordings. We have another story with a comparison of security camera subscription plans from the major manufacturers. Should you buy a Wyze Cam Floodlight v2? The Wyze Cam Floodlight v2 is the cheapest floodlight camera model going—save for the original Wyze Cam Floodlight, which is still available for $80 ($4 less than the new model, direct from Wyze Labs, while supplies last). If you want video surveillance and outdoor lighting in one product, this one provides about 90 percent of the power of the Wyze Cam Floodlight Pro for 44 percent less. All that said, you should also take into account the recent Wyze Labs security breach and decide if their promise to “do better” means you should trust them. Specifications Camera Camera resolution: 2304 x 1296 pixels Field of view: 160 degrees diagonal Night vision Color night vision Two-way audio Lighting Dual LED light panels 2800 lumens combined brightness (dimmable) 5000K color temperature (fixed) Other Color: Black or white Local storage: microSD card slot (user provides card, up to 256GB) Power: hardwired 2.4GHz Wi-Fi Onboard siren: 105dB IP65 weatherization Operating temperature range: -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 F (-20 degrees C to 60 C) Security Cameras

      • Rabbit Air MinusA2 review: High performance, higher price tag

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsSolid performance, particularly for smaller spacesCan be wall-mounted with the included hardwareSwappable artistic front panel can make interesting statementsConsOver-the-top wacky scheduling systemDoesn’t log air-quality readingsVery expensiveOur VerdictThe Rabbit Air MinusA2 is slightly smaller and marginally less expensive than the company’s flagship A3 model, but it does a good job where it counts. Best Prices Today: Rabbit Air MinusA2 Retailer Price £1,547.23 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Product Price Price comparison from Backmarket Three years ago we put Rabbit Air’s top-of-the-line A3 air purifier to the test and found it to be a capable, if dazzlingly expensive, option for cleaning your home’s breathing space. Its smaller stablemate, the Rabbit Air MinusA2 offers a bit less power, but it carries a 20-percent lower price tag, too. Like the A3, the MinusA2 (we don’t understand the name, either) is packed into a compact, upright frame that offers a diversion from the more popular upright designs that dominate the upper end of the purifier market. Measuring 20 x 21 x 7 inches (HxWxD) and weighing 19.4 pounds, it’s nearly the same size as the A3, but its stated coverage is limited to 815 square feet. The MinusA2 is a strong performer. I placed it into a very smelly room, and the smell vanished within an hour. Design Rabbit’s purifiers offer a unique layered filter approach, with a sandwiched stack of five discrete filters through which air is drawn. In order, they are a pre-filter, medium particle filter, a HEPA filter that traps particles as small as 0.1 microns, a custom filter (more on this below), and an activated carbon charcoal filter. Lastly the unit also includes a negative ion generator that can be optionally enabled through the app or the unit’s control panel. The MinusA2’s onboard controls are stacked in a column down the right-hand side. There’s a wide LED light bar across the front panel (shown here without one of the artistic options).Rabbit Air As expected, CADR rates of 200 (pollen), 193 (dust), and 180 (smoke) cubic feet per minute, are lower than the larger A3 model—considerably so in some cases. The figures are still acceptable for most household environments, though they’re on the low side for a product of this price level. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best air purifiers. Buyers select a custom filter at purchase, choosing from four options: Germ Defense, Pet Allergy, Odor Remover, and Toxin Absorber. These are fairly self-explanatory (Germ Defense is designed to trap bacteria and mold, Toxin Absorber helps reduce VOCs, etc.) but worth digging into closely at checkout in order to pair them with your environment. Performance I tested the unit with the Odor Remover filter. Buyers can also opt for a fine art cover plate for an extra $20, choosing from six fine art recreations, such as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” available to replace the otherwise plain white or black cover. There’s even a Hello Kitty themed version. If the unit is wall-mounted (hardware is included for that), opting for a custom panel might be an even more tantalizing prospect. The unit arrives ready to go out of the box, though a few pieces of tape underneath the front panel holding the filters in should be removed before operation. This coin-cell-powered remote handles the most common features of the Rabbit4 Air MinusA2 if you don’t want to use the onboard controls or the smartphone app.Christopher Null/Foundry The MinusA2 works by drawing air in through its front-facing filters, then jetting clean air upwards and to the rear. In operation, the unit is surprisingly quiet, even at full speed. At its lowest “silent” speed, it is indeed quite soft (though not fully silent), and I expect most will find it suitable for use while sleeping. Onboard controls, situated to the right side of the front panel, include a speed control button with five settings; plus, the option to toggle an automatic mode. There’s also a button for the appliance’s accent light (more on this below). A separate light provides a visual indicator of air quality, shifting in color from blue (good) to red (poor). All these functions and more are replicated on a small remote control that’s included with the device, which adds some additional options, such as the ability to shut off all lighting, control the ionizer, and activate a countdown timer. Rabbit Air provides a strong smartphone app, but we have to wonder who would have the desire to change an air purifier’s fan speed every hour of the day.Christopher Null/Foundry As mentioned above, much like the Rabbit A3, the MinusA2 includes a “mood light” bar that runs along the front of the unit, cutting through the middle of the front panel. While the A3 offers more color options, the MinusA2 is limited mainly to blue, though it will cycle from blue to purple to pink if placed in “pollen mode,” a slightly more aggressive version of auto mode that will ignore any “sleep” settings. Rabbit’s app hasn’t changed markedly since my last encounter with it. I had some trouble pairing the purifier to my 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, but the issue vanished after a day, and I was able to connect to the device wirelessly. The app is mostly a souped-up version of the remote, complete with all control functions laid out in a more intuitive, visual style, along with an odd scheduling system that lets you set the fan speed for each hour of the day. This schedule is implemented unilaterally every day, with the fan speed changing once per hour. Very strange. Unfortunately, no logging of air quality is done over time. Should you buy a Rabbit Air MinusA2? The good news is that the MinusA2 is a strong performer. I placed it into a very smelly room (with the Odor Remover filter in place) and the smell had vanished within an hour. Running on silent mode, it kept the room odor-free for the following week. You will, of course, pay for this privilege—not just for the hardware but for filter replacements as well. A full set of four new filters (the pre-filter is washable and needn’t be replaced) costs $95, and they will need to be replaced on a roughly yearly schedule. That’s a two-year expense of more than $700 if you opt for one of the artistic cover plates; but hey, can you really put a price tag on either clean air or art? Smart Appliances

      • Best air purifiers 2024: Reviews and buying advice

        Avoiding the smoke-filled air caused by rampant wildfires by staying indoors is all well and good, but unless your home is hermetically sealed, some of those airborne pollutants will still make their way inside your home. If you want to ensure you’re breathing the cleanest air possible, you need to set up an air purifier. The best models can not only remove odors from the air, they can protect your health by cleansing the air of harmful vapors and particulate matter. Why you should trust us TechHive’s editors and contributors have been testing air purifiers for many years, and we continuously evaluate the latest hardware, along with their accompanying mobile apps. We’ve checked out the biggest air purifiers, smaller tabletop models, loud units, quiet ones, and everything in between. You can trust us to guide you to the right air purifier for your needs. Updated February 27: 2024: We’ve added a link to our Rabbit Air MinusA2 air purifier review. There’s a lot to like about this powerful air purifier, including the choice of special-purpose filters you can buy for it and the option of replacing its monochrome front panel for one with an artistic print. But its high price tag–and equally pricey replacement filters–prevent it from being named a best pick in any of the categories below. Our top picks for air purifiers NuWave OxyPure Smart Air Purifier — Best for large rooms Pros Four filter types remove particulate matter, including bacteria and viruses Simple and responsive smartphone app Can be controlled with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands Cons This is a large and heavy appliance you won't want to move from one room to another Only connects to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks Smartphone app only duplicates the controls on the device itself Why we like the NuWave OxyPure Smart Air Purifier This powerful air purifier provides up to 1,200 square feet of coverage, and it will fit into your smart home ecosystem, too. It uses four types of filters to clean your air–three of which can be washed and reused–and its CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rates) of 332 to 369 cubic feet per minute are best in class. You can connect this smart appliance to your Wi-Fi network and control with voice commands, but NuWave’s smartphone app merely duplicates the touch controls on the device itself. We’d like it even better if we could program it to operate on a schedule. Who should buy the NuWave OxyPure Smart Air Purifier The NuWave OxyPure Smart Air Purifier is a good choice for home users looking to clean the air in their living rooms, dining rooms, or other large living areas. The OxuPure’s superior air-scrubbing power comes with a trade-off, however: a large and heavy design, which makes it a better fit for users who plan on keeping the unit in a permanent spot. It will also fit nicely in smart homes powered by either Alexa or Google Assistant. Read our full NuWave OxyPure Smart Air Purifier review Blueair Blue Pure 311i Max — Best for mid-sized rooms Pros Lovely, versatile design, with various color options Long-term PM2.5 logging in the app Very quiet at lower fan speeds Cons No countdown timer option Prefilter can be a struggle to remove come time to replace its filter Best Prices Today: £416.26 at Amazon Why we like the Blueair Blue Pure 311i Max Blueair’s Blue Pure Max series works well, but it looks even better. The model 311i reviewed here is ideal for medium-sized rooms up to 387 square feet, with a CADR of 250 cubic feet per minute. At lower fan speeds, this unit is exceptionally quiet, and the Blueair app can track PM2.5 pollution by the minute. Even better, the Blue Pure 311i Max comes with a fetching design, complete with earthtone prefilters in a variety of colors. Who should buy the Blueair Blue Pure 311i Max The tastefully designed Blueair Blue Pure 311i Max is a solid choice for home users who want an air purifier that blends in with its surroundings. This near-silent unit (when running at low speeds, anyway) would also work nicely in a bedroom, den, or any other living space that demands peace and quiet. Finally, Blueair’s straightforward app will be a boon for newcomers to the air purifier market. Read our full Blueair Blue Pure 311i Max review Coway Airmega 150 — Best for smaller rooms Pros Real-time air quality monitoring Simple setup Compact size Cons No app control No smart home integration Why we like the Coway Airmega 150 Coway’s Airmega 150 an ideal air purifier for modest-sized spaces. Its minimalist design blends with any decor, and it is intuitive to operate right out of the box. While it doesn’t offer app control or integrate with other smart appliances, it also doesn’t have any of the attendant connectivity and interoperability hassles. The fact that it accurately monitors and responds to changing air quality, so you’re always breathing your best, is another reason for us to give it a strong recommendation. Who should buy the Coway Airmega 150 If you want to keep the air in your home clean without dealing with a thicket of settings or complicated controls, the Coway Airmega 150 is right up your alley. The Airmega 150 is also a great choice for apartment dwellers or those with more modest air-scrubbing needs. And if you haven’t started with Alexa or Google Assistant yet, no problem; the Airmega 150 works perfectly fine without those smart home assistants. Read our full Coway Airmega 150 review Wyze Air Purifier — Best for bargain hunters Pros Quick installation Can cover a large room Alexa and Google Home compatibility Excellent app Cons Loud Large design Setting adjustment aren’t implemented in real time Frustrating firmware upgrade Why we like the Wyze Air Purifier The Wyze Air Purifier may be big and loud, but it’s also powerful and affordable. Compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, the Wyze Air Purifier works with the excellent Wyze app, and it has enough horsepower to exchange up to 12,000 cubic feet of air per hour. An “Insights” feature tracks dust and pollen in the room and outside, and you also get your choice of three HEPA filters: allergen, “wildfire,” and formaldehyde. Who should buy the Wyze Air Purifier If you’re a cash-strapped smart home shopper who wants cleaner air in a living room, kitchen, or another large home space, the budget-priced Wyze Air Purifier is an ideal choice. The Wyze unit will work best in a well-trafficked home area, as it’s not the quietest air purifier we’ve tested. Smart home aficionados will appreciate the Wyze Air Purifier’s Alexa and Google Home integrations, as well as the versatile and comprehensive Wyze app, which can track air quality both indoors and out. Read our full Wyze Air Purifier review Coway Airmega Icon — Most attractive air purifier Pros Attractive industrial design Built-in Qi charger Automatic operation in Smart mode Cons Relatively low clean-air delivery rates Gets loud when running at full tilt Wi-Fi-connected model costs $50 more Why we like the Coway Airmega Icon The Coway Airmega Icon can treat the air in a good-sized room–up to 649 square feet–and its pretty looks go a long way toward compensating for its relatively low clean air delivery rates and higher-than-average price tag. In a market filled with utilitarian boxes and cylinders, the Airmega Icon is quite attractive. Who should buy the Coway Airmega Icon If you want to keep the air in your living room or bedroom relatively clean without making your home look like a medical clinic, the attractive Coway Airmega Icon should be at the top of your list. Besides not being an eyesore, the Airmega Icon’s Smart mode allows it to run without micromanagement. But if the air in your living space needs thorough and frequent scrubbing, you might be better off with our top pick, the NuWave OxyPure Smart Air Purifier. Read our full Coway Airmega Icon review What to look for when shopping for an air purifier Here’s a guide to some of the key operational features in the air purifier category. You might also want to check out our buyers’ guide to stand-alone air-quality monitors, which can keep you informed of the quality of air inside your home. Since most air purifiers are best deployed in a single room, you can easily move a less-expensive air quality monitor from room to room to track the quality of all the indoor air you breathe. Room size supported Every manufacturer reports the size of the room its purifier is designed for, although this can be a bit arbitrary. Still, the manufacturer’s number is a good starting point. Place the purifier in a room that’s too large and it simply won’t be able to effectively clean the air. Filter type HEPA filters are largely standard, as are activated carbon filters (which are primarily used to remove odors from the air). But not every purifier relies on HEPA, and HEPA filters come in a variety of performance levels that correspond to their effectiveness at capturing very small particles, ranging from HEPA H10 to HEPA H14. That said, many filters don’t report this information. We’ve asked and reported where we have heard back. Higher HEPA ratings are better. Filter lifespan How long until you need to replace the filter, and how much do replacements cost? Some purifiers track filter life inside their app, which is helpful. Loudness At high air-flow levels, purifiers can be extremely noisy (and impossible to sleep near). That said, most are nearly silent at their lowest operating levels and some have special “night modes” that keep things ultra-quiet. Pollutant levels reported in app What does the app tell you about your air quality? A detailed look at various pollutants is more useful than a broad “good/fair/poor” air quality rating. Most air purifiers use multiple filters to trap increasingly small airborne particles and typically include a HEPA filter and a activated carbon filter to neutralize odors. This particular filter is used in some Blueair air purifiers. Questions and answers about air purifiers 1. Do I really need an air purifier in my home? In recent years, the EPA has reported that the typical air quality indoors (where we spend about 90 percent of our time) is much worse than it is outside, with some airborne pollutants two to five times more concentrated in the home than outdoors.  2. What kind of airborne pollutants are present in home? Among the pollutants frequently found indoors include combustion byproducts, pet dander, mold, pesticides, ozone, natural gasses like radon, and the all-encompassing category of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include everything from formaldehyde to trichloroethylene to chloroform. (These gasses can be 10 times higher indoors than outdoors.) Needless to say, none of this stuff is healthy to breathe. 3. Do air purifiers protect you from pollutants and viruses? The experts (including the EPA) say that HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are effective at reducing airborne contaminants of all types—including viruses—but are careful to note that on their own they are not enough to protect you from viruses and bacteria, and that you should still practice the standard battery of safeguards even if you have a great purifier on hand. That said, high-quality air filters are effective at reducing (but not eliminating) indoor pollution. 4. What is CADR? Clean Air Delivery Rate, a standard developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, is represented as a series of figures that express how much air a purifier can clean in a set amount of time. Separate ratings are included for smoke, pollen, and dust. AHAM recommends that a purifier be used in a room with a size in square feet equal to 150 percent the CADR, assuming an eight-foot ceiling. In other words, to clean a 450-square-foot room, you need a CADR rating of at least 300. Many manufacturers claim their purifiers support much larger rooms than this, however. Note also that CADR is intended to be measured in cubic feet/minute, but some vendors measure it in cubic meters/hour. Where necessary, we have converted these figures to U.S. customary units. Other notable air purifiers we’ve reviewed We’ve evaluated many other air purifiers. If none of our top picks check all the boxes for you, take a look at these other products. We’ve also listed some air purifiers that you should avoid. Bulex AF-3222 Tower True HEPA Air Purifier: This 14-inch-tall cylindrical purifier is designed for personal use in a small room, and it boasts a soothing and integrated blue nightlight. Unfortunately, the Bulex is incredibly loud (even at its lowest settings), offers few control options, and lacks smart features. Needless to say, we don’t recommend it. Carrier Smart Air Purifier XL: Built by one of the biggest names in air conditioning, the Carrier Smart Room Air Purifier XL boasts an appealing industrial design, powerful air throughput, and a relatively quiet 18-speed motor. That’s the good news; the bad news is that the unit’s poorly designed mobile app is a disaster. Clorox Large Room Air Purifier: If any company knows a thing or two about getting rid of germs, it’s Clorox, and the brand’s Large Room Air Purifier (which is manufactured by Hamilton Beach) delivers relatively good industrial design, solid performance, and a reasonable price tag. There are no smart features, however, and the replacement filters are pricey. Dreo Macro Max S Air Purifier: Big, but powerful, the Dreo Macro Max S can quietly clean the air in a room with its three-stage HEPA filter. The unit offers easy setup, quiet operation, Alexa and Google Home integrations, and a five-year warranty. Again, though, it’s bigger than other air purifiers we’ve tested, and positively humongous compared to tabletop purifiers. Govee Smart Air Purifier: Slim, quiet, and smart, Govee’s entry in the air purifier market serves up a compact design, plenty of smart home features, and an attractive design. Downsides include the fact that it’s a tad underpowered, and you’ll need to be invested in Govee’s ecosystems to get the most out of the unit’s features. TruSens Z-3500: This smart air purifier features a remote air-quality sensor and ultraviolet lighting to kill viruses. It’s also affordably priced, boasts an elegant app, and works well with Alexa. But the Z-3500 gets noisy when you crank up its fan speed, its CADR could be better, and its indicator lights are too bright for bedrooms. Xiaomi Smart Air Purifier 4 Compact: This is a largely generic purifier designed for small spaces, but its smart features work well and it’s priced to move. We liked the easy setup and wide array of in-app options, but there are only a few onboard controls, no countdown timer or logging, and the proprietary air filter doesn’t follow the HEPA standard. Sensors, Smart Appliances, Smart Home

      • HomePod with screen is still a year away (at least)

        Wish Apple would go ahead and release a HomePod with a screen already? Same here, but apparently it’ll be at least a year before our Apple smart display wishes are granted—if they’re granted at all.  In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that while Apple “continues to pursue” the concept of a display-equipped HomePod, “a launch wouldn’t come until 2025 at the earliest.”  Chatter about a HomePod smart display heated up earlier this month, when 9to5Mac spotted references to a new device within the latest tvOS update that “could be the rumored HomePod with a screen.”  Of course, Apple has long been rumored to have several iterations of a display-equipped HomePod on its test bench, including a “low-end iPad” for controlling home devices, an iPod dock that would turn the tablet in the smart display (similar to Google’s subsequent Pixel Tablet), an Apple TV/HomePod combo, and even a HomePod with a swiveling screen (similar to Amazon’s Echo Show 10).  As tantalizing as those products sound, none of them are “imminent,” and part of the problem is that Apple remains “indecisive about what to do with the smart home,” Gurman writes.  For now, the closest we’ve come to an Apple smart display is iOS’s StandBy mode, which turns an iPhone’s screen into a quasi-smart display when the handset is locked and charging in a horizontal orientation.  The overall smart display market is in an odd place at the moment. Amazon continues to dole out Echo Show displays, including the recent Echo Show 8, and last week, the company unleased the Echo Hub, a wall-mounted display that’s focused on home control. (Read our Echo Hub review.)  Last year, Google released the aforementioned Google Pixel Tablet, which can turn into a smart display when connected to its magnetic dock.  But Google hasn’t released a dedicated smart display since 2021, when the second-gen Nest Hub arrived, while the larger Nest Hub Max is nearly five years old.  Meanwhile, there’s been word that Google’s stock of Nest speakers and displays is running low.  Smart Speakers

      • Juggling multiple Philips Hue hubs is about to get easier

        It’s surprisingly easy to wind up with more than 50 Philips Hue lights in your home, and that’s a problem given that the Philips Hue Bridge can only handle so many Hue products at once.  The good news is that Hue users will soon be able to add multiple bridges to a single Hue account, a change that will—hopefully, anyway—make it easier to juggle additional Hue hubs.  As spotted by HueBlog.com, an update on the official Philips Hue blog says that later in 2024, Hue users will “be able to add multiple Bridges to one account and sort them into Homes to keep your system organized.”  Reached by TechHive, a Philips Hue spokesperson confirmed the update is coming, but didn’t add any details.  The Philips Hue bridge has a “soft” cap of 50 lights plus 12 accessories, such as motion sensors, dimmer switches, and other Hue devices, including the newly released Hue Secure cameras. (You can actually add more devices, but reliability takes a hit once you exceed the official limit.)  A solution to Hue’s device cap is to add more Hue Bridges to your home, and a software update in 2011 added the ability to quickly switch between two bridges within the Hue app. But even with two or more Hue Bridges in your home, there’s still a virtual wall between the Hue devices on one bridge and the Hue devices on another. That means you can’t tap a button to control all your Hue lights across two bridges simultaneously, nor can a single automation include Hue lights across both bridges.    Also, if you have more than one Hue Bridge at home, you can only sign in to one of them with your (now mandatory) Hue account; the others must be controlled locally.  There are workarounds, such as third-party apps like iConnectHue that seamlessly support two Hue bridges. Apple’s HomeKit platform will also let you add and control multiple Hue bridges at once. Still, it’s annoying that the official Hue app only allows you to control one Hue bridge at a time.  But that should finally change once the Hue update lands later this year–and with the update, we’re hopeful that devices assigned to multiple Hue Bridges will finally be able to mingle in the Hue app, including within rooms and automations.   Once that happens, it’ll be easier to add as many Hue devices to your home as your heart desires–or at least, as many as your wallet will allow.  Lighting

      • Aqara Smart Light Switch review: Zigbee lighting control for less

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsClassic industrial designAvailable in neutral and no-neutral modelsCompatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit Easy to install and set upConsRequires one of Aqara’s smart home hubs User manual lacks detailOur VerdictAqara’s smart light switch looks good, works well, and is compatible with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home, but you’ll need to go all-in on Aqara’s ecosystem—which doesn’t include a smart dimmer—to get full use out of it. Aqara has come a long way since our first encounter with the platform four years ago. From its humble beginnings as a basic security-centric smart home system, it has evolved into a much broader platform, with various hubs, cameras, lighting strips, video doorbells, door locks, and more—there’s even a connected pet feeder—all of which are outfitted with Zigbee 3.0 radios. Aqara’s smart wall switches aren’t new, but we recently got the chance to put them to the test alongside its Hub M2 controller. Note that you will need one of Aqara’s hubs to add this switch to your home network, even though it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. While some people report having success adding Aqara devices to Zigbee hubs from other manufacturers, the official word from Aqara is that you must have an Aqara hub use this switch. Aqara makes things easier for you because the line and load wires (colored red and black) are interchangeable. That said, Aqara has been promising to render at least some of its smart home product compatible with the Samsung SmartThings ecosystem, most recently at the Samsung Developer Conference in October 2023. But as I said, I tested the switch with the Aqara Hub M2, which was a quick and seamless process. You simply select the appropriate device inside the Aqara Home app, and the app walks you through the rest, locating the device without requiring any QR code scanning or other interventions. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart switches and dimmers. Design Aqara offers this switch is available in single- and double-rocker formats, and each is available in a neutral-required or no-neutral-required configuration. Aqara’s online FAQ says if there’s a neutral wire in the box where you’ll install the switch, “…it is recommended to choose the Aqara Smart Wall Switch (With Neutral) which will be more stable.” I reviewed the $40 single-rocker version with a neutral wire (Aqara model number WS-USC03); the double-rocker version costs $5 more. There’s no difference in price between the neutral and no-neutral models; i.e., the single-rocker no neutral is also priced at $40, and the neutral and no-neutral double-rockers switches are both priced at $45. Aqara’s smart switches support maximum loads of 600 watts for incandescent lights, 200watts for CFL/LED lights, or up to a 1/4 horsepower motor. The line and load pigtails emerging from the back of the Aqara Smart Switch are interchangeable. Aqara also offers a no-neutral model if you need it.Christopher Null/Foundry The switch offers a very clean and unsurprising design. The single-rocker version is distinguished only by a tiny blue LED that provides networking status information while also serving as an indicator that the switch is turned on. (This behavior cannot be modified.) You simply press the button to turn the connected load on or off; there is no dimming or other functionality. It’s worth noting that Aqara does not have an in-wall dimmer at this time. Aqara’s smart switch isn’t the most compact in-wall switch I’ve tested, but its size is at least reasonable. I didn’t have much trouble getting it flush against the wall, even in an electrical box that’s crowded with wires. Four pigtails emerge from the backside of the switch—line, load, neutral, and ground—each of which must be connected via included wire nuts to the appropriate wires inside the wall. Installation Aqara makes things a little easier for you because the line and load wires (colored red and black) are interchangeable; in fact, the switch itself labels these connections only as “L” and “L1,” without explanation. The manual is mute on this topic as well, but it must be that the switch itself determines which wire is connected to line and which is connected to load. All the connections went smoothly, although I found the ground wire was a little tough to get a strong seal with the included wire nut. The included cover plate comes in two parts: A bracket that you’ll attach to the switch using two tiny screws, and a cover plate that snaps on top of that, hiding the screw heads. The cover plate adds an extra step, but the resulting attractively clean look justifies the effort. Aqara’s app offers a whole lot of features, including an energy consumption monitor and an on/off timer.Christopher Null/Foundry In the Aqara Home app, you’ll find a few extra options, including the ability to turn off the physical button altogether, transforming it into a wireless-only switch. The app also has a countdown timer for automatically turning the switch on or off when time expires. Energy monitoring is included, measuring consumption instantaneously as well as usage over time (both by the day and by the month). The app also logs all activity on the switch, giving you a complete view of every time the switch was turned on or off. Should you buy an Aqara Smart Light Switch? Aqara’s app also boasts a robust automation engine that lets you use an if-then-that scripting system to set up schedules or connect multiple Aqara devices to one another. I was easily able to set the light switch to turn on when I pressed the power button on an Aqara smart plug, for example. The switch (via the hub) also supports connections to Alexa, Google Home, HomeKit, and IFTTT if you want to set up broader automations with non-Aqara products. I didn’t have any trouble with any of these features, and I found the switch unilaterally responsive both via physical hardware and the app, with an unfaltering connection to the hub. As of this writing, the Aqara Smart Switch was selling for around $29 on Amazon (after you clip a coupon). That makes it one of the most affordable Zigbee light switches on the market. And while it does tie you into a proprietary smart home ecosystem, it is an affordable and reliable one. Lighting

      • Best smart lighting 2024: Reviews & buying advice

        There are two ways to get smart lighting in your home, and they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive. The easiest and least expensive way is to replace your light bulbs with smart bulbs–that’s also the best way to get color lighting. You’ll find all our top recommendations below, including the best smart fixtures. The other approach is to replace the dumb switches and dimmers in your walls with smart models. That’s more complicated and more expensive, but there are advantages, as we go over in our best smart dimmers and switches story. Why you should trust us TechHive’s editors and contributors have been testing smart bulbs and lighting products practically since the category was invented. We continuously test the latest smart lights, accessories, and the apps that control them. We also have deep experience with a broad range of smart lighting devices, from smart A19 bulbs and color light strips to outdoor lighting and touch-sensitive light panels. You can trust us to guide you to the best smart lights for your home, office, back yard, and mode. Updated on February 26, 2024 to confirm our top picks for each smart lighting subcategory, and to check for accuracy and timeliness. Most recently, we’ve reviewed the Govee LED Strip Light M1 with Matter. The M1 light strip is Govee’s first Matter-enabled product, allowing it to work with all the major smart home ecosystems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings.  The Govee LED Strip Light M1 delivers surprisingly smooth Matter setup, although you’ll still need to jump through many hoops to use the strip with multiple smart home platforms. It also boasts 20 color segments, allowing for eye-popping, multicolor light animations. The Govee app allows you to choose from a wide range of pre-made animations, or you can build your own, and the strip can even sync its LEDs with your favorite tunes.   Keep in mind, however, that the M1’s best tricks are reserved for the Govee app–meaning, for example, that you can’t use the Alexa, Apple Home, or Google Home apps to trigger multicolor light shows. Also, you can’t cut the light strip to fit. Read our full Govee LED Strip Light M1 with Matter review. Our top pick for smart lighting products Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance — Best color smart bulb Pros Bluetooth support eliminates the need for the Hue Bridge Excellent light quality and smooth dimming Hue ecosystem is unrivaled in terms of size and depth Supports Apple HomeKit ecosystem Cons Philips Hue products are much more expensive than the competition Relying on Bluetooth limits you to 10 Hue devices You need the Hue Hub to assign Hue devices to rooms What we like about the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance smart bulb Philips (now known as Signify) was one of the first players in this market, and the company’s experience shows. The addition Bluetooth support obviates the need for the $60 Philips Hue Bridge (although most smart home denizens will want the Bridge anyway). Signify’s Philips Hue lighting ecosystem is the industry’s deepest and broadest, with bulbs of every shape and size imaginable, not to mention lighting fixtures landscape lighting. Who should buy the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance smart bulb Just about anyone looking to get started with smart lighting would do well with the Philips Hue White and Color Ambience smart bulb. It offers easy setup, doesn’t require the Hue Bridge (although you can always add one later), works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant, and boasts terrific reliability (our editors have been using them for years and have yet to report any serious failures). And while Hue bulbs tend to be a tad pricier than the competition, they’re worth the extra cost. Read our full Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 (Bluetooth + Zigbee) review Wyze Bulb Color — Best color smart bulb, runner-up Pros Very inexpensive Connects via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth–no hub or bridge required Surprisingly bright considering the price Cons Can't be grouped with the tunable white Wyze Bulb Only available as a 2- or 4-pack No competition for Philips Hue in terms of lighting ecosystem Best Prices Today: $34.99 at Wyze Why we like the Wyze Bulb Color Wyze Labs can’t match Philips Hue in terms of the breadth of its smart lighting ecosystem, but it beats Signify’s brand by a country mile in terms of pricing, and Wyze has a much broader array of product offerings when it comes to other areas of the smart home–most importantly in terms of home security. Wyze also now offers an excellent BR30 color smart bulb. Who should buy the Wyze Bulb Color Wyze’s color bulbs are among the most affordable on the market, and you don’t need a bridge to add one–or many–to your home. They’ll also work in tandem with your Wyze Cam, meaning you can set your Wyze camera to trigger a Wyze bulb if the cam detects motion. But the Wyze Bulb Color doesn’t support Matter, which means it’s a no-go for Apple HomeKit users, and the Wyze lighting ecosystem can’t match Philips Hue’s. Read our full Wyze Bulb Color review Philips Hue White Ambiance A19 (Bluetooth + Zigbee) — Best white smart bulb Pros Bluetooth support eliminates the need for the Hue Bridge Excellent light quality and smooth dimming Hue ecosystem is unrivaled in terms of size and depth Supports Apple HomeKit ecosystem Cons Philips Hue products are much more expensive than the competition Relying on Bluetooth limits you to 10 Hue devices You need the Hue Hub to assign Hue devices to rooms Best Prices Today: £43.99 at Amazon Why we like the Philips Hue White Ambiance A19 (Bluetooth + Zigbee) smart bulb Our choice won’t surprise anyone who’s been following this market. Philips dominates this space and is also our top pick for best color LED smart bulb. The latest Hue bulbs can be controlled via Bluetooth or Zigbee (the latter requires the Philips Hue Bridge), they deliver high-quality light, and are backed by a strong warranty. We only received the BR30 form factor for our review, but apart from form factor, that bulb is the same as the A19. Who should buy the Philips Hue White Ambiance A19 (Bluetooth + Zigbee) smart bulb As with Philips Hue’s color smart bulb, we recommend the Hue White Ambiance A19 for most folks who want to add smart lighting to their homes. It’s easy to set up, works with all the major smart home ecosystems, and the Hue Bridge is entirely optional (although certainly nice to have). The Hue White Ambiance A19 is also considerably more affordable than the Hue White and Color Ambiance bulb, so peppering them around your home won’t break the bank. Cree Lighting Connected Max Smart LED — Best budget smart bulb Pros Very inexpensive Good quality light, plus colors No hub requirement Several other form factors in the Cree Connected Max family Cons We experienced slight delays during our testing No Apple HomeKit support Best Prices Today: £29.20 at Amazon Why we like the Cree Lighting Connected Max Smart LED bulb You can’t beat the price of the Cree Lighting Connected Max Smart LED considering you get both tunable white and full color. Cree Lighting’s Connected Max family includes a full range of form factors, too, including BR30, PAR38, vintage filament, tape lighting, and even retrofit downlights. It’s not HomeKit compatible, but it does work with Siri Shortcuts. Who should buy the Cree Lighting Connected Max Smart LED bulb If you’re on a tight budget and absolutely don’t want a smart bulb that requires a bridge, the Cree Lighting Connected Max Smart LED is your best bet. It delivers impressive lighting quality for the price, you can easily expand your collection of Cree lights with other form factors, and it works with Alexa and Google Assistant. Read our full Cree Lighting Connected Max Smart LED (Tunable White + Color Changing) review Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus (2020) — Best LED light strip Pros Bright and colorful Supports both Bluetooth and Zigbee Apple HomeKit compatible (with the Hue Bridge) Robust scheduling and automation features Cons Much more expensive than competing products Power cable saddled with a chunky wall wart Lights can't be animated without a third-party app Why we like the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus The Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus makes for a great and easy way to add accent lighting to kitchen counters, stairways, and other indoor areas. The Philips Hue ecosystem is bigger than any other smart lighting solution, but Hue products are also much more expensive than the competition. Who should buy the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus It may be pricier than other light strips on the market, but we still recommend the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus even if you’re on a budget. The reason: Smart light strips are notoriously prone to failure, particularly the cheap ones. But a Hue Lightstrip Plus has been working flawlessly for years in a TechHive editor’s kitchen, and Hue has been good about replacing defective units if the need arises. Aside from reliability, the Hue Lightstrip Plus benefits from Hue’s robust ecosystem, support for all the major smart home platforms, and the fact that the Hue Bridge is optional. Read our full Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus (2020) review TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip KL400L5 — Best LED light strip, runner-up Pros Affordably priced Alexa, Google Assistant, and SmartThings integrations Solid collection of animated effects Plenty of scheduling, scene, and grouping options Cons Cumbersome Wi-Fi setup Can’t sync its LEDs with your music Flimsy construction Can’t be extended with additional light strips Why we like the TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip KL400L5 TP-Link built more features into this light strip than we expected for the price, and it even offers one feature that our top pick doesn’t: animation sequences. The Philips Hue product, on the other hand, feels much more durable, and you can add extensions to the end of a strip. The biggest factor in TP-Link’s favor? The price tag. Who should buy the TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip KL400L5 If you must spend less on a smart light strip, we’ll point you in TP-Link’s direction. While you can’t extend this light strip, you can put it on a schedule, group it with other Kasa lights, and use it with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings, and you can even tee up some nifty animated lighting scenes. Read our full TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip KL400L5 review Nanoleaf Shapes Hexagons — Most innovative lighting design Pros Beautiful and interactive lighting scenes Touch actions let you control other smart devices Alexa, Google Assistant, Thread, and HomeKit compatible Surprisingly easy to install Cons Panels can be difficult to remove from a wall (but don’t appear to cause any damage) Chunky AC adapter Expensive Best Prices Today: $199.99 at Nanoleaf Why we like the Nanoleaf Shapes Hexagons This is the first of Nanoleaf’s Shapes interactive light panels, and it set the stage for several other equally fun versions. This modular lighting system won’t illuminate a room–that’s not it’s intended purpose–but it can set a mood like nothing else on the market today. Who should buy the Nanoleaf Shapes Hexagons Whether you’re a Twitch streamer who wants to add some eye candy to their setup or you simply want to decorate your office or another room, Nanoleaf’s Shapes light panels are the way to go. They’re easy to install–and, crucially, remove when the time comes. They also work with Matter (following a software update), and their touch functionality remains unmatched. Read our full Nanoleaf Shapes Hexagons review Philips Hue Lily — Best outdoor spotlight Pros Robust aluminum housing, glass lenses, and IP65 weatherization to withstand the elements Full color light, with up to 600 lumens of brightness Can be scheduled, controlled by Alexa or Google Assistant, and triggered by a Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor Low-voltage cables can be buried Cons Requires Philips Hue Bridge Range is impacted by having the the Hue Bridge inside your home, hardwired to your router Expensive, and each add-on spotlight costs another $100 Best Prices Today: £239.99 (£80.00 / count) at Amazon Why we like the Philips Hue Lily Signify’s Philips Hue product line includes the most complete collection of outdoor and landscape LED lighting. In addition to the Lily spotlight, there’s the Lily XL spotlight, the Calla Bollard light, the Econic Outdoor Pedestal, the Amarant linear outdoor light, no fewer than 9 wall or ceiling-mount outdoor lights, and even outdoor LED light strips. That diversity, and the high-quality design and construction of these luminaires, justifies Signify’s high price tags. Who should buy the Philips Hue Lily Already invested in the Philips Hue ecosystem for your indoor lights? If so, then ponying up for Hue outdoor lights is a no-brainer, and the Lily spotlight is a great place to start. It’s weatherized for the elements, works with all the major smart home ecosystems (now that the Hue Bridge has been updated with Matter), and plays nice with a variety of Hue outdoor accessories, including the Hue Outdoor Sensor. Read our full Philips Hue Lily outdoor spotlight (3-spotlights and 1 power supply) review Hampton Bay Hubspace Landscape Spotlights — Best outdoor spotlight, runner-up Pros Comparatively inexpensive Hubspace ecosystem is increasingly comprehensive Can be powered by any 12/15-volt transformer, if you have already one Cons Spotlights are more fragile and wiring system is less sophisticated than the pricier competition from Philips Hue Transformer and wire sold separately from the spotlights There’s history of retailers abandoning their proprietary smart home ecosystems Why we like the Hampton Bay Hubspace Landscape Spotlights These budget-priced landscape spotlights deserve to be compared to the much-pricier Philips Hue Lily product line. The trade-offs include less-robust construction, less-sophisticated wiring, slightly dimmer brightness, and a less-complete smart lighting ecosystem, but you will spend significantly less money, especially if you deploy a lot of lights. Buyers should also be aware, however, that there is a long history of retailers abandoning their proprietary smart home platforms. For the record: We have not seen any indication of this from Home Depot; the company has released several new Hubspace products since we received this kit for review. Who should buy the Hampton Bay Hubspace Landscape Spotlights If you’re not already a Philips Hue user or you don’t have a Hue-sized budget, you can still up your outdoor lighting game with this affordable kit from Home Depot. It’s relatively easy to deploy, works with an increasingly wide range of Hubspace lighting devices, an–so far–Home Depot appears to be sticking by its smart home brand, unlike other retailers we’ve seen. Read our full Hampton Bay Hubspace Landscape Spotlights (3-pack) review Philips Hue Calla — Best outdoor pathway light Pros 16 million of color, plus temperature-tunable white light Robust construction and protection from the elements A component in the broad Philips Hue lighting ecosystem Cons Delivers only 600 lumens of brightness Must be hardwired to a plug-in power supply Very expensive compared to run-of-the-mill pathway lighting Why we like the Philips Hue Calla The Philips Hue Calla outdoor pathway light adds sophisticated safety to outdoor walkways and patios, and Philips has the most complete smart lighting ecosystem in the industry. But you’ll need an outdoor outlet to power this and all other Hue landscape lighting, and the components are very expensive. Who should buy the Philips Hue Calla At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Philips Hue’s lighting products are well worth their premium prices, particularly when it comes to outdoor lights like the Calla. That makes them the best choice for those who want to light up their outdoor pathways, especially if you’re already a Hue user, and they’ll work seamlessly with any other Hue lights in your yard. Read our full Philips Hue Calla outdoor pathway light review Ring Smart Lighting Solar Pathlight — Best outdoor pathway light, runner-up Pros Battery powered with integrated solar panel Built-in motion sensor Can be integrated into the robust Ring home security ecosystem Once you have the bridge, add-on lights cost only $35 Cons Fabricated entirely from plastic Much more expensive than dumb pathlights Requires Ring Smart Lighting Bridge, which connects only to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks Why we like the Ring Smart Lighting Solar Pathlight Ring’s smart lighting system isn’t as broad as Signify’s Philips Hue, but it covers the bases, and these Ring pathlights boat boast a couple of features that Hue’s don’t: solar charging as well as built-in motion detection. While we were initially concerned about the all-plastic housing, we’ve had one of the lights deployed for more than two years and haven’t detected significant deterioration. Who should buy the Ring Smart Lighting Solar Pathlight Have a Ring Alarm protecting your home? If that’s the case, going with Ring outdoor lighting is a natural next step, and the Ring Smart Lighting Solar Pathlight has much to recommend it, provided you’re already using the Ring Smart Lighting Bridge. Read our full Ring Smart Lighting Solar Pathlight starter kit review Enbrighten Wi-Fi Café Lights — Best outdoor string lights Pros Wi-Fi control, with Alexa and Google Assistant support Bright, vibrant colors, plus white light in six color temperatures Very good app with lots of customization and scheduling options Additional strings can be daisy-chained, up to 750 feet Cons No IFTTT or Apple HomeKit compatibility Bulky control unit housing the power supply and Wi-Fi adapter Expensive compared to a plethora of “dumb” alternatives Best Prices Today: $170.99 at Jasco Products Why we like the Enbrighten Wi-Fi Café Lights Jasco’s Enbrighten Wi-Fi Café Lights are certainly expensive, but they’re also very pretty, highly customizable, and exceptionally durable for year-round outdoor installations. There’s also surprisingly little competition in this admittedly specialized segment of outdoor lighting. Signify has outdoor Philips Hue light strips, for example, but that’s a very different look from café-style lights. Who should buy the Enbrighten Wi-Fi Café Lights Provided you have the budget, the Enbrighten Wi-Fi Café Lights is a good choice for decorative outdoor string lights that respond to Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. These café lights are also a great pick if you have a lot of ground to cover, given that the strings can be daisy-chained together. Read our full Enbrighten Wi-Fi Café Lights review What to look for when shopping for smart lights Color and/or tunable white With their rainbow of hues and myriad party tricks, color LEDs get all the press in the world of smart lighting. It’s fun stuff, but the reality is that most of us will rarely find much of a need to turn all the lights in the house blue or red—unless it’s time to celebrate our team winning the World Series. Even then, you’ll probably want to turn them all back to white after the celebration. White light is also important in its own right, as today there is plenty of science to show how various shades of white—with variations in color temperature—impact our psychological state. Cool light that’s closer to blue has an energizing effect, and is best in the morning. Warm light is relaxing, and is best after the sun goes down. Note, however, that not every white LED smart bulb is color-temperature-tunable. Check out the specs before you buy. White smart bulbs downplay the party features that are a staple of color-tunable bulbs. On the other hand, white smart bulbs are less expensive than color bulbs, making it more affordable to roll them out in multiple rooms. Smart lighting protocols and features Three control technologies continue to vie for leadership in the smart bulb market (Z-Wave is a major contender in smart lighting, but you won’t encounter it in bulbs—just in switches, plug-in modules, control panels, and smart-home hubs). Zigbee: Bulbs that use the popular smart-home networking protocol require a bridge to communicate with your home Wi-Fi network. This is the technology Philips has adopted for its Hue lineup, but it’s not the only one. Wi-Fi: This class of bulb talks directly to your Wi-Fi router, no hub or bridge required. LIFX and TP-Link both manufacture excellent Wi-Fi smart bulbs, but neither company comes close to Signify’s Philips Hue lineup in terms of the depth and breadth of the Hue ecosystem. Bluetooth: These bulbs skip your home network altogether and pair directly with your smartphone or tablet. As such, they can’t be controlled from outside your home. GE and a number of other manufacturers make Bluetooth bulbs, some of better quality than others. Signify has recently added Bluetooth radios to its Philips Hue line of smart bulbs, which eliminates the need to deploy the Philips Hue Bridge. Taking the bridge out of the equation reduces the overall cost of deployment, but adds some limitations. You can read more in our review of the new Philips Hue bulbs. Each of these technologies has pros and cons, so before you attempt to settle on a specific bulb, first try to determine which tech is right for you. If you want to hook your bulbs into a broader smart-home system—such as SmartThings or Nest—Bluetooth bulbs are out. You can control more than one bulb with your phone, but you can’t connect it to sensors or other systems inside your home. Don’t like the idea of pairing a bulb to your phone? A Wi-Fi bulb will work best for you, though you won’t have quite as many options as you’ll find with a Zigbee product. Smart bulb, or smart switch? There’s a significant argument about the best way to install smart lighting, and two approaches present themselves. You can either go with expensive smart bulbs and control them all individually, or you can use cheap dumb bulbs and install smart switches to control all the lights on that circuit. Both approaches make sense: With smart bulbs, the biggest issue is cost, but there’s also complexity to deal with. While bulbs can usually be grouped based on location, this is only as intuitive to manage as the bulb control app. Smart switches, on the other hand, are far more complicated to install—to the point where some users might be uncomfortable dealing with exposed wiring and would prefer to hire an electrician. Smart switches, however, provide more flexibility in many installations. Habituated from years of flipping hard-wired switches, many users (or their children) will instinctively use the wall switch to turn the lights out when they leave a room. Once that happens, all the apps in the world won’t be able to turn the light back on until the switch is returned to the on position. While this won’t be an issue if you install smart switches, they can’t change a bulb’s color or color temperature. That said, smart bulbs, no matter what the technology, still won’t be right for everyone. Notably, most of these bulbs cannot be dimmed via a hardwired wall switch (it messes with the power going to the radio, rendering them useless). A few will fail even if a dimmer is present on the circuit and dialed up to full power. The good news is that bulb prices are going down, so it’s easier to get started with smart bulbs and less punishing should you find that a product doesn’t work for you. Frequently asked questions about smart lighting 1. Do smart lights require a hub?  As we noted above, if a smart light doesn’t use either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect to your home wireless router or your phone, it will likely require a separate hub to bridge the gap.  For example, Ring lighting products, which use Ring’s proprietary wireless protocol, require the Ring Lighting Bridge, while (older) Zigbee-only Hue lights need the Hue Bridge to connect to your home network.  But there are plenty of smart lights that do connect directly to either Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or both. Wyze and Cree smart bulbs connect via Wi-Fi, for instance, while most recent Philips Hue lights can connect directly to your phone via Bluetooth. (The latest Hue bulbs boast Bluetooth and Zigbee radios). Of course, there are benefits to smart lights that use a bridge or a hub—namely range. When connecting via Zigbee, for example, Philips Hue bulbs double as range extenders, with one Hue bulb able to connect to the next, rather than each bulb having to make a direct connection to your Wi-Fi router. A smart hub may also enable better responsiveness than bulbs that connect via Wi-Fi.  2. Can you control smart bulbs when you’re away from home?  In most cases, yes. Both Wi-Fi-enabled and hub-controlled smart lights typically can be controlled from anywhere, using either the manufacturer’s app or via the app of a compatible smart home ecosystem (Alexa, Apple Home, Google Home, and so on). The same goes with smart lights that rely on a hub, like the aforementioned Ring lights.  A key exception are Bluetooth-only smart bulbs. As we mentioned earlier, Bluetooth has a limited range—just 33 feet or so, and you must be in the same room to control a Bluetooth smart light with your phone. That’s a key factor to consider if you buy a Bluetooth- and Zigbee-enabled Philips Hue light without a Hue Bridge—no Bridge, no out-of-home control.  3. What’s the difference between tunable white bulbs and dimmable white bulbs?  “Tunable” white bulbs allow you to tune the white color to different color temperatures, from warm while (2200K, or Kelvin) to soft white (3000K) to bright white (4000K) and daylight (6500K). Warm white, for example, is a nice, relaxing color temperature for a dining room or bedroom, while cooler color temperatures are better suited for workspaces, such as a kitchen counter, a desk, or a workshop bench.  “Dimmable” bulbs, as you probably guessed, allow you to change the brightness of the emitted light, from very dim to 100-percent brightness.  Some smart bulbs are both tunable and dimmable, while others are only dimmable. In the latter case, such bulbs are fixed at a specific white-color temperature. Before you buy a dimmable-only bulb, be sure that the set temperature is to your liking.  4. What’s the benefit of grouping smart lights together?  White you may occasionally want to control only an individual smart light, it’s far more convenient to take change of a whole group of lights at once, and this is a feature we expect from most smart bulbs.  Generally speaking, you’ll be able to group lights in a room—meaning, for example, you’ll have your “Bedroom” lights, your “Kitchen” lights, and so on. Some smart lighting ecosystems (like Philips Hue’s) may allow you to group “zones” of lights, such as all upstairs or downstairs lights. Once your lights are properly grouped, you’ll be able to control all the lights in a room or zone with a tap, or by asking you voice assistant, “Turn on kitchen lights” or “Set bedroom lights to 60 percent.”  Besides grouping lights, you should also be able to create lighting scenes that automatically set your lights to predetermined brightnesses or color temperatures. For example, a “Movie” scene in your living room might turn off most of your lights while dimming those in an adjacent hallway. You can usually trigger light scenes with a tap within an app or via a voice command.  5. How do you put a smart bulb back into pairing mode?  Out of the box, smart bulbs are usually already in pairing mode, meaning they’ll be discoverable by a compatible smart app as soon as they’re screwed in and/or powered on. But what if you want to put a smart bulb back into pairing mode? After all, with a standard A19 bulb, there’s no obvious button to push.  The precise answer depends on the manufacturer, but generally speaking, the trick is to turn the bulb on and off a set number of times in rapid succession. Check your user manual for the exact details.  Other notable smart lights we’ve reviewed We’ve evaluated many other smart lights. If none of our top picks check all the boxes for you, take a look at these other products. We’ve also listed some smart lights to avoid. Govee LED Strip Light M1 with Matter: This affordable, easy-to-install light strip works with all the major smart home ecosystems thanks to Matter, and will keep you busy with its myriad features and light animations. Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels: Govee’s smart light panels are essentially bargain-priced Nanoleaf knock-offs, but they chop a lot of features and they’re not that much cheaper. Nanoleaf Essentials Matter Lightstrip: Nanoleaf’s Matter-enabled light strip is bright, affordable, and easy to install, but getting the strip to work with Matter involves jumping through some hoops. Philips Hue Iris: A cinch to set up and compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit, the Bluetooth-enabled Iris makes for an easy and inexpensive way to warm up a room. TP-Link Kasa Smart WiFi Light Bulb (model KL125): The most affordable color smart bulb in TP-Link’s Kasa Smart lineup has some nifty tricks up its sleeves and deep scheduling functionality, even if other aspects of the bulb are rough around the edges. WiZ Bar Linear Light: Connected by a detachable cable, these smart light bars make it easy to cast multicolored splashes of light, and they even detect motion. WiZ Mobile Portable Light: The WiZ Mobile Portable Light makes for a lightweight companion that can glow in multiple animated colors, and it can even detect motion when grouped with other WiZ lights. Consumer Electronics, Lighting, Smart Home

      • Xumo Stream Box review: Good, but not best in class

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsHelpful menu system for sorting through streaming optionsChannel shortcut keys will appease cable diehardsNo obnoxious home screen adsConsSluggish performance, especially in certain appsSmaller app selection than major streaming platformsRemote is missing common cable TV functionsOur VerdictFor a cable box replacement, the Xumo Stream Box could be better at doing cable things. With the Xumo Stream Box, Comcast and Spectrum are leaving clunky cable boxes behind, with mixed results. This $60 streaming box offers access to the companies’ respective cable TV services along with popular streaming apps such as Netflix, Disney+, and Max. Comcast’s Xfinity internet customers can get a Xumo box for free—even without TV service—while Charter is leasing the Xumo box to new Spectrum TV customers for six months at no charge, after which it will cost $5 per month. The Xumo platform offers a fairly comprehensive selection of streaming apps, including all the major on-demand services and lots of lesser-known ones. While the Xumo box does a nice job bringing cable and streaming into a single interface, its performance is occasionally sluggish, and some menu elements are cumbersome to navigate. It’s not a bad streaming box if you can get it for free, but other streaming platforms provide a better experience overall—even if you’re still paying for cable. The Xumobox is not your typical cable box The Xumo Box is smaller than a traditional cable box, but larger than low-cost streaming dongles such as the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. It hooks up to your TV via an HDMI cable and connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or ethernet, with no coaxial cable required. That means you can set it up anywhere in the home. Jared Newman / IDG You can also install the box on your own, without getting a cable technician involved. This involves connecting the device to Wi-Fi, linking your cable provider account, and optionally setting up the remote to control your TV, soundbar, and other A/V gear. It’s a hassle-free process on par with other streaming platforms. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best media-streaming devices. The Xumo Stream Box can play 4K HDR video and it supports both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity, however, so you can’t use wireless headphones or earbuds for private listening. The Xumo Stream Box combines cable and streaming TV Jared Newman / Foundry With the Xumo Stream Box, Comcast and Charter formed a joint venture to build an interface in line with modern streaming players. There’s a row on the home screen for apps such as Netflix and Hulu, along with recommendations of what to watch from across different video providers. Overall, it’s a nice way to see what’s available to stream, refreshingly free of the banner ads you find on Fire TV and Roku players. You can add shows to a universal watch list, pick up where you left off through a “Continue Watching” row, and search for content by voice with the remote’s mic button. Xumo’s menu system does a nice job arranging content from different services.Jared Newman / Foundry The Xumo Stream Box also tries to preserve some cable creature comforts. Live TV plays immediately when you turn the box on, and clicking the video thumbnail you takes into the full cable experience with features like a grid guide and a DVR library. The remote even includes number keys for punching in your favorite channels. Still, the Xumo box could’ve done more to bridge these two worlds. The remote lacks shortcuts to such common cable functions as the guide, channel flipper, and recording function, and Spectrum’s DVR list is buried a few layers deep in the menu system. Channel numbers aside, the Xumo Stream Box’s remote is more about streaming than cable.Jared Newman / Foundry Meanwhile, Xumo’s unified streaming guide has the same kinds of blind spots we’ve seen on other streaming platforms. The “Continue Watching” row, for instance, supports content from Netflix, but not Hulu or Max. The home screen’s content recommendations include shows from Hulu and Max, but not Netflix, which in turn means you can’t add Netflix shows to Xumo’s watchlist. All of which means you’ll eventually have to launch individual apps from the row of icons on Xumo’s home screen. These apps are arranged in order of recency, with no way to pin your favorites to the front. Xumo’s “Continue watching” row helps you pick up where you left off, but not from every service.Jared Newman / Foundry The Xumo Stream Box is not so speedy The Xumo Stream Box is a bit slow by today’s standards. Click an app icon on the home screen, and you might find that nothing happens. You can even keep scrolling around while the app is loading, only for the intended app to start loading about five seconds later. (Then it can take another 10 seconds or so to actually start using the app.) Some apps seem especially ill-suited for Xumo. Paramount+, for instance, was borderline unusable because of its sluggishness, with each button press taking about a second to register an on-screen response. Pluto TV was equally bad. In other apps, animations often feel jerky, and response times lethargic. Even the Spectrum app could be snappier switching between navigation tabs and loading the live guide. Xumo Stream Box app support The app row on Xumo’s home screenJared Newman / Foundry The Xumo platform offers a fairly comprehensive selection of streaming apps, including all the major on-demand services and lots of lesser-known ones. Poke around, though, and you’ll see some notable omissions. There’s a PBS Kids app, but no regular PBS app. There’s Britbox and MHz Choice, but no Acorn TV. Anime fans are out of luck with no Crunchyroll, and film buffs might miss Mubi. Live TV streaming services are a notable weak point as well. YouTube TV, Sling TV, and Hulu + Live TV are available through the Xumo Stream Box, but not FuboTV, DirecTV Stream, Frndly TV, or Philo. Presumably the two largest cable companies in the United States are not super motivated to have an extensive catalog of cable alternatives. Does the Xumo Stream Box have DVR? Jared Newman / Foundry Unlike traditional cable boxes, the Xumo Stream Box does not have a built-in DVR. Instead, it uses the cloud DVRs that Spectrum and Comcast offer with their respective TV services. Spectrum, for instance, offers a $5-per-month cloud DVR service that lets you record up to 50 programs and keep them for up to 90 days, and its $10-per-month “Enhanced” DVR ups the program limit to 100 and stores recordings for one year. These recordings are stored online rather than on the device itself, which means you can access them from the Xfinity or Spectrum TV apps on other devices as well. On the downside, the Xumo box does not show a visual preview when you’re fast-forwarding through recordings (at least not with Spectrum), so skipping through commercials takes some guesswork. There’s no shortcut to the DVR list on the home screen either, so you must navigate through the Spectrum app to reach it. Is the Xumo Stream Box better than an Apple TV 4K? Spectrum’s Apple TV app offers a visual preview while fast forwarding through the DVR. Xumo’s app does not.Jared Newman / Foundry Although Comcast and Charter would really like you to use the Xumo Stream Box for cable TV, both companies also offer free apps for other streaming platforms: Comcast has apps for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku, as well as Samsung TVs, and LG TVs. Spectrum has apps for Apple TV, Roku, Samsung TVs, and Xbox gaming consoles. I can’t speak to Comcast’s apps, but the best Spectrum TV app experience is on Apple TV, beating the Xumo Stream Box by a wide margin. Spectrum TV customers can bundle an Apple TV 4K for $90, either paid up-front or over 18 monthly installments. The Apple TV 4K costs $30 more than the Xumo Stream Box, but it’s a much faster device with better app support and excellent integration with Spectrum’s app. You can tune to live channels by voice just like you can on the Xumo box, and Apple’s “TV” app lets you quickly find and launch shows from your cable channels. An unlike the Xumo box, Spectrum’s Apple TV app does provide a visual preview when you fast forward through recordings. That alone makes it an easy choice for new cable customers—even if it does mean giving up the Xumo remote’s channel number buttons. Should you get a Xumo Stream Box? If you’re a Comcast Xfinity internet customer, the Xumo Stream Box is a much easier sell given that it’s free. Sure, the device is occasionally sluggish, but it does a nice job making sense of streaming options at a literally unbeatable price. As something you must pay for, on the other hand, the Xumo Stream Box has much less to offer. It’s not the best interface for accessing cable TV service—that honor goes to the Apple TV 4K or the cable box you’re already used to—and it’s less pleasant to use than cheaper streaming dongles such as the $40 Roku Express 4K+ even the $20 Walmart Onn 4K Stream Box. Its app selection is also more limited than those competitors. Give Comcast and Charter credit for trying to break into streaming box business, a market that’s started to feel stagnant and would benefit from fresh competition—even it is from the cable guys. But they’ve still got a lot ground to cover. Correction: Spectrum is only offering six free months of the Xumo box for new TV customers, not all TV customers as previously stated. Streaming Devices

      • No, streaming TV doesn’t cost $1,000 per year

        Here’s a collection of streaming video headlines from earlier this week: ZDNet: “The average US subscriber pays almost $1000 a year for streaming subscriptions” Independent: “Streaming services now cost average user more than cable TV, report reveals” iMore: “The average U.S. subscriber now spends nearly $1,000 a year on streaming — dismal state of subscriptions landscape laid bare in new survey” What do all these stories about streaming costs have in common? They all cite the same survey from a digital payments firm called Bango, and they all got it completely wrong. Bango’s survey is measuring all digital subscription spending, including news, fitness apps, online gaming, shipping services such as Amazon Prime, and delivery services such as Uber One. Streaming TV represents an unspecified fraction of Bango’s $77 per month figure. That didn’t stop ZDNet’s misleading headline from landing atop Reddit’s r/cordcutters forum and from being repeated almost verbatim across Cord Cutters News, Forbes, Tech Times, and 9to5Mac. It’s a shame, because stories like these can end up scaring people away from what ought to be a sound financial decision. While I’m sure some folks do spend $1,000 per year on streaming services—hypothetically, one could spend a lot more—the average streaming bill is much lower. The real cost of streaming Instead of misinterpreting Bango’s survey on total subscription spending, let’s look at some surveys that estimated the cost of streaming video in particular: A Forbes survey updated in February 2024 found that Americans pay $46 per month for streaming on average, and that 81 percent have three subscriptions or fewer. A fall 2022 Deloitte survey pegged average U.S. streaming spending at $48 per month. J.D. Power’s July 2022 survey put streaming spending at $54 per month. The Motley Fool’s State of Streaming 2024 survey found that only 13 percent of respondents were spending more than $60 per month on streaming services. Based on all this data, we can guestimate that the average American household spends about $600 per year on streaming services, hundreds of dollars less than the latest headlines would have you believe. If your streaming TV bill’s a lot higher, it’s probably because you pay for a live TV streaming service such as YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV, which are essentially drop-in replacements for a big cable bundle. Even then, you’re saving money—J.D. Power found that live TV streaming services cost $69 per month on average, versus $113 per month for cable or satellite—though a growing number of homes aren’t paying for any bundle at all. Getting it wrong again This is hardly the first time that media outlets have howled about the high cost of streaming without looking too closely at the data. We just went through this last August, when Financial Times claimed that a “basket of the top US streaming services” would soon cost $87 per month, versus $83 per month for a typical cable bill. It turned out that FT based its cable estimate on a flawed study that only counted promotional rates and didn’t factor in exorbitant broadcast TV fees, regional sports fees, DVR fees, or equipment rentals. FT also inflated its model streaming bill in a variety of ways, for instance by excluding ad-supported options and adding up the full prices for Disney+ and Hulu, even though they’re much cheaper when bundled together. None of this stopped a slew of publications from repeating Financial Times’ claims without qualification, including The Verge, Morning Brew, Tom’s Guide, and 9to5Mac (which even repeated the same figures in its latest story). These stories take hold because there’s a kind of truthiness to them. We all know that streaming services are getting worse by raising ad-free prices, introducing new viewing restrictions, pushing viewers toward ad-supported tiers, and turning video quality into an upsell. The idea that this all results in runaway spending is an easy story to write (especially if you ignore the bigger price hikes on the cable side). Yet these stories never seem to account for pushback from consumers, who are dropping their bloated bundles, cutting back on unnecessary subscriptions, and moving more of their viewing over to free streaming services. The aforementioned Motley Fool survey found that viewers are less willing than they were two years ago to pay more than $60 per month for video streaming, and even the Bango study noted that 57 percent of consumers have recently cancelled a subscription (streaming or otherwise) due to price hikes. But maybe I shouldn’t complain. People have been saying that cord-cutting isn’t worth it for close to a decade now, and while it’s frustrating to see as someone who’s been helping folks save money this whole time, at least it’s given me plenty to write about. Sign up for Jared’s Cord Cutter Weekly newsletter to get columns like this one every Friday. Streaming Media