Cutting Edge Technology Resources​

Unlock the power of technology with our comprehensive collection of resources. Stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest in tech news, insights, and guides.

APIs are a contract between the service provider and service consumer. When any application uses an API, it needs to conform to an agreed-upon standard, with implicitly set expectations. What happens behind the scenes is of no concern to the consumer, enabling the service provider to use whatever means necessary to deliver the value. The service provider may choose any technology to deliver the service, and it may or may not optimize the resource being utilized to deliver the service.

The role of IT can feel thankless, whether you’re a team of one, wear a multitude of different hats, or are expected to have an answer for any number of issues, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Start making IT the heroes of the office by building a network strategy that delivers results, growth, and ongoing success.

Now, your data has left the data center and is everywhere, spread across hundreds of cloud apps. And your employees are embracing remote work—off the corporate network and away from your security controls.

Data is the lifeblood of today’s digital organizations. One of the biggest challenges organizations face is how to allow users to exchange data freely while keeping it from falling into the wrong hands. Nowhere is the tension between security and productivity more pronounced than when it comes to data sharing.

Phishing has long been one of the most pervasive cyberthreats, and it grows every year. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), phishing reported the most victims nationally in 2020, and according to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 35% of all data breaches involved scams trying to steal people’s sensitive information or login credentials.

Nell'ultimo aggiornamento alla Guida per gli sviluppatori puoi scoprire come iniziare a lavorare a qualsiasi progetto in pochi minuti grazie ad ambienti di sviluppo completamente configurati, sicuri e ospitati sul cloud. Scopri come ottenere il massimo dai servizi essenziali di Azure per aiutare l'organizzazione ad adattarsi alle esigenze del business in rapida evoluzione.

  • Dispelling the myths of digital corrugated printing

    In recent years, the corrugated industry has experienced a surge in demand for short and medium runs of high impact packaging, driven by growth in sectors such as the thriving craft beer market, where new product development generates a virtually constant stream of box design variations.

  • LFR on DTF - Is Direct-to-Film printing now a race to the top?

    While the fast expansion of the direct-to-film print market is on the one hand good news for the industry, this growth has left the sector rather commoditised, with huge competition in this area. LFR explores what companies in this market can do to stand out, ensure they move to the front of the pack and, ultimately, succeed.

  • Drytac blog: How to prepare surfaces for wall graphics

    If you have encountered problematic wall graphic installations, then you are certainly not alone. Given the hundreds, if not thousands, of different paint formulations, the advent of low and no VOC paints, as well as pesky terminologies such as ‘anti-stain’ or ‘washable’, it is almost impossible to look at a painted surface and know that you will be successful with your installation project.

  • Fujifilm blog on the importance of print production automation

    With inkjet technology across the board the highest spec its ever been, Fujifilm is shifting its focus to automation development and integration to streamline printing processes.

  • Ensuring accuracy and quality with coloured adhesives

    There are many reasons why a customer may seek out coloured adhesive when creating an application. Whether this is to ensure brand recognition for their own client or keeping in line with product identification requirements, coloured adhesive tapes are an incredibly useful tool to have in your arsenal.

  • 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.

    • AI will take time

      Strap in, the AI revolution has hit overdrive!!!Except, of course, that it hasn’t, and it won’t anytime soon, despite what you’ve read in countless breathless editorials. It’s not that AI isn’t important, or that it doesn’t have the potential to change everything. It is and it does, but it’s simply not going to happen as fast as we think.The reason is people. It’s always people.The hubris of forecasts The Wall Street Journal columnist Christopher Mims reminds us of this in his latest column. He says that we all fall prey to the “all-too-common error of technological determinism—the fallacy that all it takes for the next big thing to transform our lives is for it to be invented.”To read this article in full, please click here

    • How to learn a programming language using AI

      Whether you’re new to software development or you have decades of experience, there’s always room to learn something new. The TIOBE Index tracks the top 50 most popular programming languages, with many ecosystems presenting opportunities for career advancement and lateral shifts. Given the breadth of technologies available, it can be challenging to find the time to learn a new skill and to do it effectively.Recently, I have been attempting to learn the Rust language, a type-safe language built with performance, reliability, and productivity in mind. In doing so, I have learned a few techniques for using AI coding assistants that I want to share with you to improve your learning experience.To read this article in full, please click here

    • 10 more bad programming habits we secretly love

      We all know the thrill of bending the rules, or even breaking them. Maybe it’s going 56 in a 55-MPH zone, or letting the parking meter expire. Maybe it’s dividing two numbers without testing to see if the denominator is zero.Programmers have a weird relationship with rules. On one hand, code is just a huge pile of rules—rules that are endlessly applied by dutiful silicon gates without fear or favor, almost always without alpha particle-induced error. We want the transistors to follow these rules perfectly.But there’s another layer of rules that aren’t so sacrosanct. Unlike the instructions we feed to machines, the rules we make for ourselves are highly bendable. Some are simply stylistic, others are designed to bring consistency to our unruly piles of code. This set of rules applies to what we do, not how the machines respond.To read this article in full, please click here

    • 12 principles for improving devsecops

      I once transitioned from a SaaS CTO role to become a business unit CIO at a Fortune 100 enterprise that aimed to bring startup development processes, technology, and culture into the organization. The executives recognized the importance of developing customer-facing applications, game-changing analytics capabilities, and more automated workflows.Let’s just say my team and I did a lot of teaching on agile development and nimble architectures. But we also had a lot to learn about deploying highly reliable, performant, and secure applications to our data centers. This was all before the days of cloud computing and devsecops.To read this article in full, please click here

    • Is generative AI bringing back private clouds?

      According to Forrester’s Infrastructure Cloud Survey in 2023, 79% of about 1,300 enterprise cloud decision-makers surveyed said their organizations are implementing private clouds. Additionally, IDC forecasts that global spending on private, dedicated cloud services, including hosted private clouds, will hit $20.4 billion in 2024 and will at least double by 2027.In addition, global spending on enterprise private cloud infrastructure, including hardware, software, and support services, will be $51.8 billion in 2024 and grow to $66.4 billion in 2027, according to IDC. Of course, public cloud providers are still the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Public clouds, including the big three AWS, Microsoft, and Google, are expected to rake in $815.7 billion in 2024.To read this article in full, please click here

    • Ruby steps toward frozen string literals

      The next version of the Ruby programming language, Ruby 3.4.0, has been released in preview, bringing changes for string literals and class updates.Unveiled May 16, the Ruby 3.4.0 preview is downloadable from ruby-lang.org. With this update, string literals in files without a frozen_string_literal comment now behave as if they were frozen. If mutated, a deprecation warning is emitted. The change marks a first step toward making frozen string literals the default in Ruby. Frozen or immutable strings offer both performance and safety advantages.To read this article in full, please click here

      • All the Copilot Plus PCs announced at Microsoft’s Surface event

        The Copilot Plus PCs announced during Microsoft’s Surface event. | Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge In addition to the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, Microsoft announced a crop of Copilot Plus PCs from all the major OEMs. Here are all the Copilot Plus PCs announced at Microsoft’s Surface event on Monday. Acer Swift 14 AI Not to be confused with the other Swift 14 laptops with AI chips, the Swift 14 AI is the only one with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X series processor. This one comes with either the base 12-core Snapdragon X Elite chip or the 10-core X Plus chip and goes up to 32GB of memory and 1TB of M.2 SSD storage. Asus Vivobook S 15 Asus is starting its Copilot PC adventure with its Vivobook S 15. It will have two Qualcomm processor options — the base 12-core Snapdragon X Elite and 10-core Snapdragon X Plus — and both options will... Continue reading…

      • Samsung’s first Copilot Plus PC comes with a free TV

        Image: Samsung Microsoft announced a whole passel of Copilot Plus PCs at its Surface event on Monday, and Samsung’s entries are a 14-inch laptop and two 16-inch ones, known collectively as the Galaxy Book4 Edge. If you preorder them today, Samsung will throw in a free 50-inch TV! Come on down! The 14-inch Galaxy Book4 Edge starts at $1,349.99 with a 12-core 3.4GHz Snapdragon X Elite processor with 4.0GHz Dual Core Boost, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD (up to 1TB). It has a 14-inch, 120Hz 2880 x 1800 AMOLED touchscreen capable of up to 500 nits brightness, with HDR and VRR and 120 percent of the P3 gamut. It has two USB 4 Type-C ports, HDMI 2.1, and a combo audio jack. It weighs 2.6 pounds. Image: Samsung That’s pan-Galactic... Continue reading…

      • Where to preorder Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop and Surface Pro

        Microsoft’s 13.8-inch Surface Laptop starts at a cool $999.99. | Image: Microsoft It feels like forever ago that we got new Surface laptops, but Microsoft has taken the wraps off a handful of 2024 refreshes at its hardware event on Monday. We’re getting consumer-centric versions of the newest Surface Laptop and Surface Pro, both starting at $999.99 and launching June 18th. Microsoft calls the Copilot Plus PCs “the most powerful Windows PCs ever built.” They’ll be first in line to benefit from Windows 11’s next-gen AI features, which we expect to hear about during Microsoft’s annual Build conference this week. Microsoft announced business-oriented versions of both laptops in March, each sporting an Intel Core Ultra CPU. The consumer versions come with Qualcomm’s Arm-based Snapdragon X chipsets, which have a dedicated... Continue reading…

      • The latest 13-inch MacBook Air has dropped to a new all-time low

        Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air currently starts at just $949.99. | Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales and Chris Welch Apple’s new iPad Air and iPad Pro are impressive, but personally, I prefer laptops with built-in trackpads and keyboards for getting work done. If you feel the same way, the new M3-powered MacBook Air is our top pick for most people, and right now, you can buy the 13-inch base model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for an all-time low of $949.99 ($150 off) at Amazon. If you want a few extra years of service, you can also buy the higher-specced model at Amazon with 512GB of storage and 16GB of RAM for $1,349.99 ($150 off) when you clip the on-page coupon. Thanks to Apple’s newer M3 chips, the 13-inch Air offers even better performance than its fantastic predecessor. It comes with a few minor upgrades that make it easier to use, too,... Continue reading…

      • A first look at Microsoft’s new Surface Pro with Arm chips inside

        Photo: Allison Johnson / The Verge Microsoft has just announced a new Surface Pro, which is part of the new wave of Copilot Plus PCs. The new Pro, which is technically the “11th edition,” starts at $999, comes in four colors, and is powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X processors. The base model comes with a 13-inch LCD screen, but you can upgrade to an OLED in some of the higher-end models. The chip is the star of the show here: it’s what enables a lot of the AI features Microsoft touted onstage, what makes possible the 14-hour battery life Microsoft promises, and more. The basic silhouette of the hardware hasn’t changed much, save for the new Flex Keyboard attachment. The tablet with an integrated kickstand has been a Surface staple for years now, and Microsoft... Continue reading…

      • Hands-on with the Surface Laptop on Arm

        Photo: Allison Johnson / The Verge The Surface Laptop for non-business types is here, and Microsoft hopes that after four years of Apple Silicon, its new Arm-based “Copilot Plus PC” has a shot at MacBooks. The sapphire and slightly pink dune color options are fetching in person, and the 13.8-inch screen size feels generous for the machine’s small footprint. I spent a few minutes playing around with the new Recall feature, which lets you search for things you were looking at on your computer — whether they were in an email, on a website, or in a slide deck. AI-powered search helps you find the right information and presents it in a kind of everything-timeline so you can (hopefully) find the info you’re after and see it in its context. Honestly, it looks like a super... Continue reading…

      • Inside Microsoft’s mission to take down the MacBook Air

        Image: Microsoft Microsoft is confident that it finally nailed the transition to Arm chips — so confident that, this time around, the company spent an entire day pitting its new hardware against the MacBook Air. On a recent morning at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft representatives set out new Surface devices equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chips inside and compared them directly to Apple’s category-leading laptop. I witnessed an hour of demos and benchmarks that started with Geekbench and Cinebench comparisons, then moved on to apps and compatibility. Benchmark tests usually aren’t that exciting to watch. But a lot was at stake here: for years, the MacBook Air has been able to smoke Arm-powered PC chips — and Intel-based... Continue reading…

      • Microsoft Surface event: the 6 biggest announcements

        Image: Allison Johnson Microsoft just wrapped up its special event ahead of Build 2024, and it had a lot of exciting news to share. Along with updates to its Surface lineup, Microsoft made some major announcements related to AI and a new era of PCs in partnership with Lenovo, Asus, Dell, and others. Microsoft didn’t livestream this event, so if you want to catch up with everything it revealed, check out our roundup below. The launch of Copilot Plus PCs Image: Allison Johnson / The Verge Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed how Microsoft is “bringing the AI wave to PCs,” and that involves a new category of computers called Copilot Plus. These devices come with the Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite and Plus processors from Qualcomm and will later... Continue reading…

      • Asus’ first Copilot Plus PC is the Vivobook S 15

        Photo: Asus Following Microsoft’s Windows event, Asus announced its first Copilot Plus PC laptop, the Vivobook S 15 (S5507), driven by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X-series processors. Asus says the Arm-based chip will not only improve a few current Vivobook features but also make new AI-driven programs and workloads fly with 45 TOPS of neural processing power. The new Vivobook S 15 will have the same OLED display as the previous Intel generation (15.6-inch, 16:9, 2880 x 1620, 120Hz refresh rate, and 600 nits peak HDR brightness), but this specific version will have a thinner chassis and display bezels. The S 15 is configurable with either a 12-core Snapdragon X Elite or 10-core X Plus processor, although the Elite chip will be the base version — the one... Continue reading…

      • Apple’s new iPhone update fixes a bug that resurfaced deleted nudes

        Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge iOS 17.5 arrived last week with one of the weirder problems we’ve seen — users reported that deleted photos on their iPhones and iPads were suddenly reappearing. Apple has refused requests to comment on the issue publicly, but on Monday afternoon it released iOS and iPadOS 17.5.1 updates to fix the problem. According to the notes, “This update provides important bug fixes and addresses a rare issue where photos that experienced database corruption could reappear in the Photos library even if they were deleted.” Screenshot: iPadOS The supposedly-deleted photos popping to the top of user’s “recent” photos included nude pictures in some cases, and at least one person reported they reappeared on an iPad that had been... Continue reading…

      • Hayao Miyazaki and the Heron Explores the Ghibli Master's Journey on His Latest Film

        A new documentary following the six-year process of making Hayao Miyazaki’sOscar-winning animated film The Boy and the Heron was released at the Cannes Film Festival. Read more...

      • Longlegs Continues to Look Like Summer's Freakiest Film

        Longlegs looks like a supernatural Silence of the Lambs with a hint of Zodiac, and we could not be more excited. Written and directed by Osgood Perkins, it’s the story of a new FBI agent (Maika Monroe) who finds herself on the trail of a cryptic serial killer who calls themselves Longlegs.Read more...

      • Scientists Find Microplastics in Human and Dog Testicles

        It seems that nobody—and no body part—is safe from microplastics. In a recent study, researchers found traces of plastic in the testicles of both dogs and humans. The potential health impacts of this discovery are not yet clear, but the team suggests it may help explain why men’s sperm counts have declined over time.Read more...

      • Hims & Hers Will Sell Wegovy-Like Weight Loss Drugs for $199

        The millennial-skewed telehealth platform Hims & Hers announced Monday that is now offering customers a compounded version of semaglutide, the active ingredient in popular weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy. Read more...

      • New Sandman Season 2 Casting Offers Some Intriguing Plot Hints

        While the names of the three actors joining The Sandman’s second season may not be immediately recognizable, the characters they’ll be bringing to the Netflix show will definitely intrigue fans: the final three members of the Endless, the cosmic family that also includes Tom Sturridge’s Dream.Read more...

      • Neuralink Can Implant Second Person With a Brain Chip, FDA Says

        Neuralink, the Elon Musk-funded neuroscience startup, has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to implant its next patient with its experimental brain chip. This next operation will seek to fix certain issues that occurred following its first implantation operation.Read more...

      • Lenovo Joins Microsoft and Qualcomm's AI Fever Dream on PC

        Lenovo has announced it’s joining Microsoft and Qualcomm’s foray into AI-based computing with a new lineup of laptops specifically tuned for the Snapdragon X Elite architecture. For the same price as Lenovo’s other laptops, you get to be the first to foray into the world with an ARM-based chip tuned specifically for…Read more...

      • The 10 Best Horror TV Series on Netflix Right Now

        Halfway to Halloween is upon us, but if it’s too early to start binging your horror movie collection—why not binge a horror TV show or two instead? Netflix is a prime destination for ghosts, inter-dimensional creeps, morose high-schoolers, sinister neighbors, and other characters who go bump in the night. Here are 10…Read more...

      • Fluoride Exposure in the Womb Could Lead to Later Problems in Kids

        New research could point to a hidden risk of fluoride in early development. The study found a link between higher fluoride exposure in pregnant women and a greater risk of their children later being diagnosed with neurobehavioral problems by age 3. The findings do not confirm a cause-and-effect link, but they do…Read more...

      • Deadpool & Wolverine's R Rating Means 'Anything and Everything' Is Possible

        Tickets are now on sale for the summer’s most anticipated movie and its stars aren’t saying anything about it. Deadpool & Wolverine is out July 26 and, to promote the fact tickets are available, stars Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds did a new interview and released some new footage, none of which spoils anything, but…Read more...

      • Kids Cry as Bluey Event at Vegas Bar Turns Out to Be Another Willy Wonka Experience

        This is a free country, or so I’m told. While that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to lifesaving healthcare without going bankrupt, it does mean that if you own a hot dog bar in Las Vegas, Nevada, you can host an unofficial meet-and-greet with world famous cartoon pup Bluey and piss off hundreds of children and their…Read more...

      • OpenAI Will Ditch ChatGPT's Scarlett Johansson-Like Voice: Report

        OpenAI is reportedly taking away ChatGPT-4o’s Scarlett Johansson-like voice that it says is not meant to be an imitation of the actress.Read more...

      • Julian Assange Granted Right to Appeal Extradition to U.S. Over First Amendment Questions

        Julian Assange can file an appeal by Friday to fight his extradition to the United States, according to a new ruling from a British court on Monday. The decision, first reported by the New York Times, comes as Assange sits in a London prison over computer hacking and espionage charges first brought by the U.S.…Read more...

      • A Parisian Vampire Meet-Cute Transpires in This Week's Interview With The Vampire

        Louis (Jacob Anderson) and Claudia’s (Delainey Hayles) arrival in Paris incites curiosity among the city’s local vampire coven, which is run by Armand (Assad Zaman). The pair try to fit in despite still running away from their past to start fresh with a new story in this week’s Interview With the Vampire.Read more...

      • Apple Reportedly Joining Forces With OpenAI to Shove a Chatbot into iOS 18

        According to the latest reports, Apple is preparing to unleash an AI avalanche on iPhones at its upcoming WWDC 2024. This will include some cloud-based as well as on-device AI models, but it will be through the lens of easily the most well-known and widest-reaching AI developers around today, OpenAI.Read more...

      • Segway Navimow i110N review: A boundary-wire-free bot for less

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsBest navigation technology in a sub-$1,000 robot mowerNo line-of-sight requirement from the mower to the GPS antennaOutstanding cutting performanceHandles common yard types and terrain without issuesConsFront-wheel drive has trouble with steep slopesInadequate cliff detectionOur VerdictThe Segway Navimow i110N has the best navigation of any low-cost robot mower, but it can be unpredictable on uneven terrain or cliffs. Born as a personal transportation company, Segway remains best known for its extensive line of electric scooters and e-bikes. The company launched its first robot lawn mower in 2021 and debuted the Navimow i-series at CES in January. The Navimow i110N reviewed here is designed for up to 1/4-acre yards and is very well priced ($1,299 MSRP) for the advanced features it offers, including onboard AI and GPS navigation that eliminates the need to deploy a boundary wire. The company’s Navimow i105N ($999) has the same features, but maxes out at 1/8-acre. Robot mowers with GPS navigation generally rely on an antenna deployed in your yard with a view of the southern sky, but the Navimow i110N has a second GPS antenna inside the mower itself. Using two antennas significantly increases the mower’s navigation accuracy, and you can add a 4G option to get cellular backup to the mower’s Wi-Fi connection. The Navimow i110N looked like it was ensuring every blade of grass was cut perfectly–and boy, did it exceed expectations! The mower uses artificial intelligence to make a visual map of your yard, taking note of obstacles that will need to be avoided. Onboard sensors detect your lawn’s edges, and you can set up “channels,” including non-grass surfaces, through which the mower will traverse as it navigates between the work zones you’ll set up using Segway’s app. More on this later. You can also instruct the robot to mow precisely either along the edge of a boundary—which is great for areas of grass-to-pavement transitions—or just inside the boundary line. The test environment My yard’s slope makes for a challenging environment for robot lawn mowers. My yard’s slope makes for a challenging environment for robot lawn mowers.Ed Oswald/Foundry My yard’s slope makes for a challenging environment for robot lawn mowers.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry My property sits about 10 feet above street level and is sloped. Additionally, the mower would need to travel across a sidewalk in at least four places if I was to let it loose on every patch of grass. But I’m not the daring type and expecting the Navimow i110N to handle all that would be unfair. So, for the initial tests, I deployed it only on the areas in the photos below. Unlike boundary-wire mowers, where the robot simply follows a boundary-wire circuit, mowers that rely on GPS navigation must start at a spot that’s at least six feet from any obstructions and where they have an unobstructed view of the southern sky. So, finding a good starting spot for the Navimow i110N on my property was a challenge. I ended up setting up the GPS antenna on my second-floor balcony and the mower off to the side below it, so that both devices could “see” the same GPS satellites. This isn’t optimal, according to Segway’s recommendations, but it worked well enough for me. I won’t take any points off for this, as Segway doesn’t control where your house is located, nor what GPS satellites are available to you. And the company’s app guides you through all these and other setup steps that should be easy for anyone to follow. Speaking of which…. Installation, set-up, and mapping The Navimow i110N comes preassembled with its battery charged just enough for you to complete registration. You can even do this while it’s in the box; all you need is Bluetooth. That said, I did experience some issues getting the mower to connect to my phone. But that could possibly be attributed to my moving through the setup process too quickly after turning the mower on. Whatever the case, the mower eventually connected with a few loud beeps and a British voice intoning “Connected.” I didn’t know whether to laugh, say “that’s cool,” or “this thing is obnoxious.” You can turn such audible notifications off, but you can’t turn down their level. The Navimow has quite the visual yard presence, too; especially at night. You’ll barely notice its status lights during the day, but they are very bright at night. Fortunately, you can turn down their brightness level—and you’ll want to. The Navimow i110N boasts an IP66 weatherization rating, but you can buy this $199 garage for added protection while it’s docked for charging. The Navimow i110N boasts an IP66 weatherization rating, but you can buy this $199 garage for added protection while it’s docked for charging.Ed Oswald/Foundry The Navimow i110N boasts an IP66 weatherization rating, but you can buy this $199 garage for added protection while it’s docked for charging.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry This one-time set-up process took me less than an hour to complete. The next step is to map your yard, which must be done during daylight hours. Segway says the mower’s obstacle-avoidance features won’t work correctly if there’s not enough light for its onboard camera to see. For the mapping process, the Navimow app displays a set of on-screen controls resembling what you might see with a remote-controlled car. You’ll walk around the periphery of each section of grass, making a complete circuit, and then directing where you’d like the mower to travel when it moves between zones. The Navimow’s onboard sensors will detect the yard’s edges along with any fixed obstructions it encounters (you’ll see this working by the blue line that appears to the side of the boundary you’re creating). The mower can detect more than 20 types of obstructions, including shrubs, trees, furniture, landscape lights, and other common yard items. My biggest criticism of the Navimow i110N is its inability to detect cliffs. My biggest criticism of the Navimow i110N is its inability to detect cliffs.Ed Oswald/Foundry My biggest criticism of the Navimow i110N is its inability to detect cliffs.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry I stink at controlling RC cars, so I was ready for the i110N to repeatedly crash into things. The mower’s obstacle-avoidance system helps prevent that, but you’ll want to take it easy on the controls unless you’re moving in a straight line on a flat plane. This thing moves at top speed. You should also be prepared for a couple of re-dos: I needed about an hour to get things right on the initial map I created; but once I had the hang of it, the other two were easy. The only issue I had here was there’s no way to renumber zones. This made scheduling a bit of a challenge, because I had to remember zone numbers instead of easy-to-remember names, like “east yard,” “west yard,” and the like. Performance This secondary antenna locates GPS satellites and coordinates with the GPS antenna inside the mower for excellent navigation. This secondary antenna locates GPS satellites and coordinates with the GPS antenna inside the mower for excellent navigation.Ed Oswald/Foundry This secondary antenna locates GPS satellites and coordinates with the GPS antenna inside the mower for excellent navigation.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry With the yard mapped out, it was time to let the Navimow i110N loose. Well, almost. First, I needed to clear my yard of tree branches and other debris that might get caught in the mower. I also needed to choose a cutting height by turning the dial on the top of the mower. The mower’s maximum cutting height is 3.6 inches, and for the best results, you’ll want to remove any tall weeds that might be in the mower’s path. Segway’s larger sibling—the Navimow H series—can work on up to 24-degree slopes, but the smaller i-series mowers can handle only 16-degree slopes. My yard has a steep embankment, and while I haven’t measured it, its slope sure looks to be more than 16 degrees. I expected this to be a problem for the i110N, and it was. This model doesn’t have all-wheel drive, either so it sometimes had difficulty traversing my uneven terrain. The mower’s powered front wheels have excellent grip, but if its rear wheels get caught on something, it can briefly send the mower lurching in an unexpected direction. Finally, this model doesn’t have enough power to navigate slopes consistently and must mow them in a perpendicular fashion. All-wheel-drive mowers with larger motors can mow slopes at an angle. As a result, I’ve kept the Navimow i110N off the embankment and used my yard’s flattest point as a channel for the mower to move between zones. I hope Segway offers all-wheel drive on in future generations of the Navimow i110N; the absence of it narrows this mower’s appeal to homeowners who don’t have relatively flat lawns. But there was one other area of concern for me: This mower doesn’t seem to have any kind of cliff detection. I—or my helpful neighbor—frequently needed to retrieve the i110N when it was cutting the grass in the parking strip between the street and the sidewalk. Attempting to mow in diagonal runs, the i110N didn’t seem to realize how big its backside is and would fall off the curb when changing direction. I hope Segway works on this and releases a firmware update. The Navimow i110’s sensors help detect transitions between grass and pavement, ensuring it cuts right up to the edge. The Navimow i110’s sensors help detect transitions between grass and pavement, ensuring it cuts right up to the edge.Ed Oswald/Foundry The Navimow i110’s sensors help detect transitions between grass and pavement, ensuring it cuts right up to the edge.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry Those issues aside, I like how the Navimow i110N uses a traditional mowing pattern versus cutting along random paths. Random cuts might give your lawn that “golf course” look, but your yard will look awful for the first few days after mowing. Segway’s AI splits areas into sections and cuts in straight lines until all grass reaches the desired cutting height. Establish clear boundaries and you’ll have a great-looking yard on day one. I sometimes thought the mower was going back over areas too much, but it appears it just was making sure every blade of grass was cut perfectly–and boy, did it exceed expectations: I observed no difference in cut quality between Husqvarna’s $3,000 Automower 435X AWD and Segway’s Navimow i110. That Husqvarna does, of course, have some features the i110 doesn’t—including all-wheel drive—and it’s rated to mowing much larger areas, up to 0.9 acres. Still, Segway’s machine mowed quickly. Its first complete mow—about 700 square feet—took less than 30 minutes and consumed just 25 percent of a full battery charge. Using that as a guide, you’re looking at about four full charges and about a day to do a 1/4-acre yard. The Segway Navimower app Segway’s excellent app informs you the strength of the satellite signal, the remaining life of its blades, and more. Segway’s excellent app informs you the strength of the satellite signal, the remaining life of its blades, and more.Ed Oswald/Foundry Segway’s excellent app informs you the strength of the satellite signal, the remaining life of its blades, and more.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry Segway’s app is basic, but it gets the job done. You’ll need to search for some of the Navimow’s features, where Husqvarna’s app presents nearly all the mower’s basic controls on its first screen. But Segway’s app is much better at locating your mower’s present location—just look for the little mower icon on the map of your yard. Mowed areas are displayed in a darker shade of gray, its mowing progress screen shows the percentage of mowing that’s been completed, and you’ll see total distance traveled, too. For a data junkie like me, that’s pretty cool (more stats, please!). The Automower 435X AWD I reviewed in late 2020 had built-in 3G/LTE, and that’s how the mower reported positioning, but Husqvarna’s app consistently indicated its the docking station to be in my neighbor’s yard, and it would show the mower going right through my house, with no way to calibrate for positioning errors that were often off by 25 feet or more. Scheduling the i110N is easy and can be completed by swiping the screen between times you want the mower to operate. If inclement weather is in the forecast, the Navimow will automatically skip a mowing session. It also returns home to the charging station if rain occurs during mowing. The mower, incidentally, is rated IP66, meaning its impervious to dust and can withstand powerful jets of water (i.e., cleaned with pressure washer from a reasonable distance). Optional add-ons Segway sent all the mower along with all of its available accessories, which as of this review include a $200 garage attachment for the docking station; Navimow Access+, a $150 module for adding backup LTE connectivity; a $45 antenna extension kit for mounting the GPS antenna on your home; and a 30-foot extension cable for the antenna ($25). I like that the garage covers the entire mower and its charging station, as many other mower garages only provide partial protection. A lever flips the top of the garage housing up, so you can access the Navimow’s buttons while it’s docked to its charging station. Most people will add the garage to protect the mower from the elements, but you’d be wise to also pick up the Access+ module, if for no other reason than for the theft protection it provides. It fits on the bottom of the mower and allows it to automatically switch between Wi-Fi and 4G to maintain a connection to the internet. This allows you to continue to track your mower’s location if it moves out of range of your Wi-Fi network, and it will sound an alarm if it leaves your yard. Your purchase includes one year of LTE data from Verizon, but Segway had not determined renewal pricing at the time of this review. Should you buy a Segway Navimow i110N? The Navimow i110N left my lawn looking fabulous. The Navimow i110N left my lawn looking fabulous.Ed Oswald/Foundry The Navimow i110N left my lawn looking fabulous.Ed Oswald/Foundry Ed Oswald/Foundry I was skeptical that a boundary-wire-free mower at this price would perform well, so I’m happy to report that the Segway Navimow i110N was both easier to set up than I expected and that it accurately followed the boundaries that I established in my yard—every time I used it. I’d rate it even higher if it had better cliff detection. If you’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on a robot mower and you have a mostly flat 1/4-acre yard, the Navimow i110N deserves your strong consideration. I’d venture to say the same for the $999 Navimow i105N for those with 1/8-acre properties. I’m hesitant to recommend this robot mower for larger or sloped yards—not because of its cutting prowess (our yard looks great!), but because its front-wheel drive system doesn’t perform as well as I’d hoped. Maybe the H series fares better, but it has a similar drive system, just more power. Segway Navimow i110N Specifications Mowing area: Up to 1/4 acre Cutting height range: 2- to 3.6 inches Cutting width: 7.1 inches Maximum slope: 16 degrees Operating noise level: 58 dB Weatherization: IP66 Battery capacity: 5.1Ah Running time on a full charge: 120 minutes Charging time: 180 minutes Smart Gardens

      • Airthings Renew review: Quiet but not-so-smart air purification

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsHandsome designCan be laid on its sideMedical-grade HEPA-13 filterQuiet and effective operationConsNo third-party smart home integrationsNo scheduling featuresNo reports of local outdoor air qualityNo mobile alerts when filters need replacingOur VerdictSturdy yet easy on the eyes, the Airthings Renew reliably and quietly scrubs the air in smaller to medium-sized rooms, but falls short in the smarts department. Known primarily for its wide range of air quality monitors, Oslo-based Airthings has finally unleashed its first air purifier. The Airthings Renew arrives bearing many of the company’s hallmarks, including a sturdy yet homey design, easy of use, and reliable operation. But the Renew falls short in a key area for us: smarts.  Priced at a somewhat hefty $399.99 and designed for small- to medium-sized rooms, the Renew is a cinch to set up and boasts some terrific design choices, including the ability to lay the unit on its side, a fabric handle for easy carrying from room to room, and a rear compartment for cable management. Inside is a medical-grade HEPA-13 filter, while the fans that pull dirty air in and blow scrubbed air out are remarkably quiet.  That said, the Renew’s bare-bones smart abilities disappoint. Sure, you can control the Renew from anywhere using the Airthings app, which can track air quality in a room over time. But there are no scheduling features at all, meaning that “Auto” and “Sleep” fan modes must be engaged manually, and there are no third-party smart home integrations, so you won’t be able to control the Renew with voice commands.  If you’re looking for an air purifier that will smoothly integrate with the rest of your smart home, the Airthings Renew isn’t it—or at least, not yet. Of course, there’s nothing stopping Airthings from adding more smarts to the Renew over time, and what the Renew does do, it does well. But for now, the Airthings Renew doesn’t dazzle in the smart-home department.  Design  Measuring 16 x 16 x 5.7 inches (WxHxD) and weighing 11.9 pounds, the beige-colored Renew has a curved, neutral design that allows it to blend into your surroundings.   The fabric strap makes the Renew easy to carry from room to room; the integrated air quality sensor sits to the right. The fabric strap makes the Renew easy to carry from room to room; the integrated air quality sensor sits to the right. Ben Patterson/Foundry The fabric strap makes the Renew easy to carry from room to room; the integrated air quality sensor sits to the right. Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry The medium-sized unit can be placed upright or laid flat on its side—a nice touch, but keep in mind that the Renew needs at least 8 inches of clearance for its fabric-covered side (where air is sucked in), its vented top (where scrubbed air is blown out), and its front (where an air-quality sensor is located).   This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best air purifiers. That restriction pretty much precludes sliding the Renew under a bed or a sofa, unless the underside of your furniture is exceptionally high off the floor. On the other hand, you can mount the Renew on a wall, and a hook is included in the package for that purpose.  The Renew has a couple other nifty design elements, including a long, wide strap along its front edge that makes the unit easier to transport, while a rear compartment with a snap-on cover can hide any extra length of the detachable, 5.6-foot power cord.  The Renew’s rear cable management compartment can help hide the unit’s power cord. The Renew’s rear cable management compartment can help hide the unit’s power cord. Ben Patterson/Foundry The Renew’s rear cable management compartment can help hide the unit’s power cord. Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Air purification and filtration  With a CADR (clean air delivery rate) of 140 cfm, the Airthings Renew is best suited for small- to medium-sized rooms, and Airthings is (quite rightly) pitching the Renew as an ideal bedroom purifier. In practical terms, the Renew can change the air in a 210 square-foot room five times an hour; put the Renew in a 525 square-foot space, and the ACH (air changes per hour) rate falls to just two.  On the front side of the Renew is a laser-based particulate matter (PM 2.5) sensor, which takes readings of nearby air quality, charts them in the Airthings app, and helps guide the Renew’s “Auto” fan mode. (More on the app and Auto mode in a moment.)  The Renew boasts a four-stage filtration system, starting with an outer pre-filter made of a “speaker-grade” textile that’s designed to catch pet hair, dust, and other large particles.   Next up is an inner pre-filter for finer dust particles and pollen. This honeycomb-shaped filter can be removed and rinsed with water, although it takes a bit of effort to free the filter from its snap-on housing (the top portion of the filter has magnetic fasteners).  The Airthings Renew has a four-stage filtration system, including a medical-grade HEPA-13 filter. The Airthings Renew has a four-stage filtration system, including a medical-grade HEPA-13 filter. Ben Patterson/Foundry The Airthings Renew has a four-stage filtration system, including a medical-grade HEPA-13 filter. Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Deeper still is the thick, medical-grade HEPA-13 particle filter, which is rated to remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne particles measuring 0.3 microns in diameter or larger.  Finally, an active charcoal filter screens out odors and volatile organic compounds (or VOCs), including such pollutants as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and chloroform.  Airthings estimates that the HEPA-13 and active charcoal filters will need to be replaced every six months or so. The company says it will begin offering replacement packs that include both the HEPA and active charcoal filters in June for $69.99, so you’ll need to factor that cost into the Renew’s $399.99 sticker price.   Setup  Getting the Airthings Renew up and running is easy. Once you prep the filters and plug in the detachable power cord, you can fire up the Airthings app, sign in (you’ll need to create an Airthings account if you don’t already have one), and begin the process of adding a new device.  For me, the Airthings app detected the Renew almost immediately, and paired with it via Bluetooth. You then press and hold the power button on the unit to complete the setup process, which only took about five minutes.  The Airthings Renew connects to Wi-Fi networks on just the 2.4GHz band, but the purifier didn’t have any trouble connecting to my dual-band mesh router.  Indicators and controls  Sitting next to the Renew’s vented top is a touch-sensitive control panel with a variety of buttons and indicators, all of which are replicated in the (soon-to-be-discussed) Airthings app.  Among the controls are “+” and “-” buttons that let you manually adjust the fan speed (five steps are available), and there are also buttons for three fan modes: Auto (which automatically tweaks the speed according to the detected air quality), Boost (which revs the fan to maximum speed for an hour), and Sleep (which dials down the fan speed to low for eight hours, while also dousing the indicator lights). There’s also a child lock to keep little ones from messing with the fan settings.  At the bottom of the panel and just beneath the power button is a trio of indicators: one for Wi-Fi status, another one that warns you when it’s time to replace the filters, and a third for air quality. That last indicator glows green for good air quality (less than 10 micrograms of air pollutants per cubic meter), yellow for fair (10-25 µg/m3), or red for poor (more than 25 µg/m3).  The control panel on the Airthings Renew includes indicator lighs for Wi-Fi connectivity, filter status, and air quality. The control panel on the Airthings Renew includes indicator lighs for Wi-Fi connectivity, filter status, and air quality. Ben Patterson/Foundry The control panel on the Airthings Renew includes indicator lighs for Wi-Fi connectivity, filter status, and air quality. Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Airthings app  Clean, sleek, and intuitive, the Airthings app is a snap to use, with the iOS version boasting haptic feedback as your swipe back and forth on the various air quality graphs. Unfortunately, the app is sorely lacking when it comes to actual smart features.  First, the good. The Airthings app makes it easy to quickly scan the status of your various Airthings devices, including the Renew unit (or units) and any Airthings air quality monitors you might have scattered about the house. A drop-down under the Renew heading on the main screen lets you quickly scan PM2.5 levels, while tapping Controls gives you a concise overview of all the Renew’s on-device controls, including fan speed modes.  The app will also give you a more precise estimate of how much life is left on the filters—although, annoyingly, you’ll need to back out of the Devices tab and drill down into the Renew’s Settings menu to get it. Once there, you’ll see the estimated use left for the HEPA-13 and activated charcoal filters expressed as a percentage.   So much for the good. The bad about the Airthings app is that offers little more in terms of smart features for the Renew. For example, there’s no scheduling of any kind, meaning you must enable and/or disable the Auto, Boost, and Silent modes manually, either in the app or on the unit itself. The app will send a notification if detected PM2.5 levels go too high, but not when it’s time to replace the filters. And while the app will give you a pollen forecast for your location, it doesn’t offer outdoor air quality details pulled from the internet.  The Airthings app displays the status for your various Airthings devices (left) and lets you control the Renew when you’re away from home (center). The app also tracks air quality over time (right, with readings from the Airthings View Plus air quality monitor). The Airthings app displays the status for your various Airthings devices (left) and lets you control the Renew when you’re away from home (center). The app also tracks air quality over time (right, with readings from the Airthings View Plus air quality monitor). Ben Patterson/Foundry The Airthings app displays the status for your various Airthings devices (left) and lets you control the Renew when you’re away from home (center). The app also tracks air quality over time (right, with readings from the Airthings View Plus air quality monitor). Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Finally, the Airthings app doesn’t integrate with Alexa, Google Home, or any other third-party smart home platforms, nor is there any Matter support. (Matter works with air purifiers as of the standard’s 1.2 specification, which was released last year.) So, if you want to control the Airthings Renew remotely, you can only do so using the Airthings app.   Asked when more smart features and integrations would come to the Renew, an Airthings rep replied: “We are always looking for ways to improve our products and are excited about what the coming weeks and months will bring to the experience of Renew in the Airthings app, however, we cannot comment on future product roadmaps or features that haven’t yet been released.”  Performance  I tested the Airthings Renew in my basement lounge area over a span of roughly eight weeks. The basement in my Brooklyn brownstone rental doesn’t get much ventilation, thus it’s in dire need of air purification.  Several weeks prior to the arrival of the Renew, I installed an Airthings View Plus air quality monitor a few feet from where the Renew would eventually sit, giving me some baseline readings against which I could measure the Renew’s performance.  The results were striking. Before the Renew arrived, I was seeing PM2.5 levels that frequently hit 25 µg/m3 or higher, with one particularly (no pun intended) ugly spike of 59 µg/m3–all readings that would have tripped the Renew’s “Poor” air quality indicator.   Once I’d installed the Renew, however, those spiking PM2.5 levels dipped dramatically with the purifier in “Auto” mode—indeed, the highest PM2.5 level I saw post-Renew was 17 µg/m3, with the average closer to 2-6 µg/m3, while PM1 and VOC levels showed similar drops. That’s more like it.    The Renew is remarkably quiet given its air-scrubbing abilities. Airthings claims the Renew’s fans only emit 23 dB of noise when the unit is in “Silent” mode, or a little quieter than the sound of a whisper, while “Boost” mode goes up to a rated 51 dB.  That squares with my anecdotal experience with the Renew, which—in “Auto” mode—ran virtually silently throughout nearly two months of testing. In Boost mode, the Renew sounded like a window A/C unit running at full blast—not that quiet, mind you, but well shy of the jet-engine roar generated by some higher-CADR air purifiers.    Specifications Dimensions: 16 x 16 x 5.7 inches (HxDxW) Weight: 11.9 pounds CADR: 140 cfm Filters: 4-stage, HEPA-13 Fan modes: Auto, Sleep, Boost Manual fan steps: 5 Wireless: Wi-Fi (2.4GHz only) and Bluetooth Third-party smart home integrations: None Matter support: No Should you buy the Airthings Renew?  If you’re looking for an air purifier that will smoothly integrate with the rest of your smart home, the Airthings Renew isn’t it—or at least, not yet. When the Renew was first unveiled at CES 2024, an Airthings rep told me the company “anticipates” the addition of smart home integrations down the line, so it’s certainly possible the Renew will eventually play nice with Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and other smart home platforms.  But while it isn’t so smart, the Renew in its current form is handsome, well-made, quiet, and effective. And while you can’t put the Renew on a schedule, it’s certainly feasible to put the unit in “Auto” mode and forget it, which is pretty much what I did during my testing.  If you can live with its smart shortcomings and can afford the $400 price tag, the Airthings Renew is worth giving a serious look.  Smart Appliances

      • Morento HY4866-WF Air Purifier review: Little footprint, big impact

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsLots of power for such a small deviceVery quick setupExtremely cheapConsA bit loudSleep mode doesn’t dim all the lightsApp is rough around the edgesOur VerdictThis pint-sized purifier includes a mobile app, boasts plenty of power, and it’s a bargain to boot. Best Prices Today: Morento HY4866-WF Air Purifier Retailer Price £149.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Product Price Price comparison from Backmarket We don’t often see air purifiers with Wi-Fi support below the $100 mark, but Morento’s HY4866-WF can–for the moment, anyway–be yours for roughly $78, thanks to a deep discount available via Amazon (be sure to clip the coupon before checkout).  Befitting its rock-bottom price, the Morento unit features a small-fry design that feels built for in-the-corner or under-the-desk deployment. If you don’t mind a little noise, the Morento HY4866-WF is an exceptionally good deal.  Design The squared-off device is 16 x 12 x 7 inches (HxWxD), with a weight of 8 pounds. Air is pulled in through the front of the unit, passes through a HEPA filter (no rating specified), and emitted through a central vent on the top of the device. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best air purifiers. The design features a clinical, off-white shell with a mismatched but not unattractive gray grille on top, and my test device featured two large stickers adhering to the front of the device. One left a significant amount of residue behind after I removed it.  Controls and display Operationally, the unit offers few immediate surprises. Controls are all mounted on the top of the device and include access to four fan speed modes, an auto mode setting that ramps up power based on ambient air quality, and a sleep mode button. Three countdown timers–2, 5, and 8 hours–are available here, as is a child lock button. A large, front-mounted display provides an at-a-glance look at ambient air quality conditions. A large, front-mounted display provides an at-a-glance look at ambient air quality conditions. Christopher Null/Foundry A large, front-mounted display provides an at-a-glance look at ambient air quality conditions. Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry On the front panel of the unit is a status display that provides a numerical measurement of PM2.5 levels, ringed by a color-coded band corresponding to either green (good), orange (moderate), or red (bad) AQI levels. These levels match up closely with the EPA’s AQI grades. Beneath the PM2.5 reading is a visual indicator of remaining filter life. Once the horizontal line of dots disappears, it’s time to replace the filter. Filters are rated for 2,000 hours or running time; replacements run about $24 for a two-pack. Air purification While small in stature, Morento does market this purifier as suitable for “large rooms,” boasting a maximum coverage area of 1,076 square feet. A single CADR rating of 176 cubic feet per minute is impressive for a device of this size, though to get there you’ll need to crank up the blower. Even on its lowest standard setting, the unit puts out more noise than I’d like, emitting a low-level, slightly rattly hum that isn’t quite a nuisance but is definitely noticeable, while in sleep mode the fan is functionally inaudible. At its fastest fan speed, the volume level is certainly loud but not overwhelming, and the purifier was quick to clean dirty air based on my tests with smoke.  Air is pulled in through the front of the unit, passes through a HEPA filter (pictured), and emitted through a central vent on the top of the device. Air is pulled in through the front of the unit, passes through a HEPA filter (pictured), and emitted through a central vent on the top of the device.Christopher Null/Foundry Air is pulled in through the front of the unit, passes through a HEPA filter (pictured), and emitted through a central vent on the top of the device.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Mobile app Morento includes a mobile app, or, I should say, it works with one: the Havaworks app, which is a kind of do-it-all smart home device ecosystem that supports an array of products. The app connects to the purifier quickly via a Bluetooth connection and bridges to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network without complaint. The app itself could certainly use a little attention. While the hardware controls are replicated within the app dutifully, some layout problems mean that some options (like the fastest fan speed) aren’t easily visible without scrolling, and labels (like 1F through 4F as indicators of fan speed) haven’t been effectively converted into English.  A five-day history of PM2.5 levels–both inside and outside–is a nice addition to the main page, but outdoor temperature is displayed in Celsius despite my settings being configured for Fahrenheit. A scheduling function–the only additional operational feature in the mix–is extremely basic, requiring you to set up separate schedules for “on” and “off” rather than setting running times all at once. The unit does connect to both Alexa and Google Home, however, which offers greater scheduling flexibility. The Havaworks mobile app tells you the status of the Morento unit (left), gives you air quality readings (middle), and offers basic scheduling tools (right). The Havaworks mobile app tells you the status of the Morento unit (left), gives you air quality readings (middle), and offers basic scheduling tools (right). Christopher Null/Foundry The Havaworks mobile app tells you the status of the Morento unit (left), gives you air quality readings (middle), and offers basic scheduling tools (right). Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Lastly, you can also opt to receive push notifications in the event that air quality hits moderate or heavy pollution levels. I found that all of these functions worked well and quickly during my testing.  Aside from the noise issue mentioned above, my only complaint with the purifier is that its sleep mode function doesn’t dim all the lights on the unit, only the front panel. The pair of status lights on the top of the unit aren’t bright, but a proper sleep mode should have no lights visible at all. At least it’s a problem that can be solved with a little electrical tape.  Specifications Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 7 inches (HxWxD) Weight: 8 pounds CADR: 176 cfm Filter type: HEPA Wireless: Wi-Fi (2.4GHz only) and Bluetooth Mobile app: Yes Smart home integrations: Alexa and Google Home Should you buy the Morento HY4866-WF air purifier? Morento’s HY4866-WF carries a $160 MSRP, but its current price of just $70 makes it a massive bargain considering effectiveness (given its small size) and mobile app support. If you don’t mind a little noise (and hacking your way to a lightless sleep), it’s actually an exceptionally good deal.  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 May 17, 2024: We’ve added a link to our Morento HY4866-WF Air Purifier review. This air purifier can be a tad loud and its app could use some work, but it packs plenty of power, some solid smart features, and–best of all–you can snag it on Amazon for less than $100. This Morento unit lacks the polish of our current budget pick for air purifiers, the Wyze Air Purifier, but it qualifier as a runner-up given its rock-bottom price. 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 Jya Fjord Pro — Best for large rooms, runner-up Pros Effective air purification Stylish design Comprehensive and useful app Affordable Cons Bulky and heavy The design may not appeal to everyone Why we like the Jya Fjord Pro Yes, it’s big, but the Jya Fjord Pro does a fantastic job of cleaning the air in larger rooms, complete with a three-filter system that reacts quickly once airborne pollutants are detected. The unit has a solid industrial design, an easy-to-use app, and a touch-enabled OLED display that lets you manage the air purifier’s functions. Who should buy the Jya Fjord Pro This air purifier will appear to home users who need the air scrubbed in a living room, dining room, or another large living space. It’s also quiet, as well as relatively affordable compared to other air purifiers in its class. Any while the black-and-aluminum chassis won’t appeal to everyone, the Jya Fjord Pro has a premium feel that won’t cheapen the look of a room. Read our full Jya Fjord Pro 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: £564.32 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 Morento HY4866-WF Air Purifier — Best for bargain hunters, runner-up Pros Lots of power for such a small device Very quick setup Extremely cheap Cons A bit loud Sleep mode doesn’t dim all the lights App is rough around the edges Best Prices Today: £149.99 at Amazon Why we like the Morento HY4866-WF Air Purifier The Morento HY4866-WF isn’t perfect, but this sub-$100 air purifier (following a steep Amazon discount) makes for an incredible value. The unit packs plenty of power, it’s easy to set up, it offers decent smart functionality, and … well, it’s really cheap. Who should buy the Morento HY4866-WF Air Purifier If you’re looking for a small and budget-priced air purifier for a home office or an extra bedroom, the Morento HY4866-WF is just the ticket. The air purifier also works with Alexa and Google Home, meaning it will fit right in if you have an Echo or Nest speaker. Read our full Morento HY4866-WF 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. 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. 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. GermGuardian AC3000 Airsafe+: This diminutive air purifier punches way above its size and it features a bacteria-killing UVC-C bulb, a feature that’s unheard of in this price range. 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. Jya Fjord Pro: The bigger sibling of the Jya Fjord, the Jya Fjord Pro is designed for larger rooms, and it boasts a handsome industrial design, an intuitive and easy to use app, and a 3-filter purification system that reacts quickly once airborne pollutants are detected. 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

      • Sick of smart home subscriptions? 11 security cameras that don’t cost extra to unlock every feature

        Security cameras are one of the most affordable tools for protecting your home, whether it be to watch for intruders or just to keep tabs on your pets while you’re away. Most cameras, however, require an ongoing subscription if you want anything more than just a livestream. If you want a recording of an event that happened while you weren’t watching, you’re out of luck unless you cough up a monthly or annual fee. Fortunately, that’s not the case with every security camera. Some models avoid the need for a subscription by having onboard storage for recordings, so the manufacturer doesn’t need to support the cost of a server in the cloud for that purpose. This typically takes the form of flash memory or a microSD card slot (you’ll need to supply the card, but they’re not particularly expensive, and we’ll show the which type of microSD card you should buy for a security camera). Alternatively, some cameras can be paired with a local network-attached (NAS) box for additional storage. The other side of the coin: Which security camera subscriptions deliver the most value? Here are our recommendations of the best the best security cameras that don’t require a subscription. We’ve listed them in order of price and sophistication and have recommendations for both indoor and outdoor models. Tapo family of security cameras Tapo Indoor/Outdoor Wi-Fi Home Security Camera (model C120) Read our review TP-Link’s Tapo Indoor/Outdoor Security Cam (model C120) costs just $40—and you’ll often find it selling online for $10 less than that—but it has all the features most people need. You get 2K video resolution, integrated spotlights for color night vision, intelligent motion detection, and more; plus, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, so you can watch a livestream on your smart display of choice. This camera has various mounting options too; either set it on a table or shelf, or mount it outdoors with an easy-to-install magnetic base, but be aware that it depends on AC power—one of the reasons for its low price is that it doesn’t have a battery. One of our favorite features is line-crossing detection, which lets us create a boundary and then be notified whenever anything crosses it, be it a wandering pet leaving our yard or a raccoon entering it to raid our garbage cans. TP-Link’s $90 Tapo Wire-free Magnetic Security Camera (model C425) has very similar features to the Tapo Indoor/Outdoor Security Camera, except that it’s completely wire-free. It connects to your Wi-Fi network like the other model, but it operates on battery power—a 10,000mAh battery, in fact—that promises up to 300 hours of continuous operation on a full charge. Its magnetic mount makes it easy to take down when its battery needs charging, or you can add Tapo’s $40 solar panel and keep its battery perpetually topped off. Cloud storage plans have their benefits—and TP-Link’s Tapo cameras do offer one as an option—but it’s completely optional. The Tapo Care subscription service offers a few extra features, such as snapshot notifications of the triggering event, and the ability to sort videos based on those events. But both Tapo cameras are outfitted with microSD card slots that support cards all the way up to 512GB. You’ll need to supply your own card, but that’s a huge amount of storage. Eufy Security family of security cameras Eufy Indoor Cam S350 Read our review Best Prices Today: £121 at Amazon | £129.99 at argos.co.uk Eufy Security’s $130 Indoor Cam S350 is an excellent camera with or without its optional subscription. It’s outfitted with dual high-resolution lenses, one that captures impressive 4K wide-angle views and the other that delivers 2K telephoto videos. Its wide-angle lens boasts a 130-degree field of view, but its pan/tilt motor enables it to pivot 360 degrees left to right and tilt 75 degrees for floor-to-ceiling views. It has fairly impressive motion-sensing abilities as well, though we found the pet detection a little lacking. Other features include Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. Many Eufy cameras have a small amount of onboard storage and/or microSD card slots; plus, connections to Eufy’s own network-attached drives—such as the Eufy HomeBase 3—which makes them perfect for folks who don’t want to pay monthly subscription fees. Like TP-Link, Eufy offers cloud storage if you want that convenience, but you don’t lose any features if you don’t sign up for it. Storage-wise, the Indoor Cam S350 has a microSD card slot that supports up to 128GB cards. That doesn’t seem that much, but it might be enough if you don’t plan on keeping recordings for too long. As storage fills up, the oldest files will get overwritten automatically, so you don’t have to constantly maintain it. The $150 Eufy HomeBase 3 can host up to 16TB of encrypted storage right on your own network, although you’ll need to supply your own drive. According to Eufy, you can use any 2.5-inch SATA drive (mechanical or solid-state). The HomeBase 3 must be hardwired to your router (or to an ethernet switch that’s hardwired to your router). If you’re looking for an outdoor security camera, Eufy also offers the $200 SoloCam S340. It has dual high-resolution lenses that provide wide-angle and telephoto views, a 360-degree pan, and a 70-degree tilt motor. On top of that, it comes with a solar panel that’ll help keep its onboard battery charged up. The fact that it doesn’t require AC power is a big selling point, especially if you’re mounting it in a location that gets plenty of sunlight. Like the Eufy Indoor Cam S350, the SoloCam S340 also doesn’t require a subscription plan. The downside, however, is that it only has 8GB of internal memory. If you want to store more of your recordings, you might want to consider adding the Eufy NAS box we discussed earlier. Lorex family of security cameras Lorex 2K Indoor Pan-Tilt Wi-Fi Camera Read our review The $70 Lorex 2K Indoor Pan-Tilt Wi-Fi Camera offers plenty of bang for the buck. For a relatively affordable price, it has features like 2K resolution video capture, a 110-degree field of view, plus 360-degree pan and 75-degree tilt. Like other security cameras, it also offers sound and motion detection, two-way talk, and a privacy mode. In tests, we found that it has great event detection and was able to distinguish between humans and animals. Unlike Eufy’s cameras, which have cloud storage as an optional subscription, Lorex forgoes it entirely—local storage is the only available option. The Lorex 2K Indoor Wi-Fi Camera, for example, comes with a microSD card slot with a 16GB card pre-installed, but that can be replaced by up to a 256GB card if you choose to buy one. Many Lorex cameras can also be paired with Lorex’s own line of network video recorders (NVRs), a form of NAS box that you hardwire to your network. These let you store video recordings from multiple Lorex cameras on your network. Each Fusion-series NVR can connect to both wired (meaning with an ethernet cable) and Wi-Fi cameras, depending on how many channels the NVR supports. An 8-channel Fusion NVR, for example, can support up to six wired cameras and two Wi-Fi cameras. The NVR itself must be hardwired to your router or to an ethernet switch that’s hardwired to your network. According to Lorex, connecting your camera to a Fusion NVR also lets you set up 24/7 continuous recording—at least on cameras with wired power, doing that with a battery-powered camera would quickly drain it. This is particularly useful if your camera somehow gets damaged, as your NVR will then have backup footage. Lorex’s Fusion NVRs tend to cost more than something like a Eufy HomeBase 3, but they typically include a hard drive where Eufy expects you to buy one separately. At press time, Amazon was selling a Fusion N864A64B-series 16-channel NVR for $450, including a 3TB hard drive. You can also buy a Fusion NVR bundled with cameras. Lorex also sells an outdoor camera that’s integrated with a super-bright floodlight for $250. Aptly named the 2K Wi-Fi Floodlight Security Cam, it has two large articulating LED floodlight panels which deliver a combined 2400 lumens of brightness. We were impressed by its high-quality video thanks to its 4-megapixel image sensor that captures 2560 x 1440 resolution video and its lens that boasts a 122-degree field of view. Though the camera has five different types of motion detection—person, vehicle, animal, abandoned object, and missing object—and five levels of motion sensitivity, our reviewer found it to be rather finicky. Reviewer Christopher Null encountered a lot of false positives, where he received an alert but nothing actually happened. Like the indoor camera, the 2K Floodlight Security Cam stores all clips locally on a microSD card. It comes with a 32GB card, but it supports cards with capacities up to 256GB—enough for several weeks of recordings. The Floodlight Security Cam is also compatible with Lorex’s line of Fusion NVRs. If you’re already in Eufy’s smart home ecosystem, consider the Eufy Floodlight Cam E340, instead. It boasts an integrated pan/tilt camera along with dual LED panels that produce up to 2,000 lumens of brightness. Reolink family of security cameras Reolink RLC-1212A Read our review Best Prices Today: £202.68 at Amazon Reolink’s RLC-1212A is a 12MP indoor/outdoor camera with three no-recurring-cost storage options; it retails for just $100. Equipped with a durable aluminum bullet-style casing that’s resistant to dust as well as jets of water, it provides great outdoor surveillance. And one of its more unique features is its ability to operate on Power over Ethernet (PoE), which means you need just a single a single ethernet cable for both data and electrical power. More importantly, you won’t need to worry about finding a weatherproof outdoor outlet to plug it into. PoE devices do require a specific type of ethernet switch—our reviewer used a TP-Link JetStream 8-Port Gigabit Smart PoE+ switch—but there are many less-expensive options than that (and a smart switch like that one is overkill for this purpose). Aside from that, we love the Reolink RLC-1212A’s 4K video quality, color night vision, and 700-lumen spotlight. It has a built-in mic and speaker for two-way communication to let you speak with visitors, or you can enable its built-in siren to scare unwelcome folks away. It has smart motion detection for person and vehicle alerts, too. As for the storage options I mentioned earlier, the RLC-1212A comes with a microSD card slot that accommodates up to 256GB cards, FTP uploading to a personal server, and the option to connect to one of Reolink’s NVR units. Interestingly, choosing the NVR would negate the need for that separate ethernet switch, as the NVRs have their own PoE ports. Right now, it looks like you can get a Reolink RLN8-410 NVR for around $190. It has a pre-installed 2TB hard drive and it supports up to 8 cameras recording at the same time. You can replace its 2TB internal hard drive with a 4TB drive, and it can accommodate up to a 6TB external hard drive via its eSATA port if you want even more storage. Less-recommended alternatives These other security cameras can technically function without a paid subscription, but their features are significantly hampered, to the point that we can’t recommend them strongly if you’re looking to avoid a subscription. Still, they might be worth considering if you can live with their restrictions. Blink family of security cameras Blink Mini 2 Read our review Blink Outdoor Blink cameras have gained something of a cult following over the past few years thanks to their affordability, compact size, and ease of use. Amazon’s $40 Blink Mini 2 is one of the more recent models and it is absolutely tiny. Still, it has plenty of features that we find very useful, such as a ruggedized exterior, 1080p video quality, color night vision, and a 143-degree field of view. The $100 Blink Outdoor 4 is a little larger, but it also has a very long battery life—almost two years—with just two AA batteries. Like the Mini 2, it’s super easy to set up and use, and its small size enables it to fit just about anywhere. As an alternative to cloud storage, you can buy a Blink camera with a Blink Sync Module 2 ($50 if purchased on its own), which lets you plug a USB thumb drive for network-attached storage. The 2.5 x 0.75-inch box runs on AC power and has a USB-A 2.0 port on its side to host a drive. You’ll still need a Blink Subscription plan to get person detection notifications, to record live video or motion-triggered events, and to download recordings to your phone. A subscription will also allow for automatic backup of each day’s recordings to a USB drive attached to the sync module. Nest family of security cameras Nest Cam (Battery) Read our review Best Prices Today: $179.99 at Google Nest The Nest cameras have made some of our favorite security cameras for years, and that includes the battery-operated Nest Cam. It’s easy to set up; plus, it offers great video quality under most lighting conditions. Out of the box, you’ll get three hours of event history without having to pay for a subscription, as well as on-device person, pet, and vehicle detection. Signing up for a Nest Aware subscription ($8 per month) expands event recordings to 30 days and adds “familiar face” notifications and alerts when your smoke or carbon monoxide detector sounds off. A Nest Aware Plus plan extends the cameras’ event history to 60 days and adds 10 days of continuous video history. Both plans cover all your Nest devices. Our favorite security cams, with and without subscriptions If none of these recommendations fit your needs, be sure to check out this story that covers all of our favorite home security cameras, with and without subscription requirements. You’ll also find an in-depth buyers guide that will help you to understand all your options. Security Cameras

      • TV bundles are back, but savings could be illusory

        After years of false starts, TV’s great re-bundling is happening in earnest; but instead of the savings streaming services are promising, it might just lead to higher prices. Starting this summer, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery will sell a bundle of Disney+, Hulu, and Max, presumably for less than the cost of getting each service a la carte. While we’ve seen some modest attempts at bundling streaming services before—most notably from wireless carriers—this is the first time rival programmers will cooperate directly to offer their services at a discount. In a press release, one Warner executive called the Disney collaboration “a powerful new roadmap for the future of the industry.” Other players are already showing their hands in response. At an industry conference this week, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the company will bundle Netflix, Apple TV+, and Peacock at a “vastly reduced price” for its internet and TV customers. That package, whose exact pricing was not announced, will arrive later this month. While I want to believe that these bundles will help cord-cutters save money, I’m skeptical about the long-term impact. History suggests the savings will be fleeting, and that the great re-bundling will only provide cover for more price hikes. Another excuse to raise prices Just a couple years ago, streaming providers were talking up ad-supported TV as a way to defray subscription costs. Instead, they’ve used their ad-supported tiers as a cushion to absorb the impact of ever-higher prices. Disney was the original offender. The ad-supported tier of Disney+ launched in late 2022 for $8 per month, the same as what Disney+ previously cost with no ads. Meanwhile, the ad-free Disney+ tier jumped to $11 per month, and it now stands at $14 per month after another price hike last fall. The move might have inspired Amazon, which in January turned Prime Video into an ad-supported streaming service. Avoiding commercial breaks now costs an extra $3 per month. Comcast and NBCUniversal are now following a similar pattern with Peacock, which launched four years ago for $5 per month with ads and $10 per month without. After one price hike last year and another scheduled for July, the price will sit at $8 per month with ads or $14 per month without. At this rate, it won’t be long before Peacock’s ad-supported tier costs the same as the ad-free version’s original price. Even when streaming services have held the line on ad-supported pricing—as Netflix and Max have done so far—they’ve continued to raise prices on ad-free TV. Ad-supported subscribers bring in more money anyway, so price hikes on ad-free viewing have little consequence. I now fear a similar game plan for streaming bundles. While the savings may seem significant at first, prices will inevitably rise, and before long they may resemble what you used to pay without bundling. Meanwhile, a la carte pricing could rise at an even faster rate to discourage customers from unbundling again. This has already been happening with Disney, whose individual streaming services have sharply risen in price as the company pushes its existing bundles. The ad-free version of Hulu now costs $18 per month—it was $12 per month just a few years ago—and throwing in Disney+ only costs $2-per-month more. You can still subscribe to Hulu by itself, but why bother when the savings are so minimal? Therein lies the endgame for the great re-bundling. The goal is not to help people spend less on TV, but to discourage subscription hopping, which predicably has become more common as streaming services raise prices. By bundling services together, streamers can more effectively boil the frog on further price hikes, just as they did with ad-free streaming. What you can do about it While it’s hard to offer specific guidance in the absence of full price details, it’s clear that we’re entering a new age of streaming, in which streaming services will be sliced and diced in different ways—and not always for the better. Cord-cutters who want to avoid overspending will in turn need greater awareness of all the bundle deals, seasonal discounts, and comeback offers that are available. Comcast’s bundle of Netflix, Apple TV+, and Peacock bundle may not be the best option, for instance, compared to extended Apple TV+ trials, standalone Peacock discounts, and a carrier-subsidized Netflix subscription. But TV programmers don’t want you to think that way. These companies come from a world of mandatory pay TV bundling, which shielded them from consequences whenever they raised prices or spent less on quality content. It was comfortable for them, but expensive for you, which is why they’re trying to bring it back. To stay informed on the latest streaming savings strategies. Sign up for Jared’s Cord Cutter Weekly newsletter. Streaming Media

      • Battle of the budget security cameras: These brands offer more for less

        When it comes to safeguarding your home without breaking the bank, navigating the maze of budget home security cameras can feel like a high-stakes balancing act. Each inexpensive option inevitably cuts corners, whether it’s in image quality, field of view, or the intuitiveness of its accompanying app. Deciding which trade-offs are bearable and which are deal-breakers can be stressful. In this crowded market, the quest is to find a manufacturer whose cameras demand the fewest significant compromises. Hence this guide: We compare of the most popular indoor security cameras to determine the best budget option for most people. Each camera listed here costs less than $100 and benefits from a previous in-depth review by TechHive’s editors and contributors. Five competitors enter the arena, one will be left standing, having delivered the best performance and the fewest trade-offs. This comparison is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best home security cameras. Typical and acceptable trade-offs When selecting a budget security camera, it’s essential to understand the trade-offs that might come into play: Resolution and field of view: Higher-resolution cameras provide clearer images, which can be critical for identifying details in recorded footage. Cameras with a broader field of view, reduce the need to deploy multiple units in larger spaces, but that feature might come at the cost of resolution. Video storage options: Some cameras focus on local storage to enhance privacy and reduce the cost of an ongoing subscription; others depend on cloud storage that, while convenient, requires a recurring fee that adds to the cost of the camera over its useful life. Some cameras require a subscription to unlock advanced features, such as AI-enabled smart detection. Deciding between local and cloud storage will depend on your preferences for accessibility and advanced features versus ongoing cost. Night vision: Not all night vision is created equal. Color night vision offers more detail in low light—including, obviously, color detail—which can be a deciding factor for those want to monitor their spaces at night with the greatest possible clarity. Ecosystem compatibility: The Matter smart home standard promises to break down the walls between today’s smart home systems, but it does not yet take home security cameras into account. That being said, there might be other ecosystems to consider when shopping for a security camera. Apple users, for instance, might want to ensure their camera supports HomeKit Secure Video. And if you’ve already invested in a broader home security system that you’re already paying a monthly subscription for–Ring Alarm, for instance–you’ll want to stick with that brand, even if we haven’t included one of its models on this list. How we evaluated the cameras on this list Before we delve into the specifics of each product, let’s establish what makes a budget security camera worth your investment. The primary factors to consider include: Video quality and resolution: A high pixel count is crucial for identifying important details, such as faces. While you might not get 4K resolution in this price range, you should at minimum expect clear 1080p footage. Field of view: A wider field of view means fewer blind spots. Alternatively, a narrow field-of-view can be enhanced with pan-and-tilt functionality, which allows you to remotely redirect the camera to capture more of the scene. Night vision: Although studies show that most crime takes place during daylight hours, intruders still like to use the cover of darkness. That makes night vision an essential security feature. Any home security camera should have IR-powered black-and-white night vision, but color night vision is becoming more widely available and captures more forensic details, such as the color of a perpetrator’s clothing. App usability and features: The best camera can be hindered by a poorly designed app. Ease of use, notifications, and additional features like voice commands are important. App experiences vary widely by brand, so when you find one you prefer, stick with it. You won’t want to juggle one app for a camera in one room, and a wholly different app to check a camera in another room.. Smart home integration: Compatibility with other smart devices through integration with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or automation services such as IFTTT enhances the functionality of your security system. Subscription requirements: Ideally, your camera should be fully functional without an expensive monthly fee. If a subscription is required to enable some features, it needs to justify its cost with significant benefits. Don’t worry, we can tell you all about the best security camera subscription plans. Now, meet the contenders Wyze Cam 4 Wyze Cam v4 Read our review Wyze Labs has reset our expectations of what you can get in a budget-priced security camera. Its flagship Wyze Cam 4 significantly improves home security with 2.5K resolution for clearer, more detailed images, and a wide 115.8-degree field of view. Enhanced by a starlight sensor, its color night vision captures vivid footage in low-light conditions, supported by a built-in spotlight for improved nighttime clarity. Out of the box, you can view live video and record clips to microSD card in capacities up to 512GB (you’ll need to provide the card). You also get 14 days of free cloud storage, general motion and sound detection, and notifications when the devices hear the sound of a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm sounding off, courtesy of Wyze’s free basic cloud plan. What you don’t get is video recordings; rather, the camera captures a static image when it’s triggered by an event, with a 5-minute cool-down between each capture. That means the camera won’t produce any more snapshots for five minutes, no matter what happens in front of it. To enable actual video recordings without a cool-down period, you’ll need Wyze’s Cam Plus paid subscription plan, which costs $2.99 per month ($19.99 per year) per camera. If you have more than three Wyze cameras, you’ll want to step up to its Cam Unlimited plan tha covers an unlimited number of cameras for $9.99 per month ($99.99 per year). The Wyze app is feature-rich and makes it easy to view recordings, filtered by what type of activity (sound, person, pet, etc.) triggered it. As for third-party integrations, Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT are all supported, but Apple Home and HomeKit Secure Video are not. Lorex 2K Indoor Pan-Tilt Wi-Fi Camera Lorex 2K Indoor Pan-Tilt Wi-Fi Camera Read our review The Lorex 2K Indoor Pan-Tilt Wi-Fi Camera provides solid value with its 2K video resolution, a 110-degree field of view, and the ability to pan and tilt, giving users comprehensive coverage of large indoor spaces without the need for multiple cameras. Sound and motion detection (including person detection), IR night vision, two-way talk, and a privacy mode round out the essential security features. All video is stored locally on the device, which comes with a 16GB MicroSD Card preinstalled (card capacities up to 256GB are supported). Lorex doesn’t offer a cloud storage option, but video recordings can be stored on your network separate from the cameras with the Lorex Fusion line of network video recorders (NVRs). The Lorex Home app is well-designed and easy to navigate. The camera is compatible with Alexa and Google Home for voice control and video streaming, and it can also be paired with Lorex’s own Home Security Center. Tapo Indoor/Outdoor Wi-Fi Home Security Camera (model C120) Tapo Indoor/Outdoor Wi-Fi Home Security Camera (model C120) Read our review The Tapo C120 security camera is equipped with a range of advanced features designed for enhanced home surveillance. Offering 2K video resolution, the camera has a 120-degree field of view and includes integrated spotlights for color night vision and built-in infrared LEDs for black-and-white night vision, which can switch to an invisible IR mode for discrete monitoring. The camera’s intelligent motion detection can distinguish between humans, pets, and vehicles, and includes innovative features like line-crossing detection, allowing users to set boundaries and receive alerts when these are breached. Detection zones can be customized for specific monitoring needs, such as differentiating between a neighbor’s cat and a human intruder at the same access point. The Tapo C120 also features sound detection capabilities, with sensitivity settings for various noises including baby cries and breaking glass, all of which can be independently toggled on or off. Local storage is available via a user-supplied microSD card (in capacities up to 512GB). Cloud storage is available with a Tapo Care subscription that, among other things, adds rich push notifications with a snapshot of what triggered the recording (regular notifications are text only). Subscriptions cost $3.49 per month or $34.99 per year and cover up to 10 cameras. The Tapo app has a clean, intuitive design that in addition to providing access the camera’s live feed makes it easy to schedule monitoring blocks, manage detection settings, and review video clips. The camera is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Blink Mini 2 Blink Mini 2 Read our review Ideal for users in the Amazon ecosystem, the Blink Mini 2 integrates seamlessly with Alexa and offers straightforward functionality with 1080p resolution, motion detection, privacy/activity zones, and a wide 143-degree field of view. Full-feature access requires a subscription to one of Blink’s two cloud subscription plans, which start at $3 a month or $30 a year for one camera (coverage for an unlimited number of Blink cameras costs $10/mo. or $100/year). Without a paid subscription you’re only able to view the camera’s live feed for a maximum of 5 minutes after receiving a motion-detection alert. You get a no-obligation 30-day free trial when you activate a camera. As an alternative to cloud storage, you can store video locally via a user-supplied USB drive with a Blink Sync Module 2, which is sold separately ($50). The Blink app sports a minimalist design that provides easy access to a wealth of customization options for video, notifications, lighting, privacy, and other camera functions. Arlo Essential Indoor v2 Arlo Essential Indoor v2 (model VMC2060-100NAS) Read our review The second generation of Arlo’s Essential Indoor entry-level security camera is notable for its privacy-focused design, featuring a physical privacy shield that automatically activates when the camera is disarmed. The 1080p camera has a 130-degree field of view and includes motion detection, black-and-white night vision, two-way audio, 12x digital zoom, and a built-in siren. Users can access the camera’s live feed and receive standard motion alerts right out of the box. An Arlo Secure subscription is required, however, to unlock features such as intelligent motion detection (people, vehicles, packages, and pets), smart notifications, and smart activity zones, as well as to enable cloud storage for video clips. Coverage for a single camera costs $7.99 per month; you’ll pay $12.99 per month for an unlimited number of cameras. That makes Arlo’s cloud subscription one of the most expensive on the market. This camera does not support local storage at all. The second-gen Arlo Essential Indoor uses the same Arlo Secure app that’s used with Arlo’s Pro line of cameras. It employs a system of operational modes to control how the camera responds to motion or sound in various scenarios when you’re home and when you’re away. The system allows you to easily arm or disarm your camera with a single tap rather than having to comb through various settings to activate or deactivate individual security features. Our pick for the best budget indoor security camera Based on the criteria defined above, the Wyze Cam 4 emerges as the clear winner in providing the best balance of total cost of ownership, features, usability, and trade-offs. This camera excels across multiple categories, offering superior video quality, reliable smart detection, an expansive field of view, and exceptional night vision capabilities. The flexibility of local and cloud storage options ensures that users can choose the most convenient method for their needs without feeling pressured into ongoing subscriptions. Moreover, the Wyze Cam 4’s integration capabilities with popular smart home platforms like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa make it an excellent choice for those looking to seamlessly incorporate their security system into a broader smart home setup. Every product has its limitations, and the inability to record video without a paid cloud subscription is the obvious one here. However, we’re able to look past this shortcoming because Wyze’s cloud plans are some of the most affordable in this market. Ultimately, a budget-friendly camera should provide great value without skimping on quality or features. The Wyze Cam 4 achieves this balance, making it the best choice for those seeking reliable indoor surveillance without a hefty investment. That said, any other camera on this list might be the better choice for you specific needs, based on your initial budget, tolerance for a subscription, and compatibility with any ecosystem you’re already immersed in. If we’ve done our job, you’ll be able to decide which one is best. Home Security, Security Cameras

      • 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 approaches are to plug your lamps (and small appliances, in some cases) into a smart plug (see our top picks in smart plugs), or to replace the dumb switches and dimmers in your walls with smart models. The latter scenario is more complicated and more expensive, but there are advantages, as we discuss in our best smart dimmers and switches story. Updated May 15, 2024: We’ve added a link to our news story about Jasco’s outdoor Eternity Lights. These new weatherized string lights are designed for permanent installation on your home’s eaves, pergola, balcony, or other outdoor structure. The Eternity Lights, which employ LED-embedded pucks rather than bulbs, connect to Wi-Fi and come in 50- and 100-foot kits, with 16.5-foot extensions also on offer. We’ll have a full review once we test out a sample unit. 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. 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: £28.37 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 Best Prices Today: £126.32 at Amazon 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 Best Prices Today: £88.85 at Amazon 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 Aqara Ceiling Light T1M — Best smart ceiling light Pros Lots of lighting options Wake-up function Simple and sleek design Visual notifications Cons Requires a hub Why we like the Aqara Ceiling Light T1M The Aqara Ceiling Light T1M boasts a subtle design, yet it can generate impressive animated light shows when the need arises, as well as shine in a wide range of white color temperatures. It’s also easy to install and comes with a variety of smart features, including a wake-up option. Who should buy the Aqara Ceiling Light T1M Aqara’s ceiling light supports Matter, which means it will work great in Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings households. It’s worth noting that the T1M requires an Aqara hub, which will unlock a number of nifty integrations, including the ability for the light to flash when your Aqara sensors detect movement. Read our full Aqara Ceiling Light T1M 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: £261.99 at eBay UK£275 at B & Q£319.99 at argos.co.uk 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 Neon Rope Light 2: More flexible and now with Matter, Govee’s Neon Rope Light 2 makes for an easy way to add an animated and eye-catching splash of color to practically any living space.  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. LIFX String Light: LIFX is back with a 24-foot string light that boasts 12 big, chunky cylinders attached to a thick, rubberized wire. These attractive, three-zone lights can add an appealing splash of color to any backyard space, and they throw off an impressive amount of brightness compared to typical string lights. LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21: Bright, easy to install, compliant with Matter, and packed with features, the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 makes for a compelling smart bulb, even if it’s a tad heavy and chunky. LIFX SuperColor Spot: You can add a burst of color to your landscaping with the LIFX SuperColor Spot, but be mindful of all the extra wiring it requires.  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. Nanoleaf Outdoor String Lights: Nanoleaf’s string lights are long and offer lots of flexibility, but the light quality leaves something to be desired.  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

      • Enbrighten Eternity Lights can be installed just once for all seasons

        If you enjoy illuminating your home with decorative lighting for the holidays, but dread climbing up and down a ladder and dealing with tangled strings of lights several times a year, take a look at the latest entry in Jasco’s Enbrighten line of smart lighting products: Eternity Lights. Enbrighten Eternity Lights are permanently mounted in your home’s eaves, on a pergola, balcony, or other outdoor structure and then connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network. You’ll need to have a weatherized outdoor outlet to plug them into, unless you want to drill a hole in your home’s wall to run a power cable through, but this lighting system comes with 20 feet of lead wire, a 10-foot extension cable, and an 18-inch cord attached to its power supply brick. This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart lighting. Eternity Lights come in 16.5-foot strands with 12 RGBWIC LEDs per strand. That acronym means each LED in the strand has red, green, blue, and white diodes, and that each LED can be controlled independently. In addition to changing the color of light the LEDs produce, you can also tune each LEDs’ white color temperature, from a very warm 2200 Kelvin to a daylight-equivalent 6500K. Each LED is rated to produce 33 lumens of brightness at 2200K. A 16.5-strand of Jasco Products’ Enbrighten Eternity Lights illuminated and connected to the Enbrighten app, but obviously not installed. A 16.5-strand of Jasco Products’ Enbrighten Eternity Lights illuminated and connected to the Enbrighten app, but obviously not installed.Michael Brown/Foundry A 16.5-strand of Jasco Products’ Enbrighten Eternity Lights illuminated and connected to the Enbrighten app, but obviously not installed.Michael Brown/Foundry Michael Brown/Foundry Once connected to your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, you can program and control Eternity Lights with Jasco’s Enbrighten app for Android or iOS. In addition to changing colors, you can create animation and chase sequences, fades, and similar effects with individual lights or groups of lights. You can also control the lights with Alexa or Google Home voice commands, but they’re not Matter or HomeKit compatible at this time. Jasco is selling a 50-foot kit (three 16.5-foot strands, 36 lights, 1,188 total lumens) for $159.99, and a 100-foot kit (six 16.5-foot strands, 72 lights, 2,376 total lumens) for $249.99. You can purchase additional 16.5-foot strands at $49.99 each to extend a single run up to 200 feet with 144 lights on the one power supply, although Jasco discloses that going beyond 150 feet will reduce the total lumen output. Strands can be trimmed to fit, provided the strand has at least four pucks remaining, and the cut end of the strand can’t be in a location where water might accumulate. Once cut, a strand cannot be patched back together. Jasco Products Jasco Products Jasco Products Speaking of water, Jasco has assigned an IP65 weatherization rating for its Eternity Lights’ power supply, meaning it is impervious to dust ingress and can withstand water jets coming from any direction (short of a pressure washer). The light strands are rated IP67 end to end, although trimming the end of one will reduce that protection. (We have another article that will tell you everything you need to know about IP codes). Enbrighten Eternity Lights and extension kits are available for purchase now with white or black cords. We reviewed Jasco’s Enbrighten Wi-Fi Café Lights in the spring of 2022, and they remain our favorite in that category. We have an Eternity Lights sample in house now, and you can look for our in-depth review soon. Lighting

      • Best water leak detectors for smart homes

        Fire might be a homeowner’s greatest fear, but any insurance company will tell you that water is the far more common cause of property damage, even if you don’t live in an area subject to flooding. And it can come from many sources: A failing water heater, a burst pipe, a broken supply line under your sink, a clogged toilet, or even a split hose connected to your washing machine. Just as it’s essential to have a smoke detector in each of your home’s bedrooms and common areas, you’d be wise to install leak detectors in places where water damage could start: The laundry room, water heater closet, the bathroom, under your kitchen sink, and so on. Leak alerts are arguably less important for renters, but it’s something landlords might want to consider—although that raises the issue of how the sensors would connect to the internet. More on that later. If you think a leak sensor is something your home should have, here are our top picks. If you want more information on this topic and want to read more reviews, scroll down a bit. Updated May 15, 2024: We’ve added a link to our Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff review. Moen’s second-generation smart valve displaces the second-generation Phyn Plus as our most highly recommended leak prevention system, thanks to its being a part of Moen’s larger Smart Water Network. We also like the all-but-impossible-to-ignore robocalls that Moen’s system makes when its device suspects there’s a leak in your main water and before it proactively shuts its main valve off to prevent catastrophic damage. These types of smart home device are expensive and typically require professional installation, but their cost is a fraction of what it would cost to clean up and repair the water damage caused by a burst pipe. Top picks in water leak detection and mitigation Moen Smart Water Leak Detector — Best smart water leak detector Pros Alerts you to the presence of water where it shouldn’t be nearly instantly Can trigger the Moen Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff to shut off your water supply if a leak is detected Also monitors ambient and temperature and humidity, and alerts you to readings outside user-defined ranges Connects directly to your Wi-Fi network, no hub required Cons No provisions for integration in broader smart home systems Doesn’t support IFTTT, which would trigger other smart home devices Water-sensitive extension cables cost $20 each It's not a component of the Moen Smart Water Network Best Prices Today: £101 at Amazon The Moen Smart Water Leak Detector is an excellent solution for alerting you to the presence of water in places it shouldn’t be. It’s a no-brainer buy if you already have or plan to install a Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff valve, but it delivers plenty of value even if you don’t. The sensor can detect water through the contacts on its own body, and you can plug plug in an extension sensor attached to a 4-foot cable to monitor nearby areas of the floor. Our biggest criticism is that the sensor is not part of the Moen Smart Water Network and you’ll need a different app than to set it up. Read our full Moen Smart Water Leak Detector review Phyn Smart Water Sensor — Best smart water leak detector, runner-up Pros Sends an immediate warning when water contacts it If you also own the pricey Phyn Plus, it can automatically turn off your main water supply to prevent catastrophic damage Industrial design prevents water ingress from the top of the device Operates on two AA batteries You don’t have to pay for the extension cable with remote sensing disk unless you need it Cons Phyn makes the only compatible smart shut-off valve Can’t be integrated into a broader smart home ecosystem (including IFTTT) Operates only on 2.4GHz networks Will give you trouble if your dual-band Wi-Fi router uses the same SSID for both its 2.4- and 5GHz networks Best Prices Today: $39.99 at Best Buy If you own a Phyn Plus smart water valve, you absolutely should place one or more of these smart water sensor around your home. If the sensor detects water where it shouldn’t be, it can trigger the Phyn Plus to shut off your main water supply to prevent catastrophic water damage. On its own, it will give you plenty of warning of a localized water leak, so you can take immediate action. The Phyn Smart Water Sensor will also report the ambient temperature and the relative humidity at the location it’s placed, and it will warn you if either factor exceeds the tolerances you’ve set in the Phyn app. Read our full Phyn Smart Water Sensor review Eve Water Guard (2nd Gen) — Best Matter compatible water leak sensor Pros Easy setup Cable sensor can be stretched up to 490 feet with extensions HomeKit and Thread support Built-in siren and alert LED Cons Wired design won’t work for everyone No Android, Alexa, or Google Assistant support Expensive If you’ve gone all in with Apple’s HomeKit smart home ecosystem, there is no better solution than the second-gen Eve Water Guard. That goes double if you’re looking for Thread support and you think you’re planning to jump onto the recently ratified Matter smart home standard–backed by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung SmartThings–that promises to finally unify the smart home market. Read our full Eve Water Guard (2nd Gen) review Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff — Best leak detector with automatic shut-off valve Pros Monitors your home’s water supply line and can automatically shut it off to prevent water damage from leaks Reports on your home’s water consumption and detects water-use anomalies Measures the pressure in your water supply line and warns you if it becomes dangerously high Moen robocalls warn you of conditions that can prompt it to shut off your water for safety Cons Moen’s algorithm isn’t super accurate at determining how much water your home’s fixtures and appliances are consuming You must use two different apps to operate both this smart valve and the Moen Smart Leak Detector Finicky about connecting to Wi-Fi (and limited to 2.4GHz networks) Unless you’re an advanced DIYer, you’ll want to hire a plumber for installation Not HomeKit compatible Best Prices Today: £616.80 at Amazon As part of Moen’s home water network, the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff can protect your home from catastrophic water damage, save you money on your insurance and water bills, and help you use one of the Earth’s most precious resources more wisely. Read our full Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff review Phyn Plus smart water assistant + shutoff (2nd Gen) — Best leak detector with automatic shut-off valve, runner-up Pros Can prevent catastrophic water damage Can work in conjunction with optional stand-alone leak sensors   Presents detailed analyses of your household water consumption Performs automatic daily inspections of your water supply lines Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT Cons Best installed by a professional plumber Push notifications are easy to overlook Can be a pain to connect to your Wi-Fi network Not HomeKit compatible The second-generation Phyn Plus is incrementally better than the first, but it’s also more expensive. That said, there is no better way to protect your home from catastrophic water damage caused by a plumbing failure, and you might qualify for a discount on your homeowners’ insurance policy if you install one. The Phyn Plus is pricey protection you hope you’ll never need, but catastrophic water damage will cost you many times as much. And even if you never experience a leak, this smart device will inform you of your household’s daily and monthly water consumption, so you can contemplate ways to reduce your use of this precious resource. Read our full Phyn Plus smart water assistant + shutoff (2nd Gen) review Flume 2 Smart Home Water Monitor — Best DIY whole-home leak detection system Pros Tons of flexibility in slicing and dicing historical water usage Wide compatibility with most water meters Much better range and performance than the first-generation device Less expensive than water monitors that can shut off your water supply Cons Installation can get messy Can’t automatically turn your water off to prevent water damage Can't pinpoint the source of a water leak Useless for homes without water meters (e.g., rural homes reliant on wells) Best Prices Today: $249 at Flume, Inc.£404.38 at Amazon Unlike the Phyn Plus and Flo by Moen products it competes with, the Flume 2 cannot automatically shut off your water supply in the event of a catastrophic leak. The dual upsides to that is you can install the Flume 2 yourself, so can avoid the expense of a plumber, and this smart device is a whole lot less expensive than the more sophisticated competition. The Flume 2 will warn you a leak, so that you can take action, and it does report your water consumption. The company says its users have reduced their household water consumption by an average of 10 percent after installing the sensor. We like it a lot. Read our full Flume 2 Smart Home Water Monitor review How we test smart leak detectors To measure each sensor’s effectiveness, we placed it on a bathroom tile, and then poured enough water to cover the surface of that tile. Most sensors responded immediately, though we have noted a few exceptions. We measured alarm volume using the Decibel 10th app on an iPhone, with the microphone pointed toward the sensor from six inches away. We didn’t directly test integrations with other smart home devices, but inspected each companion app and the online service IFTTT for available features. We consulted manuals and product listings for battery life estimates and device dimensions. Editors’ note: This testing methodology does not apply to leak detection systems that monitor your water supply line, such as the Flo by Moen, Sinopé Sedna, and Phyn Plus. What to look for when shopping You might be surprised by the diverse approaches to what seems like a simple task: detecting the presence of water where it shouldn’t be. Some operate on Wi-Fi, others require a hub to communicate. Some plug into an AC outlet, others require a battery. Some come with external sensor cables and mount to the wall, others lay on the floor. Most, but not all, have onboard sirens. If the recommendations above don’t work for you, here are the specs and features you’ll want to consider when shopping for a smart home water leak detector. Hub requirements: Some smart leak sensors that communicate using Zigbee or Z-Wave technology require a hub (e.g., an Aeotec SmartThings Hub) or a bridge to connect to your Wi-Fi network. Others can connect directly to your Wi-Fi network. Connection protocols: If you own a hub already, you must make sure the sensor uses a compatible connection protocol. Fibaro, for instance, uses Z-Wave, which works with SmartThings. If you own a well-known hub, such as SmartThings, you’ll likely see its name on the sensor’s box. Integrations: Some leak sensors allow you automate actions on other devices when a leak occurs. That way, you can trigger lights, turn on cameras, or sound an alarm. Devices that support IFTTT, a service that lets you automate tasks between connected devices and services, can trigger actions by third-party devices. Sensors that communicate with smart water valves, such as those from Phyn and Flo by Moen, can turn off your main water supply to stop a leak. Size and extendability: Where do you plan to put your leak sensor? If it’s a tight space, make sure the sensor is either small enough to fit, or that it offers a sensor cable to extend its reach. Built-in siren: Unless you plan to put the sensor far from where you might normally hear it, it’s helpful to have a siren onboard. That way, you’ll still get alerted at home even when the internet is down. Additional onboard sensors: Some leak sensors can also measure other environmental conditions that can lead to problems at their extremes, such as temperature (a frozen pipe can burst and cause catastrophic water damage) and humidity (excess moisture in the air can allow mold to grow). Power source: Most leak sensors are battery powered, but some, such as D-Link’s Wi-Fi Water Sensor, depend on AC power. An outlet-powered sensor with battery backup in the event of a blackout would be ideal; unfortunately, they are rare. Editor’s note: Mel Nussbaum, the owner of Water Works Plumbing in Overland Park, Kansas, emailed this useful tip for preventing water damage due to frozen pipes bursting: “If you shut off your main water service valve [you’ll] never have the issue, and two minutes of your time [will] cost you nothing. By the time you’re alerted and get someone to take action you still will incur huge damages.” Sensors, Smart Home

      • Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff review: To protect and to save

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsMonitors your home’s water supply line and can automatically shut it off to prevent water damage from leaks Reports on your home’s water consumption and detects water-use anomaliesMeasures the pressure in your water supply line and warns you if it becomes dangerously high Moen robocalls warn you of conditions that can prompt it to shut off your water for safetyConsMoen’s algorithm isn’t super accurate at determining how much water your home’s fixtures and appliances are consuming You must use two different apps to operate both this smart valve and the Moen Smart Leak DetectorFinicky about connecting to Wi-Fi (and limited to 2.4GHz networks)Unless you’re an advanced DIYer, you’ll want to hire a plumber for installation Our VerdictAs part of Moen’s home water network, the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff can protect your home from catastrophic water damage, save you money on your insurance and water bills, and help you use one of the Earth’s most precious resources more wisely. Best Prices Today: Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff Retailer Price £616.80 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Product Price Price comparison from Backmarket I reviewed the first-generation of this product, then branded as the Flo by Moen smart water valve, in early 2021. I later replaced it with the Phyn Plus (and in late 2022, with the 2nd-generation Phyn Plus), which I found to be even better. Today, Moen’s revamped product has leapfrogged the Phyn Plus. If you’re unfamiliar with this class of smart home device, it fits in your incoming water supply line—usually replacing your existing shut-off valve—where it monitors a host of factors related to your water supply: leaks, first and foremost, but also household water consumption; water pressure and temperature, and more. If it detects a leak in your water system—be it from a burst pipe, a running toilet, a leaky faucet, or what have you—it can automatically shut off your water supply to prevent catastrophic damage. As we outlined in a recent story, smart water shut-off valves like the Moen and Phyn products can also earn you a discount on your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, and you can print a letter certifying your ownership of Moen’s device right from the company’s app. Insurance companies reward this kind of risk mitigation, because claims from water damage are more common than claims from fire damage. If the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff detects any anomalies in your water supply line, it will set in motion a sequence of events that will automatically turn your water supply off to prevent catastrophic water damage. One of my criticisms of the first-generation Flo by Moen was that you needed to sign up for an ongoing subscription to get the full value out of the product. That’s no longer the case. You can sign up for an optional FloProtect subscription ($5 per month) under which Moen will pay up to $5,000 of your homeowner’s insurance deductible should you need to file a water-damage claim, and the sub will also extend the valve’s 1-year warranty to 5 years. But you won’t lose out on any of the product’s features or functions if you don’t sign up. You can manually turn the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff by pressing a button or using an Allen wrench if your power is out. You can manually turn the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff by pressing a button or using an Allen wrench if your power is out.Michael Brown/Foundry You can manually turn the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff by pressing a button or using an Allen wrench if your power is out.Michael Brown/Foundry Michael Brown/Foundry Design and features There are three models of the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff for copper, PEX, and PVC water pipes in the three most common sizes: 3/4-, 1-, and 1-1/4-inches, priced at $500, $550, and $800 respectively. Installing one can be a DIY project, but Moen strongly recommends hiring a professional plumber for the job. Moen hired a plumber to install the device on my 3/4-inch PEX water supply line, downline from a pressure-reducing valve I had installed when the 2nd-generation Phyn Plus I reviewed earlier identified dangerously high water pressure coming from my city water supply. If you’re wondering what a PEX water line is doing in a 134-year-old house, it’s because I had it installed shortly after I moved in. The previous owner had replaced whatever was there originally—cast iron or galvanized steel, perhaps—with PVC, but that material is relatively brittle and prone to bursting if the water in the line freezes. Having experienced catastrophic water damage when a much stronger copper water line burst in my previous home, I didn’t want to take any chances. Smart water valves rely on AC power to operate, so you’ll need to make sure there’s an outlet nearby that you can plug the adapter into. As I recommended for the Phyn Plus, you might want to plug the Flo into an uninterruptible power supply to ensure it continues to operate in the event of a power outage. You will receive a push notification if the valve drops off your network for any reason. When the plumber installed the unit in the crawlspace of my basement—yeah, my 1890 bungalow has a partial basement and a partial crawlspace—he found that the supplied 10-foot power cord was about 18 inches short of reaching the outlet, so he plugged the power adapter into a 50-foot extension cord he had in his truck. I didn’t discover this until several months later. I know that Moen offers its own purpose-built 25-foot extension cable for about $14, but when I mentioned to the Moen folks what the plumber had done, they told me it was fine and that I didn’t need theirs. So, I replaced the plumber’s cord with a much shorter one I had laying around and gained a new extension cord for my outdoor power-tool needs. Moen’s app is great when it comes to tracking the conditions of your water supply line and how much water you use overall, but it’s not as impressive when it comes to identifying which fixtures and appliances are using water. Moen’s app is great when it comes to tracking the conditions of your water supply line and how much water you use overall, but it’s not as impressive when it comes to identifying which fixtures and appliances are using water.Michael Brown/Foundry Moen’s app is great when it comes to tracking the conditions of your water supply line and how much water you use overall, but it’s not as impressive when it comes to identifying which fixtures and appliances are using water.Michael Brown/Foundry Michael Brown/Foundry In addition to having a nearby AC outlet, you’ll need to connect the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff to your Wi-Fi network, and it will only connect to 2.4GHz networks. I use the Eero 6 dual-band mesh Wi-Fi router integrated into a Ring Alarm Pro for my Wi-Fi router, and this single-band requirement gave me trouble during my initial setup—I just couldn’t get the Flo to connect to the router. In the end, I used the Eero’s ability to temporarily pause its 5GHz network, so that its 2.4GHz is the only one available just long enough for you to onboard your 2.4GHz device. That did the trick. It’s worthing noting here that the valve will continue to monitor your water line if it temporarily loses its connection to your network, and it can still shut its valve in the event of an emergency. One of my other criticisms of Moen’s original smart valve was that Moen didn’t offer remote sensors that could detect water collecting where it shouldn’t be and then trigger the valve to shut off. The company has since remedied that with its Moen Smart Leak Detector. You place these battery-powered sensors next to plumbing fixtures like sinks and toilets and appliances like water heaters, washing machines, and dishwashers. Once you’ve connected them to your home network, they’ll alert you if they detect the presence of water. But they can also be configured to send a command to the Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff to close your main water supply if they detect a leak. Using the Moen app Once the smart valve is installed, you’ll need to set up Moen’s app on your smartphone. And this leads to my biggest criticism of the product: There are actually two apps. I tested the valve with the Moen app that incorporates other Moen products into the Moen Water Network. That’s great if you have other Moen plumbing products that are part of that network, such as Moen’s smart faucet (we have a review of the second-gen model in the works), Moen’s smart sprinkler controller, which we reviewed in the summer of 2023, and the Moen Sump Pump Monitor. But if you also want to use Moen’s excellent Smart Leak Detector, which can trigger the valve to close if it detects water, you must add that device using an entirely different app: the Moen Flo app. A large panel at the top of the app informs you of the status of your smart water devices, hopefully with a green light and a message reading “Everything is OK.” A box below that lets you put all of your Moen smart controls in one of three modes: Home, for everyday water use, during which you’ll get alerts if anything goes wrong; Sleep, if you know you’ll be using an abnormally high amount of water, such as to fill a swimming pool, and you don’t want alerts or emergency shut-offs; and Away, for when you’ll be away from home for a significant amount of time. In this last mode, the devices will respond more quickly to any water-usage anomalies to reduce the risk of water damage. A button in the next box down lets you turn the smart valve on and off with a touch. This is very convenient if you or a plumber will be working on your water line. Should you ever lose power and need to turn off the valve, Moen provides an Allen wrench for the task. Lastly, there’s a “winterize” mode that you can set if you’ll be away from home and you’re worried that your pipes might freeze. This feature requires you to also own a Moen smart faucet. Winterizing shuts the valve but opens the faucet to drain any standing water from the line, reducing the pressure on the pipe. Curiously, your whole-home controls need to be in Home mode for this to work. Moen Moen Moen Tapping on an in-app illustration of the smart valve takes you to a new screen specifically for that device. The first tab here provides a water pressure reading; water flow rate, if any fixtures or faucets are actively releasing water; and the ambient temperature. The next window shows trends for these same readings in real time, over the last 24 hours, and over the last seven days. You’ll see graphs for average flow rates, pressure readings, and ambient temperature. The Flo Smart Monitor & Shutoff will perform an automatic microleak test at least daily, during which it will shut off your water supply and then look for any drop in pressure that would indicate there’s a leak somewhere in your freshwater plumbing. You can also run this test on demand, and you can program the device to perform multiple tests each day. You won’t get a report on the results of automatic tests unless they’re abnormal, but you will get an in-app message and a report via email for any manual tests you run. The next tab in the app reports your home’s water consumption for the current day, for the past week, and for the month to date, measuring it against a goal that you set. The default goal is 80 to 100 gallons of water per person per day, and you can use an in-app calculator to compute your goal. A bar chart at the bottom of the app tracks your consumption by the hour for the daily report and by the day for the weekly report; the monthly report is just a number. Scroll down on this page of the app and you’ll see a consumption report broken down by fixture. You can inform the app which type of home you live in (single-family home, apartment, condo, or “other”); whether it’s your primary residence, a vacation home, or you rent it out; the size of your home (in square feet); the number of people in your household; how many floors you home has; the number of bathrooms; and the number and type of water-related fixtures and appliances in the home (bathtub, shower, washing machine, refrigerator with icemaker, and so on). Moen recommends hiring a professional plumber to install its Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff, but an advanced DIYer could do the job. Moen recommends hiring a professional plumber to install its Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff, but an advanced DIYer could do the job.Moen Moen recommends hiring a professional plumber to install its Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff, but an advanced DIYer could do the job.Moen Moen Moen has an algorithm that is supposedly able to distinguish between water flowing from a showerhead and a toilet refilling after a flush. It’s also supposed to be able to identify appliances, pools, hot tubs, faucets, hoses, and more. But I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in its accuracy. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I haven’t needed to irrigate my garden since the end of last summer, yet Moen’s app reports my irrigation system as having dispensed 201.7 gallons of water during 10 events over the last seven days. But if you’re like me, you’ll pay attention to these reports for the first couple of weeks post-installation and then all but forget they exist—unless you want to illustrate to your teenager the real-world impact of his 30-minute showers. Automatic operations With any luck, you’ll find you rarely need to interact with Moen’s app once you’ve set it up, as the smart valve operates on its own 95 percent of the time. If the valve detects an anomaly, it will set in motion a sequence of events that will automatically turn your water supply off to prevent catastrophic water damage, but not before warning you with a push notification and a robocall from “Vince,” who will ask if you want your water turn off or to be left on. If you miss these notifications and your water ends up getting shut off unnecessarily, you can turn it back on with a push of a button in the app. I did experience a few false positives in the early days after I had the valve installed, but that’s to be expected as the algorithm needs to learn your household’s patterns. One day last fall. my wife and I were in the garden until the early afternoon, and we didn’t shower until we came in (we typically shower first-thing in the morning). My wife went first, and I got in after she’d finished—and without turning the water off. Moen’s algorithm decided it was seeing too much water use in the middle of the day and assumed something was amiss. Having left our phones in the basement, we missed the warning notifications and the robocall, so my shower was interrupted about halfway through as our water supply was turned off. Fortunately for me, my wife was already dressed and went into the basement, retrieved her phone, and turned the water back on. If you find you’re getting too many notifications for regular water-use events, such as irrigation sessions, you can program manual overrides that will ignore them. Should you buy a Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff? Smart water valves that can mitigate water damage from burst pipes are a wise investment—that’s why insurance companies provide incentives for installing one. If you took my advice and installed a Phyn Plus, you made a good decision and there’s no reason to think you need to replace it with Moen’s product. If you took my earlier advice and bought Moen’s first-generation product, the same reasoning applies: You are sufficiently protected. If you don’t have a smart water valve, and you want to track your water use and protect your home from catastrophic water damage from burst pipes, Moen’s Flo Smart Water Monitor & Shutoff is the product to buy. That goes double if you already own or plan to purchase other plumbing devices in Moen’s Smart Water Network. Home Security, Sensors, Smart Home

      • I tested Dyson’s WashG1 and for me, there’s one clear problem

        Dyson has announced its newest floor cleaner, the WashG1. As the name suggests, it’s a wet floor cleaner. It’s the first dedicated cleaner of its type that Dyson has produced–although there is a wet cleaning head on the V15s Submarine (read our review to find out more). For the first time in its floor care range, Dyson has moved away from cyclone technology. Or, as the Dyson press office would have it (cruelly pre-empting similar puns from journalists), the WashG1 is “a wet floor cleaner that doesn’t suck”. The 10-pound WashG1 has a simple, minimalist design. Its color scheme is a little more muted than other Dyson cleaners, with a black floor head, handle and accessories, and a simple, angled, metallic blue wand. Mounted on the front are 1-liter clean and dirty water tanks. Emma Rowley / Foundry Emma Rowley / Foundry Emma Rowley / Foundry The controls and display are equally pared back, with an LCD screen that shows water level and remaining time, and just three buttons. One is for power, one cycles between low, medium, and high water usage, plus there’s a boost button if you really need to give the floor a good soaking. This story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best robot vacuums. I was one of the lucky few allowed to try it out at Dyson’s Malmesbury, U.K. campus before it was officially announced. We’ll give it a full review as soon as we’re able to test it properly–but from a short trial, I can say that there’s a lot to like about it. It feels light and maneuverable, its display is clear, and it’s intuitive and easy to use. When it comes to emptying and refilling, the clean and dirty water tanks pop off together, which makes it much less of a hassle to do. But there’s one design element that I do not like one bit. Dyson is very keen to display the effectiveness of its cleaners. All of its vacuums have clear dustbins, and its most recent models (including the V15 Detect and the Gen5 Detect) feature a piezo sensor and LCD screen that work together to show you the volume and type of dust and dirt particles you’ve vacuumed up. The message is as clear as the bins: these vacuums may be pricey but they’re effective. The WashG1 is no different. Unlike many other wet floor cleaners, which have smoked, frosted or colored dirty water tanks to obscure the unpleasantness within, the WashG1 has a perfectly transparent, highly visible tank–because Dyson wants you to see all the muck you’re removed from your hard floors. And view it you will, because thanks to the sparse, elegant design of the WashG1, it’s right in front and impossible to ignore. Personally, I found it a little bit gut-churning as it fills up. Emma Rowley / Foundry Emma Rowley / Foundry Emma Rowley / Foundry It’s understandable that Dyson wants you to see how much better the WashG1 is than your regular ol’ mop. But if you’ve spilled half a can of soup on the floor, it’ll be fairly obvious when it’s gone, so do you really need to look at a tank full of watery orange mess? It doesn’t use suction in the traditional sense, in that it doesn’t suck water up from the floor, like most rival wet floor cleaners How the WashG1 works Charlie Park, VP of Dyson Home Engineering says: “Dyson engineers solve the problems others ignore and we thrive on the challenge of creating better technology. The Dyson WashG1 is the result of this; our first dedicated wet machine to wash hard floors, properly and hygienically.” Dyson’s approach was characteristic. The floor care industry has three standardized tests for wet floor cleaners: dried-on blobs of tartar sauce, mustard, and coffee. Dyson felt this wasn’t sufficient for the breadth of problems a cleaner would need to tackle, so it developed its own tests for more types of likely spills. These included wet spills, makeup, hand sanitizer, and more, with the idea that it’s not just what’s in the pantry but what’s in the bathroom that’ll need to be cleaned up. What it came up with is a complete wet floor cleaning system for all hard flooring types that can deal with both wet and dry debris. What’s more, it separates wet from dry, so you won’t have to deal with the unpleasantness of pulling a handful of hair from the dirty water tank before emptying. (I’ve been there.) It doesn’t use suction in the traditional sense, in that it doesn’t suck water up from the floor, like most rival wet floor cleaners. Instead, it disperses water via 26 points along the cleaning head and employs two counter-rotating microfiber-coated rollers to pick up dirty water and debris. An advantage of the twin rollers is that the WashG1 cleans as it moves forward and back, unlike single-roller rivals. However, it does use suction in the form of a small pump that sucks air out of the water tank. As the pump never comes into contact with water, thanks to a spigot which closes the air valve, there’s no need for a filter to protect the motor from liquid. This allowed Dyson to banish the replaceable filter you’ll find in most rival wet vacuums, which picks up odor and bacteria. Emma Rowley / Foundry Emma Rowley / Foundry Emma Rowley / Foundry The clean water tank and battery life will give you up to 290m2 of cleaning, or about 45 minutes of cleaning time. The limiting factor in the WashG1 isn’t battery life–it’s water use. So, if you use the highest water level, you’ll only get 7-8 minutes of cleaning time before the water depletes and the dirty tank is close to filling up. Like any wet floor cleaner, you’ll get the best results by running an ordinary vacuum around first as there’s less chance of clogging up the system. However, Dyson reassured me that shorter hair, such as pet hair, won’t be a problem thanks to the secondary brush bar. Microfiber on the cleaning rollers will grip pet hair until it comes into contact with the bristle bar, which is designed to flick hair and debris into the debris tray, which can be emptied separately. The WashG1 stands in a charging dock and, after use, you can start the self-cleaning mode, which is another thing you won’t have to worry about. There’s no hot air drying for the rollers, however, and long hair may have to be removed from the bristle bars by hand.  Dyson WashG1 price & availability The WashG1 is priced at $699 in the US and £599 in the UK. It’ll be available to buy later in this year but, as yet, a precise launch date hasn’t been confirmed. You can sign up at Dyson US or Dyson UK to find out about it and other upcoming launches. This story was originally published on Tech Advisor, our sibling site. Robot Vacuums and Cleaning

      • Yale Approach Lock with Wi-Fi + Keypad review: This is easier?

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsWi-Fi bridge enables remote access Most of your existing deadbolt remains in place, meaning no change to your door’s exterior aesthetic–or your keysKeypad means you don’t always need to have your phone Works with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Philips Hue, and Samsung SmartThingsConsInstallation required more steps than the typical full-replacement smart deadboltBluetooth-to-Wi-Fi bridge has limited Bluetooth rangeKeypad must be screwed to the door or an adjacent wallWe encountered bugs with lock calibration and firmware updateOur VerdictExtra hardware to set up and a slightly buggy calibration experience left us less than impressed with this retrofit lock. If your smart lock upgrade must be a retrofit that leaves your exterior hardware unchanged, this one works well enough–once it’s up and running. Smart locks can be an unattractive option for people who don’t want to change their exterior door hardware. If you’ve carefully selected a matched lock and handleset to enhance the look of your home, you probably don’t want to replace the deadbolt with a big electronic keypad. The Yale Approach Lock with Wi-Fi + Keypad works with your existing deadbolt, replacing only its interior escutcheon. On the exterior side of your door, the hardware will look after it’s been rendered smart.  In addition to not changing your door’s exterior aesthetic and retaining your existing physical keys for entry–features that make landlords more comfortable with the upgrade–retrofit locks like this one are supposed to be easier to install than a full-replacement. But in my experience, installing the Yale Approach Lock with Wi-Fi + Keypad was no easier—and in a few ways, more of a hassle—than just replacing the entire deadbolt, as I did in my Yale Assure Lock 2 Key-Free Touchscreen with Bluetooth review last March. Yale’s activity logs are comprehensive, letting you know who locked or unlocked the door with either the app or an access code, as well as when it was locked or unlocked via the manual latch. While the Yale Approach works with most single-cylinder deadbolts, I encountered a setback when I dismantled the interior side of a relatively new Kwikset deadbolt on the door where I intended to test this lock: the Kwikset has a double-tail design, so that the single, centered tailpiece socket on the Approach wouldn’t align with the tailpiece coming from the Kwikset’s exterior escutcheon. This is an unusual design, and I doubt most consumers will encounter it, but it serves as a caution to check your existing deadbolt before you buy a retrofit lock for it. In my case, I simply used a different door for this review. The Yale Approach Lock replaces your deadbolt’s interior hardware, leaving the existing latch and exterior components in place. The Yale Approach Lock replaces your deadbolt’s interior hardware, leaving the existing latch and exterior components in place. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer The Yale Approach Lock replaces your deadbolt’s interior hardware, leaving the existing latch and exterior components in place. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Installation The Yale Approach Lock with Wi-Fi + Keypad has more components than a typical replacement smart lock, so I found it takes more steps to install it. When you replace an entire lock, you simply: Remove all the old hardware and store it in a bag, in case you want to re-use later or somewhere else. Insert the new latch. Mount the exterior escutcheon and attach it to the interior mounting bracket. Thread the power cord through the door and connect it to the socket on the interior escutcheon. Connect the interior escutcheon to the bracket and tighten up all the screws. Run the software setup in the app.  That’s pretty much exactly the process I followed with the Yale Assure Lock 2 and with almost every other smart lock I’ve ever installed, which turns out to be a weirdly high number in retrospect.   This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart locks. The Yale Approach lock with WiFi and Keypad includes all the hardware you need to get up and running, including adapters for various types of door latch systems. The Yale Approach lock with WiFi and Keypad includes all the hardware you need to get up and running, including adapters for various types of door latch systems. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer The Yale Approach lock with WiFi and Keypad includes all the hardware you need to get up and running, including adapters for various types of door latch systems. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Setting up the Yale Approach with Wi-Fi Bridge + Keypad requires a lot more steps: Use the included blue tape to hold the exterior deadbolt hardware in place while you remove the interior escutcheon. Mount the smart lock’s mounting plate by screwing it through the existing bolt latch and into the exterior hardware. Select and install the correct shape of tailpiece adapter from the four provided options. Snap the interior smart lock body onto its mounting plate (being sure to remove the tape from the battery compartment so power will flow).  Run the software setup in the app.  Plug in the Wi-Fi bridge into an outlet within 30 feet of the lock, so the two can communicate via Bluetooth. Run the Wi-Fi bridge software setup in the app. Screw the keypad’s mounting plate into the door or into a nearby wall (also within 30 feet of the lock, for Bluetooth connectivity).  Snap the keypad onto the mounting plate.  Run the keypad software setup in the app.   You’ll use one of these four tailpiece adapters for your installation. You’ll use one of these four tailpiece adapters for your installation. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer You’ll use one of these four tailpiece adapters for your installation. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer None of these steps are particularly difficult, but it’s basically twice as much work as just installing a replacement smart lock with simpler connectivity options. Plus, you’ll take up an extra power outlet for the Wi-Fi bridge, and you’ll still need to put that keypad somewhere on the outside of the house nearby. All in, I’m not convinced this extra effort is worthwhile, let alone that it accomplishes the goal of respecting the sanctity of your existing door hardware. If your spouse or landlord don’t want you replacing the existing deadbolt, they’ll probably also be nonplussed by the addition of a separate keypad screwed into the wall or exterior of the door. Assuming all of this makes sense for your particular situation, however, the installation experience isn’t so bad. The snag I encountered while calibrating the lock, however, is more problematic: I had to repeat this step enough times that I initially thought my lock might be defective. During calibration, the app prompts you to set the lock to the locked position, then to the unlocked position, and then has you tap the on-screen button to lock and unlock the door. My unit seemed to keep trying to turn the lock even after it had been turned all the way to the locked position, so the motor kept grinding away for a long time until the lights on the lock turned off and the motor eventually stopped. At that point, the lock would not respond to the app for a while, so I canceled the calibration process, only to receive a message that the calibration completed successfully–which it obviously had not. I tried this process several times with the door closed and a few more with the door open, and eventually it calibrated for real. The lock also required two tries to successfully update its firmware. The Yale Approach kit’s inckuded keypad is easier to read in full sunlight than the one included with the Yale Assure Lock. The Yale Approach kit’s inckuded keypad is easier to read in full sunlight than the one included with the Yale Assure Lock. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer The Yale Approach kit’s inckuded keypad is easier to read in full sunlight than the one included with the Yale Assure Lock. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Using the Yale Approach Lock Once installed and working, the Yale Approach is as straightforward to use as the Yale Assure and other smart locks I’ve evaluated, such as the Schlage Encode Plus Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt. And unlike the touchscreen keypad on the Yale Assure lock, which is difficult to read in full sunlight, the keypad that comes with the Approach is clearly printed with white numbers that are very easy to read. Not everyone in my family likes to use the keypad, so we welcomed the option of using key everyone already has.  The Yale Access app is simple and easy to use, with a detailed activity log that lets you see who has come and gone and which method they used to lock and unlock. The Yale Access app is simple and easy to use, with a detailed activity log that lets you see who has come and gone and which method they used to lock and unlock.Robert Strohmeyer/TechHive The Yale Access app is simple and easy to use, with a detailed activity log that lets you see who has come and gone and which method they used to lock and unlock.Robert Strohmeyer/TechHive Robert Strohmeyer/TechHive The Yale Access app is simple and intuitive, with a big, obvious green or red onscreen button to tell you whether the lock is locked (red) or unlocked (green). Tapping the big button reverses the state of the lock. Yale’s activity logs are fairly comprehensive, letting you know who locked or unlocked the door with either an app or an access code, as well as when the lock was manually locked or unlocked. This is a great feature for parents of teens or anyone else who wants to keep track of people coming and going. Install the included DoorSense module, and Yale’s app will also be able to detect whether the door is open or closed, time-stamping those events in its log. Installing this module requires making a couple of new holes in your door and door jamb, which a landlord is likely to frown on, but it’s a very useful accessory if you intend to keep a Yale lock for the long term. The Approach works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, as well as Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings, so you don’t need to use the Yale Access app day-to-day if you don’t want to (although you do need it on on your smartphone for these integrations to work). I’ve been using another Yale device for a while now, and have found myself alternating between Google Home and the Yale Access app in daily use. The Yale Access app is more intuitively designed than the Google Home app, and I’m generally dissatisfied enough with the way Google keeps screwing with the Home and Nest user experience that I don’t mind going straight to Yale’s app to lock and unlock my door. Honestly, I just use the keypad most of the time, because it’s an unnecessary hassle to pull my phone out of my pocket to open the front door.  Should you buy the Yale Approach Lock with Wi-Fi + Keypad? All things considered, if you’re not in a situation where you need to keep the exterior of your entry door unchanged–i.e., you’re not a renter, or you don’t have distinctive hardware that you want to keep–I struggle to understand the value of the retrofit concept. Screwing a keypad on the door or on a nearby wall it is going to spoil that aesthetic anyway. If you agree, Yale will sell you a version of this same lock without the keypad for $50 less ($129.99 at Amazon). That option is a lot more compelling to me, and the lower price makes it a great entry-level smart lock for renters who might not be able to install it anyway.  I’m very willing to believe the issues I experienced with firmware updates and calibration were anomalies or will be addressed in software updates, but this was the clumsiest smart lock installation experience I’ve in a long time, so I have to rate this lock accordingly; as in, I can’t recommend it today. If you need a retrofit smart lock, TechHive recommends the pricier Level Bolt (or the Level Bolt Connect if you want Wi-Fi connectivity). Smart Locks

      • Got a Roomba? 10 must-use features in the iRobot app

        The iRobot Home app plays a pivotal role in the Roomba experience, serving as the bridge between your robotic helper and the clean floors you covet. Over the years, it has evolved from a straightforward remote access tool to a sophisticated hub of features and settings that make your Roomba smarter and more efficient. With recent updates, the app has become more user-friendly, offering a richer set of features that cater to the diverse needs of users’ households. But some of the best iRobot app features are easy to miss. Exploring all the features offered by the iRobot app can transform your experience with Roomba from good to great. Read on for a comprehensive tour of the gotta-know iRobot app features you’re not using, along with a walkthrough of the overall app interface. 10 iRobot app features you need to know about Getting started with the iRobot app is a breeze. The initial setup involves pairing your Roomba with the app, a process largely driven by in-app prompts that require little more from you than a few taps on your smartphone. This feature is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best robot vacuums. The user interface is intuitively designed, featuring a clean layout where you can easily navigate through various functionalities. Key sections include the dashboard, where you get a quick overview of your Roomba’s status; Schedules, for planning cleaning sessions; and History, which logs all past cleaning activities. 1. Set cleaning preferences and schedules One of the app’s core strengths lies in its flexibility. You can command your Roomba to clean specific rooms or set it to tackle the entire house. The app allows you to customize how and when your Roomba cleans. For example, you might set it to clean high-traffic areas more frequently or schedule a full-house clean when you know you’ll be out. Adjusting these settings ensures that your cleaning needs are met without any hassle. 2. Customize your cleaning preferences For those looking to get a bit more granular, the app offers several options to fine-tune your Roomba’s cleaning process. To find these options, scroll down and tap Product Settings on the main iRobot app screen, then tap Cleaning Preferences. Among the Cleaning Preferences options you won’t want to miss include: Cleaning passes: Decide how many times Roomba passes over a particular area, which is especially useful in homes with pets or children. Bin full behavior: You can choose whether your Roomba continues to clean with a full bin or heads back to its dock to ensure it doesn’t spread the collected dirt. Room size clean: The Roomba adapts the cleaning session according to the room size for optimal cleanliness without wasting battery life. Liquid amount: For models that support mopping, you can control the volume of cleaning solution used, tailoring it to the level of soil or type of flooring. Obstacle detection: Enhance your Roomba’s ability to navigate around obstacles—including pet waste—preventing jams and ensuring efficient cleaning paths. Suction power: Modify suction based on the surface being cleaned—turn it up for deep carpet cleaning or reduce it for delicate areas or to reduce noise. You can monitor your robot cleaner’s status, customize cleaning preferences, and review cleaning history in the iRobot Home app. You can monitor your robot cleaner’s status, customize cleaning preferences, and review cleaning history in the iRobot Home app.Michael Ansaldo/Foundry You can monitor your robot cleaner’s status, customize cleaning preferences, and review cleaning history in the iRobot Home app.Michael Ansaldo/Foundry Michael Ansaldo/Foundry 3. Create Keep Out, No Mop, and Clean zones The Smart Maps feature is a game-changer for customized cleaning. It allows your Roomba to map your home’s layout, enabling targeted cleaning of specific areas. You can also create Keep Out Zones to prevent your Roomba from entering areas where it might get stuck or disturb pets; No Mop Zones to protect areas that shouldn’t get wet; and Clean Zones that allow your Roomba to clean smaller high-traffic areas within a room, such as an entryway or under the kitchen table. 4. Use custom voice commands Integration with smart home assistants takes your Roomba beyond the basics. The iRobot Home app allows you to link your device with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or even Siri Shortcuts. Once connected, you can leverage voice commands to control your Roomba without lifting a finger. Simply say “Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning the living room,” and watch your Roomba spring into action. This feature is particularly handy when you’re busy with other tasks or if you want to quickly address a spill or mess in a specific area. 5. Keep track of when your Roomba needs maintenance Keeping your Roomba in top shape is key to its longevity and effectiveness. The iRobot app includes a maintenance tracking feature that alerts you when parts need attention. Whether it’s the filter that needs cleaning or the brushes that require replacement, the app ensures you’re on top of it. Regular maintenance not only extends the life of your Roomba but also ensures it cleans at its best. By following the app’s maintenance notifications, you can avoid common issues like decreased suction or ineffective cleaning. 6. Review detailed cleaning reports After each cleaning session, the iRobot app provides a detailed report that includes a map of the areas cleaned. This feature is invaluable for understanding your Roomba’s cleaning patterns and efficiency. The reports also highlight the amount of dirt detected and any areas the Roomba may have missed. This insight allows you to adjust the cleaning schedule or settings, ensuring your home gets the thorough cleaning it needs. 7. Sign up for beta features For those who enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology, the iRobot app offers access to beta features. This option allows you to test new functionalities before they are officially released. Participating in the beta program can give you a glimpse into future enhancements and provide an opportunity to give feedback directly to iRobot, helping shape the development of new features. The iRobot Home app can suggest clean zones, provide “dirt detective intelligence,” and snap pictures of obstacles it encounters for you to review. The iRobot Home app can suggest clean zones, provide “dirt detective intelligence,” and snap pictures of obstacles it encounters for you to review.Michael Ansaldo/Foundry The iRobot Home app can suggest clean zones, provide “dirt detective intelligence,” and snap pictures of obstacles it encounters for you to review.Michael Ansaldo/Foundry Michael Ansaldo/Foundry 8. Optimize your Roomba’s cleaning efficiency To truly maximize the effectiveness of your Roomba, it’s essential to understand and utilize the app’s full capabilities. Here are some tips for optimizing your Roomba’s performance: Smart mapping: Take the time to set up and refine your Roomba’s Smart Maps. The more accurate the map, the more efficiently your Roomba can navigate and clean. Remember, you can always update the map as the layout of your home changes or as you add new furniture. Scheduling: Use the app to schedule regular cleanings during times you’re less likely to be disturbed, like when you’re at work or overnight in areas away from bedrooms. Consistent cleaning not only keeps your home cleaner but also ensures even wear on your Roomba’s battery and brushes. Custom preferences: Experiment with different cleaning preferences for different seasons or occasions. For instance, increase the cleaning frequency during allergy season or after hosting events. 9. Troubleshoot common issues Despite its advanced technology, your Roomba might encounter issues from time to time. The iRobot app is equipped with troubleshooting guides to help resolve common problems like connectivity issues or mapping errors. The app provides step-by-step solutions, often allowing you to fix the issue without needing to contact customer support. 10. Maximize battery life To extend the battery life of your Roomba, the app offers several useful tips. Regularly cleaning the Roomba’s brushes and filters can prevent the vacuum from working harder than necessary, which in turn conserves battery power. Additionally, storing your Roomba on its Home Base when not in use ensures it is always charged and ready for its next job without overcharging the battery. You can enhance your Roomba’s ability to navigate around obstacles, including pet waste. You can enhance your Roomba’s ability to navigate around obstacles, including pet waste.iRobot You can enhance your Roomba’s ability to navigate around obstacles, including pet waste.iRobot iRobot Conclusion: Harness your Roomba’s full potential with the iRobot app Exploring all the features offered by the iRobot app can transform your experience with Roomba from good to great. Each feature is designed not only to make cleaning easier but also to ensure it is as thorough and efficient as possible. One of the most significant advantages of the iRobot Home app is its ability to personalize your cleaning experience. By adjusting settings like the suction power, cleaning passes, and even the specific rooms to be cleaned, you can tailor your Roomba’s operation to match your home’s unique needs. Whether dealing with pet hair, various floor types, or different levels of foot traffic, the app gives you the control to customize each cleaning session. Don’t hesitate to try out different configurations to see what works best for your space and lifestyle. The more you explore, the more you’ll be able to unlock the full potential of your Roomba. Staying updated with the latest app updates and participating in beta testing can provide early access to new functionalities that enhance your cleaning routine even further. Engaging with these features allows you to take advantage of the latest advancements in robotic cleaning technology, ensuring your Roomba remains at the cutting edge and operates at peak efficiency. Remember that the iRobot app is more than just a remote control for your vacuum; it’s a cleaning tool designed to make a much-loathed chore more bearable and convenient. Whether you’re looking to tweak every setting or someone who prefers to set it and forget it, the app has something to offer. Take the time to explore these features, and you’ll likely find that your Roomba can do much more than you initially thought. Robot Vacuums and Cleaning

      • Zinwell ZAT-600B tuner review: NextGen TV, internet optional

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsTunes encrypted NextGenTV content without a broadband connectionEasy-to-use interfaceSupports NextGen TV appsConsDidn’t tune NextGen TV hybrid channelsNo integrated DVROur VerdictChannel Master’s Zinwell ZAT-600B is the first set-top box for NextGen TV broadcasts that supports encrypted channels without the need for an internet connection. It is backwards compatible with the first-generation digital TV format and supports hybrid broadcasts and broadcaster apps. The Zinwell ZAT-600B is an Android-based set-top tuner for NextGen TV broadcasts; it’s sold by Channel Master. In addition to the new NextGen TV broadcasts, the box is also compatible with first-generation digital TV broadcasts and supports the encryption and online features of NextGen TV. What is NextGen TV? NextGen TV is a new digital TV broadcasting format that promises several improvements over the existing digital format, such as immersive audio, HDR images, resolution up to 4K and hybrid broadcasting that takes advantage of both an over-the-air signal and the internet. Transmissions using the format are already available to about 80 percent of U.S. households but, unless you have a newer TV with built-in support, you’ll need a set-top box like this one. You’ll need an antenna to pull in broadcast TV; we think these are the best over-the-air TV antennas. Installing the Zinwell ZAT-600B You’ll need an over-the-air antenna to pull in TV channels. You’ll use the HDMI port to connect the Zinwell ZAT-600B. internet connectivity is optional and can be obtained via either wired ethernet or Wi-Fi. You’ll need an over-the-air antenna to pull in TV channels. You’ll use the HDMI port to connect the Zinwell ZAT-600B. internet connectivity is optional and can be obtained via either wired ethernet or Wi-Fi.Martyn Williams/Foundry You’ll need an over-the-air antenna to pull in TV channels. You’ll use the HDMI port to connect the Zinwell ZAT-600B. internet connectivity is optional and can be obtained via either wired ethernet or Wi-Fi.Martyn Williams/Foundry Martyn Williams/Foundry Getting the box up and running was easy. A consequence of Android is that there are two settings menus: One controls the set-top box functions, such as screen resolution and audio, while the other controls the TV viewing experiences, such as subtitles and channel tuning. The box automatically selected the best video format for my TV, but these can be manually set from 4K all the way down to standard definition: 480p. Zinwell ZAT-600B feature set The most basic feature of a set-top box is tuning in local channels and making them available, and in this aspect, the Zinwell ZAT-600B did well. It has a sensitive tuner that picked up all my local TV stations and those from a neighboring market. One of the Zinwell ZAT-600B’s best features is its ability to tune in encrypted NextGen TV broadcasts without relying on an internet connection. When you auto-tune, it scans both first-generation (ATSC 1.0) and NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0) signals, making installation easy. In use, there was a delay of about 5 seconds between switching channels and the program playing. When going to NextGen TV stations, this was a little longer at around 7 seconds. The delay isn’t anything unusual if you’re used to watching streaming services, but it’s a lot slower than channel surfing was in the analog TV era. This is one price we pay for progress, I guess. The Zinwell ZAT-600B’s electronic program guide is fed from an over-the-air signal and doesn’t depend on an internet connection. The Zinwell ZAT-600B’s electronic program guide is fed from an over-the-air signal and doesn’t depend on an internet connection.Channel Master The Zinwell ZAT-600B’s electronic program guide is fed from an over-the-air signal and doesn’t depend on an internet connection.Channel Master Channel Master The box has an integrated electronic program guide that pulls in program data from the over-the-air signal. That means it’s a little slow to propagate for all channels—versus downloading the information from the internet—but this didn’t prove to be an obstacle once everything was set up. As you channel surf, the current and next program are displayed in a box that appears at the bottom of the screen on each new channel. The box doesn’t have a DVR, which is a shame, but one nice feature is an on-screen signal meter that comes up each time you tune in a new channel. Should you have any reception issues, this can really help narrow down if the problem stems from a poor broadcast signal or not. Encrypted channels One of the main features of the Zinwell box is its ability to receive encrypted broadcasts without an broadband connection. Encryption has been recently added to many NextGen TV channels, necessitating the use of a set-top box that supports the feature. The Zinwell ZAT-600B comes with a universal learning remote. The Zinwell ZAT-600B comes with a universal learning remote.Martyn Williams/Foundry The Zinwell ZAT-600B comes with a universal learning remote.Martyn Williams/Foundry Martyn Williams/Foundry The otherwise excellent Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Flex 4K doesn’t support encryption, so it cannot show many NextGen TV channels, while the ADTH NextGen TV set-top box I reviewed in April does support it, but it depends on a connection to the internet. So, what happens if you buy ADTH’s product, but you don’t have strong enough Wi-Fi near your TV, or you live in a rural area without high-speed internet, or you don’t have a broadband connection at all? Until now, people in those situations just wouldn’t be able to view encrypted NextGen TV stations. The Zinwell box changes that. In my tests, it successfully decoded encrypted broadcasts without being connected to the internet. Online TV and apps That said, you’ll still need a broadband connection to watch NextGen TV’s internet-based content, which comes in two flavors: broadcaster apps and virtual channels. Broadcaster apps are interactive apps that appear on some channels, offering enhanced features such as TV on demand. Not every NextGen TV station offers this functionality, but my local CBS station offers on-demand news, sports, and weather reports via its app. Channel Master Channel Master Channel Master The app worked great over the internet; however, I found it impossible to get rid of the initial wrap around on some channels that advertises the presence of an app. The ADTH set-top box also supports apps, and I could remove this graphic element by pressing the “back” button on the remote, but this didn’t work not on the Zinwell remote. The feature is new enough that I suspect this will be eventually fixed through a firmware update or change in the way the app is coded. For now, it’s an annoyance. You’ll also need an internet connection to watch virtual channels. You’ll find these listed in the over-the-air electronic program guide, but they’re delivered over the internet. The Sinclair Broadcast Group recently started this feature to broadcast its tennis-centric “T2” network as a virtual channel in 43 television markets. In our tests, the Zinwell box listed T2 in the program guide, but showed a blank screen when selected. This appears to be a bug in the software and it will hopefully be fixed soon. Should you buy the Zinwell ZAT-600B? The Zinwell ZAT-600B packs some great features into a small form factor. The ability to decode NextGen TV without an internet connection is welcome and should make set-up easier, although we hope a future software update fixes the issue with hybrid TV. If you’re in the market for a NextGen TV tuner, this box should suit your needs. Streaming Devices