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.

L'intelligenza artificiale è ovunque. Questa tecnologia, riservata un tempo a ricercatori e istituzioni, è emersa in una vasta gamma di aree, tra cui l'infrastruttura di rete, le piattaforme e i servizi. Grazie all'intelligenza artificiale, gli sviluppatori di software possono ora creare diverse soluzioni intelligenti. Questo report, Guida per gli sviluppatori sulla creazione di applicazioni di intelligenza artificiale, Seconda edizione, ti permette di scoprire in modo pratico le possibilità offerte dall'intelligenza artificiale.

Changing customer behaviors, new regulations, growing scarcity of resources… To address these challenges, food and beverage producers need to focus on increasing business efficiency and reducing costs. Digital transformation is the way to achieve these objectives.

Changing customer behaviors, new regulations, growing scarcity of resources… To address these challenges, food and beverage producers need to focus on increasing business efficiency and reducing costs. Digital transformation is the way to achieve these objectives.

History usually unfolds in tiny, imperceptible increments. It is a rare event that changes civilization – suddenly, visibly, irreversibly – but that is what we have witnessed over the last few years. Now, nearly every facet of society has shifted, from personal relationships to giant government bodies to the inner workings of business – with previous behaviors and ideas becoming extinct, and new norms quickly replacing them.

We’ll offer expert advice on how to: Build agility into your apps and infrastructure Power your business with data, analytics, and AI/ML intelligence Enable workforce productivity and inclusivity outside of the office

Explore this report to find insights on the accelerated use of AI in manufacturing, like: 76% of manufacturers have turned to digital enablers and disruptive technologies 64% of manufacturers rely on AI to assist in day-to-day operations Biggest barriers of AI implementation are lack of talent (25%) and lack of IT infrastructure to implement AI (23%)

  • 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.

  • What can double-sided tapes do for you?

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

  • Developing market-leading wide format inks

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

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

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

  • Storage conditions and environmental factors for print media

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

    • Rust gets security fix for Windows vulnerability

      The Rust language team has published a point release of Rust to fix a critical vulnerability to the standard library that could benefit an attacker when using Windows.Rust 1.77.2, published on April 9, includes a fix for CVE-2024-24576. Before this release, Rust’s standard library did not properly escape arguments when invoking batch files with the bat and cmd extensions on Windows using the Command API. An attacker who controlled arguments passed to a spawned process could execute arbitrary shell commands by bypassing the escape. This vulnerability becomes critical if batch files are invoked on Windows with untrusted arguments. No other platform or use was affected. Developers already using Rust can get Rust 1.77.2 using the command: rustup update stable.To read this article in full, please click here

    • How to implement database connection resiliency in ASP.NET Core

      A high-quality application must be stable, performant, scalable, and reliable. The reliability of an application depends on many factors, but one of the most important is resiliency, or the ability to withstand failures or faults during run time. In this article, we’ll see how we can bring resiliency to database connections in ASP.NET Core using Entity Framework Core.EF Core has a feature called connection resiliency that automatically retries failed database commands to maintain connectivity during transient errors or network instability. By encapsulating the logic for identifying failures and retrying commands, this feature allows us to devise execution plans for different database failure situations.To read this article in full, please click here

    • The cloud is benefiting IT, but not business

      “The cloud has tremendous business value!” That’s the battle cry chanted by cloud providers and their allies at every cloud computing conference.You will never hear me say that “the cloud” is always the right solution or, for that matter, the wrong solution. In my 20-plus years as a cloud expert, I’ve never blindly followed the lead of cloud computing pioneers or adopters. Like any other technology trend and category, cloud computing should be considered on a case-by-case basis.This balanced approach may have cost me some friends and perhaps some jobs, but I believe this will remain the right way to think about cloud deployments in 2024.To read this article in full, please click here

    • Microsoft offers SDK for testing framework

      Microsoft has announced the MSTest SDK. Built on the MSBuild Project SDK system and based on the MSTest runner, the MSTest SDK is designed to give developers a better experience for testing with MSTest, Microsoft’s framework for unit testing.The MSTest SDK, announced April 11, makes project configuration easier via sensible defaults and flexible options, Microsoft said. To use the MSTest SDK, developers must create an MSTest project, or update an existing MSTest project, and replace the content of the .csproj file.To read this article in full, please click here

    • JetBrains launches IDE management suite

      JetBrains has introduced JetBrains IDE Services, a product suite intended to simplify the management of the company’s IntelliJ-based IDEs, remote development environments, and AI-powered coding assistant. The suite also includes a collaborative programming solution.Unveiled April 9, JetBrains IDE Services is designed to alleviate the challenges of deploying and overseeing IDEs and other developer tools for large organizations, the company said. JetBrains, which is perhaps best known for its IntelliJ IDEA IDE for Java and Kotlin, has positioned the package as “a central hub for all things IDE.”To read this article in full, please click here

    • Exploring the Apache ecosystem for data analysis

      The Apache Software Foundation develops and maintains open source software projects that significantly impact various domains of computing, from web servers and databases to big data and machine learning. As the volume and velocity of time series data continue to grow, thanks to IoT devices, AI, financial systems, and monitoring tools, more and more companies will rely on the Apache ecosystem to manage and analyze this kind of data.To read this article in full, please click here

    • TechCrunch Mobility: Cruise robotaxis return and Ford’s BlueCruise comes under scrutiny

      Welcome back to TechCrunch Mobility — your central hub for news and insights on the future of transportation. Sign up here — just click TechCrunch Mobility — to receive the newsletter every weekend in your inbox. Subscribe for free. It was another wild week in the world of transportation, particularly in the EV startup and automated driving industries. © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • How Neural Concept’s aerodynamic AI is shaping Formula 1

      It’s a long way from pedal bikes to Formula 1. But that’s precisely the quantum leap that AI-based startup Neural Concept and its co-founder and CEO, Pierre Baqué, made in just six years. In 2018, the company’s fledgling software helped develop the world’s most aerodynamic bicycle. Today, four out of 10 Formula 1 teams use © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • TechCrunch Fintech: Meet PayJoy, a fintech operating at the intersection of doing good and making money

      Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech! This week, we’re looking at how two fintech companies serving the underserved are faring, and more! To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important fintech stories delivered to your inbox every Sunday at 7:00 a.m. PT, subscribe here.  The big story PayJoy is an example of a company with © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • Generative AI is coming for healthcare, and not everyone’s thrilled

      The broad enthusiasm for generative AI is reflected in the investments in GenAI efforts targeting healthcare. But is healthcare-focused generative AI ready for prime time? © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • Tesla drops prices, Meta confirms Llama 3 release, and Apple allows emulators in the App Store

      Heya, folks, welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter that recaps the past few days in tech. Google’s annual enterprise-focused dev conference, Google Cloud Next, dominated the headlines — and we had plenty of coverage from the event. But it wasn’t the only thing afoot (see: the spectacular eclipse). Lorenzo wrote about how © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

    • Naval Ravikant’s Airchat is a social app built around talk, not text

      Airchat is a new social media app that encourages users to “just talk.” A previous version of Airchat was released last year, but the team — led by AngelList founder Naval Ravikant and former Tinder product exec Brian Norgard — rebuilt the app and relaunched it on iOS and Android yesterday. Currently invite-only, Airchat is © 2024 TechCrunch. All rights reserved. For personal use only.

      • Google’s Pixel 9 may get an Apple-like satellite SOS feature

        Image: OnLeaks / 91Mobiles Google could be adding a feature very similar to Apple’s Emergency SOS feature to the Pixel 9 and the next Pixel Fold. That’s according to leaker Kamila Wojciechowska, who writes for Android Authority that the company would partner with T-Mobile to offer the feature but may add other providers later. Just like Apple’s system, Google’s SOS feature would reportedly present future Pixel owners with a series of questions to ascertain what’s happening, rather than let users thumb one out. A video in the Android Authority article features the animation Google will display to users to help them get the phone aligned with a satellite. According to Wojciechowska, these are some of the questions the feature will ask: What happened? [Are you/Are... Continue reading…

      • Blackmagic Design releases a DaVinci Resolve editing panel for iPads

        Blackmagic’s new Micro Color Panel lets you edit video on the go. | Image: Blackmagic Design Blackmagic Design announced its video editing software, DaVinci Resolve, was coming to the iPad back in 2022, and although it supports multitouch input and the Apple Pencil, sometimes, nothing beats purpose-built hardware. On Friday, Blackmagic announced the $495 DaVinci Resolve Micro Color Panel, which it says will be available worldwide in May and is specifically designed for the iPad. At 14.33 inches by 7.18 inches, the Micro Color Panel is about the size of a computer keyboard. It has an iPad Pro mounting slot and connects either via Bluetooth or USB-C. Besides being smaller than Blackmagic’s other color panels, the Micro is also significantly cheaper (The next one up — the Mini Panel — is listed at over $2,000 on Blackmagic’s... Continue reading…

      • The first Apple-approved emulators for the iPhone have arrived

        A screenshot from iGBA. | Screenshot: Wes Davis / The Verge I played Game Boy Advance games on my iPhone last night thanks to a new emulator called iGBA, which appears to be the first Game Boy Advance emulator on the App Store since Apple started allowing emulators worldwide. The only trouble is, it doesn’t look like iGBA is developer Mattia La Spina’s own work. In an email to The Verge, developer Riley Testut said the app is an unauthorized clone of GBA4iOS, the open-source emulator he created for iOS over a decade ago (and recently resurrected for the Vision Pro). He said his app uses the GNU GPLv2 license. A Mastodon user found that iGBA does not reference the license, which may violate its terms. Despite that, he says it’s Apple he’s frustrated with, not La Spina. Testut also provided... Continue reading…

      • Best video game TV show ever?

        The Verge Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 34, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, welcome, so psyched you found us, and also, you can read all the old editions at the Installer homepage.) This week, I’ve been writing about the Humane AI Pin and the Aboard app, reading about the Com World War and why studios cancel already-made movies, watching Ripley and a deep dive into the Game Boy’s incredible sturdiness and power, listening to The Rest is History take on Martin Luther, and seeing if Amazon’s Echo Frames can replace my headphones. I also have for you an excellent new video game show, a new ebook reader worth a look, yet another doc about how bad tech is, a sweet new drone, and much more. I also... Continue reading…

      • Police arrested four people over $300,000 of stolen Lego kits

        Image: California Highway Patrol Los Angeles citizens can rest easy knowing that a criminal theft ring is no longer stalking the city’s retail stores to feed a Lego black market. That’s because the California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced this week that it had arrested four people it accused of swiping what police estimated was “approximately $300,000” worth of Lego sets. The four had allegedly burgled stores like Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s of their Lego stock and sold them to black-market dealers who would then vend the stolen bricks at “seemingly legitimate businesses, swap meets, or online.” Police say they were booked on “charges related to Organized Retail Theft, Grand Theft, and Conspiracy to commit a crime.” Image: California Highway Patrol ... Continue reading…

      • Bluesky lifted its ban on heads of state signups

        Image: Bluesky Bluesky is apparently ready for a bigger challenge. It says it’s allowing heads of state to sign up now, a little over two months after it opened for general signups. In May last year, the site asked its users not to give invitation codes to “recent/prominent heads of state,” stating that it was its policy not to accommodate them. When Bluesky instituted its heads-of-state policy, the site was still in its showing-everyone’s-ass phase, and its moderation approach wasn’t in place, yet. So instead of the varying degrees of controlled chaos that social networks are, Bluesky was filled with, well, lots of unsettlingly sexy pictures of the cat-eating alien puppet star of the 1980s sitcom Alf, which The Verge’s Elizabeth Lopatto pointed out... Continue reading…

      • This week’s trailers offered twists on familiar genres

        This week saw some fun trailers tapping into heady science fiction, comic book movies, and taboo horror, each with a fun mixed genre twist. Joker: Folie à Deux is a comic book movie about the love affair of The Joker and Harley Quinn that’s also a musical, and Apple TV Plus’ new Dark Matter series is a kidnapping thriller with an interesting alternate reality twist. Then there’s Maxxxine, a horror slasher that looks to also be a whodunit crime mystery. Joker: Folie à Deux Joker: Folie à Deux takes a crack at the origin of The Joker and Harley Quinn’s romance, which has been explored in some of the best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and lightly featured in 2016’s Suicide Squad. This movie is supposed to be a “jukebox musical”... Continue reading…

      • Smart string light showdown: Nanoleaf versus Lifx

        Which is the best bet to bedazzle your backyard? Continue reading…

      • Xgimi’s portable MoGo 2 Pro projector is $200 off right now

        The Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro is an excellent Android TV projector with Chromecast built-in. | Photo by Thomas Ricker / The Verge Let’s face it, a big TV isn’t always an option, especially if you live in a tiny apartment or prefer a more nomadic lifestyle. In those instances, it might be wiser to buy the Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro, a portable Android TV projector that’s small enough to toss in your backpack before heading out the door. Thankfully, Xgimi’s 1080p smart projector is currently on sale at Amazon for $399.99 ($200 off) when you clip the on-page coupon, which drops it to one of its lowest prices to date. Despite its small stature and modest 400 ANSI lumens, the MoGo 2 Pro can project large, 200-inch images while delivering surprisingly good picture quality at smaller sizes (think 30 inches). It looks best when viewed in the dark, like most projectors, which... Continue reading…

      • Galaxy AI features are coming to last-gen Samsung phones — including the S21 series

        Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge Samsung is planning to bring select Galaxy AI features to several older flagship phones and tablets next month via the One UI 6.1 update, according to 9to5Google and Android Central, both of which referred to a post from a Samsung representative who posted on the company’s community forum in Korea. The Verge has reached out to Samsung for further comment. A slightly trimmed-down version of Galaxy AI (sans Instant Slow-Mo) will be coming to Samsung’s flagship lineup from 2022, specifically the S22, S22 Plus, S22 Ultra, Z Fold 4, Z Flip 4, Tab S8, and Tab S8 Ultra. Each device will receive the same version of Galaxy AI as Samsung’s lower-priced Galaxy S23 FE. Instant Slow-Mo, which automatically plays a video in slow motion once you tap... Continue reading…

      • 10 Years Ago, Game of Thrones Gave Joffrey What He Had Coming

        Back in its heyday, Game of Thrones looooooved killing off characters. Whether they were sad, hilarious, or kind of dumb, those ends have been memorable in their own ways, the mark of a good show filled with great actors. And who can forget the death of Jack Gleason’s Joffrey Baratheon, one of the show’s most disliked…Read more...

      • Zack Snyder's Ready to Give Sucker Punch a Do-Over

        Do you still think Sucker Punch was just shy of being a truly great work? If so, Zack Snyder agrees with you—and he’s ready to make its Snyder Cut a reality.Read more...

      • Open Channel: Tell Us Your Thoughts on Fallout and Civil War

        We’re halfway through April, and it’s been a busy month, media-wise. After starting with last weekend’s Monkey Man and The First Omen, this week’s graced us with Prime Video’s Fallout and A24's Civil War, both of which are big for their own individual reasons.Read more...

      • Fallout Makes the Latest Case to Kill the Binge Model

        Like pretty much everyone else this weekend, I’m watching the TV adaptation of Fallout. I’m really enjoying it, and there’s a lot about it to like, from its characters and sense of place to the way it incorporates the game’s mechanics and setting into a non-interactive format. It’s a very solid show that has the…Read more...

      • Kirsten Dunst Wonders if Spider-Man 4 Would Be Worth It

        Longtime fans of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies have been clamoring for a fourth movie since basically forever after Spider-Man 3 dropped. While that demand isn’t quite as loud now as it was back then, there’s still hope that someone will get that ball rolling, especially since Tobey Maguire returned for Spider-Man: No…Read more...

      • Best Smartwatches You Can Buy in 2024

        I never thought I’d see the day I’d become a “wearables” person, and it’s because I’ve spent so long on the Android side of things. For years, Android users waited in vain for manufacturers to make smartwatches that fit nicely and didn’t peter out after a mere eight hours off the charger. It wasn’t until these last…Read more...

      • Russell Dauterman's Incredible Marvel Art is Getting Its Own Book

        Since 2014, Russell Dauterman has been an artist mainstay of Marvel comics, and one of the best working at the publisher today. From working with Jason Aaron to tell the story of Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor to giving stylish looks to the X-Men for their annual Hellfire Galas (RIP), his work has consistently been pretty…Read more...

      • Wild $300K Lego Heist Foiled by Retail Task Force

        Legos are everywhere these days, including criminal enterprises. Earlier in the week, California’s Organized Retail Crime Taskforce performed a series of raids against an illegal fencing operation spread across four buildings in LA and Orange counties. During those raids, authorities found a collection of Lego sets…Read more...

      • Andy Samberg May Lead Radio Silence's Next Movie

        Since 2014's Devil’s Due, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have been working together as the director duo Radio Silence. Between Scream 5 and 6 and Ready or Not, they’ve managed to win over plenty of horror fans as the real deal. And with Abigail a week away from hitting theaters, the pair may have already…Read more...

      • Texas Hospital Halts Organ Transplant Program After Doctor Accused of Manipulating Records

        A Texas hospital has shut down its organ transplant program after discovering that a doctor allegedly made “inappropriate changes” to medical records that would have made certain patients ineligible for operations. Read more...

      • Looks Like Interstellar is Blasting Off Into Theaters Agaiiiiiiiin...!

        Tenet ain’t the only Christopher Nolan movie getting another theatrical run. During its presentation at CinemaCon, Paramount revealed it was going to put Interstellar back in theaters as a celebration of its 10th birthday.Read more...

      • Elon Gives a Cringe Deposition, X Screws Up Twitter Links, LG TV Needs an Update and More

        Elon Musk continues to never stop being a joke. From his deposition to where he admits that his tweets probably hurt the value of Twitter to him finally admitting that he roleplays as a toddler on his burner account. Check out this week’s big stories in tech. Read more...

      • Truly, This Was the Week of Popcorn Bucket Regrets

        Dune: Part Two’s success can never escape the shadow of the wormussy. Yes, even as the smash hit movie heads home, we’re all still talking about that popcorn bucket, as much as AMC probably wishes at this point we’d rather not. But it’s not all sandworms in this weeks news—CinemaCon, Civil War, and even Jedi Shaggy…Read more...

      • You Can't Blame Everything on Covid-19

        Measles has made an unwelcome return to the U.S., with dozens of children across multiple states having caught the highly contagious viral disease so far this year. There are several reasons why measles has become a larger problem both here and worldwide as of late, but there’s one commonly speculated suspect for its…Read more...

      • Everything You Should Know Before You Buy the Humane AI Pin

        The Humane AI Pin has been out for a few days, and to say the release has been divisive might seem like an understatement. Most reviews that have come out this past week have been lukewarm at best. Most who have used the Pin for a few weeks have noted the device is buggy, slow, and lacking a few features one would…Read more...

      • Roku says 576,000 more of its users were hacked in second attack

        Wait, there was another Roku hack? That’s right, and this one was much bigger than the first, although Roku says the actual damage from this latest “credential-stuffing” attack was minimal.  Roku notified its users on Friday that following a hacking incident in March that involved 15,000 Roku users, the company detected a second wave of attacks that compromised a whopping 576,000 accounts, Bleeping Computer reports.  As with the first attack, the latest incident was a case of credential stuffing–that is, hackers who had obtained stolen usernames and passwords from other services and plugged those combinations into different accounts, hoping that at least some of the users had reused the same passwords.  This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best media streaming devices. Roku was careful to note that it was not the source of the data breach in either hacking incident.  While more than half a million Roku accounts were compromised in the most recent hack, Roku says there was “less than 400 cases” in which “malicious actors” used the saved payment information in the hacked accounts to make purchases–namely of streaming subscriptions or Roku hardware.  No “full” credit card numbers or other sensitive personal information was stolen during the attack, according to Roku.  In the wake of the latest hack, Roku says it reset the passwords for all the compromised accounts, while also canceling or refunding any fraudulent purchases.  Even better, the streamer has finally rolled out two-factor authentication and enabled it for all users, a security measure that should make future credential-stuffing attacks much harder to pull off.  Previously, Roku had offered 2FA authentication for its smart home app, but not for streaming Roku accounts. Again, the lesson with this latest Roku hack is to always use strong passwords and never to reuse passwords.  That said, online services need to pitch in by offering the extra layer of 2FA authentication, and it’s good to see that Roku has now done just that.  Streaming Devices

      • LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 review: Big and bright

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsBright and colorfulWorks with MatterWide range of white-color temperaturesIntuitive appConsChunky, heavy designLIFX ecosystem is still rebounding after a long dormancyNo vacation modeOur VerdictBright, 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. After a long absence, LIFX is back, first with a series of outdoor lights (we recently reviewed the LIFX String Light) and now with new indoor bulbs, including the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 bulb that we’re reviewing here.  This bright, colorful, but somewhat hefty A21 bulb connects to Wi-Fi networks and works with a wide variety of smart home ecosystems thanks to its out-of-the-box Matter support. The polished LIFX app makes the bulb easy to set up, group, and schedule, and you can also design lighting scenes (dozens of pre-made scenes are also available) as well as enable animated light effects.  So, there’s a lot to like about the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 bulb—and, at $39.99, the price is competitive. But LIFX itself is still getting back on its feet after years of financial uncertainty (the brand is on firmer footing following its acquisition by Feit Electric in 2022), meaning all but the company’s newest lights are fairly long in the tooth.   Solid and substantial, bright and colorful, and easy to install, the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 bulb packs plenty of features. LIFX does seem determined to roll out new products at a rapid clip, but those who’d rather invest in a robust ecosystem right now might want to look elsewhere.  Design  The LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 bulb is slightly larger than a standard A19 bulb, although it has the same E26 base, meaning you can screw it into a typical light socket.   This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart lighting. The larger A21 size allows for greater brightness while minimizing the risk of excessive heat buildup, but the bulb’s chunky form factor (4.53 x 2.64 x 2.64 inches, HxWxD) might prevent it from fitting in smaller light fixtures that can accommodate typical A19 bulbs.  One thing to keep in mind about this LIFX A21 bulb is that it’s surprisingly heavy, tipping the scales at 9.55 ounces. Screwing the bulb into a cheap, apartment-style flush-mounted ceiling fixture designed for a pair of bulbs, the receptacle bent with the weight ever so slightly.   LIFX’s new A21 color bulb is large, chunky, and fairly heavy. LIFX’s new A21 color bulb is large, chunky, and fairly heavy.Ben Patterson/Foundry LIFX’s new A21 color bulb is large, chunky, and fairly heavy.Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry LIFX calls this bulb a “SuperColor” light to tout its brightness, with the bulb topping out at 1,600 lumens, marking the brightest light LIFX has ever produced. For red, green, and blue colors, the bulb can glow at up to 300, 655, and 167 lumens respectively. To be clear, other smart light brands (such as Philips Hue) also offer color-capable 1,600-lumen A21 bulbs. Still, the LIFX A21 looks quite striking when it’s cranked up all the way on a primary color. The LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 bulb can shine in various shades of white light, too, with the bulb tunable from a candlelight-warm 1,500 Kelvin to a blue-sky 9,000K. That’s an impressively wide range, compared to the 2,500-6,500K white color temperatures we see from typical tunable-white bulbs.  Like LIFX’s other products, the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 connects via Wi-Fi and doesn’t require a hub. This A21 bulb also supports Matter, and thus it it works with all the major smart home ecosystems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings.  Setup  The first step to getting the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 up and running is to download the LIFX app. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll need to create one by submitting your email account and creating a password (there is no option for using your Apple, Facebook, or Google account).  Once you’ve registered your account with LIFX, you simply tap the “+” button on the Home screen; you’ll then need to choose whether you want to add a new device, a new routine, a new scene, or a new schedule.   Pick “New Product,” select “New light,” then wait for the app to detect the bulb; in my case, the bulb popped up instantly (there’s also a manual pairing process that entails connecting to the bulb’s local Wi-Fi network).   Finally, scan the Matter code stamped on the back of the user manual; you’ll need the Matter QR code if you ever need to re-pair the bulb, so don’t lose it.  Once that’s done, you can add the A21 bulb to a room within your LIFX “home.” You can also add the light to other smart home apps with help from the Matter code.  Say what you will about the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light’s design, but it sure is bright. Say what you will about the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light’s design, but it sure is bright.Ben Patterson/Foundry Say what you will about the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light’s design, but it sure is bright.Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Features and functionality  The intuitive LIFX app keeps things sleek yet simple, serving up a four-tab interface that (on the iOS version of the app) you can either tap or swipe though.   Your light groups are on the first tab, each designated by room-themed tiles (kitchen, living room, and so on) with color-coded sliders on the side. The color coding tells you the current hue of the grouped lights, and you can move the slider to adjust the brightness. Tap the tile to arrive at another tabbed interface, with tabs for color wheels, effects (for making your lights twinkle, strobe, flicker, or sync with music captured by your handset’s microphone), themes (such as pop, Van Gogh, mellow, festive, and ocean), and color swatches.  Back on the main interface, the “My Scenes” tab lets you take a snapshot of the current lighting configuration. You can pick and choose which groups and/or individual lights are included in the scene, as well as choose whether a scene should fade in or turn on immediately.  The third tab surfaces LIFX’s lighting effects again, this time allowing you to apply effects to light groups or your entire home. You can also tinker with the speed and intensity of certain effect modes.   The sleek LIFX app interface lets you tinker with color wheels (left), pick a light effects mode (center), and choose from dozens of preset themes (right). The sleek LIFX app interface lets you tinker with color wheels (left), pick a light effects mode (center), and choose from dozens of preset themes (right).Ben Patterson/Foundry The sleek LIFX app interface lets you tinker with color wheels (left), pick a light effects mode (center), and choose from dozens of preset themes (right).Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Finally, the fourth tab allows you to create daily or weekly schedules that can control individual lights or light groups, or can activate lighting scenes. These automations can be triggered at specific times or at sunrise or sunset. One feature that isn’t offered is a vacation mode that turns your lights on and off to simulate your presense when you’re away from home.  Besides using the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 using the LIFX app, you can also control it via the Alexa, Apple Home, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings apps. That means you can add the LIFX bulb to Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings automations, as well as group the bulb with non-LIFX products. But LIFX scenes and animated light effects are only available through the LIFX app.  Specifications Dimensions: 2.64 x 2.64 x 4.53 inches (WxDxH) Weight: 9.55 oz Bulb shape: A21 Base: E26 Brightness: 1,600 lumens Color-capable: Yes White temperatures: 1,500-9,000 Kelvin Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi Hub requirement: None Matter support: Yes Should you buy the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21?  The versatile LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 occupies the middle ground of the smart lighting market—not as pricey as Philips Hue’s high-end bulbs, not as flimsy as some of the cheaper smart lights we’ve tested. It’s solid and substantial (if a tad heavy), bright and colorful, easy to install, packs in plenty of features, and boasts an intuitive and elegant app, all while keeping its price tag in line.  Now, those who want a bulb that fits into a rich smart lighting ecosystem might do better going the Philips Hue way, as LIFX is only now refreshing its smart light portfolio after having sat out the past few years. But the LIFX SuperColor Smart Light A21 still offers plenty of functionality for the price, and with Feit Electric’s backing, LIFX seems poised to shore up its catalog sooner rather than later. Lighting

      • Spotify HiFi release date: When is Spotify’s lossless tier coming?

        Whither Spotify HiFi? Great question.  Announced more than three (!) years ago, Spotify HiFi was supposed to finally bring lossless audio to the world’s biggest streaming-music service.   Pop stars were trotted out to promote the new feature, experts detailed the benefits lossless audio would bring to listeners, and a launch window was announced.  And then… nothing.  Three years after Spotify announced HiFi, we’re still wondering what happened to the feature. Spotify has remained mostly mum, although the company has offered a few comments about HiFi’s fate, while scattered rumors and leaks have hinted that Spotify HiFi might still—in one form or another—see the light of day.  Here’s what we know–and don’t know–about Spotify HiFi, and when it might finally arrive. Updated April 11, 2024: More leaks on Reddit are pointing toward lossless Spotify playback (which may no longer be called “Spotify HiFi”) arriving in a new “Music Pro” add-on that also includes “advanced mixing” features. Scroll down to the “When will Spotify HiFi come out?” section for more. Spotify HiFi release date: Your questions answered 1. What is Spotify HiFi? First announced back in February 2021, Spotify HiFi was described as a way for Spotify Premium users to “upgrade their sound quality” to a “CD-quality, lossless audio format.” Typically, “CD-quality” means streaming audio encoded with 16-bit depth and a 44.1kHz sampling rate.  But the key term here is “lossless,” which means that the audio stream contains exactly the same sonic detail as its source.  The main selling point here is that you’d be hearing the music in the precise way the artist intended–and indeed, Spotify posted a video (which has since been marked “private”) in which Billie Eilish and Finneas extolled the virtues of lossless audio streaming. As it stands, Spotify streams audio at 320Kbps in the “lossy” Ogg Vorbis format, which means the audio stream has been compressed and is losing a fair amount of detail in the interest of conserving bandwidth.  2. When was Spotify HiFi supposed to come out? Spotify never gave a precise release date for Spotify HiFi, but during its 2021 announcement, it said the feature would arrive “later this year” in “select” markets. Of course, it’s fair to say that Spotify HiFi missed its launch window by a wide margin. 3. When will Spotify HiFi come out? The short answer: We don’t know when Spotify HiFi will arrive, but there have been hints that the feature is still in the works. According to a June 2023 report from Bloomberg, Spotify was prepping a new and pricier tier that would “likely” including Spotify HiFi, along with “expanded” access to audiobooks. The new tier, which Spotify reportedly called “Supremium” behind closed doors, would become Spotify’s priciest plan, albeit in “non-U.S. markets” to start, the Bloomberg report said. The Bloomberg story also noted that this so-called “Supremium” plan would likely arrive by the end of 2023. But so far, no dice. Later, in September 2023, a Spotify user poking around the official Spotify app said they found code that appeared to back up the Bloomberg report, including evidence that Spotify HiFi might actually offer high-resolution (i.e., better than 16-bit/44kHz) as well as lossless tracks. The code didn’t offer any details on when Spotify HiFi might actually arrive, however. [Updated April 11, 2024] Then, in April 2024, the same Spotify user found code in more recent versions of the Spotify app hinting that that the (never unveiled) Supremium tier “is dead.” In its place: a “Music Pro” add-on that would offer up to 24-bit/44.1kHz lossless playback plus a headphone “enhancement/optimization” feature. Music Pro could also include “advanced mixing” tools similar to those detailed in this Wall Street Journal article, the Reddit user said. No word on pricing, however. Spotify never confirmed the Bloomberg report or the other leaks, but Spotify execs have previously insisted that Spotify HiFi is still coming. Speaking with The Verge in March 2023, Spotify co-president Gustav Söderström said that the company is “still going to do” Spotify HiFi, but that “we’re going to do it in a way where it makes sense for us and for our listeners,” adding that “the industry changed and we had to adapt.” (We’ll discuss exactly how the industry changed in a moment.) Söderström didn’t offer a timeline for when Spotify HiFi might finally arrive, beyond a vague “at some point.” Going further back to January 2022, the company offered a vaguely worded statement that offered scant details about Spotify HiFi’s fate: “We know that HiFi quality audio is important to you. We feel the same, and we’re excited to deliver a Spotify HiFi experience to Premium users in the future. But we don’t have timing details to share yet. We will of course update you here when we can.“ We reached out to Spotify shortly after that announcement, but a rep would only say that the company did “not have anything further to share on HiFi beyond the excitement for the future launch.” There have been other hints about Spotify HiFi’s arrival. According to an October 2022 post on Reddit, a longtime Spotify user who had recently switched to Apple Music claimed they got a survey detailed a new plan–“Spotify Platinum”–that boasts HiFi, as well as other features such as “Studio Sound,” a “Headphone Tuner,” “Audio Insights,” “Library Pro,” “Playlist Pro,” and “limited-ad” podcasts, all for an extra charge (more on that in a moment). The Redditor said the survey asked if they would switch back to Spotify “in the nest 30 days” for “one of [those] features.” Obviously, those 30 days came and went without any sign of Spotify Platinum actually appearing. Even further back, a “HiFi” icon was spotted in the Spotify app back in May 2021 and a leaked “Hi, HiFi” video that made the rounds a few months later. 4. How much will Spotify HiFi cost? While Spotify has never come out and said that HiFi will cost extra, the wording of its initial announcement–“Premium subscribers in select markets will be able to upgrade their sound quality to Spotify HiFi”–suggests that HiFi is either an add-on or included in a new plan, such as the possible Spotify Platinum tier.  Bloomberg’s 2023 report about Spotify “Supremium” said the new tier–including HiFi functionality–would be Spotify’s priciest yet, while the purported survey cited in the “Spotify Platinum” rumor detailed above pegged the price at $19.99 a month. (Of course, given how much time has passed since those reports and rumors were published, any specific price points they mentioned should be taken with a grain of salt.) Meanwhile, the aforementioned Spotify user who had been digging around the Spotify app found a reference to a $19.99/month price within the app’s code, but added that “this could just be a placeholder.” It’s also worth noting that Spotify tested CD-quality audio streams as early as 2017, and at that time, it charged an extra $7.50 a month for the privilege.  5. Why hasn’t Spotify HiFi come out yet? Good question. Back in February 2022, Spotify CEO Daniel Ed blamed “licensing” issues when asked about the fate of Spotify HiFi during a company earnings call. Here’s the exact quote, as reported by TechCrunch: “Many of the features that we talk about and especially that’s related to music ends up into licensing,” Ek told investors. “So I can’t really announce any specifics on this other than to say that we’re in constant dialogue with our partners to bring this to market.” There is another reason that Spotify might have delayed Spotify HiFi: because it got caught flat-footed by Apple and Amazon, a development that Spotify’s Söderström referred to (“the industry changed”) earlier. Just three months after the Spotify HiFi announcement, Amazon and Apple both announced (separately, but on the same day) that they would begin offering lossless, high-resolution, and spatial audio music tracks, all for no extra charge. (Apple was completely new to lossless and spatial audio streaming, while Amazon had previously been charging extra for lossless and spatial tracks.) Following the Amazon and Apple announcements, the prospect of paying extra (most likely) for only CD-quality music and (probably) no spatial audio began to lose its appeal, so perhaps Spotify chose to retreat and regroup. 6. Will Spotify HiFi offer high-resolution music streaming? Plenty of Spotify’s streaming music rivals, including Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Qobuz, and Tidal, offer “high-resolution” music streaming–that is, audio that’s encoded at a higher resolution and sampling rate than CD-quality 16-bit/44.1kHz audio tracks.  Most industry types agree that 24-bit/48kHz is the threshold for high-resolution audio, and those streamers that support it deliver high-res streams all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz. But Spotify never said anything about high-resolution audio in its initial Spotify HiFi announcement; all it promised was “CD-quality” audio, which qualifies as “hi-fi” but not “hi-res.” That said, the Spotify user who previously revealed details hidden in the Spotify app noted that code made reference to “24-bit Lossless music,” indicating that Spotify HiFi might offer high-resolution audio after all. In any event, it’s a matter of heated debate whether the human ear can actually tell the difference between CD-quality and high-resolution audio–or for that matter, whether most folks can discern the difference between lossy and lossless. We won’t dive into lossy-vs.-lossless rabbit hole here. 7. Will Spotify HiFi offer spatial audio? As with high-resolution audio, Spotify never said anything about spatial audio–that is, music tracks that have been mixed with 3D surround effects–in its Spotify HiFi announcement. Meanwhile, Spotify competitors Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Tidal do offer spatial audio tracks in such formats as Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio. Again, Spotify might actually have spatial audio plans in the works–and perhaps that’s what the “Studio Sound” and/or “Headphone Tuner” features from the Spotify Platinum rumors are all about. 8. Will Spotify HiFi get cancelled? Well, anything’s possible, and Spotify has been known to nix high-profile features that never quite took off. For example, Spotify pulled the plug on Car Thing, a small touchscreen display that you could install on a car dashboard for on-the-road Spotify streaming. For its part, Spotify said that while Car Thing “worked as intended,” it chose to halt production of the $80 device due to “product demand and supply chain issues,” among other factors. Spotify also has a history of testing, teasing, and rolling out new features that later disappear–or even reappear–without explanation. But while Spotify seems willing to cancel features that aren’t working, it also likes to experiment, and Spotify HiFi could be a project that Spotify is content to tinker with indefinitely. For what it’s worth, the official Spotify HiFi announcement is still live on Spotify’s website. 9. So, what’s next with Spotify HiFi? Those of us still curious about Spotify HiFi tend to focus our attention on Spotify’s quarterly earnings reports, when the company shares its balance sheet and (sometimes) details upcoming features, price changes, and other initiatives. There’s also a conference call where analysts get to quiz Spotify executives, who occasionally get asked about Spotify HiFi. Spotify’s next quarterly earnings report (for the fourth quarter of 2023) is due February 6, 2024, and you can bet we’ll be listening. Update (2/6/2024): Nope, nothing. Updated on April 11, 2024 to add new developments and analysis. Streaming Media

      • Yale Approach with Wi-Fi is an affordable retrofit smart lock

        Yale, one of the oldest lock manufacturers in the world, has announced an all-new retrofit smart lock, the Yale Approach Lock with Wi-Fi. Affordably priced at $129.99, the lock is also available bundled with Yale’s exterior keypad for $179.99. The primary appeal of installing a retrofit smart lock is that it doesn’t require the wholesale replacement of your existing lock. The smart component fits over the interior element of the deadbolt that’s already in place. This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart locks. That makes retrofit locks like the Yale Approach a great option for people looking for an easy smart home upgrade, homeowners who don’t want to alter their door’s exterior aesthetic, or renters who otherwise can’t change their locks at all. Yale says the lock can be installed in 10 minutes with just a screwdriver. The Yale Approach retrofit smart lock doesn’t require you to replace your existing deadbolt. The Yale Approach retrofit smart lock doesn’t require you to replace your existing deadbolt.Yale The Yale Approach retrofit smart lock doesn’t require you to replace your existing deadbolt.Yale Yale This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart locks. Available in Black Suede and Silver, Yale says the Approach has a very slim profile—1.6 inches off the door—and that its design takes cues from the company’s Yale Assure Lock 2 product line. The lock operates over Bluetooth and comes with the Yale Connect Wi-Fi Bridge plugged into a nearby electrical outlet. Users can use the Yale Access app to operate the lock anywhere they have internet access. The app also enables keyless entry with PIN codes for residents and guests, and it maintains an event log so you can keep track of who’s coming and going. In addition, the Yale Approach can be integrated into the Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and Philips Hue smart home ecosystems. Yale says Matter compatibility will come later, via a software update. The lock can also be operated with the Yale Keypad, a battery-powered, weather-resistant (IPX5) numeric keypad that communicates with the lock via Bluetooth. They keypad looks to be a significant improvement over Yale’s August Smart Keypad, and it is in fact also compatible with Yale’s August Wi-Fi Smart Lock. The new keypad can be purchased separately for $69.99 or bundled with the August lock for $229.99. Yale says the Yale Approach is available now at both Yale’s online store and at August.com. The lock will be available at Amazon and other retailers soon. Smart Locks

      • ISPs are violating the spirit of the FCC Broadband Facts mandate

        Shopping for home internet service just got easier, thanks to an overdue act of government regulation—at least in theory. As of April 10, major internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.S. must provide “Broadband Facts” labels to prospective customers, under FCC rules approved in late 2022. Modeled after the “Nutrition Facts” labels the FDA mandates for packaged food, these broadband labels must disclose typical download and upload speeds, full non-promotional pricing, data caps, and hidden fees as part of the sign-up process. As you might expect, not all ISPs are embracing the opportunity for transparency. Many have tried their best to hide the new labels from consumers; and in some cases, they omit key details, such as data cap overage charges and equipment rental fees. This is no surprise given that cable companies lobbied hard against broadband labels to begin with. Let’s take a closer look by examining the placement and content of each major ISP’s Broadband Facts labels and grading them accordingly: Charter Spectrum Spectrum’s Broadband Facts labels are hidden behind a tiny text link. Spectrum’s Broadband Facts labels are hidden behind a tiny text link.Jared Newman / Foundry Spectrum’s Broadband Facts labels are hidden behind a tiny text link.Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Charter really doesn’t want you to see Spectrum’s broadband labels, which are hidden by default on the plan selection page. To find them, you must click the tiny “Broadband Label” text beneath each plan or check off the “Show all Broadband Labels” box at the top. A customer who was unfamiliar with the FCC’s new rules might skip over the disclosures entirely. One can understand why Charter is so eager to obfuscate: By clicking those labels, you’ll see that Spectrum’s actual internet price jumps by $45 to $55 per month after promo rates expire, and customers face additional fees for activation, reconnection, and late payments. Grade: C- Comcast Xfinity Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Comcast’s Broadband Facts label looks more like a billing statement than a nutritional guide, but at least the information is easy to find, appearing directly next to your selected plan with no extra clicks required. The top of the label makes clear that Comcast customers face steep price hikes after their promo rates expire, and it links to the company’s documentation on bringing your own equipment. Still, the label stumbles over Comcast’s biggest gotcha: Unlimited data costs an extra $15 per month as part of a cable modem rental fee, or $30 per month if you use your own modem. These two fee options appear at opposite ends of the label, and nowhere does Comcast specify its data limits and overage fees for customers who don’t pay the toll. Grade: B- Cox Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Much like Spectrum, Cox requires an extra click to view its Broadband Facts labels, though you can also find them by scrolling down the page. But Cox also employs a separate act of misdirection. Above each “View Broadband Facts Label” link, you’ll find a separate “Plan Details” link with more marketing fluff and one key omission: It doesn’t list the overage fees for exceeding Cox’s 1TB data cap. (As the actual Broadband Facts label makes clear, customers must pay $10 for each additional 50GB.) The “Plan Details” page also doesn’t tell you that Cox’s free Wi-Fi equipment jumps to $15 per month after two years. Cox’s separate “Plan Details” page omits important details. Cox’s separate “Plan Details” page omits important details.Jared Newman / Foundry Cox’s separate “Plan Details” page omits important details.Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry One other notable quirk: While Cox’s plan selection page advertises “up to” a certain speed for each tier, its nutrition labels show “typical” speeds that exceed the advertised limit. So what exactly are customers getting? Grade: D+ Verizon Fios Clicking the tiny link scrolls down to the label, pictured on the right. Clicking the tiny link scrolls down to the label, pictured on the right.Jared Newman / Foundry Clicking the tiny link scrolls down to the label, pictured on the right.Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry To find Verizon’s broadband labels, you must scroll to the bottom of the plan selection page or click a tiny “Jump to broadband facts labels” link, which is hidden beneath a bevvy of other options halfway down the page. Even worse, the labels themselves suffer from conflicting or missing information. While Verizon’s plan selection box states that average download speeds range from 750- to 940 Mbps for a gigabit plan, the FCC-mandated label shows a “typical” download speed of 939.67 Mbps. The label also doesn’t say anything about equipment rental fees, even though Verizon offers a range of free and paid options, and it doesn’t link to information about bringing your own equipment. Grade: D T-Mobile 5G Home Internet Clicking the “Broadband Facts” drop-down shows the full label, pictured on the right. Clicking the “Broadband Facts” drop-down shows the full label, pictured on the right.Jared Newman / Foundry Clicking the “Broadband Facts” drop-down shows the full label, pictured on the right.Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry T-Mobile’s Broadband Facts label appears prominently on the plan detail page, and while you do have to click a drop-down button to see the whole thing, T-Mobile shows enough of the label up front to make its purpose clear. The only major problem is conflicting data. While the label advertises typical upload speeds between 15- and 31 Mbps, T-Mobile’s FAQ section says to expect uploads between 6- and 23 Mbps instead. That could be a make-or-break difference if you need a plan that can handle multiple Zoom calls at the same time. Grade: B+ Optimum Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry While Optimum doesn’t list its labels directly on the plan selection page, it does include a big blue “Broadband Facts” button below each plan, leading to an easy-to-read pop-up. But there’s still room for improvement. The label’s “typical” download speeds exceed the maximum speed that Optimum advertises, and there’s no information about equipment fees. (Optimum’s basic Wi-Fi gateway is free, but range extenders cost extra.) And while the label says the price increases “in periodic increments” after 12 months up to the regular rate, there’s no way to see what those increments are or when they apply. Grade: C+ CenturyLink Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry While most internet providers are treating broadband labels as secondary to their own marketing, CenturyLink made them a fundamental part of its signup flow. Enter a valid service address, and you’ll land on a plan selection screen in which the FCC-mandated labels serve as the sole description of your options. There’s no marketing filler at all here, just a utilitarian rundown of what your money gets you. Yes, we can ding CenturyLink for not linking to any bring-your-own modem documentation, or for showing “typical” speeds that exceed the company’s advertised maximums. Yet no other ISP has embraced both the spirit and the letter of the FCC’s rules to the extent that CenturyLink has. Grade: A- AT&T Fiber Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Jared Newman / Foundry Who’d have thought that the best Broadband Facts implementation would come from AT&T? The telco’s labels appear prominently beneath each plan with no extra clicking required, so the experience truly feels akin to flipping over a bag of chips for its nutritional damage. The information is clear, the “typical” speeds line up with what AT&T advertises, and the only nitpick is that it doesn’t show the cost of additional Wi-Fi range extenders. Bear in mind that AT&T’s fiber service has no data caps, no modem rental fees, and no rate hikes beyond the advertised price. It turns out that transparent marketing isn’t all that difficult when there’s nothing egregious to hide. Grade: A You’ll find additional information about the FCC’s Broadband Facts label at PCWorld. Sign up for Jared’s Cord Cutter Weekly newsletter to get more streaming advice every Friday. Streaming Media

      • Eufy Video Doorbell Dual review: This 2-eyed camera sees it all

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsA 2nd down-facing camera to watches over packagesOperates on either battery or low-voltage powerMotion and body-heat detection2K video offers crisp viewsNo subscription requiredConsDoorbell must be dismounted to charge its batteryDoesn’t work with Google Home MiniNo Apple Homekit supportOur VerdictThe Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual (model E340) offers some of the best views of the front porch you can get in a smart doorbell, and its motion and delivery detection is great. This camera’s Google Home support is lacking, on the other hand, and there’s no Apple HomeKit integration at all. Best Prices Today: Eufy Video Doorbell Dual (Model E340) Retailer Price £159.99 View Deal Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide Product Price Price comparison from Backmarket Most doorbell cameras have blind spots, particularly when it comes to the area of your porch directly beneath them. Because they prioritize a view of the person standing at the door, their field of view focuses on your visitor’s upper body. That’s not the case with the Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual (model E340). It uses a second camera pointing almost straight down to also capture the ground directly in front of it. Thanks to this feature, you’ll your packages even when they’re right against the wall the doorbell is mounted to.  This isn’t an entirely new idea, the Maximus Answer DualCam Video Doorbell we reviewed in early 2020 can do the same trick, albeit at much lower resolution and requiring hardwired power. I like the Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual more than most other doorbell cams on the market. Installation Setting up the Eufy video doorbell can be quick and easy if you’re going all wireless, or about the same as any other video doorbell if you’re wiring it to your existing doorbell’s connection, which isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can be a pain with some doorbell chimes. The kit comes with all the hardware required to mount the bracket and a couple of jumper wire options to connect to your existing doorbell wires if you’re going for a wired installation. The Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual comes with everything you need for basic battery-powered installation and wiring to connect it to existing doorbell wires. The Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual comes with everything you need for basic battery-powered installation and wiring to connect it to existing doorbell wires. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer The Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual comes with everything you need for basic battery-powered installation and wiring to connect it to existing doorbell wires. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Wireless installation is simply a matter of charging up the battery, screwing the mounting bracket into your wall, and then snapping the doorbell into place. Install the mobile app, scan the QR code on the back to connect the doorbell, follow the on-screen instructions to connect it to Wi-Fi, and assign the doorbell a name.  This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best video doorbells. Wired installation is straightforward, but—as with any wired doorbell—more involved. Two screws on the back of the doorbell connect to the two wires coming out of the wall (these connect to your existing transformer and chime). Eufy gives you jumper cables in the package, which is great for those whose in-wall wires may be short. Just slip the spade connectors on the jumper wires under the screws on your doorbell, tighten them up, and then connect the other ends of the wires to the wires in your wall with the provided wire nuts. Doorbell wiring is non-polarized, so you can connect either wire to either terminal on the doorbell itself. The Eufy app setup is straightforward, and concludes with updating the doorbell’s firmware. The Eufy app setup is straightforward, and concludes with updating the doorbell’s firmware. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer The Eufy app setup is straightforward, and concludes with updating the doorbell’s firmware. Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer The battery-powered installation relies on the Eufy Security mobile app to notify you when someone’s at the door, and it can also alert you via Google Home and Alexa devices. With the wired installation, you also get a connection to any existing chime hardware inside your home.  Using the Eufy Video Doorbell Dual The Eufy E340 video doorbell compares favorably with the major options from Google Nest and Ring. While it does require Eufy’s app and doesn’t integrate particularly well with Google Assistant—and it doesn’t work at all with Apple Homekit—the Eufy Security app is robust and well designed. It feels like a drop-in replacement for Nest’s user experience, with a few extra options that are pretty compelling.  The immediately obvious difference between the Eufy camera and other doorbell cams you may have tried is the secondary view of the porch (or your visitor’s feet, as the case may be). With most cameras, your view is likely to stop at the visitor’s ankles, unless they’re standing back a bit from the door. If the Amazon driver drops a small package directly underneath most other doorbells, you may not see it at all. With Eufy’s dual-cam doorbell, you see the whole picture with two slightly overlapping views. While I was initially put-off by the visible break between the two images in the app, I quickly grew to love seeing a dedicated view of the entire porch. The down-facing camera captured even packages that were dropped close to the wall or off to the side of the doorbell. That alone is worth the price of admission.  The Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual offers a uniquely full view of the porch with its secondary down-facing camera.  The Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual offers a uniquely full view of the porch with its secondary down-facing camera.  Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer The Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual offers a uniquely full view of the porch with its secondary down-facing camera.  Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer Foundry / Robert Strohmeyer The Eufy’s motion detection is also far smarter than many other doorbell cameras. A thermal sensor located beneath the main camera picks up body heat and helps reduce false alarms. You can adjust the motion sensitivity in the app as well, so if you’re still getting false positives from small animals passing by, the issue is easy to address. As visitors and deliveries come and go, the app sends customizable notifications, including whether to include images. Eufy’s onboard AI adeptly identified packages and pickups, with fewer errors than other smart doorbells I’ve tried.  While the Eufy E340’s 6500mAh battery lasts an insanely long time, you’ll still need to take the camera down from time to time to recharge it (there are various power-saving options you can set in the app). While this is easy to do with a paperclip–perhaps too easy, considering a thief could steal it–the doorbell will be out of commission while it’s battery is being charged. Eufy estimates it will take 3 hours to charge the battery from 0- to 100 percent with a 5V 2A charger, and twice that long if you’re using a 5V 1A charger. Ring has a better solution for its battery-powered video doorbells: The battery can be removed for charging; so, if you buy a spare battery, you’ll have almost no down time at all. In Eufy’s favor, however, its doorbell has a motion-activated alarm that blares and alerts you with a push notification if it’s tampered with.   Eufy has an increasingly broad array of home security cameras and smart lighting products, but it doesn’t offer a true home security system with a central hub, siren, door/window sensors, and a professional monitoring option. If that’s what you’re looking for, consider an Abode, ADT, Arlo, Ring Alarm, Simplisafe or similar offering instead. What Eufy does offer is local storage for its cameras video recordings. The E340 has 8GB of local storage, or you can connect it to one of Eufy’s HomeBase network-attached storage boxes, which can host up to 16TB of user-provided storage. This eliminates the need to pay for a subscription for storage in the cloud. Competing video doorbells from Arlo, Ring, and some others are nearly useless without a subscription. Should you buy a Eufy Video Doorbell Dual? The Eufy Video Doorbell Dual (model E340) has a lot to recommend it, and its dual-camera array is the bees knees, but it has some shortcomings as well. If your smart home revolves around Google Home or Apple HomeKit, for example, you’ll want to pass, as you can’t use a Google Home smart speaker as a chime, and it doesn’t support HomeKit at all. The situation is better with Amazon Echo smart speakers. Ultimately, I like the Eufy Security Video Doorbell Dual more than most other doorbell cams on the market, but as a heavy Google Home and Apple HomeKit user in a household of mixed platforms, it doesn’t meet my needs. I otherwise give this device a hearty thumbs-up on its own merits. Video Doorbells

      • How to move and delete channels on the Roku home screen

        One of the first things I did as a new Roku user was to start adding channels to the Home screen, from Netflix and Disney+ to Apple TV+ and HBO Max. But once I had all my channels installed, I hit a roadblock. How exactly do you rearrange all those channel tiles? Personally, I like having Netflix up top, along with such oft-used services as Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, but they were all jumbled in the middle of the channel grid. Meanwhile, there were some channels I wanted to nix, such as People TV and Roku’s Getting Started channel. If you’re new to Roku, it’s easy to get stuck trying to move or delete channels on the Home screen, given that there’s no obvious way to rearrange your tiles. More experienced Roku users, however, will know the trick: the ever-useful “*” button, a.k.a. Options, which reveals contextual and related options when pressed. Once you’re familiar with the Options button, rearranging the channels on the Home screen is a snap. How to move channels from the Roku home screen At a glance Time to complete: 5 minutesTools required: NoneMaterials required: Roku streaming video player or Roku TVCost: $0 1. Select the Roku channel to move Ben Patterson/Foundry Go to the Home tab on the main Roku screen, press the “>” button on the remote, then navigate to the channel tile that you’d like to move. 2. Select ‘Move channel’ from the Options menu Ben Patterson/Foundry Next, press the “*” button on the remote. When you do, a menu will pop up with a variety of options, allowing you to rate the channel, check for updates, submit feedback, and so on. The option you’re looking for is Move channel; go ahead and click it. 3. Use arrow buttons to move the channel Ben Patterson/Foundry Now, you’ll see the channel tiles again, except this time the one you selected will be surrounded by arrows. Using the arrow keys on the remote, move the channel tile around until it’s in the ideal position, then press the OK button. All set! How to delete channels on Roku 1. Check before deleting a Roku channel Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Want to delete a channel tile? Before you do, you should check and see if you’re subscribed to it—and if so, whether you subscribed through your Roku account. To find out, visit my.roku.com and select Manage Your Subscriptions. If the channel you want to delete is listed, be sure to unsubscribe first. 2. Select ‘Remove channel’ from the Options menu Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Ben Patterson/Foundry Once you’ve finished checking your subscription (if you had one in the first place), deleting a channel on Roku is similar to moving a channel. Just navigate to the channel you want to nix, press the “*” (Options) button, then select Remove channel. Streaming Media

      • Amazon won’t pay developers to build Alexa skills anymore

        In another sign that Amazon is changing course with Alexa, the company has warned developers that it will soon stop paying them to build Alexa skills.  As spotted by Bloomberg, Amazon posted a notice on its Alexa development site noting that it would soon end its seven-year-old program that awarded Amazon Web Services credits to developers who built and published Alexa skills.  Amazon will cease issuing AWS credits for Alexa skills after June 30, the notice says.  This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart speakers. Bloomberg also reports that Amazon will end monthly cash payments to the developers of popular Alexa skills, although Alexa developers will still be allowed to collect revenue from in-app purchases.  In a statement to TechHive, an Amazon spokesperson said the company chose to “sunset” the rewards programs because they had “run their course.”  “These are older programs launched back in 2017 as a way to help newer developers interested in building skills accelerate their progress,” the rep said. “Today, there are over 160,000 skills available for customers, a well-established Alexa developer community, and new LLM-powered tools that will help developers build new experiences for Alexa.” Less than 1 percent of Alexa developers were still using the two rewards programs, according to the Bloomberg report. Amazon has originally viewed Alexa skills as a major revenue driver for its then-nascent voice assistant. But while some early developers of Alexa skills reaped thousands of dollars a month for their Alexa skills, many more found the effort wasn’t worth the meager return. Amazon wasn’t making much money from Alexa skills either, Bloomberg reports, and thus began shrinking the size of its cash payments to Alexa developers starting in 2020. Amazon’s move follows the unveiling last fall of a revamped version of Alexa that’s powered by Amazon’s new large language model.  The new Alexa is capable of such feats as conducting smooth, open-ended conversations, writing stories and invitations, responding to a user’s emotions, and obeying natural-language commands for controlling smart home devices.  Amazon execs have said the company is considering charging for this new “superhuman” version of Alexa, while the original Alexa would remain free. That said, there is reportedly dissent within Amazon about the feasibility of charging extra for a so-called “Alexa Plus,” with the AI-enhanced Alexa said to be “falling short of expectations.”  Updated shortly after publication with a statement from Amazon. Smart Speakers

      • Roku Pro Series TVs arrive, with mini-LEDs, muscular processing

        Roku is shipping the Roku Pro Series TVs it announced at CES in January. The new line of smart TVs feature higher-end specifications, more powerful image processing, and come with what looks to be a much-improved remote control with backlit buttons. And if Roku’s software powers your TV from another maker, you can look for big improvements there, too. The Roku Pro series Roku is using quantum-dot panels with 4K resolution, 120Hz refresh rates, 10-bit color, and mini-LED backlighting for its Roku Pro series. The TVs will be available in 55-inch ($900), 65-inch ($1,200), and 75-inch ($1,800) SKUs. A thin, wall-mount accessory is available for $99 to complement the already wall-hugging design. We haven’t reviewed one, but if they’re anything like Roku’s existing models, the Pro Series will be very good TVs, thanks in part to those mini LEDs, but also from some seriously upgraded processing power. A separate neural engine now handles picture quality concerns, allowing the CPU itself to deliver snappier interface performance. A thin profile Roku Pro Series TV hanging above artsy flames. A thin profile Roku Pro Series TV hanging above artsy flames. A thin profile Roku Pro Series TV hanging above artsy flames. We also expect good things from the Pro-series’ side-firing speakers, which should add a sense of space and separation to both stereo and surround audio. The Pro-series’ thin design means bass response will likely be limited, but you can’t have everything; i.e., you can’t have both thin and thumpy. Well, not unless you’re Sony and you vibrate the actual glass of your OLED panel. LED-backlit LCD manufacturers don’t vibrate the display because the multiple layers of those panels might separate in response to prolonged thrumming. That, my friends, would do nothing good for the picture. If you lose your TV remote nearly as often as I do, you’ll appreciate this insanely handy feature of the Pro Series: Push a button on the side of Roku Pro-series TV and the remote will chime, making it easier to find. I hope this becomes an industry standard soon. Press the purple button on the side of a Roku Pro-series TV and the Pro-series remote will chime. Press the purple button on the side of a Roku Pro-series TV and the Pro-series remote will chime. Press the purple button on the side of a Roku Pro-series TV and the Pro-series remote will chime. My only wish is that Roku offered its Pro-series in smaller sizes. The Roku Voice Remote Pro (revision 2) The Roku Voice Remote Pro (revision 2) will be available for purchase on its own for $30, and it offers several big improvements. The most obvious change–and perhaps the most useful–is that its buttons are now backlit. That will make the remote vastly easier to use in a darkened home theater. There’s also now a single, dual-function programmable launch button above the two preset buttons on the right-hand side. This replaces the two programmable buttons from the last version, however, you can select on screen from two functions. We’re not 100% sure this is progress, but it’s aesthetically a bit nicer. Finally, the remote has a larger rechargeable battery. Being a Roku user, I seriously want one of these. As simple as it is, the Roku remote has always been easy to use by touch, but that doesn’t make the Pro remote v2’s backlighting any less welcome. As simple as it is, the Roku remote has always been easy to use by touch, but that doesn’t make the Pro remote v2’s backlighting any less welcome. As simple as it is, the Roku remote has always been easy to use by touch, but that doesn’t make the Pro remote v2’s backlighting any less welcome. Smarter picture optimization Basically, Roku Smart Picture selects the preset appropriate for the material being displayed. Personally, I use the same setting for everything, but I’m a Luddite and many users love to tweak. The presets themselves can be adjusted, so you still get the picture you want. You can turn off this feature if you wish. Choose Roku Smart Picture and your Roku TV will automatically select the relevant preset–if you so desire. Choose Roku Smart Picture and your Roku TV will automatically select the relevant preset–if you so desire. Choose Roku Smart Picture and your Roku TV will automatically select the relevant preset–if you so desire. This and most other new features in the Roku 13.0 operating system will be available to older Roku TVs, whether Roku built them or not. This, of course, depends on the quality and abilities of the hardware. And while it’s a bit late to the party, Roku has joined the TV-as-picture-frame gala with its “Backdrop” feature. As with other TVs, this simply displays static images or artwork in place of the black void which is a TV when it’s turned off. Be aware, however, that it will increase your home’s energy consumption. Artwork being displayed in Roku OS’s new Backdrop mode. This feature will be available in existing Roku TVs via a software update. Artwork being displayed in Roku OS’s new Backdrop mode. This feature will be available in existing Roku TVs via a software update. Artwork being displayed in Roku OS’s new Backdrop mode. This feature will be available in existing Roku TVs via a software update. While the Roku operating system has been losing ground to Google TV, I still prefer it, so the improvements are more than welcome. And we are quite sure the new Pro Series TVs will compare favorably with models in the same price range. For the nonce, we’ll ignore the company’s decidedly dictatorial handling of its new dispute resolution agreement. I find the agreement perfectly fine, being a non-litigious type. That said, no vendor should shut off features in a product you already own–no matter what the reason. This article was edited on April 11th, 2024 to correct the discussion of the programmable launch button on the new Pro remote. HDTVs, Smart TVs

      • Dreo Purifier Tower Fan 710S review: 2 home essentials in 1

        At a glance ProsDual motors deliver extra flexibilityPhysical remote control and a well-designed appAffordably pricedConsHuge, and quite unattractiveRelatively limited air-cleaning powerOur VerdictIndependent motors mean you can clean the air and run the Dreo’s fan independently, but its imposing dimensions mean you’ll need to devote a large portion of your room to it. Want to clean the air and fill the room with a nice breeze at the same time? Dreo’s new Purifier Tower Fan 710S does double duty and, according to the company, is unique in offering two separate motors that perform these two tasks independently. Dreo accomplishes this by effectively stacking two devices on top of each other: A small air purifier on the bottom, and a tall tower-style bladeless fan on top. The strange duality of the combined device, at 23 pounds and nearly four feet tall–46.46 x 11.02 x 11.02 inches (HxWxD)–is pretty obvious from the get-go, and the finished product looks decidedly peculiar, as if James Dyson had set his mind on designing a modernized Tesla coil. 12 fan speeds are available, entirely independent from the 710S’s air purifier operations. Let’s analyze the device from the ground up. There’s a cylindrical purifier with a HEPA H13 filter inside its base. Dreo specifies a single CADR of 102 cubic feet per minute, and while it does not suggest a maximum room size for the device, it does bill the unit as suitable for “large space purification.” Still, that CADR is quite low for a device of this size and wouldn’t normally be appropriate for a large room. Three levels of purification speed are available, along with an auto mode that responds to ambient PM2.5 levels in real time. The Dreo Purifier Tower Fan 710S has an air purifier with a HEPA filter in its base, with a tower fan on top of it. Each of the two components has its own motor. The Dreo Purifier Tower Fan 710S has an air purifier with a HEPA filter in its base, with a tower fan on top of it. Each of the two components has its own motor.Christopher Null/Foundry The Dreo Purifier Tower Fan 710S has an air purifier with a HEPA filter in its base, with a tower fan on top of it. Each of the two components has its own motor.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry A fan sits atop the purifier, which Dreo says can pump out air at a speed of up to 27 feet per second, with fresh air reaching up to 39 feet away. I could feel some level of breeze at a range of at least 35 feet. The unit can also be set to oscillate with a maximum rotation of 120 degrees. Preset symmetric oscillation angles of 30, 60, 90, and 120 degrees are available, or you can opt for an asymmetric oscillation that, say, rotates 15 degrees to the right and 60 degrees to the left for a total of 75 degrees of coverage. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best air purifiers. Twelve fan speeds are available; again, independent from the purifier (which can be completely shut off while the fan runs, if desired). Additionally, the fan features four operational modes, including a sleep mode that slowly decreases in speed every half hour, a gentle breeze mode, and an auto mode that adapts the speed (and purifier) to both ambient temperature and air quality. At full blast—maximum purifier speed and maximum fan speed—the device gets pretty loud (61.7dB, per Dreo), but I was surprised to find it far from overwhelming. At lower speeds, it’s quiet enough to sleep by. A display on the front of the Dreo 710s reports ambient temperature, fan speed, air quality based on PM2.5, and remaining filter life. A display on the front of the Dreo 710s reports ambient temperature, fan speed, air quality based on PM2.5, and remaining filter life.Christopher Null/Foundry A display on the front of the Dreo 710s reports ambient temperature, fan speed, air quality based on PM2.5, and remaining filter life.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry All of this can be controlled in one of three ways: with its on-device control panel, a remote control, or the mobile app. Dreo’s onboard controls are all touch-sensitive and mounted on the top of the device. Plus and minus buttons control fan speed, and a leaf icon cycles through the four purification modes. A timer button lets you select an automatic shutoff up to 24 hours into the future. The remote control offers a small sampling of these features. On the front face of the device, above the fan grille, you’ll find an informational display that indicates a few pieces of information depending on the setting you’re on, including ambient temperature, fan speed, a PM2.5 air quality measurement, and remaining filter life. You can cycle through these with the Info button on top of the purifier. Beneath this readout is a color-coded bar corresponding to air quality. Four levels are indicated: Blue is excellent, red is poor. In addition to the remote control and smartphone app, you can control the Dreo 710S with its top-mounted touch control panel. In addition to the remote control and smartphone app, you can control the Dreo 710S with its top-mounted touch control panel.Christopher Null/Foundry In addition to the remote control and smartphone app, you can control the Dreo 710S with its top-mounted touch control panel.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Dreo’s app offers a quick route to pairing with the fan and bridging it to your Wi-Fi network (2.4GHz networks only). Here you’ll primarily find more information about your air quality, including a PM2.5 measurement, ambient temperature, and a real-time filter-life countdown. Each of the above levels—fan speed, oscillation, and purification settings—can be tuned in a single pane in the app. The app also offers the only way to turn the display off manually, outside of putting it into sleep mode. Lastly, the app also features a capable scheduling system for setting up recurring on/off operations; support for Alexa and Google Assistant devices is also included. I had no trouble pairing the purifier to my phone and found that all of the features I’ve mentioned work well, although the onboard controls require a bit of a learning curve to master. The app is particularly well designed. That said, figuring out occasions when I might want to use a purifier and fan separately has been something of a challenge. When running the fan, I can’t envision a scenario when I wouldn’t want to also use the purifier—unless perhaps I was using the fan outdoors. The flipside makes more sense: You might not always want a fan running when the air needs cleaning, although I would not want this enormous machine in the room unless I knew I’d need its fan feature frequently. The good news is that the $300 price tag is decidedly reasonable for a device that does double duty, and while the fan can really put out a lot of air, the limited cleaning power of the purifier makes it less than ideal for scrubbing larger spaces. And at launch, Dreo was offering stackable coupon codes that knocked another $50 off the price if purchased direct from the manufacturer. Smart Appliances

      • Dyson’s new AR CleanTrace aims to gamify vacuuming

        If you think there’s nothing more boring than vacuuming, then you probably haven’t cleaned your oven in a while. But don’t worry about that now, because you’ll also be interested in this new tech from Dyson. Known as ‘CleanTrace’, it’ll use augmented reality (AR) to give you a view of your floor as you’re vacuuming–showing the areas you’ve cleaned and those which you’ve missed–in real time. Dyson Dyson Dyson At the end of your cleaning session, you can then scan the room with your phone to see any spots you’ve overlooked. This news story is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best robot vacuums. The CleanTrace technology is made up of two parts: an AR tool within the MyDyson app, and a phone clamp. Dyson says that it has been created to improve vacuuming efficiency, using a lot of words like “systematic”, “methodically” and “effective” when describing the tech, but really, it will make vacuuming better because it’s so much more satisfying to wipe purple stripes across a screen than it is to clean a floor. Dyson also points out that people are mildly delusional when it comes to cleaning. Its research shows that people imagine that they vacuum for much longer than they do (not me–I literally clean for thousands of hours, or at the very least, it feels that way) and that they are “haphazard and inefficient” as they swipe the vacuum around the room. But the CleanTrace tool can’t be used by everyone. First off, you’ll need a Dyson Gen5detect vacuum, although it’s possible that the technology will work with other Dyson vacuums in the future. You’ll need to make sure your Gen5detect has been registered with Dyson as well. Then you’ll need to buy the phone clamp, which you’ll be able to get from Dyson from June onwards, and which will attach to the vacuum wand as you see in the official image above. Emma Rowley / Foundry Emma Rowley / Foundry Emma Rowley / Foundry Once the CleanTrace feature has been launched, you’ll find it in the MyDyson app. But there’s a catch: the clamp and app will only work with Apple’s iPhone, and even then, only the Pro and Pro Max versions. Then there’s the question of whether the experience will be as good as it looks in the promotional photos and videos, which take the imaginative liberty of faux-painting virtual purple stripes all over a floor. In reality, you’ll be peering down at your phone screen while it’s attached to a vacuum cleaner, which, once you start thinking about it, does not seem as enticing. At the very least, though, it will increase your chances of your kids vacuuming for you. We’ll be reviewing it and we’ll let you know what we think when we’ve had a chance to test it. CleanTrace is will be available from June 2024 from Dyson’s website and in Dyson demo stores. The app feature will be free, but the 104g phone clamp, won’t be. Its price is yet to be confirmed by Dyson, so we’ll update this article when that’s been announced. This news story was originally published on Tech Advisor, our sibling site. Robot Vacuums and Cleaning

      • Polaris VRX iQ+ review: This outstanding pool cleaner trails a tail

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsBest performance of any pool cleaning robot we’ve tested to dateOptimizes run time based on pool sizeLift system lets you retrieve the robot on demand without a poleConsWrangling its power cord requires some extra effortA bit of an eyesore even when not in useOur VerdictPolaris’ high-end corded robot gains in performance what it loses in portability. Until now, every pool-cleaning robot TechHive has tested—large and small—has had one thing in common: a battery. Polaris got its start with ubiquitous water-powered pool cleaners. Now a Fluidra brand, Polaris is one of the bigger names in corded pool robots. Today we take a dive with the Polaris VRX iQ+. Instead of relying on a battery, corded pool-cleaning robots are outfitted with a long electrical cable that snakes from the robot to a control box that lives outside the water. Polaris’s control box is mounted on top of a rolling caddy (tool-free assembly required), which serves as rolling storage rack for the robot and the cable when it’s not in use. The Polaris VRX iQ+ is far from being an inexpensive pool-cleaning robot, but its effectiveness is unmatched in my testing to date. The control box connects directly to a GFCI power outlet, and users are strictly warned not to use an extension cord with it—so you’ll need to have power available reasonably near your pool if you want to use a corded robot at all. The power line is very lengthy, 70 feet of insulated cable that floats in the water. To use the robot, you drop it in near the midpoint of the pool and feed enough cable into the water so the robot can reach all the corners. The remaining cable—and I had plenty of it in my testing—remains coiled on the pool deck. When the robot’s finished, you respool the cable and place it back on the caddy for storage. The corded VRX iQ+ comes with a rolling caddy that stores all its components, but it won’t do much for your yard’s aesthetics whether or not it’s cleaning your pool. The corded VRX iQ+ comes with a rolling caddy that stores all its components, but it won’t do much for your yard’s aesthetics whether or not it’s cleaning your pool.Christopher Null/Foundry The corded VRX iQ+ comes with a rolling caddy that stores all its components, but it won’t do much for your yard’s aesthetics whether or not it’s cleaning your pool.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best pool-cleaning robots. It’s a lot of work in comparison to operating a battery-powered robot, but after I ran the VRX iQ+ a few times, I got the hang of the process and things became increasingly easy. It helps that this robot is extremely efficient at its job: With a maximum power draw of 150 watts, the 21-pound robot cruises around the floor, up the walls, and along the waterline on four large wheels which feature two wide, scrubbing cylindrical treads sandwiched in between. Performance In the water, it’s one of the speediest robots I’ve tested, and it can complete its heaviest “deep clean” cycle in 2 hours, 45 minutes. Unlike some competing robots—the battery-powered BeatBot Aquasense Pro, for example—this robot does not clean the surface of the water in the pool. When you first use the Polaris VRX iQ+, it automatically calculates an optimized “smart cycle” duration based on its initial survey of the pool and remembers it for future runs. My pool’s smart cycle time of 2 hours, 19 minutes seems quite expedient, but to my great surprise it’s also effective. In organic testing, the robot cleaned up nearly all the debris on the floor of the pool, and it did a great job scrubbing walls and tile, too, working fast but working thoroughly and methodically. When I tested the robot on synthetic leaves, it picked up all but a single leaf which had landed on one of the steps. Robots always struggle with steps, and the VRX iQ+ was no exception. Still, a 99-percent success rate at hunting down debris is a big win in my book. The Polaris app is well laid out and easy to use.  The Polaris app is well laid out and easy to use. Christopher Null/Foundry The Polaris app is well laid out and easy to use. Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry If you don’t have time for a full cleaning, additional operating modes are available, including a 1-hour, 15-minute floor-only mode and a 45-minute waterline-only mode. Regardless of mode, when finished, the “lift system” button on the control box instructs the robot to proceed forward and climb whicever wall is directly ahead of it, then park itself at the tile line for easy retrieval, no pole needed. The large debris canister includes a removable lid and is easier to clean than most. The VRX iQ+ works with Polaris’s iAquaLink app, which repeats most of the functions you’ll find on the control box. Additional app features include a remote-control mode that lets you direct the robot to debris it might have missed, and/or initiate a “spot clean” operation for any debris directly in front of it. The app also indicates if the debris canister is full and in need of emptying and includes a scheduling system that automates running times if you want to leave the robot in the pool when the pool is not in use. (This isn’t normally recommended.) The Polaris VRX iQ’s two-part debris container is capacious and reasonably easy to clean out. The Polaris VRX iQ’s two-part debris container is capacious and reasonably easy to clean out.Christopher Null/Foundry The Polaris VRX iQ’s two-part debris container is capacious and reasonably easy to clean out.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Should you buy a Polaris VRX iQ? At $1,649 (not including a current $100 cash rebate promotion), the Polaris VRX iQ+ is far from inexpensive, but its effectiveness is unmatched in my testing to date. While it isn’t overwhelmingly more difficult to use than a battery-powered robot, the need for a lengthy cord really does change the aesthetics of the pool when the robot is in use and even when it’s idling on the deck, as the caddy system takes up a significant amount of space and isn’t the most beautiful way to accessorize your outdoor space. Even larger battery-powered robots are demure by comparison. While I’m still trying to warm up to the idea of having all the extra equipment to deal with, I do appreciate that the robot never needs to recharge, and it won’t suffer from battery fatigue over time. If you want to save a little money, the $1,449 Polaris VRX iQ (sans the +) drops a few of the features of the iQ+, including some of the extra cycles and the custom scheduling feature. You’ll have to visit a pool-supply store to purchase one, however, as it’s not sold online. Also, note that if you want the robot in blue instead of white, you’ll find it for sale under the name of Polaris Alpha iQ+; aside from the color, it’s an identical machine. Robot Vacuums and Cleaning, Robotics

      • Best robot pool cleaners of 2024: Less cleaning = more swimming

        Swimming-pool maintenance is a thankless job, but skipping the chore will both rapidly diminish its value and rather quickly render its water unsafe to swim in. Still swinging a long-handled net to skim leaves and scrubbing its walls and floor to remove algae? Get with the times! Invest in a modern robotic pool cleaner that can do that dirty work for you. Robot pool cleaners come in various shapes and sizes, diverse capabilities. And as you might imagine, they come with a wide array of price tags, with the most sophisticated models going for $2,000 or more. Here are our top picks, followed by a buyers’ guide that will help you determine what you need in a pool-cleaning robot. Updated April 9, 2024: We’ve named the Polaris VRX iQ+ as our top pick in robotic pool cleaners overall. None of the battery-powered bots we’ve tested did as thorough a job picking up dirt and debris and scrubbing our pool’s tile line. Just make sure you’re prepared to deal with its 70-foot power cord before you pull the trigger. Updated April, 4: We also added a link to our Seauto Shark review. This robot pool cleaner was quick to vacuum up dirt and debris from our test pool, and it has a long-lasting battery. It was also one of the best robots we’ve tested when it comes to climbing the walls of the pool and cleaning its tile line. The Shark is rated to clean pools as large as 2,150 square feet, but we have some complaints about how thoroughly it cleaned, leaving broad strips of the bottom of the pool untouched, and its filters and debris basket are difficult to clean. It’s not a bad value for the money, but it doesn’t displace any of our current best picks. Why you should trust us TechHive’s editors and contributors have been evaluating smart home products and smart appliances for many years, and we’ve already tested many of the latest pool-cleaning robots in the real-world environment of an in-ground swimming pool at a home near Austin, TX. Our top picks in robot pool cleaners Polaris VRX iQ+ — Best robot pool cleaner overall Pros Best performance of any pool cleaning robot we’ve tested to date Optimizes run time based on pool size Lift system lets you retrieve the robot on demand without a pole Cons Very expensive Wrangling power cable requires some extra effort A bit of an eyesore even when not in use Why we like the Polaris VRX iQ+ The Polaris VRX iQ+ differs from the other robotic pool cleaners we’ve tested by virtue of the 70-foot insulated power cord that connects it to its out-of-the-water control panel. Wrangling the cord can be a chore–and it’s not the least bit attractive whether the robot is in use or not–but this bot cleaned our pool better than anything we’ve tested to date. Who should buy the Polaris VRX iQ+ If you’re looking for the most effective robotic pool cleaner, you have a place to stash it and its bulky caddy when it’s not in use, and you don’t mind wrestling with its power cord each time you set it to cleaning–and again when it’s done its job–The Polaris VRX iQ+ is hard to beat. If those chores are a turn-off, pick one of our battery-powered recommendations instead. Read our full Polaris VRX iQ+ review Aiper Seagull SE – Best robot pool cleaner for smaller pools Best Prices Today: £361 at Amazon Why we like the Aiper Seagull SE If your pool is on the small side, Aiper’s entry-level pool bot should have no trouble cleaning debris from it. The 8-pound device is easy to maneuver, zooming around the pool for about 90 minutes before its battery dies out. It lacks much in the way of features beyond its on/off switch, but it’s a capable and incredibly low-cost choice if all you need is occasional help scooping up leaves that you’d otherwise have to collect by hand. Who should buy the Aiper Seagull SE Aiper’s entry-level pool bot is best for people with smaller swimming pools—up to about 850 square feet. If you’re working with a tight budget, you could try deploying in a larger pool, but be aware that its battery will need multiple charging cycles to get the entire job done. Read our full Aiper Seagull SE review Aiper Seagull Pro – best robot pool cleaner robot for large pools Pros Epic performance, effectively cleaning both leaves and other debris as well as algae 3-hour battery life ensures no surface is left untouched Doesn’t need to be disassembled for cleaning Cons Can get stuck on obstacles Cleaning out the filter basket is a bit messy Very expensive Best Prices Today: $999.99 at Aiper Why we like the Aiper Seagull Pro The Aiper Seagull Pro isn’t as sophisticated as some of the higher-end robots on the market, but it does a fantastic job of cleaning a pool’s walls and floor. Equipped with scrubbing brushes on its underside, it crawls along the bottom of the pool, sucking up leaves, dirt, and grit. It then climbs the pool’s walls to scrub away any algae growing there. When it’s finished its cleaning run, it comes to rest near the edge of the pool, making it easy to retrieve. Who should buy the Aiper Seagull Pro Equipped with a beefy battery and a large debris basket, the Aiper Seagull Pro can make short work of even large pools—up to 3,200 square feet of surface area, with depths up to 10 feet. And for a trouble-free cleaning experience between runs, you need only pull its debris basket out of its top hatch, dump it, and rinse it with a hose. Read our full Aiper Seagull Pro review Beatbot Aquasense Pro – best pool-cleaning robot for large pools, runner-up Pros Generally great cleaning performance, including on the pool’s surface Charging dock is easier and more convenient than the more typical plug and cable Floats to the surface for removal (most of the time) Optional water-clarification feature Cons Gets stuck on obstacles in the pool At press time, its app didn’t work as advertised Extremely expensive Why we like the BeatBot AquaSense Pro Beatbot got ahead of itself with this product, putting it on the market before its firmware was entirely finished. Fortunately, this beefy robot is mechanically sound, and it boasts an impressive set of features. It cleans not only the pool’s floors and walls, it skims the surface of the pool to suck up floating debris. And there’s no reason to grab a pole when it’s finished a job, because it automatically floats to the top and parks itself near the edge. Who should buy the BeatBot AquaSense Pro If you have a large pool, are looking for the ultimate in sophistication in a pool-cleaning robot, and you’re willing to wait for BeatBot to release some bug-squashing firmware updates, the AquaSense Pro is the pool-cleaning robot to buy. It’s loaded with features, including Wi-Fi connectivity and a charging dock that eliminates the need for cables, this bot can even clarify the water in your pool after it’s cleaned it. Read our full Aquasense Pro review What to look for when shopping for a robot pool cleaner As with most tech products, the feature sets and capabilities of pool-cleaning robots advance as their price tags go up. Here’s a partial list of features that you should look for, sorted from the most common—and therefore should be present on even the least-expensive models—to the fancier features you’ll find on the more sophisticated—and pricier—models. Battery life/square footage These specs go hand in hand: The larger the battery, the more area the robot should be able to cover. In my experience, most manufacturers exaggerate how many square feet their bots can cover on a single battery charge. Look for a model that promises coverage of at least twice the size of your pool’s square footage. Mobile app support Starting at about the $1,000 price range, robotic pool cleaners start to include Wi-Fi connectivity and mobile app support. These features lets you monitor battery life and the robot’s cleaning mode, and—at least in theory—map your pool visually. These features don’t always work as planned, but it can be helpful to get a push notification on your smartphone if the robot gets stuck somewhere. Remote control A few robots include a standalone remote control that let you “drive” the robot toward debris or tell it to abort its cleaning run altogether. Self-parking Many robots can park themselves near a wall at the bottom of the pool when they’re finished running, which makes them easier to retrieve with a pole (a hook attachment is always included). I’ve found this feature to be hit-or-miss affair with the inexpensive models, while the more advanced ones can rise to the surface of the pool and float there. At that point, you can simply pull them out of the water by hand, no tools needed. Surface-cleaning capabilities Beatbot Beatbot Beatbot Want a robot that can skim leaves that haven’t yet sunk to the floor? Look for a model with a skimming feature–although note that these won’t provide perfect coverage due to the tendency of leaves to migrate while the robot is in motion. Wall-cleaning capabilities Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry I didn’t think I needed this feature until I tried it out: Who gets debris on the walls of the pool? Well, you do, more than likely. Wall-cleaning robots can physically scrub off algae that you’d otherwise need to do manually, with a brush—an that’s a terribly painful, back-breaking task. These cleaners will have spinning treads; cheaper robots rely on suction power alone. The best models use spinning treads, while cheaper robots rely on just suction power. Frequently asked questions about robot pool cleaners 1. How do robotic pool cleaners work? Robot pool cleaners are in many ways the watery analogue of robot vacuum cleaners, although their navigational technologies vary considerably. Simple cleaners will use water jets to move back and forth in wide arcs, reversing each time they hit an obstacle while sucking up debris through a small port in the bottom of the robot. More advanced cleaners have multiple mechanical motors and sensors that take the robot through a more ordered cleaning routine, moving back and forth across the pool like a person behind a lawnmower. Models that can clean the sides of a pool can climb its walls in the same type of pattern. The spinning brushes on these models are more effective at scooping up sand, dirt, and other fine debris. 2. How do you control a robot pool cleaner? For the most part, you don’t. Robot pool cleaners are a “set and forget” affair, though more luxe models can be set to clean the floor only, walls only, both floor and walls, and so on. If you want to stop the robot mid-run, you can grab it with a hooked pole and turn it off manually or with a remote control if one was provided. Note that mobile apps usually won’t work while the robot is in the pool, as the water and concrete tend to block the wireless signal. 3. How effective are robotic pool cleaners? If you’re used to having something like an old-school Polaris cleaner run for 8 hours a day to keep your pool spotless, you might be disappointed in what a robot pool cleaner—which will generally run for less than 3 hours, and sometimes much less—can do. I’ve never completed a cleaning run with absolutely no debris left behind, but the models reviewed above do a solid job, sucking up 80 to 95 percent of debris, depending on how dirty things are when you started. More advanced robotic pool cleaners, machines outfitted with treads, do a remarkably good job cleaning up fine debris and algae—much better than hose-type cleaners that need to be pulled out of the pool when you want to swim—and are nearly as good as a human with a brush. This capability alone makes it worth considering a more advanced—and more expensive—unit. 4. What kind of maintenance do robotic pool cleaners require? Very little. Robotic pool cleaners need to have their debris baskets cleaned out after each run—you might need to use a brush to clean the filter screen—and you should dry them off, though most are very good at draining within a few minutes of removal from the pool. After a few hours of recharging, the robot should be ready to run again. Pool robots are electronic devices, so they are prone to breaking down over time—especially given that they will spend ample time underwater. Never leave a robot in the water for longer than its running cycle, and always store it out of direct sunlight, so UV rays don’t break down its plastic components. Naturally, batteries will lose capacity over time, and these are not user-replaceable on any robot I’ve seen. 5. Are there robot pool cleaners for above-ground pools? Virtually every robotic pool cleaner can clean in-ground pools, but many models can also clean above-ground pools, which have different types of surface materials and often lack a smooth floor for the bot to traverse. Some pool-cleaning robots can handle both types of pools, but don’t assume the one you’re considering can. The manufacturer’s product specifications should indicate which type(s) of pool the robot is designed to clean. How we test robot pool cleaners I test robotic pool cleaners in two ways: I start with real-world tests by letting debris build up for a few days, I then drop the robot into the water to see how it fares. This isn’t scientific—and it’s seasonally dependent on falling leaves—so I also devised a synthetic test using about 100 craft leaves made from silk. These I scatter across the pool before initiating a standard cleaning run. Measuring the portion of leaves left behind makes it easy to make an apples-to-apples comparison among various robots’ cleaning capabilities. TechHive has not tested any robot pool cleaners in an above-ground pool. Other robot pool cleaners we’ve tested We’ve evaluated many other robot pool cleaners, but apart from the Ofuzzi Cyber 1200 Pro, it’s been a love or hate relationship to date. If none of our top picks check all the boxes for you, take a look at these other products. Perhaps you’ll find a redeeming factor we’ve overlooked. Aiper Scuba S1: As much as we like Aiper’s higher-end pool-cleaning robots, we were disappointed with the performance of its budget-priced entry. Hydrus Roker Plus: Don’t be tempted by this robot pool cleaner’s low price tag. We found it did a poor job of cleaning our pool, its battery life too short, and it was difficult to clean of the debris it did pick up. Inse Y10 Pool Vacuum Robot: The manufacturer says its smallish robot is designed for moderately sized pools up to 1,100 square feet. It’s one of the least-expensive bots we’ve tested, but there’s a big difference between inexpensive and just cheap. Ofuzzi Cyber 1200 Pro: This robot won’t clean your pool’s walls, but we found that it did a great job vacuuming up leaves and other debris from the bottom of our pool. It’s attractively priced, too. Robot Vacuums and Cleaning, Robotics

      • Abode Video Doorbell review: A low-cost, simple doorbell camera

        At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsDoes not require Abode hub, nor will it take advantage of a hub if you have oneDecently pricedFairly simple setupConsRequires an additional box inside the houseFairly low resolutionCan’t record video without a subscription30-second clip limit, even with a subscriptionOur VerdictThere’s not much unique about Abode’s video doorbell, but at least the price is right. Just about every smart home ecosystem has a doorbell camera available these days, and for good reason. For many homeowners, the ability to see who’s knocking at the front door is the catalyst for investing in smart home technology to begin with. Abode’s affordably priced Video Doorbell rounds out the company’s smart home product collection by offering an essential piece of the puzzle, even if the doorbell itself offers only basic functionality. Attractive price tag aside, the Abode Video Doorbell won’t do much to dissuade users from the more robust offerings on the market. Design and setup The 5 x 2 x 1.3-inch (HxWxD) device offers a familiar design, with two mounting plates available (one straight-on, one angled) for attaching it to the wall outside your door. The unit carries an IP65 weatherproof rating (meaning it’s dust-proof and can withstand powerful jets of water sprayed from any angle) and is completely battery-powered; the battery is sealed and non-removable. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best video doorbells. A rubberized cover on the reverse of the unit allows for charging directly via USB-C cable. (The cable is included, but not a power adapter.) Once attached to the mounting plate, a pinhole ejector tool (also included) must be used to remove it from the plate for recharging. The company says a full charge will last about three months, depending on the level of use. The doorbell includes a mandatory second component, a chime which you situate inside your house so you can hear the doorbell ring–and which also handles the camera’s Wi-Fi connection. Although the device integrates with the Abode ecosystem, it can be used without an Abode hub. Nevertheless, it’s a bit strange that the speaker on the Abode hub does not sound its own chime when the doorbell is rung, or that the doorbell can’t connect to the hub directly without the chime. Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Much like Abode’s hub, the chime must initially set up by connecting it to your router via an ethernet cable. Once configured, it can be bridged to your Wi-Fi network and relocated elsewhere in the house, though note that the chime and camera need to be within Wi-Fi range of each other–and, based on my testing, the closer the better. Setup of the two components isn’t difficult, but there are some quirks in the process. For example, the app doesn’t search for Wi-Fi networks (2.4 GHz only) but rather requires you to type in your SSID manually. If you have a complex network name, you’ll want to plan ahead for that. Features and functionality In use, the Abode Video Doorbell offers few surprises, drawing most of its inspiration from Abode’s security cameras. The camera captures 1080p video–fairly low-resolution by modern standards–with a wide 160 degree viewing angle. Color night vision is included, but in the absence of any ambient light, the camera defaults to a standard black-and-white infrared image. Two-way audio is supported, which is always helpful for a video doorbell, as is motion detection, which automatically kicks in when activity is detected. The camera captures 1080p video with a wide 160 degree viewing angle. The camera captures 1080p video with a wide 160 degree viewing angle.Christopher Null/Foundry The camera captures 1080p video with a wide 160 degree viewing angle.Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Performance Video quality is acceptable but not great, but it’s fine when your subject is up close and personal. At night, image quality is best in IR mode, which is typical, but there’s no way to turn color night vision off. In my testing, I found that recordings loaded quickly and push notifications arrived nearly immediately. I didn’t encounter any connectivity issues until I moved the camera well over 150 feet away from the chime unit, and even then, the unit still managed a sporadic connection. The Abode app lets you enable smart motion detection (left) for the doorbell, although video clips are capped at 30 seconds in length (middle). Rich notifications (right) of motion events were delivered almost immediately. The Abode app lets you enable smart motion detection (left) for the doorbell, although video clips are capped at 30 seconds in length (middle). Rich notifications (right) of motion events were delivered almost immediately. Christopher Null/Foundry The Abode app lets you enable smart motion detection (left) for the doorbell, although video clips are capped at 30 seconds in length (middle). Rich notifications (right) of motion events were delivered almost immediately. Christopher Null/Foundry Christopher Null/Foundry Subscription plans Note that without a subscription, the camera doesn’t record at all; instead, it will only provide a live, real-time view. You’ll need one of Abode’s two plans to record anything. The Standard Plan runs $7 a month or $70/year, while the Pro Plan ($25/month or $230/year) provides a 24/7 professional monitoring option designed for security-focused users. Both plans offer 10 days of video storage for an unlimited number of cameras. Even with the subscription, the system is still hampered by a strict limit on clip length, user-configurable from 1 second to 30 seconds (triggered by motion detection). If you’ve ever had to deal with a solicitor at the door that refused to leave–and wanted footage of the encounter–you know that 30 seconds just won’t cut it. And I don’t have any idea what value a 1-second long video would offer. The subscription does at least enable Abode’s Smart Detect feature, which can pick out people, packages, and pets and tag them accordingly in the thumbnail feeds and in push notifications. I guess if a pet is ringing your doorbell, you’ll want to know about it. The Abode Video Doorbell integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant video devices, but not Apple’s HomeKit platform. Should you buy the Abode Video Doorbell? Attractive price tag aside, the Abode Video Doorbell won’t do much to dissuade users from the more robust offerings on the market. If you already have an Abode security system and a paid plan, the doorbell does offer some level of integration with the platform that can let you, say, start a video recording when the door is opened. Users of the Abode platform may well want to give this offering a look if for no other reason than to take further advantage of the subscription they’re probably already paying for. Video Doorbells

      • From bump to SLAM: Robot vacuum navigation tech explained

        When evaluating a robot vacuum, it’s natural to focus on features that directly impact cleaning, like suction power, cleaning modes, and how much dirt and dust it can hold before you have to empty it. But if you want to get an idea of how well a particular product will clean your home, it’s important to also consider how it maps and navigates environments. Mapping and navigation ultimately determine how efficiently and thoroughly a robot vacuum cleans. Effective navigation allows robot vacuums to maneuver through various obstacles, traverse different floor types, and cover the entire cleaning area without missing spots. It also contributes to shorter cleaning times and longer battery life by optimizing cleaning paths and avoiding unnecessary retracing. This feature is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best robot vacuums. Accurate navigation enhances the overall user experience, as well, providing convenience and confidence to users who rely on these smart appliances to maintain their living spaces. Robot vacuum navigation types explained Here we’ll look at the different ways robot vacuums map and navigate your home, ranging from the most primitive to the most advanced approaches. These technologies aren’t mutually exclusive and are often used in various combinations to improve navigation, but it’s important to understand how each works on its own to make the most informed purchasing decision. Sensor-based navigation Pros Budget-friendly Simple operation Suitable for small spaces Few, if any, privacy concerns Cons Limited navigation precision Random cleaning patterns Difficulty with complex environments Lower cleaning efficiency Sensor mapping is the earliest and most basic navigation method used by robot vacuums. It employs an array of sensors to tell the robot its position on the floor and identify any safety issues. All robot vacuums, regardless of price, incorporate an array of sensors to help them find their way around your home, but budget robot vacuums often rely exclusively on this type of navigation. The most common sensors you’ll find on any robot vacuum include: Cliff sensors: These enable the robot vacuum to identify stairs, ledges, and steep thresholds so they don’t fall or tip over. Cliff sensors on the base of the robot bounce infrared light beams off the floor to calculate the distance between the two. The longer it takes the light to return to the sensor, the longer the fall distance. If a significant drop is detected, the robot will stop and reverse direction. Wall sensors: Wall sensors help the robot vacuum locate and navigate along walls. This helps prevent collisions but also allows them to follow wall edges—where dirt typically accumulates—for a more thorough cleaning. Bump sensors: Bump sensors allow robot vacuums to detect physical contact with obstacles. The most basic form is physical bumpers or touch-sensitive pads located around the perimeter of the device. When the vacuum makes contact with an obstacle, such as a wall or furniture leg, these bumpers depress a trigger, signaling to the vacuum that it has encountered an obstruction. More advanced robot vacuums may use other technologies, such as infrared light or software algorithms, for obstacle detection. Optical encoders: These sensors are positioned on the vacuum’s wheels to track the distance traveled by the robot. They use light sensors to count wheel rotations. By monitoring wheel movement, the robot can accurately calculate its travel distance, which helps with navigation, route planning, and timely return to the charging base when needed. Battery sensor: Robot vacuums need to periodically return to their charging base when their battery is depleted. To do so, they must detect when their battery is low and accurately gauge the distance traveled from the base to ensure they can return within the remaining charge. Battery sensors play a critical role in monitoring and managing the battery charge and providing information about the vacuum’s distance from the charging dock. Sensor-based robot vacuums offer an affordable and straightforward cleaning solution for budget-conscious users. Even with the most basic sensors like those described above, these models can effectively navigate around obstacles and prevent falls, making them suitable for small spaces with simple layouts. sensor-based robot vacuum pick iRobot Roomba 694 Read our review However, their navigation precision of sensor-only bots may be limited, resulting in random cleaning patterns and potential inefficiencies such as long cleaning times and missed spots. Sensor-based vacuums may also struggle in complex environments without the advanced smart features found in higher-end models. While sensor-dependent vacuums are affordable, require less maintenance, and are easy to operate, users should consider their cleaning efficiency and suitability for their specific home environment before opting for a sensor-based robot vacuum. Camera mapping Pros Precise navigation Efficient cleaning patterns Advanced smart features Remote monitoring Cons Limited functionality in low light Dependency on visual input Privacy concerns Cost Some robot vacuums utilize a built-in digital camera for navigation, allowing them to “see” the environment more like a human does. These cameras are often paired with SLAM algorithms or LIDAR (more on those in a moment) for greater navigation accuracy. Cameras enhance robot vacuum functionality and user experience in several ways. Primarily, they provide greater navigation precision than sensors alone, because they capture and analyze visual data to better understand cleaning areas and navigate around obstacles more accurately. The cameras on iRobot’s higher-end Roomba models help the bots to avoid obstacles, but they’ve also sparked privacy concerns. The cameras on iRobot’s higher-end Roomba models help the bots to avoid obstacles, but they’ve also sparked privacy concerns. iRobot The cameras on iRobot’s higher-end Roomba models help the bots to avoid obstacles, but they’ve also sparked privacy concerns. iRobot iRobot They also enable advanced smart features, such as object recognition and room mapping. Some camera-equipped robot vacuums, for instance, can recognize and avoid specific objects, such as pet bowls or cables, increasing safety and efficiency. Room mapping capabilities allow for customized cleaning schedules and targeted cleaning of specific areas. Additionally, some models offer remote monitoring capabilities, allowing users to view live video feeds of their homes and use the vacuum as a surveillance device for added security. However, camera-mapping robot vacuums come with some drawbacks. Just as humans struggle to see in the dark, camera-dependent robots face similar challenges, limiting their ability to navigate in low-light conditions unless equipped with supplementary lighting. These robots may also misinterpret dark tiles, carpets, and deep shadows cast by furniture as drop-offs and avoid navigating over these areas. Robot vacuums equipped with digital cameras raise several privacy concerns as well, including the potential for unauthorized surveillance, data security breaches, and third-party access to captured images or videos. These fears aren’t unfounded. In 2022, Roomba robot vacuums captured intimate images of home occupants that were later leaked to social media, although Roomba manufacturer iRobot said the robot vacuums in question were test models, not consumer units. Captured images may also inadvertently reveal details about the home’s layout or personal information, posing risks to privacy and security. Users should carefully review privacy policies, disable camera or microphone functionalities if unnecessary, and take steps to secure their home network to mitigate these risks. SLAM navigation Pros Accurate navigation Adaptability to complex environments Real-time mapping Optimized cleaning paths Cons Cost Power consumption Mapping errors Potential privacy concerns SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) is an algorithmic technique robot vacuums use to create maps of their surroundings while simultaneously determining their position within those maps. It works by collecting data from cameras, LiDAR, wheel encoders, and other sensors to identify features in the environment. Based on this data the robot then initializes a map—often visually displayed in the vacuum’s companion app—and continuously updates it as it moves, refining its estimated position through probabilistic localization methods. The iRobot Roomba s9+ employs SLAM technoloy to map your home and create accurate floor plans for customized cleaning. The iRobot Roomba s9+ employs SLAM technoloy to map your home and create accurate floor plans for customized cleaning. iRobot The iRobot Roomba s9+ employs SLAM technoloy to map your home and create accurate floor plans for customized cleaning. iRobot iRobot SLAM algorithms also identify and correct errors by detecting loop closures—instances where the robot revisits a previously visited location—to refine maps and improve consistency. Overall, SLAM enables robots to navigate and map complex environments autonomously and accurately. SLAM offers several advantages over other mapping methods, including precise navigation, adaptability to complex environments, real-time mapping capabilities, and optimized cleaning paths. In a blind test, you’d be able to tell a SLAM robot vacuum from a purely sensor-based one by its movement; rather than ping-ponging from one obstacle to the next, a SLAM robot will move in logical lines and navigate around edges and corners with ease. For users, that translates to reduced cleaning times and better overall coverage. SLAM-based robot vacuum pick iRobot Roomba s9+ Read our review Best Prices Today: £1,100.95 at Amazon The downside of SLAM technology is that it requires advanced sensors and computational power, which increases the cost of robot vacuums that use it. SLAM may also be susceptible to mapping errors in environments with reflective surfaces or low-light conditions, higher power consumption, and increased complexity leading to potential maintenance issues. Because SLAM technology involves mapping the interior of homes, there’s a possibility that sensitive information about the layout and contents of the living space could be captured. This raises concerns about privacy violations, especially if this data is accessed or shared without the user’s consent. If the robot vacuum is also equipped with cameras for vSLAM (visual SLAM), there may be additional privacy risks related to video surveillance and potential data breaches. LiDAR navigation Pros Accurate navigation Adaptability to complex environments Real-time mapping Optimized cleaning paths Cons Cost Power consumption Mapping errors Potential privacy concerns LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a sensing technology that employs laser light to gauge distances to objects in the surrounding environment. It operates by emitting invisible laser beams in various directions, which bounce off objects, such as walls, furniture, or obstacles, and return to the sensor. By measuring the time taken for these beams to travel, LiDAR calculates distances to create a three-dimensional map of the environment. This data aids the robot vacuum in navigation, allowing it to efficiently maneuver through spaces, avoid obstacles, and plan optimal cleaning paths. The Dreame X30 Ultra uses a combination of AI, an RGB camera, and LIDAR to navigate. It’s one of the most sophisticated robot vacuums on the market. The Dreame X30 Ultra uses a combination of AI, an RGB camera, and LIDAR to navigate. It’s one of the most sophisticated robot vacuums on the market. Dreame Technology The Dreame X30 Ultra uses a combination of AI, an RGB camera, and LIDAR to navigate. It’s one of the most sophisticated robot vacuums on the market. Dreame Technology Dreame Technology LiDAR navigation offers several advantages over other mapping methods. For starters, LiDAR sensors provide highly accurate distance measurements, enabling precise mapping of the environment and accurate localization of the robot. They are also less affected by changes in lighting conditions compared to other types of sensors, making them suitable for use in a variety of environments. Another strength of LiDAR is its wide field of view, which allows it to capture a broad range of environmental data in a single scan, reducing the need for the robot to make frequent scanning movements or rotations to capture data from different angles. This comprehensive coverage enables more efficient navigation, better obstacle avoidance, and faster mapping processes. Because of these benefits, LiDAR is typically used by the newest and most advanced robot vacuums on the market. Lidar-based robot vacuum pick Dreame X30 Ultra Read our review But like all navigation methods, LiDAR has its limitations. LiDAR sensors may struggle to detect certain materials like glass or transparent surfaces, leading to potential navigation challenges in environments with these materials. Moreover, they require significant power to operate, which can impact the overall power consumption and battery life of the robot vacuum. LiDAR sensors are also relatively expensive compared to other navigation sensors, which can drive up the cost of products that use them. Finally, LiDAR is subject to the same privacy issues around home mapping as SLAM. Which type of robot navigation is right for you? Selecting the right robot vacuum for your needs involves considering several factors, including cost, the complexity of your home, and your desired cleaning speed. If budget is a primary concern, a sensor-based robot vacuum may be the best option, assuming you can tolerate the trade-off for less precise navigation. For those with larger or more intricate living spaces, investing in a robot vacuum equipped with advanced navigation technologies such as SLAM, LIDAR, or camera-based navigation can pay off with greater efficiency and coverage. Check out our top picks for robot vacuums Additionally, if you prioritize quick cleaning sessions, choosing a robot vacuum with faster navigation speeds and optimized cleaning paths can help minimize cleaning time. If you weigh these considerations alongside your specific preferences and requirements, you can confidently select the robot vacuum that best suits your home and lifestyle. Robot Vacuums and Cleaning