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Home Tech

Are Smart TV Designs Taking Home Security for Granted?

Millions of smart TVs from Samsung and some streaming devices from Roku recently were found to be vulnerable to cyberattacks, allowing intruders to take control and remotely change channels and volume settings, among other things, according to Consumer Reports research. Vulnerabilities were discovered not only in Samsung televisions, but also in TVs from TCL and other Roku-compatible brands.

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Home Tech

Critics Love HomePod’s Sound but Rap Its Smarts

Critics have begun weighing in on Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, and they’re loving the device’s sound but don’t have much affection for its smarts. The HomePod’s sound outclassed top-shelf competitor SonosOne, according to Matthew Panzarino. “The HomePod was the ‘best’ sounding. It’s nuanced and subtle with great separation and clarity across all kinds of music,” he wrote.

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Home Tech

Apple’s HomePod Set to Barge Into Hot Speaker Market

HomePod, Apple’s long-awaited entry into the torrid smart speaker market, will be available Feb. 9. The HomePod will be offered in white and space gray. It can be pre-ordered at Apple’s website for $349 starting Friday. Unlike other smart speakers, which support a variety of music services out of the gate, HomePod will support the Apple Music subscription service exclusively.

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Home Tech

Google Assistant Makes CES Splash

Since launching the original Echo smart speaker in 2014, Amazon has expanded its line of Alexa voice-activated devices to reach a dominant position in the marketplace. Realizing it has a bit of catching up to do and possibly may need to redefine the ground rules, Google this week put the consumer electronics world on notice that this no longer is a one-horse race. Google threw down its gauntlet at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

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Home Tech

Google and Amazon Square Off, Ignoring Customers in the Middle

A long-simmering dispute between Google and Amazon has escalated into a front-burner feud, following Google’s decision to block its YouTube video service from Amazon’s Echo Show, effective immediately, and from its Fire TV, effective Jan. 1. Google apparently decided to cut off YouTube as retaliation for Amazon’s refusal to carry its products, including Chromecast and Google Home, on its website.

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Home Tech

Amazon Cloud Cam Joins Burgeoning Smart-Home Ecosystem

Amazon has begun shipping its latest smart home product, a security camera that works with its Alexa personal assistant and Echo speakers. The Amazon Cloud Cam allows customers to live-stream activity inside their home 24/7. It features 1080p full HD resolution, two-way audio for communicating with family members or pets, night vision technology, and sophisticated identification algorithms.

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Home Tech

Sony’s Aibo Resurrected From Robot Pet Cemetery

Sony has revived its robot dog, Aibo, which it put down, so to speak, in 2006. The autonomous entertainment robot brings fun and joy to the entire family, Sony claimed. It can bond emotionally, give people love and affection, and let them experience the joy of nurturing and raising a companion. Aibo has ultra-impact 1- and 2-axis actuators that let it move smoothly and naturally along 22 axes.

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Home Tech

Noon Home Debuts New Way to Light Up Your Life

Noon Home officially launched on Thursday and simultaneously unveiled its Noon Smart Lighting System, after two years of raising funds and developing products in stealth mode. The Noon Smart Lighting System blends ambient, task and accent lights to layer lighting, improve the way a room looks. It consists of a Room Director switch and companion Extension Switches, which communicate via Bluetooth.

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Home Tech

Google Assistant Shines in Pint-Sized Home Mini

The first wave of reviews touting Google’s Home Mini smart speaker surfaced this week, following reports that the company had to quash a top touch function to prevent the device from accidentally activating and recording conversations without users’ knowledge. Google has promised to update the device by Oct. 15. The Home Mini can provide reports on weather, traffic, news, sports and more.

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Home Tech

Is Packaged Entertainment Media Really on the Way Out?

As home video viewing patterns continue to evolve, one common prediction is that packaged media is on its last legs. Streaming services have been gaining market share. In fact, streaming media sales eclipsed sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs for the first time in Q4 2016 — with discs accounting for $5.4 billion in annual U.S. sales compared to the $6.2 billion haul for SVOD providers.

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Alexa, Cortana Become New BFFs

Microsoft and Amazon this week announced a deal that will let their voice-controlled digital assistants, Cortana and Alexa, engage in cross-platform communications. Microsoft customers will be able to access Alexa voice commands by saying “Cortana, open Alexa” on any device that supports Cortana, which is available on millions of desktops, laptops, tablets and other devices.

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Home Tech

The Smart Home Appliance and You

The recent rumor that iRobot had engaged in talks with Apple, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet to sell the data its Roomba vacuum cleaner gathers caused widespread privacy concerns.
Roomba maps homes — the spatial dimensions of rooms and distances between furniture and other objects — and the data it collects would be valuable to any of the major players battling to control the smart home.

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Home Tech

Amazon Adds Show to Echo’s Tell

Echo isn’t just for sound anymore. Amazon on Tuesday announced Echo Show, a new version of its popular smart speaker that comes with a 7-inch color touchscreen, 5-inch front-facing camera and dual 2-inch Dolby speakers. With its screen, it can show YouTube videos, access home security cameras, display photos and scroll lyrics as you listen to songs from streaming services.

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Home Tech

Crowd Forms on Alexa Bandwagon

New additions to Amazon’s growing ecosystem of Alexa-based products are making a splash at CES this week. With a growing number of home appliance, computer and electronics makers announcing integrations with the company’s digital assistant technology, the transformation to automated homes and home offices appears to be taking place before our eyes. Among the most notable integrations is Lenovo’s Smart Assistant.

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Home Tech

Google: There’s No Hub Like Home

Google on Tuesday officially launched Google Home, its long-awaited wireless hub. Google Home is an interactive personal assistant and entertainment center that takes full advantage of the company’s deep advantages in Web search, AI and machine learning. Google’s vision is to place a customized version of its Google Assistant technology into the hands of every customer.

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Home Tech

Netgear’s Orbi WiFi Promises Strong Signal All Through the House

Netgear on Monday announced the Orbi WiFi System, designed to eliminate dead spots in smart homes. Orbi’s system “is similar to using a network extender, but Netgear has improved on this approach with a dedicated band for communication with the satellite devices,” explained Bill Ablondi, a research director at Strategy Analytics. The initial Orbi system will be available in September for $400.

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Home Tech

Nest Cam Braves the Great Outdoors

Nest has introduced an outdoor surveillance camera to complement its indoor Nest Cam. The Nest Cam Outdoor will go on sale this fall for $199. It is easy to mount on any outdoor surface, according to the company, and even has a magnetic base for attaching to gutters. The camera, which resembles a unit of track lighting, can capture 1080p video and has live-streaming and two-way audio capabilities.

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