Downstairs, in the basement, can be a great place to escape to. Your den can be full of fun, from a great TV to video games to the newest entertainment kid on the block – virtual reality.
The latter needs some space and perhaps the basement is the best for that, where there’s no dining table in the way. Your desk needs a bit of tech love too though, so there’s also a desk light that will never run out of light. Here are some excellent gadgets for making your basement smart.
Jake Dyson CSYS task light
Few things are more annoying in the basement than a bulb blowing when you’re in the middle of working on something urgent. And where did you put the spare bulb for that particular light, because it’s not with all the others? So why not choose a desk lamp that should never need this attention.
This lamp, also available in a floor-standing version, uses LED bulbs. These are long-lasting anyway, but according to Jake, son of the inventor Sir James Dyson, because of clever heat sink technology to keep them cool, the ones on this light will last 144,000 hours. Which is enough for anyone, surely? The arm pivots, slides and rotates cleverly so the light is exactly where you need it.
Solar panels can be a great way to generate electricity, but you can’t always rely on the sun when you need it. This is a battery which is charged from solar panels ready for when you need it.
It can also be connected to the regular power supply, to be charged when utility rates are low, so you can use the power in the evening, say. It can also be used to power your house, or select appliances, in the event of a power outage.
Honeywell Lyric Wireless
Honeywell’s house protection has many features, including a camera. That’s handy for a room like the basement. Hear a noise late at night? The camera can snap a shot that you can see on your tablet or smartphone.
Want to know what the dog gets up to while you’re out? The Lyric lets you watch live video remotely and a speaker means it’ll let you shout “Get off the armchair now!”. Sadly, it can’t force the dog to comply. That’s down to your tone of voice.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
You might have snuck a TV into the basement to make it a bit more den-like, but the cable, the TV aerial and none of the wiring reaches. In this case, why not try a box like the tiny Fire TV Stick which plugs into your screen’s HDMI socket and uses the Wi-Fi network to stream content.
If you team it with an Amazon Prime subscription, you have access to a wealth of TV programmes and movies at no extra cost. There are also apps which let you access CNN, HBO Now and lots more. It’s entirely portable so you can take it to a friend’s house, or even to use in some hotel TVs while you’re away.
Sony PlayStation 4
Where better to play games than while you’re down in the basement? It’s not taking up the family TV when they want to be watching Game of Thrones, for a start and you can play for as long as you want without being disturbed.
The PlayStation 4 is an incredibly advanced games machine with a wide range of titles from full-on actioners with gore and realism to platform games that demand a greater dexterity than you might think. Plus, since you can download games over Wi-Fi, you may never leave your den again.
If you’ve got a decent-sized floor space in your basement, why not get into the latest, most exciting way to play games? That’s virtual reality and this is the brilliant Vive from HTC. A helmet goes over your head, with screens just in front of your eyes. Cables connect the helmet to your PC, and you’ll need quite a powerful one to go with the Vive.
Some of the games and experiences are eye-poppingly beautiful and utterly immersive. There are also clever safeguards to prevent you from walking into the wall that you can’t see because you’re roaming a different world – a mesh of squares appears as you approach the edge of the safe zone.
The Honeywell Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector is an early warning system that notifies you on your smartphone when a leak is detected or the temperature drops below a temperature of your choice. By catching it early, you may be able to avoid expensive repairs and loss of treasured items. To find out more visit Honeywell.com
This article was created in association with Honeywell.
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Minecraft and its ‘build what you want’ mentality has made it an effective tool in the classroom. The game, developed by Mojang and owned by Microsoft, has been used to teach art, geology and now history, thanks to a new project by the Museum of London. It’s called “Great Fire 1666” and will portray the historic blaze that swept across the city 350 years ago.
The tragic event will be portrayed through three different maps; the first, available for free on July 29th, will show the city as it stood before the fire, complete with iconic landmarks such as London Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. Audio clips will be scattered throughout the world, containing some explanations (the long, dry summer and the city’s wooden houses, for instance) for why the inferno spread so quickly. The second, to be released in September, will put you in the middle of the crisis and include basic mini-games about saving residents and fighting the flames. You’ll also be able to make “crucial decisions” by talking to historical figures.
The third, set for February next year, will allow players to rebuild London using the architectural plans drawn up by Christopher Wren, John Evelyn and others. Playing all three should, the museum hopes, create an experience that’s both unique and informative. The “Great Fire of London” is a popular classroom topic in Britain, so the maps should make for a refreshing departure from musty textbooks and TV documentaries.
The unique Minecraft worlds are being put together by Adam Clarke, a Minecraft artist and digital producer, Blockworks, a professional Minecraft map building team in the UK, and “Dragnoz,” a YouTuber and world creator deeply involved with the Minecraft community. A teaser video has been released showing off the group’s interpretation of London, and it’s quite a sight; the scale and detail means it’s easy to envision the city in the 17th Century, even if everything is made from rudimentary blocks.
Via: Kotaku UK
If you’ve ever stumbled across the more inspirational corner of Instagram, you’ll find plenty of images pertaining to motivation. After all, very few of us are physically incapable of at least trying to be athletic, but not everyone will haul enough ass to actually make it happen. I’ve made a career of using technology to lose weight, although never quite reaching my target. I put that down to a crippling lack of motivation, but for the first time in my adult life, I’ve spent the last three weeks eating salads as a component of every meal. Why? Because I’d really rather not get Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or cancer if I can avoid it.
A few weeks back, I had my DNA tested by DNAFit, a startup that analyzes your genetic makeup to improve your health and wellbeing. It’s primarily designed for elite athletes looking to slice a few extra milliseconds from their sprint times, as well as weekend warriors who’ve already bought some fancy sneakers. But maybe what I really needed to help me lose weight is professional-level diet counseling from a former Olympic athlete. It was worth a go, because at this point, the only option available to me after this is finding a way to get on Extreme Makeover: Ass Vacuuming Edition.
The results were deeply upsetting, mostly because it turned out that the fundamentals of my diet were all the things I shouldn’t be eating. It’s not even as if I live on a diet of non-stop junk food and sugary drinks either. My body can’t synthesize a big stack of chemicals necessary for healthy living, and so I have to supplement it with diet and pills. Even worse, I was advised to reduce my servings of smoked, fried and grilled meat to two portions a week, at most. Then there was the fact that bacon, the greatest foodstuff of them all, was now off the menu, essentially forever.
My task was made easier because DNAFit supplied me with a 43-page meal plan prepared by a pair of PhD students at Liverpool’s John Moores university. This low-carbohydrate plan was designed to cover a 12-week diet, with each meal packing the correct quantities of macro and micronutrients that my body doesn’t produce for itself. If there was an issue with this plan, it was that it was a shade too bougie for a regular slob like me. It didn’t help either that I’d rather die tomorrow than eat smoked salmon and cream cheese as a lunchtime snack.
I may be a picky eater, but I’m also a resilient one, and I’m perfectly content to eat the same meal over again if I like it. That proved to be a boon, because some of the meals in the planner I didn’t just like — I considered them treats. Homemade chicken fajitas were on the menu, and I happily packed in extra wilted cabbage and other veggies to make them even healthier. Same goes for lamb meatballs, a meal that I looked forward to, but never had on a regular basis — so long as they weren’t smoked or grilled. In fact, most of my meals have included some meat (cooked without charring) alongside a big pile of salad on one side and a single piece of toasted pita bread on the other.
Look at this sodding thing. pic.twitter.com/Wi0yV1MeIT
— Dan CoopEUr (@danielwcooper) July 13, 2016
I’ve had to learn how to embrace salad — salad! — as a key component of my daily diet. And it wasn’t as hard as I expected. For lunch I’ll have a small salad containing shredded carrot, cucumber, sweet pointed pepper and pomodorino tomato. At dinnertime, I’ll make the same again, adding fistfuls of fresh spinach leaves and massaged baby kale to bulk it out, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The addition of cruciferous greens to my diet in massive quantities was a key tentpole of DNAFit’s advice, since I have a deleted GSTM1 gene. That, in plain English, means that my body has never, and can never, produce enzymes to deal with carcinogens. Any time something cancer-causing hits my insides, it’s given a red carpet welcome. That isn’t good.
On the bright side, I have low sensitivity to fat and salt, not to mention I’m free to drink as much milk as I care to, which is excellent news. But there’s always a kick in the gut, and for me it was a highly elevated risk of coeliac disease: up from 1 in 100 to 1 in 35 — although it’s not a definite medical diagnosis. That means that I need to cut down the amount of gluten in my diet, which kinda negates all of the time I’ve spent learning how to make fresh bread by hand.
One issue that a lot of recovering overeaters have is that it’s hard to find a sense of chemical joy in absence. After all, our brains are used to that endorphin rush that comes from stuffing our bodies full of crap. We’re also conditioned to tolerate that churning, gnawing sensation in our stomachs when we’ve gone too heavy on dinner and dessert. But when the bulk of your food is coming from plant matter, all of that goes, in favor of… nothing.
It takes a few days before the positives become obvious. Bending down to pick up a baby bath full of water no longer causes me to break a sweat. I’m suddenly a little clearer-headed. Writing is easier and I’m making fewer spelling mistakes, not to mention I’m sleeping better too. My weight hasn’t dropped substantially, though — at least not according to my scale. But my jeans are a lot more comfortable than they were a few weeks ago.
What have I become, my sweetest friend. pic.twitter.com/tobfEO3VN4
— Dan CoopEUr (@danielwcooper) July 9, 2016
I’ve also not stuck to the diet as slavishly as perhaps I should; one Sunday was spent eating two big meals with friends, one after the other. I regretted that the following day as I felt woozy from the influx of carbohydrates that I realized I shouldn’t have eaten. But lapses will always happen, and so long as I’m working towards better habits, then I don’t feel too bad.
My initial foray into “nutrigenetic” testing meant that I got to sit down with DNAFit’s Craig Pickering, who knows a thing or two about motivation. He was a world-class sprinter who, on the cusp of going to the 2012 London Olympics as a gold medal prospect. But, just months before the main event, his back gave out and required surgery to correct, rinsing his chances of representing his country. For most people, that would have been that, but not for Pickering. When his back was healed, he retrained as a bobsledder in the hopes of participating in the 2014 winter games. But again, just as he was starting to make waves, his back gave out. This time his career was over.
So I asked him, what tips could he give me to ensure that I would also be able to remain motivated? It came down to two things: balance, and social engineering. First, rather than giving himself “bans” for certain foods, he merely resolves to have them fewer times a week. Second, it’s about keeping temptation at bay. So, rather than walking home from work past a McDonald’s, he picks a different route. There’s no bulk-buying of bingeable foods in his refrigerator to force him to keep to good habits. But he has no specific restrictions either.
So what motivates me? I think, in honesty, it’s not about being thinner, healthier and happier. I’ve tried that — the idea that I’d somehow become handsome and attractive and more confident if I just put down the bag of chips. It didn’t work. But the motivation to change, for me, came in stark black and white: My body is broken and I need to fix it — fast. That sense of youthful invulnerability that we all have has left me, replaced with an inconvenient truth. Which just reminds me about how many good things I have to live for, even if it does mean having to eat shitloads of kale.
In 2012 the GOP’s official platform didn’t say much about broadband. In fact, in the 62-page, roughly 30,000-word document detailing the party’s various policy stances, the word “broadband” only appeared once. In 2016, things are a little different. The platform dedicates far more space to talk of expanding internet access. It even calls for reforms that would help the Internet of Things “thrive.”
There is little in the way of specific policy proposals, which is to be expected of a document that attempts to encompass the party’s position on almost every issue imaginable. Not surprisingly the platform focuses on market reforms and private business solutions. Republicans are not calling for massive investments from the government, subsidies for the poor or the expansion of municipal broadband programs. Instead, the party is focusing on increasing access to wireless spectrum for wireless providers and encouraging competition in a “open market.”
The document chastises the current administration for failing to do enough to “advance our goal of universal broadband coverage.” And cites in particular the failure to cover rural areas which have had traditionally had trouble attracting service from landline internet providers. It also claims that 10 million Americans have ditched wired broadband over the last 10 years as we’ve begun to rely more on mobile broadband. Which makes its calls for opening up spectrum in order to pave “the way for high-speed, next-generation broadband” all the more critical for the party’s plans to connect the entire country to the web.
One phrase you will not find in the document is “net neutrality.” That’s hardly a shock considering almost every Republican has come out swinging hard against the regulation. While the platform does not explicitly call for repealing neutrality rules, it does call for “competition on the internet and for internet services,” which could indicate that net neutrality’s days could be numbered under a Trump administration if the GOP maintains control of both the House and the Senate.
Source: GOP Party Platform (PDF)
By Lesley Stockton
This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.
When the mercury starts climbing, nothing screams “summertime” quite like homemade ice cream. After researching for 85 hours, testing 14 makers, talking with pro ice cream makers and a food scientist, and churning gallons of the frozen stuff over the past two years, we think the Whynter ICM-15LS is your best bet for making consistently great ice cream at home. At its current price of around $250, it’s not cheap. But because it’s so easy to use and essentially guarantees success, it’ll likely get a lot more play in your kitchen than cheaper, more finicky machines.
How we tested
Samples from our first testing. Photo: Lesley Stockton
For a previous version of this guide, we tested the machines using a relatively low-fat recipe from Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn, and I tasted them for texture and flavor with friend Sara Bonisteel, staff editor for the food section of The New York Times. For this update, we wanted to see how the machines handled different recipes. We ran a higher-fat vanilla ice cream base through each machine; it contains more cream and egg yolks than the Ample Hills recipe, which has more milk than cream. Higher-fat ice cream bases are more forgiving because there’s a lower percentage of water to crystallize and ruin the creamy texture. If a machine made icy ice cream from this luxurious base, we figured it wouldn’t be worth buying.
We also made a simple lemon sorbet without added glucose or corn syrup to smooth out the texture. We thought an unforgiving sorbet recipe that didn’t have any aid from fruit fiber or special sugars would show us the differences between these machines. But we were wrong. All the ice cream makers made the same sorbet. After the initial two tests, we dismissed the lowest-performing machine and made chocolate ice cream in the remaining four makers. (If you’re curious, we used David Lebovitz recipes.)
Instead of the informal tasting we held for the previous guide, we held a blind taste test with six tasters. From our two years of testing, we’ve learned that with ice cream makers, you truly do get what you pay for. The prices of the machines we tested directly reflected the resulting quality of ice cream.
Ice cream churning in the Whynter ICM-15LS. Photo: Lesley Stockton
We like the Whynter ICM-15LS because it made smoother ice cream in a shorter amount of time than most of the other models. Although it didn’t create the absolute smoothest texture, it does hit the sweet spot of great results at a reasonable price. It’s also one of the quieter machines we tested, and its simple, compact design makes it easy to store. It’s also one of the simplest models to use, scoop from, and clean. And because the Whynter is a self-refrigerating compressor machine, you won’t have to deal with freezing an insert bowl or futzing with messy ice and salt.
The Breville Smart Scoop is loaded with automatic settings. Photo: Lesley Stockton
If the Whynter ICM-15LS sells out, or you just want more bells and whistles, the Breville Smart Scoop is a great alternative. Although it made slightly creamier ice cream than our top pick, the difference was so subtle that we don’t think it’s worth the extra $150 for most people. It has an auto function with 12 hardness settings and a “keep cool” function so you can set your ice cream and walk away. And its brightly lit LCD display and control panel with big buttons make it easy to use—even for kids.
If you take your ice cream craft seriously
Checking the consistency of the ice cream in the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino. Photo: Lesley Stockton
The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino is the crème de la crème of home ice cream makers. The large, sleek machine churned out smooth and creamy batches of ice cream in less than 30 minutes, the fastest of any model we tested. And our tasters unanimously voted its ice cream the smoothest and best-flavored. But its jaw-dropping price makes the Musso Lussino too expensive for casual dessert-making. If you plan on making more than one quart of ice cream a week, this might be the machine for you.
For KitchenAid users
The lowest speed of the KitchenAid stand mixer is faster than the churn speed on any other ice cream maker we tested. Photo: Lesley Stockton
If you own a KitchenAid stand mixer, we really like the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Stand Mixer Attachment as well. This is a bowl that requires pre-freezing, which necessitates more planning ahead than our main pick. It made the absolute fluffiest ice cream of the machines we tested, because the lowest setting on the KitchenAid stand mixer is still faster than the speed at which ice cream makers spin. We didn’t mind the texture at all; in fact, it was quite pleasant.
Scraping out finished ice cream from the Whynter ICM-15LS. Photo: Katie Hausenbauer-Koster
To minimize the size of ice crystals, temperature matters. Everything needs to be as cold as possible. Before you spin your base, thoroughly chill it down in an ice bath. The colder the base, the sooner it starts to freeze. Sometimes I’ll even put my base in the freezer until ice crystals just begin to form on the edges, then I’ll give it a vigorous stir before pouring it into the machine.
Once the ice cream is spun, it’s soft like soft serve. It’s completely edible but definitely not scoopable. This is the point where you “ripen” the ice cream, which means transferring it to a container to freeze for at least a few hours. Additional freezing is an important step because it reduces the formation of ice crystals; the colder your freezer, the quicker your ice cream sets, and the smaller those ice cream crystals will be. And that’s it! It really is one of the simplest things to make. Once you get your technique down, you can play around with flavors, fat content, and maybe even some stabilizers like xanthan gum to tweak texture.
If you’re interested in adding mix-ins, you’ll do this before ripening the ice cream. Ice cream base expands as the dasher whips air into the mixture. In our own testing, we found that once the quart of base increased in size, there was little room for much else, and we had to add mix-ins slowly and periodically. Also, if you are adding mix-ins, chill them in the freezer so they don’t melt your freshly spun ice cream.
This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
Rise of the Tomb Raider has spent much of the last year as one of the best Xbox One exclusives out there, but soon PlayStation 4 owners will get in on the fun. As part of a 20-year Tomb Raider celebration, it was just announced that Lara Croft’s latest adventure will come to Sony’s console on October 11th. As is often the case with delayed releases like this, the game will feature a bunch of extra content to help make up for the wait.
Most significant among the new stuff here is the inclusion of a virtual reality mode. A new DLC story chapter called “Blood Ties” will work with the PS VR system; it’ll also work as a standalone chapter without the VR headset. There’s also a second new story mission called “Lara’s Nightmare” and a co-op addition to the game’s “endurance” mode. That co-op mode lets two players team up and try to survive as long as possible to get onto the game’s leaderboards.
Another new addition to the game is an even harder difficulty level for the single-player campaign known as “extreme survivor.” All of the game’s checkpoints have been removed, so the only way to survive is to find enough resources to light campfires where you can save your game.
There are a few other extras included, mostly just new visual outfits to pay homage to the way Lara Croft has evolved over the years. Somewhat hilariously, you can replay the main story with five different low-fi polygon-based character models, which will surely look goofy as hell next to the more realistic, high-resolution characters and environments.
Naturally, all of the game’s previous DLC is included, as well — that includes another three-hour story mode expansion, and a bunch of custom outfits and weapons. And if you bought the season pass for Rise of the Tomb Raider on the Xbox One or PC, you’ll get all of this new content for free, as well.
Source: PlayStation Blog, Xbox Wire, Tomb Raider Blog
If you’re looking for some new reading material on your Kindle or inside Amazon’s reading app, you’re in luck. The online retailer announced Singles Classics: a collection of essays and stories from “well-known authors” that were published in “top magazines and periodicals.” In fact, some of the selections will be available digitally for the first time. The articles are priced at $0.99 and up, but Kindle Unlimited subscribers are privy to the content at no extra charge.
Singles Classics follows Amazon’s Kindle Singles that launched some time ago and features shorter selections of both fiction and non-fiction. For the debut of Singles Classics, expect over 140 essays and stories from the likes of Susan Orlean, Norman Mailer, Gloria Steinem, Lawrence Wright, Margo Jefferson and Gay Talese alongside best-selling authors like John le Carré and Kurt Vonnegut. In terms of publications the articles are pulled from, that list includes TIME, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, The Atlantic and Playboy. Singles Classics are available to read and download on Kindle and Fire tablets as well as the Kindle app for Android, iOS, PC and Mac.
Apple’s newest 4-inch iPhone SE has taken a 16 percent share of the overall United States iPhone market in its launch quarter, according to new survey data shared by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners and UBS analyst Steven Milunovich. The data shows that the iPhone SE has been successful in “flushing out” older phones, with 26 percent of iPhone buyers in the quarter moving up from an iPhone 4s, up from 16 percent in the previous quarter.
The strong entry of the iPhone SE naturally came at the expense of Apple’s other phones in model share, with the iPhone SE helping to prop up overall iPhone sales as the other models begin showing their age by serving as an enticing upgrade option for more frugal customers and those unwilling to upgrade to a larger screen.
The percentage of plus models sold fell by 6 points in the June quarter following a 9 point increase in March. The success of the iPhone SE could demonstrate pent-up demand for a smaller screen and price sensitivity in the installed base.
In the same vein, CIRP’s data points to a slight shift towards the preference of lower storage capacities across every model in the iPhone family, as more frugal-minded consumers enter the market at the end of the current iPhone cycle. Although the research firm has seen a slow uptick in higher storage options over the last three quarters (62 percent of iPhone buyers opted for higher capacities in the March quarter, increasing 11 percent year-over-year), compared to the year-ago quarter average storage per smartphone dropped a total of 10 percent. The iPhone SE with only 16 GB and 64 GB options undoubtedly contributed to this decrease.
Close speculation has surrounded not only the current iPhone sales numbers, but the prediction of how well the iPhone 7 will do come September as Apple tries to regain momentum following the first year-over-year decline in iPhone sales since 2003. Concerns over potential “lack of innovation” is at the root of some doom-and-gloom sales predictions, although, as CIRP corroborated today, Apple has continued to ramp up production of the iPhone SE in the wake of “very strong” demand.
Related Roundup: iPhone SE
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Nearly fifteen months after the Apple Watch launched in the U.S. and eight other countries on April 24, 2015, new data shows that sales of the device have yet to experience an overly precipitous decline so far this year.
Swiss bank UBS has issued a research note that projects Apple Watch sales totaled 1.7 million units in the June quarter, a somewhat surprising increase of 100,000 units compared to its estimate of 1.6 million sales in the March quarter.
Apple Watch sales have remained steady throughout the first half of 2016, despite the formation of an elongated refresh cycle that will likely reach at least 17 months — the so-called Apple Watch 2 is rumored to launch in the third quarter, possibly alongside the next iPhone in September. The new Apple Watch could feature a FaceTime video camera, expanded Wi-Fi capabilities, cellular connectivity, and other internal upgrades, while new models and bands are always possibilities.
UBS forecasts that Apple Watch sales will rise to 2 million in the September quarter, contributing to a total of 10.35 million units in the 2016 fiscal year. If those estimates are accurate, that would make Apple Watch the most popular smartwatch for the second consecutive year, ahead of Samsung among smartwatches and only behind Fitbit and its cheaper fitness trackers in the broader wearables market. Apple Watch commanded a leading 52.4 percent share of the smartwatch market in the first quarter, well ahead of Samsung at 14.3 percent, according to Strategy Analytics.
Apple does not disclose Watch sales in its quarterly earning results, instead grouping the device under its Other Products category alongside iPods, Apple TVs, Beats Electronics, and accessories. Without official data, analysts are forced to estimate, but predictions can vary between research firms. Strategy Analytics, for example, estimated Apple Watch sales actually totaled 2.2 million in the March quarter, which is significantly higher than UBS’ estimate of 1.6 million sales for the same quarter.
Regardless, it is clear that consumers remain interested in the original Apple Watch in the months leading up to an alleged new model. The device’s relative success can conceivably be attributed to, among other factors, its new product category, customizability, and sales and price drops offered by third-party resellers. watchOS 3 will also give the Apple Watch a breath of fresh air, with a dedicated Breathe app, a dock with favorite apps that instantly open, a redesigned Control Center, and more.
Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, watchOS 3
Tag: Apple Watch 2
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
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The Good The iDevices Socket works pretty well as a dimmer and nightlight.
The Bad Its design is bulky and inefficient, and its price is absurd.
The Bottom Line The Socket is a gadget you want to hide, but in so doing, you lose its primary appeal — the ability to display unique light bulbs. Why anyone would shell out $80 for this product, I cannot imagine.
Visit manufacturer site for details.
Lighting is one of the easiest and most affordable entry points into smart-home gadgetry. Connected LEDs, switches and plugs typically slide in around or under 50 bucks. But now a new type of device is available — a retrofit Socket that lends smarts to any bulb screwed into it. Sure, crowdsourcing hopefuls have proposed similar products in the past, but this is different. iDevices is an established company, and the Socket integrates with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Echo.
On its surface, the Socket functions as advertised: it smartens up almost any standard bulb, adding dimming, scheduling and voice-activated controls with both Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. It even includes an RGB color changing nightlight. But there’s a fundamental question I’ve been unable to answer: When is the Socket consistently more useful than a smart switch or bulb? The $80 price tag only adds to my befuddlement, since you can easily find more feature-rich lighting devices for considerably less cash.
Until I find a unique use case that justifies the Socket’s otherwise outrageous asking price, I can’t recommend iDevices’ newest product.
This smart Socket gives a dumb lightbulb…
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What it gets right
Taken as it is, the Socket actually works pretty well. The iDevices app has always been one of the better third party HomeKit apps out there, and it continues to support its devices with an intuitive interface and easy setup process. Getting the Socket up and running takes barely a minute, and operating its dimming, scheduling, and nightlight capabilities is slick the whole time.