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Posts from the ‘Reviews’ Category


Belkin Powerhouse Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

In case you missed it, late last year Belkin put out the Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone. As its name implies, it can charge both your iPhone and Apple Watch simultaneously and was one of the few Apple Watch accessories that had an integrated wireless charging puck. It was a great dock — and swanky looking — but it was pricey at $150 (it’s now down to $130).

Now Belkin has a new, more affordable dual charging dock, the Powerhouse Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone, which costs $99 (we’re still gathering international pricing and will update the post when we get it).

It’s missing the sleek aluminum trim and chrome pedestal of the earlier dock — yes, the expensive bits had to be cut to get the cost down — but it’s still an attractive-looking dock, has some nice heft to it, and worked well in my initial charging trials.

Belkin Powerhouse Charge Dock
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Here are its key features, according to Belkin:

  • Built-in Apple Watch magnetic charging module with integrated Lightning connector for the iPhone
  • Integrated 2-in-1 charging solution optimally charges the Apple Watch and iPhone simultaneously
  • Elevated design keeps the Apple Watch and iPhone more protected and easier to see while charging
  • MFi certification ensures that this product passed rigorous mechanical, stress, and electrical tests per Apple standards

“Most people who have an Apple watch also have an iPhone, so a combined charging solution just makes sense,” says Melody Saffery, senior director of product management at Belkin. “The Powerhouse Charge Dock is designed with the consumer in mind — it organically integrates both chargers into its design so all you need to do is plug it in and go.”


The dock has a knob on the back that adjusts the height of the the Lightning tip so you can charge a phone with its case on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Belkin says the Powerhouse Charge Dock is available at Best Buy and other leading retailers globally and supports Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch Edition, iPhone SE, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C and iPhone 5.


LG V20 Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


Come September, LG will announce the successor to the V10 (above).

Josh Miller/CNET

In addition to its G5 flagship phone, LG has another top-tier handset up its sleeve that has yet to be revealed. Known as the V20, the device is the successor to last year’s V10 and is expected to continue LG’s more premium series.

Not much is known about the V20, however. We do know that it will be officially announced on Tuesday, September 6, in San Francisco (and rest assured, CNET will be on the ground reporting from the event). Its event invitation merely hints at “playing more,” but no other details are given.


LG’s official V20 invitation.


The V20 will also be the first phone to come out of the box with Google’s latest mobile operating system, Android 7.0 Nougat, which has already been rolling out over the air. Fortunately for us, we know a lot about Nougat — including its support for multiwindow, the ability to reply in a notification and its battery-saving feature, Doze on the Go.

Why Google is launching Nougat with the V20 and not with its own Nexus line (like it did every year before) has us scratching our heads. Then again, Google is shaking up its Nexus strategy lately, including dropping the brand name altogether.

Lastly, the V20 will come with some high-tech audio quality. Ahead of its reveal, LG announced that the phone is equipped with a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC (digital to analog converter), which produces crisper, clearer sound and decreases ambient noise.

Others are reporting additional specs as well, like two front-facing cameras, a Snapdragon 820 processor and a USB Type-C port. Of course, we won’t know for sure until Tuesday’s event, but let us know in the comments if you’re interested in the V20 or plan on nabbing one for yourself.

How to catch a cat with Android 7.0 Nougat
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Airmotion Aura Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

airmotionaura01.jpg Aloysius Low/CNET

I live in Singapore, where the air is usually clean, but for about a month every year, the island gets shrouded in terrible smoggy haze from burning forests in nearby Indonesia. While you can get disposable masks, these can be very uncomfortable, especially in Singapore’s hot and humid weather. The Airmotion Aura air mask has a filter to protect your lungs and a ventilator to pump in fresh air to keep things cool. I got to try it out.

This new gadget is modular: the air filter is replaceable, and the ventilator swappable. It retails for around S$98, which converts to approximately $70, £50 or AU$95. Its straps are adjustable and the ventilator promises a charge of around 3 hours.

Air pollution isn’t just about the lowered visibility that happens when smog fills the skies. Much of the danger to your health from polluted air comes from particulate matter (PM) that’s thinner than a strand of hair, PM2.5. The number designates the size of the particle — in this case, 2.5 micrometers — and your respiratory tract isn’t quite capable of filtering particles of such sizes and smaller. You’ll need a special N95 mask that’s capable of doing so, and Aura meets this standard.


A ventilator helps to circulate air.

Aloysius Low/CNET

Designed by a Singaporean living in Beijing — where the air is famously polluted — the Aura is modular, which means you’re able to swap out parts such as the ventilator for other, as yet unannounced, features in the future. The N95 filter is replaceable, so you don’t have to buy a completely new set every time it wears out. The medical grade silicon seal and straps don’t chafe on the skin, and are washable with warm water and soap.

Key specs

  • Modular system
  • N95 filter to block out PM2.5 pollutants
  • Ventilator helps keep things cool
  • Medical-grade silicon straps and face seal

You will look like Bane wearing this, which I didn’t quite appreciate. I did find that the ventilator helps keep things a little cooler, though I still found myself perspiring thanks to Singapore’s humid weather. I did quite a lot of brisk walking with the ventilator in sports mode, and found that it does help to circulate air. A normal disposable mask would have trapped my exhalations, which isn’t ideal due to CO2 buildup, of course.

Compared to a regular disposable mask, the Airmotion Aura isn’t cheap, but it can be reused and the ventilator helps if you’re looking to exercise even in polluted weather.


Because it’s modular, you can easily replace parts that have broken down, or get longer straps if needed.

Aloysius Low/CNET


YI Erida Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

At the end of July, GoPro announced its Hero5 camera and Karma drone will launch ahead of the holiday season. YI Technology, on the other hand, has already released its $250 YI 4K camera and now it’s got a drone to go with it — the YI Erida.

Made of light-yet-strong carbon fiber, YI says the tricopter can reach speeds of up to 75 mph (120 kph) and stay in the air for up to 40 minutes. If true, this is longer than any other ready-to-fly drone. Two of its three prop arms rotate and fold back for travel.

Yi Erida carbon fiber drone flies fast, folds…
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On its belly is a motorized gimbal to stabilize the included YI 4K camera. The drone will be completely controlled with a mobile app, so you’ll just need your smartphone and the drone when you head out to fly.

No pricing or availability was announced. However, if the Erida looks or sounds familiar, it might be because YI is making the drone with Atlas, a team of developers and engineers that tried to get the Erida crowdfunded last year. The contribution amounts start at $499, but the retail price is listed at $1,100. That’s about £380 to £840 and AU$660 to AU$1,500.


Petnet SmartFeeder Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

press-lifestyle-3-2x.jpg Petnet

Have you ever wished your cat could open a can of food himself? Or that your dog could pour the giant bag of food pellets into her own bowl? While it can’t teach your pets new tricks, Petnet’s $150 new gadget might be a step in the right direction.

The SmartFeeder is essentially a feeding bowl with a holding tank above it. Beyond simply supplying more food when the bowl goes empty, though, the SmartFeeder will control portions for your pets. How does it know how much to feed them? This is where it gets interesting.

During setup, you enter your pet’s weight, age, activity levels and other information in the SmartFeeder app. Once the SmartFeeder starts portioning out food for your pet, it continues to monitor behavior, like whether your pet is eating all the food, how quickly and whether that involves multiple trips to the bowl. This data plus the originally entered info gets plugged into a massive database that not only determines serving sizes, but also decides what types of food might fit best for your pet.

press-lifestyle-6-2x.jpgpress-lifestyle-6-2x.jpg Petnet

The appeal of the SmartFeeder is twofold. First, since the tank holds about 7 pounds of food, you only need to refill it once every week or two. That’s a big part of the work of pet ownership, taken care of. Second, if it works as intended, Petnet’s device should help your pet be healthier. Proper serving sizes are important to a pet’s long-term health.

The SmartFeeder also offers a pet food marketplace. The idea is that the device will prune down the thousands of pet food options to a select few — ones that are supposed to be appropriate for your pet. You choose which to buy, and the SmartFeeder app will order the food for you when supplies get low.

Personally, I’m cautious about any device that orders products with my credit card, but for people who have comfortable patterns and understand what’s involved, the service could be a helpful relief.

The SmartFeeder won’t work for everyone. The size of the bowl is about 2 cups, so it’s too small for larger dogs. And because of the design, the feeder can only dispense dry food.

The Petnet SmartFeeder is available now online and at Petco stores.


ZTE Warp 7 (Boost Mobile) Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


The Warp 7 is ZTE’s latest offering for Boost Mobile.


ZTE’s latest affordable handset is the Warp 7, a $100 phone available on September 5. The device is compatible with carriers using both CDMA and GSM technology, but it will be sold through Boost Mobile, which uses Sprint’s CDMA network.

The Warp 7 features a 5.5-inch display (720-pixel resolution), a 1.2 quad-core processor and a removable 3,080mAh battery. For your photo needs, it has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel shooter in the front. It runs Android Marshmallow 6.0 and has 16GB of memory that you can expand up to 64GB with a microSD card.

The Warp 7 follows ZTE’s other $100 prepaid handset, the ZMax Pro, which was announced in July for MetroPCS. Despite a similar price tag, the ZMax Pro has slightly better specs, including a 6-inch screen with a sharper 1,080-pixel resolution, an octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor and a 3,400mAh battery.

Still, Boost Mobile’s handset is a pretty decent deal and we’ll know more once we get our hands on it. But on paper, the ZMax Pro looks to be the better choice (for now) if you’re looking for an inexpensive prepaid phone.


Kwikset Kevo 2nd Gen Bluetooth Smart Lock (2016) Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Pair the Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth Deadbolt with your phone or with a keychain fob, and you can unlock your front door just by tapping on it. It’s a cool, convenient, one-of-a-kind smart lock, and we liked it a lot when we first tested one out back in 2013 — but a vulnerability to a very specific kind of brute-force attack kept us from recommending it outright.

Now, three years later, Kwikset is back with a second-gen Kevo. Save for a smaller, sleeker interior design, it looks largely the same as before, but Kwikset is promising a host of subtle improvements — including easier installation and better defense against those kinds of brute attacks.

At a retail price of $229, the second-gen Kevo costs $10 more than the original Kevo did back in 2013. That’s the same price you’ll pay for the newest version of the August Smart Lock, so it looks like we’ve got a bit of a smart-home showdown coming to your front door.

We’ve already installed a second-gen Kevo at the CNET Smart Home, and we’ll have a full review in the coming weeks — including a look at how it holds up to the sort of torque attacks that defeated it before. For now, here are our first impressions.


The inside half of the second-gen Kevo is noticeably more compact than before.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Smart, subtle tweaks

The new Kevo isn’t much different than the old one. You’ll still pair it with your Android or iOS device, then touch the lock when you want it to open. If the Kevo detects your phone in close proximity outside the door, it’ll flash green, unlock and let you inside. You can still control it remotely using the app whenever you’re in Bluetooth range, and you can still pair it with the optional Kevo Plus Bluetooth-to-Wi-Fi plug-in bridge accessory if you want to control it from anywhere. From outside of your house, as before, the Kevo Kwikset second-gen still looks like a normal, everyday dumb lock.


The Kevo app does a nice job of walking you through the setup process. All you really need is a screwdriver and a tape measure.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

The key differences (sorry) are on the inside. Most noticeable among them: the interior design, where the battery housing is much smaller than before. It’s also a full metal enclosure now, an upgrade from the first Kevo, which had a plastic housing. There’s also a new screw that you can tighten to lock the interior housing shut — that’ll help prevent people from opening the lock and resetting it.

Kwikset worked to make the installation easier, too. You’ll still find a helpful, step-by-step walkthrough in the Kevo app, but now it’s beefed up with interactive graphics, animations and videos. Inside, the two halves of the lock now connect using a single wire that’s less finicky than before. The separate calibration process — an annoying but necessary part of the setup last time around — is gone now: the second-gen Kevo will automatically calibrate itself.


You can manage users and view each lock’s activity history in the Kevo app for Android and iOS devices.

Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET

App-enabled entry

Something that bugged us last time around was that Kwikset charged $1.99 for each “eKey” you created to allow someone else to unlock your Kevo. That’s roughly as much as you’d pay to make someone a copy of your key, but it still felt pretty stingy, given that an eKey is really just an email from Kwikset that grants a user permission to access your lock in the Kevo app.

Three years later, Kwikset handles eKeys a little bit differently. They come in three types: Anytime eKeys, Guest eKeys, and Scheduled eKeys. Like the name suggests, Anytime eKeys will work indefinitely until you revoke access — you get two for free, and then you’ll pay $1.99 for each one after that.

Guest eKeys are just Anytime eKeys that only work for 24 hours, then expire. You get as many of those as you want for free.

Scheduled eKeys come with optional schedule restraints — you can give them an expiration date, or restrict them to work only on certain days or at certain times. They cost $1.99 each.

That’s a step in the right direction, but still, it’s disappointing that Kwikset sees fit to charge you for the luxury of using the luxury smart lock you already spent hundreds of dollars on. Full user management should be a default smart lock feature, not a pay-as-you-go add-on.

Kevo has also added some notable third-party smart-home integrations since last time around. You can sync it up with the Nest Learning Thermostat or with the Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat to trigger your HVAC system as you come and go. It’ll also work with the Ring and Skybell HD video doorbells, letting you use the phone to unlock the door for people who need to get in.

Let’s talk about the lock

Like with the first Kevo, the deadbolt at the heart of the lock is Kwikset’s SmartKey deadbolt, which comes with a special tool that allows owners to re-key the lock without need for a locksmith.

As far as security, the SmartKey deadbolt has a lot going for it. For starters, it uses a patented horizontal slider in place of the traditional key and pin tumblers, which means that would-be thieves can’t get in by “bumping” the lock. It also passes UL 437, the most stringent test against lock picking conducted by the independent researchers at Underwriters Laboratories. Even security expert Marc Weber Tobias, a vocal Kevo critic, told us that the SmartKey deadbolt was nearly impossible to pick.

Kwikset claims the Kevo’s SmartKey deadbolt is stronger than before.

Josh Miller/CNET

Tobias was the one who identified the SmartKey deadbolt’s vulnerabilities to brute-force torque attacks in 2013. No single lock is going to prevent someone from breaking into your home if they’re determined to do so, but we were concerned with what Tobias found, since it’s a SmartKey-specific attack that relies on common tools like a screwdriver and a hammer. When we tested it for ourselves, we were able to use the technique to successfully bypass the first-gen Kevo in less than a minute.

Now, Kwikset tells us that the SmartKey deadbolt in the second-gen Kevo is an updated model — and the company assured us that the same bypass technique won’t work this time. If that’s the case, it’ll be a legitimate security upgrade, and a useful addition to the lock’s existing protections against picking and bumping.

Of course, with smart locks, you have to consider security against hacking and other cyber threats, too. Kwikset deserves some credit here. A recent investigation into Bluetooth lock security found flaws with several smart padlocks and deadbolts, including the August Smart Lock (a hack we were able to verify). Despite their best efforts, those same researchers were unable to hack the Kwikset Kevo at all.


Kevo’s unique touch-to-open approach sets it apart from other smart locks and makes it a tangible convenience upgrade for your front door. On top of that, Kwikset’s approach to handling eKey access, while still not ideal, seems easier to swallow than last time around. If it works as reliably as last time and also performs better against brute force attacks, it could be the new smart lock to beat. We’ll have the full verdict from the CNET Smart Home after we’ve had some more time to test it out.


AEG ComfortLift Dishwasher Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

comfortlift-3.jpg Electrolux

Between easy-to-use wine glass racks, fold-down tines, and third racks for silverware, lots of dishwashers bend over backward to make it easier to load your dishes. Electrolux’s newest innovation will make it easier to unload them.

The ComfortLift technology in Electrolux dishwashers raises the bottom rack to an easy-to-reach height as you pull it out of the tub. You won’t have to bend over to reach your plates and bowls anymore. The rack swings up to about waist height, and you can swing it back down into the dishwasher by pulling the lever beneath the front handle.

Feature-rich dishwashers
  • LG LDF7774ST
  • Kenmore 13699

Dishwashers with the ComfortLift rack will roll out to various European markets starting this month, as part of the AEG Mastery range of appliances. Electrolux is showing off models with the tech at the IFA trade show in Berlin this week. Unfortunately, there’s no word on pricing yet, and no official plans to bring the technology to the US.

The high-end AEG ComfortLift Dishwashers that’ll first bring the tech to the public also tout lots of other premium perks. Beyond ergonomic loading, the AEG ComfortLift Dishwasher supposedly runs at a whisper quiet 39 dB and offers an energy efficient cycle and an extra-quiet cycle that runs at 37 dB.

Electrolux has been working on the ComfortLift technology for a couple of years, and I’m happy to see tangible dishwasher innovation finally reaching the marketplace. However, the creative features of the Frigidaire FGID2466QF I tested recently got in the way more than they helped. Hopefully, ComfortLift will prove as neat in practice as it is in theory, and Electrolux will roll out the feature worldwide before too long.


AEG SenseCook Oven Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET



Can an oven produce restaurant-quality food, even if the home cook at the helm is lousy? AEG is making a case for that with its SenseCook oven, a built-in wall oven the German brand will introduce at this year’s IFA trade show in Berlin. The SenseCook oven includes control screen that lets you select how you want your food cooked, such as the doneness of a steak or the internal temperature of a casserole, and a temperature probe called the Food Sensor that monitors the progress of your food so you don’t have to.

More IFA 2016 coverage
  • Need a phone or a refrigerator? Here’s where you’ll find it
  • Fitbit unveils Charge 2, Flex 2, Fitbit Adventures and updates to Blaze
  • Philips Hue promises better greens, but you’ll need to buy new lightbulbs

AEG, which is a part of the Electrolux Group of appliance manufacturers, is the latest company to attempt to remove the guesswork from cooking with the addition of temperature probes and smart cook settings. We’ve seen this feature in ovens from high-end brands such as the Dacor DYRP36D and the Jenn-Air Connected Double Wall Oven and no-frills connected temperature probes in mainstream options like the Kenmore 92583. What makes AEG’s SenseCook oven stand out is the Command Wheel. Rather than relying on a touchscreen to control your cook settings, the wheel provides a more solid way to control your oven. This could help folks adjust from traditional ovens with control knobs, and it could be useful when your hands are too greasy from cooking to operate a touchscreen.

There aren’t any concrete plans to bring the SenseCook to the United States, AEG says. The appliance will roll out across Europe beginning in September. The company hasn’t finalized pricing.

Check out CNET’s full coverage of IFA 2016 here.


AE Electrolux 9000 Series washing machine Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


The AEG Electrolux 9000 Series washer softens water for gentler cycles.


Imagine if your laundry appliances could ruthlessly rid dirt from clothes yet be gentle enough to never damage their delicate fabric and fibers. It may sound like an unrealistic dream but AEG Electrolux says its new line of washers and dryers are built to do exactly that. Freshly announced at IFA 2016 in Berlin, the new 9000 Series Washing Machine is especially capable of preserving laundry items.

According to the company this advanced washer actually filters and softens its water supply to clean more efficiently but at extremely low temperatures. The benefit of this approach claim AEG Electrolux is a washing machine which launders without leaching bright colors or deep blacks from your favorite garments even after scores of laundry cycles.

Use the app to choose a cycle

Another clothes-friendly tool in the 9000 Series Washer’s arsenal is the My AEG app, a mobile application which provides specific care advice based on the type of cloth you plan on cleaning. The app also chooses a recommended cycle plus tweaks its individual settings accordingly for optimal performance.

Built into the application as well are general tips and a guide to interpret the often cryptic symbols you see on clothing labels You can download versions of the software for either iOS or Android depending what platform suits your needs best.


Get laundry handling help from the My AEG mobile app.


Along with the 9000 Series, AEG Electrolux also unveiled the 8000 and 7000 Series washing machines though both are less sophisticated and lack water softening technology. In addition neither have the ability to link to the My AEG mobile application.

Better than air

AEG Electrolux pulled the tarp off of a pair of new dryers too designed to pair with their fancy washer siblings. Named the 8000 and 7000 Series Tumble Driers, the most notable is the 8000 series machine. It boasts cycles Electrolux claims safely dries items sown from unforgiving materials such as silk and wool.

An “Outdoor” mode is supposedly as safe as air drying and handles water-resistant, windproof, and breathable sportswear lightly enough to remove moisture but is hot enough to flatten wrinkles. That said the cycle won’t harshly strip away chemical coatings or destroy synthetic fabrics.

AEG Electrolux hasn’t yet disclosed pricing for these appliances nor did it release specific availability beyond sometime in 2017. The company does plan to have its connected laundry app up and running by, “mid-2017.”


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