Belkin has continued toward the lofty goal of full home automation with the WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set. With a solid modular portfolio that includes wall switches, heaters, a humidifier, cameras and even a coffee maker, the Starter Set seems like a natural progression. I really like the concept of this product as it allows the IP-enablement and remote control of hard-wired electrical light fixtures in your home, without the trouble of rewiring the physical wall switches.
With so many interesting gadgets out there, it’s tough to figure out which ones might be useful. Here are some gift ideas based on my own experience with a few of the interesting mobile devices that have been sent our way to review.
When I was a kid, my dad had a Tyco slot racing set. It was a beautiful setup, with supercars that traversed a long track with a spiral section supported by glow-in-the-dark struts. When I became older, he let me play with the set on my own – but pulling out the box from the cupboard was always a calculated decision based on the amount of playtime that I had (it took a while to assemble). Later on, Santa gave me my own Tyco set, complete with cars that could swivel on their front track pin and go in the opposite direction. I enjoyed that set a lot – but it eventually lost its allure when the set stopped working.
Fast forward to 2014. When I first looked at the Anki DRIVE Starter Kit, I was reminded of my youthful days of slot-racing – but Anki DRIVE ups the ante with a few notable differences – the most prominent being that you control the cars with an iOS or Android device. Even Smallest Thumbs really got into the set that Anki sent us to review!
There are many portable Bluetooth-enabled speakers on the market, and they come in many shapes and sizes. While sound quality and portability will always be two of the factors that people will look at to determine which speaker they will buy, other companies will attract consumers with other additional useful features as well. Creative’s MUVO mini is one such product. Boasting resistance to water and dust, Creative has given customers another practical reason to grab one of their products. They sent us one to try out, and I have to say that though the sound is not quite perfect (as is the case with portable speakers in general), its size and utility more than make up for any shortcomings.
The relationship between your phone and the world around you is evolving, and where the convenience factor of the device was once that you didn’t need access to a computer to send an email, it can now adjust the temperature of your gumbo in real-time from the office; or in the case of the recent House of Belkin event, a very fine chili. A Belkin rep walked us through the latest and greatest the company has to offer in wireless products for your home, and I’ll give you a brief recap of what I learned.
There are a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers on the market, but pound-for-pound, the 808 Audio Canz Wireless Speaker is probably one of the most compelling. For such an inexpensive speaker, the Canz are a great choice – both tiny and surprisingly powerful, they deliver decent performance. Of course, they are not without their flaws. We were sent one of these wee units to try out, and have come to the conclusion that if you’re looking for a solid and affordable portable audio solution, the Canz are worth considering.
Last year, we reviewed the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus, a great solution for folks that want a better way to interface with the iPad for creative projects. Well, it looks like the bar has been raised once again with the Wacom Creative Stylus 2. Compared to its predecessor, the new Stylus 2 is more comfortable, less expensive (from a market introduction perspective), and more functional. If you’re looking for a great pressure-sensitive stylus, you really can’t go wrong with this choice.