"OK Google, what planet am I on?" The Five Virtual Assistants, Compared

"OK Google, what planet am I on?" The Five Virtual Assistants, Compared

Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Google Assistant and Bixby…oh what fun it is to keep up with the ever-growing list of virtual assistants who claim they can improve your life, magically give you more free time to do things you love, and lower your cholesterol.

Read More

The Fairview Smart Home - Phoenix, AZ

The Fairview Smart Home - Phoenix, AZ

Welcome to the Fairview Smart Home. A collaborative effort between Smarter Home Life and a close friend (and real estate investor) of the show. This is a completely reimagined and redesigned "flip" home in the Fairview Historic Neighborhood of Central Phoenix.

Read More

Charge your iPhone and get Siri outlet control with the PureSwitch (Review)

The HomeKit smart switch / smart outlet market is getting crowded these days. How do you make yours stand-out from the crowd? Add a USB charge port! That's what PureGear did with the PureSwitch.

 

The on/off button is easy to miss.

PureGear's first home automation product has a unique, circular (or is it wavy?) design that doesn't block both of your outlets. It's a pretty minimal device that will control up to 15A of lights and/or small appliances via its remotely-commandable outlet. And, the USB charger provides 2.1A of power at 10W, more than enough for your energy-hungry mobile devices. The PureSwitch has such a minimal design that its "manual" on/off button is well-concealed at the bottom of the device. (I went through multiple days of testing and I still didn't find it...until I was editing product shots in Photoshop!)

What you plug into the PureSwitch can be something other than a fan or light bulb, those are just optional labels.

Fast on/off operation and helpful front indicator lights for power and Wi-Fi connection status round out the positive attributes for the PureSwitch. As it's a HomeKit device, setup is pretty universal: Download the PureSwitch app, then start the setup process to add the PureSwitch to your iOS device, you'll scan the HomeKit setup code with your device's camera and then you'll be ready to go a few moments later. While HomeKit control is pretty universal, you may not want to use PureGear's app since it ony shows similar types of accessories (smart switches, outlets, etc) in its list of HomeKit accessories. If you have a home with different types of HomeKit devices, like lights, dimmers, sensors, fans, smart locks, etc you probably will find the PureSwitch app pretty limiting. It does, however, interestingly enough have support for HomeKit Zones, which Apple's own Home app doesn't yet support. Zones are a somewhat advanced feature of HomeKit, where you can group rooms together for even more refined control with Siri.

 

 

Conclusion

Overall, the PureSwitch is a good HomeKit product, and provides fast, efficient switching of (nearly) whatever is plugged into its outlet, and zippy charging of devices through its USB port. (You could also just use it as a USB power source, too.)

The only slight knocks against the PureSwitch are for the hidden on/off button, which is helpful once you locate it, and the app that doesn't support the majority of other HomeKit devices.

You can find the PureSwitch at PureGear's own website for $49.99 - it's a U.S.-only product for now.

Disclosure: PureGear provided the PureSwitch to Smarter Home Life for this review.

Give existing lights HomeKit smarts with a Koogeek Smart Socket (Review)

Give existing lights HomeKit smarts with a Koogeek Smart Socket (Review)

Maybe it's a closet light on a pull-chain, or a ceiling light in a room with an inconvenient switch, or maybe you just don't want to get up from the couch. In any case, you can make a favorite light bulb smart by just screwing it into the HomeKit-enabled Smart Socket from Koogeek.

Read More

Google I/O 2017: Google Assistant's Intelligence is Everywhere

Google I/O 2017: Google Assistant's Intelligence is Everywhere

Google continues its mission of organizing the world’s information, and then some. The search giant's AI efforts continue to pay dividends with its Google Assistant platform, now appearing on many more devices, including iOS. Now you'll be able to turn off your toaster from your Google Home, or from the middle of Iceland.

Read More

New from Hue: Philips launches stylish Wellner, Wellness table lamps, Being ceiling fixture and White Ambiance Candle

New from Hue: Philips launches stylish Wellner, Wellness table lamps, Being ceiling fixture and White Ambiance Candle

As previewed at CES 2017 and shown to Smarter Home Life at the Philips Hue Suite at the Aria in Las Vegas, Philips released pricing details, pre-order and in-store availability information today on the new Hue ceiling and table lamps, plus the new Hue White Ambiance candle bulb.

Read More

How-To: Make a phone call on your Amazon Echo

How-To: Make a phone call on your Amazon Echo

Amazon confirmed a few rumors on Tuesday, May 9 when they unveiled the new Echo Show, a tabletop device with speakers, mics, a 7" touchscreen and Alexa built-in, and announced that all existing Echo devices now had the ability to make phone calls and send messages to each other. The Internet, as usual, went bonkers over it.

Read More

Q&A: Home Automation & LED Lighting - April 2017

Q&A: Home Automation & LED Lighting - April 2017

This month's Q&A episode is a 2-for-1 combo, since April was pretty "light" on LED lighting questions. Here's the fun topic rundown for this edition: CFL vs LED for "daylight white", mesh Wi-Fi, 3-way smart switches/dimmers, motion sensors for home automation, smart home integration on Windows 10 Mobile, and...buttons, buttons, buttons!

Read More

With Ecobee4’s “Alexa Hub”, is this the start of voice platform lock-in?

With Ecobee4’s “Alexa Hub”, is this the start of voice platform lock-in?

The highly-anticipated (and ridiculously leaked) Ecobee4 smart Wi-Fi thermostat launched this past week. The overall design and features of the new thermostat remain the same from the Ecobee3, and the Ecobee4 comes with a remote temperature and occupancy sensor just like its predecessor. But wait, there’s more: Ecobee4 doesn’t just “work with” Amazon’s Alexa, she’s built right into the device.

Read More

Making the case for physical buttons for the smarter home

Making the case for physical buttons for the smarter home

In the “good old days” of home automation, buttons were everywhere. You couldn’t escape them. This was especially true before the early touchscreen controllers hit the market from companies like AMX and Crestron. Today, smartphone apps and voice control have seemingly taken over control of everything in the modern smarter home, but is that really a better experience?

Read More

Home Security and Smart Lighting Giveaway (Ended)

Home Security and Smart Lighting Giveaway (Ended)

We’re giving away an exciting package of connected video surveillance tech and night vision-enhancing smart LED lighting to one lucky winner! The Zmodo Pivot security camera and Greet video doorbell let you keep an eye on your home while you're away, and LIFX+ smart lighting beautifies your home with customizable white light and a rainbow of colors, and helps your security cameras see better in the dark with special infrared LEDs.

Read More