Archive for July, 2018

More Home Automation News

July 20th, 2018, 9:39am by Mike

Few fun things related to home automation / integration out there:

We continue our dive into Sonos — we now have a Playbase (at the TV), two Play:1s (basement and office), and two Sonos Ones (the Alexa-capable ones, bedroom and kitchen/patio). I really like them — the sound is a big jump over other speakers I’ve had, and it’s easy to move the sound around between rooms. Couple of new thoughts on this:

  • An important new development is that Sonos now has Airplay 2 on its newer models (Playbase, Beam, Play:5, and Sonos One), which means you can stream directly from your phone to the speaker(s) — great for podcasts or YouTube. Previously, you could play podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, etc through the Sonos app, but the direct way is much easier. In a network with older models, you can stream to one of the newer devices, then share the music across the network to any Sonos device — you just have to have at least one new model to stream to from the phone.
  • Sonos Alexa-capable devices don’t have all of Alexa’s capabilities — for example, I learned yesterday that the One doesn’t support music alarms via Alexa, which would have meant that I could use it as a clock radio that I could snooze by voice. I still can do this (using the Sonos App), but it’s a little less nice.

This brings us to 7 Alexa devices (I think — 3 Dots, 2 Sonos Ones, a Fire TV stick (that we don’t really use), a Dash Wand (that we haven’t used at all in months) — not to mention our phones). I know people are leery about voice control stuff — we’re comfortable with the voice stuff, but don’t have any video-enabled Alexa devices.

Other minor news:

  • All of our switches and plugs (except the one in the bullet below) are Wemo devices, and as of yesterday’s update, Wemo devices are becoming Homekit-enabled, Not sure I really care, since I’m pretty much on the Alexa bandwagon, but if you decided to go HomePod rather than Sonos, this could be useful. Of course, Homekit works with AppleTV as well.
  • My latest find, however, is a wifi-enabled power strip with 4 outlets and a bank of 4 USB charging ports — each outlet (and the USB bank) can be separately named and controlled by Alexa or an app on your phone, and it’s only $30!

I love having stuff happen automatically around the house — we have many lights on timers, our outside lights are proximity-enabled (when our phones come in range they turn on),  and our Nest thermostats and Protects do their thing pretty unobtrusively (the best feature of the Protect is the motion-detecting night light). I get notifications when our house door is opened, or when I leave the garage door open. I’m very reluctant to do locks, though. Still, living in the future!


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