Wednesday, December 13, 2017


By Bayle Emlein
With its Deco M5 Whole-Home Wi-Fi System, TP-Link
addresses major concerns of modern householders who
want their homes to be as smart and up-to-date as they
are. At Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular in San Francisco
on October 28 TP-Link showcased an array of solutions
for making the connected life easier, safer, and more e

The Deco M5 is a mesh networking solution that provides
seamless wireless internet coverage and comprehensive
security via TP-Link HomeCare. With built-in antivirus and
malware protection powered by Trend Micro*, Deco M5
provides a truly secure whole-home Wi-Fi system. TP-Link
HomeCare provides exploit and malware protection, powered
by TrendMicro*, along with an SPI firewall, device access control.
The TP-Link Deco mobile app enables remote access and
secure remote control of the network.  
Integration of the TP-Link control system with Google Assistant
on Google Home, Google Pixel, and compatible Android phones
means that voice control of any TP-Link product, including the
Deco M5, is easy and accessible. The Smart Plug Mini has been
compatible with Alexa for a year. Devices plugged into a TP-Link
Smart Plug can be controlled through the Kasa app.

Alexa and Google Home can also control the TP-Link smart bulbs.
Not just a lightbulb, but one that can change colors, making the
light in a room warmer or cooler, softer or brighter, as well as blue
or orange, or pink or green. TP-Link continues it’s 20+ year l
eadership in networking products for enterprise and home.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


By Bayle Emlen
In contrast to their usual smorgasbord of fun and useful items,
HyperX featured only the newly releasted gaming headset, Cloud
Alpha at Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular in San Francisco on
October 28.

Building on previous HyperX successes, the HyperXTM Cloud Alpha
adds HyperX Dual Chamber technology for better sound and less
distortion. The dual chamber design enables HyperX to tune bass
frequencies separate from the mids and highs, creating a dynamic
sound that makes gaming, music and movies more realistic and
immersive. This is particularly useful in establishing the Reality
in virtual reality and augmented reality.
The signature memory foam earphones promise hours and hours
of comfortable gaming or other listening. The pliable leatherette
and expandable headband fitted securely, yet comfortably, on this
reporter’s hard-to-fit noggin with supersensitive ear flaps.
The Cloud Alpha also features a detachable cable with in-line audio
control allowing users to adjust volume and mute the microphone
on the cable. The CloudAlpha sports multi-platform compatibility
on  PC, PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One™1, Xbox One S™1, Mac®,
Mobile2, Nintendo Switch,  and any other system with 3.5mm
ports3.  All this for under $100.

HyperX Dual Chamber Technology for more distinction and
less distortion HyperX Signature Memory Foam Durable
aluminum frame with expanded headband, and new fork design
Detachable braided cable with convenient in-line audio control
detachable noise cancellation microphone Discord and
TeamSpeak™ Certified Multi-platform compatibility


Driver Custom, dynamic                      50mm with neodymium magnets
Type Circumaural,                               Closed back
Frequency response                           13Hz–27,000Hz
Impedance                                          65 Ω
SPL (Sound Pressure Level)               98dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
T.H.D.                                                 < 1%
Weight                                                98g
Weight w/ mic and cable                     336g
Cable length and type Detachable headset cable (1.3m) + PC extension cable (2m)
Connection Detachable headset cable - 3.5mm plug
(4 pole) + PC extension cable - 3.5mm stereo and mic plugs


Element                                              Electret condenser microphone
Polar pattern                                       Noise-cancelling
Frequency response                           50Hz–18,000 Hz
Sensitivity                                           -43dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Ring Project

By Bayle Emlein

The Ring Protect system was announced just days before the Pepcom Holiday Spectacular in San Francisco on October 28, where it was displayed and demonstrated. The new, affordable, customizable DIY security system enhances the effectiveness of Ring’s already proven Doorbells and Cams.

Ring Protect is easily installed by the homeowner without any tools and can be customized to fit individual needs. Ring Protect works seamlessly with all Ring products, including Ring Video Doorbell, Floodlight Cam, and Spotlight Cam, as well as other home security products like smart carbon monoxide detectors, locks, lights, thermostats, and sensors. Battery backup and LTE cellular backup allow professional monitoring to continue even if the power goes out or broadband is unavailable.

This complete Ring of Security deters crime by creating an “Always Home” presence. Ring reports on a Los Angeles neighborhood saw a 55 percent decrease in home break-ins after Ring Doorbells were installed on just ten percent of homes.

Ring Protect bundles start at just $199 and include:
Base Station,
Contact Sensor (for a window or door),
Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR),
Z-Wave Extender.

Optional Ring Protect plans start at $10 per month and include:
24/7 professional monitoring,
Cloud video storage for an unlimited number of Ring devices,
Ring mobile app (iOS, Android, Mac and Windows 10),

10 percent off all future Ring purchases.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Noon Smart Lighting System

By Bayle Emlein
Days are getting colder. Spending more time indoors makes us more aware of indoor lighting, even as the shorter days make us want to use more of it. The Noon™ Smart Lighting System brings lighting the lamps and keeping them trimmed into the 21st Century.

There are three components to the system. The Noon™ Smart Lighting System is powered by its Room Director switch, which talks to and companion Extension Switches. The system is completed with a Noon™ Wall Plate, whose floating design lets it snap easily into place over a variety of Extension and Director configurations. It even works with thirdrd-party rocker switches.
The Noon™ Room Director is the heart of the system. You’ll need one for each room where you want to take control of the lighting. But it works with existing bulbs and fixtures rather than requiring the purchase of additional, proprietary bulbs. One-touch control on the glass touch screen with OLED display lets you select and adjust lighting according to activity or time of day. Or control remotely. The Extension Switches replace existing switches, so you can use existing fixtures and control them individually.

Other features include integration with Amazon Alexa–control your system by voice. Vacation Mode mimics your typical behavior so it appears as if you are home. The Night Light feature detects motion and provides low-level lighting to guide you in the dark.

Friday, December 8, 2017

New Matter

By Bayle Emlein

Bucking the trend of screen-time sprawl, the MOD-t 3D printer from New Matter is all about designing and building projects. For under $300 you can enter the world of 3D printing. Another $200 adds enough PLA plastic for the MOD-t printer to keep the kids occupied until after sunset on Present-Opening-Day, whether you use December 24, December 25, January 6, or a year-end birthday.

The original MOD-t (carefully avoiding look-and-feel infringements on a leading-edge development in another industry) has been out for over three years. The 2nd generation is on Kickstarter. We know that can be a good place to find a bargain and still stay on the (b)leading edge. The main improvement is a 30% improvement in printing speed. One of the barriers to 3D printing becoming a useful technology tool has been its glacially slow output.

The MOD-t is eco-friendly, using PLA material available in a variety of colors. PLA plastic is regarded as safe for use in food containers and for microwave cooking. The MOD-t has a clear plastic cover that contains the printer, the product, and the user; it also reduces printer noise. The printer is Wi-Fi enabled: the designer can select, customize, and print wirelessly from a device. The design, pricing, and ease of use make the MOD-t a fit for both home and school use. Look for it to show up on GoFundMe pages, if it hasn’t already. In addition to teaching tech skills, it promotes teamwork and project-based learning.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


By Bayle Emlein

I noticed two qualities about the products at Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular in San Francisco on October 28. First, almost every single item at every single table was already on the market ready for purchase, including one released just that morning. Second, many–if not most–assume that the purchaser has a smartphone that is in good health, ready to download a control app, even for products that are not purely an app themselves. This puts your smartphone in a position of being as critical as running water and the electric grid. Unfortunately, smartphones are not quite as reliable as other utilities. What to do?

Call Puls. Currently available in 39* cities, pulse will send a certified, screened technician to your home or place of business. Phone issues a Puls technician addresses: screen repair, battery replacement, camera replacement, charging port, power button, side buttons,  headphone jack, home button, wifi/ bluetooth, or water damage.
Puls technicians can also repair tablets, help you hang a wall mounted TV, or help you make your whole home smarter by providing a free in-home demo of Google Home or by setting it up. This being the 21st Century, you make your appointment online. Because of the need to screen all their techs and the limits of travel time, the service is currently available in selected urban areas, though planning to expand. Pricing for a phone repair starts at $69. Given the time you have for packing up, finding parking, and standing in line at a repair shop, you may well find this a value. It’s certainly worth the price for TV installation. The house call is alive and well.

* Asheville, NC, Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD, Baton Rouge, LA, Boston, MA, Charlotte, NC, Chicago, IL, Cleveland, OH, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Hartford, CT, Houston, TX, Kansas City, KS, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, Milwaukee, WI, Naples, FL, Nashville, TN, New Orleans, LA, New York, NY, Newark, NJ, Oklahoma City, OK, Orlando, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, Pittsburg, PA, Portland, OR, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Sacramento, CA, San Antonio, TX, San Diego, CA, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Tampa, FL, and Washington DC.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


By Bayle Emlein

UBTECH robots fit into two categories. One is education/play. The other is service robots. Cruzr is designed to be a service robot, Alpha 1 Pro is a home entertainment humanoid with an impressive stage and movie performance history If you think a Star Wars Storm Trooper is human, then the soon-to-be released Storm Trooper with advanced AI, voice commands, facial recognition, and a first and third person Augmented Reality app is also a humanoid robot.

UBTECH Jimu kits for building robots start at under $100. Designed for kids 8 years old and up, they teach coding and robotics in a game-like setting. One can always hope that users will also learn from organization and ease of access of the kits themselves.  

There are over half a dozen Jimu kits already on the market in use at home, in schools, and in Jimu Clubs. One can always pretend that one is just evaluating a Jimu project to ensure its STEM properties before sharing it with the younger generation. After all, we don’t want them to get too far ahead of us.