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Sonos Beam is new $399 smart speakerbar
Sonos has revealed its latest speaker, the Sonos Beam, a smaller soundbar that wants to be both your music and your home entertaining speaker. Unveiled in San Francisco, CA today, it also includes the same Alexa support – with more smart assistants in the pipeline – as the Sonos One.
The new speaker slots in-between Sonos’ existing speakers. On the one hand, Chris Kallai, VP hardware product management explains, you have the Play:1, Play:3, Play:5, and Sonos One, which excel at music. On the other, you have the significantly larger Playbar and Playbase, which focus on home entertainment.
Sonos is also promising “radical simplicity,” something not often found in the TV room. Rather than a coffee table full of remote controls, Sonos Beam will typically be controlled by voice, the company expects. You’ll be able to say “Alexa, turn on the TV,” for example.
As for the speaker itself, that has a center tweeter flanked by two full-range woofers. There are more angled woofers on either end of the speaker; they can steer sound around the room. The upshot, Kallai says, is a more immersive experience for video, along with a broader stereo soundstage for music.
Finally, there are three passive radiators, “to intensify and deepen the bass” Kallai says. All of the conducers are custom-designed, as are the rectangular passive radiators. It even had to design its own square subwoofers. Since it might be put into smaller spaces, it’s designed to support reducing the louder noises while emphasizing the quiet ones, so that you can still hear voices but don’t get overwhelmed by explosions.
Compared to the Playbar, it’s shorter and generally more compact. It can be mounted on the wall below a TV, or on a side cabinet. On the back, there are three ports: power, ethernet, and HDMI ARC. That’s also where you’ll find the pairing button, to join the Sonos Beam to your existing speaker ecosystem.
The HDMI ARC port means some key TV commands will be controllable by voice. That includes “Alexa, turn on the TV” and “Alexa, turn up the volume.” If you have an Amazon Fire TV, you can ask for specific movies and TV shows by voice, too.
Out of the box, there’s Amazon Alexa support. Like the other Sonos speakers, it’ll add AirPlay 2 support this July, when Sonos pushes out its new software update. In the pipeline – though without a public timescale, sadly – is Google Assistant integration. They work with a five-microphone array, which Sonos promises will be able to hear you over even the loudest movie.
Certainly there’s no shortage of smart speakers, but Sonos insists that it’s still got a niche in what it calls the “Sonic Internet” – the growth of connected speakers that take an audio-first approach to that connectivity. However, it’s also fairly critical of its competition, which it argues is more about collecting user data and tying people into closed ecosystems. “We’re not in the business of selling user-data, and we never will be,” Patrick Spence, Sonos CEO, insists.
That doesn’t mean Sonos is going it alone. “Sonos is a sound platform for the home,” Allen Mask, VP of product marketing, says of the platform. “We strongly believe that in the long term building with, and alongside, our partners is the best way to bring the Sonic Internet to life.”
Sonos says the Beam will go on sale on July 17th. It’ll be priced at $399, and available in both black and white finishes. Preorders start today.
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Upgrade to the new smart architecture in Apple’s Home app to make your HomeKit appliances perform faster and more reliably than before.
Apple had to pull the new Home app architecture in iOS 16.2 over bugs and issues, re-launching it in iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4 and macOS Ventura 13.3 as part of the ongoing transition to the new Matter smart home connectivity standard.
The new underlying architecture should enhance the performance of your smart home and improve the reliability of any smart appliances. Follow the steps below to upgrade your smart home to the new architecture in iOS 16.4’s Home app.How to upgrade your smart home to Apple’s new architecture
If opening the Home app after upgrading to iOS 16.2 doesn’t automatically greet you with a splash screen offering to upgrade your smart home, you can perform the upgrade manually using Software Update in the Home app.
Here are the steps to follow:
Open the Home app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac.
Hit the three-dotted (More) button, then choose Home Settings from the menu. If you own multiple homes, choose one first before selecting Home Settings.
Select Software Update.
Hit Learn More under Home Upgrade Available.
Touch Continue to proceed or Upgrade Later if you don’t want to do this now.
This feature will upgrade all homes in the Home app simultaneously. After a few moments, you’ll see a message confirming a successful upgrade.
“This includes people you invite to control your home,” Apple notes.
I’ve lost control of my smart home via my ancient Apple Watch Series 2, which isn’t compatible with watchOS 9. When performing an upgrade in the Home app, I got a warning message but ignored it and continued the process. I don’t mind not being able to use the Home app on my Apple Watch because I usually control my accessories through Siri on my HomePod or the Home app on my iPhone.Your smart home is now more reliable
There’s nothing else left to do. The Home app’s interface hasn’t changed after performing this upgrade, and all your smart appliances are still present in the app but should now respond faster and work more reliably than before.You need a home hub
The new architecture requires a home hub to share control of your smart home, receive notifications in the Home app, add Matter accessories and more.
Apple’s support document:
You must set up a home hub to add Matter accessories to the Home app. Thread-enabled Matter accessories require a Thread-enabled home hub, such as HomePod mini or Apple TV 4K (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Ethernet or a supported third-party border router.
When you set up an Apple TV, HomePod or HomePod mini, it automatically becomes your home hub. To manually turn your Apple TV 4K into a home hub, go to Settings → AirPlay and HomeKit and scroll down, then select Room and choose an existing room where this Apple TV will be used or add a new one.
One thing to note is that the iPad, which can still be set up as a home hub, is unsupported when used with the new Home app architecture.A quick tip for resolving many HomeKit issues
And lastly, if you continue to experience issues with your smart home appliances after upgrading to the new architecture, try removing all HomeKit bridges from the Home app, then re-added them. This will cause HomeKit to load factory settings, which may help resolve your issues.Helpful Home app tutorials
Technology is going through a golden phase of sorts with some amazing innovations coming to the forefront. Things have changed a lot from the yesteryears. Phones have become way smarter, PC’s have become more powerful & compact and even our watches have become a lot more productive. There are IoT (internet of things) devices that should make a big impact in our lives soon. Another appliance that has been a part of our lives for a long time is TV and even they have silently gone through some great innovation. The “idiot box” isn’t really an idiot anymore.What is a Smart TV?
A Smart TV is a TV, which comes with support for internet connectivity and that can be either through WiFi or an ethernet cable. A Smart TV comes with its own OS platform and thanks to internet connectivity, you can get various apps to check out your social networks and stream content right on your TV without the need of a set-top box or anything. There are also various games that would be a lot more enjoyable on the huge screens these tubes offer. Most Smart TVs also come with a web browser, so you can surf the web on your TV itself.
Unique Features of a Smart TV:
Online Services & Apps
Smart TVs come with various popular video & music streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, Spotify and more. Smart TV platforms/OS also come with their own app stores with various apps including the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
Most Smart TVs come with a web browser on-board and the experience is pretty decent, if you keep your expectations in check.
Since most Smart TV platforms come with app stores, there are a number of casual games available to download. While console-level games are missing, the casual games make up for a good pastime.
There are a number of great third party accessories available to enhance your Smart TV experience. There are kits to upgrade the hardware, wireless adapters, Skype certified external cameras, 3D glasses if your TV supports 3D, different types of remotes and more.Smart TV Platforms & OS
Samsung Tizen OS
Samsung Smart TVs have been here for quite some time now and the South Korean giant recently switched from its Smart Hub platform to its very own Tizen OS for its Smart TVs. The platform is still budding and thus the low number of apps but Samsung has got the essentials covered. The platform packs in apps for both 2K and 4K TV displays. The platform supports remotes, voice as well as motion control. It also comes with a browser, which is decent enough. Overall, we can expect the Smart TV’s Tizen OS to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming future, thanks to Samsung’s backing.
When LG acquired the dying WebOS platform, it did not really make any sense but now it does. LG uses the WebOS platform for its Smart TVs. The WebOS TV interface is sleek and it’s arguably the most user friendly TV platform. The OS supports remote, voice control and motion control for navigating the interface. It has a good enough browser on-board as well. Moreover, LG’s TV platform has the most number of apps presently. LG Smart TVs are really good and the beautifully designed platform certainly compliments those gorgeous 2K and 4K displays.
Panasonic Viera Life+Screen
Vizio Smart TV
Common Questions/FAQs around Smart TVs
We are pretty sure you have your doubts regarding a Smart TV but don’t worry, as we have answered all the questions you might be having. Here it goes:What benefits do Smart TVs bring when compared to regular TVs?
As we mentioned, Smart TVs bring internet connectivity, apps, games among other features that make it smarter than a normal TV. But that’s not all, a Smart TV brings the convenience of an all in one device, native access to popular streaming services and web browsing.Are Smart TV browsers user friendly?
Most of the Smart TV platforms/OS include a web browser. Android running TVs come with Google Chrome and while some platforms come with support for Opera’s TV browser, some have their own browser. Coming to the question, not all Smart TV browsers are user friendly but Samsung’s offering, Android’s Chrome and Opera TV Browser work great. All three aforementioned browsers support most major web standards and render most websites fine, even on huge displays.Are Smart TV’s internals upgradable?
While not every manufacturer lets you update the internal hardware of the Smart TVs, Samsung lets you do it through its “Evolution Kit”. Samsung introduced the Evolution Kit in 2013 and it has since been bringing a new iteration of it every year. The 2024 Samsung Evolution Kit can be added to Samsung Smart TVs from 2013-14 and it brings an Octa-core processor, additional RAM, touch remote with pointer, One-connect box & cable, MHL 3.0, HDMI 2.0 ports with support for 4K, HDCP 2.2, MHL 3 and VP9 support. Along with internal upgrades, the kit also updates the software from Samsung’s Smart Hub platform to Tizen OS.What are the security & privacy risks involved with Smart TVs? How to stop such risks?
“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”
Not everyone has a problem with this and if you are just careful with your personal details, these data logging activities shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, if you want to enjoy all the smart features on your TV, you will have to accept sending information. But if you are really concerned about your privacy, you can stop it. All the Smart TVs come with an option to disable data sending in their settings. In Vizio TVs, you just need to turn off the “Smart Interactive” feature to disable it. Samsung and LG don’t have data logging enabled by default and when the OS asks you to enable it, you can deny it. You can also choose to use features like voice control a little carefully, so as to not spill your personal information.Can a Smart TV be hacked?
Most Smart TV platforms like Tizen, WebOS and even Android have a Linux base and hackers are pretty well acquainted with the Linux platform. So, yes, Smart TVs can be hacked. According to researchers, hackers will be aiming to hack Smart TVs through radio transmitters. Hackers might also be able to get a user’s personal details including social media information and bank details. We are pretty sure companies are already working hard to make sure that never happens but to be on the safe side, you can enter your details carefully and not pay any bills through your TV.Is it legal to jailbreak or mod a Smart TV? Does a Smart TV hang or crash?
Smart TVs come with their own OS or platform and as with every other operating system, it’s susceptible to hang ups and crashes. Yesteryear Smart TVs were panned for inconsistent performance but things have changed for the better. Smart TV platforms are now much more stable and polished but we obviously cannot rule out an occasional crash or hang up.Do Smart TVs get regular updates? How long before a Smart TV gets outdated?
Not all Smart TVs receive regular software updates but some do. Samsung has been updating its older Smart TVs with its new Tizen software and even LG recently updated its older Smart TVs with WebOS 2.0. These updates not only bring new features, they keep the security & privacy settings up to date as well. Android TV is new, so there haven’t been any updates yet but we can expect it to be updated from time to time.
While a Smart TV’s “TV features” won’t get outdated before 5 years or more, its “Smart features” should get outdated in 2 years. Manufacturers should update these Smart TVs with new features but we don’t expect them to do so for more than a couple of years. Standalone or normal LED/LCD TVs on the other hand easily have a lifespan of 5 years or more. Keep in mind though that the lifespan of an LED/LCD TV also depends on their quality.Should one buy a Smart TV or a cheaper TV with a set-top/OTT Box? Which is better?
Smart TV has its benefits but presently, a set-top or an over-the-top (OTT) box is a much better offering. While there’s not much of a price difference between a smaller Smart TV and the combo of a TV with OTT box, the combo is a more reliable option. OTT boxes can be easily replaced when new features or services arrive while in the case of Smart TVs, replacing the TV when new services arrive is not a viable option and instead Smart TV owners will have to opt for OTT boxes when the “Smart” features become outdated.What is the approximate price of a mid-range and high-end Smart TVs?
Smart TVs are slowly entering the mid and low-end of the TV market and you can get a 24-inch Smart TV for as low as $160. The premium high-end offerings that pack in 4K resolutions and curved displays range from $800-3000 depending on the size. There are also some great offerings in the $500 range if you are okay with a 1080p display.Conclusion
Things are a little rough for the Smart TV market with various privacy & security issues and scepticism over their performance but we still think Smart TVs can be the future. The idea of an all in one device with a great unified platform that syncs with your phone and other devices is simply too good to let go. As we mentioned, there are problems with Smart TVs but they are still pretty usable and they might even pleasantly surprise you. There are a number of great Smart TVs available currently on the market and you should definitely give them a try if you are okay with the cons and want the taste of latest technology.
SEE ALSO: The 8 Best Stick PCs on the Market
Duracell Plans on Making a Lasting Impression With New Smart Power Line
Duracell launched something new today, and we’re pretty sure you’ll be excited about it. It’s called the Duracell Smart Power Initiative, and it’s broadening the company’s outlook on life, and what you can spend your money on. While the needs of consumers change, especially the way that they power their electronics, Duracell realized that they needed to change too, and it’s looking like they are on the right track. They’ve come up with some pretty handy stuff, and while it’s not necessarily revolutionary for the times, it is for the company. And plus, the mobility it provides may just be attractive enough to entice some long-term commitments. We’re definitely ready to tie the knot.
“Duracell Smart Power is an evolution of Duracell’s heritage that builds upon the reliability and performance that our batteries have and will always deliver. This initiative will serve as an important lens for future product innovation as we expand the breadth of our offerings to address the evolution of personal power,” said Rick June, Duracell Vice President and General Manager, North America. “Our new personal power solutions allow consumers the freedom to live their lives without the limits of staying tethered to today’s power grid. It is charging made simple.”
The Duracell MyGrid charging pad — Consumers can enjoy a better daily charging experience with this device that eliminates the mess of multiple cords by simultaneously charging multiple devices, such as cell phones, MP3 music players or other mobile devices. Once the charging pad is plugged in, your devices can go cordless. By simply fitting a device with a Power Sleeve™ or Power Clip™, you can drop your device on myGrid™ and go.The Duracell Instant Charger — This compact Lithium Ion Rechargeable charger provides reserve power for popular mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys, iPods and cellphones that come with USB power cords. A USB-to-mini-USB cord is included. Mobile users can now enjoy up to 35 hours of additional power that is efficiently managed with an on/off switch.The Duracell Powerhouse Charger — Provides reserve power for consumers’ most critical devices, including any cell phone, PDA or MP3 player that comes with a USB power cord or can connect to the Powerhouse’s mini-USB arm. Powerhouse also comes with a USB-to-mini-USB cord and features an on/off switch for power conservation, making it a must for today’s frequent travelers.The Duracell Pocket Charger — A pocket-sized, supplemental Lithium Ion Rechargeable power source works with all USB-powered cell phones. Pocket Charger provides convenient power when a cell phone battery dies and the owner is away from the traditional outlet for recharging. The Pocket Charger offers cell phone users up to 60 percent more talk time and includes a mini-USB charging arm as well as a USB-to-mini-USB cordThe Duracell GoMobile — The Energy Star-certified GoMobile delivers a charge to AA or AAA NiMH batteries in just one hour. Designed to fit in a car’s cup holder, it also is designed to fit with home décor and comes with four Duracell Pre-Charged Rechargeable batteries that can be recharged hundreds of times while holding their charge for up to one year when not in use.The Duracell GoEasy — The Energy Star-certified GoEasy is compact enough to go where you go and charges up to two AA or AAA NiMH batteries. It comes with two rechargeable batteries that can be recharged hundreds of times.The Duracell Daylite LED Flashlight — Captures up to 100 percent of light to focus a brighter, whiter beam, while providing 5 times the battery life of everyday “incandescent bulb” flashlights. The Daylite series, initially introduced in fall 2008, now includes five new models with Daylite Tough flashlights, spotlights and headlamps.Pricing and Availability
The new Duracell myGrid™ will be available in the U.S. in fall 2009 for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $79.99. Packages will include a myGrid™ charging pad, Power Clip adapter and Power Clip tips for BlackBerry, Motorola and Nokia phones. Power Sleeves are also available for purchase separately for the BlackBerry Curve 8300 series and the Blackberry Pearl 8100 series. Additional Power Sleeves, Power Clips and Power Clip adapters have a suggested retail price of $34.99.
The three Duracell Lithium-Ion Rechargeables (Instant, Powerhouse and Pocket Charger) are available now at mass merchandisers, drug and hardware stores nationwide. Suggested retail prices are $19.99 for the Duracell Pocket Charger, $29.99 for the Duracell Instant Charger, and $49.99 for the Duracell Powerhouse Charger.
The Duracell GoEasy and GoMobile chargers can be purchased currently at major retailers, including drug, grocery and hardware stores nationwide and have a suggested retail price of $12.99 and $29.99 respectively.
The complete Duracell Daylite LED flashlight series is currently available at major retailers, including drug, grocery and hardware stores nationwide. Flashlights range from $14.99 to $34.99 SRP.
So, from what we can tell, Duracell is pretty much covering every base available to them, and banking on their copper-top name brand. If these devices can work as well as Duracell is hoping (and planning) on them to, then we’ll be the first in line to pick these gadgets up. The ease of use provided by Duracell’s upcoming line is almost too good to pass up, don’t you agree?
Samsung streams TV to Galaxy S II with new Smart View app
Samsung has finally got around to releasing its Smart View app, which allows certain Smart TVs from the company’s range to stream content to its Android phones. Initially available for the Galaxy S II, though with versions for the Galaxy Player, Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab promised for later in the year, Smart View works as both a remote control and as a wireless second screen for broadcast, cable, Blu-ray or any other input going into your TV.
You’ll need a D7000, D8000 or D9500 series smart TV, of course, and it’ll have to be hooked up to the same WiFi network as your GSII is connected to. From there, it’s a case of picking the source from a list – you can have multiple smart TVs on the same network, if you can afford it – and then picking the content you want to watch.
Meanwhile, people watching the TV itself will be able to carry on using it independently. We grabbed some hands-on time with the prototype – you can see the demo in the video below – back in April and found it all worked surprisingly well. Meanwhile, we reviewed Samsung’s 55-inch D8000 recently too, just in case you’re thinking of picking up a new set to accompany your GSII.
[via Android Community]
Samsung Launches ‘Smart View’ App, Puts Smart TV in the Palm of Your Hand
SEOUL–(Korea Newswire) June 2, 2011 — Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., a market leader and award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, today launched the Samsung “Smart View” application that enables users to view images from a Samsung Smart TV or other input device right on their mobile devices.
Available now for the Samsung GALAXY S II, the free Smart View application displays Smart TV images right onto mobile devices via wireless Ethernet-whether consumers are enjoying cable broadcast programs or content from a Blu-ray player, camcorder, set-top box or other input device.
In addition, users can browse any currently installed Smart TV applications from their mobile devices, bringing even more functionality and convenience to the Samsung Apps experience.
Since last April, when Samsung launched “Samsung Remote”-an easy-to-use application to deliver general remote control functions while also supporting Smart TV’s special features-the company has once again strengthened convergence between Smart TV and mobile devices through this latest Smart View app offering.
Samsung has consistently brought movies, TV programs, music and other desired content stored on DLNA-certified devices such as PCs, mobile phones and cameras to the large TV screens-and is now extending this function by mirroring images back to mobile devices through this new application.
The Smart View app for mobile devices also enables mobile viewing from around the home. With only one Smart TV, a family member can watch one TV program in the living room, while another family member enjoys either the same content-or movies played by the living room Blu-ray player-from the comfort of the bedroom while leaning back with a Samsung smart phone or tablet.
“Samsung Smart TV is leading the “smart revolution” not only with the features of Smart TV itself-such as rich content, 2D and 3D picture quality, smart functions and design-but also with input devices using our Qwerty smart remote control, the Samsung Remote app, and now with Smart View,” said Kyungsik Kevin Lee, Vice President, Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “The distinctive functionality of Samsung Smart TVs will continue to deliver the most convenient TV watching experience to consumers-enabling them to truly enjoy a smarter life.”
Samsung will continue to update the Samsung Smart View application with various remote control functions, optimally designed for Smart TV, to ensure customers use the unique features of Smart TV in increasingly convenient ways. A “Channel List” option, which lets users search program information and change channels on their mobile devices, will be added going forward.
The Samsung Smart View is now available in the Android Market for Samsung Smart TV D7000, D8000, and D9500 series, as well as the GALAXY S II, and will be available for the GALAXY player (YP-GB70) in July, along with the GALAXY S and GALAXY Tab later this year.
Hexo+ is a smart drone camera built for action
Aspiring movie makers and action sports lovers gather because startup Squadrone Systems has a proposition for you. What if you could film an extraordinary and expensive looking action shot from high above the air, without need for a cameraman or a drone pilot? Well, now you can, or soon will be able to once the Hexo+ autonomous aerial camera goes into production.
Drones, especially those flying with cameras, are becoming quite the fad. And perhaps nothing beats one that can find its location or target and fly on its own. But most, if not all, of such drones, even the more professional and expensive ones, still require some sort of controller, whether a dedicated one or your smartphone. This means that, at the very least, you need one other person, aside from the one performing the stunts, to control the drone. But what if you didn’t have one? What if you were the one only one performing the action and no one’s around to shoot it for you? Luckily, Hexo+ will come to save the day soon.
Technically speaking, Hexo+ is just a drone that comes equipped with an autonomous flight controller, but it’s that flight controller, and especially the software that ties it together with your smartphone, that makes it sound so magical. Yes, you still need a smartphone for this task. The smartphone app that sets up how you want the Hexo+ to film you or your subject couldn’t be simpler. You have a 3D scene, with an avatar included, that you can rotate and pan to orient the drone and the camera’s distance, height, and angle. Send the instructions to the drone and up it goes, flying on its own and needing no one to tell it where to go. It will follow you, or your subject, and record those intense action moments, creating shots that are almost impossible, or at least expensive, to do.
This all happens thanks to the software developed by Sqaudrone Systems. In essence, it employs trajectory anticipation algorithms in order to make sure that the drone will be able to smartly predict your path and won’t be lagging behind. It is also optimizing the MAVLINK protocol to ensure fast communication between drone and smartphone. And yes, you still need a smartphone even after the initial setup. In fact, you need to have the smartphone with the subject in order to make all this work, which could be pose a risk for less rugged devices. For the drone part itself, Hexo+ incorporates the best of the best for capturing action shots, like six tilted propellers and gimbal with a camera mount which is compatible with GoPro, probably one of the most popular brands when it comes to camera drones.
If that has you dreaming up for your next action movie, better hold your horses for a while. Hexo+ is still at a Kickstarter stage. Worry not, however, as the startup behind assures its backers that it has developed almost everything necessary. The money raised will then be used for taking the Hexo+ into mass production. The campaign seems already poised for success at this point, raising more than three times its asking price of $50,000. There are limited slots to reserve one complete kit for $499, but if want to make your own with just 3D printed components, the flight controller, and the app, you can save up a bit and go for the $299 DIY tier instead.
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