I’ve been staring at these things for about a month. I can’t get any work done, send help.
These Google Home / Alexa enabled LED Light Panels are absolutely mesmerising, and in the absence of a Nanoleaf Hexagon product or freestanding Nanoleaf desk lamp these are the closest you’re gonna get to some arty modular mood lighting!
The Cololight from Lifesmart aims to mimic the Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm product by using your mobile phone as a microphone to react to your music, but at a comparatively smaller size are they a genuine alternative to the Nanoleaf or just a cheap knock off?
The Cololight works with Amazon Alexa, and also works with Google Home
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At Less than £4 the original Sonoff Basic has always been an amazing piece of kit for your Smart Home, but their latest Sonoff basic R3 changes the game entirely!
This video review will tell you everything you need to know about the new Sonoff Basic R3 and also provide an instructional tutorial as to how to flash Tasmota to the Sonoff basic R3 OTA (Over The Air) by putting it into DIY mode without having to break out the soldering iron or buy other components. If you’re a fan of Home Assistant then life just got much cheaper and much easier!
As a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device this works straight out the box!
Disconnect Power from the Sonoff device so you don’t kill yourself!. Put jumper (tiny plastic thing in the bag) on the two pins that are sticking up on the circuit board. BE REALLY CAREFUL NOT TO SNAP THE TALL PLASTIC BUTTON, I SNAPPED IT TWICE AND HAD TO GLUE IT BACK TOGETHER
Connect your laptop and the Sonoff R3 to each other by using the following method:
Create a mobile hotspot on your phone with the folowing details: AP name: sonoffDiy Password: 20170618sn
Power the Sonoff R3 back on and it will automatically connect, you’ll know it’s connected your phone shows that there is a “device connected”
Connect to the same hotspot on your wireless laptop. This will enable the 2 devices to see and talk to each other
Extract the Sonoff tools on your laptop and launch the “DIY tool”, you will see your Sonoff R3 listed and you will be able to control it with the tool on your laptop
Use the Sonoff tool to upload the Tasmota bin file that you downloaded in step 1
This is no longer a Sonoff device, it is now a Tasmota device! BUT, it is not yet connected to your Wifi network and needs to be told your Wifi details.
You can access the Tasmota device to configure it by connecting to it’s Wifi network, in my case Sonoff-3012.
Program in your usual Wifi details for your router and Tasmota will join your local network
You can now access your Tasmota device from any computer on your network to make changes to it’s configuration. You’ll now need to find out what IP address your router has given to your Tasmota device, you can do this using fing or by looking in your routers config pages.
Ivacy VPN are one of the best VPN suppliers out there and have been my VPN supplier of choice for a while now due to their speed and feature rich application. You can check out my previous video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Er1PujmocQ
Ivacy VPN are easily the best VPN supplier in this price bracket, but imagine if it was entirely free! Free VPN suppliers tend to come with some nasty catches involving your privacy, but Ivacy have one of the best terms of service of any VPN supplier. Today’s video is a competition to win a lifetime’s subscription to Ivacy for free.
All you have to do is follow me on one (or more) of my social media accounts and I will pick someone at random to win a Free VPN for life!
Ivacy have also kindly given you guys 20% off a subscription so even if you don’t win you can still get one of the cheapest VPN suppliers for an even lower figure than usual The discount runs from now until the end of August, just enter the discount code: PH20
I made this video to try to calm you the hell down and put your wallet away!… Sort of 😉 I’ve scoured the Smart Home deals and I’m warning you what not to buy and what I recommend you do splash out on. Links in Pinned Comment! Enjoy :
If you’re an Alexa or Google Home owner you NEED a Broadlink product in your life, without it your Smart Home is rubbish, I assure you… But is the new Broadlink app gonna be worth the wait? This thing is broken! Like really broken. Let’s look at it anyway! hahaha
This video is a behind the scenes look at how the new Broadlink app is shaping up and to give you some info about whether or not I think you should wait for the new Broadlink RM4 or just delve straight in and buy the existing Broadlink RM pro and RM mini 3.
I can finally PROVE Philips Hue is the worst bulb out there with solid video evidence and a side by side comparison of every conceivable category.
This is the only complete side by side comparison of the worlds best RGB Smart Bulbs and ALL their features. This video compares Philips Hue vs LIFX, but also compares the two top dogs with the lesser known Novostella Smart Bulb. Both Lifx and Novostella are Smart Bulbs without a hub, but is there an advantage to Philips Hue’s reliance on a hub?
All of these Smart Bulbs work With Alexa and Google Home, they also work with IFTTT, but not all of them are equal for Smart Home compatibility. Which bulb will be crowned the ultimate winner? Who is the Smart Bulb King? Spoiler alert, it isn’t Philips Hue 😉
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Really easy to install and starting at £150 Zemismart’s Smart Home Curtain Track now comes in 3 flavours: Zigbee, Zwave and Wifi.
The Zigbee curtain motor comes with a Zigbee switch and the Zwave curtain motor comes with a Zwave dongle and can be installed with or without a switch. Both Zigbee and Zwave motors can connect to smartthings, Amazon Echo plus and any other Zigbee or Zwave enabled hub, you can use whichever protocol you prefer and if you need help deciding then this video will help explain “What is Zigbee” and how it relates to Zwave and Wifi.
The Wifi curtain motor works without the need for a hub as it uses the Tuya Smart life service so if you don’t have a smart home hub then you will still have an option without having to spend extra on a smart hub. The Tuya SmartLife service will allow you to control the Wifi curtains with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT and Siri! The Zigbee and Zwave options will allow you to connect to these services via your chosen Smart Home hub.
The electric track is top quality and I’ve had mine in place now for 8 months. This track is perfect for people in assisted living, or even just for smart home enthusiasts. I can’t recommend them enough.
The Official Alexa app on Windows WAS rubbish, this video will show you how to setup Alexa on Windows 10 and a beta skill that extends the functionality to fully control your PC with Alexa as well as the usual Smart Home control and Amazon Music support.
This video will also show you how to use your echo dot to control your PC instead of a computer mic if you prefer. The Alexa PC setup is remarkably easy, and the software that makes complete control of your PC possible is just as easy to install and use. I’ll even show you how to control Spotify on Windows 10 with Alexa, at least for basic functionality.
Finally I will show you how to do home assistant voice control locally and privately!
This video moves at typical Paul Hibbert speed, you can use the pause button, I won’t judge you 😉
I just want to thank Dylan again for his hard work, this truly is an awesome bit of software. Don’t forget to check out Vox Commando too at voxcommando.com/home/ , and if you’re interested in Dylan’s beta skill then see below!…
Zigbee versus Zwave Versus Wif Versus RF versus Infrared (IR) There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to which protocol to go for. Zigbee, Zwave, Wifi or RF. It really depends on what you consider to be most important, and inevitably you’ll find yourself buying more than one hub to fill a gap left by the other:
‘Protocols’ are all just wireless communication methods to allow two or more devices to talk to each other. It’s kind of like how you can tune a radio to different frequencies to listen to different radio stations, and just like a radio has AM and FM there are wireless protocols on different frequency bands. The main protocols are as follows:
1. Wifi: This protocol is the same one that your mobile phone uses to talk to your router. It’s great for home automation as devices can communicate with each other fully e.g. a switch can turn a bulb on, and the bulb can tell the switch it was successful, you could query the bulb to ask what brightness level it is at, or ask your Wifi camera if it is recording.
Advantages: No hub required as your router does all the work, easiest solution to implement, and is a good all rounder for cheapness and reliability
Disadvantages: Too many devices will eventually cause a standard Wifi router to struggle to cope with the amount of traffic and you may need to upgrade your router if you buy A LOT of devices. Because there’s no hub it is reliant on a working Internet connection and a server on the Internet (usually in China) to operate. People worry about their Internet going down, or the Chinese company going bust rendering all their Smart Home equipment useless. Some people worry about privacy and security, but their concerns are largely theoretical and mostly unfounded.
2. RF: Operates on 433Mhz or 315Mhz depending on what country you are in and communication is one way (The switch can turn the bulb off but the bulb isn’t intelligent enough to reply to say it was successful) The Broadlink RM pro is probably the best hub in this category as it supports almost any RF device, whereas much of it’s competition will only control certain RF devices.
Advantages: RF devices tend to be one of the cheapest options because of the 1 way communication and it is fairly reliable as long as your devices aren’t too far away from the hub.
Disadvantages: 1 way communication only; This can cause issues if you want for example a touch screen panel that will tell you what is and isn’t turned on as there’s no way to ask the devices. Similarly if you turn a light off in another room but the frequency didn’t reach then there is no way to know if it worked without going to the room to check. Similar to Wifi most of these solutions (but not all) will rely on an Internet connection and a server in China; for example Broadlink requires a server in China, but LightwaveRF works locally without an Internet connection. That said the Broadlink RM Pro can be controlled without an Internet connection if you have a permanently powered Android device to act as a bridge.
3. Zigbee: Is just like RF but on a different frequency band but has the advantage that just like Wifi the communication is 2 way, so the bulbs and other devices can reply to say “I’m on” or “I’m off”, or even “I am at 50% brightness”. Ikea is a really good option for Zigbee because it’s insanely cheap (at least as cheap as Zigbee gets), once you get past the poor setup process it’s a great product and easy to use.
Advantages: Reliable and works without Internet, it is renowned as being secure and private and so it tends to be the protocol of choice for enthusiasts. My personal opinion is that it’s great, but overrated.
Disadvantages: It’s far more expensive to buy the bulbs and other devices than Wifi or RF, and it always requires a hub such as Philip’s Hue or Samsung Smartthings. Probably it’s worst failing in my opinion though is that you have to move the devices very close to the hub to pair them which can be a pain if the hub is in the living room and you’re trying to pair a curtain rail in the bedroom. I once had to put my Philips Hue hub on an extension reel, and a VERY long Ethernet cable and dangle it out of my upstairs window in order to pair it with my outside LED strip!!
4. Z-Wave: Basically identical to Zigbee; they are rivals similar to Betamax and VHS. There are less Zwave hubs around compared to Zigbee so the choices are more limited, but smartthings does both Zigbee and Zwave which makes it a really good choice if you’re thinking of going down the enthusiast route. There are also more complicated enthusiast products that do both in the form of Hubitat’s elevation product and Athom’s Homey product.
Advantages: Same as Zigbee
Disadvantages: Same as Zigbee
5. Infrared: This is the protocol your old school TV remote uses to talk to your TV.
Advantages: Very cheap and has been used in most TV’s and set top boxes for years. Having an Infrared sending device in your home automation setup allows you to control TV’s and Set top boxes, and old LED strips. The Broadlink RM pro will actually give you BOTH Infrared and RF control, so well worth considering even if you chose Zigbee as your main hub.
Disadvantages: It is only ‘one way’ the same as RF is and relies on line of sight (if you cover your TV’s infrared receiver your remote can no longer control the TV) Infrared smart home devices are the same and are therefore the very cheapest option.
Which Smart Home Hub should I get?: Most devices and hubs come with an antenna capable of only 1 or 2 of the above lines of communication, though device manufacturers are starting to capitalise on this gap in the market by producing hubs with both Zigbee and Zwave antennas in them, and some really expensive hubs are finally being released that contain 3 or 4 different antennas to control almost any product. Homey is one such product that does Zigbee, Zwave, RF, and Infrared to varying degrees of success.
The problem with buying from different suppliers: The problem is if you buy a few wifi devices, a zigbee hub and a Broadlink RM pro to control RF then you will have 3 separate apps to control it all. Smartthings does a very good job of controlling a lot of 3rd party equipment via their app so some of that can be worked around, but sadly not Tuya Wifi (The most popular Wifi Smart Home device manufacturer), and I think it’s also really awkward to get Broadlink to work via Smartthings app too.
IFTTT will help with both Broadlink and Tuya as all three companies have IFTTT support which will tie them together over the Internet. IFTTT is a 3rd party company that allows manufacturers to connect their products to it to allow different suppliers products to talk to one another. It is an awesome way to plug gaps in your smart home, but does of course rely on the Internet connection to work. Ultimately there’s no perfect solution, but I did come up with one idea to get all smart home solutions on one touch screen and that is this
Conclusion It is inevitable that you will buy from more than one company, because there isn’t one company that will solve all of your problems. As nice as it is to have everything in one place it also means you have all your eggs in one basket. I personally have Zigbee solutions, Wifi solutions, RF solutions and more than one Infrared controller and all from various companies. They’re tied together for Voice by Alexa and Google Home, and for a touch panel I recommend either the above linked method, or a Homey hub for beginners or a Hubitat for more seasoned automaters.
If you want to have lights come on when doors are opened or motion is detected, or have your fish tank regulate itself then Smartthings, Homey and Hubitat will all listen to a number of Zigbee sensors and act accordingly. If you’re looking for a cheaper less complex way to achieve things then Tuya based Wifi devices and sensors are the way forwards, you just have to remember they are reliant on a constant Internet connection and a server in China.
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 has some major failings and most of the reviews are hiding them! A side by side comparison with the much cheaper Anker Eufycam E shows that for most requirements Eufy outperforms the Arlo pro 2, and for hundreds of pounds less money. I will be completely honest about which areas the Arlo pro 2 wins, and in which areas the Eufy camera has it beat. If you care about your privacy you might be surprised to discover the Eufy camera is the clear winner. Also in this review I will talk about the smart home aspects of each camera, and demonstrate the ability to view the camera on the Amazon Echo show.
I appreciate The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 is a great camera system, but I think you should have ALL the facts and the potential alternatives before you buy one.
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