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Logitech Harmony Smart Control with Smartphone App and Simple All In One Remote - Black
Logitech Harmony Smart Control with Smartphone App and Simple All In One Remote - Black
Price: $91.49
43 used & new from $58.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works with FireTV Stick. Works with IFTTT., June 3, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have long been a proponent of the Harmony remotes-- every time I see a picture of three remotes with all but 5 buttons covered with tape, I cringe, and usually point them at the Logitech page.

So when the FireTV Stick became our go-to streamer, I was irked that after years of smugly only having one remote on the coffee table, there were now two. And when I actually lost that tiny little thing, lines were drawn. This could not stand.

Thankfully, Logitech stepped up, and in a big way. The Harmony Home Hub and Smart Control not only have me back down to one remote, but I'm even now integrated with Alexa. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let's start with the setup. Logitech moved from the "desktop program and USB Sync" to a completely wireless model. If you've used any smart home devices, you know the drill-- download the app, give it your WiFi login information, let it find your toys. While the app isn't going to be used as an example in a design class any time soon, it was straightforward enough, and more importantly, it worked the first time.

My biggest hiccup with the app was not recognizing that I needed a new account-- if you have an existing Harmony remote, the login for that won't get you into the app.

However, once you *have* created a new account, you are given the option of importing existing profiles! This was a nice time saver, as I didn't have to look up all those model numbers again- both the devices and my activities were immediately imported. Even better, it remembered all the correct inputs on my amp for each activity- since I updated the amp to display "FireTV Stick" when you change to "Game", I saved a couple minutes by not having to poke around.

The app then scanned my network, and correctly found the slew of Chromecasts and FireTV Sticks that were floating around. A minor quibble here-- I had to click on each one to get the "friendly" name, so I could distinguish between the FireTV Stick in my roommate's bedroom vs the one I was trying to configure downstairs.

But within a minute or so, my device list was correct, and I was at the point of verifying that the Harmony Hub was positioned correctly to turn everything on and off. I was mildly worried that this would be an issue, as I have a projector that sits about 10' from the rest of the equipment, but the only device that was tricky was my 12 year old OTA receiver. After a couple of attempts, I attached the IR Blaster, and that provided the boost that I needed to get the job done.

Finally, the app asked me who was my TV provider, and allowed me to pick out the stations that I wanted to set up as shortcuts. Having gone through this sort of thing a half dozen times in the past few years, the Harmony app was hands-down the fastest way to do it-- put in the zip code, select OTA, limit it to HD, unselect all, add the major networks, done.

At this point, things *basically* worked, but I started to hit the next round of issues.

Firstly, when I looked at the button programming on the remote, a lot of buttons weren't assigned. And we're not talking about weird things like DVD Scene, I'm talking "Volume Up" didn't get carried over from my existing remote.

This was probably the most annoying part, as the app carries over the step-by-step wizard UX from the old software-- you tap on a button, you get a new screen. You tap on the device you want to set, you get a new screen. You tap on the command, you get a new screen. I would have thought that at the very least, the list of devices would have been a drop-down, rather than a round trip back to the Logitech server, but apparently not.

This definitely could be handled better, and is part of why I'm only giving 4 stars.

The next annoyance was that I couldn't figure out how to add a device to an activity, specifically, to update my "Watch FireTV" activity to include the FireTV Stick. I thought that this used to be a simple task with the old system, but as far as I can tell, it just wasn't possible now.

Not a big deal, I created a new activity, and the app helpfully had "Watch FireTV" as a hint, complete with Amazon logo. The app was definitely a bit faster than the old program, and within a minute, I'd picked out the devices, verified the order to turn things on, and was at the fun part- pairing the Hub with the FireTV Stick.

I've seen other people comment that the hub only works with the Fire TV, not the Fire TV Stick. I can assure you that is wrong-- this 100% absolutely works with the Fire TV Stick.

You will need your old Fire TV Stick remote, or the app, but the process is simple, and the app guides you through it-- you're basically going to add the hub as a Bluetooth Game Controller to the Fire TV Stick. Again, a simple process, and inside of a minute, I was back to slooooowly mapping buttons on the remote.

My last quibble with the device, and this is entirely based on my choice of remote-- I really miss the "Help" function. This was a key feature of the old remotes-- if something didn't work, you hit "Help," and it would re-run the sequence, then ask if everything was now working. If you said "No," it would walk you through step by step to find what was wrong, then fix it.

This was the greatest thing ever for less technically adept roommates, but since this is the cheap remote with no screen to display the questions, I get that I've lost the feature. At least until I shell out for a better remote. The roommates will just need to learn how to press the activity button again until it works.

I hope that this doesn't sound like a lot of work, because it really wasn't. I remembered at 11:40PM that the package had shown up that day, and by 12AM, I had the whole thing up and running, including mapping the buttons.

That would be getting four different activities (TV, BluRay, Chromecast, and Fire TV Stick) running with 6 different devices (Projector, Amp, OTA Receiver, BluRay Player, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick) Yes, I had a big head start because I could import things, but even if I started with a blank slate, I can't see that it would have taken more than 10 extra minutes.

Fortunately, I did get the head start, because I used that extra 10 minutes to add my Harmony account as a channel to IFTTT.

If you're not using IFTTT, and you have any sort of smart device, you should put aside a half hour to dig- it really is straightforward, yet disproportionately powerful for what it allows you to do.

How powerful? How about setting up your Amazon Echo to automatically turn on your TV for you while you finish making dinner?

IFTTT is straightforward-- you pick a channel, then you pick an action in that channel, then you pick a second channel and an action to perform in that channel. In my case, the first channel was the Amazon Echo, and the action was to speak a specific phrase: "start fire tv". The second channel was the Harmony, and I could choose to either start or end an activity-- so in this case, I just added my "Watch Fire TV" activity.

Sounds complicated, right? It's not. I did the whole thing from the IFTTT app, and the longest part was authorizing the IFTTT to talk to my Harmony, which was no more complicated than re-entering my email and password. Once that was done, I was able to add two new commands to IFTTT, to turn things on and off, and it was just that simple. It would be nice if IFTTT allowed for more complicated commands, like pausing the music on the Echo after turning on the projector, but the lack of complexity allows you to get that simplicity. And since the Harmony *does* allow for some more complicated actions, it won't be hard to create an IFTTT action to "prepare theater for dinner" and have the lights dim as the projector starts.

While part of me is saying "You just spent $90 so that you could have a single remote sitting on your table again," I actually don't feel that much buyer's remorse. After moving my AV rack, my old IR Harmony was hit or miss with some things- that's eliminated. In fact, I don't have to worry at all about where the remote points now. It sounds like I can expect massively better battery life on the remote. Being able to use my phone as a remote will be nice for those times where the remote is out of reach and I've got two cats sleeping on me. Not needing to drag out a laptop and plug in a remote to program it is super-handy- I probably wouldn't have set this up last night had that been the case. And being able to fire up the projector from the kitchen is really just the icing on the cake.

If you have more than one device in your home entertainment center, you need a Harmony remote. And if you've got anything using Bluetooth, like the FireTV Stick, this is probably the cheapest, fastest way to integrate it with your setup.

TP-LINK Smart Plug, Wi-Fi, Works with Alexa
TP-LINK Smart Plug, Wi-Fi, Works with Alexa
Price: $24.95
57 used & new from $19.22

4.0 out of 5 stars Warning- very very large, may cover both sockets even if you put it on the top, May 2, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I found that even when I used this in the top socket, it took up enough space to cover the bottom one as well-- if you have a standard lamp plug in the bottom, it might work, but I had a grounded surge protector that would not fit. I ordered an adapter to allow me to continue to use both sockets, but leave this plug on the wall-controlled switch for people that need to turn the light off without using the smart features.

In terms of the smart features, they seem to work just fine-- setup of the device was no better or worse than other things I've configured already, and integration with the Echo was straightforward and easy.

The only negative that I have for this device is that it makes me want to go out and get 5 more for all the other lamps in my house.

EDIT 7/14/16: So one more negative-- as of this date, the switch only works with the native app and Alexa. If that's all you're looking to do, probably not a big deal. But I was hoping to integrate this with my Harmony Hub, so I could control the lights in my home theater from the same remote I use for content. No dice, not even through IFTTT at this point.

Given that this is currently the top-selling WiFi switch on Amazon, hopefully deeper integration is on the way soon.

Karma Go - Pay-as-you-go WiFi - Nationwide 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot
Karma Go - Pay-as-you-go WiFi - Nationwide 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect solution for occasional-use Internet access, March 9, 2016
I'll be honest, this spends most of the time sitting in the glove box of the car. But it's reassuring to know that it's there if I need it.

We bought three of these for the office, so when we wind up on site and discover that the promised Internet connection isn't there, we're still able to get the job done. And since you get free data any time someone connects to your device for the first time, we're usually breaking even on our data usage.

If you want the security of knowing that you have a simple, reliable Internet connection available on demand, and don't want to pay a monthly fee to get it, this is the device for you- load it up, then forget about it until you need it. Or leave it running on the side, and rack up free data when people jump on.

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Portable External Hard Drive with 200GB of Cloud Storage USB 3.0, Blue (STDR4000901)
Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Portable External Hard Drive with 200GB of Cloud Storage USB 3.0, Blue (STDR4000901)
Price: Click here to see our price
64 used & new from $121.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Minor speed oddities, but solid otherwise, February 29, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The first time I plugged this in, I was only getting ~20MBps write speeds out of it.

After removing and trying again, I'm generally getting speeds between 120 and 130, read and write.

I'm periodically seeing pauses when starting a write to the drive, but within a few seconds, it's back in that range, so I'm guessing that it's more of an issue with the hard drive in the computer than the portable disk.

The disk definitely works better when hooked directly to the computer than running through a hub, so make the direct connection if you're able.

The unit is sharp looking, but the bottom lacks any sort of sticky feet, so you need to watch that it doesn't slide off whatever you put it on.

It's worth noting that this uses the same sort-of-non-standard USB 3.0 connector that seems to be "standard" with external USB disks. You can use a standard USB micro-B cable (like the one you use for your cell phone) with the disk, but at greatly reduced speeds. Bottom line, make sure that you keep the cable with the drive if you want to get max speeds.

It does seem like replacement/longer versions of this cable are easily and cheaply purchased online, and I will likely snag a 6' one to hook directly up to my main PC to simplify the process of copying data.

Overall, a hell of a lot of storage & performance at a reasonable price in a sharp looking package.
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Coin 2.0 Smart Payment Device [SOLD OUT]
Coin 2.0 Smart Payment Device [SOLD OUT]

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not going to replace all your credit cards yet-- but might replace your loyalty cards, December 18, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Right now, it's just not universally compatible enough for you to be able to ditch all your credit cards- for me, it's working about 50% of the time, which isn't often enough to be willing to only keep one backup card in my wallet.

Hopefully they'll expand the tap-to-pay functionality soon, which should dramatically increase the success rate.

But while it might not be a replacement for your credit cards, you might have more luck replacing your loyalty cards- if you go to the same grocery store 90% of the time, and the card works at that store, then score, that's a card you can put away.

I think this could be particularly useful for things like gift cards-- I never remember that I have one for that particular store until I'm checking out. Now I can at least load it up, and maybe I get lucky and it will be read.

One last annoyance- the app will show local merchants and list if the card has worked there for other people, but I had it recommend that I use my card at a bar where I personally marked that it DID NOT work, and when I checked the app, sure enough, it still showed as not working. Seems like a super-basic thing to only alert me about places where the card was said to work, rather than just basing it on someone putting in data.

I do hope that they get the tap-to-pay working sooner rather than later- when I'm at the drive through window, I'd much rather drop my Coin than my phone.

Inateck PCI-E to USB 3.0 5-Port PCI Express Card and 15-Pin Power Connector, Mini PCI-E USB 3.0 Hub Controller Adapter, with Internal USB 3.0 20-PIN Connector - Expand Another Two USB 3.0 Ports
Inateck PCI-E to USB 3.0 5-Port PCI Express Card and 15-Pin Power Connector, Mini PCI-E USB 3.0 Hub Controller Adapter, with Internal USB 3.0 20-PIN Connector - Expand Another Two USB 3.0 Ports
Offered by Inateck Online
Price: $49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Included power cables are super short, September 11, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this to get USB 3.0 into my 2010 Alienware Aurora. Because of how they laid out the power cables inside the box, there isn't anything handy at the back of the machine to power this card, and the included cables were way too short to reach the power that was free at the front of the box.

I had to rearrange the video cards and hard drives to finally make it work, and if I wasn't using a SSD, I'd have come up short.

I'd check before you buy to make sure that you've got power within ~5 inches of the back of your case, and if not, buy an extender.

Hapurs 9-in-1 3 Port Portable USB 3.0 Hub, USB3.0 High speed SD TF MMC card reader with Power Switch
Hapurs 9-in-1 3 Port Portable USB 3.0 Hub, USB3.0 High speed SD TF MMC card reader with Power Switch
Offered by Hapurs
Price: $12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Horrible write speeds with my USB 3.0 device, September 11, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm really not clear on what's going on here, but with the drive (Corsair 64GB USB 3.0 OTG) hooked directly up to the port, I get ~33MB/s write speeds.

Running through the hub, I get less than 1MB/s.

Reading is just fine- ~145MB/s via the hub, just a couple MB/s slower than a direct connection.

And just to really make things weird, when I plug a USB 2.0 device in there, I get ~6MB/s write speeds through the hub. ~8MB/s writing to an SD card.

I don't know why it's just this one combination that's an issue, but I thought it was worth mentioning if anyone was hoping to use this to do a lot of copying.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 29, 2015 2:02 PM PDT

Coleman 13 x 13 Instant Canopy
Coleman 13 x 13 Instant Canopy
Offered by DontPayRetailEver
Price: $147.59
25 used & new from $147.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keep the bottom latches out of the sand as much as possible, August 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Coleman Instant Canopy (Sports)
The first time we set this up was at the beach.

In the 5 minutes it took to spread out the frame and attach the canopy, the bottom latches became so completely jammed with sand that they would no longer operate- we wound up using the included stakes to keep the legs fully extended, then taped them in place so that it wouldn't collapse on us.

This seems like a major design flaw-- did they not expect this to be used at a beach? If they couldn't have designed this to keep sand out, could they at least have made it so that you could clear the latches? It took a half hour the next day with a can of compressed air to get the latches operable again-- not "cleared," just "operable"-- you can tell that sand is still jammed in there, but at least now they work.

Aside from that issue, this has been great so far-- it really does set up in a few minutes when all the parts are working, it provides a lot of shade underneath (we had about a dozen people playing CaH under it at one point), and was very stable all on its own in a low breeze.

If you're using this in an area where you don't have to worry about junk getting into the bottom latches, you should have no issues.

If you are using this at the beach, I'd recommend putting plastic bags around the latches until you've completed setting everything up, or if you have enough people, hold the whole thing out of the sand until you've spread it out and raised it.

VOIA Air Shield Bumper Carrying Case Cover for LG G4 - Retail Packaging - Blue
VOIA Air Shield Bumper Carrying Case Cover for LG G4 - Retail Packaging - Blue
Offered by Cellstore USA
Price: $26.99
2 used & new from $26.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty much your only option right now if you want to show off your leather back, July 21, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Like another reviewer, I ordered black and received blue. It doesn't look horrible, and given the backlog on the product, I'm not going to go to the trouble of trying to exchange it.

I didn't have an issue getting the case over the leather back, but the first time I installed it, the two parts didn't line up evenly, so the left side of the device had more blue showing than the right. Re-installing corrected that.

The bumper itself doesn't really feel like it's going to provide a heck of a lot of protection in the event of a fall-- yes, that's the nature of a bumper case, but when you tap the corner on a hard surface, it doesn't feel like there's a lot of shock absorption going on.

If you're hoping that this case will allow you to show off your leather back without worrying about it slipping out of your hand, this probably isn't for you.

I'm planning on keeping this, but it won't be my daily driver-- when I'm going out and getting dressed up, I'll probably swap to this, but for day-to-day use, I'm going to stick with a Diztronic case, and probably pick up a cheaper back as well to preserve the leather one-- in the 2.5 hours this has been in my back pocket, I've already picked up a pair of nicks.

Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo
Price: $179.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect wireless music device, June 19, 2015
This review is from: Amazon Echo (Electronics)
TL;DR: I love this so much that I already have three.

For years, I've been trying to find the perfect wireless music solution-- one that I can use in the kitchen, while working out at home, washing the car, or out back in the yard.

Bluetooth was just ok-- it would cut out half the time as my body got between me and the speaker. And it was worthless for music at a party unless I wanted to leave my phone sitting in front of the speaker.

Chromecast got a step closer-- for the rooms that already had an amp in them, it worked most of the time. Dropouts weren't uncommon, particularly again if I was moving from room to room during a party. But for situations where there wasn't an amp, it wasn't great-- I ran the HDMI-to-VGA-with-Audio-Out hack to be able to play back through an old iPod dock, but it certainly wasn't something that my roommates would wind up grabbing when they wanted to spend an afternoon in the yard.

Then came the Echo.

This device is the pinnacle of "it just works." Setup takes all of 5 minutes, and you're rolling. No voice training, no manuals, no weird commands. Download the app, put in your Wifi password, sync the remote, enjoy your device.

With most voice recognition, you're amazed it works. Echo works so well, even from across a room, that you're more surprised when it *doesn't* hear you correctly.

The music selection is great-- I've been buying all my MP3s from Amazon since they started selling them, so a lot of my music was already in the cloud. I uploaded a bunch more to round out some playlists, and that's my only real quibble with the service-- Google Music lets me have 50K files, Amazon caps that at a paltry 250. But I love the Echo so much that I'll probably shell out for the subscription service.

As a Prime subscriber, you also get access to the entire Prime music library- you can either add Prime songs to your playlists, play specific Prime playlists or Prime radio stations, or (my roommate's favorite), have Echo search for specific artists in Prime and create an on-the-fly playback.

Pandora? It's there. iHeartRadio? You must know someone who works there, but also there. And as a last resort, you can always use it as a Bluetooth speaker.

This is where the real genius of the Echo comes in-- with Bluetooth or Chromecast, you'd have to start the app, connect to the speaker, then pick a playlist or artist from your device.

With the Echo, you say "Alexa, shuffle my workout playlist." and a couple seconds later, you've got music playing. You can adjust the volume, skip ahead or back, hear the artist, title, and album of the song all just by asking. This is particularly useful when cooking and your hands are covered with goop-- don't like the song? Just say "Alexa, next" and you've moved on.

It reminds me of back when I had a radio in the kitchen-- with a single command, I've got music playing. Except it's now exactly the music that I want, without commercials, and I didn't actually have to touch the device for it to work.

I've obsessed about music in this review, because that's what I mostly use it for, but as they say "But wait, there's more!"

Tell it where you work, and "Alexa, traffic" will not only give you an idea of how long it will take to get there, but also the route to take. You can get today's weather or the weather forecast for the next day. Sports scores and schedules with a simple command. News stories from a variety of sources. Got a question? Echo will search the web and get you surprisingly detailed answers. And if you're really on the bleeding edge, you can control your wireless lights with a command.

And then there are the Easter eggs. I want to work for Amazon just so I can try to think of crazy answers to all the crazy questions that people ask it.

Want to know what kind of sense of humor these programmers have? Let's just say that the Echo goes to 11. Be prepared to turn it down.

And those programmers are busy-- ever couple weeks, an update comes out that adds new features

So then, what's wrong with the thing? Not much.

It's a single speaker, not stereo. This is not the device I would use for the first time I listen to a new album. But the volume is good-- it's loud enough to be heard when washing the car, or as the background music for a party, without distorting. (unless you go to 11. But come on, 11! Don't even point.)

If you are blasting it at a party, it's probably not going to hear you shouting commands at it. But you can use the enclosed remote to get around that- just hold down the mic button on the remote, speak your command, and your wish is granted.

Because it works so well, I want to hook it up to my amps so I can play through the good speakers-- hopefully version 2.0 will have an audio out jack to make that happen.

All those are quibbles. As I started at the beginning of this review, I've already got my hands on three of these, and will doubtless be getting more in the future. Because after years of sub-par solutions, I've finally found my perfect wireless music device.

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