Weiser Premis smart lock review

With so many smart gadgets already in my home like connected lights, a Wi-Fi vacuum, and a smart space heater, adding a smart lock seems to make sense. Yes, security concerns have kept a lot of folks from investing in this technology, but I’ve got to believe that major manufacturers have this figured out. With strong confidence I installed the Weiser Premis digital smart lock with touch screen on my front door for testing and review.

What can Weiser Premis smart lock do?

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A 3D printer, a drone simulator, and gadgets galore: Where to find them in Calgary

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Want to see what it’s like flying a high-end drone? There’s a simulator for that!

I was hunting all over my house for my power cord — my one lonely, last Apple power cable— and realized I’d left it at work.  My phone was about to die, and I figured it was well past time for me to get a second cable.  I was dreading having to go to the mall and fight summer vacation traffic, so I googled “Apple retailer” to see if there was a better way to get that cord.

When London Drugs came up I felt a bit dumb, “oh RIGHT! I thought, “London Drugs has a huge electronics department,” but I didn’t realize they also carried Apple products.

I grew up in Ontario but lived in BC for many years, and out on the coast, London Drugs is people’s main source for electronics, cameras, computers and gadgets.

It sounds weird that a “drug” store should be the go-to destination for tech gear.  Maybe it is, but that doesn’t change the fact that London Drugs carries just about anything you could want that uses power or batteries.

That got me thinking about London Drugs, so I got in touch with Assistant Store Manager Dan Do to see about getting the 411 on the store people might not have at the top of their minds.

Computers, Electronics, and yes, drugs
Dan gave me a tour of the Royal Oak store in northwest Calgary.  It’s kind of the opposite of a traditional electronics store.  It’s warmer and brighter for starters.  And yes, there’s also a huge part of the store devoted to the eponymous ‘drugs’, health and beauty, and household goods.
Living in BC, and something I’d totally forgotten, was the handiness of being able to pop in to London Drugs, pick up some specialty batteries, a camera peripheral or whatever, then grab a few things from the drug store.  It’s one stop and two items checked off my to-do list.IMG_6311

But back to the computer and electronics department. The day I was there, there were lots of staff on the floor.  Anyone looking blankly at the cameras, or the Fitbits for instance, had a friendly employee swoop in and ask if they needed help.

The Fitbits were one of the things that first caught my eye when I walked in, as part of a display with the Aria scale.  The whole line was there for people to look at, touch and get to know. Indeed, London Drugs has a lot of other wearables available too.

Drone Simulator in-Store
Speaking of displays, Dan led me over to a really cool set up that has to be a huge draw.  There’s a drone flight simulator right inside the store!  As part of the promotional set up for the ultra high end Solo drone by 3DR, there’s a controller right next to one of the drones.  You can test it out and see how easy it is to fly (if you let go of the controls, it doesn’t crash, it hovers!).  Test flight over New York’s Statue of Liberty?  Yes, please! The Solo is built to work with GoPro cameras, something else you can pick up at London Drugs.

3D Printers?  They’re HERE

The Tiertime Up Mini 3D printer spit out this tiny dinosaur model.
The Tiertime Up Mini 3D printer spit out this tiny dinosaur model. You can buy this printer on the spot if the demo wows you.

If you want to get wowed some more, the London Drugs store I visited in Royal Oak also has a functioning 3D printer.  Yes, that technology you’ve been hearing about on the news is actually available at your corner London Drugs store.
The Tiertime Up Mini works just like a regular home printer, except with the obvious distinction of printing objects in 3D.  While the store model is for demonstrations, the printers are in stock, so if you want one, you can probably take one home on the spot.

While we’re on the subject of printers, London Drugs has a full selection.  Printers are so inexpensive now, it’s shocking.  The store also had a large scale Epson Surecolour art-quality printer for sale, which is a perfect back to school must-have for an art or photography student, or an amateur photographer. (Not to mention, the photo lab in the back can also do professional photo processing and printing and can print up to 44” prints in house! Plus there’s often free shipping. But I digress.)

While I was looking over all the amazing electronics and computer equipment at London Drugs, Dan reminded me they’re a Canadian company.  I really love dealing with Canadian companies.  It’s probably some sort of underlying patriotism, but it’s nice to know, and makes me feel good about spending my money here. That’s when I also found out London Drugs must be some kind of great employer, because one of the employees I talked to on my tour had worked at the store for 12 years, and one had been there 30 years, and apparently that kind of long-term service is common! Something else I didn’t know? London Drugs has been in Alberta for 30 years.

IMG_6317Back on the tour, I got a look at the computers and tablets all on display and ready to play with.  From the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 to Apple’s iPad line, and even London Drugs own computer brand, Certified Data, there’s a whole host of computers to pick from. Plus, if you ever need serious help with your computer, there’s an emergency service centre right in all stores.  That means you can bring your computer or tablet in and get it triaged, and fixed, all right on site in many cases. There are even Apple certified technicians in-store, meaning you can skip the Genius Bar, and the frenzy at the mall!

Skip the mall and your your Apple here
Speaking of Apple, I was really wowed at the full selection of Apple products at London Drugs. I’m a full-on Apple girl, so being able to pop into London Drugs to service my MacBook, or pick up Apple-authorized cords, cables or screen protectors or cases for my iPad is super convenient. (Because let’s be honest, those cables you buy from the internet will stop functioning with your Apple products after a few months and you’ll need new ones anyway. Take my advice and just buy the real thing.  It’s more expensive, yes, but you’ll have it for the life of the product.)

Back to my cable conundrum.  I finally decided to place my order on line and pick up in store later that day, another great London Drugs option that means you won’t need to waste a trip to a store only to find they’re fresh out of what you need.

So now London Drugs is top of mind for me again when it comes to electronics, computers and gadgets. And I can thank them for the power I needed (and the inspiration) to write up today’s blog, right from my fully re-powered phone!

3D Printing Demo TOMORROW:
Looking for more info about 3D Printing?  Looking beyond the novelty of 3D printing, noted expert and enthusiast John Biehler will be visiting the 130th Avenue SE London Drugs in Calgary for a talk and demonstration, and the public is welcome to attend.
WHEN: Tuesday, August 18, 2015 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more info, call the store, located at 4701 – 130th Avenue. SE, Calgary. 403-571-4964

A sampling of what London Drugs can do with its 3D printer.
A sampling of what London Drugs can do with its 3D printer.

This blog post has been sponsored by London Drugs.

Checking Out Streaming TV; What are the options, and how do I pick?

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You probably know there are different options for streaming TV out there. But what exactly is streaming TV? Do you need it? What will it do for you that regular TV won’t?

Let’s take a look at the top three streaming TV options available in Canada, what differentiates each one, as well as their price points to help you pick the right streaming TV choice for you.

 

 

 

If you’d prefer to watch me explain them, as opposed to reading, check out my segment on CTV Morning Live.

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What is Streaming TV?
Streaming TV is basically a way to get TV programs from the web, directly to your TV. Increasingly, broadcasters, and content providers like Netflix are making their programs available via the Internet, but many people still get them the old-fashioned way, by sitting hunched at their computer. Streaming TV boxes or sticks mean that you can get those programs on your living room, family room, or other main TV set, without complicated hook ups or the need for an entire squad of teenagers to come to your house. You simply plug them in, connect them to your home wifi network, and they’re ready to go.

What are My Streaming TV Options?

There are three main players as far as streaming TV is concerned. Yes, there are other options to get streaming TV on your television, such as using a gaming console.  But today we’ll focus on just those devices that exist for the purpose of streaming TV.

fs apple tvApple TV
Apple TV is definitely the most long-standing player, and possibly the most familiar one for Canadians. It’s been around since about 2007 or 2008, depending on which version you’re considering.  Once upon a time, it was pretty much the only way to get to streaming TV. Now it has competition, and it’s my opinion that anytime now, Apple will upgrade, streamline, shrink the size, as well as the price of Apple TV in the near future.  Apple TV is basically a small box the size of two slices of sandwich bread. It plugs into your HDMI port, and uses an included remote control to allow you to surf for streaming TV channels. What kind of channels are available?  The big ones are Netflix and YouTube. But there are dozens and dozens of available channels nowadays, covering everything from south American soap operas, to Japanese anime cartoons, to NFL and NHL, plus dozens more genre specific options. Whatever your preference as far as unique TV channels goes, you can bet it’s out there on a streaming TV device. (Check the full list of Apple TV apps here)   Apple’s TV is controlled on your screen, using an included remote control.  You’ll also need an iTunes account.  The major bonus of the Apple TV for me is access to much of the iTunes library of current TV content, unlike other players, where the most current TV is not easily accessible.

Apple TV retails for about $110.
roku-streaming-stickRoku Streaming Stick

Roku was the second major player to arrive in Canada.  It’s had a couple of different streaming TV options that are similar in size to the Apple TV, but in the spring of 2014, they brought in the Streaming Stick.  It’s a streaming player the size of your thumb, that plugs invisibly into your TV, and comes with many of the same third-party channels as Apple does.  Its size is a bonus, and its price is even better – $59. This unit too comes with a remote included, and interfaces the same way as Apple TV; right on your TV screen.  Check out what’s available on Roku, here.

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 2.14.40 PMGoogle Chromecast

Google is the latest arrival to Canada, having launched several months after Roku’s stick.  Google Chromecast has a totally different user interface, in that you must use your tablet or smartphone to control and play the content.  While Apple and Roku provide you the content, and upgrade it as new channels come online, with Google, you need to download individual channel apps onto your smartphone in order to play them. I found this kind of tedious, because there’s no surfing for stuff to watch, or to see what’s new.  In order to keep up on Google’s available content, one needs to go to the Chromecast website, then see what’s been added.  From there you go to your app store, and download the individual channel apps you like.  Then you need to go into each app, pick your content, and tell the Chromecast to play it back.   I also found the apps quite buggy compared to Roku and Apple. Read more about what’s new on Chromecast in my recent Tech Blog article for Future Shop. While it’s the most work for your streaming TV, the Chromecast is the cheapest option at about $39.

One more thing…

Increasingly, TV manufacturers are building smart TV capabilities right into their TVs.  One example I recently tested out was VIZIO.  Using their Via remote, you can access many of the same channels as you could with a streaming stick, directly within the TV.  While the major players like Netflix and YouTube are there, there’s definitely not as much content available – yet.  One major bonus though? You can access your social media accounts right on the TV; and it’s definitely cool watching a season finale or big game on TV, while you keep a specific hashtag up in the Twitter window, and watch the online comments as they happen.  You can do the same with Facebook.  Want to learn more about VIZIO’s Smart TV?  Check out my recent review.

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Do you have questions about Streaming TV? Ask away in comments!

Thumb-sized TV Streaming Device Just Announced in Canada. And it’s only $59!

Click HERE to read full article.

Getting content from the web to your TV has almost always involved 2 things; 1)  hooking your computer up to your TV, a complicated process best reserved for techno geeks, or 2) purchasing a third party box or web-enabled TV.  Well now you have options, and Roku has just announced what may be the most pocket-friendly option; the Roku Streaming Stick,

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Preorder now at Futureshop.ca.

 This little gadget looks like your standard USB stick, but inside is a wealth of video options, or as I saw one TechCrunch writer put it, “it makes dumb TVs smarter”.  The Roku Streaming Stick allows you to stream content direct to your TV, simply by plugging this little gadget into the back HDMI slot.  Roku says it contains instant access to 700+ channels (in Canada)……

 Click HERE to read full article.

New Apple TV? Some great tips, tricks, shortcuts and hacks.

New Apple TV? Some great tips, tricks, shortcuts and hacks.

 

If you found an Apple TV under your Christmas tree, congratulations! You’ve entered the 21st century!  I won’t bother with the “How to Set Up Your Apple TV tips here, because if you haven’t gotten that far by now, you’re probably not ready yet for the kind of awsomeness I’m about to unleash on you