New Playbulb Candle S; now rechargeable & brighter

It’s been HOT where I live. Really, bakingly hot.  The kind of heat where you don’t want to turn on the oven for dinner, or even boil water. Lighting candles is out of the question. Despite the fact that some subtle flickering ambiance is nice, adding anything that says ‘heat’ is not happening. That’s why I love Playbulb’s new electronic candles, Candle S. Continue reading “New Playbulb Candle S; now rechargeable & brighter”

New Playbulb Solar made for pool & outdoors

Start dreaming of summer now. Playbulb has a brand new smart light that lets you decorate your pool, pond or yard with multi-coloured light. It’s the newly launched Playbulb Solar. Continue reading “New Playbulb Solar made for pool & outdoors”

6 smart light hacks for Christmas holiday decor

There are two types of people when it comes to lighting up the house for the holidays; the gung-ho Clark Griswold types, and those for whom the thought of climbing a ladder in the cold inspires dread.

If you’re in the latter camp, know there are easier ways to make your home festive thanks to technology.

Holiday Hack #1: Smart Plugs for Automation

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Want to control your Christmas lights from another room, or even another city? Smart plugs like the WeMo Switch allow you to plug in virtually anything, from Christmas lights, to mobiles or animated figurines and turn it off an on with your smartphone or tablet. This works really well for tree lights in particular, since crawling under or behind the tree to pull out the plug is often a pain.

Smart plugs can also be used on automatic timers, coming on at dusk and turning off when you want.

Holiday Hack #2: App-connected string lights

Plaubulb string christmas lights smartMiPow, makers of Playbulb lights has come out with a smart connected string light for this holiday. These smart LED light strings give you smart functionality via a Bluetooth connection; you can turn them on or off with your smartphone, adjust colour to dozens of different subtler hues, you can set timers, or use a handful of special effects, all automatically. Best of all, these are for indoors or out.

With a kit like this you don’t even need a smart plug. Read my full review of String here.

Holiday Hack #3: Stick-up LED Lights go anywhere

img_7356-2The amazing thing about smart lighting is how versatile and flexible it is. Case in point; a couple new LED string lights that are thin, pliable and flexible so you can stick them up anywhere.

Philips Hue String, Osram Lightify Flex and MiPow Playbulb Comet are just three great examples of lights you can stick anywhere for holiday decor.  If you use removable 3M Command adhesive tabs, it makes moving them and removing the tape even easier.img_7347-2

Use these light strips on the inside of a window frame to show your neighbourhood your red, green or icy blue colours. Coil them into frosted glass vases for temporary colourful lamps, wrap them around large mirrors, or stick them under furniture for holiday ambiance.

Want to go to another level? Nanoleaf Aurora is a unique set of flat plastic panels that can be stuck pretty much anywhere; you can use them to create a holiday-themed wall decoration, and adjust the lights to flicker red and green or frosty blue and white.

Holiday Hack #4: Make a light-up Christmas Tree

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Feeling creative? Why not use the Aurora to create a flat panel Christmas tree in a small space where a real tree is just not realistic? Simply arrange the triangular shaped panels in a tree shape, configure the panels to turn green (go for a gold on on top, reminiscent of a star!) and you’re holiday ready!

Read my review and all about the Nanoleaf Aurora here.

Holiday Hack #5: Use a wireless lamp in your table settingimg_9005

Table setting is an art, if you ask me. Matching dishes to napkins and selecting florals requires some level of flair which I struggle to achieve. That’s where I pull in smart lamps; I can turn the Mipow Sphere glass globe green to match my good china, or I can set the Philips Hue Go lamp to a cool snowy hue for a winter feast. The Go lamp also works well under the Christmas tree to give it some extra colour pop or by the fireplace.

Holiday Hack #6: Use coloured bulbs for decor

img_9003As I’ve written before, smart lights are an easy way to decorate your home for any occasion. Painting your room with light can warm up a room, cool it off, or give it a holiday theme with the touch of an app. Lights like Philips Hue smart bulbs can be set to holiday red or green easily, you can use LIFX’s ‘scenes’ to create a holiday glow, or employ a MiPow Playbulb to provide both a light show AND music from its built-in speaker!

Holiday Hack #6: Use the Internet of Things to automate … ANYTHING

img_7355-2If you haven’t experimented with IFTTT (If This Then That), you’re missing out.  IFTTT uses apps and smart devices to create actions that happen automatically. I wrote about how you can use it to turn coloured smart lights blue when snow is in the forecast.   But you can also use it for holiday fun. Need a quick lesson on how it all works? Click here.

If you own a smart doorbell and some smart lights you can use an IFTTT ‘recipe’ to play Christmas music on a Sonos speaker when the doorbell is pressed, and to set lights flashing green and red. Read more about how to do that, or to achieve the same effect with a motion sensor, via the Yonomi app here. You can also surf the IFTTT website for holiday light and sound recipes that have already been created and borrow one that suits you.

Do you have a Holiday hack or IFTTT recipe we should try? Post your ideas in comments below!

Cute Playbulb Zoocoro lamp is a great nightlight for kids

Playbulb zoocoro animal lampKids love animals so they’re bound to love this new line of lamps, particularly little ones who don’t like to be left in the dark.

Meet Playbulb Zoocoro!

Playbulb Zoocoro lights are small plastic lamps that are rechargeable, and can be used while plugged in, or away from their charging base to supply light anywhere you need it. Continue reading “Cute Playbulb Zoocoro lamp is a great nightlight for kids”

Easy Halloween hacks; decorate with smart lights

Halloween is around the corner, and there’s an easy way to get your home ready.

Coloured light bulbs can easily transform your home into a spooky space; whether you want orange to light up your front window pumpkin, or some darker lighting scenes to create a creepier vibe. Continue reading “Easy Halloween hacks; decorate with smart lights”

Smart PLAYBULB String lights perfect for holidays

Plaubulb string christmas lights smartChristmas lights have been boring for much of modern history.  They came in just red, green or white, they all looked the same, and they didn’t do much to incorporate themselves into people’s unique personal styles. That’s different now with the introduction of the PlayBulb String lights.

Playbulb: Smart LED holiday lights

These smart LED light strings give you smart functionality via a Bluetooth connection; you can turn them on or off with your smartphone, adjust colour to dozens of different subtler hues, you can set timers, or use a handful of special effects, all aotomatically.

Playbulb string is easy to use

I’m a fan of the Playbulb line of  lighting devices because they’re dead simple to use; plug them in, and check the app.  They’re likely already connected and show up in your app, but without all the fidgety set-up and configuration many other ‘smart’ lights require. You could even give these to older parents who aren’t super tech savvy, and they’ll be able to operate them easily  — and without crisis phones calls to you for tech support!

These lights come in a string of 10 meters/33 feet, with optional extensions sold separately. It’s worth noting you can only go to a max of 66 feet on any plug/outlet.

Gauging interest on Kickstarterimg_5231

Interestingly, I learned Playbulb is doing a Kickstarter campaign to get these lights to market, which I think is a very unique way to gauge customer interest in a new product.

“Our challenge here is to accurately estimate the required materials purchase for the first batch of mass production,” write the Playbulb folks on the campaign’s page, “KICKSTARTER is a perfect platform for us to test the market. We like to know how tech-lovers think about our new products. We need to hear your opinions so that we can keep enhancing our hardware and software. We also need your helps to spread out the message. With the fund we raise on KICKSTARTER, we will make materials purchase planning accordingly.”

Not surprisingly the campaign was over its goal in no time, and many of the kits are sold out (or about to be at the time of writing this).

Playbulb String works indoors or outdoors

After an afternoon of testing, I’m in love; the Playbulb line by Mipow works so well.  It’s easy, fun and very versatile since these lights can be use either indoors or outdoors.  They’re going to be a hit for upcoming holidays like Halloween (bright orange??) and definitely at Christmas.

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Gadgets you need at home; portable wireless lamps & robot cleaners

From cleaning robots to room-freshening lamps, on CTV Morning Live this month, we looked at some cool new gadgets for the home.

iRobot Mopping Robot

iRobot Braava jet 240I’ve been testing the iRobot Braava jet 240. This little lunchbox-sized device will sweep and mop your floors for you. It uses small pads with cleanser infused inside them and a jet of warm water to mop your floors and sop up spills. You just hit the button on the top of the device, and the robot will clean about 100+ square feet of space on one battery charge.

A full review of this little housekeeper is coming soon, meantime, check out the unboxing video to see what you get.

iRobot Roomba 880

img_0923-1The iRobot Roomba 880 vacuum is a large circular gadget, significantly larger than a dinner plate, and about three or 4 inches tall. You can schedule this vacuum to clean your home while you’re at work or away, and come home to a floor free of dust and pet hair; even under the furniture.

While Roomba’s weighty, he’s not heavy and he comes with a built-in handle so you can pick him up and carry him around. The Roomba can also be used at any moment (off the schedule) simply by pushing the ‘clean’ button in the center of the vacuum. The robot will back away from its base station and begin cleaning in a somewhat hard to follow but linear pattern. The robot learns its way around furniture and is smart enough to back away from stairs. The Roomba will clean an entire floor of your house and then return to his base station when the battery begins to run low. The Roomba 880 also has the ability to sweep up small spills by pressing the “spot” button.

For my full review of the Roomba 880, click here.

MiPow  Playbulb Sphere Lamp

img_1039I love colour changing lights.  They can totally change the look of a room. MiPow Playbulb Sphere is a beautiful, affordable frosted glass globe lamp that rests on a small base when charging but it can be moved anywhere for a portable colorful glow. You can get 6-8 hours of light on a single charge.

The Playbulb Sphere (full review & write-up here) works beautifully on the small side tables, or even as a chic dining table centerpiece since it’s only about 15cm in diameter. PLUS — Click the link just above here to see how this lamp can transform a whole room with colour.

Philips Hue Go Lamp

img_9005The Philips Hue Go lamp connects with a nice long AC cord for power but it also works off the cord, as the rechargeable lamp is also fully portable and lasts up to six hours on a charge. For the newbies, you don’t even need the app to start playing with it; a small button on the bottom of the bowl allows you to cycle through a variety of light colours and effects while a small wedge keeps the lamp steady on its rounded bottom.

Getting the lamp set up on Wi-Fi was very easy. You just download the free app then “add new device”.  Once you do that the app will search for devices on the network and it automatically finds the Go lamp. Once it pairs you’re in business. read more about the Go lamp in my review.

The above products are available at stores like Best Buy, London Drugs and Home Depot.

If you have any suggestions for gadgets I should learn about or check out for possible blogs or TV segments, I’d love to hear from you! Just use the “Contact” form here on the blog, or message me on Twitter or Instagram @ErinLYYC

 

 

Gadgets for Tech and Travel

ERIN FEB TECHThis month on Tech Talk on CTV, we looked at gadgets and gear that are perfect for travel, since it’s March Break/Winter Break season!

Spyder Commuter Power Pack

img_1168The Commuter is a 3-in-1 universal battery charger. It can be used in the car, by plugging it into the wall, or as a standalone power pack for on the go needs.The wall outlet and car charger end both fold into the battery pack so it stays sleek and compact when it’s not in use.

The Commuter is a perfect companion for travellers, since it weights a scant 4.5 oz or 128 grams, and you can charge from an AC wall outlet, via USB on your computer, or in the car. Plus it works with any smartphone or tablet.

Check out the full write up on the Spyder power pack on the blog here.

Mipow Power Tube 3000mipow power tube

This lipstick-sized tube is infinitely portable and gives your phone about one full charge. The feature that puts this one above others for me is that it comes with an Apple lightning cord hidden inside, meaning no tangled cables, and no forgetting one either! The tube comes in fun colours too. Get one from MiPow’s website.

Cable Cases & Wraps

We all need cables when we’re travelling; for powering everything from laptops, to phones, tablets, cameras and a host of other gadgets. Keep everything tangle-free and organized in a chic case. Levenger makes gorgeous soft leather cases with a variety of snap straps and zippered pockets to keep cords organized. The company also makes neat leather-wrapped cable ties that let you quickly tie up cables and stash them away. Big tabs let you find and grip them easily.

Nite Ize Cable wraps

These are like twist ties or pipe cleaners on steroids! Super bendy, but they’ll hold firm, these cable ties keep everything from earphones to power cords from getting tangles in your bag, on a flight or even in the car.

Parrot Zik3 Over Ear Headphones

Parrot Zik3 are an ideal pair of over ear headphones for traveling, thanks in particular to one of their great features; noise cancellation. These headphones, when paired to your smart phone or device, allow you to set different levels of noise canceling. For example, you can set them to block out any and all outside noise electronically. Meaning if someone else in the room is watching TV, kids are playing, or an airplane is droning on in the background, you can mute this outside noise and focus on your music, podcasts, TV, or whatever you’re listening to.

Similarly, if you do need to hear what’s going on outside those headphones, there’s a way to allow that sound in.  For more, read the full blog review.

For more tech, gadget or travel news don’t forget to Like my Facebook page and/or follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ErinLYYC

To enter the Samsung contest I mentioned today, please go to www.ctvcalgary.ca

ERIN TECH TALK FEB 2

 

Decorating with light: Playbulb Sphere & Candle review

Every so often, we all get the itch to redecorate. Depending on your budget and circumstances, that itch may or may not be able to get scratched. But if new furniture is out of the question, or a new paint job seems too tedious, there are still ways you can spruce up your home, and even give it a color makeover, without spending a lot, without moving furniture, and without needing to lay tarps all over the house.

MiPow is a new brand I’ve recently been introduced to, but already fallen in love with. They make a variety of smart lighting products, from simple portable lamps, to their well-known Playbulb light bulb that also doubles as a speaker, to LED task lighting, and even some other fun products too.

MiPow PlayBulb Candle

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I have absolutely fallen in love with this tiny LED candle. Not much bigger than any candle you would find in a store, this version is completely electronic, so it’s ultra safe for homes with pets or small children.

img_1026The candle is controlled via Bluetooth on MiPow’s Playbulb app on your smartphone, allowing you to turn the unit off and on, adjust colours, and even use special effects like a flicker or a color morph.

The company didn’t stop there when it came to making this candle ultra useful. If you need to, turn the candle upside down, and set a real tea light in the hollow in the base. You’ll still get the beauty of a colorful base, with a real candle flickering on top.

Also super clever? You can actually blow on this digital LED candle to turn it off, or even to turn it on.

Are you the type who prefers scented candles? MiPow’s thought of that too. The candle comes with three scented rings you can swap in to give it that extra sensory dimension.

Easy to adjust and use

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This candle was so easy to use. It connects easily, and works beautifully. Powered by 3 AA batteries, I find myself using it all the time because it allows me to place it in locations I wouldn’t dream  of using a real candle. I can place it under the glass top of my side table or even on the floor since there’s no heat and no flame. But I also use it on the coffee table, the dining table and even as a nightlight.
If you like to set a nice dinner table with matched napkins, plates and colours, the Playbulb Candles would be perfect since you can dial up whatever hue you like for your special occasion; matching napkins, plates or even the food.

MiPow Playbulb Sphereimg_1039

Speaking of special occasion lights, MiPow has another light that’s a step up above plastic LEDs. The Playbulb Sphere is a beautiful frosted glass globe lamp that rests on a small base when charging but it can be moved anywhere for a portable colorful glow. You can get 6-8 hours of light on a single charge.

The Playbulb Sphere works beautifully on the small side tables, or even as a chic dining table centerpiece since it’s only about 15cm in diameter.

Tap to change


The Sphere lamp can be adjusted via the app on your smart phone, allowing you to change color, dim the light, or even apply a handful of special effects. If your smart phone is not nearby and you want to change colours, you can tap the glass surface of the lamp to adjust it.

The Sphere is also water resistant so you can use it outside without worry.

Playbulb Sphere is another very clever lighting product I love and used constantly during testing. Whether it was to create a soft glow for a dinner party or gathering, extra task lighting, or even as a nightlight in a guest bedroom I found a multitude of uses for this pretty piece of tech.

Overall impression of the Playbulb Sphere & Candle

I really enjoyed both these products in the Playbulb  line. I found them very easy to set up, easy to adjust with the app, versatile,  fun to play with and quite durable. If I had one piece of constructive criticism for either of these devices, it would be they could each be a bit brighter on on maximum setting.

If you’re looking to add some lighting to specific areas of your home and want to experiment with some cool new technology, either of these lights would be perfect. These are lights I would definitely purchase to put in my home, and they’re inexpensive enough that they would make a fantastic gifts (great for a baby gift or housewarming) for others too.

Where to find:
Playbulb Sphere is $59 at Best Buy  and the Playbulb Candle is $24 at Best Buy (or 3pack for $60).

I have reviews coming too on more products in the Playbulb line, like the Garden light, Comet task lighting and the Playbulb Lightbulb/Speaker. Watch the blog for more.