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”
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”
Smart lighting can make your holiday decorating easier. Today on CTV Tech Talk I showed a selection of smart lighting: Continue reading “Top picks for smart lighting”
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
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
MiPow, 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
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.
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
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.
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
As 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
If 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!
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”
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”
Christmas 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.
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.
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
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.
The 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
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 Sphere
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.
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.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is known (much like its venue) for being showy and over the top; it has a dazzling array of new gadgets, advanced appliances, and blow-your-mind new technology.
There were some amazing things that I saw; probably dozens of them. But I’ve whittled all the awesomeness down to a few great things from CES 2016
#1 Panasonic Transparent Display
This conceptual TV from Panasonic is essentially an invisible television. The screen is a retractable sheet of glass, which can hide inside furniture like a bookcase, then drop into view on command. When it’s enabled, the glass is transparent, allowing you to see your knickknacks or artwork behind it, until you’re ready to watch TV on it.
When the screen fires to life, it’s an ultra high definition picture that looks fantastic. When you’re done, the TV shuts off and/or retracts back into the furniture, allowing you to have a living area that is completely free from an ugly black television screen taking up space on furniture or hanging on a wall.
#2 LG V 10 Smartphone
I’m an Apple user, and have never tried an android smartphone. But this phone from LG I would get just for its amazing camera. The V10 camera comes with advanced image stabilization which is perfect for taking videos handheld. It also has a feature I’ve been dying to see in a smartphone (and quite frankly I thought Apple should have had long before now); the V 10 allows you to adjust the focus on your video to focus only on certain objects in the frame. This lets you ‘blur’ out boring backdrops or create nice looking depth of field. While this is possible with other advanced specialty video cameras, this is the first time such control has been added to a smart phone’s video camera. If you’re a YouTube star or just a wannabe, this is the phone you’ll want to get to make fantastic videos.
#3 Playbulb Lighting
I love the look of this whole line of lighting, and can’t wait for a chance to review all of the individual pieces. The Playbulb line of smart lighting from Mipow features LED light strips, a digital candle that you can blow out, a gorgeous glass globe lamp that you can adjust with your smart phone or by touching it. Readers will know how much I appreciate smart lighting, and this whole line looks like a great addition to the household.
#4 PureGear Cases and ‘Magic’ Screen Protector
The PureGear booth at CES stopped me in my tracks. The company had laid out of an entire line of smart phone cases that were crystal-clear; some with subtle etching, others that are just designed to let your phone show through. Once I got to chatting with the representatives there, they blew me away with an amazing feature in one of their thin film screen protectors. The Smart + Buttons high definition glass screen protector allows you to add ‘magic’ invisible buttons to your iphone. How? The film will allow you to touch what’s in the top left or right corners of your phone, but transferring the touch surface to the dead space along the bottom of your phone as a substitute invisible button. It means no more using 2 hands to reach way up to the top of your iPhone 6plus! It’s kind of hard to explain, but once I had it shown to me it blew my mind! I’ll post a video on this in the coming weeks.
#5 Withings Aura Lamp & Alarm
I love the look and versatility of this new Withings product. Though it somewhat resembles a tuba, or the smokestack on a large cruise ship, this funny looking gadget is designed to emit soft colorful light to wake you up each morning. Just use it like a regular alarm clock, and instead of a nasty buzz to shock you from sleep, the light begins to wake you until it’s bright enough to rouse you. If you like to wake up to music, it also works with Spotify to give you just the type of sound you want first thing in the morning. I’m also hoping to get hands-on with this device at some point in the next weeks or months.
#6 iLuv Pillow Alarm
Speaking of sleep, I also got a look at this unusual alarm clock which is a small flat disc that is designed to slip under or inside your pillow. You set the time and when it’s ready to wake you up, it starts to buzz and shake right underneath your head, giving you a gentle but effective wake up. It will also work with other projects in the iLuv line such as smart lightbulbs, so you can coordinate your lamp to fade on when the pillow alarm begins to buzz. So cool and smart; particularly for people out there like me who wake each day at 3 AM.
# 7 Whirlpool Pantry Fridge
One day soon I’m going to need new appliances in my kitchen. Unfortunately for me now (how will I ever choose?!), I have several amazing options. One of my favorites is the Whirlpool Pantry style refrigerator. It’s meant to be laid out more like a proper pantry and then a refrigerator; meaning everything is visible and reachable no matter its size.
One of the interesting features is that it has shelves or ledges that run around the inside rim of the refrigerator. They are perfect for small or narrow items that often get lost at the back of the fridge. I also really like the array of small hidden compartments that are visible in the bottom floor of the fridge for small things like cheese sticks and deli meats, plus the cool compartment crisper drawers let you store long narrow items loose, such as carrots or celery or cucumbers, without them getting squashed or lost underneath bigger items. The crisper drawers are also large enough to hold large boxes of lettuce which is very convenient. Of course this refrigerator is also smart meaning you can get updates on your smart device as to temperature, humidity, etc.
Where are 8, 9 and 10? Check out some of the other cool gadgets I previewed and showed on CTV Tech Talk to see ; including a GPS suitcase and a levitating speaker–> Click here!