When it comes to true smartwatches, there’s not a whole lot of choice; there’s Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear line, plus a small group of others. Yes, you can find watches that dabble in certain smart functions, but for the whole package of functionality, your choices are limited. Continue reading “Samsung Gear S3 smart watch review”
Dental technology is huge these days, believe it or not. For proof, look no further than my mini review series on toothbrush technology. In this post we’re looking at two brushes in the Philips Sonicare line; the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected and the Sonicare DiamondClean. (Read part one of our series on the Oral B Genius 8000 here.)
What is Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected?
The Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected is a smart toothbrush that connects via Bluetooth with your smartphone to track your brushing patterns, coverage and time spent cleaning your teeth. It works without the app as a simple electric toothbrush and it’s fully rechargeable too.
How to get set up
Setting up the toothbrush is quite simple. You’ll download the app then open it. As soon as you turn on your brush the app will find the toothbrush and connect instantly.
While the handle is not as slick and minimalist as the DiamondClean version (which you’ll read about soon), it’s still nice looking. It has several buttons on the front; a power button, a speed button, and a button that changes the different modes of cleaning.
What’s in the box?
Inside the box you’ll find the brush handle, two different brush heads with travel caps, a charging base, a bracket that fits over the charging base to hold toothbrush heads, and a travel case. Unlike some other models, such as the Sonicare DiamondClean, this case does not double as a charger.
You’ll need to allow 24 hours to fully charge the battery in the handle for the first time, so once you get it unboxed plug it in and leave it alone for a while.
Get brushing coaching
The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected brush is designed to pair with the app to give you timed and illustrated instructions on your brushing technique and coverage. While you can use it without the app, what’s the point? If you’re spending this kind of money on a fancy brush, you’ll want to commit to using it in its technologically connected mode. If you’re not the kind of person who wants to whip out their phone every time they brush, skip ahead and read about the DiamondClean.
Adjusting different brushing modes
The toothbrush needs to be switched between its available modes while the brush is off. Small lights will illuminate the mode you’ve chosen. There is a Clean mode which is basic toothbrushing, White mode adds additional ‘massage’ and an additional 40 seconds to polish your visible front teeth. There’s also a Deep Clean mode which is said to provide “invigorating deep massage to deliver an exceptional clean”.
A pressure sensor built into the brush will let you know if you’re brushing too hard. It uses both a change in vibration and a slight change in sound to let you know if you’re brushing too hard. This feature can be disabled if you wish, but again, why would you?
Using the app is easy, but there’s not really an realtime feedback to speak of. While the app will guide you through which areas of your mouth to scrub, it’s not actually tracking you or watching to see what you’re doing (like the Oral B Genius 8000). Here, it’s more like you’re getting coaching, or following along to a workout video; but there’s no one in the room with you to make sure you’re not eating cheetos.
(For a brush that IS watching you, read my review of the Oral B Genius 8000)
Pressure sensing for aggressive brushers
The brush has several smart features such as pressure sensing. If you brush too hard the toothbrush will let you know using a change in vibration and slight change in sound. The app will also display a warning message on screen. I found the brush very touchy when it came to motion and pressure at first, but once I followed the coaching and stopped grinding the brush into my teeth things improved.
Beeping Brush Pacer
The brush pacer setting allows you to turn on an indicator which will emit a small sound during the brushing cycle so that you’ll know when to move on to a different section of your mouth.
The brush pacer requires you to divide your mouth into six sections; three on top and three on the bottom. You’ll hear a beep after you’ve spent enough time on each section.
To turn this feature on or off, leave your brush in the charging base then press and hold the mode button until you hear one beep to indicate the brush pacer has been deactivated, or two to indicate it is ready to go.
Easy start for beginners
Brushing with a much stronger electronic toothbrush can be a little difficult for some to handle, there is the easy start feature. Easy start gently increases the power over the first 14 brushings to help you get used to using the toothbrush. You turn this feature on or off by putting the handle in the charger, one beep indicates it is deactivated.
Replacing the brush heads
Philips recommends you replace the brush heads every three months. The app can be set to tell you when it’s time to do that, and you’ll earn points when you check in the brush’s status.
It’s worth pointing out the cost. Two replacement brush heads sell for about $35-$40 Canadian. That is of course in addition to what you might have paid for the brush handle itself.
Overall review – Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected
The brush was was to set up and looks sleek and modern. It’s easy to operate on its own and in connected mode.
I feel like it would be easy to cheat with this brush; after all, it’s really just using the app as a guide or a coach, and there’s no accountability for cheating (but as my second grade teacher used to tell us we’d only be cheating ourselves here, right??), however the brush will track the length of your sessions and frequency.
The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected costs $189 CAD. Get more info on it here.
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush
The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean is a gorgeous electric/rechargeable toothbrush, but unlike its Platinum cousin, it’s not smart and won’t connect to the app. It does have a timer function built in that will buzz you when it’s time to move from quadrant to quadrant of your mouth to ensure an even clean. It’s also got high tech induction charging.
The first thing I noticed is how appealing the overall package is. The brush actually won numerous product design awards back in 2012, so Philips has stuck with the sleek and modern design ever since.
The included travel case looks really cool and modern. The silver canvas casing hides a lime green interior which cradles the smooth white brush handle inside. The whole thing looks sleek and elegant.
The kit also comes with an induction charging glass. It’s a drinking glass that also doubles as a charger for the brush when you set it inside the cup. I couldn’t wait to try this out as this was blowing my mind. I’ve seen induction chargers before, but they’re usually ugly, plastic, and functional. This charger looked neat and pretty.
The charging stand has two pieces. There’s a sleek and shiny metal base which houses the actual charging unit, and then the glass that accompanies it. The glass sits on top of the base for stability and security plus power, and is removable for use as a drinking glass or rinsing cup when you’re not using it for power. You can of course keep the glass separate or not use it at all, as the diamond kit also contains a clear plastic stand for the toothbrush that will replace the glass on the charging base (see photo above).
The brush comes with that silver canvas travel case I mentioned and it also works as a charger plus it holds two brushes.
Overall review – Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
This brush is really pretty, but if you’re looking for smarts, it’s not for you. The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean, as I’ve taken to calling it, is designed primarily as a better looking, less utilitarian electric toothbrush. When paired with its sleek recharging case it’s a great options for travelers too, since you can actually use the case as a power bank if you’re so inclined. This brush is perfect, however, for the person who doesn’t want to fuss with using their phone each time they brush their teeth, but still wants some level of smart functionality.
The Sonicare DiamondClean comes in black or white and will set you back about $199-229 CAD.
I research a lot of technology trends. One thing that’s been popping up again and again is the technology of teeth. Specifically toothbrush technology. In fact, high-tech toothbrushes are so common and advanced now, I’ve got a blog and YouTube series in the works about all the options. It kicks off today with the Oral B Genus 8000 smart toothbrush. You can also read about two brushes in the Philips series, the Platinum and the Diamond here.
The Genius is a rechargeable electric toothbrush that uses vibration and an oscillating head to deep-clean your teeth. It also pairs with an app so that you can track and record your toothbrushing habits in real time and get feedback on how you’re doing.
Oral B Genius 8000 – What’s in the box
There’s a travel kit, and an at home charging station. Plus storage cases for the brushes. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first but once it makes sense you realize you’re getting a lot for your money.
The kit also comes with a special bracket to hold your cell phone to a mirror right in front of the area where you brush. More about why you need that later…
The toothbrush has a waterproof handle and is designed to get wet so there should be no safety concerns. It’s charged by placing it on a small base. The charging level is indicated on the handle display, and a full charge takes about 12 hours and should give you 12 days of regular brushing (which Oral-B says is about twice a day for two minutes).
Getting the brush set up and connecting it to your smart phone is easy enough. You download the Oral-B app and it guides you through the entire set up and pairing process. I was connected in no time with just a few clicks.
Using your toothbrush with an app
It’s a bit weird to adapt to using your smartphone while you brush, but to get the most from this brush, you’ll need to connect the Oral B app. With it you get a timer function and a mapping function.
Using the timer function the brush and app will tell you if you’re brushing long enough. While you’re using it, local weather, news stories, and photos of the day will come up on your cell phone screen to entertain you while you brush.When you’re done your dentist recommended two minute brushing time, the timer will signal you with a long stuttering sound and a flashing ring of light. If you have the professional timer set up, you’ll get a short stuttering sound and flashing of the smart ring light at 30 second intervals to tell you to move to the next quadrant of your mouth.
I also have to say I find it a struggle to brush for the required two minutes. Obviously I’ve been brushing my teeth for years for far less time than I should be, because when I make it the full allotted time, it feels like I’be been scrubbing my teeth forever!
Position Detection Function
Using the position detection feature is very eye-opening. You think you’re getting all the areas of your mouth but the app proves that you’re not, and then shows you where you need to focus more or less time.
To use it you need to mount your smartphone to the mirror in front of your brushing area, then position your face in a small circle so the app can ‘see’ your mouth and monitor your position. The app will then show you a graph that measures how well you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth.
Gameifying your brushing experience
The Oral B Genius is gameified; which should be fun for some folks. Once you’re finished doing the position detection technique, you’ll get a score. The app will encourage you to beat your score again next time. gameifying ordinary experiences is a neat and smart way to get you to think more about them and make them more purposeful.
Travelling with Genius 8000
The included travel case will charge both your toothbrush and your smart phone if you need it. Rather surprisingly, to give the case a full charge can take up to 12 hours, so make sure you get it juiced up well in advance.
The inside lid of the travel case has a built in smartphone holder which allows you to prop up your phone so the app can still see you brush.
Using the Oral B Genius 8000
Pressure control ring
One feature I found particularly helpful is the pressure control light up Ring. The light around the top of the toothbrush will turn red if you start brushing too hard. If you’re also using the app at the same time, it will also give you an on-screen message telling you the same. As someone Who consistently brushes too hard, I found this very helpful.
That light up ring also has several other features. When it’s white, the default color, it just tells you that it’s working and act as a visual timer. You can also choose your individual colour for the slight inside the app. A blue light indicates the brush is in Bluetooth pairing mode.
The Oral B Genius 8000 uses strong vibrations and an oscillating brush head to clean your teeth. As Oral B explains is, “this highly advanced brush features a dentist-inspired round head that surrounds and cups each tooth with dynamic oscillating, rotating and pulsating movements to remove up to 100% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.”
Overall review – Can Oral B Genius 8000 deliver?
At first I found the brush very … aggressive. The vibrations are quite strong. I also started out with the small round brush head, the CrossAction, which was significantly smaller than I’ve used before. between the new head, the vibrations, the size of the handle and adapting to using the app, I wasn’t sure if I liked the brush overall. But after a few days I adapted, and started to notice me teeth actually felt… cleaner. You know how when it’s almost time to visit the dentist, your teeth start to feel… less clean overall? I was near that part of the dental cycle, but after two weeks with the brush I felt like I had just been to the dentist. I was impressed.
I didn’t need to recharge the brush during that whole time either, so I ended up putting the charging base away to de-clutter my bathroom. when it does need juice, I’ll just whip it out and leave it to re-charge for a few hours.
After testing, I really liked this brush; I feel like it cleans well, lasts a long time on a charge and will give me a clean even my dentist would approve of.
The brush handle starter kits sell for about $269CAD and replacement brushes are about $36 for a 3-pack, so buying and maintaining use of one of these is not without its costs. is it worth it… I’m going to keep using the brush for longer to see. if you’re curious, hit me up with a comment after a couple months and I’ll let you know.
There’s more info on the brush here.
Check out more in my series on smart dental technology – read about two brushes in the Philips series, the Platinum and the Diamond here.
There are few sounds that irk me as much as the screech of my alarm clock. It goes off each day at 2:50am so I can snooze it a few times before I finally crawl bleary-eyed and groggy from my warm covers at 3:30 to head to work. Believe it or not, snoozing like that actually helps me feel like I got ‘extra sleep’. (Does anyone else do that?)
I’ve always hated the sound of ringing alarms. I use the radio sometimes, but I find it disconcerting to hear people talking in my room before I’m fully conscious and know what the hell is going on. It’s all the more unsettling when I realize the radio is tuned to Coast to Coast AM and they’re talking about a phenomenon of people waking up with the demonic Hat Man shadow-person standing over their beds. Shudder.
There has to be a better, more gentle way to wake up, and I think I may have found it.
I was recently sent a BEDDI Glow smart alarm clock for testing and review. BEDDI Glow allows you to wake with a simulated sunrise light, your own music, or FM radio. It’s also got a host of other neat features that makes it pretty handy.
BEDDI Glow alarm Features
The BEDDI Glow smart alarm clock gives you options for your wake up. I’ve been using the simulated sunrise feature and the ‘relax’ sound effect. Continue reading “BEDDI Glow smart alarm clock review; it wakes with light, can call you an Uber”
Who couldn’t use a few more hours (or even minutes) of extra sleep, or better sleep overall? We should all go to bed earlier, but sometimes that’s not realistic. Couple our poor bedtime habits with the fact many of us are glued to our screens (being bombarded with blue light that stimulates the brain and disrupts sleep) and we’re not doing ourselves any favours.
What’s up with sleep light, wake light?
There are ways to fight off these sleep disruptors; one of them is to change your light bulbs. Yes, by matching your body’s natural circadian rhythms to different colours of light, you can help you body stay properly in sync, and possibly even stay healthier.
I recently received samples of several lights from the company Lighting Science. These lights are specifically created to compensate for the problems that the wrong lighting can create. Continue reading “Light bulbs mimic daylight & night light for better sleep – Lighting Science”
I ran into a wee problem with one of my WeMo LED smart light bulbs. It was easily cleared up with a reset, but it took me some surfing to find out how to do it.
That got me thinking, you might someday need to know how to do this yourself, and possibly for other bulbs. So here’s a few smart light bulbs and how to reset them, with instructions from each manufacturer’s website. Continue reading “How to Reset Your WeMo, LIFX, Philips, Osram/Lightify Light Bulbs”
If you’ve ever wanted to watch over your property, you know security systems can be complicated and expensive. But things are simplified with the arrival of the Ring Stick Up Camera. Continue reading “Ring Stick Up Camera Review”
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!
Thermometers are kind of gross if you think about it. They go places that are filled with germs, and you have to wonder if they’re ever truly clean. Now, you can thank technology for the ability to get an accurate temperature without having to stick anything anywhere.
Thermometer works touch-free
The Flo thermometer from Zeraph is a contact-free thermometer that allows you to take temperatures without touch.
Just hold Flo about an inch away from the person’s forehead and in a second, you’ve got their number. The simplified LED system flashes green when temperature is normal or red when your patient has a fever. You can even use it without needing to wake up you kids, or a sick spouse. Plus, it works for checking the temperature of liquids like a baby bottle or bath water. Hold Flo about 1 inch from the liquid and you’ll know the temperature of what’s inside.
App keeps track
Flo works with a companion app that allows you to add photos for family members, notes and to keep records for everyone in the family.
Zeraph Flo is available for $49.99 USD from the company’s website.
The Roomba 980 looks a little different from previous models; (read my review of the iRobot Roomba 880 HERE) mainly sleeker, slimmer and with a more streamlined control panel.
I had the chance to live with the 980 for several weeks, and to compare it to the earlier 880 model too. Watch my video review & test too; scroll down the page to see it.
What’s new with iRobot Roomba? 980 is all new
There are three primary upgrades to the autonomous vacuum robots: navigation, cloud connectivity, and a new motor that does better on carpet.
Roomba Upgrade #1: Improved Navigation
The Roomba 980 has a host of improvements on the navigation front. There’s a brand new camera in the top of the robot which helps it find its way around obstacles and rooms. Two optical sensors in the undercarriage work similar to your computer mouse; they read the location on a surface to track the device’s position. This allows the device to see and understand its position in your home. Like previous versions, the Roomba also recognizes drop-offs like staircases, and learns to avoid them, backing away from any cliffs.
No more ‘lighthouses’
The new 980 can also do more; while the previous version 880 was really only able to take on three rooms at a time, and required ‘lighthouses’ to draw the Roomba 880 in to more distant areas. with the new technology, Roomba 980 can find his way around the entire floor of the home, and even learns it’s way around so you are less likely to find the robot stranded in a distant room (a quirk of the 880).
Knows when to recharge
The Roomba 980 also knows when its time to recharge. It will clean as much as it can on a single charge, then return to its charging base to re-juice.
If you’re watching the new Roomba 980 clean you’ll notice it uses a much more linear grid pattern, and that its movements seem more deliberate than previous models. That comes from, in part, the new navigational guts which create kind of a map of your home, which it them learns to follow. Move some furniture? No problem, Roomba 980 will learn to adapt.
Roomba Upgrade #2: Cloud Connection
The new Roomba 980 can now be controlled with your smartphone. Using the iRobot Home app, you can start and stop the cleaning cycle from anywhere. You can also set and change schedules and adjust settings easily, and order up extra passes over extra dirty areas. It’s a handy feature I like because if I go out and want the robot to sweep up while I’m gone (but forgot to turn it on or schedule the cleaning), it’s a single click, and I can come home to a tidy dog-hair-free floor.
The app is very easy to use, and also allows you to manage multiple robots (and name them; fun!), including the iRobot BraavaJet mopping robot. (Read a review of that device here)
The app will let you know too when the dustbin is full, and you can also sound a tone to find the robot if it disappears under a bed. One other handy feature of the app is built in help if you need it and a direct portal to the iRobot store to buy things like replacement mopping pads for the BraavaJet.
Roomba Upgrade #3: New motor & “Carpet Boost”
The final major upgrade to the Roomba system is a new motor for the 980 version. The new motor has a built in feature that attacks carpet dirt better than previous robots. “Carpet Boost” as the technology is called can detect rugs, and when it does it cranks up the motor to increase suction to pull dirt from the fibers.
That low/high switch actually allows the robot to have a longer battery life (closer to 2 hours), since the increase in power only cranks on when it’s needed.
Roomba 980 – Can you see a difference?
The differences between the new Roomba 980, and previous versions may not be stark, but they’re there. I quickly noticed the more linear cleaning pattern on the 980, but I also really heard it when the carpet boost kicked in.
Another difference I noticed was the amount of debris and pet hair that collected in the dustbin; there’s more collecting in the 980. I checked with iRobot to make sure it’s not any bigger, and it’s not, but what is happening is that the more powerful motor is picking up more dirt, compacting it and thus it looks like it’s holding more.
The 980 is obviously more expensive than other robots in the iRobot line, but with the new features it seems worth it.
My take – iRobot Roomba 980
I never thought I’d need a robot vacuum, but I have to say, after living with one for so long, I don’t want to give it up. It takes care of pet hair in particular really well, and saves swiffering daily. I love the fact it can be scheduled to clean when I’m out, or that I can turn it on from the office via the app.
The 980 gets under furniture easily, and does a pretty good job at corners, considering it’s round. I found it super handy, too, for spot cleaning dry spills or crumbs.
While there’s no denying this device is an investment, and you’ll probably still need a second vacuum to do the heavy duty deep cleaning (stairs, blinds, etc), but at least the Roomba 980 will ensure you have to drag out the full sized vacuum a lot less.
The iRobot Roomba 980 is $899US / $1099 from the iRobot website. (The previous model 880 is $599US / $849CAD) You can also find them at places like Best Buy.