September 24, 2018

Best Home Gadgets of 2018

The digital age has brought a lot of innovative products and solutions that make our day-to-day lives much easier. More and more households are embracing the concept of smart homes, with smart gadgets and energy-efficient appliances getting more popular as people find out about their benefits.

Whether you’re tech-savvy and want to add smart gadgets to your home or just planning to make home living more automated, this list of best home gadgets of 2018 may be of help:

Mobile Refrigerator from Panasonic

Believe it or not, there’s such a thing as a Fridge on Wheels, a mini-refrigerator that roams around the house. With a voice command, it can bring you a drink! Panasonic designed it particularly for the elderly and people with physical disabilities. But of course, it can be used by everyone in the household. It is also ideal for parties where this smart appliance can provide drinks for your guests.

Nokia Sleep

Whether you have sleeping issues or just want to keep track of your sleeping patterns and cycles, this smart gadget is for you. The Nokia sleep records, analyses, and monitors your sleeping cycles. It can also provide information on when you snore, through an app.

Hue Smart Light Bulbs from Philips

Would it be nice to have the perfect light setting for any occasion? Now you can with a Hue light bulb. It can control the light intensity from glow to full illumination, so you can have the best lighting during dinner or for when you host a party. You can also control the light bulbs through an app when you’re outside your home.

X-Spect Fabric Scanner from Bosch

If you don’t like doing laundry, this smart appliance may change your mind. As the name implies, the X-Spect fabric scanner can determine the stain and indicate the recommended wash cycle. In this way, you can properly categorise clothes depending on the level of dirt to be removed.

Nest Thermostat E

Family members have different preferences when it comes to the climate setting at home. But with the smart gadget called Nest Thermostat E, everyone will be able to enjoy the climate setting. It can assess and come up with the preferred room temperature. It can record and set the heating and cooling according to the previous setting. It can also turn the heating and cooling system on and off with a sensor, and works with either Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Got other ideas on smart gadgets and energy-efficient products? Share your insights in the comments section.

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What is a Google Home?

Google Home is a small smart speaker that offers a large number of services through Google Assistant. It has a cylindrical shape with LED lights on top that indicate its status and serve as touch buttons for other functions. It has speakers and a microphone that serve as its base. The speakers may be small but the sound quality will not disappoint for everyday use. It looks more like a small lamp or air diffuser, making it blend in well with the decor of your home.

Google Home Top Features

All you need are voice commands to interact with Google Home.  You can ask to listen to your playlist and Google Home will play it for you. You can get all sorts of information – from weather updates, current events, sports, and directions, to reminders for your appointments. With this smart gadget, you can also turn your lights off, check the laundry, and even update your shopping list, all by just using your voice. Just say “Hey Google” or “OK Google” to activate it, and then give a command or a question.

Some services that are integrated into Google Home include Google Play Music, Spotify, and iHeartRadio for those who love music. For videos and photos, it has Netflix, YouTube, and Google Photos.  You can also access Google Calendar and Google Keep, as well as news sites such as CNN, CNBC and The Wall Street Journal.

Google Assistant, an AI assistant from Google, is the main assistant in Google Home. It is able to make conversation with the user. With recent updates, Google Home can now recognise up to six voices using their accounts.

Google Home provides home automation features that make it a central hub for your smart gadgets. Supported devices include Chromecast digital media player, light bulbs and security devices from SmartThings, Philips Hue, LIFX, LightwaveRF, and Logitech Harmony.

Google has “Proactive Assistance” which notifies users with updates without being asked. “Visual Responses” enable users to send answers from Google Home to mobile devices. Google Home also now supports Bluetooth audio streaming through devices like phones, tablets, and computers, and reminders of calendar appointments.

Do you have other ideas about Google Home and smart gadgets?

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Home Security System Buying Guide

Technological advancements pave the way for a wide array of smart gadgets, energy-efficient products, and energy-saving devices that not only get the work done but also help reduce our carbon footprint.

One look at your home and you’ll see different kinds of appliances and devices that make life a bit easier. One of these is the home security system. Of course, we all want our family and possessions to be safe and secure at all times, so it’s essential to invest in a device that will help us protect our lives and property.

There are so many kinds of home security systems available in the market nowadays, so how will you know which model is the right one for you and your family?

Take these factors into account when buying a home security system:

Look at the environment where the cameras will be installed

When you put cameras outside your home, make sure that they are weatherproof. To know if the camera can withstand intense heat and heavy downpours, check if it has a rating of IP66 or higher.

Know the kind of lighting at your home

Does it tend to be a bit dark during the night? If your home has a low amount of light especially at night, you may want to buy a security camera that comes with infrared capability that can automatically switch from black to white in low light conditions. This feature enables you to see more clearly even with little or no light.

Know the different types of security cameras

A standalone IP camera allows you to monitor a certain part of your home. Another type is the CCTV kit that covers the entire property and comes with several cameras. There’s also the security kit that combines home security cameras and other sensors. On the other hand, the app-connected security camera, as the name suggests, allows you to set up and monitor through an app on compatible mobile devices.

Consider what you want the system to capture

What exactly is your purpose for buying a home security system? Do you want to see if there are thieves lurking around the property? Incidents that are out of the ordinary? The amount of detail that you need will help you identify what camera lens you should buy.

Do you have other ideas on home security systems and smart gadgets? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Pros and Cons of Buying a Portable Gaming Console

In this digital age when a lot of people can’t seem to spend a day without their smart gadgets, it’s not surprising to hear that our electricity bills can be really high. The good thing is, there are numerous energy-efficient appliances and energy-saving devices that can help us save some money by lowering our electric bills.

One of the devices that many Australian households have is a portable gaming console. It’s such a great item for entertainment and playing it can be an exciting bonding activity for the family or among friends. But of course, it can be expensive. The question is: is it worth buying? What are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a portable gaming console? Read on to find out:

Pros of buying a portable gaming console

  • A portable, or handheld, gaming console, offers quality gaming at your fingertips. It means convenience. You can play any game on offer anytime, wherever you are. What’s great is that the games in a portable gaming console are as varied as what a home console offers.
  • With a portable gaming console, you will have dedicated hardware. For instance, the PlayStation vita has two thumbsticks, shoulder bumpers, a d-pad and four buttons, and a read touch sensitive panel. On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch can be used with a Bluetooth controller or the attached controls with your home TV. Also, some retailers offer games together with the Switch.

Cons of buying a portable gaming console

  • The biggest drawback of buying a portable gaming console is probably the price. If we only look at the hardware, expect to pay at least $150. It can even reach $470 depending on the model. The games also don’t come cheap. Prepare to pay about $50 per game.
  • Another disadvantage is that a portable gaming console serves only one purpose – gaming. While it is entertaining, it’s another gadget to charge, pack and worry about when you go anywhere. You may lose it in an instant if you’re not careful.

These are just some of the pros and cons of buying a portable gaming console. Even if you have the funds to buy one, always weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

Do you have other tips when it comes to portable gaming consoles and smart gadgets? You can share your ideas in the comments section.

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What is a Solar Battery and Is it Worth the Money?

With the rising cost of energy today, we have our homes equipped with energy-efficient appliances and products. Even small products like light bulbs are more efficient because we now have LED bulbs that can operate on lower energy settings without compromising functionality. Some households even have energy-saving devices installed.

Many Australian households are considering renewable energy solutions due to the increasing electricity costs. Solar storage is a primary alternative to power from the grid. But this is yet to be proven effective in saving money because every household has different energy requirements. This article shows you some points to consider before installing a solar battery. If you have never used a solar battery, you might not know what to expect. So, here are some things you need to know.

There are a lot of solar storage retailers in Australia that will give you a wide range of products to choose from. Units come in different sizes, price, and efficiency.

How much do they cost?

The biggest hindrance in the growth of the solar storage market is the cost of the units. The prices of these batteries depend on the storage size, which range from $1000 – $2000 per kWh capacity. A solar panel system can cost from $2000 – $12000 depending on the size. A basic solar storage unit of 4kWh is around $6000 – $8000.

Aside from the unit, you will also pay for a compatible inverter, and the installation cost, which will definitely set you back a serious amount of money, not to mention the complexity of the installation. This is why most solar companies give quotations so you can have an idea of what you’ll be spending.

What about the size of the solar battery that I will need?

Solar storage systems come in different sizes to support different needs. Most solar batteries on lower price range may not be enough to suit your electricity demands. Keep in mind that the larger the battery, the more expensive it will be so purchase the system that you think you only need.

Battery efficiency is also a consideration. It refers to how much energy is stored and converted to usable electricity. The technology today hasn’t yet perfected the efficiency of solar batteries. However, some models are more efficient than others.

How long will the storage battery last? 

The lifespan is measured in cycles, which refer to filling and emptying of the battery with electricity. Usually it is one cycle a day, so durability depends on how many cycles a battery can process.

Do you have other ideas on solar battery and energy-saving devices? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Why is It a Good Idea to Install Solar Power System in Your Home?

As time progresses, you’ll notice that your electricity bill will continuously increase. People become more and more reliant on a wide range of devices and appliances. Of course, there are several ways to lower energy consumption on a regular basis.  One of these is to use energy-efficient appliances and smart gadgets. You’ll find a wide selection of energy-efficient products out in the market today, designed not only to save money on utility bills but also to lower human impact to the environment.

Another way to reduce energy consumption is to install a solar power system in your home. If you like the idea of solar energy but is still not convinced that it will work well for you, here are several points that will make you think that installing a solar power system is a good idea:

Lower your electricity bill

The reality is, the cost of power is going up, but with the right solar power system, you can reduce your power bill.

Generate your own electricity

Not only will you be able to get cost savings, a solar power system will enable you to generate your own power. Solar PV panels on your roof can generate electricity even in winter and on overcast days. If there is surplus power, it is returned back into the grid. You’ll also be credited for the power you generate based on your utility.

Make your home more marketable

More and more Australians see the benefits of solar energy, so if you have a solar power system, it increases the value of your home.

It’s a long-term investment

While it may not bring you significant cost savings once it’s installed, you can reap the benefits later on. In most cases, a solar power system pays itself off in less than five years so the longer you have it in your home, the more benefits you can get.

It reduces your carbon footprint

Solar energy is green and renewable energy, reducing your impact on the environment. You’ll get significant cost savings, plus it’s environment-friendly. It’s a win-win situation.

Here are some of the reasons why it is a good idea to install a solar power system. If you’re planning to have one, make sure to do your research. While these pay themselves off after several years, a large upfront cost is usually associated with installing a solar power system.

Got other ideas on energy-efficient appliances and energy-saving devices? Share your tips in the comments section.

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9 Smart Gadgets that Help You Increase Your Productivity

Many people have a lot things to do on a daily basis. From household chores and social events to work-related matters or school activities, the to-do list seems to go on and on. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little help every now and then? In this day and age, help comes in the form of energy-efficient appliances and smart gadgets. There is a wide range of products that are designed to make our lives easier. Here are several smart gadgets that help in getting things done:

1. Variable balans Ergonomic Desk Chair

This enables your body to move like it should. It is designed with slightly curved legs so you can sit and stretch while working at your desk. 

2. Fidget Cube

If you’re the type of person who has restless hands that you’re always looking for something to do, make way for the Fidget Cube. Keep yourself busy with its six sides, each offering a different style and activity. There’s a dial for spinning, buttons to click and other features to keep your hands occupied.

3. Bluetooth Multi-device Keyboard

This new type of keyboard is also compatible with smartphones and tablets. It comes with an Easy-Switch so you can switch typing from one connected Bluetooth wireless device to another. It can be used for Windows, Mac or Chrome computers as well as Android or iOS mobile devices.

4. Altwork Station

Increase productivity and improve posture with this mechanical desk that transitions smoothly in four key positions.

5. Nest Thermostat

You can better manage your heating and cooling system with this smart gadget. It comes with the Farsight which displays the temperature, weather or time. It provides alerts if there’s something wrong with your system.

6. Kevo Smart Lock

It only takes one touch to lock and unlock with Kevo Smart Lock. It is powered by your smartphone or Bluetooth, so don’t have to waste time looking for your bundle of keys every time.

7. NeatDesk

Tired of handling piles of paper? Organise your desk with this high-speed desktop scanner and Smart Organization Software that can organize information, scan receipts and handle business cards and documents.

8. Tabletop Air Purifier

Keep air pollution at bay with this air purifier. It has an ionizer that cleans and freshens the air. It also helps remove common household odors.

9. Equil Smartpen 2

This smart gadget lets you sketch, doodle or draw on paper and transfer your work in digital form through Bluetooth in the pen’s built-in memory.

Do you know other energy-saving devices and smart gadgets? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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Netflix vs Foxtel: Pros and Cons

In this day and age when everything seems digital, there is an onslaught of technological advancements and products that help make our lives easier. From energy-efficient appliances to smart gadgets and smartphones, you’ll find a wide array of innovative products that cater to a wide range of markets.

In the world of entertainment, gone are the days when we rely solely on CD and DVD to watch movies. Nowadays, video streaming is the name of the game. The entertainment subscription market keeps growing, and it shows no signs of stopping. In Australia, two of the biggest players are Netflix and Foxtel. Each has its own share of features and drawbacks. But which one is better? In this article, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each video streaming service:

NETFLIX

The Good Side of Netflix

Netflix is easy to set up, with several streams available, plus a wide selection of original productions. You can access it through a wide range of platforms. Whether you have a smart TV, Chrome Cast, Apple TV, Fetch TV or mobile phone, you can watch Netflix conveniently. How much is a Netflix subscription? With a free one-month trial, you can have Netflix from $9.00 every month. If you want HD, it is available with a lock-in contract from $13.99 per month.

The Bad Side of Netflix

Netflix also comes with disadvantages. For instance, it does not include live TV or live sport. Because of many TV rights, there’s no enough premium content. Also, you need high-speed internet connection if you want uninterrupted video streaming. But then again, some shows on Netflix can be downloaded. If you want to watch shows such as Breaking Bad, Seinfeld or Better Call Saul, you’ll be disappointed with Netflix, as these shows have deals with Stan, another video streaming service provider.

FOXTEL

The Good Side of Foxtel

Foxtel offers a wide range of content, with different channel packs available for your viewing pleasure. Unlike Netflix, Foxtel has live sport and live TV – you don’t even need internet connection. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, Foxtel is the way to go as it has premium content such as GOT and HBO shows. You can choose from their broadband bundles which come with discounts and incentives. For Foxtel Now, you can have on-demand streaming from $10 per month. If you want on-demand live TV and sports streaming, go for Foxtel Go.

The Bad Side of Foxtel

With all of these offerings, it comes as no surprise that Foxtel is more expensive than Netflix. Expect to pay $26 per month on a base pack, while an extra pack costs more. Also, installation is required and HD is not widely available. If you avail the base pack, it does not include live sports, HD, as well as premium content.

Are you a fan of Netflix or Foxtel? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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Everything You Need to Know about Home Battery Storage

Climate change is one of the pressing issues nowadays. It’s such a big environmental concern that countries are called to work together to address it. Energy-saving devices and energy-efficient appliances are being produced to help in lowering energy usage.  In this world where coal and fossil fuels are commonly seen as culprits, renewable energy takes the centre stage, and one of the things related to renewables is home battery storage.

What does it mean? The battery storage technology involves the use of solar energy, a great way to reduce the impact of Australian households to the environment.

Here are some of the benefits of a home battery storage system:

Lower dependency on electricity to lower energy bills

If you’re already using energy-saving devices and smart gadgets, you can reduce your energy bill, but you can further reduce it with home battery storage.  It helps lower your dependency on electricity from the local grid during the night. This increased self-consumption of solar PV, in turn, leads to lower energy bills.

The more renewable energy we use, the better for the environment

Home battery storage is good for the environment because it uses sunlight instead of fossil fuels to generate electricity. The price of solar solutions decreases over time and more and more Australians are being encouraged to consider sustainable energy for their homes. According to the Climate Council, in the next few years, the installation of home battery storage will be cost-effective. Prices of battery storage seem to decrease, so this is good new for those who are planning to have home battery storage.

Home battery storage offers support in case of a blackout

Another benefit of home battery storage is that in case of a blackout, it should be able to keep some of your home’s appliances running for several hours.

Adding home battery storage is only the first step towards lowering your energy bill and minimising the environmental impact – what’s more important is what you do with it, and how. The use of home battery storage, together with energy-efficient appliance and smart gadgets, can greatly lower energy bills. If you’re considering to get home battery storage, do your research to have a better understanding of what it can do for you and the environment. You can also ask friends and the local community if they have experience in using home battery storage.

Got other ideas on home battery storage and energy-efficient products? Share your tips in the comments section.

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How to Choose the Best Value Mobile Phone Plan

Whether you visit a mobile phone store or go online, you’ll find that there is a very wide range of mobile phone plans available in the market nowadays in Australia. Brands keep coming up with new models and features to cater to the ever growing needs of different consumers. With so many kinds to choose from, it’s easy to be indecisive. Just like buying energy-efficient products and smart gadgets, you want to get the best deal, but how can you choose the best value mobile phone plan?

In this article, we’ve rounded up several factors to consider when choosing a mobile phone plan:

Decide what kind of mobile phone user you are

You’re looking for a plan out of necessity, and it is important to figure out what you are going to need it for. Do you need to make a lot of calls regularly? Be online all the time for social media and video streaming? Every model or plan is designed with a specific purpose and knowing what kind of mobile phone user you are can greatly narrow down your selection.

Know how much you can afford

Of course, we want to get the most out of our hard-earned money, but just like when buying any other items such as energy-saving devices and smart gadgets, it is important to take your budget into account. In most cases, it can actually be a game-changer. You may want your mobile phone plan to have all the latest features and functions, but if you cannot afford it, you will look for the range of plans that are within your budget.

Prepaid or postpaid

This is another factor to take into account, which is why it is important to look at the benefits and drawbacks of each. Can you commit to paying a monthly bill for a locked-in period of 12 to 24 months? There may be a penalty fee should you decide to quit a postpaid plan sooner. On the other hand, a prepaid plan enables you to have total control over your mobile phone usage. However, credits may expire at a certain time, so you need to check it regularly to avoid losing unused credits.

These are just some of the factors you can consider to choose the best value mobile phone plan. You can also ask family and friends about their experience with their current plans so you can make a better decision.

Got other tips on how to choose mobile phone plans and smart gadgets in Australia? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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