Girl Guide cookies available at Save-on-Foods – Online and in store

Shortly before we were all sent our collective rooms, my daughter brought home 24 boxes of Girl Guide cookies. At first, we were super happy knowing that we would have an almost unlimited supply of cookies for our family. Then we were sad, knowing we had eaten 6 boxes of our unlimited supply of cookies in the first week of isolation.

And these weren’t my favorite ‘Thin Mint’ type – no these were the half vanilla, half chocolate kind, and in my family, no one likes the chocolate. We had to make a rule, you must eat an equal quantity of chocolate with the vanilla so that we were not left with only chocolate at the end. This seemed smart at first, but it only really doubled our intake, and that, my friends, is why we must keep our eye on the Girl Guides, they are smart cookies.

We managed to find a new home for our remaining boxes with a friend with a large family – our small family was beginning to get worried about what kinds of exercise we might need to do to burn off 24 boxes of cookies.

There is no door-to-door delivery for cookies this year so if you want to pick some up Save-on-Foods has them on sale both online and in-store. The cookie drive is a really important funding tool for the Girl Guides so don’t be afraid to seek them out at Save-on-Foods or with friends and family with young guides. They will probably thank you for taking some boxes off of their hands, that is if they have any left.

Read the full press release below.

Save-On-Foods partners with Girl Guides of Canada to sell cookies at stores across Western Canada

LANGLEY, BC, March 27, 2020 /CNW/ – Save-On-Foods is sending boxes of Girl Guides of Canada’s famous chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies to all 175 of its Save-On-Foods and Urban Fare locations to sell the cookies on behalf of Girl Guides amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Girl Guides sell cookies as a major fundraiser to support their programs which offer girls and young women opportunities to develop confidence and life skills. Traditionally, local units set up outside of retail stores to sell the cookies or go door-to-door to their neighbours. On March 13, 2020, due to the ongoing need for social distancing, Girl Guides suspended all in-person Girl Guide activities to ensure the health and well-being of girls, adult members, volunteers and the greater community.

This suspension has virtually halted the annual spring Girl Guide cookie campaign, one of the organization’s two major fundraising initiatives. As a result, Girl Guides put out a call for help to safely sell the cookies.

Save-On-Foods answered the call, offering to send all the boxes of cookies it could to all Save-On-Foods stores across Western Canada. Now, more than 210,000 boxes of cookies are on their way. The company expects the cookies to hit shelves as early as late next week and they’ll be available at all Save-On-Foods and Urban Fare locations from B.C. to Manitoba and north to the Yukon.

“Save-On-Foods has a long history of supporting our communities, and we wanted to help Girl Guides with this fantastic tradition,” said Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones. “For many people, these cookies mark the start of spring, and we are happy to give our customers the chance to support Girl Guides by picking up a box or two next time they shop at Save-On-Foods.”

A box of cookies costs $5 and all proceeds go to Girl Guides of Canada. The cookies are available in store and online while supplies last.

Whether girls are planning a camp or buying supplies for activities, the funds from Girl Guide cookie sales make it possible for girls to participate in activities that help them build their confidence, and life-long skills,” says Jill Zelmanovits, CEO, Girl Guides of Canada. “Many units have Girl Guide cookies that they cannot sell at this time while they focus on doing their part to practice social distancing to ensure the health of their community. Having the support of a retailer like Save-On-Foods is essential to ensure girls in Guiding can continue to have access to our amazing programming and we are so grateful that they have jumped in to help us out. Their amazing commitment to sell more than 210,000 boxes is a huge relief to our local girl guides and will help us get these cookies into homes across Western Canada.”

About Save-On-Foods

Save-On-Foods is committed to Going the Extra Mile for customers in every community served, every day. Known for its unique approach in customizing each store to best suit the needs of the neighbourhood by carrying more than 2,500 locally-made products from more than 2,000 local growers and producers, the company has been innovating and putting customers first for over 100 years. Save-On-Foods, its supplier partners, team members and generous customers have donated more than $30 million to children’s hospitals and contribute $3 million in donations to food banks across Western Canada each year.

About Girl Guides of Canada

Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) empowers every girl in Guiding to discover herself and be everything she wants to be. In Guiding, girls from 5-17 meet with girls their own age in a safe, inclusive space to explore what matters to them. With programming options ranging from innovative STEM activities to outdoor adventures and discussions on mental health and healthy relationships, girls in Guiding can customize their experience to dive into the topics relevant to them – all with the support of engaged Guiders who are committed to positively impacting their lives. Girl Guide cookies is the official fundraiser for Girl Guides across Canada. The money raised through cookie sales funds innovative and dynamic programs for girls. Over 6 million boxes of cookies are sold each year and Girl Guides have been selling cookies since 1927. For more information visit GirlGuides.ca and follow @girlguidesofcanada on Instagram or @girlguidesofcan on Twitter.

Adopt a dog this Valentine’s Day and Coors Light could help cover the fees

Courtesy PRNewsfoto/Coors Brewing Company.

Ditch the chocolates and flowers this Valentine’s Day and adopt a dog instead. That’s the message Coors Light is sending by offering to help cover adoption fees for a thousand lucky Americans.

In a press release dated Tuesday, February 4 the beer giant refers to winter as being “cuffing season” – the time of year where people shack up with whoever because they are cold and lonely. And Valentine’s Day is peak cuffing season.

“Cuffing Season is a major cultural trend and poses tension for our younger drinkers, as they navigate the stress of finding someone to spend the cold months with,” Chelsea Parker, Marketing Manager at Molson Coors, is quoted as saying in the release. “With almost half of millennials planning to stay in on Valentine’s Day, we wanted to help empower people to savor the day with Coors Light and a dog by their side.”

For those eligible to participate (official rules can be found here) you have until 11:59 p.m. CT on February 21 to text 28130 with “COORS4k9” and a picture of your adoption receipt. The first thousand people who qualify will receive $100 towards their adoption fees.

Do you plan on adopting a dog this Valentine’s Day? Share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Full press release from Coors Light below.

Each Winter we witness a cultural phenomenon where people couple up to stave off the weather-induced blues; better known as Cuffing Season. Valentine’s Day is the pinnacle of Cuffing Season, and according to a new survey from Coors Light, a majority of young legal drinking age millennials (58%) find it overrated. That’s why Coors Light encourages you to skip the cheesy Valentine’s traditions and spend the day with a fur-ever friend – and will help pay fees for 1,000 dogs adopted between 12:00 PM CT on February 4, 2020 and 11:59:59 PM CT on February 21, 2020.

“Cuffing Season is a major cultural trend and poses tension for our younger drinkers, as they navigate the stress of finding someone to spend the cold months with,” said Chelsea Parker, Marketing Manager at Molson Coors. “With almost half of millennials planning to stay in on Valentine’s Day, we wanted to help empower people to savor the day with Coors Light and a dog by their side.”

Anyone of legal drinking age who resides in an eligible state and adopts a dog between February 4–21, 2020 can have Coors Light help cover their adoption fees. Eligible participants can text “COORS4k9” and a picture of their adoption receipt to 28130. After review, the first 1,000 eligible participants will be given $100 to apply toward their adoption fees. See terms and conditions at www.promorules.com/PL013422 for full offer details.

This Valentine’s Day, spend your time with a companion who will stick around for summer fun: your new adopted dog and a refreshing Coors Light.

The brand’s latest ad “The Official Beer of Skipping Cuffing Season” from the new “Made to Chill” campaign is currently airing nationwide.

About Coors Brewing Company

Coors Brewing Company was founded in 1873 by Adolph Coors, who chose the Clear Creek Valley in Golden, Colo., for his new brewery because of the pure water in the nearby Rocky Mountain springs. The brewery’s original and most enduring beer is Coors Banquet (Coors.com, Facebook.com/CoorsBanquet, YouTube.com/OfficialCoorsBanquet), still brewed exclusively in Golden using only Rocky Mountain water and high-country barley. Coors Light (CoorsLight.com, Facebook.com/CoorsLight, @CoorsLight on Twitter, YouTube.com/CoorsLight) was introduced in 1978 and now is the second-best-selling beer in the United States. Triple-filtered smooth Keystone Light (KeystoneLight.com, Facebook.com/KeystoneLight) is one the country’s most popular economy beers. Learn more at MillerCoors.com, at Facebook.com/MillerCoors or on Twitter through @MillerCoors.

Coors Light partnered with ENGINE INSIGHTS on a nationally representative survey of Americans ages 21–27.

NO BEER PURCHASE IS REQUIRED. PAYMENT OF DOG ADOPTION FEE IS REQUIRED, Purchase/adoption required. Open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S./DC, 21+ years of age. VOID IN CA, LA, PA, SD, TX, VA, WV AND WHERE PROHIBITED. Begins 2/4/20 at 12:00 PM CT and ends 2/21/20 at 11:59:59 PM CT, or once offer items are exhausted, whichever occurs first. During the offer period, at a participating location, complete the adoption process of one (1) dog (an “Adoption”), and text a picture of Adoption receipt to 28130 stating the keyword “COORS4K9” to receive one (1) unique redemption code that can be used to redeem $100 via Venmo (“Offer Item”). Venmo account required to receive Offer Item. Redemption codes must be redeemed by 11:59:59 PM CT on 2/24/20. Limit 1 Offer Item per person/household. No more than 1,000 Offer Items are available in the offer. Where permitted, original register receipt required. For Terms and Conditions, including offer details and restrictions, visit www.promorules.com/PL013422. Purchase not condition of consent. Msg&data rates may apply. Text HELP to 28130 for help. Text STOP to 28130 to cease messages. This offer is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with Venmo.

Sponsor: MillerCoors LLC.

SOURCE Coors Brewing Company

Christmas 2020: Last minute gift ideas for dads

Christmas 2019

Christmas is rapidly approaching if you haven’t bought the dad in your life a gift yet, you better get a move on! Don’t have any ideas? Here are a few last minute suggestions that I (and many dads I know) would be happy to see under the tree.

Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin has a very nice, smooth taste to it and goes well with tonic, or in a martini or mixed drink (Blake Lively drinks a lot of this in the movie A Simple Favor, which is now streaming on Amazon Prime).

Proper Twelve is an Irish whiskey from MMA fighter Conor McGregor that offers up some great flavours when drank neat (as all whiskey should be drank).

Patron XO Cafe

Patron’s XO Café is a coffee tequila liqueur that works as a shot (it gives a nice boost during party season) and also goes well in a coffee or over a bowl of ice cream.

Philips S9000 Prestige wet and dry shaver

I hadn’t used an electric razor since high school and I was skeptical when the Philips S9000 Prestige wet and dry shaver arrived at my door a couple of months ago. To my surprise, it has become my go-to for quick shaves in the morning or before going out at night. It delivers a clean shave, keeps its charge and is great for taking on the road. It runs about $299 on Amazon  and is well worth it.

Flip Belgian Waffle Baker with Removable Grids

Kitchen appliances are not something most people think about giving dad, but it’s 2019 and the notion we’re all stupid in the kitchen is outdated. I picked up a few Hamilton Beach products earlier this year to help keep my meals creative, and they have definitely made my home a happier place.

The Flip Belgian Waffle Baker with Removable Grids they sell is my favourite of the bunch as my kids enjoy using it with me (and we’ve made some great waffles with it). It’s also super easy to clean as it’s dishwasher safe.

Personal Creations Blender with travel lid

For making a quick smoothie in the morning (or a daiquiri on the weekend) the Hamilton Beach Personal Creations Blender with travel lid ($19.99) is a godsend! It handles frozen drinks well and is portable enough we take it to the cottage often.

1.5 Quart Compact Multi Cooker

We use our Instant Pot for most big meals these days, but when we only need to steam some veggies or cook a small amount of rice, the Hamilton Beach 1.5 Quart Compact Multi Cooker ($49.95) is so much easier to deal with. It’s also great for eggs or oatmeal in the morning.

My cousin introduced me to the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells last summer and I had to get a set! Not only do these feel great to use, they let you select the desired weight (between 5 and 52.2 lbs) in one compact dumbbell. They run $428 a set but are well worth the investment.

I’ve been a fan of EGO Power tools since they hit the Canadian market over five years ago and own almost everything they offer. This summer I gifted my older 20-inch mower of theirs (which still works great) to my father-in-law and picked up their new 21-inch Power+ model ($598 at Home Depot). All the dads in my neighbourhood stop to talk about it when I’m out cutting the grass and I know they are all hoping Santa brings them one.

With new streaming services like Disney+ and Apple TV+ recently launching, upgrading dad to a new 4K streaming box is probably the best (and cheapest) way to make him happy this Christmas. And nothing beats the Roku Premiere ($44.99) when it comes to a streaming box with the most options available that’s easy to use. Along with standard fare like Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can also get sports from DAZN, movies from Cineplex and Google Play Movies, and so much more.

Do you have any last minute gift ideas for dad? Share them in the comments below!

Hamuq mattress review: A better bed-in-a-box

Hamuq mattress review

My queen size Hamuq mattress right after it expanded from the package.

After suffering from one too many uncomfortable sleeps I finally decided to ditch my old, saggy mattress and get something that wouldn’t make me cry when I went to bed at night. I knew I wanted something with memory foam, that was easy to get into my house and that was made to the best standards possible. My research led me to review the Hamuq mattress and I couldn’t be happier.

Hamuq is an online mattress retailer based in Peterborough, Ontario. All their mattresses are made in Toronto under strict quality and labour standards and they only use environmentally-friendly materials to make their mattresses (along with Canadian steel). Supporting a Canadian company and sleeping on something that isn’t packed with chemicals were both important to my wife and I.

What truly sold me on the Hamuq mattress as opposed to the many other bed-in-a-box options out there is that it is a hybrid pocket coil and memory foam mattress. Most online mattress retailers, like Casper and Leesa, only sell solid memory foam mattresses. With a pocket coil mattress you get the benefits of a firm mattress, the comfort of a pillow-top mattress and it also extracts heat and helps you sleep much cooler.

WATCH: Hamuq mattress unboxing and review

The Hamuq mattress is available in twin, double, queen and king sizes at varying price points from $699 to $999. No matter what size you order it is shipped for free to your door in a convenient, reasonably sized box. Hamuq also offers a 101 night trial so if you are not totally happy with your mattress purchase they will give you a full refund and pick the mattress up for free (if you send the mattress back it is donated to someone in need and not thrown in the garbage).

For my Hamuq mattress review I picked up the queen size mattress and it arrived a couple of days later. Because the mattress is rolled and compressed, my wife and I had no issues bringing the box (which was much smaller than I expected but also much heavier) inside and getting it into our bedroom.

The mattress is really compressed and packed inside the box. Once I got the rolled up bag of mattress out I carefully opened the plastic and BAM! It grew into a queen mattress (for some reason I compared this to being a big burrito). The process was very cool and satisfying to watch, and our kids were blown away by the whole thing (watch my Hamuq mattress review and unboxing video above to see it grow).

Our first impression of the Hamuq mattress was that the material felt very soft and high-end. There was also no off-gassing or nasty odor at all, which is expected from new furniture these days. As soon as I laid down on it I felt my back thanking me.

After my first sleep on it I found my back wasn’t sore the next morning. Where I used to spend 10 – 15 minutes each morning trying to work out the pain so I could stand straight, I now jump out of bed fresh and ready for the day ahead. After sleeping on the Hamuq mattress for a few months my back still feels great and I now dread having to sleep in a hotel (or anywhere else).

We got the mattress in early August when it was still quite warm out. As promised, the Hamuq mattress sleeps much cooler and I noticed right away I wasn’t waking up all sweaty. Now that the nights are getting cooler I find the mattress is still a comfortable temperature when I get into bed at night.

The big bonus of the Hamuq mattress is the pocket coils. If I do toss and turn in my sleep my wife doesn’t feel it at all, and vice versa. We both end up getting a much better sleep because of this. It’s also much easier to share the bed if one of our kids shows up in the middle of the night (which they do a lot more now that we have such a comfortable bed) or if our cat wants to curl up with us.

The one issue we had wasn’t an issue with the mattress itself but with our old box spring. Along with it and our bed frame, everything was way too high to get into bed without having to leap up (I’m 6’5″ and it felt high). The good news is that you can use the mattress on a slatted frame without a box spring, as well as on a platform bed or directly on the floor.

Overall we are very impressed and happy with our Hamuq mattress and highly recommend it. My only regret is that I didn’t know about it sooner and suffered with back problems and many bad sleeps for way too long.

If you want to try a Hamuq mattress in-person, Hamuq has a pop-up event planned in Toronto on Thursday, October 12 as part of the Peaces Night Market at 401 King St. W. from 5 to 10 p.m. For every sale made that night, $100 will be donated to the Toronto Humane Society. The mattress used will also be donated to someone in need after the event.

For more information on the Hamuq mattress, visit hamuq.com.

Are you in the market for a new mattress? Do you own a Hamuq or other bed-in-the-box brand mattress? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Best Buy Canada’s Life & Tech Festival returning to Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square

 

Best Buy Life & Tech

Best Buy Canada announced Thursday that their Life & Tech Festival is returning to Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square for the third year.

The interactive festival showcases smart home and connected health devices, along with the latest in wearable tech, connected toys and drones, and gaming and virtual reality systems.

Best Buy says over 60 exhibitors from around the globe will be demonstrating products at the 2017 fest.

The event runs daily from September 12 to 14 between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. It’s free for the public to check out.

Are you interested in Best Buy Canada’s Life & Tech Festival? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Head back to school with the Luma Home WiFi system

Luma Home WiFi

If you’re worried about online security, have kids in the home or have a lot of connected devices, the Luma Home is a solid, secure mesh WiFi system that offers many great features.

In my review of Netgear’s Orbi WiFi system earlier this summer I mentioned that mesh WiFi routers are all the rage these days. And while the Orbi is a powerful system, it lacked some features I expected and I found that the base station and satellite were unreasonably large (especially if you live in an apartment or smaller house). This led to me looking into other mesh WiFi systems like the Luma Home.

Unboxing

Because I live in a side-split and have had issues with coverage in the past, I went for the three-pack Luma offers. This comes with a base hub and two nodes (they are all interchangeable and any of the three can be used as the base hub). I was immediately impressed with the size of the hexagon-shaped units when I opened the box as these are small and well-designed, and you can plug them in and hide them easily around your home.

Setup

I connected the main hub to my cable modem in the middle of my basement and followed the instructions on the Luma app to complete the setup of the nodes and find the best placement for them. The app asks for the type of home you have then uses Bluetooth to sync the nodes to the main hub. The app makes the setup super easy and hassle-free and I was up and running in under 20 minutes.

The connection

While not as powerful as the Orbi, I found the WiFi connection from Luma to be stable and strong throughout my entire home, even with a family of four and endless devices connected I found everything worked seamlessly.

RELATED: Orbi delivers on performance, falls on features

Luma also constantly fine tunes the connection depending on where you’ve placed the nodes and what is happening around your home. You will also be notified via the app if there are any issues. This is a great as it learns your habits and helps you get the strongest signal.

Each of the nodes has two ethernet ports that can be used to connect to other devices, such as smart home hubs or networked printers. If you find you are having issues getting a strong connection between the three units wirelessly you can wire them all together via the ethernet ports to create a larger wireless area.

The Luma nodes also have a USB port. Unfortunately, these are only able to charge devices, like an iPhone or iPad, and not connect to a network drive or printer.

App and features

Where Luma stands out from the Orbi and other mesh WiFi systems I’ve tried is with the features it offers via the app.

You can name and assign all devices connected to your network to individual people. This keeps your network more organized and means you can set ratings for each person, pause the Internet for a person and also monitor if anything weird is happening with a specific device.

RELATED: Google Home review: How my family got hooked on a personal assistant speaker

This is ideal if you have children in the home (or roommates you want to limit). I set my son’s profile to a PG rating so that any content or sites he tries to view on his iPad that is not PG-friendly will not work, including YouTube videos. If I call him for dinner and he’s not listening, I can pause his connection. I can also set a time limit for him and set a daily bedtime – a time of day where his assigned devices will not be able to access the Internet.

Luma also monitors for any malicious activity and will alert you to such. This is perfect for devices that don’t have anti-virus software available, such as TVs and light bulbs. Because of this feature I was able to identify that my Vizio TV was sending info to a tracking site and that my Pixel phone was constantly hitting a phishing URL from a tab I had opened in Chrome.

For extra security you can also sign-up for the $5 per month Luma Guardian service which gives you a stealth VPN service, antivirus protection and a 2-year extended warranty on your Luma WiFi devices. It also monitors your ISP speed to see if you’re getting what you’re paying for.

The only feature missing from Luma that annoyed me is the ability to see your bandwidth usage. This would be a great addition and hopefully they add it in the future.

Final thoughts

If you’re worried about online security, have kids in the home or have a lot of connected devices, the Luma Home is a solid, secure mesh WiFi system that offers many great features. Because of it’s compact size, it’s also perfect for people who live in an apartment or smaller home, and for students heading off to college.

The Luma Home WiFi system three-pack sells for $399 at Best Buy Canada. Single units can be purchased for $149.99. For more information on the Luma Home WiFi system, visit lumahome.com.

Are you interested in mesh WiFi systems? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Google Home review: How my family got hooked on a personal assistant speaker

Google Home

My Google Home patiently waiting for me to ask it something.

Ever since I heard about the Amazon Echo a couple of years ago I’ve wanted a personal assistant speaker. The idea I could just walk into my home and tell it to turn on lights or adjust my thermostat was the obvious next level in my dream of having a high-tech house.

While I waited for Amazon to release the Echo (or its cousin, the Echo Dot) in Canada, Google unleashed the Google Assistant on its line of Pixel phones. The Assistant was near perfection and was the main reason I ditched my iPhone and made the move to Android (bye, Siri). It kept getting better and better, too, with new capabilities being added frequently.

So when Google announced the Google Home, their Echo competitor, back in 2016, I was intrigued at what it could offer. It appeared to be just like the Assistant on my phone but able to do more in my home and for my entire family. And unlike the Echo, which uses Bing to look things up, Home has the almighty Google Search behind it. Then Google did something Amazon didn’t (and still hasn’t) – they released the Google Home in Canada!

Now, my excitement of having a personal assistant speaker over the years was not shared by my wife. My kids, of course, were on my side, but she was not sold on having a device “listening” in on us and told me I was never going to be allowed to bring one into our home. When Google offered to lend me a Home to review I figured it would be the only way I could convince her we needed one and, spoiler alert, it worked!

Here’s what impressed my family the most about the Google Home and why we can’t live without one now.

The speaker

I was not expecting much in the sound department from the air freshener looking Google Home. I’m used to streaming music via my Sonos system, which is still the gold standard for connected speakers in my opinion. That said, the Google Home offers really good sound quality that fills my living room quite nicely.

Being able to control Spotify (my streaming music service of choice) and raise or lower the volume via my voice is also a big benefit and a huge timesaver. This was by far the biggest selling feature for my wife, and even my kids ask it to play songs they like (although my youngest is hooked on Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” thanks to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and that’s all I hear now).

Home control

Controlling my lights and thermostat by voice is what I wanted the Google Home for in the first place, and it has lived up to my expectations!

The Google Home works with a majority of “smart” products and was easy to connect with my Philips Hue bulbs, Nest thermostat and Lutron switches. I can say things like “Ok, Google dim my living room lights” and ta-da, my living room Hue bulbs dim! Or I can say “Ok, Google adjust the temperature to 21” and I can see my Nest light up and adjust the temperature. It also works with the Wink hub, WeMo plugs and switches, TP-Link bulbs and Samsung’s SmartThings hub (among a slew of other devices).

Sadly, Logitech does not support the Google Home in Canada yet so users of the Harmony remote won’t be able to control their TVs via voice (this is an option in the U.S. and I still don’t understand why it doesn’t work here). If you have a Chromecast though (which, I do not) you can use the Google Home to control it via voice.

It really is an assistant

Since the Google Home is connected to your Google account it truly does act as a personal assistant. “Ok, Google what’s my day like?” will tell you things that are on your calendar, let you know how long your commute to work is and tell you the weather for the day.

You can also ask for the latest headlines and it will play you clips from news providers you’ve selected (CBC, Global News, Sportsnet and CityNews are available Canadian sources). And it works for multiple users, meaning my wife and I can both access our own info depending on who is talking.

Perfect in the kitchen

Using the Google Home to add items to our shopping list, set timers when we’re cooking, convert measurements and even find recipes are features of the Home I never expected to be hooked on. It’s pretty much the perfect kitchen gadget and has become a great motivation to get me cooking more.

General knowledge

With a six and a 10-year-old in the house we get a lot of questions about a lot of different things. We try our best to answer everything we can but when they ask a question like “how many home runs did Jackie Robinson hit?” I need to look it up. These questions usually come up at the dinner table when phones and computers are not around (and not allowed). Now we can ask the Google Home questions to get the answer and that tends to lead into more questions and more learning opportunities.

My wife also found this to be a blessing when doing homework for a class she was taking. Instead of getting distracted on her phone or computer she asked it a few questions to clarify info as she was writing notes.

Games

The Google Home is loaded with fun word and sound games you can play. These range from trivia and math-based games to things like Mad Libs and Tic Tac Toe. Because there is no screen, you need to visualize and actually use your brain a bit more than if you were just playing a game on your phone or tablet. My kids and I find it’s great to play these around the breakfast table and I’ve even caught them forgoing their iPad time in favour of these games.

The Google Home can be purchased in Canada for $159 from the Google Store. It’s also available to purchase at Best Buy and Home Depot.

Have a Google Home or want one? Share your thoughts on it in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Orbi delivers on performance, falls on features

Mesh WiFi routers are all the rage this year, and rightfully so. A mesh network delivers a stronger connection throughout your home with fewer dead zones and dropouts. And Netgear’s Orbi WiFi system is one of the most powerful systems I’ve tested.

Unboxing

I received the two-unit AC3000 Orbi WiFi system to test from Netgear. It comes with a base router and one satellite. Both feature four Ethernet ports and a USB 2.0 port. To my surprise, the units are much larger than I expected, especially when compared to other mesh WiFi systems, and finding a spot to place them proved difficult.

Setup

After finding a spot for the oversize base unit and satellite to live, I set my system up using my Google Pixel. I did the entire setup via the phone’s web browser and it was a breeze. In total it took about 15 minutes to get everything up and running.

Orbi WiFi

Trying to find a spot to hide the large Orbi satellite proved to be difficult.

The connection

Netgear says that the two-unit Orbi system covers up to 5000 sq. ft. and they don’t lie. I live in a side-split bungalow and have had issues in the past with dropouts and dead zones. With the Orbi my connection has been solid throughout my home, in my garage, and all around my yard.

The Ethernet ports on the satellite have proved beneficial for connecting IoT/Smart Home hubs, like my Philips Hue and Wink hubs. I also found that the Orbi works with wireless IoT/Smart Home products much better than other mesh systems I have tested.

Sadly, the USB ports on both the base unit and satellite are for networked storage only and not printers.

App and features

The official Orbi app is quite useless and I recommend Netgear’s genie app to manage your Orbi system. While the genie app offers some nice features for mapping out devices and monitoring traffic, it still does not give enough control when it comes to security or parental features (you can’t even turn on the guest network via the app and will need to login through the web portal for this). The system can supposedly be controlled via an Amazon Echo, which would be a bonus if it ever gets released in Canada.

Final thoughts

Overall, if you are having issues with WiFi dropouts in your home or have a lot of connected devices, the Orbi should solve your problems. If you want more parental controls, features or a better app experience, look into other mesh systems like the eero or Luma.

The two-unit Orbi WiFi system retails for $499 on Amazon.ca. For more info and full specs, visit netgear.com.

Are you looking to upgrade your home WiFi network? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Google Home finally coming to Canada

Google Home

Google Home is coming to Canada “this summer.”

During the Google I/O developer conference Wednesday it was announced that Google Home will be coming to Canada “this summer.”

Similar to the popular Amazon Echo (which is still not available in Canada), Google Home is a voice assistant that can answer questions, play music, control connected devices (like Hue bulbs), plus a few other things.

Along with Canada, Google Home will also be released in Australia, Japan, France and Germany.

No exact date was given as to when Google Home will be available in Canada or the other announced countries.

Are you excited to finally be able to get a Google Home in Canada? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Never fumble for keys again with the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt

Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt

Schlage’s Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt is an easy-to-use connected lock that is functional and sleek.

Along with connected bulbs and thermostats, one of the most obvious places to implement a “smart” home device is your front door. I’ve tested a few of these connected locks in the past but none have been as sleek or friendly to use as the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt.

Unboxing

The Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt comes with a numbered touchpad panel for the outside of the door and a bulkier inside unit that holds the batteries, wires and also acts as an alarm. All required hardware, instructions and batteries are included in the box, along with one physical key (which I have still not used).

There are different trim and colour options available for the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt. I picked up the century trim model in satin nickel and was surprised at how well it immediately blended into the features of my house.

Installation

I was replacing a Kevo Bluetooth Deadbolt with the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt. Swapping the two was extremely simple and took about 20 minutes to do. If you are installing it on a brand new door or a non-standard door, it could take longer to install. The instructions are very detailed and easy to follow, though.

Setting up codes

The Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt comes with two preset 4-digit PIN numbers programmed and a 6-digit programming code (all of these are located in the user guide and on the back of the inside unit). A total of 17 other unique 4-digit PIN numbers can be programmed, making it easy for each family member to have their own code. Setting these up is as simple as entering the programming code followed by the 4-digit PIN you want to set. Again, the instructions are easy to follow and you won’t be lost setting up a PIN.

RELATED: Netatmo Welcome review: the security camera you didn’t know you needed

Locking and unlocking

I have never had a lock as easy to use as the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt. To lock it from the outside all you need to do is press the Schlage logo on the front of the touchpad and, boom! It locks. When you want to unlock your door from the outside, you press the Schlage logo to get it to light up then enter one of your 4-digit PIN numbers (locking and unlocking from the inside works the way any other deadbolt does). You can also set it to auto-lock after 30 seconds and link it to a Wink Hub (see below).

Wink integration

Being able to double check that you locked your door when you get to work or being able to open your door for someone when you’re not home is probably the control you want from a “smart” lock. The Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt can connect to a Wink Hub or Wink Hub 2 in order to give you this control from within the Wink app or from a Wink Relay switch. And it’s worth getting a Wink Hub in order to gain this ability as it truly opens up a whole new world (when I get home with a load of groceries or a sleeping child in the backseat I unlock the door from my car and don’t have to mess around with my arms full).

The alarm

The unit I got has a built-in alarm. While this sounds like a good idea, I found it very sensitive and awkward to use (wind blowing against the door even set it off one night). It also takes a bit to get the alarm to stop once it goes off (my poor papergirl had the scare of her life when I was testing it). After playing with the settings I never found a good middle ground and ended up disabling it.

RELATED: 5 reasons to add Philips Hue bulbs to your smart home

Final thoughts

Issues with the alarm feature aside, the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt is a great lock that’s easy to use and extra functional when paired with a Wink Hub. The ability to use codes instead of keys makes life much easier and has already saved me hours trying to find my keys multiple times a day.

The Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt retails for around $239.99 at Home Depot and Lowe’s in Canada. For more information, visit schlage.com.

Do you use a connected “smart” lock? Interested in one? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.