Around the House (Oct. 4, 2016)

Around the House is a weekly roundup of news items related to smart devices, tools, kitchen gadgets and anything else worth mentioning that affects how we live at home.

Google Home not coming to Canada

Google held a big event Tuesday to announce the new Pixel smartphone, which features Google Assistant and supposedly has the best smartphone camera ever. The more exciting news was about their Amazon Echo competitor, Google Home. Considering the Echo is still not available in Canada I fully expected Google to jump on the market with Home and completely crush Amazon here (the Home and Echo pretty much do the exact same thing). Sadly, Google did not mention availability in Canada at all and now we have two devices we can only dream about using.

Amazon now ships faster in Toronto and Vancouver

Speaking of Amazon, they now offer same-day and weekend shipping to Amazon Prime members in Toronto and Vancouver (they really should launch their own delivery service here). They also rolled out Twitch Prime last week which offers exclusive gaming content every month, discounts on new release games and a free monthly Twitch channel subscription. Twitch Prime is included with the annual $79 Amazon Prime service for Canadians.

Samsung washing machines could hurt you

Did you purchase a top-loading Samsung washing machine between March 2011 and April 2016? If so, you might want to listen up. Samsung has issued a warning about some of these machines after reports of them “exploding”. According to Consumer Reports, “the problem seems to occur during the spin cycle when some machines suddenly and sometimes violently break apart.” Considering Samsung just had to recall the Galaxy Note 7 over reports of it exploding, this is not a very good year for the company.

No Apple Home support for the Wink Hub 2

In one of the worst-kept secrets around the smart home and “Internet of Things” community, the Wink Hub 2 was officially announced last week. Coming to a Walmart or Home Depot near you for $99US, the Wink Hub 2 adds 5GHz Wi-Fi, an Ethernet port and upgrades the internal memory from 64MB to 512MB. Unfortunately, it does not support Apple Home yet which means it’s really not worth upgrading to if you already have a first-gen Wink Hub. (When I complained about lack of Apple Home support on Twitter the company pointed out they support over 31 brands and 300 devices).

You could win $10,000 in tools from Milwaukee Tools

Milwaukee Tools launched their “Cut the Cord” contest on Oct. 1 with a grand prize of $10,000 in cordless tools! All you have to do to enter is submit a photo of your Milwaukee tool collection at cutthecordcontest.ca and get your friends and family to vote for you. There’s also monthly and weekly prizes up for grabs, along with a “most voted” prize worth $1,200. The contest closes on Jan. 31, 2017. Good luck!

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Around the House (Sept. 20, 2016)

Around the House is a weekly roundup of news items related to smart devices, tools, kitchen gadgets and anything else worth mentioning that affects how we live at home.

Philips Hue Motion Sensor coming to Canada in October

Philips is adding more ways to control its Hue line of connected bulbs and lighting devices with a new wireless motion sensor. Available in Canada this October for $39.95, the Hue Motion Sensor allows users to run certain scenes during set times. This means that if you want your Hue bulbs to only turn on in “Nightlight” mode when motion is detected between midnight and 6 a.m., you can set it up that way. I can see this being very useful when my son wakes up in the middle of the night.

Hue Motion Sensor

The Philips Hue Motion Sensor will be available in Canada for $39.95 this October.

CraveTV scoops up Rolling Stones doc at TIFF

Right before its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last week, Bell purchased the exclusive rights to The Rolling Stones road movie The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé! : A Trip Across Latin America for its video streaming service CraveTV. The film follows The Rolling Stones during their 2016 Latin American tour, which saw them stop in 10 cities, including Havana. CraveTV subscribers will be able to stream the film beginning Oct. 14. Check out the trailer for it below.

Lay’s taking Chalet Sauce chips mainstream

It seems that Canadians love Lay’s Swiss Chalet sauce flavoured chips so much that the company has to ramp up production to meet demands. The chips have been selling out since they arrived at select Swiss Chalet locations earlier this month and now Lay’s says that along with restocking restaurants, the chips will be available in limited quantities at grocery stores across the country beginning Nov. 1. Expect to see a lot of these out at holiday parties this year!

Apple helping teach kids to code with Swift Playgrounds app

Learning to code is becoming more popular with kids and now Apple is helping with their new iPad app Swift Playgrounds. The free app allows users with no programming experience to get a better understanding of coding concepts and experiment with the Swift language, which is used by professional developers to create apps. Along with app templates, Swift Playgrounds also features lessons and challenges to keep users interested. Swift Playgrounds is available via the App Store.

Swift Playgrounds

Apple’s free Swift Playgrounds iPad app helps teach kids to code.

Amazon Echo coming to Germany and the UK (but not Canada)

Amazon announced last Wednesday its popular Echo device is coming to Germany and the UK this fall, giving us Canadians hope it will be available here at some point soon. Amazon also announced a new (cheaper) Echo Dot that gives users more control of the Echo throughout the entire home. It’s also not available in Canada.

Have something to add to Around the House weekly? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Around the House (Sept. 12, 2016)

Around the House is a weekly roundup of news items related to smart devices, tools, kitchen gadgets and anything else worth mentioning from the last week that affects our home life.

Nest Cam Outdoor arrives

The highly anticipated Nest Cam Outdoor is now available to purchase for a cool $249.99 CDN. The weatherproof camera allows users to monitor the outside of their homes live 24/7 and also includes two-way audio. Users with a Nest Aware subscription can receive person alerts and have 10 or 30-day video history saved in the cloud depending on the package they subscribe to. Nest also added three new thermostat colour options this week. For those unhappy with only being able to purchase the standard stainless steel model, you can now get it in white, black and copper.

Nest Cam Outdoor

The Nest Cam Outdoor is now available in Canada for $249.

Apple shows off ‘Home’ app

During its iPhone 7 event last week, Apple briefly showed off its new ‘Home’ app in iOS 10, which will give users total control of HomeKit integrated smart devices in one location. Compatible devices include the likes of Philips Hue bulbs, the ecobee3 thermostat and Schlage Connect locks (among others). Besides the announcement that Mario is coming to the iPhone and iPad this holiday season (about time!), the ‘Home’ demo was the most exciting thing about the event.

Apple Home App

Apple’s ‘Home’ app.

PlayStation 4 Pro announced

The PlayStation 4 Pro is coming November 10. Along with a faster processor and a 1TB hard drive, it opens up 4K gaming. Unfortunately it does not not support 4K UltraHD Blu-ray titles like the XBOX One S does. This is somewhat odd since Sony Home Entertainment has been pumping out 4K UltraHD Blu-ray movies all year, including the Angry Birds movie (which, if you’re going to watch, it might as well be in 4K UltraHD).

PS4 Pro

The Sony PlayStation Pro 4.

Milwaukee Tool has a light for everyone

Four new lighting options are coming this fall from Milwaukee Tool. These include the M18 Rocket LED Tower Light/Charger, M12 ROVER LED Compact Flood Light, M18 LED Search Light and M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY, which can be programmed via the ONE-KEY app and remotely controlled from up to 50-feet away. As a fan of the Milwaukee Tool brand I’m excited for all of these. All four options will be available in October.

Milwaukee M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY

The Milwaukee M18 RADIUS LED Compact Site Light w/ONE-KEY.

Samsung Canada officially recalls Note 7

After some serious issues surrounding the Note 7 battery (like the potential of it to explode and cause a fire), Samsung Canada has issued a recall notice for the device. If you purchased one between August 19 and September 1, 2016, you are urged to power it down and register for a new one. There’s been approximately 21,953 of these sold in Canada (according to Health Canada) so if you know someone with one let them know about the recall.

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