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.

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Is the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush worth the price?

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean

The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush comes with two brush heads, a USB travel case and a special glass that can charge the unit. Photo courtesy of Philips.

For the past few years my dentist has been recommending I switch to an electric toothbrush. I’ve contemplated it a couple of times but have always walked away after seeing the price of them and not believing the benefits matched the product. My feelings on electric toothbrushes changed when Philips sent me one of their Sonicare DiamondClean models to test.

The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean is a beautifully designed electric toothbrush and I knew it was a high quality product as soon as I took it out of the box.

WATCH: Unboxing the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush

It comes in a variety of colour options, but the white model I received was perfect for my needs (and looks quite lovely on my counter).

The built-in rechargeable battery can be charged in multiple ways, including a unique glass that you just set the brush in. There’s also a durable (and classy) USB travel case and a coaster-like stand (which I thought was a lid to the cup when I unboxed it) that can charge it as well.

The handle fits comfortably in my large hands and the vibration from the motor is barely noticeable. It’s also much quieter than I expected and doesn’t wake my kids up when I’m using it in the morning or late at night.

The Sonicare DiamondClean has five brushing modes to choose from depending on the level of cleaning you want. “Clean” is good for an overall standard brushing, while “Gum Care” and “Sensitive” are more gentle modes that also massage your gums. “Polish” and “White” do deeper cleaning to help brighten your teeth.

Two brush heads are included with the Sonicare DiamondClean kit (one standard and one compact) and they easily click into place onto the handle. The brush heads do come with plastic covers but don’t fit into the travel case with them on. This was the only real downside I found with the unit as I would prefer to have the brush heads covered inside the case (especially when travelling).

No doubt, there is a huge difference in how clean my teeth are after using the Sonicare DiamondClean as opposed to a manual toothbrush. I immediately noticed a difference upon first use and after a couple of weeks of testing which modes work best for me, my teeth feel much cleaner and appear a lot whiter. My gum health also seems to be doing better (which is the reason my dentist recommended I get an electric toothbrush in the first place) and I actually get excited to brush my teeth now.

RELATED: Philips launches Sonicare connected toothbrush

While it’s not as fancy as their connected “smart” toothbrush (which tells you via an app on your phone if you didn’t brush enough), the Sonicare DiamondClean is well worth the money if you care about your dental health. I don’t think I could ever go back to a manual toothbrush again.

The Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush retails for around $199.99 on Amazon.ca. Extra brush heads are available in packs of two for around $30. For more information, visit philips.ca.

Do you use a Philips Sonicare DiamondClean or another brand of electric toothbrush? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

5 reasons to add Philips Hue bulbs to your smart home

Philips Hue

Philips Hue bulbs truly add the “smart” to “smart home”.

For the last few years I’ve been attempting to turn my home into a “smart home”. Some of the products I have added or tested have been great, while others have had constant issues or just didn’t live up to the hype. My latest addition, the Philips Hue connected LED bulb, blows every other “smart” thing out of the water. Here’s five reasons why.

Easy to setup

For my review Philips sent me the Hue White Ambiance A19 Starter Kit. This kit consists of two connected bulbs, a bridge and a remote. Hook the bridge up to your router via an Ethernet cable, screw the bulbs into the light fixtures you want them in, download the app and you’re up and running (seriously, the setup took about 10 minutes in total).

Works with everything

There is nothing more infuriating than not being able to control a “smart” device the way you want. One of the standout features of the Philips Hue bulbs is it can be controlled from almost everything. The Wink Relay works with it as does Amazon’s Echo device (still not available in Canada) and it’s compatible with Apple HomeKit (meaning you can tell Siri to turn lights on and off). It also works with Nest (lights turn on when thermostat is in “Away” mode and turn on if your smoke detector goes off) and can also be controlled via the Harmony Ultimate One remote.

Total control

Along with it working with everything I threw at it, the Hue app gives you total control of the bulbs. You can set routines for the bulbs to turn on and off, change the brightness level (“Dimmed” is great for watching Stranger Things on Netflix) and even change the colour (only if you have a colour Hue bulb). The supplied remote (which can also be mounted to the wall) can be programmed and both the Android and iOS app are easy to use. You can also control it via certain wearables, like the Apple Watch, and use the IFTTT app with it. There’s also third-party apps available that opens up the potential of Hue even further.

RELATED: Nest aims to make your home safer with new outdoor camera

Great bulb

My entire house has been updated to LED bulbs and the Philips Hue bulbs give off some of the best light out of the bunch. The White Ambiance bulbs range between 2000K and 6500K, giving you the ability to have warm or cold light depending on your mood. They’re 800 lumens, use only 10.5 watts and can last up to 25,000 hours (comparable to most LED bulbs these days). Because you can dim them via the bulb there is also no need for expensive dimmer switches, which sometimes cause LED bulbs to hum.

Expandable

Philips makes a range of Hue bulbs and up to 50 bulbs can run off of one bridge. I’ve already purchased extra bulbs for around my house and added some colour ones to the mix (having my lights outside turn orange for Halloween or red and green for Christmas is going to be awesome). There’s also Hue light strips available, which are perfect for under kitchen cabinets.

RELATED: Netatmo Weather Station review: Cool device; far from perfect

Final thoughts

The initial cost of adding Philips Hue bulbs is a bit shocking (the starter kit I was sent is about $129.99) but once you see the control they give you you’ll realize it’s well worth the investment. I honestly don’t know how I survived this long without them.

Are you a fan of Philips Hue bulbs? Use something similar? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Philips launches Sonicare connected toothbrush

Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected

The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected syncs with your iOS or Android device to give you a 3D view of your brushing habits.

Your dental hygiene is about to get smarter with the launch of the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected.

Made for adults, the Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected syncs via Bluetooth to an iOS or Android device to give a user live feedback of their brushing habits.

“At Philips, we look for ways to innovate and provide smart solutions for healthy living,” Alexander Harris, Senior Marketing Director of Philips Oral Healthcare, said in a statement.

RELATED: Is the Belkin WeMo-enabled ‘smart’ Crock-Pot worth it?

When synced with the Philips Sonicare app (for iOS and Android), users will get a 3D “mouth map” that tracks missed spots and the amount of pressure and scrubbing a user is brushing with. The app will then tell a user if they need to keep brushing and give advice on brushing techniques.

BELOW: How to use your Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected with app

“Working closely with dental professionals, we developed Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected to offer people a view into their oral health routine that will ultimately help them achieve optimal cleaning results between dental visits,” Harris said.

Other features of the Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected include a monitor that informs a user when it’s time to switch the brush head, a long-lasting rechargeable battery, three brushing modes and the option to share brushing data with a dental professional.

The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected is currently available in the U.S. for $199USD. At the time of writing there is no release date set for Canada. For more information and to see the toothbrush in action, visit philips.com.

Does a connected toothbrush excite or scare you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.