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Category: #Smarthomes (Page 1 of 2)

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Walmart Spilled the Beans on Google’s Next Smart Speaker a Week Early


Google isn’t expected to announce its next smart speaker until Sept. 30 during its Launch Night In event, but it apparently that hasn’t stopped Walmart from spilling the beans a week early.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sam Rutherford

Amazon’s Sidewalk Will Take Your Smart Home Outdoors with Echo and Tile

Amazon’s ambitions to extend your smart home outside are starting to take off. While the company announced the Sidewalk initiative last year, we haven’t heard much more until now. Now Amazon says it’s getting closer to release and will expand the standard to Echo devices and Tile. The latter marks the first third-party company collaboration for Sidewalk.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

What’s the Deal with Google Home and Nest? Is There a Difference?

In the smart home world, there are two brands you hear about a lot: Google Home and Nest. Both are actually owned by Google, but the way the company uses these names has led to some confusion.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joe Fedewa

X-Sense Mini wireless interconnected smoke detector review: This tiny alarm networks with up to 24 others


The X-Sense Mini isn’t a smart smoke alarm, but it is very affordable, especially if you buy in bulk. And its ability to interconnect means if one goes off, they’ll all go off, increasing the chances that everyone in the home will be alerted to escape. 

Don’t get us wrong, smart smoke detectors offer major benefits; namely, the ability be informed if there’s a fire in your house when you’re not there. But do you really need a phalanx of them?

Outfitting a typical three-bedroom home with our favorite smart smoke detector—the Nest Protect—will run you around $465 for a three-pack on Amazon. If budget’s an issue, one smart alternative is to install a single smart smoke detector in central location, and then use less-expensive interconnected detectors in the rest of the house.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Christopher Null

How to Broadcast Messages on Google Assistant Speakers and Displays

If you have a number of Google Home or Nest speakers and Smart Displays scattered around your house, why not put them to use as a broadcasting system? That’s exactly what you can do with the Google Assistant.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joe Fedewa

How to Stream Audio from Linux to Chromecast and Google Home

chromecast-featured-image-1.jpg As our homes fill with streaming devices, we need to manage them from all our machines, including Linux boxes. In this article we show you how you can stream audio and videos from your Linux machine to Chromecast and Google Home. Use MKCHROMECAST Mkchromecast is a program to cast audio and video from your macOS or Linux desktop to your Google Cast devices or Sonos speakers. It is written in Python and comes with packages for both Debian and Ubuntu. If your repositories are up to date, you can open a terminal and type: sudo… Read more13871714.gif

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andy Channelle

Kyvol Cybovac E30 Robot Vacuum: A Competent Cleaner with Floor Mapping Memory

kyvol cybovac e30 on charging dockSte Knight

The Cybovac E30 is a robot vacuum cleaner (RVC) that forms part of the new Kyvol range of semi-autonomous cleaning solutions. They have released three models: the E20 (vacuum), the E30 (vacuum), and the E31 (vacuum/mop hybrid). The E30 is their midrange option and, as such, has several features you would expect from such an RVC.

Retailing at $249, you actually get quite a bit for your hard-earned dollar. This is a seriously low price for a robot vacuum so I was genuinely curious to see how the E30 would perform when lined up to some of its competition. That competition is pretty stiff in a market that is becoming more and more saturated with like-for-like models, so the Cybovac has a lot to prove.

With all of that in consideration, let’s take a look at the performance of this cyborg chambermaid and see what all the fuss is about.

A Box of Tricks

We’re not talking Masked Magician level tricks, here, but the Cybovac E30 does come with some features that will make it stand out against other robot vacuums within the $249 price range. The box contains all you need to get started; you don’t actually need to use the Kyvol smartphone app which can be downloaded from the Google Play and Apple App stores, although that is an option.

Two AAA batteries manufactured by Sundy.Sundy; such a reliable brand

In the box, you get the Cybovac E30 vacuum, a power adapter, the charging dock, remote control with two AAA batteries (manufactured by Sundy; you know, the inventors of the Strollboy personal cassette player and the RecreationTerminal games console), two side brushes, instruction manual, the maintenance tool, a HEPA filter, and the boundary strips with 3m tape to stick it down.

In terms of dimensions, the vacuum is 325mm diameter x 73mm high. This means it should slip under sofas and such without a problem. It is always worth measuring this kind of space before you buy any robot cleaner; underneath the sofa is where most dust will accumulate, so you want to make sure the robot can get under there and give it a good clean.

In terms of its looks, you’re getting a circular robot vacuum that emulates the appearance of pretty much all of the other RVCs on the market. It comes in a black colorway with a high-luster plate at the top, complete with an attractive concentric circle design. The top houses the auto-start button and the charge button. The former will commence a clean, while the latter will send the vacuum to the charging dock. You will also find the Wi-Fi indicator next to the auto-start button.

kyvol cybovac e30 top controlsSte Knight

The front of the Cybovac houses the sensor for mapping your home. This is covered by a plastic bumper that absorbs any bumps or knocks that your vacuum may take during a clean. The back features the recess for the dustbin, which is capable of holding up to 0.6 liters of dust and is easily removed with a click of the orange clip. This is the average volume of dustbin for a robot vacuum where the dustbin clips into the back. The E31 hybrid model has the same-sized dustbin, which can be swapped out for the included mopping reservoir.

kyvol cybovac e30 undersideSte Knight

The belly of the beast is where the action all happens. We have all manner of gubbins on the underside, including (from front to back) the front drop sensor that prevents the vacuum from doing its best Slinky impression down the stairs, the universal balance wheel, the “hall sensors” that detect the magnetic boundary strips, the mount for one side brush (we’ll discuss this later), two more drop sensors, the drive wheels, dust inlet, the main brush, and the power switch.

In all, there isn’t really anything outstandingly different about the appearance of the E30, apart from the fact that it only has one side brush. We’ll talk about this when we discuss the performance of the machine later.

Just Get Vacuuming, Will You?

If you are a newbie where robot vacuums are concerned, then I’ll venture that you will like the Cybovac E30. As mentioned earlier, the vacuum can work with or without the Kyvol app. So, you don’t necessarily need to download it at all if you’re happy with just setting the vacuum off on its first clean.

Just pop the robot on the charger for its first full charge and, once that is done, you’re ready to send it off on a scouting mission. Once you’ve loaded the Sundy batteries into the remote, just hit start, and off the E30 will go to map the space it will be cleaning. It will complete a clean now as well, killing two birds with one stone. Note, if you don’t use the app, you won’t see the map that the E30 creates. Not that you really need to.

kyvol cybovac e30 remote controlSte Knight

If you do want to use the app, you need to connect the robot to your Wi-Fi, so it can speak to your phone. It will only connect to a 2.4 GHz band, so dual-band routers will need to have the signal split so it can recognize this. It uses the 2.4 GHz band, as that offers better stability through walls and floors etc.

Once you have connected to the app, it’s pretty much the same as using the remote control in terms of operating the vacuum. There is even a soft-remote within the app that sets the device off in exactly the same way as the remote control does. Simple, Simon!

The initial bedroom mapping/cleaning session took four minutes in all. I was kind of expecting this, as the same has been true with previous mapping robovacs I have reviewed. My house is small, so it was over and done with pretty sharpish. Overall, setting the device up is nice and simple, whether you decide to use the remote or the app.

It Vacuums … Well

So, how does the E30 perform in terms of vacuuming? Well, it has a whopping 2,200 Pa suction power so, with that in mind, it should make light work of any debris littering your floor. Even carpets shouldn’t be a bother for this kind of suction. But are they?

Well, apparently not. I threw the vacuum in at the deep end and set it to task in my upstairs space (which is essentially just two bedrooms). This area is carpeted, and it is also where the cats spend most of their day. They’re molting heavily at the moment, so the carpet needs to be vacuumed every day.

The dustbin once the first clean had taken placeThe dustbin once the first clean had taken place…. Ste Knight

The vacuum does an excellent job of cleaning the floor upstairs. It lifts the cat hair out of the pile with ease and sucked up any cobs of cat hair without even breaking a sweat. I had noticed a couple of strands of cotton on the carpet before I started the test clean and those were gone, too. So, it is great for carpets.

The E30’s performance was relatively good downstairs on the laminate floor. Most of the cat litter trails were gone, so that was great, and it made light work of most other dust and debris that was laying around. Like a novice Pokemon trainer, though, it didn’t catch ’em all and there were some bits randomly strewn across the floor, so I did need to then make use of the spot clean function where it hadn’t quite grabbed everything. It took 23 minutes in total; this time is in line with other robot vacuums I’ve used.

The vacuum cleans in a linear pattern, thanks to the gyroptic navigation (presumably a combination of a gyroscope and the optical mapping sensor, I’m guessing…). This offers a significantly more efficient clean than a vacuum that cleans in a random pattern. The Cybovac E20 is a vacuum that uses a random “bounce mode.” It is cheaper, and hence, why the E30 is the midrange model.

cybovac e30 single side brush nodeOnly one side brush node…. Ste Knight

There is one hang-up I have about the E30. I mean, I’m really flummoxed over this one. The E20—Kyvol’s lowest-priced vacuum—comes with two side brushes. However, both the E30 and the E31 come with only one side brush, with an optical flow sensor located where the other should be. I feel like they should have maybe placed the sensor somewhere else, as having only one brush means that the vacuum can only pick up debris that lies to the right-hand side of the vacuum. However, I also accept that this might not be possible.

This is why the cleaning downstairs wasn’t overly impressive, I’ll venture. It basically only has 50% of the dust-sweeping efficiency of a vacuum with two brushes. Aside from getting into corners, the brushes are supposed to sweep debris towards the vacuum inlet. If only one brush is present, it is logically only going to do half the work. I just wish that the more expensive models had two brushes.

Mid-Range Performance?

We do have mid-range performance with the Cybovac E30. It takes 6.5 hours to charge it from empty (which is what you are required to do when you first get it). That is a long time. However, you do get the full Kyvol-published 150 minutes of cleaning time out of the device once it’s fully charged.

a clean carpet with the linear mode shown by the carpet pileIf you look closely you can see the pattern left by the linear cleaning mode…. Ste Knight

Plus, once it is fully charged, unless you use it for the full 150 minutes, it will never fully run out of battery. It heads back to the charging dock of its own accord once a clean is complete. In my case, it took 4 minutes to clean my bedroom. This is only a small space, however, and is predominantly inhabited by the bed and sideboard.

The boundary tape certainly helps when it comes to the E30. It recognizes these on the floor via the hall sensors underneath. These prevent the vacuum from crossing over the boundary strip and into, say, a pile of wires or an expensive vase. That way you know both the vacuum and your belongings are safe from damage.

The remote control is decent, though. It has all the cleaning modes on there, plus it even displays the time on the display at the top. This is important as you can also use the remote to schedule cleans, meaning that it can clean when you’re not even at home, without you even having to interact with the E30. I’m a fan of this ability straight out of the box. It means you don’t even need the app. Speaking of which….

So … the App

E30 app select device E30 app map display E30 app soft controls

The first thing that annoyed me about the app was the fact that I need to create an account to use it. Had I not been reviewing this device, I genuinely wouldn’t have bothered with the app. Why do I need to register my details to clean my house? None of the other app-enabled RVCs I have reviewed require this—you just launch the app and connect the vacuum. So, that got my goat from the offset.

Once my abject rage had subsided (perhaps I’m exaggerating a little), I added my details and I was into the app. The first thing we are greeted with is the “Add Device” screen. This is pretty straightforward and connecting my smartphone to the vacuum wasn’t an issue. You just select the right model, and the app guides you through the setup process. Then you’re ready to direct the vacuum with the software.

The app is fairly light. It can show you a cleaning record, which features a map of the area it has cleaned, plus the size of the space it cleaned and the time taken. Aside from that, the only other real feature in the app is the soft remote.

I can’t help but feel the app is a little unnecessary. You have a remote control that you can use to direct the device, and you have boundary strips to block areas off. You can’t draw virtual walls on the map as with the OZMO T8, so this is more like a gimmicky remote control. I don’t really need to see a map of my room; I live in it, so I know the layout.

What’s the Verdict?

kyvol cybovac e30Ste Knight

The Cybovac E30 cleans relatively well. It doesn’t struggle with carpets or hard floors in terms of actually sucking the debris up. However, I feel it is hampered by the fact that it only has one side brush, and therefore, doesn’t pick everything up as you might like. The fact that the lower-end model has two brushes, while the mid- and top-end models don’t, is somewhat confusing.

I recently praised the simplicity of the Yeedi K700 (which can also mop, by the way) for not having an app. With a basic device, this just hampers matters and could make it seem less accessible to people who perhaps aren’t as techy as others. I feel like the Cybovac app isn’t necessary at all. You can schedule a clean (with the remote control) for the time you finish work so that, when you return, it is all clean and nicely vacuumed.

In all, the E30 does a relatively decent job of cleaning, but I do feel that there are other vacuums out there that are within the same price bracket, yet do a better job.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ste Knight

The Best Outdoor Security Cameras to Watch Over Your Home in 2020

Porch pirates and burglars got you down? A Wi-Fi-connected outdoor camera can deter crime and give you a live view outside your door. Here are our favorite outdoor cameras, from premium models to budget-basics.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Google smart displays now let you take charge of multi-room audio


Creating speakers groups to play music on multiple Google devices simultaneously used to require help from the Google Home app, but now you can queue up multi-room audio directly from a Google smart display.

The new multi-room audio interface, which you can access from just about any Google Nest-compatible music app, is rolling out today to the Google Nest Hub, the Nest Hub Max, and other Google Assistant-compatible displays. The feature will also arrive in the Google Home app this fall, Google said.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ben Patterson

How to Choose Your Shopping List App in the Google Home App

Google Assistant and Nest smart speakers (aka Google Home) make it easy to add items to shopping lists with just your voice. If you don’t want to use Google’s built-in list, you can connect your device to a third-party app. Here’s how.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joe Fedewa

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