Posts from the “Video” Category

Logitech Harmony Hub Review!!

One central remote, sometimes it’s a dream we never obtain; however, with technology anything is possible and it’s always fun when you’re incorporating it into a smarthome setup.

Enter Logitech Harmony (model 915-000238).


Design

There are no questions to be asked about the “cool” factor, it’s on 100 and this device gives you and your household the ability to manipulate the devices that are paired with your Harmony Hub.  This little guy works with TVs, Roku, Cable, video game consoles and even Phillips Hue lights (sorry I am on the TP-Link wagon) making this a solid addition to your living you and one that disappears given it’s unassuming look.


Setup

Setting up your Harmony Hub is very easy, it can be done either by connecting it to your PC via USB or simply downloading the Harmony app, which is preferred since you’ll need it to build activities and more later.  Once you have the hub connected to your network and running, you connect your devices.  Harmony will automatically detect devices that are connected and suggest that you add them (eg. Roku, Android TV, Apple TV and others).

Fair warning, simply because setup is easy does not mean that your activities (programmable scenes) will necessarily work all of the time.  Logitech uses a Start/End Sequence builder of getting things done, which work with a wide range of electronics, the only issue that I encountered was being able to consistently turn off and on my TV, with that being said, I created a generic “Activate TV” activity that will always run so that Harmony will always be awaiting my commands.  Hopefully, this is a hack that you do not need and is likely due to the age of my set, nearing 8 years.

HH_StartEndSequenceBuild

Logitech Activity builder.

Additionally, when creating an Activity, Harmony utilizes the Start Sequence to turn on all of the devices required for completion of that activity; however, at the end, during the End Sequence it wants to turn those same devices off — which makes no sense when you are watching Netflix, then want to issue the command “Watch Youtube”, which in the background is using the same set of devices.


Usage

Once you have Harmony setup the way you want, with any hacks that were needed to accomplish this setup, you pretty much set free to control your living room via your smartphone or digital assistant such as Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.  Personally, I have my Harmony Hub integrated with Assistant so that I can utilize it with Google Home.  Integrating the two is different that most Home Control devices, so to accomplish this say “Hey Google, as Harmony to link my account”, from there you will be presented with a card that will allow you to link the two.

From there if all goes perfect, perhaps you can get an experience like the below (my original video was flagged for the music I asked Google to play, it happens):

Source: Caroline Dunn, YouTube

See the below example of activities I have created for my Harmony Hub setup:

IMG_1552.jpg


Final Impressions

The Harmony Hub is very powerful, but it is not for everyone.  Sometimes things work and other times they don’t….. The sequences that you do build are very powerful to accomplish tasks; however, in order to get simple things done can appear arduous and cumbersome but once things are in place, it is nothing short of magical.

DexJohn’s PC Score: 3.5/5

Late 2016 MacBook Event Recap

“Hello Again” it’s happy time again in Cupertino with another event from Apple all about their infamous Mac product line.  We’ve been expecting a lot, hearing a little through the rumor mill and more — but what did we actually get?
General Updates
Let’s start with a review of what’s been happening in the world of Apple.  iPhone is doing extremely well with adoption of iOS 10 already at 60%.  Recent updates have enabled portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Pay in Japan.  Additionally, on October 28th a new Nike branded Apple Watch (announced in September) will be available.  Apple TV now has 8000 apps available to it’s userbase with the popular game, Minecraft, coming to the big screen soon.  New features that are slated to hit boxes before the end of the year are Twitter integration into NFL and NBA coverage, which features a picture in picture styled approached that delivers rich Twitter content regarding the event that’s happening on the large portion of your screen.  A new app called “TV”, which will be coming to the Apple TV, iPhone and iPad seeks to bring into focus all things that you are watching across all of your apps so that you have a centralized “hub” for your media content and new ways to discover content that you may be unaware of.
But you want to hear about shiny new MacBooks, huh?  Well you’ve drug it out of me…
MacBook Updates
The new 2016 MacBook Pro will come in two sizes, 13″ and 15″ featuring a beautiful aluminum unibody design in silver and space gray color options.  As with other items in the Apple lineup, the screen will feature a wide color gamut resulting in a more vibrant and accurate display.  Important to note is that these are some of the thinnest and lightest laptops ever made by Apple with the 13″ MacBook Pro weighing 3 pounds and the 15″ weighing 4 pounds respectively while shaving up to 3 mm of the thickness with the lid closed.
Specs of Late 2016 MacBook Pro lineup as of October, 2016.

Specs of Late 2016 MacBook Pro lineup as of October, 2016.

With new internals that match the sophisticated look, there is also a new feature called “Touch Bar”, which replaces the standard function keys on the two top-end models of the MacBook Pro.  The new notebooks will utilize AMD’s Radeon Pro graphics architecture (15″ model) , which is built to improve upon performance achieved by the last generation MacBook Pro line.  With all of these new features squeezed into a smaller more lightweight body, battery life will not be sacrificed as users can still expect to get 10 hours on the device.  Prices of all MacBook Pro models are shown below.
Late 2016 MacBook lineup as of October, 2016.

Prices of Late 2016 MacBook lineup as of October, 2016.

Touch Bar
Touch Bar is a new spin on the standard row of function keys that we’ve been used to for years — and this spin isn’t a bad one (or at least not awful).
MacBook Pro Touch Bar.

MacBook Pro Touch Bar.

Touch Bar acts as functions keys; however, it is dynamic and shifts to help you control whatever app you are currently in.  If you are editing clips using Final Cut Pro, Touch Bar can allow you to trim clips, scrub the timeline and more.  For those who love to work in Adobe Photoshop, Touch Bar can apply filters, navigate between layers and scrub through all recent changes to your project.  Additionally, for the deejays out there, Touch Bar can completely change the workflow of mixing and take your abilities to a new and different level.  In addition, built into the bar is TouchID, which can be used for Apple Pay.  Finally, for all of the power users, Touch Bar can be completely (yes, completely) customized to your liking by simply dragging a new icon onto the bar from the screen of the MacBook using the trackpad.

Product Video (Source: Apple, Youtube)

Bottom line:  This is a solid update for the MacBook line.  Some are left wondering where are updates to the iMac, Mac Mini and Mac Pro — yes, I am part of that group.  I wonder if the Touchbar wouldn’t be more useful at the bottom of the keyboard so that the user doesn’t have to constantly reach to the top of the keyboard.

Is cutting the cord for you?

6 years ago, while I was still in college, I officially said goodbye to cable and I’ve never let it rear it’s ugly head again in my household. Why? There are far too many options available on the internet that provide the same level of enjoyment.

When you think of TV, you think of something that requires you to sit down at a certain time at a certain interval everyday or every certain scheduled amount of days for you consume some type of event or television show. However, when you think of entertainment in relation to the internet you can get these things whenever and wherever you please so it’s much more of a come as you and grab what you want type of experience.  This is the absolute greatest for me because I refuse to build my schedule around what comes on a black box in my living room, it’s ludicrous. Yet, why do we see so many people that conform to the norm of having a cable subscription with more channels than they will ever watch?

Cutting the cord is easy if you have a plan.

Cutting the cord is easy if you have a plan.

It’s easy.

For some, cutting the cord is simply too difficult.  However, nothing is too difficult in a day and age where a quick Google search can tell you everything from Obama’s age to how far Jupiter is away from the planet that we dwell on.  So being “too difficult” IS NOT a valid excuse.

Options for accessing media:

  • YouTube
  • HuluPlus
  • Netflix
  • Plex

The above list are just a few avenues that you can take to begin cutting the cord.  It is feasible and certainly the way of the future.

Take control of your experience, don’t be the person that creates their lives based on what TV has to offer!

New ASUS Chromebox

The latest Chromebox from ASUS is bringing us techies a lot of excitement — rightfully so.

As a Chromebook owner, it is easy to see the delights and appeal of this friendly and easy to use OS (essentially Google Chrome with extensions and web apps) and see the power of having a small Chromebox (desktop version of the Chromebook) attached to a large display, such as your HD TV.

Couple watching media through the new ASUS Chromebox.

Couple watching media through the new ASUS Chromebox.

Think of the possibilities of having a desktop operating system on your TV. The entire internet will be right on front of you with no compromise. Google TV attempts to bridge the gap between an app ecosystem in Android and some say that it has not been successful.  As a Google TV owner, it is a great experience with a few shortcomings; however, this solution might be viable due to the ability to bring the entire Chrome ecosystem to your set.  Note, this is not the first Chromebox just the first Chromebox with this small form factor.

Bottom line:  Grab a wireless keyboard and mouse and you have a full entertainment system in front of your eyes.  This is definitely a step up from Google TV, which is missing critical apps such as Hulu Plus.

YouTube Comments have changed, now get over it!

There have been countless users of YouTube complaining since last week about the new integration of Google+ within the site.  I suppose that many users do not understand that this only making the site better and certainly adding more of a community aspect.  Yes, people should be held accountable for the things that they post online — just as you are held accountable for the things that you say and do in reality.  The new comment system is not bad it is just an incremental change that happens in tech.  People learn to accept change and move on.  I was one who didn’t like the Microsoft XBox at first, until I gave it a chance.

That is the thing that is missing here, users see the change and instead of giving it an honest try — immediately write it off.  See a video below:

However, for those that understand how YouTube works; they see it’s usefulness (in addition, notifications went out that YouTube was changing how they did comments.)  See an excerpt from TWiT’s This Week in YouTube Ep. 30:


Is it a bad change?  No.  Yet, some have difficult times dealing with change — when in reality it is more streamlined and efficient.

This is something that we all saw coming as +Google is working towards integrating all of their services, which is an excellent thing.  Which is odd because people complain and say they aren’t integrated enough!

Bottom line:  Get over it!  If you hate the new integrated Google+ comments in YouTube — leave the site, that is always an option.  As a creator (TopNotch Male Style Tips) I welcome the change and I hope that my community does as well.