Posts tagged “speaker

What Apple’s HomePod Isn’t

Apple’s HomePod is available for preorder now and will be shipping and available in stores on Friday, February 9th.  Apple Music, home control, smarts and more are what this speaker aim to give customers.


Background

At WWDC 2017 HomePod was announced and touted to be a revolutionary speaker, that aims to use a seven tweeter beam-forming array, 6 microphones, Apple’s own A8 chip and a top loaded woofer to deliver an unmatched musical experience.  Originally, the device was slated to ship at the end of 2017 and got moved, as Apple products other than iPhone, do to a later time.

That time is now.

Source: Apple

Out of the gate, Apple noted that this product is “speaker first”; however, you would interact with it through a voice layer — Siri.  Apple’s digital assistant has gotten a lot of well deserved hate over the years for simply lacking in substance when compared to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.  Instantly, Apple is saying to not compare the HomePod to a Google Home or Amazon Echo product, not because they necessarily believe that their product will instantly be better — but because of what HomePod isn’t.  HomePod isn’t meant to be a smart speaker, it’s meant to be a revolutionary audio device that will fill any room with sound like it’s never been encompassed before.  It is not meant to knock your socks off by what Siri can do and in all honestly we know that at this point, Siri lacking in the “smarts” department is an understatement.

With that being said, “speaker first” continues to ring in my head — so what does that mean?  For the price of $349, I should expect to get a high-quality audio device that can rival the king of consumer home audio, Sonos, who is known for producing high-quality, high-fidelity speakers that you can stream audio to and HomePod is coming for the throne. On the other hand, regardless of how Apple positions this product, the majority of customers will look at this as a smart speaker, rightfully so — meaning that in 2018 it may be speaker first, but at some point, it’s going to need to flex those “smart” muscles.

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