All posts in “Amazon”

Anker’s Nebula Capsule portable projector is a pocket powerhouse

Anker is a device maker that’s rapidly become a go-to brand for affordable, quality accessories include cables, chargers and backup batteries. More recently, it’s started to branch out into additional areas, including projectors through its Nebula brand. The Nebula Capsule is the latest product from that line, a super portable projector with an Android-based OS, a built-in battery and the ability to double as a Bluetooth speaker.

The Nebula Capsule is the smaller sibling to the Nebula Mars portable cinema projector, which is actually far less portable than the newer Capsule. The Mars is more of a home theater projector that you’re also technically able to take with you if you want, whereas the Capsule is roughly the size of a can of Coke, and easy to stash in even smaller bags, or, if you’re not worries bout some bulging, even in a jacket pocket.

Anker initially launched the Capsule on Indiegogo, but now it’s made its way to Amazon where it retails for $349. The projector can extend an image up to 100 inches in diameter, with 100 ANSI lumens of brightness, and it can mange four hours of video playback on its built-in power source. There’s a 360-degree speaker integrated into the base, and it comes with built-in Wi-Fi and Android 7.1, with its own app store to run popular apps like Netflix, Plex, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

The device has micro USB OTG input, and can read from USB drives formatted in FAT32, plus a full-sized HDMI for attaching basically anything. Its native 854×480 resolution isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s hardly important when you’re catching up on a show on the road or playing Switch in your backyard on a stretched out bed sheet. And the trade-off, in terms of portability and versatility, its worth it.

On top of the device, there are arrows that help you adjust volume, and there’s a button to turn it on, as well as a mode switch so you can use it as a Bluetooth speaker I you want. Focus adjustment is handled via a wheel mounted into the side, and this is a bit tricky because it involves a little hunting to get it just right, but the minimal interface options, but again, it’s a practical way of doing it and works given the form factor of the device.

In the box, you also get a remote control, which works via IR (there’s a receiver built into the back of the device). Here, it’d be nicer to have some kid of RF-based remote instead, but the IR version works well enough, and there’s a companion mobile app for both controlling the projector and for mirroring your content. You can’t mirror content-protected media, which is a bit of a pain, but the fact that the Capsule supports streaming media from built-in apps mostly makes up for this.

The speaker is surprisingly powerful, and can fill a small room easily. It’s not going to compete with 5.1 audio systems, or with something like the HomePod, but it’s plenty good enough that watching a show or movie on the Capsule is pleasant, and never falls down on the back of bad sound. Plus, I almost always pack a dedicated Bluetooth speaker on my trips away, anyway – the Capsule doubles as one, and takes up as little or even less space than most, with equivalent sound quality. Acting just as a Bluetooth speaker, the capsule’s battery life extends out to 30 hours.

Considered as a two-for-one combo that includes a great travel projector and a terrific portable Bluetooth speaker, the Anker Nebula Capsule is a hard bargain to pass up.

Nest’s video doorbell is now shipping

Back in September of last year, Nest announced its first smart doorbell. When it would actually ship, however, was left sort of up in the air; all the company said at the time was to expect it sometime in Q1 of 2018.

Turns out, that means today. The Nest doorbell — or the Nest Hello, as it’s known — is now shipping for $229.

Nest also mentioned a few other bits of news:

  • The front door lock/touchpad they built in partnership with Yale, also announced back in September of last year, is now shipping
  • They’re now making external, wireless, battery-powered temperature sensors for the Nest Thermostat (previously, the thermostat only really cared about the temperature of whichever room it was in). You can add up to six sensors. One sensor will cost $39, or a three pack goes for $99. The sensor (pictured at the bottom of this post) is a simple white puck, just a bit over an inch wide.

Not unlike the now Amazon-owned Ring, the Hello’s primary purpose is to let you know when someone rings the doorbell, and to let you see and communicate with them by way of the built-in camera/microphone/speaker rig. Out of the box, sans subscriptions, Nest will store the video of who rang your doorbell for 3 hours; if you want to access it beyond that, you’ll need a monthly Nest Aware subscription.

In most cases, hooking up the Hello should be a matter of popping out your old doorbell and wiring up the new one; it pulls its power from the same wiring setup that most doorbells use, and it should play friendly with any in-door chimes you probably already have in place.

Its got a 3-megapixel camera (with infrared night vision) for 1600×1200 video at 30 frames per second, a 160º field of view, and 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi. Unlike some competitors, it doesn’t have a battery — so you’ll need that aforementioned power line.

With that said, it’s got a few tricks I haven’t seen with others in the space, like a “Quiet time” mode for when you (or, say, your baby) are sleeping. It’ll still buzz your phone, but in-door chimes won’t go ringin’ away. Pre-recorded messages, meanwhile, let you communicate with delivery people and anyone else who might be hanging around your porch during those times when shouting “PLEASE LEAVE THE PACKAGE ON THE PORCH I’LL GRAB IT SHORTLY” might feel a bit weird.

We should have one to check out before too long, so expect a review as soon as we’ve put it through the paces.

Ecobee’s new voice-powered light switch moves closer to whole-home Alexa

Alexa is already everywhere in a lot of homes, thanks to the affordability and ease of installation/setup of the Echo Dot. But Alexa could become even more seamlessly integrated into your home, if you think about it. And Canadian smart home tech maker ecobee did think about it, which is how they came up with the ecobee Switch+.

Ecobee is probably most known for their connected thermostats, which are one of the strongest competitors out there for Nest. The company’s been building other products, too, however, and developing closer ties with Amazon and its Alexa virtual assistant. The Switch+ has the closest ties yet, since it includes Alexa Voice Service and far-field voice detection microphone arrays to essential put an Echo in your wall wherever you have a light switch handy.

The ecobee Switch+ is still a connected light switch that works like similar offerings from Belkin’s Wemo, too, and offers full compatibility with Alexa, HomeKit and Assistant for remote voice control. But it goes a step further with Alexa, acting not only as the connected home smart device, but also the command center, too.

The Switch+ is now available for pre-order from ecobee and select retail partners including, unsurprisingly, Amazon, in both the U.S. and Canada for a retail price of $99 U.S. or $119 Canadian. It should work with most standard light switches, although not 2-way switches where multiple switches control the same light or lights. In-store availability and shipping starts on March 26.

Hollywood’s scariest supercomputer joins the Amazon Alexa family

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“I’m sorry, Alexa. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

No one seems particularly freaked out at the idea of computers in our homes that listen to us, respond to questions, even take direct control of various living conditions. Maybe this HAL-9000 replica will change that.

The malevolent supercomputer from Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey recently landed a new gig: Amazon Echo device. The smart home interface from Master Replicas actually works, as you can see in the above video.

Master Replicas scored the license from Warner Bros. to manufacture HAL-9000 lookalikes. While it can apparently talk like its big screen counterpart and respond to lines from the movie, it also possesses the power of Amazon’s voice-powered AI assistant, Alexa.

According to The Verge, the Echo-like functionality will let you grant your very own HAL-9000 total control of your home (probably unwise). A Fire HD tablet serves as its base, though — as you can see in the video — there are some added features, compliments of Master Replicas.

It’s not clear how much this high-tech nostalgia play will cost, but pre-orders will go live sometime in the spring, with shipping to begin shortly thereafter. 

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Facebook has signed a deal to stream 25 afternoon MLB games

Filed under moves that are potentially groundbreaking with big implications but with quite small numbers, Facebook has signed an exclusive deal with the MLB to stream 25 afternoon games, according to Bloomberg.

The deal is a bit reminiscent of the one Twitter signed for Thursday Night Football back in 2016 to stream games that are outside of the range of primetime football (usually reserved for Sundays and Monday Night Football). There have been some gripes about how fewer people are watching Thursday Night Football, so it also seems somewhat reminiscent in that respect that Facebook was able to sign a deal for games that are not so critically important outside of the normal primetime games.

That being said, blackouts for MLB games are a big of a nightmare (there’s a long thread by my colleagues complaining about this internally), and getting a deal like this on Facebook could potentially get people to pop in during the afternoon to watch the games. It could also help Facebook users get accustomed to the notion that Facebook is a spot to watch your afternoon baseball games, helping the company build that cachet that would help it negotiate further deals down the line. That the games are exclusive is another potentially big deal with big implications down the line for platforms like Facebook or Twitter, despite there being thousands of MLB games a year.

Regardless of the success of platforms like Twitter and Facebook (and Amazon in snatching the Thursday Night Football deal away from Twitter last year) getting these games on their platforms, the big primetime moments still elude those platforms and are all but locked up by incumbents. These deals are expensive — in 2016, the NCAA extended its agreement with Turner and CBS to air the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, which had a price tag of $8.8 billion — and it’s hard to know whether Facebook or Amazon would be able to secure good deals for these kinds of games. There has been some activity at the startup level to disrupt networks like ESPN, which have traditionally been the host of many games in leagues like the NBA and NCAA college basketball games, such as Overtime raising $9.5 million.

Facebook’s first game will be on April 4 between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, if you’re into either of them for whatever reason. projects the Houston Astros will win 98 games next season, while the Los Angeles Dodgers will win 94 wins. Houston won the World Series in 2017 in seven games over Los Angeles.

Featured Image: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images