All posts in “belkin wemo”

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.

SpotCam connects you to your home, outside and in

When it comes to home surveillance cams there are two kinds of cams – low-end, highly-motorized, wireless IP cams that are (typically) fairly insecure and higher-end cloud service systems like Dropcam that offer secure but more expensive cameras. SpotCam seems to land squarely in the middle with their SpotCam Sense Pro line.

I tested two models and found them more than acceptable for home use. The indoor model records 24 hours of video that is available, for free, via the app. It’s also senses temperature and barometric pressure and you can even set it up to sound an alarm if it senses motion at a preset time. The app itself, while not at the cutting edge of aesthetic design, is serviceable at the very least.

The $188.99 outdoor model is a little more interesting. This model is weather and water proof thanks to a number of rubber shields that protect the power ports and the various buttons on the outside of the camera. To set it up you simply plug it into an outlet – I have it connected to an outlet in my garage – and screw the baseplate into a wall. You’ll want to put this thing pretty high because it’s easy to pull off and steal but if hidden in the right foliage you have an inexpensive, unobtrusive Wi-Fi enabled camera that can see quite well in the dark.

Who are these cameras for? Well, first they’re for the price-conscious. If you know you’ll be buying a few of these to install around the house the $200 SpotCam is about as much as the aforementioned Dropcam but if you want extended recording from the Nest product that costs $10 a month, adding quite a bit to your final bill.

As I mentioned before I’ve seen plenty of wireless webcams over the past few years and this one falls firmly in the “nicer, but not that nice” camp. I’d honestly recommend this if you have a garage you’re trying to keep an eye on and aren’t too worried about the bells and whistles you get from better recording services. It also doesn’t quite replace a high-end, secure CCTV system but you could put one or two in your shop to keep a record of the comings and goings. As a home security system I worry that the app is a little too complex and hard to use but you can simply set this thing and forget it and simply use it as a way to watch your house when you’re away.

The SpotCams also work with IFTTT which means you can connect it to your lights, your WeMo power devices, or simply get notifications via other services. It’s a nice addition to a standard webcam.

Can you get a better home webcam with better software? Yes. Can you get a cheaper home webcam with a motorized gimbal and security holes? Sure. Can you set up an outdoor SpotCam to keep an eye on your shed? Absolutely, and that’s what I’d do.

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