All posts in “Belkin”

Everyday home gear made smart

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch may earn affiliate commissions.

If you only have one smart home device, it’s likely something simple and fun like a voice-controlled speaker or color-changing LED light bulb. As you expand your smart home setup, you can begin to swap out gear that isn’t as flashy but you still use everyday.

Switching to connected locks, power outlets and smoke alarms are all simple installs that can improve your safety and comfort in your own home. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite essentials made smart for anyone looking to upgrade.

Smart lock: Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock 2nd Gen

The Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock 2nd Gen is the most versatile smart lock that we’ve tested. Whether you prefer to use a wireless fob, smartphone app or key, you’ll be able to control the lock with all of them. When we compared it to similar models, the Kevo’s Bluetooth-activated tap-to-unlock mechanism was the easiest to use.

The second generation of the Kevo improved on security and has all-metal internal components for better protection against forced break-in attempts. With the optional Kevo Plus upgrade, you’ll add the ability to control the lock remotely and receive status-monitoring updates.

Photo: Liam McCabe

Robot Vacuum: iRobot Roomba 960

If cleaning is neither your forte or preferred pastime, a robot vacuum will come in handy. Our upgrade pick, the iRobot Roomba 960, is one of the most powerful models that we tested. It can be controlled through the iRobot Home app and uses a bump-and-track navigation system that helps vacuum an entire floor without missing spots.

If its battery is running low during a session, it’ll return to its dock to power up before finishing the job. It’s easy to disassemble for maintenance and is equipped with repairable parts that make it worth its price over some of our less serviceable picks.

Photo: Rachel Cericola

Plug-in Smart Outlet: Belkin Wemo Mini

We tested 26 smart outlet models over more than 45 hours and chose the Belkin Wemo Mini Wi-Fi plug as our top pick. If you’ve ever thought it’d be nice to remotely turn on or off home essentials such as lamps, air conditioners and fans from your smartphone, plugging them into a smart outlet makes it possible.

The Wemo Mini has proven to be reliable throughout long-term testing, it doesn’t block other outlets on the same wall plate and it’s compatible with iOS and Android devices and assistants, including HomeKit/Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. The interface of the Wemo app is intuitive and easy to use. You can view all of your connected devices on one screen, set powering timers and from anywhere power on or off a device plugged into the Wemo outlet.

Photo: Jennifer Pattison Tuohy

Smart Thermostat: Nest Thermostat E

For a smart thermostat that’s affordable and doesn’t require extensive programming, we recommend the Nest Thermostat E. After about a week, it creates a schedule after learning cooling and heating preferences that you’ve set. It isn’t compatible with as many HVAC systems as similar Nest models, but it’s easy to install and doesn’t lack any features we expect.

It does come with Eco Mode — an energy-saving geofencing feature that detects when your home is empty (or when your smartphone is nowhere near your house). The Nest app uses the same technology to set the thermostat to a preferred temperature when it senses you’re on your way home. If you don’t have your smartphone on hand, you can still operate the Thermostat E by turning its outer ring and pressing selections on its touchscreen.

Photo: Michael Hession

Smart Smoke Alarm: Nest Protect

A smoke alarm is one of the most relied-upon safety devices in every home. Nonetheless, it’s easy to forget to do routine checks to ensure it’s in tip-top shape and functioning properly. With a smart smoke alarm like the Nest Protect, we found that its simple app, self-tests, monthly sound checks and consistent alerts are enough to keep fire safety worries at bay.

It isn’t difficult to install, has a sleek design and integrates with other smart home devices like the Nest Cam (which can record video of a fire) and the Nest Learning Thermostat (which shuts down HVAC systems that may be the cause of a fire). It’s sensitive to fast- and slow-burning fires, plus it monitors homes for both smoke and carbon monoxide.

These picks may have been updated by WirecutterWhen readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch may earn affiliate commissions.

The first Apple-approved battery pack that charges via Lightning port is finally here

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Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Belkin is solving a big pain of battery packs for the iPhone by releasing one that charges with a Lightning cable.

Almost all portable battery packs charge via microUSB port, which, for an iPhone user, means bringing an additional cable in addition to the Lightning cable you need to charge the iPhone itself. It’s an annoying issue, which has inspired squid-like cable accessories like this.

While we’ve seen batteries that charge via Lightning before, there haven’t been any that are Apple-approved. Belkin’s Boost Charge Power Bank 10K with Lightning connector is the first battery pack that’s officially approved by Apple’s MFi accessory program.

Image: belkin

This power bank has a 10,000mAh battery inside which should be able to fully charge an iPhone around three times. It also has two full-size USB ports, which means you can charge two devices at once. One of those ports charges faster at 2.4 amps so it can accommodate a larger device like an iPad.

As a MFi-approved power bank, the Boost Charge has the official thumbs-up from Apple, so it should theoretically be more reliable than a non-MFi model. You might also recall that Belkin was acquired by Foxconn, one of the companies that assembles the iPhone for Apple, back in March, and this certification might not be coincidental.

Belkin’s Boost Charge Power Bank with Lightning Connector will cost $59.99 when it lands in August. The biggest issue is the price, as you are definitely paying a premium for that MFi certification. This Aukey power bank offers the double battery and ports for just $34.99, and there are plenty of microUSB battery packs on Amazon for way cheaper.

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Foxconn buys peripheral maker Belkin for $866M

Foxconn, best known for manufacturing practically everything in the world, has just announced the purchase of Belkin, the PC peripherals company, for $866 million in cash. That certainly makes it one of the larger consumer electronics acquisitions in recent memory.

You probably know Belkin for its various lines of accessories, peripherals, and assorted consumer electronics; Linksys, surely the most recognizable router brand, is a subsidiary. Wemo and Phyn might also ring a bell.

The purchase is likely aimed at giving Foxconn a foothold of its own in the peripherals and networked devices market. Belkin’s CEO and founder (35 years on), Chet Pipkin, will continue to operate the company as a wholly owned subsidiary and may join Foxconn’s management team.

No indication was given that Belkin’s companies would change much, either in makeup or in product lineup. I asked both companies for more details, and got a polite no comment in record time.

Interestingly, the FCC just today announced that it would soon propose that it would ban spending on companies that “pose a national security threat.” Huawei and ZTE were the obvious (but unnamed) targets of the proposed rule, but now Belkin and Linksys may also be included.

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.

Amateur podcasters — this device will make your setup run more smoothly for only $10

Apple is cruelly trying to rip the headphone jack from us, but we’re not buying it. 

In addition to all the reasons that have already been brought up ad nauseam, one problem with the missing headphone jack is the inability to easily use a headphone splitter to share audio. For those of us fortunate to still have a jack, though — on our phones, computers, or audio equipment — this Belkin device is the Cadillac of headphone splitters.

The uses for this are numerous and obvious — more people can listen to what you’re listening to without bothering people around you. Just plug the device into whatever you’re listening to and everyone else can plug in their headphones. It’s great for traveling, classrooms, or gaming where you want several people to listen to something but not the whole room.

It can also be used by amateur musicians, podcasters, and filmmakers who need to record multiple people on a single microphone. Everyone will be able to hear how they sound on mic, which is absolutely necessary in order to record audio that doesn’t suck. 

You can pick up the Belkin Rockstar audio splitter on Amazon now. It comes in five colors and is only $10. Stop fighting over headphone jacks and just be grateful you have one (or five.)