For those of us with pets, the animal is nearly as much a part of the family as any human. Losing that pet—whether it runs away, becomes lost, or is stolen—can be as tragic as losing any other member of the family.
Implanting a microchip in your pet might help you recover it, but only if the animal shows up at a facility—such as the pound or the Humane Society—that’s equipped with a scanner. Snaptracs, a division of the mobile-technology behemoth Qualcomm—promises a much better solution: A $100 GPS device that attaches to the pet’s collar, so you can instantly locate your pet anywhere on the planet (there’s also a $8 per-month subscription fee after the first month). You can add up to nine additional pets to the subscription plan for $1 per month, plus the cost of each Tagg tracker.
Wall warts are our least favorite option for charging mobile devices. They’re bulky, ugly, and no matter which angle they’re oriented, they inevitably block the adjacent outlet on the strip or on the wall. Joy Factory’s innovative Zip USB Touch-n-Go eliminates them forever. It’s a little expensive, and it’s probably bigger than it needs to be, but we dig it.
When we review something, we assign a verdict based on the strengths and weaknesses of that product relative to the other products in its field. When there are no other products in that field, things get a little weird.
Such is the case with the Cyborg Gaming Lights, the latest member in the rapidly expanding family of Mad Catz PC gaming peripherals. This pair of lights uses amBX ambient technology to enhance gaming. It's a little hard to visualize the Gaming Lights without seeing them in action, but the effect is actually surprisingly pleasing.
FrontPoint primarily targets the do-it-yourself crowd, but will connect you with a professional installer if you’d prefer to pay someone else to hook everything up. Our review is based on self-installation using similar components to what ADT and Vivint include in their package deals. Thanks to FrontPoint’s excellent documentation and telephone support (needed only for system activation), we had the entire system installed in less than 30 minutes.
We reviewed ADT’s Pulse Premier system, which consists of a primary alarm panel mounted inside a steel wall-mount cabinet, a plastic control panel with a text-only LCD and a rubber keypad, a second control panel with a seven-inch LCD touch-screen, and a Z-Wave control module with an integrated Wi-Fi access point.
The hot trend in today’s home-security market is to bundle home-control technology into the same package as the alarm system. Instead of a sensor just sending an emergency alert message to a central office, these systems can also turn on lights inside and outside your home while simultaneously triggering video cameras to record what’s happening. If fire sets off a smoke alarm, these systems can automatically shut down your HVAC system to prevent smoke from being spread throughout the house.
After several months of testing hybrid home-security/home-control systems from three major service providers, we’ve concluded that the two great technologies go great together, just like peanut butter and chocolate. We’ve also found that the systems can be expensive, that elaborate systems can be difficult to configure, and that some service providers make shopping for a system much more difficult than it need be.
Allow our pain to be your gain: We’ll provide a deep dive on every component, tell you which devices we think are essential (and which are just nice to have), explain how the systems work, and provide valuable tips on how to avoid getting screwed when you go shopping for one. We’ll wrap up with hands-on reviews of dealer-installed systems from ADT and Vivint, and a DIY system from FrontPoint Security.
As often happens, the first product in a new product category is pretty good, but the second and third entries bring the wow. This is certainly the case with the category of keyless deadbolt locks and Yale’s Real Living Touchscreen deadbolt. Schlage has a good lock, Kwikset’s is better, and Yale’s is fantastic.
Where the Kwikset and Schlage locks use rubber keypads, Yale deploys an illuminated capacitive touchscreen (they also have a less-expensive push-button model that we didn’t evaluate). Each lock can operate on its own, but each is also available with either a Z-Wave or ZigBee plug-in radio, so that it can be integrated into a home-control system. We tested Yale’s Z-Wave model in stand-alone mode and tried to integrate it into the Vivint home-control system we’ve been evaluating, without real success (more on that in a moment).
Probably every beginning guitar player who’s ever struggled with a chord diagram has looked down at his instrument and thought, “Man, it would be so much easier if those little diagram dots could appear on my fretboard instead.”
The Fretlight does exactly that, putting an end to the madness by making those diagram dots part of the fretboard itself, via a grid of embedded LEDs.
Traditionally, motion control has been the domain of the consoles. Between the Wii, Xbox Kinect, and the PlayStation Move, the tech has developed a reputation as an arm-wagging, casual experience—emblematic of the overall shift away from the kind of deep, demanding, rewarding gameplay that the PC as a platform is known for.
With that in mind, you can imagine that we were a little surprised when we heard that Razer—a company associated with competitive, hardcore gaming—was releasing a motion controller for the PC. Is this the beginning of the end?
In a word, no. Whether or not the Hydra is the beginning of anything at all is debatable, but it’s definitely not trying to dumb down PC gaming.
We’re sorry, but if you can view the brilliant green beam of the Wicked Lasers Krypton without going gaga with geeky excitement, then we have to question whether you have a soul inside. It’s a laser, people! It’s a handheld green laser that shines more brilliantly and fan-bloody-tastically than anything else you may ever point into the night’s sky.