New year, new smart home innovations
(BPT) - Smart home products made major strides in 2018. More people than ever now use connected devices in their homes, and smart home hubs are constantly adding new integrations and capabilities. Research from Statista predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 45 million smart home devices will be installed in U.S. homes, fueling an exciting new phase for the smart home industry, offering consumers new and improved smart technologies and giving rise to a totally interconnected, easy-to-control environment termed the “smart home.”
This innovation looks to continue in the new year with increasingly intuitive products that make life more enjoyable and interconnected. Here are the new smart home products ready to change the way we live in the new year, coming out of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Laundry made easy
The calendar might have changed, but your laundry needs haven’t gone anywhere. Thankfully, smart home technology is making the chore a little easier with LG’s Ultimate Laundry Room.
The LG Styler is a first-of-its-kind steam clothing care system certified as asthma and allergy friendly(R) by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The Wi-Fi enabled smart LG Styler reduces wrinkles and odor and refreshes garments with the fastest cycle on the market today — as little as 20 minutes — thanks to the gentle power of pure steam technology. Furthermore, LG TWINWash(TM) with SideKick(TM) pedestal washer, an industry-first innovation for laundry, allows users to tackle small loads that are a big deal and can’t wait or wash two loads at the same time.
With LG Styler for daily refreshes, the innovative LG SideKick(TM) mini washer for small loads that can't wait, and LG's award-winning top and front load washers and dryers, the LG Ultimate Laundry Room suite of products can be started, stopped or monitored from anywhere using LG’s SmartThinQ(R) app. Users will receive notifications when a cycle has finished, or they can download new cycles, check energy usage and quickly troubleshoot minor issues using Smart Diagnosis. For added convenience, these home solutions can also be controlled with simple voice commands using the Google Assistant.
Smarter home with smart displays
Laundry is just one example of how smart home technology is making life easier. By adding other connected appliances and devices, you can develop a true smart home ecosystem in which seamless integrations produce valuable efficiency. One of the best ways to anchor your ecosystem is with a smart display like the new LG XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display. The advanced smart display builds on the capabilities of a Google Assistant speaker with the added convenience of a touchscreen display and, in partnership with Meridian Audio, delivers high-fidelity sound, precise vocal definition and accurate bass, despite its compact size.
In addition to its audio and video capabilities, the WK9 enables control of other LG ThinQ products such as LG TVs and home appliances, plus more than 10,000 smart devices from over 1,000 brands that work with Google Assistant. By establishing a go-to hub for all your smart home devices, you can increase connectivity and create a fully integrated smart home environment.
Stay connected on-the-go
As innovation continues, smart home technology is branching outside of the home itself. With new products, you can receive notifications regarding your home from anywhere, making sure you never lose touch with the most important things in your life. The first full-screen smartwatch with mechanical hands, the LG Watch W7 allows you to connect and control your smart devices. With two mechanical hands and a micro gearbox, users can enjoy the full WearOS smartwatch experience with the essence and mechanism of a true timepiece. With mobile connectivity, your life becomes easier no matter where you are.
Smart home technology is all about making our lives easier and more comfortable. Whether you’re just doing laundry, looking to power your whole home, or even taking that control on the road, new smart home products provide a level of convenience that’s changing the way we live.
If you’re considering upgrades to your home, smart technology is a savvy way to add value and function.
Tech upgrades to improve home function
(Family Features) When smart home technologies first emerged, their purpose was largely for convenience and operating the devices was often clunky. Today, smart devices seamlessly integrate into connected home systems to make living more efficient, improve home security and even offer advantages for your health.
If you’re considering upgrades to your home, smart technology is a savvy way to add value and function.
Smart lighting is among the most prevalent of smart functions on the market, largely because of the multiple benefits it offers. It’s handy to be able to set regular lighting patterns throughout the home so you’re never left in the dark. You can also manage those lights from your smartphone, so forgetting to turn off a light is no longer an issue and you can fool would-be-thieves into thinking the house is inhabited when you’re away.
Fingertip controls offer plenty of advantages, but another consideration is energy management. Dimming features and sensors that turn lights off and on through various detection methods (such as movement or recognizing a connected Bluetooth device) help minimize wasted energy. The lights are typically constructed to use less energy, and most models last substantially longer than their traditional counterparts; some brands claim a lifespan of 20 years or more.
Smart lighting is an easy way to curb energy usage, but another consideration is climate control, which accounts for a big chunk of a typical household’s energy consumption.
The idea of programming your thermostat is nothing new, but smart thermostats take programming to a whole new level. Not only can you schedule temperature changes to coincide with your coming and going (and manage those changes with an app when you’re not even at home), today’s smart thermostats also have sensors that learn your daily habits and can adjust the climate accordingly. Comfort aside, the impact on energy usage is often substantial enough that some electric companies even offer incentives to homeowners who install the devices.
“Few are aware of the impact of indoor air on their health and wellbeing, but the air we breathe is just as important as the food we eat or the water we drink,” said Kent Holm, senior vice president of global product management with the Velux Group. “An average adult breathes in around 4,000 gallons of air every day and spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors. A healthy indoor climate goes way beyond simple convenience.”
Opening skylights in conjunction with vertical windows removes polluted air from the home and promotes an overall healthier lifestyle. An option such as Velux Active with Netatmo is the first smart skylight system that connects with Apple HomeKit, allowing homeowners to manage indoor climate control at home or remotely with the touch of a button.
In addition to manual controls, smart sensor technology monitors carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature in the home and data from local weather station forecasts to automatically open the skylights if fresh air is needed. The system can also automate skylight blinds. Learn more at whyskylights.com.
Peace of Mind
Home security takes numerous forms, from detecting threats like fire or water to physical barriers at the home’s entry points. Smart technology is transforming the way homeowners manage their home’s security and giving them added confidence that their families are safe within those walls.
Anyone who’s ever gotten five miles down the road only to question whether the garage door went down or the front door was locked can appreciate the advantages of smart technology. Smart garage door openers and door locks make it easy for you to program access to guests who may not have a key and even gain access to the house when you’ve forgotten your own key. Other smart security devices like doorbell and flood light cameras help you keep tabs on the traffic around your home.SOURCE:
As you pack your travel essentials for your summer road trip, long weekend at the beach or a lazy day at the pool, there’s one thing you might be forgetting. Wherever you go, your favorite shows and stars can come with you. Whether you’re sitting shotgun or flying at 30,000 feet, you can always access your favorite shows and movies on the go.
Download Before You Go This Summer
New and classic shows to watch on the road in July
(Family Features) As you pack your travel essentials for your summer road trip, long weekend at the beach or a lazy day at the pool, there’s one thing you might be forgetting. Wherever you go, your favorite shows and stars can come with you.
Allowing you to download shows and movies to your smartphone or tablet, an option like Netflix helps you be ready to stream anywhere, anytime, even without WiFi. With so many new titles coming this month, the time is now to take advantage of this convenient feature. Whether you’re sitting shotgun or flying at 30,000 feet, you can always access your favorite shows and movies on the go.
This month, you won’t want to miss Jerry Seinfeld in his latest talk show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Brewed Fresh for 2018, where he mixes his two loves: classic cars and comedy. Every episode, Seinfeld interviews a comedian while they drive around in a classic car and stop for a cup of coffee. Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal provides a new adventure with even more laughs. Follow Rosenthal as he travels to Copenhagen, Ireland, Capetown, Buenos Aires and beyond to find the best local restaurants in Somebody Feed Phil: The Second Course.
These are just a couple of the new titles you can find on the service this July. Find more information about countless shows and movies, sign up for a one-month free trial and set up your account atNetflix.com.
TV shows and movies on Netflix This Month
As an alternative to endless summer re-runs, there is always something new to watch on-demand. Whether you’re into comedy, documentaries, drama or anything in-between, you can find those genres and more by going to Netflix.com to sign up. Here’s some old favorites as well as new content available to watch this month:
Anne with an E: Season 2
Amazing Interiors: Season 1
Last Chance U: INDY: Part 1
(BPT) - When it comes to technology, smarter is better. There are smart watches, smart televisions and just about everyone has a smartphone.
So what about a smart home?
Smart thermostats and lighting timers represent the first steps toward smart home technology for many homeowners, but in a lot of cases, they were the only steps. Since then, technology has continued to develop, and today there are scores of home goods that can talk to one another while allowing you total control of your home from your smartphone, tablet or another device.
It all sounds so simple, so perfect, yet many consumers remain confused on how to make the most of smart home technology in their house. Instead of finding the installation welcoming, they see it as daunting and expensive.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Installing — and enjoying — smart home technology in your house is easier than you think. Follow these five simple steps and your home will be a smart home in no time.
* Determine what you’d like to control remotely or automate based on time. Having total control of your home sounds great, but it also leads to total responsibility and sometimes you don’t need all that. For example, lighting solutions are a popular automated option. The smart dimmer by Leviton allows you to dim and time lighting to meet your needs once you download the app, providing you increased functionality all from your smartphone or tablet.
* Select technology that works with your home. When you're shopping for products — like lighting switches — you should always be mindful of functionality. For example, does your home operate on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? Understand the base functionalities of your home and you'll streamline your shopping process.
* Seek professional help. If you’re concerned about your ability to set up your smart home technology successfully, don’t be afraid to seek out some guidance. Call on your contractor to assist you in the installation. You can also download helpful guides and how-to instructions from the manufacturer’s website. The more information you have before beginning the project, the more comfortable you’ll be with the installation.
* Download the proper apps. The key to your home’s smart technology lies in the corresponding apps. Make sure you’ve downloaded the right one to match your system. Many smart home technologies offer both iPhone and Android apps to provide the functionality control you need.
* Set your schedule and optimize as needed. Your smart home is an ever-evolving machine, and the more time you take to continually customize your preferences, the more you’ll get from your system. Establish your initial schedule and then add voice control through Amazon, Google or Apple. Finally, don't be afraid to make continued improvements. You’ve already tackled the biggest hurdle of installing your system, and the ongoing small adjustments you add will make your system great.
To learn more about today’s smart homes and lighting technologies available from companies such as Leviton, visit www.Leviton.com/DecoraSmart.
(BPT) - The technology in our TV sets has changed a lot in the past decade. When it comes time to buy one, it's easy to lose track of which features matter for a good TV-watching experience.
You might find a TV at a tempting price, but you don't want to end up wasting money on a picture that blurs at the height of the action, looks distorted from side angles or doesn't support the latest technology.
At the same time, does the expensive model and its alphabet soup of features really give you a better picture for the price?
"With all the new TVs hitting the market in the next few months, it can be tough to know what to buy and what the numbers mean," says Katie Linendoll, tech expert, TODAY Show contributor and Emmy Award winner.
Since your TV set is a major source of entertainment for you and your family, it's important to know what to look for before you start shopping. With Linendoll's guidance on the latest TV features and technology, you'll be sure to choose a TV set with the brightness, sharp images and vibrant colors you're looking for. Because the last thing you want is to get stuck with a TV you'll regret.
Screen type: OLED or LCD?
For starters, there are only two kinds of TV panel technologies available right now: OLED (pronounced "oh-led") and LCD.
"OLED technology creates its own light, which means each pixel can be individually controlled and turned on or completely off," says Linendoll. Plus, OLED delivers over one billion different shades of color - about 64 times the amount of a conventional TV.
Many experts who have performed detailed technical reviews have deemed OLED the best TV tech ever made. Combined with rave reviews and its super-slim design, this tech is worth paying a bit more in price.
Currently, OLED is available in various screen sizes from LG, who led the introduction of the category a few years ago, and Sony announced they will also release several OLED sets later this year.
Unlike OLED, LCD (liquid crystal display) requires a backlight to make the picture. Most of today's LCD sets use LED lighting. LCD can create a bright, colorful picture but black levels will not be as dark as OLED, and some details can be lost in the shadows.
"This category of TV can still deliver very impressive picture quality, and it's often very attractively priced," says Linendoll.
While shopping for an LCD set, it's important to know major manufacturers have different names for their premium LCD models. You might hear of Q-LED (an LCD TV that uses quantum dot technology) - not to be confused with OLED - as well as Super UHD or XBR.
Brighter, more colorful picture
One big improvement in recent years has been the expansion of color capabilities in TVs. Nano cell and quantum dot technology, for example, are designed primarily to deliver a bigger spectrum of color than conventional LCD sets, creating more realistic-looking pictures.
How does it work? Nano cell, which is only found in LG's Super UHD TVs, uses extremely small particles (one nanometer in size), which provide more refined and accurate shades of color.
Viewing angles are important
Research shows that only about 10 percent of TV viewers sit directly in front of the TV, so viewing angle is extremely important. Moving even by as little as 10-15 degrees can make colors look washed out and black levels will start to degrade.
OLED TVs have the best performance at wide viewing angles; however, some LCDs, such as LG's Super UHD sets, use a special LCD type for a wider viewing angle.
The more pixels you have, the better the image quality. If you picked up on the buzz about 4K "Ultra HD," you know these TVs have more than 8 million pixels and display sharper, more lifelike images.
"Most new bigger-screen TVs you'd be considering, including OLED and LCD TVs, are 4K," says Linendoll. A newer enhancement to 4K is called HDR or high dynamic range, giving you more shadow detail and natural bright highlights.
Be sure the set you're looking at has 4K resolution and supports HDR; otherwise you will be missing out on what's quickly becoming the gold standard in TV features.
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