Sony Closes On-line Stores


In the first quarter of this year Sony closed all of their stand alone retail Sony Stores, now it looks like their online retail stores are next.  Sony announced the closure of it’s On-Line Retail Stores in North America,  https://store.sony.com/ in the USA and http://store.sony.ca/  in Canada, effective August 28, 2015

Generally the cost of operating an on-line retail store is much less than a Bricks and Mortar locations so the closure of Sony’s online stores is surprising but speaks to the state of consumer electronics industry and the continuing decline of television sales.

If you have any Sony Store gift certificates or credits you might want to use them up before August 28, 2015.

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Netgear Arlo Wireless Camera System

Netgear’s Award winning Arlo Wireless HD Camera system finally available in Canada at a retail price of $379 for a two camera system with the option to expand the system up to 15 cameras.

Arlo is designed for the do it yourselfer who wants a high definition security camera system but doesn’t want the hassle of running wires. The system consists of a Hub which essentially creates a private wireless network for the Arlo Cameras and then handles the local camera network traffic as well interfacing with your broadband router to get your Arlo camera video up to the cloud for offsite storage and viewing.

Cameras: Arlo cameras have a 720P resolution, a 130 degree field of view and are powered by four CR123 lithium batteries. Netgear says you should get 4-6 months battery life from the cameras under optimal conditions but is should be pointed out that the Lithium Batteries don’t work very well in cold weather conditions which is why Netgear rates the Arlo Camera operating temperature from -10C to +50C. At -10C you can expect the voltage of the lithium ion batteries to die pretty quickly, I’m talking days not months. Another factor to consider with the Arlo Camera system is the cost of replacement batteries. CR123 Lithium batteries cost $4.50-$9.00 each, so replacing a set of 4 batteries on a single Arlo Camera will cost you $18 – $36 each time you have to replace them. Assuming you will get 4 months use out of a set of batteries a two camera Arlo system will run you $108 – $216 per year just in batteries. A four (4) camera Arlo system will cost $216-$432 per year in batteries. The cost of batteries is significant and really adds up. The total cost of operating a four camera Arlo system with the basic hardware over a period of four years is $1725 – $2599. When you compare that to the cost of a Wired HD four (4) Camera system the cost of the wired system is comparable and the reliability and resolution is far greater than with any wireless system.

One more thing about battery life with the Arlo Cameras. There are three settings or modes with Arlo Cameras, “Best Video”, “Optimized” or “Best Battery Life”. The higher the streaming and resolution quality the shorter your battery life and the sooner you’ll be replacing those pricey CR123 batteries!

Range: Range is another consideration with any wireless camera system. Arlo says the cameras will work up to 300 ft from the hub under optimal conditions. In the real world due to interference from other wireless devices and structural factors the “usable camera range” is more like 50-150 feet.

Set Up: The Arlo camera system is quick and easy to set up and can be done in less then 10 minutes. Step one is connecting the hub to your router. Step two is downloading the Free iOS or Android app. Step three is creating an account either using the mobile app or on the web. Step four is adding the batteries to the cameras and syncing them to the hub. Step five, installing the cameras within range of the hub.

Smart Phone App: The Arlo app is not the most intuitive security camera app but it does show you all of the cameras on your account and provides you with FREE, 7 Day Cloud Recording and Storage for up to five cameras. If you want longer storage there is a 30 day option for $10/month (for up to 10 cameras) as well as a 60 day storage option for up to 15 cameras for, you guessed it$15/month. The Arlo app allows you to view multiple streams at once or a single camera at Full Screen . While watching you can record a video stream or take a snap shot. In addition to Live Viewing there is a Mode section which enables you to set recording schedules, motion detection, push notifications, video quality and manage your cloud storage among other things.

Summary:
Overall the Arlo Camera system is a good quality wireless security camera system with some tradeoffs and limitations, namely battery power and cold temperature operation. The cameras work well in above freezing temperatures and provide good 720P HD image quality in both day and night modes. Freedom from wires makes installation fast and easy and allows Arlo cameras to be installed in places where it would be time consuming, costly or impossible to install conventional.

Lithium Ion Batteries are expensive so the cost of using an Arlo system is high when you factor in replacement batteries. Lithium Ion Batteries also lose power in cold weather so Arlo cameras will not work well in colder climates.

Next is the problem with motion capture. To save battery power Arlo cameras SLEEP until they detect motion and then power up and begin recording. While this saves battery power it often leads to missed recordings especially with fast moving action. Several Arlo camera owners have commented how their Arlo cameras missed recording events because the action happened before the cameras woke up from sleep mode. Waking up from sleep mode or detecting motion seems to take the longest at night when the cameras are in Black and White IR Mode. The response in daylight seems quicker. Cold weather also adversely affects the wake up response time as well as motion detection sensitivity. The colder the temperature the longer it takes to wake up from sleep and the closer you need to be to the camera to detect and trigger motion recording.

If you’re looking for completely wireless DIY Security Camera Solution Arlo’s worth a look but before you purchase an Arlo system you should also consider Nest (formerly DropCam), My D-Link, FlirFX and perhaps even a professionally installed security camera system.

Here’s an video clip we shot with Christine Tarver in the Netgear Booth at ISC West 2015 in Las Vegas.

Amazon – Arlo Camera Link

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My work van has a Jensen Stereo with 30Pin iPod docking cable which no longer works with my iPhone 6 with lighting cable. I tried various lighting cable to 30Pin dock adapters however the firmware in the Stereo did not recognize the iPhone when connected with any of the adapters I tried so the next solution was to try and find a Bluetooth Adapater that would pair with my iPhone 6 and dock with my In-Dash stereo using one of the auxilary audio inputs.

I found the Aukey Portable Wireless Bluetooth Reciever on Amazon and this little adapter did the trick.  The Aukey Bluetooth Reciever paired easily with my iPhone and docked perfectly with the auxilary input on my in-dash stereo.  I ran power permanently to the Aukey receiver and installed it beneath my dash out of sight.  Once the install was complete I now had upgraded my old car stereo to bluetooth.

If you’re looking for an easy way to add bluetooth to your home are car stereo components check out the Aukey Portable Wireless Bluetooth Receiver from Amazon.ca

Link: Aukey Portable Bluetooth Receiver

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Speco’s New HD Over Coax (TVI Solution) ISC West

We had a chance to talk with Alex Goussev with Speco Technologies about their new Speco HD over Coax Cable solution using TVI Technology.

This week Speco will be releasing their new HD-TVI DVR’s and Cameras which will provide 720P and 1080P high resolution camera recordings over existing coaxial cable.

Upgrading to HD-TVI is an affordable way to increase the resolution of an existing camera system while using existing wiring and without running new cables. The best part of HD-Over Coax technology is the ability connect a mixture of low resolution cameras as well as new High Resolution cameras all to the same HD-TVI DVR.

Here’s a video interview from ISC West in Las Vegas 2015.

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Millwoods Boston Pizza TV Upgrade

We recently upgraded the back bar TVs at the Boston Pizza near Millwoods Town Center.  Previous to the upgrade the old back bar TVs were 60″ inch LG PLasmas that were 8 years old and showing their age.  Originally we wanted to install 80″ inch Sharp TVs however since Sharp pulled out of Canada on April 1st, Samsung, LG and Vizio were our only choices for large format HDTV’s.  After comparing cost and sizing we decided to go with the Samsung 7150 Series 75″ inch 240Hz, LED TVs.  240Hz refresh rate is necessary for crisp clear pictures on high motion sports like hockey and the picture quality of the Samsung’s is fantastic.

If  you’re looking for a great place to watch the game and chow down on some great wings and beer check the new TVs at Boston Pizza 5228-23 Ave.

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The NEST Effect …. Smart Thermostats Everywhere!

If anyone doubted the impact Google’s purchase of NEST would have on the security industry it was clearly evident at ISC West this year.  Walking around the show floor, I couldn’t tell if I was at a HVAC Trade Show or a Security Show.

Honeywell displayed their new Lyric Smart Thermostat along with their shinny new Lyric Panel.  Alarm.com showed off their new CES 2015 Award winning Smart Thermostat and 2Gig was displaying a complete new line of smart thermostats.  Not to be outdone Radio Thermostat had four new smart thermostats to show off and Oh ya … Nest was there too.

So who was the winner?  Well nobody in particular, when it comes to smart thermostats it’s all about appearance, aesthetics and personal taste and it looks like consumers will have more choices than ever in 2015 when it comes to selecting a new Smart Thermostat.

The Honeywell Lyric Smart Thermostat is a WiFi based Thermostat intended to be used as a stand alone smart thermostat or in conjunction with Honeywell’s New Lyric All in One Alarm Panel.  Lyric borrows heavily on the industrial design concept and looks a lot like the Nest Thermostat in appearance.

Alarm-com-Smart-ThermermostatThe new Alarm.com Smart Thermostat won the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Mark of Excellence Award at this years CES 2015 for Energy Efficiency Product to the Year.  Designed specifically for the smart home, the new Alarm.com Smart Thermostat combines a timeless, clean, sleek design along with a sophisticated back end with cloud services for  energy management and control.

 

ADC_smart_thermostat2This Smart Thermostat uses the latest Z-Wave chipset for communication and offers multi-sensor learning, room-by-room temperature control, location based automation and even responsive control based on current weather data and information.

Alarm.com went with simplicity in design so there are no confusing LCD Screens or complicated controls on the front  of the Thermostat, just an easy to read LED display that illuminates when the up, down or status button is pressed and the just disappears.

Setup, settings and advanced controls are all programmed by the Alarm.com app and there is even an easy auto scheduling feature which really simplifies the programming process.

CIMG9801

2Gig Showed off a couple new Go Control Smart Thermostats which match the style and look of their GoControl Alarm Panels.  Go Control eventually will have three smart thermostats in their lineup, The Standard, Premium and eventually a Color Touch Screen Model.  At ISC West this year 2Gig had the Standard and Premium Smart Thermostats on display in their booth.  The Premium GoControl Thermostat has a clean front face with no buttons and a full Backlit LCD Touch screen panel.  The Standard GoControl Thermostat has four front panel buttons and a Non-Touch LCD Display.  Both panels use the latest Z-Wave chipsets for communication and pair with the 2Gig GoControl Smart Alarm Panels. Look for our video preview of the new 2Gig Thermostats on a separate post.

CIMG9779CIMG9775Radio Thermostat had four New Smart Thermostats on display at their booth in the Z-Wave Alliance Pavilion.  The new CT32, CT101, CT102 and CT110 all have Backlit LCD Screens and some models have full touch screens while others have side mounted push button controls.

The new CT102 and CT110 Thermostats are especially attractive with White High Gloss almost Glass-Like front panels.

The CT101 is the thinnest Smart Thermostat we saw at the show and the all white front panel is nice improvement over the white and grey panel of the former CT100.

Look for a full video review of the Radio Thermostat lineup on a separate post.

 

 

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10 Mothers Day Gifts you can Buy Online for Under $100

Mothers Day is just around the corner (May 10th) and if you haven’t purchased a gift yet for mom and don’t have time to go shopping, here’s ten gifts ranging from $3 to $1000 that you can buy online for mom and still get shipped and receive before mothers day if you order this weekend!

apple tv1 – Apple TV:  Three years ago we gave our 70 year old Mom an Apple TV and she absolutely loves it.  AppleTV turned moms kitchen TV into a smart TV allowing her to watch Netflix and Youtube as well as receive photostream pictures from her kids. Price: $89  Apple TV

periperfect 12 – Pediperfect Pedicure Electronic Foot File: With Pediperfect you can give mom a Spa Day and the perfect pedicure right at home.  This battery operated foot file is great for doing in home Pedicures. Price: $39.99  Link: Amope Pediperfect Pedicure Electronic Foot File for Smooth Skin

anker lipstick3 – Anker Lipstick USB Charger:  Mom’s a busy lady and has lots of stresses in her life, one worry she can do without is a dying cell phone battery.  The Anker Lipstick portable charger will allow mom to keep her cell phone fully charged so she can make and receive those all important phone calls from her kids!  Price: $25.99  Link: Anker Lipstick Case

juice extractor4 –  Jui Jiuce Extractor:  Nothing beats a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice.   With the Jui Juice Extractor you can make mom freshly squeezed orange or vegetable juice right in your home kitchen.

Link: JUI JUICE EXTRACTOR

spiralizer5 – For The Love Of Cooking – Vegetable Spiralizer:  Even if your mom is one of those ladies that has everything , chances are she doesn’t have a Vegetable Spiralizer.  The FTLOC Spiralizer will allow mom to make delicious noodles from zucchini and other vegetables as well as some fabulous garnishes and salads.  This is a must have gift for any Vegan!  Price $22.95  Link: Spiralizer

thanks mom book6 – Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to my Mom 101:  Mom does a lot for us and sometimes feels unappreciated, Chicken Soup for the Soul Thanks to Mom 101 is an excellent book to give to mom to say Thanks for all she does!  Price $12.96 Paperback, also available on Kindle Edition.  Link: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom: 101 Stories of Gratitude, Love, and Lessons

mom pendant7 – Mom Heart Necklace Love Pendant Charm:  What mother doesn’t love jewellery.  Say I love you mom with the stylish Heart Pendant necklace and charm.  Price:  $22.31

Link: Mom Heart Necklace Love Pendant Charm for Mother’s Day Gift Jewelry

casio watch8 – Casio White Women’s Dive Series Watch:  This watch is great for the mom that is sporty or a mom who is a doctor or nurse.  White goes with almost everything and this Casio watch is the perfect combination of sport and style.  Price $24.80  

Link:  Casio Women’s LRW200H-7E2VCF Dive Series Diver Look Analog Watch

pink tool set9 – Pink Tool Set:   Women love pink colored tools so why not give mom a Pink tool set.  Price:  $29.45

Link: Apollo Precision Tools DT9706P General Tool Set, 39-Piece (Pink)

pink case10 – Pink Earbuds Case:  Mom will appreciate this little pink case.  She safely store her earbuds or other small items in this case and best of all, find them easily and tangle free inside her pocket or purse when she needs them.  Great gifts don’t have to cost a lot.  Price $2.59

Link: niceeshop(TM) Hard Clamshell Handsfree Headset Hard Case With Zipper Closure,Light Pink

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Coolest Demo at ISC West This Year

One of the coolest demos at ISC West this year was the FIBARO Mount Everest Challenge.

On April 16, at 11:00am a live Skype conference call was established with mountain climber Mariusz Malkowski live from his base camp on Mount Everest.  Various Z-Wave sensors were tripped on the show floor in Las Vegas and Malkowski received notifications on his device at Mount Everest.  Malkowski then send Z-wave commands to remotely control the various devices at the Z-Wave Pavilion on the show floor.

The demo went smoothly with Malkowski opening and closing garage and door locks and controlling a Z-Wave water valve all from the slopes of Mount Everest.  There was a bit of nervous apprehension at the end of the live demo when Malkowski tried to activate the coffee maker and it initially didn’t work … Yikes!  As it turns out the coffee maker was receiving the Z-Wave command from Malkowski on Everest however someone forgot to close the lid on the coffee maker.  Once the lid was properly closed Malkowski sent the command again and the brew began to flow along with the smiles and cheers from the crowd.

Overall FIBARO’s Mount Everest Challenge Demo was a success and showed off the reliability of the Z-Wave platform for Home Automation and Control.  If you can control your home from Mount Everest … you can control it from anywhere!

Below is the video we shot at the show.  The quality of the audio during the first 20 seconds of the “LIVE” demo is very poor but does get better.  Unfortunately the PA system in the booth wasn’t very good and we couldn’t get our mic close enough to the presenter to get better audio.  The video is just over 11 minutes long in total.

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New Alarm.com App Now Available

new app

Alarm.com New App

Alarm.com’s new iOS App Version 3.2 is now available for download on the Apple App Store.

The New iOS App adds support for the Apple Watch and will allow you to arm/disarm, control locks, garage doors and thermostats all from the Apple Watch.

Some Notifications are now Actionable right from the notifications screen without the need to launch the app.  Actionable notifications include arm/disarm, door lock/unlock and garage door open and close.

Old New T-Stat

The Thermostat section of the App has been enhanced and allows you to control your furnace fan and edit schedules right from the app.

lutron screen 1Next up is huge improvements and better integration with Lutron Caseta and Radio Ra2 systems.

Previous to this upgrade Lutron integration with Alarm.com was clunky and awkward.  The new App organizes Lutron devices into Switches and Dimmers, Picos, Keypads and Scenes and Shades.  The new interface is more intuitive and easy to navigate and control.

This app upgrade is a must for Lutron users.

lutron 2

Not to be outdone by Lutron, the Z-Wave lighting section in the new 3.2 App also gets a minor upgrade.  Z-Wave lights and switches are now directly controlled by clicking on the on/off, dim icons next to the device name and gone is the SET button.

Two-Way status feedback is now provided to all Z-Wave and Lutron devices so the user can know if lights have been left on or off, or if shades have been left open or closed.

Lastly, Version 3.2 adds new features to the Water Value Control, allowing you to monitor your sump pump and remotely turn water values on or off via the app or by rules settings.

Overall the new Alarm.com Version 3.2 iOS App is a great improvement over the previous app.  The new interface is more intuitive and makes controlling the devices in your home smooth and easy.

If you would like more information on Home Automation or the New Alarm.com App call or email Ion Security Systems 780-489-5522.

 

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New Smart Thermostats Announced At ISC West

2Gig just announced it will be showing off a complete line of New Thermostats tomorrow at ISC West.

“HVAC management represents one of the top trends in smart home control, so we’re excited to bring this solution to security dealers,” said Duane Paulson, senior vice president of product and market development, Nortek Security & Control.

The new GoControl Thermostat lineup will include black and white and color LCD touch screen models as well as a non-touch screen version.  Right now we only have a picture of the B/W touch screen model to show you, but will post more pics from the show floor tomorrow.

In addition to 2Gig,  Alarm.com and Honeywell will also be showing off their new thermostats.

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