Home im­prove­ments

Tech­nol­ogy isn’t just com­ing into your home, it’s trans­form­ing it, writes Rod Ch­ester

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH -

AXIS XS ( right) REVO AUS­TRALIA, $ 379.95 revoaustralia.com.au

ALL we used to want from an Ap­ple iPod dock was a speaker, but the Axis XS is much more. It has a 3.5- inch touch­screen to help you nav­i­gate mu­sic sources – and there are plenty to nav­i­gate. You can stream mu­sic from your PC, con­nect your smart­phone ( through Blue­tooth, aux­il­iary- in or a USB port), play in­ter­net ra­dio, DAB+ and FM. The one down­side is the iPod con­necter is the old 30- pin va­ri­ety. It’s an at­trac­tive unit with one big knob on the front ( vol­ume con­trol). With an alarm clock and sleep func­tion, it’s not too big to use on a bed­side ta­ble. Good bang for its buck in sound qual­ity.

HUE ( be­low) PHILIPS, $ 249.95 meethue.com

THE fu­ture of home light­ing has ar­rived and it is both bright and colour­ful. Philips calls Hue “the world’s smartest LED bulb”. The starter kit comes with three screwin globes and a bridge you plug in to your in­ter­net router. Down­load the ac­com­pa­ny­ing free app and it’s easy to set the mood in your room us­ing the stan­dard themes that set the globe’s colour and bright­ness. But that’s just the start. Us­ing third­party apps, you can con­trol your lights through lo­ca­tion ( an iPhone can au­to­mat­i­cally turn on the lights as you ap­proach the house), or us­ing light­ing pat­terns as an alarm, a timer or even as an alert, such as when some­one sends you a text mes­sage. This light­ing sys­tem is a real light­bulb mo­ment.

VIDEO BABY MON­I­TOR ( right) SONY, $ 299.95 sony. com. au

EVEN the most tech­no­log­i­cally chal­lenged or sleep- de­prived new par­ent will have no trou­ble set­ting up this video baby mon­i­tor. The cam­era and re­ceiver are paired at the fac­tory, so all you have to do is plug them in and turn them on. The cam­era can sit on a flat sur­face or be wall- mounted, while the re­ceiver is small enough to clip on a belt, can go five hours be­tween charges and has a range of 100m. One of the ad­van­tages of this unit is that, un­like au­dio- only sys­tems, you can see your baby sleep­ing – or not sleep­ing – rather than wait­ing to hear them cry. The dis­play has a 2x zoom and the cam­era au­to­mat­i­cally changes to night vi­sion. It’s not the cheap­est op­tion but it’s a win­ner for fea­tures.

NAV­IBOT- S ( right) SAMSUNG, $ 1299 samsung. com/ au

IT might not have the form of Rosie, the Jet­sons’ robotic maid, but the Nav­iBot- S is still fu­tur­is­tic tech­nol­ogy. You can pro­gram it to clean when you’re out ( a robotic vac­uum zoom­ing around can get in the way if you are at home) and it’s smart enough to re­turn to its dock­ing sta­tion to recharge and empty its dust con­tainer. It is small enough to fit un­der some fur­ni­ture and it nav­i­gated our home’s net­work of power cords sur­pris­ingly well, only oc­ca­sion­ally drag­ging one with it. You can also set up a “vir­tual guard” that stops the de­vice driv­ing into a specifi c area. The only down­side is that, un­like Rosie, it can’t clean cor­ners. We’re not quite liv­ing like the Jet­sons yet.

SPLASH ( top)

STRONG, $ 199 strong. com. au

STRONG’S tough and rugged-look­ing SRT Splash is just the sort of thing you can put near a pool or take to an out­door pic­nic with­out stress­ing about it get­ting wet. You can link your mu­si­cal de­vice through Blue­tooth or its aux­il­iary-in port. Blue­tooth is con­ve­nient but only pro­vides six hours of mu­sic, while the wired con­nec­tion de­liv­ers 10 hours. If you link it to your smart­phone, it acts as a speak­er­phone for if you want to make a call from the pool. With two three- watt speak­ers, it pro­duces a de­cent sound level. Just don’t drop it in the wa­ter – it is splash- proof but not im­mer­sion- proof.

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