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