Archive for the Products Category

A Follow Up To My Upgrade To Rogers Ignite Services – The Rogers Ignite IPTV Box

Posted in Products with tags on August 6, 2021 by itnerd

As part of my upgrade to Rogers Ignite is that my Rogers NextBox 3.0 got replaced with this:

This is the Rogers Ignite IPTV box. It is very small as it occupies the space of two iPhone 12’s both in width and height. It does feel very plasticky and it’s very light from a weight perspective.

On the back, you get from left to right an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and a power port that is USB-C. As you can see, I didn’t use the Ethernet port because this IPTV box supports WiFi connectivity on the 5 Ghz band. And it works very well. There were no issues that I noted. No dropped frames. No pausing. Nothing. The experience was pretty impressive.

There’s one other feature that this Rogers Ignite IPTV box has. It’s the remote:

This remote (which Rogers calls the XR15) is a Godsend. I had memorized every channel that I view when I had the NextBox 3.0. A lot of them changed when I moved to the Rogers Ignite IPTV box. Fortunately the remote has a voice search feature that allows me to search for channels, actors names, run apps, or whatever. For the most part the voice recognition works well. Though it does have the odd quirk. For example, if I was searching for the T+E channel, I would have to say “T plus E” rather than “T And E” to find it. But I can let that slide as that seems to be an edge case.

Another plus is that you get a PVR function “in the cloud” that allows you to store 200 hours of HD or 4K TV. Because it’s “in the cloud”, if you ever have to swap Ignite IPTV boxes, you don’t lose your recordings. That’s very cool. The box also uses Bluetooth so that you can pair a set of Bluetooth headphones and listen privately. Or pair a pair of speakers to enhance your listening pleasure. Finally, you can add channels like Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to it. And the cool part is that the costs of these channels show up on your Rogers bill. That’s really handy to consolidate your spending on streaming. I should note that you do get YouTube among other free options.

From what I can see, Rogers is making a serious attempt to put the Rogers Ignite IPTV box in a position to displace your Chromcast, Apple TV, Roku or any other streaming device. In my case, it hasn’t stopped me from using the built in Roku on my TCL TV. But I admit that Rogers has kind of given me an incentive to at least think about doing just that. Because Rogers really has a winner on its hands here.

A Follow Up To My Upgrade To Rogers Ignite Services – Starting With The Rogers Ignite WiFi Hub

Posted in Products with tags on August 5, 2021 by itnerd

I have had Rogers Ignite for a few days now. And I’ve had a chance to try their Ignite based home phone, TV, and Internet. I’ve noted a few things about the service that I’d like to touch upon. I’ll start with the Rogers Ignite WiFi Hub, which is the Technicolor CGM4331COM (AKA the XB7 Generation 2) modem:

On the front, it looks kind of unremarkable. A single LED light that changes color depending on the status of the modem is all that you see. But the really interesting stuff is in the back:

Starting from the top are two RJ11 jacks for phone service. That’s kind of important because it allows users of Rogers Home Phone service (like me) to use one device for both Internet and Home Phone rather than using separate devices.

Below the RJ11 jacks are four Ethernet ports. Three of them are Gigabit. But the fourth one, the one that in this picture has an Ethernet cable cable plugged into it is a 2.5 Gigabit port. Why is that important? You’ll get better performance if you have the hardware to support it. In my case, I have the Rogers Ignite WiFi Hub set up in bridge mode (meaning that I turned off all the routing functions of the hub), and I have it hooked up to my ASUS ZenWifi AX XT8 mesh WiFi system which also has a 2.5 Gigabit port. Let me illustrate this. Here’s my result when the ASUS ZenWiFi system was plugged into the Gigabit port:

Now these results don’t suck. But when I plug my ASUS ZenWiFi system into the 2.5 Gigabit port on the Rogers Ignite WiFi Hub, this is the best speed test that I got (though I will note that repeated speed tests were slightly slower on the downstream):

My downstream speed is much faster. Also I would ignore the drop in upload speed. I re-ran the tests and got 33 to 34 Mbps most of the time. I’ll also note that while my ping times have gone up slightly, the jitter, which you can get a definition of here, has gone up as well. Though in additional testing, the jitter and ping values did vary a lot. But even the result that is pictured above is perfectly acceptable in my books. The bottom line is that this is a very nice speed boost that I will gladly take. Though I cannot claim that either myself or my wife are noticing the difference.

Other notes about this WiFi Hub include:

The net result is that if you actually use Rogers WiFi hub to power your home network, your Internet access will likely be pretty decent. And even if you are in my use case which is to disable all of that in favor of my own WiFi gear, your Internet access is still pretty decent. What’s interesting about this hardware is that Rogers is clearly planning something to increase speeds so that they can better compete with Bell which have faster upstream and downstream speeds. If they weren’t planning that, they wouldn’t be deploying this hardware to customers as this hardware clearly has headroom. Hopefully, any sort of speed increase by Rogers needs to come sooner rather than later as 30 Mbps upstream in their gigabit offering doesn’t really cut it.

Tomorrow, I’ll look at the Rogers Ignite IPTV TV box and I will let you know my impressions of that.

Review: My Time At Portia For iOS

Posted in Products on August 4, 2021 by itnerd

My Time at Portia has been around on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for a while now. But as of today, it’s now available iOS and Android. And I got the chance to try it out on iOS ahead of today’s release.

The basic plot of the game goes something like this. Humanity is rebuilding in My Time at Portia. Civilization as you knew it was destroyed, and city-states have formed. Your player arrives in Portia to follow in your father’s footsteps and become a builder. The goal of the story is to expand Portia and become the top builder in town. While that sounds simple, it’s actually a lot more complex than that. Now I don’t mean that in a bad way. What I mean is that this premise opens up a ton of tasks and missions that will allow you to experience gameplay that is far from boring and ensures that this game has value for a very long time.

As I mentioned earlier, I tried this game out on on iOS and the first thing that you notice is that the graphics are excellent. Here’s some screen captures that I took while testing the game:

All the graphics are highly detailed and the animations are fluid on my iPhone 12 Pro. I would easily put this on par with playing on a console.

You should be prepared to invest a fair amount of time into the game as it moves at a slow (by my standards, yours may vary) pace. Which isn’t a bad thing. Because My Time At Portia eventually reveals itself as the impressively in-depth life sim. One that really sucks you in and ensures that this becomes as addictive as a game like Animal Crossing. As I type this review, I’ve invested about 30 hours into the game and I have enjoyed it thus far.

Gripes? One thing that I did note right out of the gate is that while you can create your own character and customize it any way you want right down to gender, you can’t customize skin tone or ethnicity. Or at least I couldn’t find a way to do that. That I think needs to be addressed as I think that the target audience of players for this game need to be reflected in game. It is 2021 after all.

I’d recommend this game for anyone who is looking for a very detailed and immersive sim that’s aimed at someone who wants to invest their time and effort into something. My Time At Portia is an ambitious game that will easily have you spending a lot of time on your phone and leave you satisfied every time you play it. If that’s you, then I would visit the Apple App Store or Google Play to get your copy today.

A Follow Up To My High Tech Road Bike – The 2021 Edition

Posted in Products with tags on July 18, 2021 by itnerd

When I last wrote about my high tech road bike, I had gotten a significant upgrade in terms of electronic shifting. I’m happy to report that it’s been smooth sailing on that front and my riding experience has never been better. Having the ability to shift in almost any condition is brilliant and I feel that it combined with my fitness has made me faster overall.

What hasn’t been as fun are flat tires. A year after I got this bike, I upgraded the wheels to ones that are tubeless compatible. Meaning that instead of having inner tubes, they have some liquid sealant to seal punctures. That’s worked brilliantly until this year. My first ride out I got a puncture and the puncture was too big to fully seal. So while I was able to ride another 25 KM’s of a 55 KM ride, the tire finally went flat with 6 KM to go. That required me to phone my wife to pick me up, and I had to buy a new tire the next day. A week later, I got a puncture on another ride, but it sealed. Unfortunately the tire when I examined it later wasn’t safe to ride as the carcass was damaged in a way that the tire could give way at any time. So I had to get another new tire. Three days after that I got another puncture. But it sealed and I was able to keep going. By that point I was kind of fed up with tubeless tire systems. So I instead decided to go back to clincher tires. AKA tires and tubes. After some research, I settled on going with Goodyear tires. Specifically the Goodyear Eagle All Seasons.

So, why Goodyear Eagle All Seasons? Well, they balance durability (aka puncture resistance), wet grip, speed and cornering grip to make this a tire for all conditions. That includes riding them in the spring and fall where the weather is colder which can pose a challenge for some tires. Another thing that is great is that they work with tubes, but can also be set up tubeless. That way if I decide to give tubeless another shot, I don’t have to spring for another set of tires to do that. I’ve been riding them for a couple of months now and they’ve not only performed brilliantly, but I haven’t had one single flat on them. I’ve paired with these tires are Specialized Turbo tubes. These tubes which are made with butyl are roughly 40g lighter than regular tubes. That translates into reducing drag by about 13%. I was skeptical of that until I ran these back to back with regular tubes on the same loop. They are noticeably faster. Are they 13% faster? Well, my Shimano power meter suggests that I save about 4 watts of power coming from my legs with the Turbo tubes factoring in that I was using the same wheels and the same tires during this test. So clearly there’s something there. The only way to get even more performance is to use latex tubes which are even lighter. But the downside is that air retention is a problem. You have to pump them up every day. I don’t have do that with the Specialized Turbo tubes as butyl is great for air retention. So that’s another win. What’s the downside of this setup? These Goodyear tires are an absolute pain to get on as they are super tight to mount onto my wheels. I outsourced that task to Chain Reaction Bicycles as they’re experts at this sort of thing. I am hoping that I don’t have to do anything to these tires going forward for that reason.

I did get a question from a reader about why I have two sets of wheels that are completely different than each other. He pointed that out after reading about our last road trip to PEI where I switched wheels for a ride on the east point of the island due to it being windy. Let me explain. I have two wheels for two completely different purposes:

Here’s my bike with my Giant SLR1 55mm wheels. This is what is called a mid depth wheels. Meaning that if you factor in that carbon wheels start at 30mm in depth and go up as much as 100mm, 55mm is the middle of that range. That size makes it great to get aero gains, especially on a flat road, and still be useful in rolling hills where the fact that they are 1670g a pair (minus tires, tubes, and gears) aren’t too much of a liability. The only catch is that besides weight, they can be a bit of a challenge to control on really windy days.

Now over to the Giant SLR1 30mm wheels. At 1380g a pair, they are super light. Which means that if you want to take on a legendary climbs from the Tour De France such as Luz Ardiden, Mount Ventoux, or Alpe D’Huez, you want these wheels on your bike as climbing steep mountains or hills is all about having the best power (as much as you can put out) to weight (as little as you can get away with) ratio. In my case, getting rid of 290g doesn’t sound like a lot. But it’s rotational mass which the less of it that you have to overcome, the faster that you will go. Especially uphill. What’s the downside to these wheels? There’s minimal aero gains to be found here. So once the road goes flat, people with more aero wheels will have a theoretical advantage over me.

Finally, I’ve had a couple other questions about some other things on my bike. Starting with the handlebar tape. A reader noticed that it was very unique. So here’s a closer look:

This tape is made by a company called SupaCaz and this is their Sticky Kush Galaxy Red bar tape. I saw it at Chain Reaction and I knew that I had to have it on my bike as it is a subtle way to personalize my bike.

Another reader noted that I had a unique way to mount my Garmin Edge 830 Cyclocomputer to my bike:

This is the JRC Components Out Front Mount which does double duty. The top allows me to lock my Garmin Edge 830 into place. The bottom allows me to lock my front light into place. Though I had to find those parts elsewhere. The net result is that everything looks clean and professional.

So that’s the follow up. If you have any questions, drop me a note or leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Review: Apple Watch International Collection Sport Loop Band

Posted in Products with tags on July 9, 2021 by itnerd

Apple has released 22 Apple Watch sport loop bands to represent 22 nations around the world which tie into the Olympics that start later this month. Along with the sport loops, you can get watch faces that have limited customization to match the sport loops. Seeing as my wife and I are both Apple Watch users and we’re in Canada, we got the Canadian sport loop:

You can see the sport loop with the matching watch face here which you get via an app clip that is printed inside the box. And the watch face is the only area I will be critical of. Apple could have tried harder to incorporate the maple leaf into the watch face. Because other than the red and white, there’s nothing here that makes it distinctly Canadian. And you can copy and paste that comment for a few of the other bands in this collection. You also can’t add complications to the watch face, but I can’t see how you could do that and not have issues seeing the complication. Thus I will give Apple a pass on that. You can however customize the look of the watch face. For example you can have vertical stripes rather than diagonal ones. Or use a circular watch face instead of a square one.

Apple did put some time into making sure all the lugs and other bits color match the theme of the sport loop. So I will give them a point on that front. But other than that, this is a very comfortable sport loop that feels soft and the velcro is very secure. I would wear this when I work out, but since white is one of the colors, that’s likely not a good idea as it is likely to get dirty in a hurry.

On the inside of the band the three letter abbreviation for the country is present below the velcro strips.

The cool part is that these sport loops aren’t any more expensive than usual. In Canada they’re $59 CDN. If you want one, I would hurry. As I type this some countries have sold out. And not all Apple Stores have all sport loops. Thus if you want to show your national pride, I would quickly go to the Apple online store and shop for them that way.

Review: Onvis CS1 Security Alarm Contact Sensor

Posted in Products with tags on June 13, 2021 by itnerd

I have been using lockdown and everything related to that to work on the home security system that I am building using HomeKit products. One of the things that I wanted was a way to have a siren using the HomePod Mini that I have. But that’s simply not possible. Apparently if you want to have a siren sound play when for example a motion sensor detects motion, you can’t unless you have an Apple Music account. That’s a #fail. So I went looking for a second option. The thing is, there’s not a whole lot of options out there. As a result it took a while to find a product that I thought would work for me. And that product was the Onvis CS1 Security Alarm Contact Sensor. Here’s what you get in the box:

Besides the two parts of the sensor, you get 2AAA batteries, a pack of three screws, 3M double sided adhesive, and of course the usual instructions, which I should note that the English isn’t the best in the supplied documentation.

Now, let me get this out of the way right up front. This device uses Bluetooth LE 5.0. Which means it only works with your phone in range of it, which of course isn’t practical for this use case, or with a HomeKit Hub (An Apple TV 4 or above, HomePod or HomePod Mini) that is within range. That’s due to the fact that if it had WiFi, the batteries would drain pretty quickly. But the batteries should last about a year or more via Bluetooth LE 5.0. In my case, that forced me to buy a second HomePod Mini to make this work as my HomePod Mini as in the bedroom, which made it too far away to be useful. The second HomePod Mini now lives discreetly in my living room plugged into a uninterruptible power supply. And as a bonus it is part of an active/standby scenario where if one of the HomePod Minis become unavailable for any reason, the second one will take over running my HomeKit gear.

Setting this up is typically HomeKit easy:

  • Take out your iPhone and open the Home app.
  • Click the “+” and click “Add Accessory”.
  • Scan the HomeKit code on the side of the device.
  • Follow the prompts and you’re done.

You then have to mount it. You can use the double sided 3M tape. Or you could screw it in. I would screw it in if you can. Here’s how the finished product looks:

In my case I used the double sided 3M tape and I drilled a bunch of holes to screw it in place to ensure that it was secure. I also placed it at the top of the door for one other reason that I will get to in a moment.

Now you get a number of sensors as part of the deal:

  • Temperature sensor
  • Humidity sensor
  • Door sensor

So in short, besides being able to sense if the door is open or not, it can also monitor temperature and humidity. Those last two features aren’t really useful to me. But they might be useful to somebody else who is interested in using that information to drive automations for smart thermostats for example. You also get a 120 dB siren as well. Though in my testing it did only hit 89 dB when I tested it with my Apple Watch with the volume cranked up to max.

Once you set this up, you can use the Home app to do a very limited amount of customization. You can set it up to arm when you leave, and disarm when you come home. You can add the sensors to automations, and…. that’s about it. To do anything interesting, you need the Onvis Home app which allows you to customize things like the volume of the alarm, the delay before it alarms, and the like. The good thing about the Onvis Home app is that it reads your HomeKit data to allow you to customize it. That suggests to me that you can set this up as HomeKit only and in theory because it is Bluetooth only, it won’t be a security risk on your network. The Onvis app is also used for firmware updates as well. I will say that the Onvis app is a bit sketchy in terms of the user interface as some stuff simply doesn’t work the way that you expect it to, and has some borderline amateur level graphics. Fortunately you can choose to use another app like the Eve app for example which allows you to do everything that the Onvis Home app does minus the firmware update part.

Gripes? I have one. The battery compartment holds two AAA batteries and is unremarkable except for the fact it’s really easy to open and close. Too easy. I can see a situation where someone does manage to get into your home, but isn’t deterred by the alarm and is quickly able to deactivate it by taking the batteries out very fast if he can find the sensor. Your neighbors would likely see that as a false alarm and not call the cops. Then the scumbag thief can go to town on your place. While you would get an alert that the door had been opened, if you’re not close to home you are still in trouble. Because of that, you have to hope that the thief in question hears the alarm (which is very loud and hard to miss in my condo) and decides to run away before the cops show up. Onvis should really fix this by having a screw or some other mechanism to make the battery section harder to open. My own mitigation strategy for this issue is to place the sensor at the top of the door so that it if this situation happened, it would take just that little bit longer for the thief to find it. Which may encourage them to run away instead of trying to disable the alarm.

The Onvis CS1 Security Alarm Contact Sensor goes for $27.99 USD. Which is a pretty low price for this. I’d give this a look if you live in a condo or apartment and you need an alarm system to protect your property. Just make sure that you have a HomeKit hub nearby so that you can get alerts when you are away from home.

Review: RYBPrintsLLC TagCard Flex Wallet Case For Apple AirTag

Posted in Products with tags on June 1, 2021 by itnerd

One of the things that I like about the Apple AirTag is the fact that Apple’s Find My Network is huge and from my testing, makes your stuff insanely easy to find. The downside to the Apple AirTag is that there is only one form factor which makes it difficult to use in certain use cases. For example I wanted to use it in my wallet. But simply dropping into my wallet adds a bulge and rattles about. That’s a #Fail. Which is why I figured that there had to be a solution to this problem. And I found one on Etsy via a company called RYBPrintsLLC who makes (via 3D printing) a product called the TagCard Flex Wallet Case For Apple AirTag.

I got mine in black but it also comes in white as well. The holder has a soft rubbery feel to it. And the AirTag snaps in securely into place:

When the AirTag is snapped into place it sits flush on the stainless steel side, and slightly recessed on the plastic side. The holder is 82x50x8 mm in size which makes it on the thick side. Which means that it will likely add some bulk to your wallet. Let me illustrate. Here’s my wallet without the TagCard Flex:

Now I don’t have the thinnest wallet in the universe. But it feels comfortable in my pocket. Now here’s my wallet with the TagCard Flex:

It does add some bulk. But it still feels comfortable in my pocket and it still closes fine. Though I would also say that your mileage may vary on that depending on what wallet you have. Also of note, my ability to locate my wallet isn’t affected in any way. Not that I expected it to be affected, but having reviewed products for years, stranger things have happened.

The TagCard Flex is $14.99 USD and is only available from RYBPrintsLLC’s Etsy store. I’d recommend this product if you want to want to securely put an AirTag into your wallet. It may add some bulk. But it’s worth it in my opinion.

Review: Ekster Aluminum Cardholder

Posted in Products with tags on May 29, 2021 by itnerd

Father’s Day is coming up and a very common gift is a new wallet. But instead of giving Dad yet another wallet that looks the same as his last wallet, how about serving up something with a bit of style and tech? To that end, let me introduce to you the Ekster Aluminum Cardholder:

This is a 6061-T6 aluminumaluminum wallet built for quick access of all your cards via two compartments. It’s also capable of carrying cash in the form of bills as well.

The expandable metal backplate allows you to carry a pair of cards that you frequently access (credit cards for example) while keeping a slim profile. There a notch at the bottom center of this section that helps you to push them out so that you can get to them.

The main section of cardholder fans out your cards at the click of a button. This is where you store your less frequently used cards. The cardholder holds a maximum of 6 non-embossed cards, or a combination of 4 – 5 embossed/non-embossed cards (depending on the thickness of each card).

One handy thing that this cardholder offers is RFID protection

There’s one more trick that this cardholder has:

You can get an optional Tracker Card so that you can track down this wallet if you lose it. The tracker card is powered by powered by Chipolo technology and is recharged by sunlight. It takes 3 hours of charge and lasts 2-3 months on a charge. That allows you to find the wallet via Bluetooth LE 4.0 from up to 200 feet away. Using the Chipolo app you can ring the tracker card so that you can play a game of “Marco Polo” to find it, or see it’s last location that it was near your phone if you do lose it. From the party tricks department, you can use the card to ring your phone if you misplace that, or you can use Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri to help you find the wallet. Of course there’s also the Chipolo network that can help you to find your cardholder should you use it. Based on this map their network seems to be concentrated on the East Coast of the US, the West Coast of the US, the Mid-West, Central Canada, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea. Which means that if you live in those areas, your odds of finding this carholder improves significantly.

Now, I was planning to test this out, but my wife got her hands on it before I did and immediately wanted to test it out herself as she keeps her various cards loose in her purse, which means she has a habit of misplacing them. For example, she misplaced her health insurance card when we needed it to book our COVID shots. Based on the fact that she said her cards went “flying everywhere” inside the car when she went to pay for something at a drive thru, I searched the car for 10 minutes and eventually found it under a seat in a very hard to get to place. So I acquiesced and let her try this out for a few days. Here’s her feedback:

  • She likes the RFID protection that this cardholder offers.
  • It keeps all her daily essential cards.
  • From a woman’s perspective, it really helps to keep everything organized and makes it easy to go from purse to purse.
  • It is super slim so you can leave your purse at home and simply take the card holder with you with everything you need.
  • It is solid and it has some weight to it. But it’s functional weight so that’s fine.
  • It is easy to organize your cards so that you have easy access to whatever you need at the click of a button or a push in the notch of the backplate.
  • You can still carry cash if you need to.

Though I never got the card holder back from my wife, and I am apparently not going to because she likes it so much, I can say from a male perspective, that having everything in such a slim packages would be a win for me. Which means I will have to get one of these for myself. If I got one of these as a gift, I’d be very happy.

The Ekster Aluminum Cardholder goes for $63 USD direct from Ekster and has 8 color options. The Tracker Card is optional and goes for $39 USD (down from $49 USD). This is a really cool cardholder that doesn’t add any bulk and I also should say looks cool and modern. It makes a great gift for Dad, and apparently works well for women too.

Review: iHome iSP6X Smart Plug

Posted in Products on May 27, 2021 by itnerd

Since I have been writing about a number of HomeKit devices this week, I decided to toss in a HomeKit smart Plug into the mix. Meet the iHome iSP6X Smart Plug:

This is a smart plug that allows you to turn a device such as a light on and off using your phone or the smart assistant of your choice. It does support the following smart assistants:

  • Siri
  • Google Assistant
  • Amazon Alexa

It also supports:

  • Wink
  • Samsung SmartThings
  • Nest
  • Apple HomeKit

This review will focus on usage with Apple HomeKit and Siri.

The cool thing about this HomeKit smart plug is that you can have two of these stacked on top of each other. That’s great if you want to control two devices that would normally occupy that space.

On the side, you will get a physical on/off switch, an indicator for WiFi (Green for connected to WiFi, Red if it isn’t, and blinking if it is looking for WiFi), and an indicator for whether it is providing power to a device. Speaking of WiFi, it supports 2.4GHz WiFi. Which is fine because it isn’t as if you’re going to be pushing the volume of data that a HomeKit camera would.

Setup is easy:

  • Download and open the iHome Control app from the Apple App Store.
  • Plug the smart plug into a desired outlet. The LED will start blinking to indicate it is ready for setup. (TOP TIP: There is a number on the bottom of the device, write that down before plugging it in).
  • Tap Add Device in the Devices tab and follow the on-screen directions to complete setup.
  • When prompted, scan the number at the bottom of the device or type the Accessory Setup Code which you wrote down earlier.
  • Follow the directions to add the plug to HomeKit

Once set up, there’s really not much to this smart plug. You can turn the device that is attached to it on and off using Siri or the Home app. During my testing it was quick to respond and I didn’t have a problem with it. One thing that I should note is that as far as I can tell, it is impossible to add this smart plug to HomeKit without using the iHome app. But the good news is that as far as I can tell, you don’t need to keep the iHome app on your phone other than to update the firmware if required. Finally, during my testing, I found no evidence that the iHome iSP6X Smart Plug connected to any third party servers. That implies to me that unless I find any other evidence, these smart plugs aren’t a potential privacy risk for your network. I did note that the iHome Control app does access your HomeKit data (with your permission) on your iPhone and does not require you to create an account to use it. Which is good. But there’s none of the privacy and data usage info that Apple requires for iOS apps in the App Store as this app hasn’t been updated in a while. Which is bad. iHome would do well to update this information so that consumers are fully informed about what their app does or doesn’t do. Not to mention updating the app as well.

I found the iHome iSP6X Smart Plug on Amazon for $35 CDN which is a good price for this smart plug. While it would be great to have the ability to directly add this switch to HomeKit, and the questions about what their apps do from a privacy perspective, there’s really no other downsides. Check it out if you need a HomeKit compatible smart plug.

Review: Eve Cam

Posted in Products with tags on May 26, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday I reviewed the eufy Indoor Cam 2K. I walked away from that review seriously unimpressed. Thus I was hoping that the Eve Cam would do a better job of impressing me. Eve is a German company that specializes in HomeKit compatible products. Which means by extension, you need to be in Apple’s ecosystem to use this camera. But one of the main reasons that caught my attention is that they have a commitment to privacy. That was important to me because of the privacy issue that the eufy camera had. But I’ll get to that later. Let’s start with the camera itself:

It has a very modern look to it. And you can get the Eve Cam in any color you want as long as it’s black. That creates a bit of an issue as you will see in the next picture.

On the back you can see the speaker and microphone as well as a Micro USB port for power. And you can see the main issue with having a black camera. This one was out of the box for five minutes and it already had noticeable dust all over it.

The mounting hardware is cool. This metal ring allows you to mount the camera magnetically. You could screw it in, or if you don’t want to do that, there’s 3M tape that allows you to mount the ring to a perfectly flat surface.

Here’s the key specs:

  • 1080p/24fps H.264 Video
  • 802.11 a/b/2.4 GHz and 5GHz WiFi support
  • 150° field of vision
  • Infrared motion sensor
  • Night vision up to 5 meters
  • Two-way communication with built-in microphone and speaker
  • Status LED that indicates when you are being watched and recorded via a red light. And when it is simply online with a blue light.
  • HomeKit Secure Video Support

Setup was laughably easy:

  1. Install the camera in the desired location and power it on.
  2. Open the Home app on your iPhone
  3. Click the plus sign and click on Add Accessory
  4. Scan the HomeKit QR code that is on the camera or in the box.
  5. Follow the prompts to install it.

You’ll note something about this install. Mainly that it installs directly into HomeKit and you don’t need a secondary app to install it. While there is an Eve app for iOS, you don’t have to use it. Though it will come in handy to update firmware as you presently can’t do that from the Home app (though that functionality is apparently in iOS 14). But if you do use the Eve app, you don’t need to create an account to use it. And it pulls data with your permission from the Home app. Meaning Eve never sees your data. Furthermore, there is no “Eve cloud” or anything like that for the Eve cam to talk to. So you are fully within the Apple ecosystem when you use the cameras. Which means your privacy is in a much better place as a result.

Another thing that I really liked is that when I set this camera up, it defaulted to using my 5GHz network. Why is that important? There’s less interference and better performance on the 5GHz band. That’s important for a security camera as it will simply be more stable and be able to stream video better. Speaking of which, after installation, I had zero issues with this camera. It worked flawlessly on my network. And the image quality was pretty good as you can see a wide field of vision with a fair amount of detail. Night performance was decent, but not as good as the eufy camera which performed better at night in my testing. Audio in and out was very good as well.

Now to the only downside to the Eve Cam. The Price. The camera goes for $219 CDN at the Apple Store. Not cheap. But if you need a HomeKit camera, the Eve Cam is a slam dunk. It’s simply the best camera out there for those who live in the Apple ecosystem because of the fact that it works only with HomeKit and third parties never get access to your camera.