Technology

5 Gadgets to Leap You Into Spring


Ah, spring is here – the flowers are blooming, the temperature is rising, and you’re itching to get out of the house! Along with spring comes my desire for fresh new gadgets to brighten your mood and get you ready for spring. I’ve selected 5 of my favorites for 2017 that you should definitely try!

Parrot Pot – $149.99

Parrot Pot

I’ve been waiting on trying this one out since CES 2015 when Parrot debuted their new line of automated gardening products. You can see my review of the now extinct Flower Power devices here (I’m really hoping they bring these back!). Parrot did it again by releasing a series of multi-colored pots you can put around your home to keep your plants and flowers watered, year long without worry.

The Parrot Pot comes with a 1/2 gallon water reservoir and 2.5 Quart soil container you can use to store and water your small to medium-sized plants. Using the Flower Power app (which still works with my Flower Power sensor device), you can choose the type of plant in the container, and it will automatically select the watering amount using “Perfect Drop” technology that decides the minimum, but optimal watering amount for the specified plant. The pot also comes with 2 sensors for tracking soil moisture, and fertilizer amounts, as well as temperature. The pot sends notifications to your phone when the water reservoir runs low, as well as when there isn’t enough sunlight, fertilizer, or soil moisture.

Overall this is one of my new favorite gadgets. While it’s disappointing that Parrot seems to have removed integration with services such as IFTTT (as confirmed after I made the video below), on its own it allows me to pot my plants, fill with water, and forget about them for up to a full month. This gives me peace of mind. Check out my unboxing video and review below!:

SkyDrop Smart Controller – $200

SkyDrop Smart Sprinkler Controller

I’ve been using SkyDrop for about 2 years now and it’s now one of my favorite gadgets in the garden. The smart sprinkler controller allows you to specify, through the SkyDrop mobile app, what types of plants, slope, and soil type is in each zone (up to 8 zones included and you can add an additional 8 through an extender device you can purchase). Then, it automatically determines based on local weather reports for your area how much to water each individual zone.

You can also manually control each zone inside the app, scaring those pesky kids walking on your lawn away without ever having to touch the controller. I find this feature particularly useful when testing individual sprinklers as I repair new sprinkler heads in remote areas of my lawn.

The SkyDrop also has integration with Amazon Echo and I’ve been able to find ways to connect to Samsung Smartthings, technically making it also compatible with Google Home, allowing you to control it with your voice with your favorite voice control system. In the end it saves water and money for you, because it only waters when you need it. I did a recap of how much I liked them at their booth at CES in 2015 – check them out here!:

Pioneer Rayz Plus Headphones – $149.95

Pioneer Rayz Smart Earphones

At CES this year (2017), I was given exclusive access and an NDA to view Pioneer’s latest earphone product, the Rayz. In February they finally lifted the NDA and I could talk about my now favorite ever set of headphones for Apple products. I call them mixed reality for your ears!

The Rayz’ unique benefit is that they come with 6 microphones: 2 in each of the earbuds themselves, and 2 others near the center of the control panel. This allows the earbuds to sense sounds all around you as you have them in. This gives the Pioneer Rayz a unique ability for earbuds to completely block out all sound around you, except what you’re listening to, providing unparalleled sound for an earbud. In addition, they make a terrific speaker phone, as the noise cancellation will also block out sound as you’re talking. The listener only hears the sound of your voice as you talk to them. I was able to talk in the middle of a windy snowstorm in Park City and the listener couldn’t even tell!

Rayz also comes with an app that will automatically tune your earbuds to your ears. You put them in – it listens to your ear through the embedded microphones, and determines the optimal sound quality and noise control for your own ears. From the app you can also control things like what the buttons on the earphone control panel do (for instance, they can, with one button push, open up Apple Music or another app on your phone, or turn on/off noise cancellation), as well as turn on and off features like having the music pause when you take the earbuds out of your ears and have it play again when you put them back in.

Rayz is also working on releasing features coming soon that will allow auto-mute when you’re not talking. That way all sounds are muted except when you’re talking. They also come with a unique feature that allows you to hear people talking to you while your music is playing, preventing you from having to turn your music off when someone talks.

These earphones, which are powered by your phone and require no batteries, are incredibly smart, and come at the incredibly inexpensive price of $149.95 for a version that lets you charge your phone while they’re plugged in and just $99.95 for a version that doesn’t let you charge. Check out my unboxing below:

Lutron Caseta Wireless In-wall light dimmer with remote and Smart Lamp Timer Kit – $59.25 & $99.97

Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Plugs and Light Switches

What says spring more than bright light! Lutron’s Caseta Wireless line is a series of smart switches that allow you to control your lights from your phone and services like Amazon’s Echo. Each piece of the Caseta Wireless line requires a smart hub you can buy either separately or as part of a kit (link above), which you can control via a smart app on your phone, or devices like Amazon Echo. From the app, as well as included remote you can then turn on and off the lights connected to the special dimmer plug, if part of the Smart Lamp Timer kit, or even replace your existing light switches and turn on/off, or dim your overhead lights.

Just this month Lutron announced integration with Samsung Smartthings – I have not yet tried this, but once confirmed, this means Google Home will also work with the lights, and you can integrate with your other smart devices in the home, like Samsung’s own motion control sensors. The devices come with timers in the app you can use to turn on/off the lights based on different settings.

I have multiple smart lights set up in my home and the Lutron seem to prove one of the most versatile in compatible products they work with. At midnight, my lights automatically turn off as long as no motion is detected in the home. I have lights in my indoor #geekgreens grow room that turn on and off at scheduled times to give my plants optimal 12 hours a day lighting. This is a must-have product in every smart home set up!

Keep following http://facebook.com/stay where I’ll be doing an unboxing of both Caseta Wireless products and show you how it integrates with my own home. Stay tuned!

All gadgets listed here were supplied to me free for review, at my own request.

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