Christmas Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Even though New Home Tricks is not a review site, I wanted to put together a gift guide.  The reason for this is that whilst buying Smart Home technology as a gift might seem a great thing to do, there can be a few pit-falls to look out for.  Read on for my guide on what to look out for when buying Smart Home tech as a gift!

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Smart Heating - Choosing a System

Smart heating is probably one of the more practical areas of smart home technology. It has the potential to save you money by lowering your heating bills. It doesn't hurt that using less energy is kinder to the environment too.  Which system to choose though? With so many on the market now, it's worth taking some time to decide. Now that I'm embarking on a project to install a smart heating product, I thought I'd share my own thoughts, and what I've learned during my research.

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Discovering Alexa Skills

Skills are to voice assistants what apps are to smartphones.  They extend the capabilities of your smart voice assistant speaker so that it can do more.  Skills might let you control smart home tech, they might let you order takeaway, check the status of your car, or even simply guard your home!  In this post I explore a little about how it works.

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Philips Hue App Update

One of the good things about smart home technology, is that it improves over time.  Through software and firmware updates, new features and functionality is delivered to make your smart technologies even more useful.  This year, Philips have added new features to the Hue system, and here I take a look at what's changed.

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The Kitchen: Expanding our Philips Hue Lightstrips

We've pushed on with extending our Philips Hue Smart Lighting in the kitchen.  This was an easy enough job - but there was one slight challenge to overcome.  Thankfully we found a good solution!

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IFTTT Integration Overview

Smart Home technology gets a lot more interesting when you can integrate it all together.  Some smart home kit can link up with other gear you have directly. For when it can't, you'll need to find a way to make that happen. That could be a home controller or hub, or it could be using an online service like IFTTT.  Here, I'll go through a brief overview of what it is, and how it works.

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Ring Video Doorbell Pro Update

Not so much a review, but more of an update, on how we've been getting on with the Ring Video Doorbell Pro.  In this update I want to let you know how those 'quirks' we spotted during installation have panned out, and our experiences so far now that it's been installed for a few weeks.

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Controlling Sonos with Alexa

Though you may have missed it given it clashed with Google's announcements, Sonos also had some news to share last week. You can now control your Sonos wireless speakers using Amazon Alexa.  It's still in Beta, but I've been trying it out.

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Controlling Philips Hue with Alexa

After my previous attempts at using voice controls to boss my smart lighting around with Siri & Cortana gave mixed results, I was keen to see if Alexa on our Amazon Echo Dot faired any better.  Thankfully, Alexa seems much more capable.  Read on to learn more.

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Ring Video Doorbell app User Interface tour

Now that our Ring Video Doorbell Pro is installed, I want to show you through the user interface of the app so you can get a better idea of what you can do.  Check out the video for the full tour, and my post below for a description of the functionality both in the iOS app, and Windows 10 app.

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Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus

Lightbulbs and lamps aren't the only way to add lighting to your home.  Flexible adhesive LED lightstrips can also be a great way to add lighting, and pleasant lighting effects.  Doing this with smart lighting can make installing and controlling it even easier.  With that in mind, we added Philips Hue Lightstrips to our Kitchen.

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Ring Video Doorbell Pro Setup and First Impressions

We've now 'plumbed in' our Ring Video Doorbell Pro.  Unlike some of our other kit that was rather more 'Plug & Play' - this took a bit more effort.  It wasn't all smooth sailing, so read on for our experiences and first impressions.

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Smart Home Security Ring Video Doorbell Pro Unboxing

It's time to open up another new area of our Smart Home project - security.  After having thought a lot about where to start, we decided to give our humble doorbell a bit of a makeover.  Read on to discover more about our plans.

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Philips Hue to the Kitchen & Beyond Unboxing

It's time to expand our Philips Hue lighting again, and this time we're focussing on the Kitchen, and even outdoors! We got a haul of new Hue gear to do this, including Hue LED Lightstrips, a motion sensor, and Hue 'White' bulb - none of which we've had so far before. Here, I go through the unboxing to let you know what you get!

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