Coming Soon: Rock ‘em Sock ‘em DoorBots!

DoorBot-ALGO-8028You may recall that I was eagerly awaiting the arrival our DoorBot, the Wifi-enabled, video capable doorbell that calls a smart phone app when the button is pushed. Well, our DoorBot arrived early in December. Since then I’ve been pondering if, and exactly how, to share my initial experience with the device.

To be blunt, our early experience with DoorBot has been disappointing. It doesn’t meet our needs for a couple of reasons. The software is still a little rough. To be fair the company is reported to be working on the issues reported by early users. However, they’re not doing the greatest job of reporting their progress.

All of this has me thinking back to when I first considered putting the DoorBell Fone at our gate, and the alternatives that were available at the time. The most attractive option was ALGO Solutions model 8028 SIP Door Phone. However, at $500 it was just beyond my budget at the time.

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DoorBot Up For Pre-Order On Amazon

DoorBot-Looking-LeftWhile we are still awaiting the arrival of my little friend here, it seems that you can now place an order for DoorBot via Amazon. The item is listed as unreleased, but available for pre-order for $199.

I suppose that offer points to some possibility that they will actually be shipping soon. To be fair, the company has been pretty good about keep supporters abreast of their progress via their Facebook page. While Jamie’s Oct 1 video post mentioned “Michael in Texas” as being one of the first devices to ship, it must not have been me, since we’re still waiting.

Edison Junior, being a small team, had been working out of Jamie Siminoff’s garage, it seems that they have taken on some space in order to handle all the product arriving from overseas manufacturing. In fact, they’ve put up a Dropcam to let people peer into their DoorBot Factory.

They also got a little coverage in a Wired Gadget Lab article. That piece reports that commercial shipments will start on December 1. I suspect that Edison Jr is hoping to take some orders beyond the initial supporters, as the holiday season is now drawing near.

It’s been about 11 months since I placed my order via Christie Street.

Presuming that they can get them shipping in the coming weeks a DoorBot could be a nice holiday gift idea.

Waiting For Doorbot: Appification Can Be Disappointing

Like many people, I’ve come to enjoy using a tablet to do things that were once entirely in the domain of the computer. Over the past year the Nexus 7 has become part of my routine. I use it routinely for checking email, reading news feed & e-books and watching the occasional video, amongst other things. It’s a wonderful device.

There are some things that I do with the tablet that leverage specialty apps, like the remote control for our Nest thermostat. This makes perfect sense to me as the function of both the thermostat and the app are clearly and completely defined. Also, their operation is largely isolated from the rest of the elements of our lives. For example, we simply don’t require that the Nest integrate with the home phones.

With such clearly defined requirements, or more exactly, limits to the scope of requirements, a smart phone/tablet app is good solution. It certainly makes more sense than a traditional hardware remote control as one might get with a TV.

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Holiday Gift Idea III: The Nest Thermostat

nest-thermostat-300Some months ago I was doing some work around the house at the request of my wife. I can’t remember what exactly, but it involved some woodworking. The process was not going as well as I might have hoped and I was getting tired.

Somehow I managed to mash my hand, which aside from being painful brought the effort to a premature end for the day. My wife decided that we need to make a trip to our local Lowe’s anyway, and that I should take a break come along for the ride.

While at the store we stumbled upon a display for the Nest Learning Thermostat. A few days before I had mentioned to Stella that it was being rolled out nationally. I also told her a bit of the story about the company, its founder and their legal entanglement with Honeywell.

Upon seeing the device offered in the store, and with feelings of guilt stemming from my damaged digits, she bought the Nest as a thank you for undertaking her honey-do list.

The story of Nest is very appealing to her sensibilities. A small start-up shaking up a stodgy business, complete David v Goliath legal cases. Who isn’t drawn to an underdog? Especially when the product bears all the hallmarks of design by Apple .

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Holiday Gift Idea II: Power To Your People!

Hey, here’s a semi-geeky gift that they’re sure to get a charge out of…a high-current  USB charger built into a common household receptacle. You may recall that I installed a couple of the FastMac USockets some time ago. There’s one at each of our night-stands, conveniently providing power to charge phones and tablets as we sleep.

At the time these things were comparatively rare so I ordered them directly from FastMac. Given my past history in construction and renovation I was able to install these myself. However, the fitting the USocket into the outlet box wasn’t the easiest thing to do. The USockets depth made it difficult to fit the wiring back into the box. I ended up replacing the box with a deeper one in the end.

While on a visit to our local Lowe’s I recently found that they have a similar product made by Cooper. These sell for around $20 and may be more conveniently available to you.

Like the USockets, they replace the existing outlet so you’re going to need to have some facility with tools in order to get them installed. They come in the Decora style so you may need a new cover plate. I see that Amazon has them In several colors, too.

If you’re not so handy with tools around electricity you might consider this alternative from RCA , also found at Lowe’s. For only $15 this one features quick, tool-less installation. It’s designed to plug directly into the existing outlet. Once installed the device sticks out about 1/2” from the wall.

Unlike older USB chargers, all three of these devices provide enough current to satisfy a tablet or high-end smart phone.

I like the fact that these device can’t go missing simply because someone needs to charge something else at the other end of the house. I especially like the fact that I no longer need outlet strips everywhere to accommodate all the chargers.

An Analog Phone For Our Front Gate: Done Deal!

While I ordered the DoorBell Fone back in August the fact of our extreme Houston summer kept me from completing the installation. The buried wire run out to our gate was broken and there was just no way I was going to bury a new wire in 100+ degree heat. This past weekend I was able to find the time and temperature to complete the installation.

The largest task was to completely replace the wiring from the central closet in our house out to the gate. I replaced the old-skool solid copper pair with a length of Cat-5 cable. Using Cat-5 is a bit of future-proofing. It means that I can change to a POE-powered network device at the gate without replacing the cable again.

For the moment I’m using only one pair from the Cat-5 wiring, connecting the DoorBell Fone remote unit to the controller in the wiring closet. The total cable length is about 80 feet.

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