Ye Ha! NoMo WEMO!!

About 18 months ago I succumb to my impulsive side and purchased a Belkin WEMO LED Light Starter Kit. That kit included the WEMO interface and two of their Zigbee remote controlled light bulbs. Since I had “grand plans” I also ordered another six WEMO bulbs.

I must admit that I had my doubts about Belkin‘s WEMO offerings, but since the starter kit was just $25 at the time, I thought it worth a try. With just $120 invested in WEMO I sought to revisit remote controlled lights for my office, and perhaps elsewhere in the house.

Jumping ahead in time….I’m very pleased to report that I recently sold that collection of WEMO products to a neighbor, recouping about a quarter of my original investment!

Seriously, that WEMO lighting was some of the most infuriating tech to cross my path in recent years. I cannot believe that a big company would offer such a cheesy product.
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Our Two UPS Have Gone Down

Belkin UPSsWe have a pair of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) on the property. Both are somewhat vintage models from Belkin. A 1000 VA model (F6C1000) in my office rack powers our network core. A smaller, 900 VA model (F6C900) in a central closet, powers those network components that live in the house. Both of them have been misbehaved in recent weeks. At this very moment they are basically non-functional.

I’ve long believed that the network core should survive minor power line irregularities. This belief stemmed in part from our migration to IP-based telephones for home & office. Our phone service should survive a power line bump. With both UPS in their fault-riddled state a loss of line power, even just a power line switching bump, caused our entire network to go down. This situation eventually had to be addressed.

The sealed batteries is consumer UPS such as ours have a fixed lifespan. At a certain point they simply cannot retain a charge, and the device throws an error. From that point onward they become nothing more than an overweight outlet strip.

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Belkin Ships Dyle Mobile HDTV Tuner For iOS

Belkin-Dyle-HDTV-Receiver-372I’m not the biggest fan of watching TV on a tablet or cell phone. I know that people do it, but I still prefer the more traditional experience of a large television or even a decent computer screen. So normally the announcement of the new Belkin Wireless Dyle Mobile TV Receiver would not be all that interesting. However, I live in Houston, at the receiving end of Hurricane Alley. Such a device could be a handy item to have on-hand in a powerless, post-hurricane situation.

This little device mates to the 30-pin connector on suitable Apple devices. That includes the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, or iPad (3rd generation) allowing you to receive local TV signals without any 3G, 4G or Wifi connection. It retails for $129.

Of course, to be useful the Dyle signals must be available over-the-air in your area. That’s true for most major cities in the US. There is a web site that lets you check your location by zip code.

Looking back a few years to the time after Hurricane Ike, local TV news was a important source of information. When we were without power for tend days we lived on an 8 KW generator shared with our neighbor.

That situation highlighted the need to conserve power, using only the essential things around the house. We initially ran the refrigerator, lights as required, our core network components and a laptop.

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The Belkin Conserve Valet: Dishonorably Discharged?

valet-charge-smartIn recent years the number of devices that we need to charge daily has constantly grown. Initially it was just our two cell phones. Since they each had unique power connectors each had its own AC adapter that lived near the appropriate night stand. Simple enough. Tidy even.

My Blackberry Bold 9700 was the first cell phone I used the featured the newly common micro-USB power connector. Shortly thereafter we added a Barnes & Noble Color Nook. Both of those devices require high-current chargers, where “high-current” means more than the 500 mA that is actually part of the USB standard.

That’s when things started getting more complicated. We may have achieved standardization of connectors, but still required dedicated chargers for some devices.

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VoIP Deal: Belkin Desktop Skype Phone for $50

Belkin-Desktop-Skype-Phone-STD1_F1PP010EN-SKThis morning’s round of email includes sales flier from BUY.COM that shows they’re offering a Belkin Desktop Skype Phone for $50.00 after mail-in rebate. This is a real freestanding device that doesn’t require a computer running the Skype client. It’s not just a USB attached audio device like so many similar, but cheaper models. If you make a lot of use of Skype this could be a good deal. I’ve not used it myself, but that price is about 50% off the $99 list price.

Using Skype with such devices comes with some caveats. The Skype hardware developer program doesn’t support the use of any wideband codecs so the call quality will not be as good as the Skype soft client. Even so the unit appears to have a speakerphone capability, which is certainly convenient.  I’d be curious to know how well it performs. If you buy one please let me know.

Update: This deal is even better than the listing I found for the device on Overstock.com, where it’s offered for $86.02.