Our DoorBot has Been Decommissioned: Part 3

DoorBot-Looking-Left.jpgFor the several weeks we’ve had the new “Extended Range” Doorbot installed in place of the original device. The only apparent difference between the two is the addition of a short external antenna to enhance the Wifi connectivity.

Happily, the new unit does seem to stay better connected to our WLAN. In the past I was not comfortable evaluating the behavior of the Doorbot+client application given the questionable connectivity. At present the network connection seems sufficient to examine the behavior of the system as a whole.

I have the DoorBot client application installed on a variety of devices:

  • Nexus 4 Android mobile phone (Me)
  • Nexus 5 Android mobile phone  (Mrs)
  • Nexus 7 Tablet (2013)
  • 4th generation iPod Touch
  • iPad with Retina display

The fact that I’m using so many devices may be a little unusual, but I would expect that many families will use 2-3 devices, most likely a couple of cell phones (his & hers) and a tablet. Although a family with kids may well have more than this.

Continue reading “Our DoorBot has Been Decommissioned: Part 3”

Our DoorBot Has Been Decommissioned: Part 2 – How Fi is Our Wi?

PowerAP-N & DoorBotThe problem with using a less than common Wifi AP is that a manufacturer can say, “we’ve never heard of that make/model”  and hope that they are thus absolved of any possible requirement to help troubleshoot the situation.  Not that the crew at DoorBot took that stance, but I’ve heard it plenty in prior situations.

It recently occurred to me that there was a way that I could confirm the state of our Wifi at the gate location where we had the DoorBot installed. I could stage a video call over Wifi using tools that I already had on-hand. If I could record a decent quality video call from a Wifi connected mobile device that location then it would prove that our Wi is way-Fi!

Staging this proved to be pretty simple. I pointed my Nexus 7 tablet at the school yard across the street, then established a video call using Talky.io. Talky.io is a free WebRTC-based service from &yet. It runs just fine in Chrome for Android.

Continue reading “Our DoorBot Has Been Decommissioned: Part 2 – How Fi is Our Wi?”

Our DoorBot Has Been Decommissioned: Part 1

One of the realities of my life as a home office worker is that deliveries can be important. Moreover missing deliveries can be extremely inconvenient. On January 1st I installed  a DoorBot at our front gate, intent upon giving it a try as the way that we are notified about visitors and more significantly, deliveries.

Our is a fenced yard with a gate at the front. The fenced yard is important for our two Labradors. They have the run of the place when I’m working. A dog door gives them access into my office in the garage apartment. Located in the back of the property it’s not always possible to know when someone is at the gate.

Until January 1st we had been without a doorbell at the gate for over a year. On the mail box there a label advising people to call my cell phone number to reach me.

With respect to deliveries, our usual Fedex and UPS drivers know that if they dogs come to “greet” them that I’m definitely home. The delivery drivers often call me to tell me that they’re waiting, especially if they need a signature. All of this sets up the logic of why something like DoorBot had such appeal. There’s a very real need.

In mid-February I came to realize that I had developed the ability to differentiate the sound of the various delivery vehicles from the school and city buses that can be heard hereabouts. Further, I had camped out on our front port more than once awaiting a late delivery that I could not afford to miss. These facts pointed to the unavoidable reality that DoorBot had failed in its mission at our house. Shortly thereafter I removed it from it’s perch at the front gate.

Continue reading “Our DoorBot Has Been Decommissioned: Part 1”

DoorBot Selected as One of Wired’s 10 Best Gadgets of CES 2014

Doorbot-InstalledIt seems that the Wired Gadget Lab has selected DoorBot as one of it’s 10 Best Gadgets of CES. That’s certainly nice for Edison Jr.

As someone who has pounded the pavement at similarly vast trade shows, I certainly know how difficult it can be to ensure that you see everything that might be interesting. Moreover, it’s extremely difficult to get a real sense of a new product. Is what you’re seeing real? Or is it a presentation staged for the show? Will it work as promised when you get it back home? These are big questions, not easily answered.

Our DoorBot was delivered early in December. It was reported as part of lot 1c, the early backers. Despite some misgivings about it’s initial behavior I installed the device back on January 1st. It’s installed the fence along side our front gate.

We’re committed to using it for a period of a few weeks. It’s a new product from a startup, so we want to give it a fair shake. During that time we are engaging the company with feedback about it’s behavior.

It’s our hope that we can wait out the next software update, which was promised near the end of this month.

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.

Continue reading “Coming Soon: Rock ‘em Sock ‘em DoorBots!”

Doorbots Are On The Move

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The DoorBots are coming! I was pleasantly surprised to see Jamie Siminoff, Chief Inventor of Edison Jr, in a video posed to their Facebook page. Jamie is announcing the fact that DoorBot is actually shipping, which is great. We have had an opening near our front gate waiting for DoorBot for quite some time.

What took me a bit by surprise is that Jamie is reportedly shown in the video packing up the very first DoorBot to ship…to a customer her refers to as “Michael”…in Texas no less. That could well be me!

On the other hand, Michael is one of the single most popular names for boys since the time of Christ. If you want to see fifty necks get whiplash yell out “Hey Mike!” in a crowded airport or shopping mall.

The DoorBot package he describes reminds me of the NEST thermostat, which is a device that we like a lot. It includes all the tools and hardware that a typical homeowner might require.

Our particular installation may not quite follow their expectations. We’re installing DoorBot to an upright post of the wrought iron fence at the front of our yard. At present there’s a 4 5/8” square surface mount box that once held the DoorBell Fone.

Further, it’s location near the front gate will also be a minor test of our Wifi. Nonetheless, that should be easily addressed, and I look forward to never missing another courier deliver once the DoorBot is on duty.