For 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:
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.
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.
I’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.
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.
After my little experimental effort with Opus in the freeware PhonerLite soft phone I reached out to a variety of people seeking advice about other software supporting this new codec. Someone suggested that I try Countherpath’s Bria.
Counterpath is the single most recognized name in the commercial soft phone space. Their Bria, Eyebeam and X-Lite products have a lengthy history. They have at various times graced several generations of my computers and handheld mobile devices.
Since their software is already on my Nexus 4 & 7 Android devices I had a quick look but found that Opus was not actually supported in the current releases. On that basis I contacted Todd Carothers, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Products at CounterPath Corporation.
Todd informed me that Opus support is presently limited to their soft clients on iOS, but that broad support for the codec is in the works. He advised that Opus support across their entire range of soft phones is expected in just a few weeks.
This news is certainly encouraging as I still would like to try some experimentation with the codec in support of some non-traditional applications. The availability of a commercial implementation will open doors to adoption by non-technical users like Mike Phillips.
I was not at all surprised to see that Polycom offers a video conference soft client called RealPresence Mobile as part of their RealPresence solution suite. RealPresence Mobile has been around for over a year but was not something that’s crossed my path until recently. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s distributed without cost.
It has become something of a habit to announce when new gear arrives in my office, especially if that gear is destined for review. A couple of weeks ago I received a review sample of the MocetCommunicator. Communicator is essentially an audio dock for an iPad that turns it into an executive desk phone.
As you may know, I don’t generally use Apple products. However, occasionally there comes a product that is sufficiently interesting to get me to move in that direction. In the past case of the Invoxia NVX-610 I purchased an iPod Touch in order to provide a suitable host for the device under review.