Maxcio Mini Smart Plug, No Hub Required, Wi-Fi, Control your Devices from Anywhere – Smart Timer Wireless Outlet – Works with Alexa and Google Home



Short Review (Summary): Great WiFi Outlet that works with the “Smart Life” app meaning it is VERY SIMPLE to use with other smart outlets and very simple to use with Amazon Alexa or Google Home!! I always look for these “Generic” outlets that are compatible with “Smart Life”. Why? Because I don’t want to have 50 different outlets using different apps!! That’s hard to manage..

Use: Purchased this to use with Christmas Tree this season (Video review will be up when I finish getting my Christmas Tree setup something later this week I know, it’s early but we always do it BEFORE Thanksgiving). I have already tested the outlet with Alexa (Amazon Echo) and it works GREAT!!

Pros
1.) No Hub Required – This is also my only Con because it also means it doesn’t work with Wink which is what I use to control the rest of my smarthome in conjunction with my Echo (Alexa) devices

2.) Easy Setup – Hold the button then follow prompts in “Smart Life”. It really is that simple!

3.) Works with “Smart Life” – I am not sure if Maxcio has their own app or not, I just saw that this worked with the Smart Life app which is great!! That’s my app of choice because so many of these outlets work GREAT with smart life

4.) Can be Scheduled – If you use the Smart Life app, you can create schedules for this.. I will be having it turn off my Christmas Tree late at night and then turning it back on by itself..

5.) Can be controlled with your voice (Alexa or google home) – For Alexa, simply download the smartlife skill.. That’s it!! I can now say “Alexa turn on the Christmas Tree” and it will!! Even if the outlet is scheduled to be off.. Simple!!!

6.) Outlet can be named – At least if you use Smart Life. I know I keep saying if you use that app, but that’s because these do work with other apps, but Smartlife is one of the best apps out there for these outlets.. I am not sure how other apps function

7.) Very GOOD QUALITY

Cons
1.) Not compatable with Wink Hubs meaning while these work GREAT with Lamps and stuff, I normally use them with other products that way Wink compatable plugs can be used to control my home lighting.. (Wink is a hub that controls smart things such as light bulbs.. I use mine to control my lighting mainly and can control it from my Echo)

Overall: This is an EXCELLENT OUTLET, one that I highly recommend!! I am happy with mine and it is offered at a very good price

YI Outdoor Security Camera, Cloud Cam Wireless IP Waterproof Night Vision Security Surveillance System White


Short Review (Summary): This is a wonderful camera! I used to work security so I will also try to answer some of the design questions with this camera.. Overall, the camera is very easy to setup, it integrates very well and easily into the other home cameras Yi makes, and a cloud subscription IS NOT Required!

First let’s mix things up and do the cons

1.) Echo Show – While Yi finally released an Alexa skill, that skill is pretty much useless.. Sorry Yi, but it is! Basically all it does is turn on/off the camera.. you can say “Alexa turn on/off the porch camera” and it will! I really hope they update the skill so we can see vidoe on the Echo Show or the upcoming Echo Spot.

Aside from that, I can’t really name any other cons at the moment!

Pros

1.) Local Storage – No need for cloud plan.. The local storage works great! Cloud might be nice if you’re afraid someone will steal your camera but remember your camera will send “Alerts” to your phone that can be saved! Save the alert and if they steal your camera you will still have proof. Yes the SD card slot is protected meaning it would take a crook several mins to get the SD card out if they tried.. Yi did a great job designing this camera

2.) Easy to install and setup – Just follow prompts in the app

3.) Includes everything needed for setup (might require a USB extension cord if not around a power outlet)

4.) Wonderful picture and video quality

5.) Alerts work Very Very well! I have been using alerts from Yi cameras for years and never had any issues

6.) Easy to setup with other cameras of the same brand and works well with other models of the same brand

7.) Powered via USB so if worse comes to worse, very easy to setup a portable battery pack to power this camera.. and you can even grab a nice quality solar panel such as GoalZero or any other brand and charge the battery pack with it! I’d suggest a 20 watt panel or higher and a fairly robust battery pack 50,000 plus mAh and it might still die at night

8.) Cloud is optional.. some makers force you to subscribe to cloud just for alerts. They do not! I have never paid a dime for the cloud and get all my alerts

9.) Auto upgrade – Cameras upgrade on their own

10.) Speakers and mics work great so can be used as an intercom to speak with guest outside

11.) Saves packages! I installed an indoor version looking out the window beside my door after I had packages stolen for 5 straight days. I made sure the camera was able to be seen by the guys stealing packages.. day after I hooked it up, a shady character shows up on my patio and then runs off because he saw the camera.. I have yet to have another package stolen! That camera is now replaced by a real outdoor one so it can be seen even clearer!

Design Choices

1.) Cable coming out of the bottom – This helps with waterproofing the camera and if you are really worried about someone cutting the cable, sign of for alerts or even cloud storage.. I installed cameras for a security company and the cable location doesn’t matter.. most criminals just smash the cameras anyways so if the cable is in the back, they would just hit it with a hammer or bat.. I have seen it happen hundreds of times. Remember water runs down cables so if the cable was stretched up, through the back of the camera, water could pool and then finally work it’s way into the camera. I have seen that cause cameras to fail before, expensive real security cameras

Overall this is a great option for those wanting an outdoor camera and one that is Waterproof!

Wifi Smart Plug, Tonbux Switch Outlet Mini with Timing Function for IOS/Android, Works with Amazon Alexa & Google Home, No Hub Required, App Control Your Devices from Anywhere Anytime (2 Packs)





Short Review (Summary):. These Are my GO TO smart outlets for Amazon Alexa! They are simple to activate, very inexpensive, and they do not require a hub (but also note they don’t work with hubs like Wink as far as I can tell). I use these with my smart home light setup and they work very well!

Please Note: I own several brands of these but normally buy Tonbux BUT any brand that looks the same is probably that.. the same! I have about 3 brands of these from various retailers (here, Newegg, and others). Amazon seems to have the best prices unless a sale is being ran. Best app to use is “Smart Life” some makers have their own app but Smart Life will allow you to control all with the same app! And all should work with Smart Life. The Alexa skill is also called Smart Life

Use: I purchased a few more of that knowing my new Echo was arriving this week! I wanted to setup more items on my smarthome! I use these for pretty much anything other than lighting (I don’t use with lighting, because I use a wink hub in conjunction with Alexa for lights) I did use one on ym Aquarium light however!

I will also be using one my my Christmas tree in a few weeks!

Other uses I have these on
1.) Bathroom Heater
2.) Computer Monitor – For when an update decides to hit at night and it turns on my monitor for whatever reason
3.) TV – For when I loose my remote in bed
4.) Fans

Pros
1.) Works with Alexa and Echo – Must Download the “Smart Life” skill on Alexa

2.) Can be used to set schedules – Do this in the smart life app on Android or IOS

3.) Work with heaters – At least for short periods of time! I have a heater in my bathroom setup with one and turn it on about 10 mins before i go in there.. never had any issues

4.) Can be individually named through the smartphone app

5.) Very inexpensive!

Cons
1.) Don’t work with hubs like Wink so probably not the best if you want to use them with lighting and control them from Wink ( Wink has great features that randomly turns on lights when you’re gone.. unlike a timer, it’s all random making people think your home)

2.) Being round it sometimes blocks two plugs, especially on powerstrips.

Overall: These are my go to outlet for my smarthome.. I use them on pretty much anything except lighting! (Aside from my aquarium light). I very much welcome these outlets to my home!

All-new Echo (2nd Generation) with improved sound, powered by Dolby, and a new design – Charcoal Fabric

Please Note:  The full review will be coming soon!  My new Echo just arrived today so I am still working on testing it out fully!

Short Review (Summary):  So where to start?  First, while overall sound to me DOES sound a little better than the original, the Bass is somewhat lacking compared to the original BUT this Echo does cost $50 – $75 less!!  Everything else is an improvement over the original ECHO!!  I am very pleased with it!

Why I decided on this over the new “Plus” unit:  I already own a WINK hub so I had no need for the built in hub the plus unit had.  Keep in mind, the plus unit DOES have more of the original sound of the old echo (Bass wise), but the rest of the features such as the built in hub, I had no use for

Improvements

1.) Size – The size is much smaller than the original!  The original stands tall! This is much shorter making it easier to tuck places

2.) Looks – It is now easier to find one to match your home décor!  This looks much nicer than the older version

3.) Price – This is much less expensive than the original!  (Although I purchase my original during the “Prime” deal, making mine only cost $99)

4.) Much improved over the “Dots”

Downgrades

1.) Bass – The bass has been downgraded in this unit.. Some think its due to the fabric cover.. I believe its due to the unit not being as tall.. The original Echo had a built in tube to help increase bass.

Upgrades I wish they made

1.) USB – I wish they went to USB charging.. They did not!  I assume this is due to the speaker using more power than your typical dot BUT they do make USB “C” cables that are capable of more power..  I just hate the very large power brick that is included..  Make that brick smaller or allow us to use USB “C”

My Uses

1.) Smarthome – I control a lot of my smarthome devices via Alexa! And it works GREAT

2.) Music – My wife uses these like a Sonos.  She ask Alexa to play her Pandora and she will leave these speakers running all day playing music!

3.) Flash Briefing – I love listing to this while in the shower every morning!

Bluetooth Speakers, A Pair of VAVA VOOM 22 True Wireless Speakers (60W Hi-Fi Sound, Home Theater System, Bass EQ, 3.5mm Compatibility, Built-In Controls, Charger Port for Phones)

Short Review: A great pair of bluetooth speakers that are powerful enough and loud enough to replace a soundbar!! Setup is easy, they are connected to each other wirelessly, AND you can use them as individual speakrs! Keep in mind, the PAIR of these are 60Ws but each speaker is only 30W/each.. Nothing major but something to keep in mind if you plan on using them individually.. WIth USB output, it makes it very easy to charge devices right from the speaker

Pros
1.) Wonderful Sound Quality – Vava does a GREAT job building their speakers and making sure they sound great.. I have always been impressed with their sound quality, and these speakers are the same! Impressive sound quality

2.) Lound & Powerful – These are strong enough and loud enough to replace a soundbar or other basic home theater speaker system

3.) 100% wireless – These can be 100% wireless BUT you will need to charge them.. I have mine plugged into USB power though, so they never need to be charged

4.) Can be used as individual speakers

5.) Beautiful Design – They look AMAZING in my home and will in yours! They don’t look like a crappy speaker system.. They look and feel very premium

6.) Includes a USB output to charge other devices!! I have used the USB output to charge Nintendo Switch controllers, Steam controllers and to even power my Fire TV stick (FIre TV stick was sluggish though but charged and worked).. Much easier than digging behind the TV to find a place to plug up a USB cable!!

7.) Wonderful Bass! – The EQ button adds extra bass!

8.) Excellent battery life

9.) VAVA and their other brands is a great company and have AMAZING customer service! They stand behind their products and are there to help every step of the way

10.) Control your devices from the speaker!

Overall: This is an amazing little system that can do A LOT!! Its priced fairly and the quality is excellent!

New AMAZON ECHO SHOW – Black

Review will be updated as I play with the device more..

Updates:
1.) 6/30/17 – Added photos of the device and setup process & Updated the PRO about setup a little

So far I am very impressed with the Echo Show! As with all the Alexa devices, setup is extremely easy! The screen is very nice and sharp and the speakers are much improved, over the original Echo!

Pros
1.) Build Quality is OUTSTANDING!
2.) Sound Quality is simply amazing! Better than the original Echo even!
3.) Easy setup! Setup is even easier than previous Alexa devices due to the screen! – No phone or computer browser required!!
4.) Nice sharp VIVID screen! Bright and Excellent colors
5.) Video Flash Briefing is very cool and has several different sources that you can choose from
6.) Shows music Lyrics
7.) Works very well with my Wink system and smarthome devices! Alexa has always worked well with them and still does
8.) Can hear me very well and responds to my commands
9.) Video calls work well and if you have two of these in the same house it can work as sort of an intercom system if setup correctly. That’s super nice! It would be nice if video calls take off like Skype or FaceTime, but that will probably never happen and if it does, it will take a while.

Cons
1.) Not compatible with many home cameras yet.. Hopefully YI and a few other popular cameras will become compatible with Echo Show

2.) I was hoping to use this as an alarm clock but the screen is very bright.. they need to make a sleep or alarm mode.. Saying “Do Not Disturb” helps a little, but a full alarm clock mode with very dim screen would make this almost perfect

3.) Not a lot of skills that use the screen yet.. for example, a newer Alexa skill is Sirius XM.. All my other SiriusXM devices at least show artist name and song, some show album art even.. The echo show just shows “SiriusXM” and nothing else.. I know developers will soon use the screen better but just know for now, the screens functions are limited

Overall I am very happy with my show and will be using it more over the weekend!