Amazon Echo – Smart Home – TP-Link LB120 Smart LED Wi-Fi Light Bulb

Reasons I chose this bulb are it is made by the same company as the Smart Plug and it has the facility to change the white balance from around 2500 k to 6500 k which allows me to create lighting for indoor photography.

Setup was easy and mostly the same as the Smart Plug.

Although there are a number of manual settings from the Kasa App, I have initially set this bulb to it’s Circadian function which follows the time of day in your location to automatically adjust the brightness.

Unlike the Smart Plug, I have left this switched on since installation, no problems so far.

I still have a number of functions and modes to explore and will do this in time.

Positives are easy setup, nice and bright and of course cost effective.

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – Smart Home – TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug

After a couple of weeks, I have finally decided which of the (confusing) number of Smart Home systems to try out.

For my first foray into Amazon Echo Smart Home compatible devices, I have ordered the TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug and the TP-Link LB120 Smart LED Wi-Fi Light Bulb.

I’ve received the Smart Plug and set it up to run the right side of my living room which has a number of devices (7) connected to 2 power extensions.

I deliberately chose this socket as it was one that I would normally switch off before going to bed and does not have any devices that need to be left on when I am not using them.

Setup was straightforward with the first three steps being printed on the box, download the app (Kasa) which is free, plug the smart Wi-Fi plug into a socket, switch it on and configure it through the app.

Once you have a connection to your Wi-Fi (there are lights to guide you), you can then enable the appropriate skill in your Amazon Echo, there is a page pointed to on the TP-Link website that covers this.

Although there a number of steps you need to work through, I found them all to work first time.

There were two Smart Plugs to choose from, the only difference I could see is the other one monitored how much electricity was used through it, as I have a Smart Meter, I am able to do this anyway.

Until I have more confidence, I still switch off at the socket before going to bed.

No overheating or problems so far.

The main reasons I went for the TP-Link system is that each device connects directly to your Wi-Fi rather though another hub.

Another reason is coming from a successful PC networking manufacturer.

Looking forward to trying out the light bulb next week.

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – Audible Books – First Impressions

Today, I signed up for my three month trial membership to Audible to see (or rather hear) if it was suitable for me.

Although it can be listened through Amazon Echo, you can also listen to your books on PC/Mac, Tablet or Phone.

My impressions are based on purchasing two books – Alien and X-Files, I had to cancel Alien in order to get my monthly 1 credit back to then purchase X-Files.

Maybe it’s just me not having read books for a number of years and then mostly the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I didn’t really get into them beyond the first few minutes.

I really like the idea, X-Files being narrated by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson – helped back up the experience from the TV Series.

I can see lots of possibilities for this and I will try again.

I guess I have just gotten a little lazy by watching TV and Movies.

I remember my youth in being totally captivated with a book and using my own imagination to create the magic in my mind.

As I have three months, I will try again, maybe with a book recommendation.

Really like the fact that it like being in a book shop, where you read the first few pages to see if you like it (not sure if that’s frowned upon by Book Shop Owners).

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – First Impressions

This week, I took advantage of my Amazon Prime Membership and bought two items I had been thinking about picking up for some time.

After setting up my Amazon Echo (£70 discount on Prime Members Day) – which was fairly easy once I got it talking to my BT wi-fi hub and I’m loving it.

I find myself wondering how I managed without it.

The first and most obvious thing is linking it with my Amazon account to play music, with over 1 million songs available, I found myself enjoying tracks I hadn’t listened to for years.

The single speaker pedestal  is great for what it is with good high, medium and low end and can easily be linked to a Bluetooth stereo, headphones or speaker system.

Today, I used the lists function to compile a shopping list for a visual reminder of what I needed to order from my online supermarket for delivery, loaded the list in one tab and the online supermarket in another tab.

I was able to check off each item as I ordered it and you can also print your list or send to OneNote or to disk for email forwarding or further processing.

Using reminders and alarms is a breeze too.

I am looking forward to listening to an Audible book next and really look forward to using Smart Home Automation when I’ve decided which system to use.

What I like best is the pure simplicity of talking to Alexa from anywhere in the room and the fact that I am understood after slight frustrations with other voice systems such as Siri and Cortana, Amazon seem to have got it right with Alexa being cloud based.

I also picked up an Amazon Fire TV Stick for a discount which I will talk about in another post.

Brian Collins

The Night Manager (Season 1)

I started to watch this box set one evening and after the first episode found I just could not stop.

I spent the rest of the night watching the remainder of the series, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Tom Hiddleston was excellent and Hugh Laurie was very good (although he is better with a slightly more comedic role).

I don’t know about the timing but having watched this, I can understand why Tom might be considered for the role of James Bond.

I watched this as part of my Amazon Prime membership and would recommend it.

Brian Collins

Fast & Furious Franchise – Random Thoughts

Now we are on the release of Fast & Furious 8, I find myself thinking that I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Although the basic theme of the movies are more or less the same (fast cars & stunts), I find with each one that there is something new.

Long may they continue.

Brian Collins

HP Deskjet 3636 Printer

After my HP Deskjet F4580 failed, I decided to buy another HP to replace this as my, now old HP lasted a good 8 years with a lot of use.

As my printing needs are not as great as they used to be, I plumped for the HP Deskjet 3636 for several reasons.

  • Uses the HP Instant Ink facility which automatically orders ink when needed.
  • WIFI and Apple Airprint capability.
  • Scan & Copy features.
  • Price

Brian Collins

Surface 3 64GB

n1220284999_7750I’ve had this Microsoft Surface 3 64Gb for a couple of weeks now.

In a word “Impressive”.

At first, I was cautious about buying one of these, so I opted for the cheapest model at a reasonable £348 for the base unit, which in essence is a 10.8″ tablet.

I have since added a type keyboard and surface pen, I had an existing Bluetooth mouse to give me a range of options to control the computer in a variety of ways.

Without getting too technical, the processor is a Quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor – 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz, 2GB of Memory and 64GB of on board storage.

Plenty for everyday purposes.

Brian Collins


Elisa Live CCTV

n1220284999_7750Although I have an existing CCTV  system, I found the need to buy another two CCTV cameras.

I researched what was available and decided to buy WiFi connected cameras capable of transmitting HD resolution and recording.

At the time of purchase, I paid £29.99 each for the white model, which come with 30 days free upgraded features.

To continue with the upgraded features after the initial 30 days – costs £6.99 per camera for 1 or more (I opted to continue the upgraded features for only one camera) with an offer of 90 days for the price of 30.

A mobile App is available for download for iPhone, Windows and Android mobile phones and tablets.  You can also login through your internet browser to view your camera(s).

For the price (normally £99.99) of the camera and the upgraded service, I find this to be an excellent buy.

Brian Collins