Before You Buy 138 (Transcript)
Leo LaPorte: Coming up Mi2, no Mi4! The full review! We’ll go camping with the Braven. If you like the sumo bean bag, you’ll love the sumo lounge. And we’ve got a wireless Wi-Fi enabled crock-pot! Plus, how to turn on your lights with the push of a button. It’s time to watch Before You Buy.
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Before You Buy is brought to you by Nature Box. Nature Box ships great-tasting, healthy snacks right to your door. Forget the vending machine and start snacking smarter with healthy, delicious treats like dark cocoa almonds. Ooh, baby! To get your free Nature Box sampler, free, go to naturebox.com/twit. That’s naturebox.com/twit. And by Smart Things. The easiest way to create a smart home. Smart Thing lets you control your home using your smartphone from anywhere. For 10% off any home security or solution kit, visit smartthings.com/twit and use the offer code TWIT10. Hey, hello! How are you? Good to see you. Welcome to Before You Buy, the TWiT show where we get the latest greatest products and give them to our staff for a real-world test. A real-world review, and we’re going to kick things off with part two of our look at the newest, hottest phone in China. A phone you can’t get in the U.S. Jason Howell from All About Android has the Xiaomi Mi4.
Jason Howell: Mi4.
Leo: Why do we care?
Jason: My last week with the Mi4. Why do we care, because in the last couple of years we have continually heard more and more about this Chinese company named Xiaomi. And their dominance in the Chinese market; China is a huge market obviously in the cell phone world. We’re so used to hearing about Samsung being this dominating Korean manufacturer. And here comes Xiaomi, and they’re creating really impressive hardware. They have ambitions to be in the U.S. at least, definitely they have ambitions to be more global than they are right now. So I think this is just the beginning. We are going to continue to hear more and more about Xiaomi.
Leo: More than that, they hired away one of Google’s top presenters: Hugo Barra. We used to love watching him at Google IO and other events. He’s now their vice president for international. Which tells me that Xiaomi has their eye on the U.S.
Jason: Absolutely, and he’s kind of critical to that. That was part of the reason he was brought in was to help them go global, to a wider scale.
Leo: So you just received the Xiaomi 4 last week. You spent a week with it. Give us your thoughts.
Jason: I actually took it camping this week. So it seems like camping is kind of a little bit of a thread in today’s show. I’ve spent the last week with this as my sole phone. Of course I’m on T-Mobile. One of the downsides right now with this device in particular is that it’s meant for the Chinese market. So LTE in the states is not going to work. There is a model of the Mi4 that’s expected to come out later this year that will have LTE support. So it will support more bands of LTE. But here in the states and definitely with T-Mobile, it was on slower speeds. It wasn’t the end of the world; it was still kind of HSPA plus. Speeds like 5 MB or whatever.
Leo: That’s not bad. The nice thing about T-Mobile at least around here is that it’s not really congested. So you get all the bandwidth you can get.
Jason: Fair enough; that’s really true. So let’s just rattle off the specs real quick to catch everybody up. It’s a five-inch, 1920x1080, IPS LCD display that’s 441 pixels per inch. And right off the top, the display I think is one of the key features of this phone. It’s an amazing display.
Leo: It looks so good on our screen here.
Jason: It’s weird. My eyes again are just being warped to future devices. Because I’ve gotten so used to how sharp everything looks on here. When I look at my Nexus 5, for some reason I have to kind of alter myself a little bit to enjoy it.
Leo: It has all the crispness and dynamic range of an OLED display. But all the advantages of a higher-quality ISP display. This seems like the display of the future for not just this company but for the other company.
Jason: I will say though, I’ve only had it a week. There are tiny little scratches that have already kind of happened. So I don’t know what that means for the longevity of the screen from a durability standpoint. But there you go. And I take care of my devices. Although I do go camping so it’s very possible that something happened there. 2.5 GHz, quad-core snapdragon 801 processor which is pretty much top of the line right now. 801 is great, with 3 GB of ram. So this thing is screaming. And I think I said on last week’s show, and it continued to be the case, OS-level stuff for the most part; really happy with it. Things just fly when you’re working through it and going everywhere that you need to go. There’s not as much slow down or lag on this that I’m used to seeing on most Android devices. I don’t know if that’s the software or what.
Leo: Well that’s really great. That’s a good point; this isn’t a stock Android.
Jason: This is their own version of Android called MiUI. And because of that, because it’s a Chinese company, they have their own MiUI. You can see it’s sort of like a horizontal layout. There is no app drawer. There’s a lot of intricacies of this particular OS.
Leo: It feels a lot like the iPhone, doesn’t it?
Jason: It does. You can see from the design; it takes a lot of design cues from the iPhone. The back actually looks like Samsung; it’s more of a plastic back.
Leo: They steal from the best.
Jason: Exactly. That’s the thing about this device that I’ve noticed over the past week. There isn’t a whole lot of originality with this device. But they do it really well. So it’s not the most original device, but they’ve integrated all these components into a really nice tight package. And it works, really well.
Leo: That’s not aluminum around the edge? That’s stainless steel.
Leo: Which I like as a material.
Jason: I had this on the dash navigating up to our campground. By the time we got there, I take the phone off the mount and it was screaming hot. Like I could hardly even hold it. But I suppose that’s just par for the course. So 3 GB of ram, there’s 16 GB of storage in this device. Although you can get up to 64 GB. 13 megapixel rear-facing camera and 8 megapixel front-facing camera. Which sound great, but I’d say the camera is one of the big downsides here. I don’t know if you have those images lined up, Brian. And I don’t know how well it’s going to come across as video on the screen. But basically a lot of the pictures that I took, even in great light; because we were camping, it was sunny, really nice; I had to really scramble to find solid pictures. That’s nighttime. That’s okay but I mean there were a million others during this time that didn’t come out so well. Lots of smears in the faces. Partially because they’re moving. This one I was able to get a good picture but again I had to really go digging to find some solid shots.
Leo: Is it the same Sony chip that’s in everything else? 13 megapixels makes me think it might be.
Jason: I believe that it is. I want to say that it is.
Leo: It really comes down to software.
Jason: That’s the HDR. I thought the HDR was okay on it.
Leo: That’s a challenging shot. We saw this on Facebook.
Jason: But this is front-facing camera; I will say that the front-facing camera is pretty decent. It’s an 8 megapixel front-facing camera so it’s not bad. And then the video, I got a lot of jumpiness to some video that I recorded. Audio on that video would max out really easily and just distort. So I would say the camera is not the strong suite on this device. Non-removable 3080 milliamp battery underneath this case. You can actually remove this case if you have a suction cup. It will pop it right off and they have replacement cases. Everybody is doing the stylized like Moto X. Moto-maker style in a replacement that you can do. And you can customize this as well with different backs.
Leo: When we talked last time, you said you were able to put the Play Store on here. And you can install all the apps. So have you put the Google apps on there?
Jason: Yes I have. If you go into the Mi Market, I believe this is the Mi Market anyway. Can you read this for me?
Leo: That’s the problem. It’s all in Chinese.
Jason: If you go into the Mi Market and do a search for Google, you’ll find this app right here which is the Google installer. And this is how everybody does it. Basically all I did is I installed the Play Store through here. And it has three dependent files that you also have to install and it does that for you. Once you have it, then you can go into the Play Store, associate your account to it and download all of your normal apps.
Leo: So now it’s a normal experience.
Jason: Yes but it comes with a downside. Play Services is this crazy beast that we’ve gotten very used to inside our Android devices. Because this is a Chinese device with a different UI, getting into MiUI, it has some different workings underneath. For example, fill into apps, which is something I use all the times for Last Pass. And I’m sure you do too because you’re a Last Pass user. It doesn’t work on this phone. Even if Last Pass is logged in and everything, Link Bubble, opening Links by default into Link Bubble, that doesn’t work. Little things like that make me hesitate to say this is a phone for everybody. More a phone, at least in the U.S., a phone for tinkerers, if you’re dependent on Google’s services. Opening Play Store links in the app versus a browser. So if you click it on a normal Android device, it would just take you right through to the Play Store and open it there. But here it just always goes into the browser. So you have to go into the Play Store and use it. So it’s kind of a hacky way to do it with this device. Other things, theme store, you have Mi credits. You can theme your device; I could show you theming it really quick. I didn’t get a credit; this was a free one. And I’m not sure if I really care for it that much. All just to show you the process. And now it’s loading the launcher.
Leo: It doesn’t have physical buttons, or are they capacitive buttons?
Jason: Capacitive buttons down on the bottom.
Leo: So now it looks even more like the iPhone.
Jason: So now I have a new theme, and apparently if I go two swipes I get this strange overlay. Weird.
Leo: I don’t know what that is. That’s interesting.
Jason: There we go. Anyways, now we’re looking at a different theme. There’s a lot of customization options. What else is there to be said?
Leo: Could I hack it? Is it root-locked? Could I put Cyanogenmod on it? Probably not.
Jason: I didn’t actually look into that on this device. I have to imagine someone’s looked into doing that. I couldn’t tell you.
Leo: It requires a Cyanogen’s developers to get one.
Jason: It requires a developer who wants to spend the time to find some sort of access point and vulnerability into the device.
Leo: And how much was it? Is it fairly inexpensive?
Jason: $320 unlocked in China.
Leo: Unlocked? Unsubsidized?
Jason: Unsubsidized in China. So if you’re there, $320 is how much you’re going to spend. If you’re in the U.S. which is kind of how I’m basing this review because that’s where we are right now; you’re probably looking at upwards of $480.
Leo: Still it shows you can get a flagship quality hardware for a very low price.
Jason: Still it’s very reasonable. $480 unlocked is pretty great. I would say that more or less, this device warrants that cost. It just has a few downsides like I said.
Leo: So unknown in our chat room says Cyanogen is available for Mi3 so the Mi4 will presumably get Cyanogen.
Jason: There you go. Then you could unlock more of the capabilities. Again, this doesn’t have the LTE antennas for the United States necessarily. Buyer beware.
Leo: Are we going to do a buy, try, don’t buy?
Jason: Let’s do it but let’s do it from the perspective of where we are. If you’re planning on importing it, I think it’s a different story. If you’re watching this show and you’re in China, this is a great device for you and I don’t think you should hesitate because it’s a fantastic deal. If you’re in the U.S. for example and you’re thinking about picking up this device, let’s do the pros. Solid design, I’m continually super-impressed by the design of this device. The screen is fantastic and super sharp. I love the screen and want to pick it up and play with the phone because the screen is so sharp. Performance-wise, excellent performance. And of course the price; it’s a pretty awesome price for the hardware you get. As far as the cons are concerned, camera definitely. And that is a big downside for a lot of people so keep that in mind. The software has little issues with it that if you’re a true Google-Android fan, you’re either going to be okay with it or it’s going to be a deal breaker. No LTE in the States yet. That will be coming down the line. And the importer process might be more than you want to bear. But I’d say if you’re an Android-enthusiast, you might want to buy it. You probably would enjoy it. Outside of that, I don’t know. I think there’s still too many hurdles for anyone outside of Android-enthusiasts in the States anyways. And to be okay with what you get.
Leo: And too many other good choices with many more to come just around the corner.
Jason: Plenty of other choices that have full support if you’re living in the U.S.
Leo: Jason Howell, All About Android. Actually coming up in about an hour. And we also see him every Monday through Friday on Tech News Today at 10am Pacific on the TWiT network. Thanks, Jason. I’m glad you had a nice camping trip.
Jason: I appreciate it. Yes, I did.
Leo: Now if you’ve ever seen or looked at our social media feeds, you’ve probably seen pictures of Father Robert Ballecer on his giant Sumo Lounge bean bag. He loves that bean bag. He lives in that bean bag. But Sumo Lounge came to us with something new. It’s a little different and we thought we’d give it to Robert to test. The Sumo Lounge Omni Reloaded. Robert?
Father Robert Ballecer: I’ve been reviewing Sumo Lounge gear for nearly six years. Over that time, I’ve come to know the line as pricy but super high quality units that change my idea of what geek furniture can look like. The comically large Sumo Titan introduced me to a bed-size apparatus that could double as a crash bag. The ridiculously comfortable Sumo Sway Couple was the first bean bag to replace my beloved Lazy Boy Lounger. And of course it all started with my review of the Sumo Omni, an ultra-rugged throwable bean bag. With more sitting styles than a clothing-optional coed hot yoga class. Ewe. By the way, a pro-tip. If you want your new Sumo to stay new for longer, keep it in the plastic shipping bag for as long as possible. But enough with the trip down memory lane. We’re here to talk about the new hotness in uber-geek lifestyle accessories. The Sumo Lounge Omni Reloaded, part bean bag, part lounger, part lawn chair. The Reloaded is a combination of the original Sumo Omni and the semi-rigged support design of the Sumo Sway. Sumo designed the Reloaded to be an on-the-go or in-the-den piece of furniture that can combine durability, comfort, and a unique style all in a single unit. Complete with nylon carrying bag. I ended up using my review unit on the roof of my house to get real sun on my skin. Which is accustomed to only feeling the monitor backlight. Of course just like that hot yoga class, sometimes clothing optional is the way to go. The Reloaded is essentially a padded frame that is 75 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 5 inches thick. It’s made of double-stitched rip-stop nylon covering a heaping helping of dense foam over a steal frame. The Reloaded has three independent ratchet and swivels that allow it to be formed and positioned in the sitting style of your liking. Available in five colors including blue, orange, green, fuchsia, and nature, the Reloaded can be set up in about 30 seconds without tools and without instructions. Unless of course you’re a member of the TWiT editing staff and you find angles absolutely baffling. The ability to fold and hide away brings comparisons to folding chairs and lawn loungers. But the comfort and utility of the Reloaded is unmatched. Even by high-end temporary furniture. The padding is just right. The ratcheted swivels let you position the Reloaded exactly at your comfort spot. And the ease of deployment makes it ideal for the beach, dorm, living room, back yard, cook-out or tailgate, your man-cave, video game playing, or whatever the heck this is. The Sumo Omni Reloaded is available now for $219. Shipped for free anywhere in the continental United States.
Leo: Wow that was a very relaxing review. Robert Ballecer has brought his Sumo loungers along with him. These are very comfortable.
Fr. Robert: They’re crazy comfortable. When I first got them, I was like oh it’s a lawn chair.
Leo: It’s more than a lawn chair. Now it is sitting right on the ground so you wouldn’t want to use it at a campsite, right?
Fr. Robert: You can. They’re actually crazy durable. This is rip-stop nylon. You can hose it down after you’re done.
Leo: Sometimes you want to. And I like this so I can ratchet this forward if I want to pay attention.
Fr. Robert: You can set them at any angle you want. You can have the leg hump to have your feet slightly elevated.
Leo: Let me try the leg up. Ozzy, come here. Not that leg up, wait, wait. So if you go forward and then you can un-ratchet?
Fr. Robert: There you go. Yea, it does work like adjustable furniture that way.
Leo: So it’s like a lawn chair wrapped in padding.
Fr. Robert: It’s really good padding. That’s the thing about Sumo padding, it doesn’t wear out after a couple of weeks. This will be as comfortable a year from now as it is right now. And it’s perfect if you want something for the dorm that you can set up for TV watching or video gaming.
Leo: I think Henry would dig this.
Fr. Robert: It would be perfect. Then when you’re done you fold it up and put it in the closet. It’s done.
Leo: Let’s get your pros and cons.
Fr. Robert: Pros has to be it’s flexible, comfortable, that’s the first two things. Also it’s really suitable for a lot of different situations. I can see myself using this at the beach, while camping, while in a dorm. I use them down in the know hole; this is perfect for a sort of temporary setup if you want something for video gaming or movie watching.
Leo: Is that what you’re doing down there, watching TV?
Fr. Robert: No, I’m working.
Leo: If I see these in the know hole, I’m going to get mad! No, I love their bean bags but one of the problems with the bean bags, they’re a little hard to get out of.
Fr. Robert: Same with this. That’s one of the cons. Because it’s on the floor and because you sink into it, really the only way you get up is to roll over, roll over. Not the most dignified exit ever.
Leo: It’s fine if you’re 18 years old and you’re limber. You can leap out of this.
Fr. Robert: Precisely. It’s for a younger demographic. Another thing is, at $200 or so, it is a little bit pricy. But, you compare it to cheap furniture that’s going to wear out after a couple months. In a long run, it actually ends up being just fine.
Leo: I understand they’re working on a premium version that has a catapult. That just launches you out of it; that would be a good thing.
Fr. Robert: What I really want is something that has a cover. A lot of the Sumo bags have removable covers.
Leo: You’re always washing your.
Fr. Robert: I am. It would be nice to strip this off so I don’t have to hose it down. Just to cut down on the nastiness.
Leo: Buy, try, don’t buy?
Fr. Robert: I would say this is a buy. If you’re looking for comfortable furniture to put in your man cave, your kid’s room, camping, or the dorm, absolutely a buy.
Leo: I don’t want to get out of it. The only thing missing would be snacks.
Fr. Robert: I agree.
Leo: Fortunately they have a little pouch for the Nature Box. Oh, people are turning in and they’ve finally jumped the shark. They’re lounging and eating snacks during this show. That’s our job as viewers, they say. So Nature Box is actually, and this is something I recommend to everybody. We get these at work. I emphasize that this is a great choice for a company that wants to offer snacks as a great benefit for employees. Very affordable. Nature Box gets delivered monthly. You can choose from a variety of styles, if you’re a vegan, gluten-conscious, soy-free, lactose-free. You can also choose from a variety of tastes, whether is sweet, salty, savory, or spicy. But they’re all delicious. Hundreds, literally of different snacks to choose from. By the way, nutritious to prove, it has a seal right on the front. And never any high fructose corn syrup or trans-fat or any of that bad stuff. No artificial flavors or colors. I’m going to let you choose, Robert. You can have maple habanero pretzel pops.
Fr. Robert: Anything with habanero.
Leo: Don’t rush! We also have Santa Fe corn… how about pistachio power…?
Fr. Robert: No, that’s my stuff.
Leo: Nut squares with almonds, cashews, and pistachios. Now these are all coming in resealable bags which is nice. So you can have a little bit and seal it right back up. Sriracha-roasted…
Fr. Robert: Those are good.
Leo: You’ve had those?
Fr. Robert: Yea, nice and spicy.
Leo: Sriracha is a nice flavor. Praline pumpkin seed if you want something savory that’s tasty. This is so much better than going to the snack machine, the Snickers bar or whatever. Lonestar snack mix for our Texans. Barbeque flavored nut mix with multi-seed chips. Baked cheddar potato… these are just a few of them. We get several Nature Boxes a month. You’re going to want to too. But I want to get you started with 50% off your first Nature Box when you visit naturebox.com/twit. I tell you what, your first reaction was give me the habanero. Here we go, maple habanero pretzel pops. Can I have one before I give you the bag?
Fr. Robert: Oh, fine.
Leo: I just want to try it. Deliciously awesome snacks delivered to your door monthly. What, don’t eat this? What did she say? Free? It’s not half off anymore, they’re giving it to you? Free?! That’s not a good business model. Alright, they’ve just informed me that instead of having half off, you’re going to get a free trial. How about that?! Naturebox.com/twit. Free snacks! Now what would you do? How much would you pay? Here you go. Thank you, Robert.
Fr. Robert: Oh, habanero!
Leo: These are good. They’ve got a little tang but the maple gives it a sweetness. And the smoothness of the pretzel, oh that’s awesome. We’re not going to be able to get out of these chairs.
Fr. Robert: Let’s just stay here. Good night.
Leo: Turn down the lights. When we go visit Bryan Burnett, he’s going to go camping with the Braven charger and the survivor iPad case. Take it away, Brian.
Bryan Burnett: I’m Bryan Burnett from Before You Buy on TWiT. And today I’m looking at the Braven BRV Bank. This is a 6000 mA smart ultra-rugged portable battery. What makes it smart? It has Bluetooth which I’ll get in to in a sec. Just looking at the exterior case of the Braven, it has a rubber matte finish that’s easy to grip. Definitely feels tough. It’s water-resistant so it has a rubber flap covering the USB ports. There’s two buttons; one to power it on and the other to activate the Bluetooth. As for ports, the battery pack has two USBs, one that outputs 5 volts at 2.4 amps. And another for 5 volts at 1 amp, so one you can use for your iPad or your mobile device. There’s also an in-micro USB port for charging the battery back up. And a nifty USB adapter with a flashlight at the end of it. So what you can do with this is plug it into your battery pack and have a flashlight that you can activate through the mobile app. And it’s fairly bright. So for accessing some more of the bells and whistles of the Braven, you’ll need to download the app. It’s already on Bluetooth and connecting to the device is pretty simple. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be presented with a user interface showing the amount of charge left in the battery along with being able to toggle on and off the USB ports. In case you’re using the flashlight. There’s a function for finding your Braven which means it will make a high pitch noise. And also there’s an SOS option for when you’re using the flashlight. Finally, there is one option that is kind of interesting. It’s bear mode. So in case you’re worried about being attacked by a bear on your camping trip, you can put the Braven into bear mode and as soon as it’s disturbed by a bear or some other motion, it will turn on the flashlight and make a high pitched noise. It’s not super loud but it will definitely get your attention. As far as the battery, how does it do? I was able to charge my Moto X three times over with still a little bit of life left in the Braven. And I was able to charge an iPad 3 up to about 50% in a couple of hours. So as a battery it works really well. Pros and cons, number one pro is build quality. It feels really solid. It’s water-resistant and it can definitely take a drop. Second pro is the software. Simple to use and it gives you a clear idea of how much battery you have left. It allows you to put the Braven into bear mode. Third pro would be performance. Compared to other 6000 mA batteries, this one does pretty well and charges devices fairly quickly. As for cons, the price would be the number one factor as the Braven comes in at $129.99. Which is pretty pricy for a 6000 mA battery. But you do get a few other extras for that price. And another con is the accessories. It comes with one USB cable and the flashlight while interesting, I couldn’t help feel like it would be better used if it was integrated into the case instead of being a USB attachment. So is the Braven a buy, try, or don’t buy? Well on the few camping trips I did use this battery pack for, I would have to say it’s a buy. Because I could not imagine not using it now. I never had to worry about getting it wet or dropping it. And it does its job well. But it does come at a high price point. If you’re going to be camping and you want to bring along your iPad, the next product I’m reviewing is the Survivor Mossy oak case for iPads second, third, and fourth gen. Now the Mossy Oak comes in a camouflage color so it definitely is a good accessory if you’re going to be doing some hunting. And getting the case onto the iPad is relatively easy. It just takes some fiddling. As far as iPad cases go, this one will definitely be able to take a hit. There’s some big bumper zones on the edges of the iPad to protect it in case it drops. And there are flaps that allow you to access the ports. This case is water-resistant so you don’t have to worry about getting a little splash on your iPad. As far as the protective screen on it, touch capabilities were fine. I didn’t notice any lag or I didn’t have any problems using the screen. But one of the things I noticed is that it is a little hazy. For pros and cons, really the main pro is this is rugged. You could drop it from a few feet and not have to worry about your iPad. But as for cons, it is super bulky and the screen that protects it is a little hazy. So that might bug a few people. For a buy, try, or don’t buy, I’ll give it a try. Depending on what you’re looking for, this is probably the most protective case you can get for the iPad without completely putting it in a box or something like that. This has been Bryan Burnett from Before You Buy. Thanks for watching.
Leo: Thank you to Bryan Burnett, our technical director at the show. An avid camper, is that right, Bryan? You love to live outside. He’s used to it. One of our producers, Tanya Hall is here. She also is the host of Marketing Mavericks. Are you a cook, Tanya?
Tanya Hall: I am.
Leo: You like to cook?
Tanya: I do.
Leo: Everybody who likes to cook has a slow cooker, right? I do.
Tanya: I think so.
Leo: Especially if you work. It’s a nice thing to do; put your food in in the morning and come home and have dinner ready.
Tanya: It’s the easiest way to prepare a meal probably, right?
Leo: You know what’s disappointing to me, my slow cooker is not on the internet.
Tanya: If anybody should have it on the internet, Leo, it should be you.
Leo: Is this on the internet?
Tanya: So here’s how this works. This is the very first smart crock-pot. With WEMO technology.
Leo: So a crock-pot is the brand name.
Tanya: It is. In fact it’s Jarred brand which they have several other recognized brands like Mr. Coffee, Grill Master, Sunbeam, that sort of thing. And they’ve partnered with WEMO to create some smart home cooking technology. It might be warm.
Leo: This is the biggest crock-pot I have ever seen.
Tanya: It is six quarts, pretty big. I have one that big but it’s a dumb crock-pot.
Leo: This is smart?
Tanya: It is smart.
Leo: What does it do that’s so smart?
Tanya: So it looks like…
Leo: It’s from Belkin? Because Belkin owns the WEMO. Belkin is selling this crock-pot.
Tanya: It looks like a lot of other crock-pots with the stylish chrome finish. It has the stoneware crock-pot on the inside. It has little holes on the glass to let the steam out. So it looks like every other crock-pot and it’s really simple from the standpoint of control. So if you see here, I should use my little pointer, right here on the front there is…
Leo: You’re off mic. So as you move, move the mic.
Tanya: You’d think I know that by now.
Leo: It’s complicated.
Tanya: It’s complicated. This high, low, and warm. Three settings, really simple.
Leo: Yes, all crock-pots are that simple. That’s the idea.
Tanya: It is. It’s starting to get a little more complicated but this is actually very simple. What you do when you get the crock-pot is plug it in and then you download the app. So it’s really all about the app for this, which will actually connect to your Wi-Fi. It works with Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G. You get it, plug it in, and download the app. The app is available for Android 4.0 or higher and iOS 6 or higher. There we go, have it up. Right here what you see is when you first get it, it’s going to…
Leo: You’re off mic again.
Tanya: I’m going to be not allowed to…
Leo: So there’s this thing you talk into called the microphone because you have to speak to all of us, not just me. Just put your face in that thing.
Tanya: I’m going to put my face in that thing. Alright.
Leo: You know what, she’s not wearing headphones so you can’t tell.
Tanya: It’s going to ask you which device you have. They have a lot of other devices that are on this app. Whether it’s light bulbs, outlets, they have humidifiers, air purifier, and the coffee brewer. So you select the product that you want that you’re going to connect.
Leo: I like the WeMo. We reviewed that a while ago. And I think it’s a great product but this really adds to the line, doesn’t it.
Tanya: It does. So then you connect to it. What’s really interesting to me is that it’s very simple but you can set the temperature. So right here, it’s telling me that we have it set for warm.
Leo: Now you can do this if you’re in the house or can you do this from work?
Tanya: I can do it from work. So let’s say you have it set up. Maybe you schedule the timer of how long you want it to cook and what temperature, which is what this is going to do. But let’s say for some reason the show you produce or host runs really late. And you know it’s going to be at least an hour more before you get home. Guess what. You just go to your app and change it to maybe a lower temperature.
Leo: I actually really like this.
Tanya: And then you can come home later. It’s really great for running around. And here what I’ve got is a four-pound pork shoulder and we did make something in it.
Leo: It smells really good. We’ve been smelling this all day. I’m dying here!
Tanya: And I had to do the same thing. I had to lower the temperature because I had to make sure it made it. I think what this is good for is literally the really busy person who maybe has a lot of meetings. Maybe you live in an area that has a lot of traffic so it takes you a while to get home. And you want to make sure that the food doesn’t burn. Or maybe your kids, hey mom I forgot that you have a teacher meeting tonight or you have to pick me up after practice. And you’re not going to be home when you think you’re going to be. It’s a really great product for somebody who’s really busy. I think you have to be really into food and really into cooking probably for it to be something worth it.
Leo: Well it’s expensive compared to a dumb crock-pot which is just $30 or $40.
Tanya: Exactly. The nice thing about a $40 crock-pot is you leave it. But you have to make sure you make it home or the food’s going to burn. There is a downside to this which is I think you know the technology itself, they’re still trying to figure out. Because it connects to your Wi-Fi. If for some reason your Wi-Fi blinks or goes out, you could get an error message on your phone and it could say that your food is bad. But you don’t really know for sure if it’s bad. Did it blink or just go out? So that’s kind of a downside if that happens very much for you at home. That could be a problem. But overall I’m really interested in smart home technology. And this is at the cusp of doing that.
Leo: It’s pretty awesome. It’s a crock-pot from Jarred. You can get it on the Belkin site because it uses the WeMo technology.
Leo: And it uses the WeMo app. You don’t need to get a special crock-pot app.
Tanya: Yea, the app is free to download. And it works with other products. The other thing I would say is when you first turn it on, it smells like it’s burning plastic. So it’s kind of a scary smell.
Leo: That’s normal.
Tanya: It is and it does that a few times and then it goes away.
Leo: That’s normal on these things. A lot of times these electric cookeries have… you know there’s coating on the elements and it has to burn them. So, you said it was $130.
Tanya: It’s a $129. You can get it at Target, Walmart, and Amazon.
Leo: Pros and cons?
Tanya: The pros are basically that it has remote access. That is a really great feature for a busy person who doesn’t want to rush home. I even though of times with my dumb crock-pot where I might want to cook it on high for a few hours but I wanted to go to bed. Then I had to get up and turn it down. You can actually just grab your phone or schedule it.
Leo: For instance, I cook oatmeal. So you cook Irish oatmeal, you know the slow-cooking oats, in at night. And eight hours later, it’s usually a little crusty. What I could do is set a timer to turn it on at 4 in the morning and then it would be ready for me at 8. That would be perfect.
Tanya: And if you want to sleep in and you want to change the time on it…
Leo: You can set it. You roll over, turn off your alarm, turn off your hue lights, and then turn off your crock-pot.
Tanya: So that’s definitely a pro, the adjustable scheduling is a pro. From the standpoint of cons, I think the most obvious con is the price. It’s really expensive for a crock-pot. It’s like twice as expensive. So this is really for the person who feels like this is going to pay off. If you’re busy or…
Leo: I like it. I would buy this. Do they have other sizes besides six quarts? That’s awfully big.
Tanya: I think they probably will. This actually just became available so you might find that there are few of these out there.
Leo: Jarred makes four-quart that you can use for rice.
Tanya: I have a few crock-pots that are different sizes. You might see some reviews out there that say the price is lower than it is. But it’s not. The only places you can find it are at $129. Because we waited until it was available.
Leo: And we searched everywhere. Thank you, Tanya Hall.
Tanya: And it is a buy.
Leo: A buy on the Jarred WeMo crock-pot.
Leo: Alright. You’ll catch Tanya Hall on Marketing Mavericks every Friday evening here on the TWiT network.
Tanya: Monday night.
Leo: Also Monday. Monday or Friday. Whatever day she’s on. And what’s coming up this Monday, do you know?
Tanya: Yes, for the next Monday we’re going to talk wearables. We have the head of marketing for Ralph Lauren talking about their brand. And a few others; I don’t want to give it all away.
Leo: Just tell them it’s your last chance because tomorrow when Apple announces its wearable, it’s all over.
Tanya: It’s done.
Leo: It’s done, yea. Actually, I’ll be very curious to see what they say. Because it’s the day before the Apple announcement. They’ve got to be thinking about that. That should be fun. Marketing Mavericks, Monday at 5pm?
Tanya: It is at 4:30 or 5, depending on how late we run.
Leo: Which is usually pretty late. Like now. We’re going to take a break and actually this couldn’t be better timing. We’ve got some hue lights to show you. This will work with your crock-pot and your lights. This will work with many of the devices in your house. If you want a home automation system that interoperates with everything, you’ve got to try Smart Things. Smart Things was originally a Kickstarter project that was started with exactly that point. How do we get a smart home to interoperate easily without a lot of effort. Smart Things has solved it. We’ve mentioned it before the three smart home security kits. They now have four brand new solution kits that help you do specific like automate your lights, saving energy, or protecting your home from leaks. There’s a maker kit that now to connect and integrate with your Arduino projects. That pretty much means the sky is the limit. And of course it works with WeMo. So you can use it to control your crock-pot. It works with your Philips Hue. You can have when the food starts burning, the lights turn bright red. It works with your Sonos audio system. So it could start playing mama’s cooking in the kitchen while the crock-pot is heating up. And your WeMo lights are turning red. It works with your Nest thermostat so you can turn down the heat as well as turn up the pot. Your Schlage locks, so it will open the locks for you. Or GE, Honeywell, Nest thermostat, and the Drop Cam even. This is such a great system. We want you to take a look at some of the solutions. And by the way, take a look at the security kits and solution kits because you’re going to get 10% off either when you use the offer code TWIT10 at checkout. Use the solution kit, and they’ll start as low as $170. Home security kits as low as $350. It all starts with this thing, the hub. That’s the key to the whole operation there. The smart hub that talks to everything. Smart Things, I love them. Smartthings.com/twit and don’t forget to use TWIT10 as the offer code when you buy to save some money on your smart home. Alright, we mentioned Hue. We mentioned that it works with WeMos, with the Smart Things, this and that. And you know I’m a big fan of my Hue bulbs. Philips makes these. The original Hues which have red, green, and blue LEDs in here and can make any color in the rainbow. They’ve got new bulbs that are white only and less expensive. About half as much. The Hue-Lux, they also have another advantage; they’re dimmable which is great. And then they’ve added this little gadget which I really love. You use your smartphone or your tablet to control the Hues. But that’s kind of a pain if you want to turn the lights off, to fire up your smartphone. Here’s a four-way switch now, doesn’t even need batteries. You put this on your wall or I actually keep it next to my arm chair. And I can control my Hues with one of four different programs right from the switch just by pressing the button. We took it home and gave it a try. Let’s take a look. Well I brought you to my kitchen to show you the latest from Hue. Just to recap, we’ve talked about these a lot before. These are the LED light bulbs from Philips that do something extraordinary. Instead of just being white light bulbs or yellow light bulbs, these are RBG light bulbs. There are three LEDs in each of them, red, green, and blue. That can be combined in any portion to give you any color of the rainbow. Now, how do you control these? Well these Hue lights connect to your Wi-Fi. Let me just turn this off. Using this base station, so you’ll want to get at least initially the kit which includes the base station and three bulbs for about $200. The base station is hardwired only, Ethernet to your network. You want to connect directly to your router. And then it connects via Wi-Fi to these bulbs. And via the internet to the outside world so that you can control your bulbs from anywhere using if, this, that, or other solutions. I generally control my bulbs with the software. There’s iOS and Android apps for both tablets and smartphones that let you do things like take a picture that you can connect to the Hue bulbs. Pick different colors in the pictures so you can have all different colors. This is a picture of the Japanese cherry blossom festival. I can actually attach each bulb to a different color of the cherry blossom. Let’s make this one red just like the color of the cherry blossom. I’m actually picking this up with a color picker. This is the color of the branch, not exactly brown, but sort of. And you see that’s really cool. You can feel like you’re at the seashore or at the middle of a volcano. Whatever you like using these RGB bulbs. This is nothing new. We’ve seen these before. Here are the two new products from Hue. First, these are the Hue-Lux bulbs. These are half the price. Hue bulbs are $60 each. These are only $30 each. That’s good news. Still more expensive than non-Wi-Fi connected light bulb but you can expect that. Also a little brighter. These are equivalent to 60 watt bulb. This a 75-watt bulb, 1750 lumens. Very bright. But one color wouldn’t come out one, one color only. It’s dimmable, you can make it bright or darker, but that’s it. Okay, nice. It’s probably something you want to use in areas where you don’t want color bulbs in conjunction with the color Hue bulbs. And they all work with the same base station. You can get quite a few bulbs on a single base station. But this is even more interesting to me. This is called the Philips Hue Tap, and it’s a switch for your Hue bulbs. A lot of people complain that it’s too much work to fire up your phone or tablet to control these bulbs. So they’ve given you a simple switch that gives you four different positions. There’s an off, and then three pre-programmed ons. It comes from the factory with a nice yellow evening-like middle of the day bright white light. And a very blue outdoor day light. But you can reprogram those colors to be anything you like. And of course the fourth button is off. This is nice because you can put it on your bedside table or on the wall. And anybody can use the Hues. They don’t have to access to your smartphone. They don’t have to figure out how to hook it all up. So I like this feature. The negative on it is it’s $80. That’s the con on all of this. The negative on all of this is it’s pricy. $300 to get started, $60 for additional bulbs, $30 for the white bulbs, $80 for the Tap. You can see it will add up to a lot. The pros is that it’s completely flexible. It will do all sorts of things with Hue. It will work with the Smart Things base station we’ve talked about. The sponsor Smart Things. There are apps that will have it synchronized with your music and a timer. Change color to match the mood of the music. It works with If, This, or That. I love all of that. That’s a definite pro for me. Frankly I have to put my money where my mouth is. I bought these, so I guess at least for me, it’s a definite buy. Pricy, but boy I really like what you can do with Hue. So, there’s my look at the Philips Hue. I like the Tap. I like the Lux bulbs, and of course I like the whole Hue concept. So, a buy all around. Back to the studio. There it is, the new Hue stuff. I have to say they’ve really I think done a great job making an integrated system. And it’s pretty clear that Philips is committee to the Hue brand and is going to do a lot more. I was just told by the folks who do the ISS above the application, the application that lets you know on your smartphone when the space station is above, that they’re going to interoperate with the Hue lights. And your lights can glow blue or whatever you want when the space station is above you. Netflix did a great hack that’s not available publicly. But I hope it will be something. It will change the Hue lights in your room to match the scene on the screen. So when Tom Cruise is on the boat and the sun is shining, everything looks sunny and bright. When he dives into the water and he goes underwater and it’s cool blue, the lights change immediately. And the picture on your screen is extended. I think this is just a really neat ecosystem and I love my Hue lights. You’ve heard Rene Ritchie and I talk about them on MacBreak Weekly. We’re kind of Hue fans. Rene’s got some 16 bulbs. I’m up now to 12. It’s a definite buy. Alright, we thank you for joining us by the way on the show. We do Before You Buy every week to give you the latest products. Every Tuesday, you should look for it on the TWiT feed. Twit.tv/byb or subscribe to your favorite pod catcher. We also do something a little different with this show. We have a YouTube channel as we do for all our shows. Youtube.com/beforeyoubuy. We put each individual review on there as well. SO if you want to share a review of a particular product with friends and family, you can go right to that individual review and share that with them. Youtube.com/beforeyoubuy. Hey, I want to thank you so much for joining us. Thanks too to our reviewers, Bryan Burnett, Tanya Hall, and Father Robert Ballecer of This Week in Enterprise Tech, and Know How, and Coding 101. Thanks also to Jason Howell. And thanks to you for being here. And remember, you got to watch Before You Buy! We’ll see you next time.