What the Tech? More Father's Day gift ideas
Father's Day is June 17, which means time is running out if you're trying to find that perfect gift.
In the beginning, there was 'the remote'. It controlled the television's channel and volume and power. Then we added a DVD player, then a gaming system, then satellite, then a home theater soundbar. Soon that one remote had a half-dozen others sitting next to it on the couch or chair.
Every time we add a new device to our home theater systems, we add a new remote and it gets more difficult to keep them all within arms reach. Now, there's a solution that's my favorite gadget of the year.
The Logitech Harmony Elite can control every device you have. In addition to everything in your home theater, it'll control smart home devices like thermostats, door locks, security cameras and sound systems. Logitech claims it'll control some 270,000 devices. Over a quarter million gadgets all with one remote. I doubted (who wouldn't?).
I programmed the Harmony Elite to control my television, Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast, a WiFi enabled Bose speaker and Hue Lights. I also managed to control them all with one tap based on an activity.
When I want to watch TV I simply tap the "Watch TV" button. All of those things turn on and it tunes to my favorite channel on satellite. I could program it to turn to one of those streaming devices as well. The Harmony Elite remote also works with Alexa and Google Home devices which allow me to walk into the room, say "Watch TV" and everything turns on as I programmed it.
I also like the fact that I'll never find myself saying "where's the remote?" because it has a dock that keeps it charged. The Elite remote comes with a small hub that receives the commands.
An Alexa device is a great voice-controlled assistant for the home but for the office I recommend the Google Home. Primarily because of style. The Home and Google Home mini are covered in cloth and look very stylish sitting on a shelf or the desk. With the Google Home devices you can ask most of the things you ask Alexa to do but it ties into the owner's Google account. Ask "what's on my schedule" and it pulls in information from your Google Calendar and G-mail. Ask "how long will it take me to get to work", and it checks with Waze or Google Maps. It also plays music from Google Play.
My favorite speaker is the Bose Soundlink 1. It has great sound, plays music over bluetooth, wifi or an aux input. You can also play music from your computer and since it's wifi, the sound is better. Bose also has free radio stations from around the world you can play directly from your computer connection. It also works with Alexa. I like how it looks on my bookshelf.
This Father's Day, Apple's AirPods are a popular gift. They fit snug, are wireless and doesn't need your phone to play Apple Music. These do not fall out of my ear like I feared. And if you do lose one, your iPhone will show exactly where it is.
I should also mention the Hue Smart Lightbulbs. These do not require a special lamp, you just screw in the lightbulbs like any other. They can be controlled with an app on a smartphone, Alexa or Google Home device and the Logitech Harmony remote. Hue also makes a smart lightstrip that looks terrific behind a TV or computer desk.