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Best 4K HDMI Gaming Monitors for 2020 with UHD & HDR

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a new monitor. In addition to price, resolution (2K, 4k, etc), and game console compatibility (the 3 driving factors for this list of 3 monitors), it’s important to also consider:
– monitor stand footprint: how much space will it take up on your desk?
– height adjustability: will you be able to achieve the optimal ergonomics?
– physical ports: do you need additional USB ports from the monitor? An extra HDMI port?

All three monitors below meet our criteria for all factors mentioned above.

1. LG 27″ 4K UHD IPS LED HDR Gaming Monitor

  • Model: LG 27UL550-W
  • 2 HDMI, 1 DPI-IN
  • 4K UHD (3840×2160)
  • SRGB 98% Color gamut
  • HDR 10 Compatible
  • Radeon FreeSync™ Technology
  • Game Mode, FPS, RTS
  • Supports Multi-Input PIP/Split-screen

This monitor supports OnScreen Controls 2.2, which is a free app (Mac AND PC supported) required to enable advanced monitor settings like picture-in-picture (PIP) and split-screen. You can download OnScreen Controls, as well as other drivers for Mac and PC on this LG download page.

2. Dell S-Series 27-Inch Screen LED-Lit Gaming Monitor

  • Model: S2719DGF
  • HDR 10
  • Radeon FreeSync™ Technology
  • Ports: HDMI (1×1.4, 1x 2.0), DisplayPort 1.2, Audio line-out, USB upstream, USB downstream, USB-C 1.2 charging, Headphone

3. Samsung 32″ 4K UHD LED Curved Gaming Monitor

  • Model: LU32R590CWNXZA
  • HDMI and DisplayPort (no USB-C support)
  • High Dynamic Range and Ultra-HD (HDR & UHD)
  • CES 2019 “Innovation Award
  • Curved monitor with minimal input options but unique viewing experience.

Ports, ports ports. This monitor had the widest range of input and output ports of the competitors below.

Optimal Netgear Orbi Router Settings for Signal Strength and Speed


Advanced Settings Overview

  • Daisy Chain Topology: Disabled (exception: if you have 3 or more satellites)
  • MU-MIMO: Enabled
  • Implicit Beam-forming: Enabled
  • Fast Roaming: Disabled
  • UPnP: Enabled (universal plug-and-play)
  • WMM (WiFi Multimedia): Enabled
  • Enable 20/40Mhz Coexistence: Enabled

Netgear Orbi Advanced Router Settings Explained

To access these settings, login to orbilogin.com (while connected to the network), click the Advanced tab, then choose Advanced Setup from the left sidebar menu. These settings are only available if your Orbi is in ‘Router mode’.

Don’t have Orbi yet? Buy Netgear Orbi on Amazon

Our Netgear Orbi Setup
1x: Orbi Router (Model RBS50 on Amazon)
1x: Orbi Satellite (Model RBS50 on Amazon)
1x: Orbi Plug-In Satellite (Model RBW30 on Amazon)

We’re currently running V2.5.1.8 on Router and Satellite. Our 1 Orbi Plug-In Satellite is running V2.3.5.6. Generally speaking, we try to keep our Orbi’s updated with the latest FW, but it’s always safest to wait 1-2 weeks after release to ensure there are no critical/blocking bugs (unfortunately this is more common than you’d hope..).

To check or update your Orbi’s firmware, go to Advanced > Administration > Firmware Update. You can check if an update is available, without actually installing it, from this Advanced menu.

Daisy Chain Topology

  • Recommendation: DISABLED
  • Exception: If you have 3 or more satellites, and they are in a linear layout.
  • Orbi Settings > Advanced > Advanced Setup > Wireless Settings > Backhaul Topology

Our recommendation for enabling this feature is only if you have 3 or more Orbi satellites (S) that are physically located, in relation to the router (R), like this: R-S-S (Router>Satellite>Satellite). If you only have two satellites, or the multiple satellites positions are in a “hub & spoke” S-R-S layout (Satellite>Router<Satellite), then leave Daisy Chain Topology disabled.

Enabling or disabling this feature causes all Orbi routers & satellites to reboot. You may also need to renew the DHCP Lease on your computer, or do a simple reboot, to obtain the network settings/IP after changing this setting.

Netgear’s lame description: This feature only applies if you have three or more Orbi. When you disable this feature, Orbi Satellites can only connect to the Orbi Router.


  • Recommendation: Enabled
  • Updated 2020: Enabling this feature is recommended with the latest Orbi firmware.
  • Orbi Settings > Advanced > Advanced Setup > Wireless Settings (bottom of page)

We previously advised disabling this feature to assist with debugging a problematic network – but further testing has shown no measurable impact of leaving this ON; we have updated our recommendation to ENABLE.

If you have a MU-MIMO device , then you definitely want it enabled. If you’re unsure whether you have MUMIMO or not, it won’t hurt to turn this ON anyway.

Some Netgear users argue “MU-MIMO is the ‘3D TV’ of the wifi world” — a lot of glitzy hype, but no real substance. But after all, this is a performance related setting and if you do not have any negative effects during testing, we recommend leaving ENABLED.

Some new consumer devices are rumored to have hit the market with support for MU-MIMO, including iPhone* 8/8S/X/XR/XS, as well as the new Samsung Galaxy phones, and the 2017+ MacBook Pro.
*unconfirmed by Apple HQ

Implicit Beam-forming

  • Recommendation: Enabled
  • Exception: Implicit beam-forming can sometimes help with older 2.4GHz devices, so if you have some long-range devices that don’t connect well, you might want to consider testing this enabled.
  • Orbi Settings > Advanced > Advanced Setup > Wireless Settings (bottom of page)

It’s our understanding that implicit beam-forming is only potentially helpful for older, non-A/C wireless devices (i.e. b/g/n 2.4-only devices). While reading Netgear’s support forums, some people do say: I only have a few of those in my house, and they connect perfectly fine with beam-forming disabled, so that’s where I leave it. We have similar feelings.

I’ve experimented with having it “on” too, and didn’t have any issues, but I also didn’t notice any improvements.  So, in an effort to just keep things as simple as possible, I leave that option disabled.

Fast Roaming

  • Recommendation: Disabled
  • Exception: Your home/space is greater than 5,000ft. In larger homes, it is less likely to have satellite signal overlap; overlap = devices rapidly switching.
  • Orbi Settings > Advanced > Advanced Setup > Wireless Settings (bottom of page)

From our experience with Orbi, it’s recommended to set Fast Roaming to be disabled. Many Orbi owners, myself included, allege ‘fast roaming’ causes devices to aggressively switch between the various satellites, and the router, causing frequent connectivity disruptions when moving rooms or walking. This is especially evident in smaller homes and apartments.

Netgear’s brief explanation of Fast Roaming is: “When you enable this feature, Orbi directs your client devices to the most optimal WiFi band quicker.”

Owners share their experiences of the negative repercussions from enabling Fast Roaming in the Netgear product forums: “I have this feature disabled, since it caused my phone to bounce back-&-forth between my router and sat way too much.  I am very dependent on wifi-calling, so that’s how I noticed it.  My wifi-calling is super stable with this feature disabled, but it’s certainly worth playing around with in your own setup – maybe it’ll work great in your particular environment.”

UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)

  • Most common/less secure: Enabled
    • If you have an Xbox/Playstation, we recommend you ENABLE UPnP on Orbi
  • Less common/more secure: Disabled
  • Exception: you don’t need devices inside your network to talk outside your network. UPnP is helpful for devices like Xbox/game consoles, VoIP phones, IP cameras, etc.
  • Orbi Settings > Advanced > Advanced Setup > UPnP

Depending on what types of devices are on your network, you may need to Enable this. But by default, and with security in mind, it’s best to keep UPnP disabled unless necessary. This article has more information about the vulnerabilities of UPnP and its impact on network security.

If you don’t have any devices that absolutely require UPnP to function, disabling it will help keep your network secure. Even if you have some devices that say they require UPnP, it’s worth experimenting if the function as expected with UPnP disabled.

Reminder! Physical location of nodes is critical to optimizing signal strength and wifi speeds. It is highly recommend to experiment with various placements of your router/wifi extenders, especially before purchasing a newer router or mesh network to remedy your network speed problem.

Check out this post for more location-optimization tips.

Our home Wifi has been running on Netgear Orbi mesh network for over 2 years. Since switching to Orbi, the signal strength has been stronger than ever before, in every corner of our 3,000 square-foot house. In addition to signal strength, the speed of the network is quite impressive – even with over 100 wifi devices on the network, Orbi continues to deliver over 700Mbps on 5Ghz band. Buy Netgear Orbi on Amazon

Control Existing Window Blinds with Voice & App

horizontal blinds home automation mysmartblinds

The idea behind MySmartBlinds is simple: place a small WiFi/Bluetooth servo motor, hidden inside the existing housing of your window blinds, to open, close, and adjust the angle of the slats manually, or on a customizable schedule.

MySmartBlind components are installed inside the metal enclosure, hidden from sight.

The MySmartBlinds Automation Kit is compatible with most US horizontal blinds, which range from 2 to 3 inches in width. Each window you intend to automate requires 1x Automation Kit. The kit comes with everything needed for a single window installation, including various sized adapters, clips, wires, etc.

The Automation Kit also includes a battery pack to power the blinds, however, without the add-on Solar Panel Charging Kit, you’ll have to manually charge the batteries in every blind every couple months.

Save $49: Automation Kit + Solar Panel Bundle

We strongly recommend the Automation Kit + Solar Panel bundle for each window. If you choose to add the solar panel later, you’ll have to pay $59 for a single solar kit.

By purchasing the bundled Automation Kit + Solar Panel for around $160, you only pay $10 for the solar panel, instead of $59 as a stand-alone product.

Get this deal on Amazon!

The Automation Kit bundle includes a solar panel for $10, instead of $59 when sold separately.

Battery Life & Charging

Battery life can vary extremely, depending on usage. If you only open/close the blinds once per day, a single battery charge can last upwards of 6 months.

Conversely, if you have extensive auto-schedules, opening or adjusting the blinds multiple times throughout the day, your battery could be critically low within 7-10 days.

The battery pack (left), next to the motor (right).

Voice-control with Alexa & Google Home

MySmartBlinds does not offer native integration with Samsung SmartThings, or any other IoT home hub, out of the box. However, by purchasing the MySmartBlinds Hub (less than $100), these smart-home blinds can integrate directly with Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, to enable voice control and scene functionality.

Mobile App & Setup

The mobile app is nothing spectacular, especially when it comes to design and experience. However, it works reliably and effectively.

Once installed, use the MySmartBlinds mobile app to pair your blinds, and customize their settings and schedule. During the initial pairing process, you’ll be asked to calibrate the blinds (simple, takes 30s), and give each blind a name, and assign it to a room.

Schedules & Energy Saving Features

Each room setup can have a custom schedule, to open, close, or adjust the blinds at any specified time. Users can choose which days to apply the schedule, and if the trigger time should adjust as the seasons progress (pretty cool!).

The blinds also offer an Energy Savings Mode, which will close the blinds when the room temperature exceeds a customizable threshold, and re-open the blinds when the room has cooled off.

Room Schedule for smart blind
Energy saving settings

Types of Compatible Blinds

The MySmartBlinds Automation Kit is only compatible with 2-3″ horizontal blinds.

MySmartBlinds is only compatible with horizontal blinds, shown above.

MySmartBlinds and will not work on the following types of shades and blinds:

  • Mini blinds (thin, slightly curved, metal slats)
  • Roller shades (continuous loop/string to pull back or forward)
  • Cordless blinds (where there are no strings attaching each slat)
  • Honeycomb shades (often used in temporary installations)

Bottom Line

While the practicality may be debated, the bottom line is: The MySmartBlinds Automation Kit is the simplest, most cost-effective way to automate existing horizontal blinds, without professional installation and programming.

Sonos One vs. Sonos Play:1 – What’s the difference?

Sonos Play1 Original Smart Speaker

The main, and biggest, difference between the ‘Play:1’ and ‘One’ is Alexa – the Sonos One has Amazon Alexa voice assistant built in. Both the Sonos Play:1 and Sonos One have 2 drivers, built-in WiFi, a standard wall plug, and are wall-mount compatible. One difference is the visual appearance of the physical controls on the top of the speaker. The Play:1 has one push button for play/pause/skip, and a rocker button to control volume up/down. Check out our side-by-side comparison below. Comment if you have any questions!

Side-by-side Comparison

Sonos One

Released: 10/2017
Price: $195-200
Voice Control: Yes, Alexa built-in
Drivers: 2
Line-in: No
Wall-mountable: Yes
Physical buttons: touch-capacitive volume and track control

Sonos One touch-pad controls


Sonos Play:1

Released: 10/2013
Price: around $150
Voice Control: Requires external Alexa device
Drivers: 2
Line-in: No
Wall-mountable: Yes
Physical buttons: play, pause, and skip button; and volume up/down rocker

Sonos Play:1 physical buttons


Which came first? The Sonos Play:1

The Sonos Play:1 was the first consumer smart-speaker released by Sonos in October, 2013. The Play:1 marked the genesis of the 1st generation Sonos line, later introducing the Sonos Play:5 and the Sonos Sub.

Sonos Play:1 does NOT have Alexa built in

The Play:1 is WiFi connected and can be controlled with the Sonos mobile app on iOS or Android. The legacy CR2000 dedicated-controller works with this speaker.

Can you control the Play:1 with voice commands?

Out of the box, no. But it is possible.
In order to have voice-control capabilities, the Sonos Play:1 must be paired with a stand-alone Alexa device (like an Amazon Echo Dot). Once paired, your voice has complete control over what is played, when, how loud, and for how long.

The Sonos One does come with Alexa built-in. This is the only major difference between the new and old single speaker from Sonos.

Meet the Sonos One

Four years after the original Sonos debuted, in October 2017, Sonos released the most recently update Sonos One smart speaker, with built-in Amazon Alexa microphone and brain.

This is the only major difference between the new and old speaker from Sonos.

Sonos One with Alexa built-in

The new Sonos One has a touch-capacitive surface on the top, with printed markings to indicate the touchable hot spots. With the Sonos One touch-control, you can play/pause, skip left, skip right, and slide volume up and down.

The Bottom Line

Both the Sonos One and the older Sonos Play:1 represent high-quality home audio, with the most robust internet-connectivity options found in the newer Sonos One. If you’re looking to add more speakers, and already have Alexa devices, the Sonos Play:1 is perfectly suitable and $50 less expensive.

Driven by consumer confusion arising from the product naming and similarity to the Sonos Play:1, the products are marketed as “The all-new Sonos One Smart Speaker” (new) and “The original Sonos Play:1” (old).

Since 2017, Sonos has been update each of their consumer speakers to include Alexa, enabling smart-home owners to eliminate needing a stand-alone Echo Dot for voice control functionality.

Fibaro Z-Wave Button: Big & Simple

Fibaro Z-Wave

[amazon_textlink asin=’B01MG99GNM’ text=’Available on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a6651f13-0617-11e9-8c23-0d8ffd342877′] for [amazon_link asins=’B01MG99GNM’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5fb40112-0616-11e9-bf2f-f3f459952304′]

This stand-out push button for Z-Wave smart homes (including Samsung SmartThings), developed by Fibaro, can function as a standalone panic button or a scene controller. Depending on your configuration, a single push can trigger any number of devices and automations.

Fibaro Z-Wave "The Button"

For even more customization, you can pair ‘The Button’ from Fibaro with webCoRE, enabling functionality like: open/close a garage door, turn on the air conditioning, lights, music or even do all of this at once. 

While the price is higher than other Z-Wave push buttons, the visual appearance of the button is unmatched. Available in 8 different colors, the applications of this button are unlimited. 

Available colors for Fibaro ‘The Button’ include (at time of publishing): 

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Red
  • White
  • Yellow

[amazon_link asins=’B07F8ZFFQK,B01BKWG9XS,B016YTTIVW,B076DBD5JF,B00DN9VGL2,B01NCEJAOD,B071Y38FX5,B00RKJS8MQ’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d6e42bf4-0618-11e9-9dc5-91c7c6550959′]

Top 5 Qi Wireless Chargers for iPhone & Android

Wireless charging for iphone and android - top qi chargers

What is Wireless Charging?

Wireless charging uses magnetic induction to charge devices without requiring any manual insertion of cables or plugs. Energy is transferred via touch-contact from the ‘charging pad’ into the back of your iPhone or Android device.

Many newer Android phones also support wireless charging. Go to the bottom of this post to see a list of the most common Android phones that are capable of wireless charging.

Both iPhone and Android use standardized conductive charging protocols, known as the ‘Qi’ standard (pronounced “CHEE” from the Chinese word root of ‘qi’). This mean any “Qi compatible” wireless charger will charge any and all devices that have adopted Qi standards.

Over 70% of the current wireless charger market consists of Qi-compatible chargers, so don’t worry about finding the perfect charger for your new iPhone XR! Check out the chargers below for popular and reliable devices, all available today on Amazon.com.

[amazon_link asins=’B075M4ZH17,B00C40OG22,B0797F2V5C,B017KQXO4U,B075M59ZB7,B07DBXNV58′ template=’AMPSpaceProductCarousel’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b40ba12e-0160-11e9-a06a-f33bd0bb3693′]

#1 [amazon_textlink asin=’B06ZYLQ2TP’ text=’PLESON 10W Fast Charing Stand’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e17889ec-fe72-11e8-9600-ed92b58e075a’] ([amazon_link asins=’B06ZYLQ2TP’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c810058f-fe72-11e8-b3c3-83f4c45adaed’])

Highest Rated Qi Charging Stand | Editor Favorite

[amazon_link asins=’B06ZYLQ2TP’ template=’PriceLink-AMP-test’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1cad4f9d-a309-4466-a40b-652472318189′]

Conveniently holds your device upright, and when combined with FaceID, users can look at their phone to unlock while at a desk or table. 

Pleson Wireless Fasr Charger for iPhone and Android

Pleson Fast Charger Features:
  • Works with all wireless-charging equipped iPhones and Android
  • 10W of charging power to rapidly charge devices
  • Upright stand to hold device while charging
  • MicroUSB cable included, wall adapter not included
  • No lights during nighttime charging (perfect for bed side table)
  • Over 3,000 satisfied wireless charging customers
  • QI Certified

#2 [amazon_textlink asin=’B075M4ZH17′ text=’Mophie Wireless Charging Pad’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e17889ec-fe72-11e8-9600-ed92b58e075a’] ([amazon_link asins=’B075M4ZH17′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c810058f-fe72-11e8-b3c3-83f4c45adaed’])

#1 in ‘iPhone Optimized Qi Chargers’ | Editor Favorite

An affordable wireless charging pad for iPhone and Android, and specifically approved by Apple for iOS devices.

mophie Qi wireless charger for iPhone - ATBProduct Features:
  • 7.5W of wireless induction transfer energy
  • Compatible with all Qi-wireless capable devices, including newer iPhone and Android devices
  • Mophie is an Apple-approved vendor for wireless charging iOS devices

#3 [amazon_textlink asin=’B075MWCZV1′ text=’YOUSTOO 7.5W Wireless Charger Pad’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e17889ec-fe72-11e8-9600-ed92b58e075a’] ([amazon_link asins=’B075MWCZV1′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c810058f-fe72-11e8-b3c3-83f4c45adaed’])

#2 in ‘iPhone Optimized Qi Chargers’

Not all Youstoo chargers include a microUSB cable, but is under $10 and available in 3 color/design options.
Wireless Charger Color Options, red and blackProduct Features:
  • Industry standard 7.5W of wireless charging power
  • Fully recharge iPhone in 3-4 hours
  • Compatible with all Qi-wireless capable devices, like iPhone XR and Galaxy 9
  • Red or black color options for chrome bezel, and solid black modern design available

#4 [amazon_textlink asin=’B00C40OG22′ text=’CHOETECH Wireless Charging Pad’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e17889ec-fe72-11e8-9600-ed92b58e075a’] ([amazon_link asins=’B00C40OG22′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c810058f-fe72-11e8-b3c3-83f4c45adaed’])

#1 in ‘Qi Chargers Under $15’

This simple, sleek charging pad includes a microUSB cable, but does not include a wall adapter.

Choetech Charger Features:

  • Available in 4 color options: Black, Blue, Gold, Pink, and Red
  • Compatible with phone cases up to 4mm/0.16inch in thickness
  • Slim design makes this pad only 0.3 inches thick
  • Built-in overheating protection
  • ETL Certified

CHOETECH Wireless Charing Pad Color Options

#5 [amazon_textlink asin=’B075MWCZV1′ text=’YOUSTOO 7.5W Wireless Charger Pad’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e17889ec-fe72-11e8-9600-ed92b58e075a’] ([amazon_link asins=’B075MWCZV1′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c810058f-fe72-11e8-b3c3-83f4c45adaed’])

#2 in ‘Qi Chargers Under $15’

All Youstoo chargers include a microUSB cable, but no wall adapter. This charging pad is under $10, and available in 3 color/design options.
Wireless Charger Color Options, red and blackYoustoo Charger Features:
  • Industry standard 7.5W of wireless charging power
  • Fully recharge iPhone in 3-4 hours
  • Compatible with all Qi-wireless capable devices, like iPhone XR and Galaxy 9
  • Red or black color options for chrome bezel, and solid black modern design available

Mobile Phones with Qi Wireless Charging Capability

Wireless charging was introduced in Apple iPhone starting with the iPhone 8. The following iPhones come standard with wireless charging capabilities:

Wirless Charging for iPhone explained

  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS

These are the most common Android phones that are capable of wireless charging:

  • Android Wireless ChargingSamsung Galaxy S9 / Galaxy S9+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 / Galaxy S8+
  • Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S7 Active
  • LG G7 Thinq
  • LG V30
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
  • Nokia 8 Sirocco

WebCoRE Automation for SmartThings

WebCore for SmartThings

What is webCoRE?

webCoRE (“Community’s own Rule Engine”) is a free, ‘rule engine’, with advanced capabilities, for Samsung SmartThings; WebCoRE enables full customization of tiggers, automation flows, geo-fencing, and much more.

While users can create their own scripts, no coding experience is required to get started. WebCoRE interprets and executes each custom script using the companion SmartApp for SmartThings.

WebCoRE Wiki

The WebCoRE team maintains a tremendously helpful wiki with detailed guides to each step. To help you be efficient with time, here are the most relevant ‘getting started’ pages on the Wiki for anyone who’s new to webCoRE. Click here to visit the webCoRE Wiki homepage.

Steps to Setup WebCoRE (new installation)

  1. Install core components (2 options)
    1. Using GitHub via the SmartThings Developer IDE (easy, if you’ve setup GitHub)
    2. Manually Add webCoRE components to SmartThings
  2. Enable oAuth for WebCoRE (required)
  3. Finish Setup in SmartThings mobile app
  4. Access webCoRE from a Desktop Browser (much easier to create/edit on desktop)

What can webCoRE do?

The platform is capable of executing automation flows using inputs from any Z-Wave or Zigbee device connected to your SmartThings hub. These automation flows, or “pistons” (using webCoRE terminology), can be as simple as “Turn on lamp when motion detected”, or as complex as: “If I am home, and it is between 4pm and 6pm, and the mailbox has not been opened today; when the mailbox lid is opened, flash the kitchen lights, say “Mail has arrived” on the Kitchen Sonos”, and send me a push notification alert.”

Believe it or not, even you can write a complex webCoRE piston like the example above. All piston creation takes place in the web dashboard of webCoRE, and use a clean graphic user interface with human-readable words and elements.

Here’s an example piston I use to automatically open the garage door and prepare the house upon my arrival home:
Example webCoRE Piston for SmartThings Automation
In the example above, the script checks to see if I have been gone for a minimum of 30 minutes, and if I return home, open the garage door, unlock the exterior doors, turn on the air conditioning, and fade the lights on.

Advanced IoT Buttons: Logi Pop & Flic

Logi Pop Button Color Options

Logi Pop Button + Hub

Starter Kit for [amazon_link asins=’B071GR172S’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9815f12e-f417-11e8-9064-abc43b38a744′]

The Logi Pop smart button is, by far, the most aesthetically pleasing IoT push button. However, this beautifully designed smart button requires an additional hub for basic remote operation. To achieve an experience comparable to a native SmartThings device, you’ll need to use a custom device handler & smart app, on top of IFTTT web hooks.

Logi Pop Button Color Options

A single button starts at [amazon_link asins=’B01JO8TLMQ’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’90983f3d-f439-11e8-81d6-dbc29993233a’].

Samsung SmartThings LogiPop Button

This button is for advanced home automation users: custom SmartThings device handlers and IFTTT webhooks are required for complete ST integration. 

The Logi Pop button is available in four different colors:

  • White
  • Coral
  • Teal
  • Alloy

Multiple product packages are sold in the US, and available on Amazon, including:

  • Starter kit (2 buttons+hub) [amazon_link asins=’B071GR172S’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’732555f7-f439-11e8-b29f-318b6f433186′]
  • Stand-alone button [amazon_link asins=’B01JO8TLMQ’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’90983f3d-f439-11e8-81d6-dbc29993233a’]

[amazon_link asins=’B071GR172S,B01JO8TLMQ,B077MRM2XR’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a6048fb8-f439-11e8-a6a1-3da83e748044′]

Flic Bluetooth Multi-Function Button

Starting at [amazon_link asins=’B06Y63VZT7′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’ALB-US-ATB1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’821fba30-f423-11e8-add0-27d405258f0c’] on Amazon

Flic Button for SmartThingsFlic is the smallest wireless home automation button we’ve been able to find, but it comes with a few caveats. This button relies on a constant connection to a nearby iOS or Android device, using low-energy Bluetooth. This restriction limits the possible smart home implementations to room with:

  • iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch present (i.e. mounted on the wall or in an adjacent room)
  • iMac or equivalent Bluetooth equipped computer

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Once the Flic button is paired to the nearby Bluetooth device, users can use the Flic mobile app or webCoRE to customize the triggers and automations for:

  • Single button top
  • Double button tap
  • Long press + hold

From the manufacturer: Flic is a simple and stylish wireless button that acts as a shortcut to your favorite actions on your phone. With one Flic, you can call a cab, text your loved ones, or turn the lights on.


3 Steps to fix Frozen MacBook on Startup

Mac Stuck on Loading Screen
  • If your MacBook or MacBook Pro is frozen and unresponsive, you likely just need to reset a few system settings.
  • In most cases, you can save yourself a trip to the Genius Bar with the 3 simple steps outlined below. Each step is linked to detailed instructions on Apple’s support site.
  • Be sure to disconnect all third-party peripherals, like USB keyboard and Bluetooth dongle before starting step 1.
  • If you haven’t already, shutdown by holding down the power button, wait 30 seconds, push the power button to turn your Mac on.

3 Steps to Fix Your Frozen Mac

1. Reset PRAM and NVRAM

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Then, push (and release) the power button to turn it on, and immediately press and hold these four keys together: Option, Command, P, R (hold for 20s)
    How to Reset PRAM on MacBook
  3. Release the keys after ~20 seconds (your Mac may appear to restart)

Step by step instructions from Apple: How to Reset PRAM/NVRAM

2. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)

  1. Turn off Mac.
  2. Press ShiftControlOption on the left side of the built-in keyboard.
  3. Then, press the power button while still holding Shift-Control-Option. Hold these keys and the power button for 10 seconds.
  4. Release all keys.
  5. Press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

Step by step instructions: How to Reset SMC

3. Boot in Safe Mode

If you recently added software or change settings, you can boot the computer into Safe Mode and try removing/reverting any changes. Apple has detailed instructions for booting in Safe Mode. View Apple Instructions for Safe Mode

If after all these steps you are still unable to successfully boot your MacBook, it may be time to schedule a visit to your nearest Genius Bar. You can also contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Top 3 Smart Z-Wave Deadbolts for Home Automation

Yale Smart Deadbolt

For non-standard doors, or doors with decorative door handles, you should consider adding a deadbolt-only smart device to the door to enable remote control and access. A smart deadbolt is simply a locking mechanism that fits into the existing deadbolt cut-out in your door, and connects to the internet to allow for remote access and programming.

To work with SmartThings, you’ll need a deadbolt that communicates using the Z-Wave network protocol. Just look for the “Z-Wave”, “Z-Wave Plus”, or “Works with SmartThings” label on the product packaging. Schlage is our favorite brand for smart door hardware, including full-sized door handles with built-in keypads.

The locks we posted below will all work with SmartThings, although Schlage Z-Wave Connect is our top pick – for quality, ease of installation, and durability.

1. Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt (~$190)

  • Price: Starts at around $190
  • Maximum Programmed Codes: 100+
  • Code Schedule: Yes
  • LED backlight for easy keypad access in the dark
  • Universal latches and deadbolts fit 2.4 inches or 2.75 inches back sets
  • Native SmartThings compatibility
  • Door range: 1-3/8” to 1-3/4” (35mm-44mm) standard

The most popular option from Schlage is the Schlage Connect Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt – available on Amazon starting around $180. Available in both Schlage designs: Camelot – elegant, traditional styling; Century – modern, square lines.

View our comparison of the available Schlage lock styles and features.

2. Yale Assure Lock SL with Z-Wave Plus (~$200)Yale Smart Deadbolt

  • Price: Starts at around $199
  • Maximum Programmed Codes: 250
  • Receive push notification or SMS alert when locked or unlocked
  • Native SmartThings compatibility
  • #1 smart lock brand in 2017, voted by CEPro
  • 9V battery Terminal prevents lock-out due to dead batteries

If you’re not a Schlage fan, another option worth checking out is the Yale Assure deadbolt keypad. The Yale Assure SL speaks Z-Wave Plus and integrates seamlessly with Samsung SmartThings.

Slightly more compact than the Schlage options, the Yale Assure is a clean, modern option with native SmartThings compatibility. The Yale deadbolt is available on Amazon for a little more than $200.

3. Schlage Z-Wave Home Keypad Lever

  • Price: Starts at around $200
  • Maximum Programmed Codes: 19 (4-digit required)
  • Code Schedule: Yes
  • Universal latches and deadbolts fit 2.4 inches or 2.75 inches back sets
  • Native SmartThings compatibility
  • Door range: 1-3/8” to 1-3/4” (35mm-44mm) standard

If you’re looking for a more streamlined option, with an included door handle, Schlage has the perfect product for you. The Schlage Z-Wave Keypad Lever only requires 1 holt/cut-out in your door and can add smart home control to any type of door.

Programmable with multiple codes, native integration with SmartThings, and 2+ year battery life, the Schlage Keypad Lever is worth considering. Available on Amazon and starting at around $200.

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