DVD Watchbox turns a stack of discs into streaming movies


Got a massive DVD collection, and wondering how you can move on from the optical disc? A new devic called DVD Watchbox might be able to help.

For $150, DVD Watchbox is a set-top box that streams DVD and Blu-ray video from a networked PC. A companion PC program converts the optical discs to a streaming format and stores them on the computer’s hard drive, so you never have to use the actual DVD or Blu-ray discs again.

While this may sound similar to media server programs such as Plex, the difference with DVD Watchbox is that it preserves the full optical disc experience, including menus and bonus features. It is possible to add extras to a Plex library with some added effort or a Plex Pass subscription, but there’s something to be said for DVD Watch Box’s simpler approach of duplicating the DVD menus and features just as they were.


Even so, the act of maintaining a networked media server brings its own complications compared to just keeping a DVD player on hand. For one thing, you need a dedicated PC that’s always up and running, such as a desktop computer, as DVD Watch Box doesn’t currently support NAS drives. Each DVD takes up 2GB to 3GB of storage, and Blu-ray discs can require fives times more space. The initial conversion process can be time-intensive, requiring 10 to 15 minutes per DVD and 30 to 45 minutes per Blu-ray disc. These files also stream at a higher bitrate than your average online video—especially for Blu-ray—so you’ll want a good router and a solid network connection from the set-top box for streaming.

Still, DVD Watchbox maker VidOn believes it can serve a niche market. In an interview, CEO Bill Loesch claimed that 8 million people own more than 300 DVD or Blu-ray discs, citing data from the Digital Entertainment Group.

The box itself supports dual-band Wi-Fi, and also has an Ethernet jack. The software is based on Google’s Android TV platform, but users will never notice, as Android TV’s interface and features are completely hidden in favor of DVD Watch Box’s own content selection screen. Loesch said that VidOn debated including the full Android TV experience, but decided to stay focused on DVD and Blu-ray playback. (“Anything that tries to compete with Roku, Google, Amazon, and Apple is suicidal,” he said.)

DVD Watch Box just started shipping and is on sale at Best Buy. It sounds like a promising solution for recovering DVD diehards, though we’ve only taken a quick look at the product during this week’s CES trade show.

Philips launches GoPure Compact 110 in-car air purifier

Philips GoPure Compact 110 in-car air purifier takes effect in 15 minutes of being activated and works against cigarette smoke, pollens, dust, PM2.5, airborne virus and bacteria.

NEW DELHI: Philips Automotive, a division of global giant Royal Philips, has launched the GoPure Compact 110 in-car air purifier in the Indian market.

The new Philips GoPure Compact 110 has been priced at Rs 7,999.

GoPure Compact 110 has a three-layer filtration system, which includes the SelectFilter GSF80 X80 filter, eliminates 99% of particulates, the company said in a statement. The filtration system takes effect in 15 minutes of being activated and works against cigarette smoke, pollens, dust, PM2.5, airborne virus and bacteria.

It also acts against toxic gaseous chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene and TVOC.

Philips’ GoPure Compact 110 in-car air purifier can be installed on the armrest, headrest as well as under the seat.

Kent RO launches Aura, Eternal HEPA air purifiers

NEW DELHI: Kent RO has launched the Aura and Eternal models of air purifier based on HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) technology in the Indian market. The former has been priced at Rs 15,000, while the latter costs Rs 22,000.

The Kent Aura air purifier cleanses the air silently, unlike other purifiers and uses dust sensors to monitor the air quality. Designed for rooms 270 sq ft in size, the air purifier can remove dust, allergens, chemicals, viruses, odours and other indoor air pollutants from rooms at home and work. Kent Aura comes with filter replacement indicators and features a child-lock.

The HEPA technology with in-built ionizer keeps the air fresh, the company said in a statement.

With coverage area of 377 sq ft, Kent Eternal air purifier can purify the living room as well as the lobby. Along with HEPA, it features the formaldehyde decomposition technology as well as high EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) that leads to reduced energy consumption. Among the key features of Kent Eternal are air quality monitor, filter replacement indicators and low noise operations.

Lola headphones review: Futuristic design, custom fit, and great sound

Lola headphones (white)

Just 10 years ago, audiophiles would have scoffed at the notion that headphones would start to dominate the audio world. Fast forward to today and you’ll find more and more retail space being allocated to an increasing number of new headphone models. It seems as though a new company joins the headphone movement every week.

Blue, with its 20 year-pedigree of building recording-studio gear, joined the party in late 2014 with its $350, self-amplified Mo-Fi headphones. This year Blue dropped the amp—but nothing else—to create the less-expensive ($250) Lola.

The Lola is an over-the-ear, sealed back design. A sealed design is great because it blocks out or dampens unwanted outside noise, revealing subtle nuances that you ordinarily wouldn’t hear with traditional speakers.

The heart of the Lola’s sound reproduction is a 50mm, fiber-reinforced driver. From seismic depth charges in movies to nuanced musical notes, the Lola has you covered. Its rated frequency response goes from 15Hz to 20kHz.

The Lola is certified for use with Apple’s complete iOS product lineup. If you’re an Apple user, this certification is important because it gives you the confidence that the Lola will work flawlessly with your mobile Apple gear. This isn’t just an issue of the headphones being sensitive enough to be driven easily with the tiny amplifiers in mobile devices. It ensures that the in-line controls for play, forward, and back work properly, and that the in-line mic works with your iPhone, iPad, and Siri.

My contact at Blue says they’ve seen these in-line control features work withsome Android devices, but the company offers no guarantee that they’ll work with yours. You can still listen to music with the Lola plugged into an Android phone or tablet, of course; you just might not get the benefit of the mic and the buttons.

Lola remote cable
The in-line mic and transport controls are designed for iOS devices. Blue offers no guarantees that they’ll work with Android devices.

First impressions: Straight outta Tron

The Lola headphones must have come straight out of the Grid from the movieTron, or at least been inspired by some 1960’s sci-fi flick. The digital-age design is unlike any other headphone you’ll set your eyes on—except for the Mo-Fi, that is. Millennials are sure to find these phones attractive; other generations—well, Lola might not be their style.

Most headphones have just a few points of adjustment. We’ve all experienced it. You can expand the left or right earpieces and… that’s it. In some instances, fitting the earpieces to their logical length makes the headphones too tight. If you try and adjust them, then they become too loose on your head. It becomes a never-ending series of compromises.

Not so with the Lola. The Lola is the most adjustable pair of headphones I’ve ever set my hands on. Blue calls the Lola’s frame a “multi-jointed headband.” The top section has a short, slightly curved head-piece that’s flanked by independent, expanding side bars. These side bars then connect to thinner arms that have an adjustable elbow that allow you to independently adjust each earpiece up or down without impacting the fit on the top of your head.

Lola adjustable
Blue’s Lola headphones are remarkably adjustable.

I want to reinforce that the ability to adjust these headphones isn’t just up and down. Adjustment is so flexible that it allows you to fine-tune the placement of the headband on the top of your head without messing up the ear cups. I was able to shift the headband to the front or the middle of my head without losing the precise placement of the cups.

The practical application of the adjustments extend to when you have the headphones around your neck. How often have you had a pair of headphones that fit fine on your head only to have the ear cups annoy you while resting on your neck? With the Lola, you can expand the ear cup section to extend the ear cups away from your neck.

Ironically, with so much adjustability, the ear cups themselves don’t pivot. I’m not sure if the team at Blue concluded it wasn’t needed, but this is an odd omission considering all the adjustability that is offered.

The headphone frame is one of the most solid that I’ve handled. All parts above the ear cups—from the lower arms up—are fabricated from aluminum. Blue says they designed the Lola this way for stiffness and strength; to optimize the suspension system and to give a precision feel to the mechanism. The entire frame is covered with a 20-gloss, hard-coat polyurethane paint that gives the Lola a truly beautiful, smooth feel. My review set came in white and it was gorgeous.

For an aluminum set of headphones, these things are pretty light. While I wouldn’t call them feather-light, it’s really remarkable what Blue has accomplished here. When you first see the Lola and pick it up, it takes you a second or two to recover because your eyes and sense of touch fool you into expecting a much heavier product when you lift it. As light as these headphones are, I did start to feel their weight after extended listening periods.

Lola earcup depth
The Lola’s ear cups are extremely deep, and the memory foam doesn’t compress much.

The Lola ear cups have a nice, leather-like feel, but I’m told that the material is actually a premium vinyl, not genuine leather. The company tells me this material provides the added benefit of moisture resistance for durability, cleanliness, and prolonged use. The inside of the ear cup is filled with memory foam.

To my eyes, a prominent feature of the headphones is the physical depth of the ear cups. It makes the Lola look a bit bulky as a result. Compared to other headphones, there is a lot of distance relative to where you ears are to the drivers. For example, many of the over-the-ear reference headphones that I personally own from Sony, Sennheiser, and Bowers and Wilkins range from 1/4- to 3/4 of an inch. With some of those headphones, the in-use distance is much less as the foam readily compresses.

The Lola’s ear cups are much deeper: 1 and 1/8 inches. The memory foam inside is soft, but it also compresses less, maintaining greater separation between the driver and your ear canal. You immediately notice a sense of space around your ears as soon as you put the headphones on.

The left ear cup has a standard 1/8-inch input. Two flat, rubber-coated cables are included: a standard cable and an iOS-compatible smart cable with remote controls and an embedded microphone. The remote cable has forward, reverse and pause buttons. Depressing the pause button twice skips to the next song. Depressing the button three times plays the previous song. Pressing and holding the pause button activates Siri.

Lola carrying bag
Blue provides a very nice soft carry case for when you need to travel with Lola.

The pause button is between the forward and reverse buttons. I didn’t like the overall tactile feel of the control. For me, there wasn’t enough space between the buttons, and I found myself sometimes unable to skip forwards or backwards consistently. The button controls don’t match the industrial design of the headphone.

A really nice, soft carrying case is included. It has two internal compartments to separate the headphones and cables. The flap has a magnetic fastener, and the rear of the case has a handle so that you can slide your hand in for a secure hold on the case and headphones. I really liked this case. It made it easy to carry the headphones around.

Do they sound as good as they look?

For some, the styling and fit of the Lola alone will compel them to purchase a pair. It will be that easy. For others, it will be all about the sound. Given the Lola’s superb materials and moderate price tag, I was curious to see how they measured up.

U2 is one of my all-time favorite bands, and I called up the band’s Joshua Treealbum (encoded in AAC format) on my iPhone to see how the Lola would handle the classic album. It was great. Bono’s vocals, for example, came through clear and the timbre was well reproduced. Bass was a real strong-suit in just about every track I played. The Lola’s presented “Running to Stand Still” with excellent instrument separation and a recessed soundstage.

It was immediately apparent that the spacing between my ears and the drivers, due to the Lola’s thick ear pieces, afforded a more spacious and less forward musical presentation. This sensation was fairly consistent from track to track. Some people will really like this, while others might not. I think this gives the Lola a distinctive sound.

Lola included accessories
The Lola come with a conventional audio cable and a second cable that has an in-line mic and transport controls for iOS devices.

As nice as they sounded overall, The Lola’s upper mid-range and top end didn’t dethrone more expensive headphones I’ve auditioned. In Loreena McKennitt’s live album, From Istanbul to Athens, the crowd roar and applause lacked the detail and breadth you get from higher-end competition. Likewise, the Lola headphones just missed out on fully reproducing the crispness and delicate decay of the cymbals on the opening track, “The Gates of Istanbul.”

Mating the Lola with higher-end amplification revealed nuances that were masked by an iPhone or iPod. Using the included 1/8-inch-to-1/4-inch adapter, I plugged the Lola into an Anthem AVM50v pre-amp and then a Benchmark Media Systems DAC2 digital-to-analog converter and headphone amp. I streamed albums ripped from CDs and encoded as ALAC files from an iTunes server.

Paired with either of those exceptional units, the Lola delivered cleaner and tighter bass; in fact, every instrument came through with higher definition. These headphones sound fine with a mobile device, but a dedicated headphone amp will truly reveal what they’re capable of.

The Verdict: Clearly different

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a half-dozen of my millennial-generation nieces and nephews check out some of the headphones in my collection. Of all the headphones to choose from, they were immediately drawn to the Lola and couldn’t wait to try them. Even more, they were hard-pressed to put the Lola down.

As the headphone space continues to get more crowded, companies will look for different ways to make their headphones stand out. To that end, the competition should take note of Lola. Lola is a bold, distinctive, and futuristic-looking headphone that turns heads and sounds good to boot.

On the Lola’s packaging, you’ll find the slogan, “Clearly. Different.” That sums it up. While the Lola’s sound doesn’t quite deal a knockout blow to its more-expensive competitors, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better top-to-bottom value for $250.

AMD’s mainstream Radeon graphics cards could support more potent memory, but never had a chance to

radeon r9 380x

AMD’s Tonga GPU powers some great mainstream Radeon graphics cards, including theR9 380, which we recently hailed as the best card you could get for $200. But it was AMD’s November release of the $230 R9 380X that was supposed to show the full power of Tonga, with all possible stream processors unlocked and firing away.

But even that card wasn’t Tonga running on all cylinders. Last Thursday night, AMD confirmed to PC Perspective that the Tonga GPU was capable of a 384-bit memory width bus even though all Tonga-based cards came packing a 256-bit bus. AMD says it was never able to find that sweet spot of price and performance to offer a card with Tonga fully unleashed.

Rumors that Tonga could handle a 384-bit bus began circulating in September 2014 after a report by the Japanese-language PC Watch. AMD’s first Tonga-based card was the R9 285, which rolled out in August 2014.

Why this matters: Memory bus width is an important element in any graphics card. The bus is what lets the GPU talk to the RAM chips embedded on the card. The larger the memory bus, the more RAM a GPU can read at one time. The memory bus, along with memory clock speed, determines how much memory bandwidth a GPU has to work with. The better the bandwidth, the better the performance.

More to come?

Even though there’s a little more performance to be eked out of Tonga on an upcoming card, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see this. In 2016, the GPU world is widely expected to give up on the 28nm manufacturing process and move on to the smaller 14nm. (Finally!) Plus, Tonga’s biggest source of performance—the GPU cores—are already maxed out in the R9 380X. There’s always a chance that a future refresh could unlock the extra memory interface, but Tonga seems set to end its run with the 380x and a 256-bit bus.

Five things you should know about drone regulations

151117 dji phantom 5

Drones are one of the hottest things in tech right now, but as well as being fun to play with they can be a menace to airports and a hindrance to firefighters. The rules around drone use are still being formed, but here’s what you need to know so far.

1. Restrictions on flying

Every drone pilot must adhere to a few basic rules. Most important is the requirement to keep the drone below 400 feet, otherwise it can stray into controlled airspace and collide with a plane or helicopter. Don’t fly a drone within 5 miles of any airport unless you have permission from air traffic control. National parks are also off-limits, as are sports stadiums on game days. Your drone must remain within sight at all times, and you must always give way to manned aviation if it comes close. More details are at the “Know Before You Fly” website and the and the FAA’s drone website.

2. Making money

Flying a drone might give you all sorts of business ideas, but the FAA has a general restriction against using drones for commercial purposes. Businesses can apply for a “section 333” exemption, which more than a thousand operators have received, but you might need a lawyer to help you go this route. An alternative is to hire one of a growing number of licensed drone operators to perform whatever work you have in mind.

3. Consumer flight

Individuals face far fewer restrictions than businesses. Beyond the basic safety restrictions listed above, there aren’t many rules yet for consumers. To get the most out of your drone, consider joining a local flying club, where you can meet other drone owners and deepen your knowledge of flying.

4. Registration

The U.S. has no registration scheme at present but it will very soon. The FAA plans to introduce one this month that requires you to register a name and address in return for a number that you display on your drone. The scheme is intended to be simple, and as such it probably won’t be very effective at stopping illegal flights. It will be mandatory, however, so keep an eye on the FAA website for details.

5. Watch out for the big guys

You can fly your drone in most places right now as long as you comply with the basic rules above, but don’t count on that always being the case. Google and Amazon are both testing drone delivery systems to let them quickly deliver goods purchased online. That could be convenient for shoppers and lucrative for the companies, but it might not be great for other drone users. Amazon wants half of the airspace available for drone use today to be restricted to high-speed craft like the ones it’s developing, while Google wants all drone flights to be computer controlled. Both proposals would give the companies’ business plans preference over hobbyists, so keep a close eye on any proposed rules and exercise your right to speak up.

Asetek demands AMD stop selling the Radeon Fury X in liquid cooling dispute

amd radeon fury x cooler

Liquid cooling system maker Asetek just threatened to make one of the hottest graphics cards of 2015 even hotter—by taking away its cooling system.

Asetek recently sent a cease and desist letter to AMD over the Radeon R9 Fury X, claiming the graphics card infringes on Asetek patents, according to GamersNexus. AMD had not yet responded to PCWorld’s request for comment at this writing.

The legal demand comes after Asetek won a patent infringement case against Cooler Master in late 2014 over CM’s Seidon lineup of liquid coolers. AMD’s flagship Fury X features a liquid cooling system built in conjunction with Cooler Master.

An image of the Asetek 510LC liquid CPU cooler on the company’s website.

In addition to its letters to AMD, Asetek is also going after Gigabyte and its GeForce GTX 980 WaterForce card, GamersNexus reports. Asetek may also go after Gigabyte’s GTX 980 Ti WaterForce card, but first the liquid cooler maker needs to obtain one for analysis.

Why this matters: A potential legal fight is the last thing AMD needs right now. The Fury X was AMD’s first flagship Radeon release since the Radeon R9 290X launched in 2013, and AMD is also dealing with a recent restructuring that gives its graphics card division more autonomy. The company may also have to deal with unhappy customers after a recent software bug limited the fan speeds in some Radeon cards, causing them to overheat.


It remains to be seen if Asetek’s claims against AMD have any merit. Even if they do and AMD is willing to settle in order to keep the Fury X on store shelves, it’s not clear Asetek is in a settling mood.

Asetek won an injunction against Cooler Master in September that prevented the latter company from selling select products within the United States. Cooler Master is appealing the injunction.

In an email to GamersNexus, Asetek said it had no plans to reach a licensing agreement with Cooler Master “in the foreseeable future.” If Asetek takes the same attitude towards AMD, the Radeon flagship’s central cooling solution might have to be re-engineered.

HTC delays the release of its SteamVR-powered Vive virtual reality headset until 2016

HTC Vive

Earlier this year, HTC said its Vive VR headset would launch in limited quantities before the holidays, ahead of a wider consumer rollout sometime early in 2016. Well, it’s December 8, and there’s hasn’t been another peep about the Vive’s availability since then—until today. Tuesday evening, HTC announced the virtual reality headset’s launch is being delayed until next year.

“We will be starting the new year by making an additional 7,000 units available to developers, followed by commercial availability in April 2016,” the company announced onits Facebook page.

The news doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. HTC’s timeline for the Vive always seemed wildly ambitious, even with Valve handling the work on the software side of things. Developers have been toying with the Oculus Rift for well past two years now, but the Vive was only revealed this past March.

While many of the lessons learned from tinkering with Oculus can no doubt carry over to HTC’s headset, the Vive’s take on VR is far more complicated, consisting of two extra hand-held controllers tracked by a pair of “base stations” that allow you to roam around a 15-by-15-foot physical space. The Oculus Rift will ship with a traditional gamepad and is designed for seated use.

HTC Vive
The HTC Vive developer’s kit.

But hey: Virtual reality’s still a bold new frontier. Even the recently launched Samsung Gear VR fails to offer the same powerful, tethered-to-a-PC experience as the Vive or Oculus Rift. You only have once chance to make a first impression, and it’s better to have everything lined up and ready to rock than push something out early and risk having early adopters either blow chunks all over their monitors or have no games to play whatsoever.

The story behind the story: Besides the extra mobility provided by the hardware, being the first major VR experience to market was going to be a major advantage for the HTC Vive. Now, the Oculus Rift (which is also scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2016) and HTC Vive are due to launch in the same basic time frame. We’ve got us a standoff, folks. Will consumers prefer the presumably lower cost of the Oculus Rift, or the superior VR experience of the Vive? We’ll know for sure sometime around April.

Pebble Time Round review: A smartwatch that doesn’t seem like one


One universal truth about consumer electronics is that they never have enough battery life. Instead, gadget makers opt for thinner and lighter designs, and battery is the first thing to go in pursuit that extra curb appeal.

Smartwatches might be the rare case where this isn’t a misguided strategy. Short of some quantum leap in battery chemistry, smartwatches will never rival the years-long battery cycle of a real watch, so you might as well get in the habit of charging them every day or two. In the meantime, any improvements in battery efficiency should go toward making devices that are more fashionable, and less bulky.

Pebble seems to have realized all of this with its Pebble Time Round smartwatch. Breaking tradition with every Pebble watch yet, the Time Round makes no effort to achieve week-long battery life. Instead, it lasts a couple days, tops, but is slim enough to make people believe you’re not wearing a smartwatch at all.

This trade-off goes a long way toward covering up Pebble’s biggest underlying problems.

Smart, but not intimidatingly so

pebbletimeroundsideJARED NEWMAN
The Pebble Time Round is much slimmer than your average smartwatch.

The Pebble Time Round is so eager to pass as a normal watch that it’s kind of jarring at first. The bezel is unapologetically large, to the point that certain models have analog-style five-minute marks printed directly on top. (I’ve come to despise these numbers for how they look against non-analog watch faces, and wish Pebble offered a number-free version of the silver watch I reviewed.)

And yet, no one seemed to mind much as I showed the Pebble Time Round to friends and family. There’s no way to measure this, but a surprising number of people asked about the watch with genuine interest, and marveled at how they could see themselves wearing one. Maybe that’s damning with faint praise, but it immediately made me wonder what those people really thought about all the other smartwatches I’ve sampled.

The Pebble Time Round’s appeal owes largely to its color e-paper display, which remains on at all times. Combined with a low-power processor, the Time Round can survive on a much smaller battery than watches with OLED and LCD screens. As such, it’s 33 percent thinner than an Apple Watch, making it feel more at home on smaller wrists. Pebble even offers a choice of 20 mm or 14 mm bands, the latter of which might look a bit silly on a chunkier timepiece.

pebbletimeroundcomparisonJARED NEWMAN
Pebble Time Round, flanked by the 42mm Apple Watch Sport (right) and Pebble Time Steel (left).

But this display does have a major downside: Like the square-shaped Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel, it’s too dim to be legible unless you catch it in just the right light. You can invoke a backlight by shaking your wrist or tapping a button, but that defeats the purpose of having the always-on screen. The Pebble Time Round supposed to act like a real watch, but often falls short.

The Time Round makes a couple other minor trade-offs compared to other Pebbles. The battery only lasts a couple days, but that’s at least enough to support sleep tracking, and 15-minutes on the charger is enough to last until bedtime. The watch isn’t waterproof like its predecessors, but should survive the occasional splash.

More screens, more problems

Like its square siblings, the Pebble Time Round can display notifications from a phone paired over Bluetooth, and supports step counting and sleep tracking through apps such as Misfit. It runs some basic third-party apps, which you control with a set of push buttons, or in some cases with voice controls. There’s also a feature called Timeline that lets you scroll through past or upcoming information, such as sports scores, calendar appointments, or missed calls.

Pebble isn’t trying to change the world with its smarts–and that’s not necessarily a bad thing–but it’s still disappointing to see how little progress the platform has made with app support. You won’t find official apps for Slack or Wunderlist, to name a couple examples, and I’m still dreaming of a way to track fantasy football scores. Timeline remains underutilized as well, with roughly a couple dozen apps that support the feature. We’ve also yet to see any Smartstraps, third-party bands that connect to the Pebble’s charging port to add new functionality. The fact that Pebble is an underdog in an unproven market is really starting to show.

The Pebble Time Round’s rear port is just for charging, as Smartstraps have not yet hit the market.

One could even argue that the Pebble Time Round has made the app situation worse, as developers must accommodate two types of displays now. Many developers haven’t bothered to support the round version, including big-name partners like ESPN and Jawbone. Bifurcating a platform that’s already short on developer support is a questionable move at best, and down the road, Pebble might need to make some tough decisions about where app makers should focus their efforts.

Better on Android

Pebble’s other nagging issue is that it doesn’t work as well with an iPhone as it does with Android handsets.

iPhone users can view and dismiss notifications, and trigger voice commands on supported apps. But notifications are non-actionable, which means no deleting e-mails, liking Facebook posts, or replying to WhatsApp messages by voice. An experimental feature allows AT&T users to answer text messages with voice or canned replies, and it worked well in my experience, though there’s no word on when other carriers might be supported.

By comparison, Android users get all the same actions that appear in their phone’s notification tray. So instead of just getting a glance at notifications, you can decide how to deal with them straight from the wrist.Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky told me the company’s working on a solution for iPhone users, though this has yet to materialize. As it stands, Pebble is not a bad smartwatch with an iPhone, but it’s a much better smartwatch with an Android phone.

pebble time round hero
Pebble Time Round: Different sizes, different colors.

But here’s the thing: Every smartwatch right now has its own deep flaws. The Apple Watch tries to do too much, and at a starting price of $350 for the Sport version, it’s much more expensive than the leather-and-steel-clad Pebble Time Round. Android Wear has yet to offer a watch that looks great on smaller wrists, and Samsung’s Gear S2 is sorely lacking in apps and wrist band options.

In previous iterations, Pebble tried to stand out on battery life and its always-on display, but that alone wasn’t enough. The Pebble Time Round instead acknowledges that curb appeal wins, and puts all of its inherent strengths into offering as much as possible. The result is a timepiece that people might actually want to wear.

IControl integrates Life360 family-tracking app into its Piper security cameras

piper nv white

Icontrol’s Piper wireless home security system—a security camera with connected-home features that enable you to also control lighting and some other control systems via Z-Wave—has a new trick up its sleeve: It can now alert you when the last person in your family leaves the house, but forgets to arm the camera’s security feature. You can then do that yourself via the Internet, using your mobile device.

The feature, called Smart Arming, has been made possible by a partnership withLife360, a tracking service that bills itself as a “family locator” that enables people to privately share their locations with their loved ones. Life360 says its service is used by more than 50 million families. Users can set up a geofence around their home, office, or any other point of interest, and be notified as people in their “Circle” come and go.

“With Smart Arming, Piper will notify users when their system is unarmed and no family members are detected in their home,” reads the press release announcing the integration. “Users then simply tap the notification on their mobile device to set Piper to ‘away’ automatically arming Piper without having to open any apps.” Needless to say you will need a Life360 account.

You’ll also be interested in reading our hands-on review of the Piper NV security camera.

The app is free as long as you’re willing to put up with a few limitations, such as not being able to create more than two geofences. A $5-per-month premium option gives you the ability to create unlimited places, phone-theft protection to the tune of $100, up to 30 days’ worth of location data, and more. The location-tracking service can also interface with the Nest Learning Thermostat as well as a whole host of IFTTT-friendly smart-home devices besides the Piper DIY security cam.

The Piper line includes two cameras: the $199 Piper Classic and $279 Piper nv. The former has a standard 2-megapixel sensor, while the latter packs a 3.4-megapixel shooter with night vision. Both models can record in 1080p, detect motion up to a distance of 30 feet, and watch over a large area with their 180-degree field of view. They also have built-in sensors for tracking temperature, humidity, ambient light and sound, plus a microphone for two-way communications. A 105-decibel siren should the daylights out of an intruder.

Why this matters: Icontrol Networks’ Piper home-security cameras do more than most, since they can also control Z-Wave devices, but the company has only certified a narrow list of third-party products that are available from its website. Perhaps this Life360 integration is a harbinger of change on this front.