Category: Amazon

The Amazon Fire TV 4K Stick, Fire TV Cube, & Fire TV Recast DVR Are All On Sale

Good News! Right now Amazon has it’s line of Fire TV products once again on sale. Right now you can get the Fire TV Recast DVR 500GB version for $189.99 or the 1 TB version for $229.99. Need a Fire TV to use this? Right now you can get the Fire TV Stick for just $29.99. You can also get the Fire TV Stick 4K for just $39.99. (This is the same price the HD Fire TV Stick is being sold for.) Want the Fire TV Cube? Right now the Amazon Fire TV Cube is once again on sale for just $79.99. This is a limited time deal so don’t wait!

Additional information on the Fire TV Recast.

  • Fire TV Recast is a DVR that lets you watch and record over-the-air TV at home or on-the-go with a Fire TV, Echo Show, or compatible mobile device—with no monthly fees.
  • Watch and record live sports, local news, late night shows, and other can’t miss TV from channels available through an HD antenna (sold separately) like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW.
  • With 2 tuners, you can record up to 2 shows at once. Plus, store up to 75 hours of HD programming.
  • With a compatible Alexa-enabled device, you can use your voice to search for shows, manage and schedule recordings, and help with other requests. Say things like “Alexa, open Channel Guide” or “Alexa, record ‘Riverdale.’”
  • Fire TV Recast delivers the most reliable video streams over Wi-Fi of any over-the-air DVR.

Additional details of the Fire TV Cube

  • The Fire TV Cube is the first hands-free streaming media player with Alexa. From across the room, just ask Alexa to turn on the TV, dim the lights, and play what you want to watch.
  • With far-field voice recognition, eight microphones, and beamforming technology, Fire TV Cube hears you from any direction. Enjoy hands-free voice control of content—search, play, pause, fast forward, and more. Plus control the power and volume on your TV, sound bar, and A/V receiver, as well as change, live cable or satellite channels with just your voice.
  • Fire TV Cube has a built-in speaker that lets you check the weather, listen to the news, control compatible smart home devices, and more—even with the TV off. Fire TV Cube is always getting smarter with new Alexa skills and voice functionality.
  • Experience true-to-life picture quality and sound with access to vivid 4K Ultra HD up to 60 fps, HDR, and the audio clarity of Dolby Atmos.
  • Enjoy tens of thousands of channels, apps, and Alexa skills. Get over 500,000 movies and TV episodes from Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, NBC, and more.
  • Access YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, and more websites with Silk and Firefox browsers.
  • An Amazon Prime membership unlocks thousands of movies and TV episodes including “Thursday Night Football” and Prime Originals like “The Big Sick” and “Sneaky Pete”.
  • Now includes all-new Alexa Voice Remote with power and volume controls.

Additional details on the Fire TV Stick 4K

  • The Fire TV 4K is the most powerful 4K streaming media stick with a new Wi-Fi antenna design optimized for 4K Ultra HD streaming, with more storage for apps and games than any other 4K streaming media stick.
  • Launch and control content with the all-new Alexa Voice Remote. Watch favorites from Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, STARZ, SHOWTIME, or CBS All Access, plus stream for free with Pluto TV, IMDb Freedive, and others.
  • Enjoy brilliant picture with access to 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+. Experience immersive sound with Dolby Atmos on select Prime Video titles.
  • Choose from 500,000 movies and TV episodes. Watch favorites from Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, STARZ, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, and others.
  • Experience tens of thousands of channels, apps, and Alexa skills, plus millions of websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit.
  • Alexa on Fire TV provides the most comprehensive voice experience of any streaming media player—view live camera feeds, check the weather, dim the lights, and stream music.
  • Amazon Prime members get unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV episodes, plus ad-free listening to millions of songs with Prime Music.
  • No cable or satellite? No problem. Watch live TV and sports with subscriptions to Hulu and PlayStation Vue.
Advertisements

Zigbee explained: Plus the best devices that use it


It’s a big deal in the smart home space so get yourself clued up

Syncing up all the top smart home devices isn’t easy, and it requires a common language to bind together a wealth of tech from different manufacturers. That’s where Zigbee comes in – it is one of the leading protocols in helping tech talk to each other.

But how does Zigbee work, is it any good and, most importantly, should you even care? We attempt to answer those crucial questions below.

What is Zigbee?

Right, let’s start by trying to cover smart home protocols without dying of boredom. They’re how your sensors, bulbs, hubs, and cameras all talk to each other – and to you – quickly and securely. They’re necessary because the protocols you’re more familiar with, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, are rubbish for meshing together a lot of low power devices spread all around your home.

A better solution was required, and Zigbee – along with Z-Wave – is the answer.

What’s so good about Zigbee?

Zigbee uses the IEEE’s 802.15.4 personal-area network standard to communicate with other Zigbee devices between 32–65 feet depending on a few factors – and that’s why protocols like this are so important.

It creates a mesh, where each interoperable device becomes a sort of outpost, able to communicate with the next device. Because we’re going to end up having a lot of devices and sensors in our home, Zigbee needs to be able to support a lot of devices on the network, and luckily, it will cope with 65,000 at any given time. That should just about cover it.

Without the need for a centralized hub, it’s theoretically possible for devices to work over a huge area, passing on information around the mesh.


FUN FACT
When bees are returning to their hive, they do a ‘waggle dance’ to communicate important information to other bees, such as where to find that high-grade pollen or where the new nest is located. This zigzag dance is how Zigbee got its name. 

Now let’s get a bit more technical.

The current version, Zigbee 3.0, also benefits from 128-bit symmetric encryption – so data being shot around the mesh is pretty secure. However, if you’re really focused on top-notch security, there have been claims that there are Zigbee vulnerabilities around the way it handles encryption keys.

Zigbee works at 2.4GHz more often than not. This boosts transfer rates and Zigbee can fire round data at around 250kbps, which is pretty good – more than enough for simple signals like “hey the door just opened” or “lightbulb to 50% brightness”. However, 2.4GHz might sound familiar to you, and that’s because pretty much everything works on that spectrum – most notably your Wi-Fi enabled devices – and that means interference is a possibility.

Zigbee Alliance and Zigbee devices

So what kind of devices use Zigbee?

Well, the makers of Zigbee have started an alliance – this is how these things tend to work – of companies who essentially sign up to use Zigbee. There are over 400 members of the Zigbee Alliance, and they’ve racked up 2,500 devices between them.

The Zigbee Alliance recently announced that half a billion Zigbee chipsets have been sold to date and that Zigbee Alliance technologies will account for 3.8 billion IEEE 802.15.4 units expected to have shipped by 2023.


Amazon is taking more control over smart home tech

Partner brands that participate in the Alliance read like a who’s who of the industry, but try Centrica, ARM, Philips, Comcast and AT&T for size. You can get a full list here.

Zigbee devices to try

Zigbee hubs… and alternatives

If you’re bringing together a load of Zigbee devices, it’s not enough just to plug them in and start controlling. You’ll need some kind of hub to bring them together. Amazon Echo Plus works have a Zigbee hardware hub, which can scan your network for Zigbee devices, without you having to set up each one individually. There are also options like SmartThings and Wink, which are also hubs that can add and control Zigbee devices, all from within one single app.

But Zigbee isn’t the only standard out there, and there’s also Z-Wave, which has nuanced differences and has more companies signed up.

Z-Wave has a better range and the signal has a maximum theoretical distance of about 100m, making it suitable even for a home the size of Buckingham Palace. It also runs on a different spectrum, and won’t be interfered with by Wi-Fi.

Zigbee: Should you care?

The rise of agnostic hubs and devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home mean that, thankfully, you shouldn’t need to care too much about whether your devices are running Zigbee or a different protocol. It would make your life easier if all your devices run on the same protocol, but the reality is that it’s extremely difficult to manage.

The question did raise its ugly head around the launch of the Amazon Echo Plus with its built-in smart home hub, which uses Zigbee but not Z-Wave. That was a black mark against the Echo Plus as a hardware hub, but the reality is that thanks to the Works with Alexa program, workarounds are already in place, and a lot of third-party hubs boast both standards anyway.

Amazon joining Zigbee Alliance is a significant moment

We have news from Amazon and Google which could be significant for the smart home – and a host of smart home deals as well. If you’re looking to save money on smart home devices, scroll down for some top picks.

Sometimes it’s the smallest snippets of news that can prove to be the most interesting, and news that Amazon is joining the board at the Zigbee Alliance is evidence of that. Zigbee is a technology that helps smart home devices communicate – faster, more stable and using lower energy than Wi-Fi.

Amazon adopted it for the Echo Plus and 2018 Echo Show, which is a Zigbee hub that can connect compliant products automatically. And now Amazon has a seat at the table, shaping the priorities and future decisions of Zigbee.

Now, it’s not that difficult to get a seat at that table. You just have to be one of Zigbee’s biggest customers – reports The Verge – and that only requires sending around $75,000 its way annually, which is nothing. But with Amazon essentially driving the smart home market right now, it’s now going to be a highly influential voice.

So in real terms, what does this mean? Well, we’d dare to suggest that Amazon could double down on Zigbee integration, which could mean integrating hub technology into more devices – which would essentially finish off the idea of the smart home hub.

This would likely swing the smart home market the way of Zigbee, away from Z-Wave which is the rival standard.

Other companies on the Zigbee board are SmartThings (which Amazon is currently rendering increasingly irrelevant) Signify (Philips Hue) and Comcast – so there’s plenty of dollar behind the standard.

How to sell your old Amazon devices.

Amazon’s new Echo speakers for 2018 are impressive. New cloth designs and upgraded sound quality (especially on the Echo Dot) are all welcome upgrades.

Splurging on one, or more, is tempting. But what if you already own multiple, older Echo speakers that you paid good money for a few years ago? Don’t just kiss all that cash goodbye. Trade them in to Amazon, and get credit toward your next Echo device. Here’s how it works.

The trade-off with Amazon trade-in

Amazon’s trade-in program is definitely convenient, though it isn’t perfect. It has drawbacks; the biggest is that Amazon sets the price, not you. Unfortunately, Amazon’s price is often much lower than what you originally paid.

There are many upsides to using Amazon trade-in. First, you get the appraised value of your device as an Amazon gift card, which you can use on a new Echo speaker or literally anything else in shopping giant’s vast online catalog.

Second, if you do decide to buy a new Echo product, Amazon says it will shave 25 percent off the list price of “qualifying” new Echo gadget. An added bonus is that Amazon won’t charge any extra fees to do the trade-in and shipping your old Echo back is free.

Amazon trade-in tips

  • You’ll get the most for your money if your Echo units are functional, with minimal damage.
  • If there is damage, you might get less money after Amazon appraises the item.
  • It’s free to ship trade-in devices back.
  • Only select Echo products are eligible for trade-in.

How much will I get?

Here’s a list of Echo devices that currently are part of Amazon’s trade-in program, and how much you’ll get for them.