Smartphone Security Systems

Smartphone Controlled Security Systems: Home Security in the Palm of Your Hand

[A Guest Post by Jay Harris – Home Depot]

Our homes are everything, aren’t they? Aside from the money, time and energy we invest in them, they’re where our children lay their heads at night. There are few things in this world that are more important.

When we leave our homes, we give up our control over protecting it and making it safe. Until recently, even the best security systems placed the care of your home in a faceless monitoring system that would contact you and the authorities if there was a break-in. Such monitoring systems are wonderful for the peace of mind they provide when you’re away, but have you ever wanted just a bit more?

Break-ins aren’t the only worry we have when we’re away. We’d also like to be able to keep an eye on the new babysitter or see which neighborhood kids snuck into the pool. We’d like to be able to turn off lights we forgot, or turn down the thermostat to save money.

We’d like to be in two places at once which is, of course, impossible. Still, you may be amazed at how close we can come.

You’ve heard of smartphones but how about smart homes? Add the term to your lexicon, because the line between security systems and home automation (controlling multiple home elements from one remote or smartphone) is blurring.

If Security is the Main Focus consider Defender Surveillance Systems. As the name implies, the folks at Defender are bullish about home security, offering excellent product that is also easy to use and understand, and relatively inexpensive, especially compared to higher end systems.

Available at your local hardware store, systems like the Defender 8 Ch. 500GB HDD Surveillance System offer DVD quality surveillance, even at night. Recording is set to your preference (such as constant or motion activated), and you receive alerts when a camera is activated or a video feed is lost. You can also view footage from the cameras anywhere in the world on your smartphone. Defender offers lifetime customer support, and best of all, their cheapest system is only a couple hundred dollars.

Another great option is found in Lorex surveillance systems. What’s handy with Lorex is how many options there are for expanding your equipment. If you need more coverage, you can buy extra cameras. If you need to upgrade altogether, there are many hard drive options with up to a terabyte of storage so you never have to worry about running out of recording room.

The quality of the equipment is also exciting. Many Lorex cameras have wash-out prevention features for making sure that any facial images captured by the camera are clean and thus identifiable. Lorex also makes cameras that work equally well indoors and out, even in extreme temperatures.

While not all Lorex systems can be smartphone controlled, many of them are. Just make sure to look for this information in the product’s description.

Alternatively, you may not be ready to fly solo just yet. Fortunately, you don’t have to: there are blended options which combine the flexibility and control of your own smartphone security system with the added support of an external monitoring company.

Home surveillance companies like Lifeshield offer unparalleled monitoring and customer support, as well as the widest range of services. Like the options listed above, you can view live feeds, record video and take snapshots from installed cameras, allowing you to check on the kids after school and even look in on pets while on vacation. There are also ample motion and contact sensors.

However, where remote security companies like Lifeshield set themselves apart – in performance and price – is monitoring. Your home is monitored for intrusion of course, but you also have options for fire, carbon monoxide, life safety and environmental (flood, freezing, etc.) protection.

For those with young children, or for the elderly, you may opt for medical monitoring. In case of accidents like slips and falls, Lifeshield’s medical monitoring kit gives users access to a “panic” button via a remote, key fob, or smartphone app.

The largest downside to systems like those on this tier is that you’re potentially overwhelmed with options. There are different packages that all come with different prices and contracts and these can be pretty confusing. However, in terms of scope, options like Lifeshield are worth a look, but just make sure to do your research so that you know exactly what you’re signing up for.

Smart Security

The security of your home is paramount to the safety of your family and your peace of mind. Luckily, there are home monitoring solutions that literally fit in the palm of your hand which that allow you to keep an eye on your house.

Just don’t forget that these systems can do a lot more than keep your home secure. They can also make your life easier and more efficient, and it’s really not that much more expensive.

Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs and is a contributor to Home Depot’s blog. Jay’s interests in the home improvement arena include home security systems and home automation.

Guest Post: Mobile News Applications from the UK’s Reese Jones

Keeping Up With the News – Digital Tools

by Reese Jones

News travels faster than ever and there is more of it, reported in more ways, by more agencies, than you could possibly imagine. Trying to keep up with it all is an impossibility. That’s why it can be of great benefit to the news hungry, to have some way to tailor what news will reach them. With mobile devices set to take over as the major news communication device, the number of news apps has proliferated faster than a plague of locusts. With so many apps out there, it is hard to choose the one that suits you best. Here are some handy tips to helping you find what is best for you. Please note, these are only guidelines and not articles of faith…

News: Your point of view
With so much news out there, it is important that your app learns to discern what news would typically be of interest to you. Your news app should be able to pick out news from geographical regions, subject areas such as art, entertainment and politics as well as what type of news. This last option is a little tricky. You might be more interested in features rather than straight-up news reports. You might want news round up like a stockmarket report or general news bulletin. A good news app should be able to scan the news out there and pick out the news based on your preferences.

Presentation
The layout is also crucial. Some news apps can organise your news efficiently according to your preferred categories. In some instances they can even prioritise what news reaches you, so that if time is short the important news reaches you first. It can also adapt the way the news is presented to you, so that for example you can have a list of news snippets presented to you. RSS feeds are a particularly popular way of garnering news that interests you in an accessible way that allows you to find out what’s going at just a glance.

Who has your ear?
In this age of celebrity, news presenters can attract a cult following so if you just cannot bear the thought of missing any interrogation from The Paxman then you should get a news app that can identify and select news from certain sources. My father, for example, has a completely irrational love of FOX news. Now if I were of a mind, I could install an app that looks specifically for reports from FOX News; unfortunately for him, he can’t install the app – he’s not savvy enough to know how…he watches FOX news after all. Of course, I won’t bother. My mother told me not to encourage other people’s bad habits. Naturally, nigh on every national news agency has their own app, if you have your colours pinned to one particular mast.

Delivery
How about this for fancy? Buzz Voice can scan the news for your favourite news items and then read them out to you. In essence, you would be creating your own personal news radio show. You can happily make yourself breakfast in the morning while your phone tells you what’s going on in the sectors and countries you are interested in. I’m a particular fan of using this app when my mother-in-law comes to visit, as I can pretend I’m on the phone to someone. Amazing how hearing what’s going on in Africa helps you blur out someone’s very existence from your consciousness.

Share the pain/gain
Some particular news item excites or depresses you so much you just have to tell your friends? Well, many news apps have jumped on the online social bandwagon and allow you to share your news collections in an easy manner. Pulse News is a particularly useful way of organising and sharing your news on Facebook, Twitter or via email.


About the Author
Reese Jones is a tech and gadget lover, a die-hard fan of iOS and console games. She started her writing venture recently and writes about everything from quick tech tips, to mobile-specific news from the likes of O2, to tech-related DIY. Find more about her and her work at Reese+ and tweet her  @r_am_jones.

Is iPhone 5 going to be loaded with quad core chip?

Guest Post by Travis Ramsy

Samsung has already done it with the Galaxy S3, but it looks like Apple cannot wait to catch up. Rumors are that the iPhone 5 is going to be equipped with a quad core chip. Apart from running across the track for the finish line for the better phone, there is significance to this. If the rumors are true, for the very first time since Apple has started to create iPhones and iPads, the iPhone have a better processor than the iPad. It could be an interesting time, considering the slew of lawsuits that Apple and Samsung are busy fighting with each other all over the globe, but what this means for tech-geeks is this.
The quad core chip, which has been used successfully by HTC and LG apart from Samsung, is assuredly faster and more efficient than the dual-core A5X or the A5 that is being currently used in the iPhone 4S and the iPad. What the quad core does is, reduces power consumption by adjusting workloads to different frequencies and voltages. Apple could well choose to adapt this, despite the brawls at the courtroom – after all, Apple and Samsung are pretty happy partners in other areas – Samsung still provides Apple with flash memories and uses Samsung’s A5 and A5X modules.
But there is also the chance that Apple would surprise us all and just release an A6 version which has been long-awaited because all this is rumor. And especially with something like Apple, that remains and thrives in an aura of mystery; with rumor mills spinning all time.
What we can definitely expect from the iPhone 5 however is that it will be slimmer, sleeker, and with more power than the previous editions as well as better photo-clicking ability. Other rumors include a 19 pin dock connector and NFC capacities, but we don’t know if that will happen either.
For Apple enthusiasts, an A6 would probably be a bigger deal than the quad core chip. The A6 has been anticipated for a while—back in the days of release for the latest iPad, most people expected the device to host the A6, but were disappointed to learn that Apple was very coyly giving the A5X, not because the A5X is bad. The A5X is dual core too and gives better graphics.
Whether it is A6 or the quad core, the point is the new iPhone 5 will host either of the two. Unless Apple decides to do a whole turn around and surprise us. And believe us; it has done it before!

Travis Ramsy likes writing articles related to Technology News, Gadget Reviews and How To.  He also does guest posting for www.buycharter.com.

CES Preview – Mobile Aps Showdown hosted by Jon Hein and Gary Dell’Abate of the Howard Stern Show.

CES Mobile Apps Showdown – turn your 2 minutes of mobile fame to your new fortune. 

Gary Dell’Abate and Jon Hein are hosting a great CES event on Thursday where competitors will showcase their mobile applications in the hopes of winning the “best mobile application” based on different criteria such as online voting and even audience applause.  A showcase event will follow where you can ask questions and test drive some of the applications you liked in the contest.

It’s encouraging to see a lot more internet centric events at CES in recent years.    In Technology Report’s 2008 coverage we noted that “Web 2.0″ and social media emphasis seemed a bit lacking but CES has made good progress in those areas – especially mobile internet which many see as the most fertile ground for expansion of the online landscape.

12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012
LVCC, North Hall, Room N255-N257

From the official website of CES 2012, CES Web:   Cesweb.org

Pit your mobile app against the competition during the Mobile Apps Showdown at 2012 CES! Apps producers will have two minutes to demo their app, and an applause-o-meter will measure audience enthusiasm to determine the winners. Guest emcees Gary Dell’Abate and Jon Hein from the Howard Stern Show will host the event. 

Enter at MobileAppsShowdown.com.

Now in its third year at the International CES, this event, honoring the best smartphone and tablet apps, will take place on Thursday, January 12, 2012.

Judges will select 10 finalists for the apps competition, which will take place live at the 2012 CES and online. Two winners will be selected, one based on a live vote at the 2012 CES and the other based on online voters at the site.

Nominations for the competition are now open. Developers can submit entries to be judged by a panel of tech experts including Gina SmithChristopher NullHelena StoneDave Whittle and other industry notables. Ten finalists will have a chance to present on stage at the 2012 International CES, held January 10-13, 2012, in Las Vegas. Readers of the Mobile Apps Showdown website will have a chance to try the apps and vote for the people’s choice award. Winners will be awarded based on audience response, both online and live at the Las Vegas Convention Center at 2:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, January 12, 2012.

Special Hosts Gary Dell’Abate And Jon Hein Add To The Fun
Co-hosts and fellow techies Gary Dell’Abate and Jon Hein, from SiriusXM Radio’s Howard Stern channels, will once again bring their inimitable wit and knowledge of all things geek to the festivities. For extra fun, they’ll lead a rollicking trivia contest. Want to see last year’s fun? Watch the Gary/Jon show in action. All contestants will be available to show their apps at a “meet up” immediately following the event. 

Winners of the 2011 CES Mobile Apps Showdown
Last year’s mobile apps winners have gone on to become two of the most successful apps on the market today. DriveSafe.ly 2.0, an app that addresses the hazards of road distraction, won based on audience applause. Line2, which gives smartphone users a second line, won the online ballot with over 50,000 votes. Clixtr and Gwabbit, winners in 2010, have gone on to rank as some of the top selling apps and still feature its Mobile Apps Showdown Award prominently. Good apps. Good business.

See you at CES 2012!

Wordlens – a free iPhone text translator

Update:  After seeing the demo of Wordlens and hearing that reviewers were “disappointed” due to speed and effectiveness I think this application needs a lot of work.

Remains, however, a great idea

Kudos to the folks at Quest Visual:  Questvisual.com.   Their free  iPhone application “Wordlens” allows real time translation by simply pointing your iPhone at a sign or other text.

As any traveler knows it’s very helpful to be able to interpret signs, menus, and  other text.   This is naturally very difficult in countries where you don’t speak the language.    Wordlens is only available in spanish now but other languages are on the way, and this is clearly a great step in the direction of our phones and handheld devices becoming “universal translators”

Via Singularity Hub

more at Quest Visual:  Questvisual.com

Smartphone browser wars heat up, but Apple still dominant.

Information Week online has a nice summary graph and article showing what appear to be trends in mobile operating system adoption.   Apple’s still dominant with 56%, but that is falling from 70%.   Only Android shows growth and that growth is substantial – now at 25%.

Although it’s now clear that Smartphones are a key global browsing tool and that this use will grow explosively, it is not clear if Apple can retain their dominance in this market – perhaps with price drops on the iPhone or other innovations that may bring Apple devices into the price points demanded by many late adopters.

Apple iPad / iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy

PC World has compared the iPad and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab with this great comparison chart.

PC World seems to feel the Galaxy is the first real competitor to Apple’s iPad even though that’s not really true at all – e.g. the Dell Streak.

At fist glance the Galaxy Tab really seems superior with phone capabilities, lighter weight, and two cameras vs the iPad’s zero.

However it’s never clear the the legions of Apple’s enthusiastic customers would stray from the mother brand, and many products have flamed out assuming that unlikely scenario.   Still, it seems that Apple’s brilliancies in the iPhone and iPad are starting to be duplicated here, with the EVO phone, and with arguably superior form and function, so the future, as usual, remains uncertain.

HTC EVO 4G

HTC EVO™ 4G

Sprint Evo 4G

Sprint is gushing about their new Evo 4G which will soon be more available in the USA although it appears sold out in some areas from pre-orders.

That’s right. The phone that captivated international trade show CTIA is here, and we’ve packed it full of features! A large vibrant 4.3 inch screen, dual cameras, 32GB MicroSD card slot and wicked fast web speeds, this is more than a phone. It’s a Mobile Hotspot for up to 8 of your Wi-Fi devices. It’s a high-quality mobile device – featuring Android™ 2.1 and the award-winning HTC Sense™ experience, and it’s your personal portable HD media center with an HDMI output so you can share in HD.

Hyperbole aside, the reviews from CNET, Engadget, and early users are very favorable.

CNET Reviews

Engadget summary:    Let us be crystal clear: we love this phone. Nay, we adore it. But the fact remains that it’s still very much an Android device — which means that if you don’t like Android now, odds are good that even Android executed on the most amazing hardware to date won’t do much to change your opinion of it. You’ve also got to be concerned about upgradeability; Froyo is almost certainly around the corner now, and HTC hasn’t done anything to suggest it’s able to push Sense-powered updates in a timely fashion.

That said, this is truly one of the best smartphones ever made, and even spotty 4G — a reality of a young technology that’s going to take years to properly build out — probably won’t do much to hamper your enjoyment of this thing. It’s reasonable to assume that phones like the EVO will ultimately come to every carrier over the next few months… but hey, if you jumped ship for Sprint to pick up this monster, we wouldn’t be able to blame you.

I’m anxious to read more discussion of the 2-5 year  future of iPhone vs Android devices, but maybe I’m missing something here to think that’s very relevant.    Apple folks will always have iPhones and new folks will choose on the basis of factors that are not necessarily technological.     It is very clear that mobile devices are already shaping the future in key ways, and there is plenty of room for many models.

Important plan and 4G coverage info from Sprint.

HTC Evo 4G Announced by Sprint, Available June 4th

In a move Sprint hopes is not too late to the game, they’ve announced their latest and greatest addition to the Sprint line, the HTC Evo 4G.    We’ve seen how powerfully the Apple  iPhone has managed to maintain it’s solid position as the Smartphone of choice, so it will be a surprise to many if the Sprint HTC Evo makes more than a minor dent in the iPhone market.    However, the capabilities are impressive:

From Sprint:

HTC EVO™ Fact Sheet

The ultimate multimedia experience at Sprint 3G and 4G speeds

The world’s first 3G/4G Android handset, exclusively from Sprint, HTC EVO™ 4G, offers a rich mobile Internet experience with a fully integrated suite of services built on the AndroidTM 2.1 platform. HTC EVO 4G includes a blazing-fast 1GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor, the award-winning HTC SenseTM user experience, an 8.0 megapixel auto-focus camera with HD-capable video camcorder and a forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera. HTC EVO supports industry leading features including Simultaneous Voice and Data while in 4G coverage and new Mobile Video Chat, the two-way voice and video service from Qik. The large vibrant 4.3 inch display, built-in kickstand, 3.5 mm headset jack and HDMI output make HTC EVO 4G an unparalleled platform for wireless entertainment. Download music, pictures, files, or videos in seconds – not minutes – and watch streaming video on the go on a network with download speeds that are up to 10 times faster than 3G speeds.1 With built-in mobile hotspot functionality, HTC EVO 4G also allows up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including laptop, camera, music player, video player and any other Wi-Fi-enabled device, to enjoy the benefits of 3G/4G speeds on the go.

PRODUCTIVITY

  • 3G/4G capability
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ QSD8650 (1GHz) processor
  • 4.3” capacitive display with pinch-to-zoom and tactile feedback
  • World-class HTML browser – bandwidth and quality that rival that of netbooks
  • Android 2.1, with access to more than 35,000 apps on Android Market
  • Simultaneous voice and data capability in 4G and Wi-Fi coverage areas, enabling Web surfing and more while talking
  • GoogleTM mobile services including Google SearchTM, Google MapsTM, Google TalkTM, GmailTM, YouTubeTM , and syncs with Google CalendarTM
  • Access to Google Goggles™ to search with pictures instead of words
  • Sprint Navigation, with turn-by-turn driving directions and 3D maps
  • Updated HTC Sense, award-winning user experience, which includes Friend Stream to integrate Facebook, Twitter and more into a single flow of updates
  • Visual voicemail
  • Messaging – personal and business email, IM and text messaging
  • 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability – connects up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices
  • 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps.
  • 3G data speeds (EVDO Rev A.) – peak download speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1.8 Mbps; average download speeds of 600 kbps-1.4 Mbps.


ENTERTAINMENT

  • Video chat service available as an upgrade to the pre-loaded Qik app to enable conversational, interactive, real-time sharing between mobile devices or from mobile-to-desktop
  • 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • High-quality video streaming and downloads at 3G and 4G data speeds
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone
  • Output pictures, slides and videos in HD quality (720p) via HDMI cable (sold separately)
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • Built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing
  • Media player with 3.5mm stereo headset jack
  • FM radio and Amazon MP3 store
  • Sprint applications including Sprint TV® and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile(SM)
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
  • Built-in WiFi®: 802.11 b/g
  • Digital compass, G-Sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, GPS
  • Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports up to 32GB

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Dimensions: 4.8″ x 2.6″ x .5″ (LxWxT) 
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Main display: 4.3” WVGA (800×480) 65K colors
  • Battery life: 6 hours of talk time. Time may vary depending on 3G/4G coverage and usage.
  • Standard removable 1500mAh Lithium (Li-on) battery
  • Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM

1 “Up to 10x faster” based on download speed comparison of 3G’s 600 kbps vs. 4G’s 6 Mbps. Industry published 3G avg. speeds (600 kbps-1.7 Mbps); 4G avg. speeds (3-6 Mbps). Actual speeds may vary. Sprint 4G is currently available in 32 markets and counting, and on select devices. See www.sprint.com/4G for details. Not all services available on 4G and coverage may default to 3G/separate network where 4G unavailable.Note: Device features, specifications, services and applications are subject to change.