Gadgets & Smart Home Reviews

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In sunny Australia, household rooftop solar can be a great way to generate some of your own power, and potentially save money off your electrical bill. Thanks to recent technology improvements and price reductions, home battery storage makes it possible to store the sun’s energy and use it again at night. But as more and more players enter the market, which option is right for you?

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I have this vision of waking up in the morning, and pressing a button that plays music everywhere in my house. Sonos was the original pioneer that built a speaker system to get this multiroom job done, and it remains the best option for a number of reasons: The starting price point is reasonable, the system sounds phenomenal, and most importantly, it's reliable and easy to use. Copycat products from Denon, Polk, Samsung, and other manufacturers have never made a compelling case for themselves in the face of Sonos' success. Now, flashy headphone maker UrbanEars is the latest brand to leap into the mix with a multiroom system of its own, and since I'm a big fan if the company's products, I had to give it a chance.

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There's an abundance of amazing home smart tech hitting the market. From Samsung's Family Hub 2.0 fridge to the Amazon Alexa and Google Home (hopefully) finally hitting our shores. But there's more to the smart home than gadgets.

Let's take a look at how home automation and new tech like Tesla battery storage, smart thermostats, grid credits and smart meters are revolutionising our power consumption. Which also has a positive impact on both the environment and our bank accounts.

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The Sydney Home Show is known as the Mecca for building and renovation enthusiasts. But with every passing year we're seeing more cool, innovative and energy efficient technology creeping in. Here are some of our favourite tech highlights from the 2017 show floor.

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We're up in the air today for a quick plane journey to test out Qantas's brand new in-flight internet, which is available today to Qantas flyers for free and for the first time. It's only on a single jet — ours! — for now, but will be rolled out to the entire Qantas fleet throughout the year. Join in as we put it through its paces.

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It's been about a year since I last jammed my finger putting together IKEA furniture. It was for my brand new apartment, and even though I broke a sweat and a little skin at the top of my hand, I saved a ton of money - that's the benefit of outfitting your home in IKEA housewares. Now, your favourite Swedish furniture brand is selling the same agonizing experience in a bicycle made for everyone.

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When the Mavic Pro arrived in our offices, the reaction was unanimous: holy shit, it's small. The folding drone is roughly the size and weight of a hefty Italian sandwich. This compact form factor, I'd come to learn, is a blessing and a curse for the Mavic Pro — emphasis on the blessing.

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Commuting is bullshit. Trains are bad and buses are worse, and riding a bike is Actual Hard Work. That's why electric bikes are convenient — all the usefulness of a bicycle, with electric power to get you up hills. But that's cold comfort if you don't have anywhere to store your bike when you're in the office. Enter the URB-E, a compact electric scooter that folds up out of the way to hide under a desk, but that can also zip around the city without requiring any human effort.

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As someone very lazy who likes to drive everywhere whenever possible, but also likes a bit of exercise every now and then, I've always been a bit intrigued by folding bikes — something I can keep in the boot and use whenever I want. I also like smart things — and that's why I think this Red Dot award-winning bike, which has built-in GPS and a digital display built into the handlebars, is a little bit cool. It's also called the Galaxy.

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The June Oven is a super smart countertop convection oven. There's a camera built in that watches the food cook and can correctly identify what food you put in, helpfully supplying cooking modes; Wi-Fi so you can connect to the app to watch your food cook, adjust temperature, or even take set a reminder to take food out; and carbon fibre heating elements that intelligent heat depending on the food so food always comes out evenly cooked. It's all powered with an Nvidia chip making it the smartest oven you've ever used.

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It's late, I've just plugged the Google Home voice assistant in, and I've got a fridge full of pumpkin and pie crusts and Thanksgiving is three weeks away. "OK Google, how do I make a pumpkin pie?" Google Home happily answers my question, firing off a summary of the instructions as told to it by AllRecipes.com. If I could whip eggs and beat canned pumpkin in the thirty seconds it took Home to recite the recipe, I'd have had a pie. Instead, I nod, wowed that Home can answer my question with ease, but also a little dissatisfied. It's brilliant — so close to perfection that the minor imperfection nags.

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Google seems to have solved every issue I had with an entry-level VR headset. It still worked with your smartphone (well, if you had a Pixel, for now) but it was, well... beautiful.

Its strikingly clever, lightweight, fabric-based design and fancy-looking controller had me making grabby hands during the Google event when it was announced. Well, now I have had it in said hands, strapped firmly to my face, did it live up to expectations?

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My dog hates the robot. When I sit on the floor to play with the robot, the dog gets up with a huff and comes over. His tail wags, and he gets in my face. When I avoid him because I have a robot to review he...sits on the robot. It makes upset little noises from under his rear.

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When you're a kid, building a Lego fortress that can withstand attacks from G.I. Joe and Transformers is a real accomplishment. As an adult, you need a bigger challenge, and that's what Lego's 3,929-piece Technic Bucket Wheel Excavator set provides. It's the most work I've ever put into building a toy, but the resulting edifice makes you feel like you deserve a job at Legoland.

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Everything felt great, until I found myself skating halfway down the steep side of the Williamsburg Bridge with the Boosted Board throttle cranked to the max. I was going too fast, and I knew it. So I dropped a foot — a dumb thing to do.

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No one should need or want a $699 hair dryer. The number one hair dryer on Amazon costs $50, the one under my sink cost $90 in 2003, and the one my hair dresser uses daily on clients costs between $120 and $200. A $U699 hair dryer is more than twice the price of anything else, but that doesn't matter, because Dyson, a company best known for its fancy vacuums, has made a hair dryer, and the damn thing might be the last you'll ever need.