Broadband Basics


Chorus Dow
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December 20, 2016

Devices enabling smarter, more connected homes are on the rise in lounges, kitchens, and bedrooms across the country. Research we undertook earlier this year showed more than a third of New Zealanders are already using some form of smart home technology, with seven out of ten planning on introducing it to their household within the next two years.


If you’re wanting to join in and smarten up your place in 2017 but are not sure where to start, check out this selection of new connected devices.


Asus Zenbo personal robot


This robotic butler is being road-tested by developers for launch in the first half of 2017. Loaded with facial recognition capability, Asus says Zenbo will be able to move around the house, play with the kids, read bedtime stories, turn lights and air conditioning on and off, make phone calls and more.


Google Home


Somewhat easier on the wallet is the voice-activated Google Home. With the help of the Google Assistant app, Google Home transforms from WiFi speaker to voice-activated control centre which can adjust music, lights and heating for smart-enabled appliances, as well as answering questions on any number of subjects from the weather to what’s on at the local cinema. All you need to do is say the magic words; “okay, Google”.


Google Home is available online for US$129.


Microsoft HoloLens


The HoloLens is an augmented technology product – that means it places objects into your current environment such as the room you’re sitting in (as opposed to virtual reality which creates an entirely new environment). Lauded by Microsoft as the world’s first self-contained holographic computer, Microsoft HoloLens, a device which you place on your head like glasses, became available in New Zealand late this year.


Applications are still being developed, such as the mapping technology holomaps which brings over 200 cities in 3D glory to your lounge. It’s likely that in the not too distant future everything from the weather to shopping for clothes and hotel rooms could be done in 3D from your couch at the touch of a button.


Parrot self-watering pot


If you can’t keep a house plant alive then this is the gadget for you. The Parrot plant pot is fitted with sensors that check hydration, light and fertiliser. It will water the plant when required and, via an app on your phone, tell you when the plant needs other attention. You can pick one up on Amazon for about US$150.


ANOVA precision cooking


Overcooked steak could be a thing of the past with the help of the Wi-Fi ANOVA sous vide cooker and your phone. The sous vide style was invented in France and is basically cooking food in a water bath.  The manufacturers claim you’ll get restaurant-quality results every time and you can use your existing pots. More importantly you can get out of the kitchen and on with life. The ANOVA precision cooker Wi-Fi retails for US$199.


Smart plug


If you want to walk into a light, toasty home this winter without the expense of buying a lot of smart devices, check out a smart plug. There are several different brands on the market and they transform anything plugged into it into a device you can turn on or off using your smartphone. Great if you’re the sort of person who rushes out of the house leaving the iron on.


Most electronics stores will stock a selection.


Get your gadgets going


Make the most of your new gadgets by ensuring you’re on the best broadband available. Nearly 60 percent of New Zealanders could be on better broadband, so take a look at our broadband checker to find out if you’re one of them. And if that means upgrading your current plan, think about how much data you need before signing on the dotted line. With more ‘connected’ things in the home, you’ll be using a lot more data and an unlimited plan will mean you’re set up to make the most of your smart home.




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