Life & Technology - 2GB 12th July, 2014

It seems like everything is getting smarter these days, whether it's our phones, watches, TVs or even our houses. As such, this week's Life & Technology has a bit of a smart house theme running through.

 

The backbone of any smart house is WiFi. By 2016, the average Australian will have nine devices connected to their home network, and many of us have much more than that already. Personally, I have over 15! So how do we ensure that our wireless networks still provides our devices with the performance we've come to expect when there's so many of them? Netgear's latest router might just be the answer! David Henry, Netgear's Vice President of Product Marketing & Engineering spent some time telling me about his ground-breaking new product, the Nighthawk X6. The Netgear Nighthawk X6 router is the first Tri-Band router. What this means is that rather just having a 2.4GHz band a 5GHz band like most routers, the Nighthawk X6 has an additional 5Ghz band on top of this. This is designed to support the growing number of devices in households, at a practical level means that streaming video to your iPhone won't affect the quality of your PlayStation's online connection. I'm very excited to try one myself! If you want to read a bit more about the Nighthawk X6, check out our preview over at CyberShack.

 

I also had a chat to Phil Bosua, CEO of Australian smart-lighting start-up, LIFX Labs. LIFX Labs manufacturer smartbulbs that you can connect to your WiFi and control via your smartphone. Phil's bulbs have the ability to change colour, and you can even configure them to be in sync with your music, turning them into makeshift strobes. Time to turn basement into a nightclub LIFX's smartbulbs recently became available through Harvey Norman nationwide. You can have a look at our review on CyberShack here, and cheek out LIFX's website here.

 

Australians are paying too much for electricity, and while devices are getting smarter in terms of being able to run off-peak, these savings aren't being passed on to the consumer. I sat down with Lucy Carter, an Energy Fellow at Grattan Institute, to talk about the "Fair Pricing for Power" report, a paper she contributed too. Lucy's an advocate of reforming the way in which Australians are billed for their power usage and suggests that we should be charged in a way that less power is used in periods of peak demand, and less infrastructure has to be built. I'd certainly love to pay less on my energy bill! Click here to have a gander at the Fair Pricing for Power report.

 

This device doesn't connect to your WiFi, but it's still very cool! SYNEK is one of the latest Kickstarter success stories, and is best described as Nespresso for beer. As with Nespresso's coffee machines, the refrigerated beer dispenser is fed using proprietary cartridges. However, anyone can fill a SYNEK cartridge. These can be filled from a keg, tap, or a finishing tank through the use of a simple adapter at any brewery or bottle shop. Each cartridge stores approximately 3.7 litres of beer, keeping it fresh for a month after being "opened". It's unsurprising that SYNEK has attracted the support of brewers and beer lovers worldwide!

 

Want some more to read? Have a look at my editorial, "The problem with Android".

 

We took a few listener questions this week.

Donald was wondering why he couldn't find Easy Transfer in Windows 8.1:

Unfortunately Microsoft have removed Easy Transfer from 8.1 While it is possible to still migrate documents to Windows 8.1 from an older version of Windows, Microsoft no longer allow you to make an Easy Transfer Backup file. The reasoning for this is that they'd prefer you use OneDrive to back up and sync your files. Alternatively, have a look at a program called IO bit-PCtransfer. It's a free download and should do the job!

 

Don upgraded his Nexus 5 to Kit Kat 4.4.3 and has had issues with Bluetooth ever since, especially in his car: This seems like a very common problem in Android 4.4.3, and unfortunately there's no easy fix for it. We've been testing Bluetooth on Android L on our Nexus 5, and we haven't had any problems with it. There is also a Kit Kat 4.4.4 update that is due out, which might hopefully address the problem. If you feel like tinkering a bit, it is possible to revert to the prior version of Android. This does require use of the Android Software Development Kit though.

 

Angelo is travelling overseas and doesn't want to get hit with global roaming charges:

The best bet is to call up your telco and ask them to disable global roaming on your account. Then, get a local pre-paid SIM when you get to your destination. It's best to get one for each country you're in.