The Best Amazon Prime Day Deals on Kitchen Appliances

Well, it’s Amazon Prime Day again, and we’re using it as the perfect excuse to make all of those upgrades we’ve been dreaming about.

The collection of deals, which is taking place all day on Tuesday, July 11 (with certain offers beginning at 9 p.m. ET on Monday) spans everything from homeware to office supplies to electronics. For those who love to cook, though, some of the best prices are in the kitchen department.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best deals you can get on cooking appliances for Amazon Prime Day. (And if you’re on a money-saving high, you can also score free Chick-fil-A on Tuesday for unrelated reasons.)

Black + Decker Mini Fridges (25% off)

AMAZON

Blendtec Blender (40% off)

 

AMAZON

Lenox Dinnerware and Flatware (20% off)

[Source”pcworld”]

Your A-to-Z Guide to 4th of July Weekend’s Best Home Sales: Furniture, Decor, Backyard Essentials and Beyond

It’s finally Fourth of July weekend! Time for fireworks, pool parties, too many s’mores and of course crazy discounts on everything from pool floats to mattresses. Check out our complete listing of every home-related sale worth a browse, then get shopping!

RELATED: This Target Collection Will Be the Best Thing to Happen to your House This Summer

ABC Home: Up to 60% off select sofas and seating, rugs and tables; up to 30% off lighting. 

All Modern: Up to 60% off sofas, beds, rugs and art (through July 5). Extra 20% off with code USA (June 29 – July 5).

Article: Select items up to 25% off (through July 9).

Artfully Walls: 25% off site wide with the promo code 4JULY2017 (July 2nd – 5th).

Ban.do: Spend $50 and get a pair of sunnies for free (July 1 – 4).

Bloomingdale’s: Up to 50% off select bath, bedding, mattresses, dining and entertaining, furniture, home décor, rugs and lighting.  Up to 40% off select clearance and sale items.

Birch Lane: 20% off plus free shipping on furniture, lighting, bedding, upholstery, pillows and rugs with code AMERICA (through July 5)

Crate & Barrel: Up to 50% off outdoor furniture and summer clearance; 40% off select outdoor entertaining.

Deny Designs: 30% off site wide (exclusions apply)

Dormify: 20% off sitewide with code FIRECRACKER

 

Hayneedle: Up to 65% off select outdoor furniture and décor plus an extra 10% off with code OUTDOOR10; Up to 60% off accent furniture and décor (through July 4). Up to 45% off sale and clearance (through July 20).

Helix Sleep: $100 off any custom mattress with code JULY4TH.

High Fashion Home: Up to 20% off select art (July 4 – 9)

Home Depot: Up to 40% off with appliance special buys (through July 12). Up to 50% off patio furniture and accessories; Up to 20% off grills and smokers.

Horchow: Up to 30% off select furniture and decor (through July 6).

[Source”indianexpress”]

The Best Way to Light a Dining Room

Even if your dining room is more like a breakfast nook—or more like a card table smushed up against the wall—you’ll need to find a way to light it unless you like eating in the dark. True, you could just screw a bulb into the ceiling and call it a day, but what would be the fun in that when there are pendants and chandeliers and flush-mounts to consider? We turned to designers Russell Groves and Sam Allen to hear their best strategies for lighting a dining room, from what to keep in mind when shopping for a fixture to tips for hanging it up just right.

When Shopping for a Fixture

Contemporary Dining Room by Mark Christofi Interiors in Reading, Massachusetts
Proof that being proportional to the size and shape of the table doesn’t mean matching exactly; dining room by Mark Christofi Interiors.

Francois Dischinger

Mirror the Shape of the Table

“They don’t have to be a direct geometrical correlation, but there should be some proportional consideration,” says Groves. A long or unusually large chandelier would obviously overpower a short table, though that doesn’t mean that they need to be the same style.

Don’t Be Afraid to Customize Your Shades

A reflective material inside the shade will help cast light back down towards the table, Groves points out, while perforated shades will turn any bulb into a twinkly light (if that’s your prerogative?)—and that’s just the start of what they can do. “Textured fabrics like raw silk will add a beautiful warmth and shadow to a room,” Groves says, but you might prefer a more directional cast. “An opaque shade wouldn’t give you a lot of glow in the room but would put more on the table,” he says. Just because a fixture has shades you’re not into doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line. Swap them out!

Consider Less Traditional Fixtures

From paper lanterns to pendant lights, the options certainly don’t stop at chandeliers. Groves suggests creating a constellation effect by hanging a group of lights, or by placing a floor lamp placed beside the table rather than mounting a fixture at all. Maybe you’re devoted to crystal (understandable, as Groves says, “it’s been around for hundreds of years for good reason”), in which case consider a more modern shape fashioned from the traditional material.

When Hanging It

Traditional Dining Room by Victoria Hagan Interiors and Ferguson & Shamamian Architects in Nantucket, Massachusetts
Sconces complement the soft light of a chandelier in this dining room by Victoria Hagan.

Scott Frances

Don’t Hang It Too Low

Too high and a ceiling fixture might look constrained, but too low and you won’t even be able to see your guests around it. “When you’re seated, you don’t want [the fixture] to be in your face—the same way everyone gets annoyed when flowers are in the way,” Groves says.

Install a Dimmer

Designer Sam Allen feels strongly about the worth of a good dimmer: “If your dining room chandelier is not hooked up to a dimmer, call an electrician right now. I mean it. Don’t even finish reading this—call your electrician first.” Groves echoes this sentiment in expressing a preference for warm, dim lighting in a dining room. “To me, chandeliers should mmic candlelight.”

[Source”indianexpress”]

Best Buy Using Store Space to Showcase Amazon and Google Home Tech

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Best Buy (BBY, +0.86%) is making nice with one of its fiercest rivals, Amazon.com(AMZN, -1.45%), to bolster its ongoing bid to be the leading retailer in the booming smart-home tech area.

The electronics retailer, enjoying a renaissance of late, announced on Wednesday it was expanding space at 700 of its stores to better showcase Amazon’s Echo as well as Google (GOOG, -2.53%)Home and how they interact with other smart home technology it sells such as Philips Hue smart light bulbs, and Nest thermostats. The strategy is Best Buy’s latest push into smart home tech: a few weeks ago, Best Buy announced a major new partnership with Vivint, a company that installs home monitoring services and solar panels.

The retailer last month announced a surprise increase in comparable sales for the first-quarter, with home tech a major source of that growth. That sent shares to record highs.

While the 10-foot-by 4-foot Amazon and Google displays won’t be as large or fancy as Best Buy’s current store-within-a-store arrangements with the likes of Samsung and Apple (AAPL, -1.52%), and will be staffed by Best Buy workers, they are part of Best Buy’s efforts to offer customers consultations and advice they can’t find online, a key prong in its successful strategy to beat back at online competitors like Amazon.

As reported by Barron’s this week, Piper Jaffray analyst Peter Keith recently called Best Buy “the biggest consumer retail beneficiary for smart home adoption” positioned to ride growing interest in smart home products.

[Source”timesofindia”]

Check out the best kitchen appliances you can buy for $5K

When it’s time to update your kitchen appliances, $5,000 can go a long way. At this price range, you can splurge a bit on your large appliances and get a few more extras on your products. With $5,000, you can peruse French-door or door-in-a-door refrigerators, slide-in ranges, induction cooktops, and dishwashers with roomy racks and a multitude of cleaning cycles, products that are hard to find if you have less money to play with.

(Only have $2,500 to spare on large kitchen appliances? We’ve got you covered.)

Here are the best refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers you can buy for a total of $5,000 or less:

Refrigerators

Forget the traditional top-freezer refrigerators you grew up with. With a $5,000 budget, you can look at fridges with different designs to accommodate your food storage needs.

The freezer on the Whirlpool WRB322DMBB is located below the refrigerator.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Whirlpool WRB322DMBB, $1,000

When we tested this $1,000 refrigerator, it had the best performance of any refrigerator that had come through the CNET appliances test lab. It might be plain to look at on the outside, but the interior excelled at keeping food cold.

The Samsung RH25H5611SR is a stainless-steel, side-by-side refrigerator.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Samsung RH25H5611SR, $1,400

This Food Showcase refrigerator features a door in a door, which means you can open the fridge’s front panel to expose in-door shelves without the need to open the entire door. You can find the Samsung RH25H5611SR for as little as $1,400, which makes it one of the least expensive fridges with the door in a door.

Stoves

A $5,000 kitchen appliance budget means you can start to look at slide-in stoves. These appliances don’t have a back panel (all the controls are in the front) and cost more than their freestanding counterparts. You can also consider induction cooktops for your upgrade.

kenmore-fsr95073-induction-range-product-photos-1.jpg
The Kenmore 95073 is one of the least expensive induction ranges we’ve tested.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Kenmore 95073, $1,300

Induction ranges like the Kenmore 95073 use electromagnetism to cook food. Usually, stoves with this type of cooktop can surpass $2,000. This $1,300 Kenmore is a less expensive option that still has all the safety and efficiency benefits of induction cooking.

The Electrolux EI30EF45QS is an electric, slide-in range.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Electrolux EI30EF45QS, $2,065

This slide-in electric range offers a great performance — it cooked foods quickly and evenly during our testing. And its $2,065 won’t eat up your entire appliance budget.

[Source”indianexpress”]

Best Blu-ray players 2017 UK: the most popular Blu-ray and DVD players you can buy in the UK, including 3D Blu-ray players | 3D Blu-ray player reviews

We reveal the best Blu-ray players you can buy in the UK in 2017. Blu-ray player buying advice. Most popular Blu-ray players to buy today.

Also see: Best Tech Deals

In a world of online catch-up TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube who needs a DVD player any more? Without the arrival of high-quality Blu-ray discs some time ago maybe watching content on disc would have died out by now but most of us still have enough DVDs and box sets to warrant that extra box below the TV.

And today’s best Blu-ray players boast streaming features themselves, with smart apps and access to BBC iPlayer, Netflix and the rest built in.

If you have a 3D TV then you need your DVD/Blu-ray player to be 3D compatible, too – so look out for players that work with 3D Blu-ray discs.

Here we highlight the most popular Blu-ray/DVD players on Amazon, which are considered some of the best Blu-ray players by their user reviews. We also take into account user reviews on Reevoo, and independent reviews from the likes of Which? and other testers. We haven’t reviewed these products.

Features to look out for. All these players will play both Blu-ray and DVD discs, but some boast greater features than others.

Best Blu-ray players: what is Blu-ray

Blu-ray discs can hold much more data than DVD discs, and so are great for high-definition TVs, where the picture quality can be much higher than you’d get from a DVD. All Blu-ray players can also play standard DVDs (upscaling the video to near-HD resolutions). Usually the Blu-ray player is preset to upscale a 480i recording (SD-DVD) to 1080P (full HD) output by default. This doesn’t mean that content on DVDs looks as great as on Blu-ray discs but it should noticeably improve the DVD’s quality. Some newer models of Blu-ray player can “up-convert” 1080p high def to 4K for the latest Ultra HD TVs.

Best Blu-ray players: Blu-ray specs explained

Best Blu-ray players – 3D: You might think that owning a 3D TV means you can play 3D discs, but you’d be wrong. Your Blu-ray player also needs to be 3D compatible, so look out for this feature if you want to enjoy 3D movies on disc.

Best Blu-ray players – Wi-Fi: Some Blu-ray players have Wi-Fi built in so you can stream or download movies and TV shows from the Internet without the need for a wired Ethernet connection.

Best Blu-ray players – Ethernet: If you want your downloads to complete faster than via Wi-Fi look for a player with an Ethernet LAN port. These are only useful if you have a wired connection from your router nearby, which most people won’t have near their TV. However, you can use your house’s electrical cabling as a proxy Ethernet cable by using Powerline adapters. You plug one in to a wall power socket near your router, and connect that via Ethernet (cables included with the Powerline adapters), then plug another adapter near your home-entertainment centre/TV/Blu-ray player. Then you connect thise devices to the Powerline via another Ethernet cable. Bingo, you now have wired internet access straight to your TV/player. See Best Powerline adapters.

Best Blu-ray players – Smart apps: Smart Blu-ray players include built-in apps that offer TV- and movie-streaming on services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix, catch-up TV on apps such as BBC iPlayer, and even social media on Facebook and Twitter.

Best Blu-ray players – DNLA: DLNA (which stands for the Digital Living Network Alliance) allows sharing or streaming content such as movies, music and photos over a home network – for example, from your laptop to your TV, or playing an MP3 on your phone.

Best Blu-ray players – USB: Some Blu-ray players include a USB slot so you can simply plug in a USB memory stick or hard drive to play movies, TV shows, home videos, photos and music on your TV screen.

Best Blu-ray players – 4K: If you have a 4K TV you’ll want a Blu-ray player that can upscale to super high-resolution 4K, so look out for this feature. If you don’t have a 4K TV (or aren’t planning on buying one in the next year or so) this feature won’t matter to you.

Best Blu-ray players: where to buy

In this feature we look at the most popular Blu-ray players, using data from Amazon. But the models listed here can also be found – sometimes cheaper – on other online retailers such as Tesco, Currys, PCWorld and Argos.

Samsung BD-J4500

Samsung BD-J4500

  • RRP: £45

The Samsung BD-J4500 is one of the most popular Blu-ray players on Amazon. It’s super cheap but garners great user reviews on many retailer web sites, although it’s a no-frills budget model that lacks a network connection or smart apps. That said, if you’re after just a Blu-ray player and none of the extras this is great value.

It plays both Blu-ray and DVD discs, but not 3D. It plays high-quality Blu-ray discs and upscales DVDs to Full HD for rich, sharp visuals and clear sound.

The BD-J4500 also lets you play your own multimedia from a USB memory stick or HDD. And AllShare lets you access movies, music and photos via DLNA, so you can enjoy your content wirelessly.

One of its big claims – aside from the super-inexpensive price tag – is support for the largest number of codec and file formats. Many popular video formats such as Flash and QuickTime are supported, as well as VOB files from DVDs. In addition to MP3 audio, you can listen to lossless FLAC files as well as .WMA, .OGG, .WAV and more. Pictures can be viewed in the popular JPEG picture format, as well as PNG files, GIF files and more.

3D: No          Wi-Fi: No          Ethernet: No

Smart apps: No          DNLA: Yes        USB: Yes          4K: No

Sony BDP-S1500

Sony BDP-S1500

  • RRP: £69.60

Another bargain Blu-ray and DVD player the Sony BDP-S1500 offers Full HD. Images are detailed and clear, and colours take on a rich intensity thanks to Sony’s TRILUMINOS colour technology. (Note this technology is exclusive to Sony and optimised for use with accompanying TRILUMINOS TVs, so you’d need a matched TV to get the most from it, although the player will work without it on other TVs.)

Like the other Blu-ray players the BDP-S1500 also upscales standard definition DVD movies to near-HD quality.

You can also stream content from a variety of online entertainment providers (BBC iPlayer, YouTUbe, Skype and apps made for your TV via the Opera TV Store), via the Sony Entertainment Network.

The BDP-S1500 boasts a quick start so will deliver fast loading times, and it boots up in less than a second.

3D: No          Wi-Fi: No          Ethernet: Yes

Smart apps: Yes          DNLA:          USB: Yes          4K: No

Sony BDP-S5500 3D

Sony BDP-S5500 3D

  • RRP: £100

The compact Sony BDP-S5500 offers not just Blu-ray and DVD playback, but also supports 3D Blu-rays discs. This Blu-ray Disc player also upscales 2D video to “simulated 3D” for enhanced depth and improved on-screen image detail.

With the BDP-S5500’s built-in super Wi-Fi Pro, you can browse the best online entertainment on the big screen. Smooth, fast streaming means you’ll enjoy Internet content with fewer interruptions and greater picture quality. Upscaled and native 3D Blu-ray movies also come to life in Full HD 3D for a more immersive viewing experience.

With Miracast you can view and share smartphone content on your TV, giving your photos, videos, and music the big screen treatment. Also you can use your tablet or smartphone (Android or iOS) to control your Blu-ray Disc player, and learn more about what you’re watching, with the TV Sideview app.

Like the BDP-S1500 it is compatible with Sony’s exclusive TRILUMINOS colour technology.

Enjoy all the fine detail of the original recording in clear, high-fidelity surround sound with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. DLNA allows you to share multimedia content across all supported devices in your home. The USB slot is handily positioned on the front.

3D: Yes          Wi-Fi: Yes          Ethernet: Yes

Smart apps: Yes          DNLA: Yes          USB: Yes          4K: No

LG BP250

LG BP250

  • RRP: £49.99

The no-nonsense, compact LG BP250 is a Blu-ray and DVD player that also allows you to play videos, photos and music via a USB drive (handy slot on the front).

Like the other players here it will also upscale your DVD collection to near-HD quality.

While it won’t work with 3D discs and doesn’t offer smart TV apps most people won’t miss these extras. It has an HDMI slot on the back, but no Ethernet.

3D: No          Wi-Fi: No          Ethernet: No

Smart apps: No          DNLA: No          USB: Yes          4K: No

Samsung BD-J5500

Samsung BD-J5500

  • RRP: £61.99

This is one of the cheaper 3D Blu-ray players, and also includes smart functions such as Opera TV apps so you can watch BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, You Tube, and Netflix among others.

The curved design makes this Blu-ray/DVD player stand out from the crowd, and mimics Samsung’s curved TVs and soundbars.

You can plug in a USB memory stick or hard drive and then use ConnectShare Movie to share everything from home movies and downloaded music to photos, with friends and family. The BD-J5500 is DLNA compliant, and has built-in Wi-Fi.

3D: Yes          Wi-Fi: Yes         Ethernet: Yes

Smart apps: Yes         DNLA: Yes          4K: No

Sony BDP-S7200 4K

Sony BDP-S7200 4K

  • RRP: £169

The Song BDP-S7200 might cost more than the other Blu-ray drives listed here, but it does upscale Blu-ray Full HD content to 4K for the latest, high-resolution TVs. Audio playback is super high resolution too.

Its dual-core processor enables faster streaming, quicker loading and smoother playback.

Download the TV SideView app to start using your smartphone or tablet as a remote control. And you can view and share your smartphone on your TV with screen mirroring.

3D: No         Wi-Fi: Yes          Ethernet: Yes

Smart apps: Yes          DNLA: Yes         USB: Yes          4K: Yes

Samsung DVD-E360 DVD Player with USB Host 2.0

Samsung DVD-E360 DVD Player with USB Host 2.0

  • RRP: £29

This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays

This Samsung player is as simple and affordable as they come. It has the clever functionality of being able to play videos stored on USB sticks. You can even convert audio CDs onto MP3 with the built-in audio rip feature.

Sony DVP-SR170 DVD Player

Sony DVP-SR170 DVD Player

  • RRP: £39

This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays

One of the best selling DVD players on Amazon, this Sony DVD player will do everything you want (apart from play Blu-rays – scroll up for those).

It’s only 270mm thick, meaning it’s a great space saver with the ability to playback a plethora of media formats for video, audio and images.

Panasonic DVD Player

Panasonic DVD Player

  • RRP: £29.99

This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays

Hassle-free, dust-proof design coupled with handy USB playback make this a slim, easy DVD player to use. You really don’t need much more than the basics if all you want to do is play films.

 

[Source:- PCA]

Best smart switch 2017 UK: Control lights, fans, heaters, kettles, cookers, irons, straighteners and more from your phone

Which smart switch is best? What do smart switches do, and are they worth the money? We test five of the contenders: the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Elgato Eve Energy, Energenie Mi| Home Adapter Plus and the Efergy Ego. Also read our reviews of the best smart light bulbs

Also see: Best Gadget Deals

Just as smart thermostats are muscling in on old-school programmers, smart switches are having a good go at yesterday’s twiddly timer switches.  Also see: Best robot vacuum cleaners

What is a smart switch?

Basically it’s a switch that you plug into a power socket, and then plug another device’s plug into so you can control it via an app on your smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi.

With the best smart switches you can set schedules, monitor energy usage and find out which devices are used most often and when. Armed with such data you can start saving on your home’s domestic electricity usage. Sounds interesting, but is it really useful?

The not-very-smart traditional power timer switch is pretty handy at switching things like lights, kettles and fish tanks on at set times or intervals. You can buy an analogue timer switch for under a fiver, or get a fancy digital one for a few pounds more.

The ‘smart’ switch is more capable, linking with a smartphone app for device control wherever you are with an internet connection (Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, etc). Say you stay out longer than you were expecting to (“Go on, just one more pint:”) and really want a light on inside your house to pretend you’re home. With a dumb-ish switch you’re stuffed. With a smart switch you’re only dumb if you let your phone battery run out.

Tap the app, select the smart switch you’re after, and turn on the light. Bingo.

Some experts think you could save on your energy bills by powering down your fridge freezer for a couple of hours a day. Read: Best smart home heating systems.

With a smart switch you could control the TV in your child’s room from the comfort of your armchair, although popping your head around the door and/or reading them a book would be better parenting. Read: How much screen time is safe for kids.

Energy monitoring

One of the more appealing functions of smart switches is energy use and cost monitoring. Not all switches offer this feature, but many do. Devices are often left on standby when not in use for large parts of the day, and standby use accounts for around up to 16 percent of the average electricity bill, reckons energy gadget maker Efergy. With a smart switch you can dramatically cut down on this wasted Standby time. Efergy’s own Ego smart socket, see review below, is especially clever at cutting back on Standby time.

And there’s enough on offer to save you time and effort, too, in the day. Fill your kettle or coffee maker in the morning, and turn it on via the app when you get out of bed so that it has boiled by the time you get to your kitchen. This might sound a very lazy use of technology, but it’s a daily time saver – if you remember to fill the kettle the night before!

The ability to turn devices on and off via Wi-Fi from afar, plus on various timed schedules, is useful. Seeing the energy usage and costs of various devices could help you save money, but this would be even more useful if such switches could monitor multiple devices on a power strip, and these do exist now.

Prices

Smart switches start at around £25, and rise to around £55, so they’re not yet so cheap you can buy one for every appliance. But for those you really want to control from afar, it can be worth the outlay.

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

  • RRP: £24.99 inc VAT

TP-Link’s Wi-Fi Smart Plug is one of our top picks. For a start, it’s only £24.99 from Amazon and second, it connects via Wi-Fi directly to your router. So it doesn’t need a hub, nor does it need (as Elgato’s Eve Energy does) an Apple TV or iPad for remote control away from home.

There are iOS and Android apps, but the icing on the cake is that it also works with Amazon Alexa. That means – while at home – you can say, “Alexa turn on the xxx” and control your device hands-free.

Via the app you can create schedules as you can with Energenie’s switch, turning the plug on and off as many times as you like, with different schedules for each day if you like. Using your location, you can also choose sunrise and sunset as triggers.

There’s also a timer mode so you can turn the plug on or off after a preset time, which could be handy for a sleep timer or to turn off the TV once the kids have had enough screen time.

For £10 more, you can buy the HS110 which is the same except that it also monitors the energy the connected device consumes. You see at a glance how many kWh the appliance has used so far today and how long it has been on. Tap on each and you get more detail, such as current power usage, plus totals and daily averages for the past week and month. (It’s the same breakdown for runtime).

With a well-designed and good-looking app, no need for a hub and a decent price, the TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug is one of the best you can buy right now.

Efergy Ego Smart Switch

Efergy Ego Smart Switch

  • RRP: £29.99 inc VAT

The Efergy Ego smart switch (which you can buy from Amazon for £29.99) can work like a regular timer, and also has the knack of switching devices on and off at random, which could be useful when you’re trying to give the impression that a home is occupied when it’s actually vacant for a long time.

Its smartphone or tablet app will show you the energy usage of a device or strip of devices, plus their estimated cost over a period of time. Isolate the worst culprits and you’ll soon be making sure they’re properly switched off when not required.

While it lacks WeMo’s handy Notifications feature, the Ego wins out with its ability to learn and turn off appliances automatically that have been on stand-by for too long

When the appliance, most probably your TV, is plugged into the Ego and is on standby you go to the Stand-by/Learn screen in the app. Press the learn button and the Ego stores that value. Then in the Standby feature you set an amount of time, so after ‘x’ minutes of the TV being on standby I want it to turn off at the mains.

There is a also a Group function for those who multiple Ego switches in their home. You can group them together and control them all from the Group/scene page. The best application for this is to have all appliances in one room in a group.

Like the WeMo, the Efergy Ego is reasonably inconspicuous but still a little too bulky to not get in the way of other sockets’ flick switches. It is taller than the WeMo.

No hub is needed, so the price is all you pay, and at £29.99 at the moment (usually £39.99) it’s great value.

.

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

  • RRP: £49.99 inc VAT

You can buy the WeMo Insight Switch for £49.99 from Argos, so it certainly isn’t cheap. It’s part of a larger WeMo home-automation series of products, including Smart LED Bulbs and Light Switch, and WeMo Motion.

There’s a very visible green power-on indicator on top, and, weirdly, a Micro USB port that currently has no function. Setting up the switch is straightforward, if a little long-winded at first. It took us a couple of goes to get it to recognise our Wi-Fi. But at least it doesn’t require a separate hub connected to your router.

Plug the Switch into a power outlet in your home and then plug your chosen device into the Switch. Download the free WeMo App (iOS and Android), and pair it with the Switch and your Wi-Fi network.

Aside from turning things off without getting off your backside WeMo can inform you when, for instance, a laundry cycle is complete, which is actually rather handy. This is set up in the WeMo app’s clever Rules section. Or you could be alerted when your child has exceeded his or her allotted screen/TV time.

Via the app you set rules that trigger the power according to preset times, or to respond automatically to sunrise and sunset, or through motion detection via Belkin’s WeMo Motion detector (an extra £64).

Rules can be set for: Weekends; Weekdays; and, Individual days. And allow for: Turn on only; Turn off only; and, Turn on then off.

It isn’t the cheapest but the ability to create rules could make it the best option for you.

Elgato Eve Energy

Elgato Eve Energy

  • RRP: £44.95

The Eve Energy is a smart switch which also monitors how much power the connected device uses over time. It’s an Apple HomeKit plug which means it works only with iOS devices. However, this also means you can control it with your voice using Siri and that it benefits from the full encryption that HomeKit offers.

Rather than use Wi-Fi, the switch uses Bluetooth. This makes setup easy (and also means you don’t need to have a hub connected to your router) but it does limit the range over which it can be controlled. It will work in most ‘normal’ UK homes, but if you want to control it when away from home, you’ll need an Apple TV (3rd gen or later) or a spare home-based iPad (newer than iPad 2) running iOS 8.1 or later.

You can turn the switch on and off via the Apple Home app in iOS 10 or use the Eve app. If you’re standing next to the switch, there’s a button on top for manual control, too.

Setting up timers is possible using the Scenes tab in the app, but creating a schedule is needlessly complicated compared to other apps, such as TP-Link’s. However, the Eve app is built to work with the whole Eve range – not just a smart switch – and you can make all the gadgets work together using Scenes. It’s powerful, but could be easier to use.

It’s fairly expensive at £44.95 from Apple, but if you already have an iPad or Apple TV for remote access and you like the idea of controlling it via Siri, it could be right for you .

Energenie MI|Home Adapter Plus

Energenie MI|Home Adapter Plus

  • RRP: £34.99 inc VAT

Energenie’s Adapter Plus is the top-of-the-range switch which monitors and controls connected devices. It’s not too expensive at £34.99, but does require a £69.99 hub that connects to your router.

You can buy the Adapter Plus bundle, though, which includes two switches and the hub for £109.99. And there are other products in the range including two-gang wall sockets, smart TRVs, motion sensors and door / window sensors.

Pairing the switch with the hub is as simple as plugging it in and holding down the button for a few seconds. You can then add it as a new device in the Mi|Home app (Android / iOS).

In the app you can tap ON or OFF to manually control the switch (even when away from home) but you can also set up timers. You’re free to create as many as you like, for multiple power cycles each day and different times on different days.

There’s also a geofencing setting so you can turn it off (or on) when you leave the house and then do the opposite when you return. You can even set different distances to trigger the geofencing depending on whether you’re leaving or returning.

For energy monitoring, you can see current and average power use, plus daily and hourly totals. It will also tell you how much the connected device has cost to run each month for the last quarter.

Plus, Energenie has just launched a skill for Alexa, so you can control the plug using your voice – and an Amazon Echo.

 

[Source:- PCA]

best NAS drives 2017 UK: The best network storage you can buy in the UK

NAS drives are like cloud storage: you can access all your files from anywhere, both inside and outside of your home or office. You can use them to store and play your music and video collections, as well as documents and other files.

Also see: Best Tech Deals

NAS drive buyer’s guide

NAS stands for Network Attached Storage and as its name suggests it enables you to have a large amount of storage connected directly to your broadband router. This storage is therefore available to all your devices. NAS drives are designed to be turned on permanently, which means you can have access to your music, movies, photos and documents at all times. Most have timers so you can set them to turn on and off during the hours you want.

One of the most popular reasons to buy a NAS drive is for media playback. Videos can be viewed on your TV, without having to connect a computer. A NAS drive will use much less power than a regular PC, too, making them much cheaper to run. For ease of setup and ease of use, a dedicated NAS drive is hard to beat.

So what should you look for when choosing one to buy?

Capacity

The first requirement is capacity. You’ll need one that has enough storage to meet your needs now and in the future. Plenty of NAS drives come with no disks at all – these are known as diskless or bare drives. The advantage is that you can choose the drives you want and how much capacity you need.

You can now get disks up to 10TB is size, though for each disk you’ll be paying at least £400 or so for the privilege. 4TB disks are arguably the current sweet spot, at around £120.

Disks for NAS drives

When you choose your disks, look for ones that have been designed to work specifically with NAS boxes. NAS-optimised features include more secure construction providing more resistance to vibration, which makes a lot of sense for a drive that’s designed to be on the whole time. They also offer power management so they can adjust performance based on their temperature. These drives also offer special features in firmware known by WD as TLER (Time-Limited Error Recovery) and by Samsung and Hitachi as command completion time limit (CCTL). This optimises the error correction for drives when they are installed in a RAID array (explained below) as is usually the case with NAS drives.

RAID

RAID, stands for redundant array of inexpensive disks. RAID can be quite complex but at a basic level you’ll want to use it primarily to provide redundancy so if a disk fails your data is still safe. There are many variants but three of the most popular are known as RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 6.

Most NAS drives will offer at least two bays, which means that you can set them up as RAID 1. In this scenario the second drive is a mirror of the first, so if one drive fails completely all your data is safe on the other. You then can replace the faulty disk, and rebuild the RAID array (this will take many hours).

RAID 5 requires at least three drives and offers parity data. That means a RAID 5 array can withstand a single drive failure without losing data or access to data. As data is ‘striped’ across three drives, reads are fast, but at the expensive of slower writes because of having to also write the parity data.

RAID 6 meanwhile requires four drives but offers both striped and dual parity, so two drives could fail and the RAID could still recover.

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Whichever you choose however, don’t consider RAID to be your only backup of your data. First, you’re relying on the RAID array rebuilding successfully, and while from experience we know that it does work, it is another point of failure.

If the box just dies, or of something catastrophic happens like a fire, you’ll still lose all your data. To mitigate this you’ll want another external backup, preferably to the cloud. Most NAS offer native applications for certain providers, but these will require subscription to the service and will not necessarily be from your preferred one.

Hot swap

Another feature to look out for is hot-swap capability, which enables you to take out or add a drive without having to power down first, which could be important if you’re running business applications off your NAS and want to maintain uptime when replacing or adding a drive.

Remote connectivity

You should also consider whether you’ll need remote access to the drive. Previously this required signing up to a third-party DNS service, but these days with most NAS you can just sign up for an account with your NAS manufacturer as you set up the drive. Login to the account and they’ll handle the connectivity to your box at home. If privacy is a concern you many not wish to go down this route, but for ease of use it’s the way to go.

Transcoding

It’s also worth considering how powerful you need your NAS’s processor to be. The dedicated operating system that NAS drives run are lightweight but a faster processor and more memory will enable features such as transcoding. This means that any media files will be converted on the fly into a playable format, so you don’t have to rely on your client device being able to play the files smoothly. For example, HEVC H.265 files are becoming popular due to the small file sizes, but devices (aside from the latest 4K TVs) that can play this back natively are still uncommon. Transcoding will deal with this for you if your NAS is powerful enough. However, if you have 4K files and want to play these on all your devices you’ll need a fast NAS.

Apps

Finally, you might want to consider to what use you’ll be putting your NAS. As well as media a small business user will want to know what applications it has to offer, such as setting it up as an email server, a VPN server, or using it to host a website.

Best NAS drives to buy in 2017 in the UK

1. Synology 216+II NAS

Synology 216+II NAS

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 29 December 16
  • RRP: £231.99 inc. VAT

All-in-all the 216+II NAS matched up to our expectations from Synology and will be a very good choice for home or small business use. If you aren’t confident about installing hard disks, then this is the box to get as it’s easy and doesn’t require tools. There’s a huge range of applications to choose from the processor SoC offers plenty of horsepower to run them on too and it all runs quietly. With its fantastically easy installation, setup, app support and general ease of use the Synology is a very solid choice. However, if you like the idea of direct hook up via HDMI you may be swayed by the slightly pricier QNAP TS-251A.

Read our Synology 216+II NAS review.

2. Asustor AS1004T

Asustor AS1004T

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 27 December 16
  • RRP: £239.99 inc. VAT

We liked the Asustor AS1004T for its ease of installation, it’s relatively quiet operation in normal use and its decent performance. It isn’t fast enough for hardware transcoding though, so you’ll need native support for all your files on all your client devices. Where it trumps the completion is that if offer a four-bay chassis where others at a similar price offer only two. If storage rather than performance is the priority then, it’s a great choice and while the ADM interface isn’t as accomplished looking as some of its rivals it’s got the apps you’ll likely need.

3. QNAP TS 251A

QNAP TS 251A

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 30 December 16
  • RRP: £249.99 inc. VAT

The QNAP is an undoubtedly impressive NAS drive. There’s plenty of power for virtually all tasks, and H.265 aside it will handle anything you throw at it. The range of apps is very comprehensive and the interface is excellent. The downside is the lack of support for MKV from its native app, which will mean having to pay for Plex to play files on mobile devices. The unit was also noisier than we would have liked in operation and while it’s good value – it’s not cheap. If you’re willing to stretch to paying this much for a diskless system, the QNAP TS-251A is the best featured NAS drive at the price.

4. WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB

WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 2 January 17
  • RRP: £239.99 inc. VAT

When it comes to ease of use the WE My Cloud Mirror is hard to beat. Initial setup is very easy and even sorting our remote access is simple too. For sharing music, movies, photos and documents it works a treat and performance is fine. The downside is that you don’t get the huge range of apps that are available for other brands. However, if you prioritise ease of set up and ease of use the WD is worth looking at and with 4 TB of storage included for the price, it’s a great value option.

5. Synology DS115j

Synology DS115j

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 18 December 14
  • RRP: £78 inc. VAT

Synology has made headlines with its new cut-price DS115j, and its recommended retail price of just £78. The performance has also been cut, along with useful features like USB 3.0, but if you need these the DS114 is still in the range for around £140. And if you really would rather not spend that, the cheaper DS115j will take on basic storage tasks, and still perform faster than some more expensive competition.

6. Netgear ReadyNAS RN212

Netgear ReadyNAS RN212

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 28 December 16
  • RRP: £250.98 inc. VAT

The Netgear’s physical design and is very impressive, but we were troubled by issues that meant it lacked the appeal of drives we’ve tested from QNAP and Synology. Not all disks can be installed in a tool-less fashion and the interface for installing and using apps isn’t the best we’ve seen, not is the range of choices. Performance is good, but the ARM processor doesn’t quite have chops to handle 4K transcoding. It’s a good NAS, but it would need to be cheaper for us to recommend it over the competition.

7. Synology DiskStation DS216play

Synology DiskStation DS216play

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 16 December 15
  • RRP: £190 inc VAT

The 216play will likely be a disappointment to 214play owners wondering about an upgrade. It makes sense only if you have – or will soon have – lots of 4K content that you need to transcode on the fly. Its performance is good, but if you don’t need real-time transcoding, you may want to opt for a different DiskStation (or indeed another NAS entirely) which has the extra ports and SD slot which the 216play lacks.

8. Synology DS414j

Synology DS414j

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 20 October 14
  • RRP: £267 inc. VAT

The Synology DS414j may not be the most glamorous of NAS drives, if indeed there is a candidate leader, but it is well-made and packs just enough power to not embarrass itself in basic benchmark tests for its file-serving speed. That it runs the same carefully wrought and versatile operating system as its dearer brethren is a definite plus, making it suitable for small-scale business use as well as being turned to home entertainment duties.

9. Synology DS415play NAS

Synology DS415play NAS

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 15 July 14
  • RRP: £372 inc. VAT

Synology’s RRP for the DS415play is £372 and at that price or the inevitably lower real shop prices the company should have a winner on its hands. The competing QNAP TS-469L is faster and has better specifications but is over £100 more expensive. When you combine the performance, price and the siren-like draw of DSM 5.0 this could be a crowd pleaser for the multimedia NAS market.

Read our Synology DS415play NAS review.

10. WD My Cloud EX2

WD My Cloud EX2

  • Rating:
  • Reviewed on: 20 June 14
  • RRP: £479 inc. VAT

The WD My Cloud EX2 has a few minor faults, but it’s easy to use and provides good performance and reliability at an attractive price. There are more sophisticated NAS drives available for larger businesses, but the EX2 provides all the features that home users and small businesses are likely to need, and presents them in a straightforward manner that will appeal to people who might not have used a NAS drive before.

 

[Source:- PCA]

Best coffee machine 2016: Buying guide and top picks

Star Buy Coffee Machines

We round up 2016’s best espresso machines, including manual, Nespresso and bean-to-cup, with prices from £90 to £1,159

Coffee has been making mornings more palatable since the 15th century, and in the intervening 500 years the humble coffee bean has spawned forth a huge range of different coffee-based drinks. But whether you’re a fan of cappuccino or macchiato, espresso or flat white, there’s a coffee machine out there that’ll make you the coffee you want every time – and here you’ll find nothing but the best coffee machines Expert Reviews have ever tested.

The first question you need to ask yourself is: do you want a manual espresso machine for coffee-shop style creations, or, do you want a filter machine that provides a hot coffee that’s always on the go? Here you’ll find a variety of the best coffee machines available to buy in the UK right now. All have been split into categories, to suit all needs and all budgets. Want more out of your coffee? Check out my best coffee accessories.

If you’re not quite sure what you’re after, read this full and in-depth coffee machine buying guide. It will take you through everything that you need to know about buying the perfect coffee machine that suits your needs.

Best coffee machines: quick buying guide

  • For full flexibility to create the types of drink that you like, then the best option is a manual espresso machine, which is similar to the ones used in coffee shops.
  • If that all sounds like a bit too much work, but you still like the idea of using coffee beans, then a bean-to-cup machine is the right choice, as it grinds and pours coffee automatically.
  • Looking for proper coffee but still want convenience? Opt for a capsule machine: they cost more per coffee, but are really easy to use and create virtually no mess.
  • Finally, if you just want plain and simple coffee to fill a mug, a filter coffee machine will do the job for you.

 

Best coffee machines: manual espresso machines

1. Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Dual Boiler

Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express hero shot

The Dual Boiler from Sage by Heston Blumenthal is a serious machine aimed at people who want the full coffee shop experience at home. It’s exceptionally well made, has industrial-quality components and dual-boilers so you can steam milk and pour espresso at the same time. More importantly it delivers absolutely amazing coffee. It’s expensive, but for the real enthusiast it is the best.

Price when reviewed: £1,159. For the latest prices, see our full Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Dual Boiler review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 405x378x377mm, Water capacity: 2.5L, Cup warmer: Yes, Milk frothing: Yes (steamer wand), Coffee type: Ground

Image of Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Dual Boiler Coffee Machine, 2200 Watt - Red

Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Dual Boiler Coffee Machine, 2200 Watt – Red

£1,199.99Buy now

 

2. De’Longhi Scultura Coffee Machine

If you want great coffee from a machine that looks brilliant, the shiny metal De’Longhi Scultura is the machine for you. Simple operation coupled with perfect water flow make it easy to produce a great shot of espresso at the right temperature. With a tap to control steam, milk drinks are simple, too.

Price when reviewed: £200. For the latest prices, see our full De’Longhi Scultura Coffee Machine review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 305x242x382mm, Water capacity: 1.4L, Cup warmer: Yes, Milk frothing: Yes (steamer wand)

Image of Delonghi Traditional Pump Espresso Coffee Machine, 1100 W, White - ECZ351.W

Delonghi Traditional Pump Espresso Coffee Machine, 1100 W, White – ECZ351.W

£192.18Buy now

 

3. Philips Saeco Poemia

If you want espresso on a budget, the brightly-coloured Philips Saeco Poemia is the machine for you. It’s neat and compact, and produces a decent, if not a little frothy, shot of espresso. With a long wand for steaming milk, this is a great choice for anyone on a tight budget. If you want to spend a little more, the Gaggia Gran Prestige is the same machine, but made of metal.

Price when reviewed: £115. For the latest prices, see our full Philips Saeco Poemia review
Dimensions (HxWxD): 297x200x265mm, Water capacity: 1L, Cup warmer: Yes,Milk frothing: Yes (steamer wand)

Image of Philips HD8423/71 Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso Machine, 15 Bar, Black

Philips HD8423/71 Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso Machine, 15 Bar, Black

Buy now

BUY NOW: Philips HD8323/98 Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso Machine, 1 Litre, 15 Bar, 950 Watt – Red – on Amazon.co.uk

Best coffee machine: Bean-to-cup

1. Melitta Caffeo Barista TS

If you want the best bean-to-cup machine, the Melitta Caffeo Barista TS comes highly recommended. I’ve always been a firm believer that manual machines give you more control and the best quality coffee, but I’m happy to say that this machine has beaten all of my expectations and produces exceptional coffee that’s every bit as good (if not better) than from a manual machine. As well as regular espresso and long drinks, the Caffeo Barista can automatically steam and pour milk for perfect cappucinos and lattes: all available from the touch of a button. With two bean hoppers, so you can have a variety of coffee on the go, user profiles that members of your house can tweak to get coffee the way they want it and incredibly simple maintenance, this really is the kind of automatic machines.

[Source:- expertreviews]

Top tips for getting the best from your home fragrance

home-fragrance

Fill your rooms with glorious home fragrance and make it last longer with top tips from Victoria Davies, scents buyer at John Lewis.

  1. Don’t save scented candles for special occasions because over time the fragrance becomes weaker. When storing them, find somewhere that’s an even temperature – not too hot or cold.
  2. To maximise your candle’s burn time, allow it to become molten across the entire surface before extinguishing the flame. This prevents ‘tunnelling’, which is  a hollow in the surface of the candle that causes uneven burning.
  3. Instead of blowing out the flame, extinguish it with a candle snuffer to prevent the wick from smouldering and leaving a smoky scent. Alternatively, dip the wick into the wax to put the flame out and create a seal for next time. ​Then trim it to just below 1cm and to prevent sooting don’t allow any excess wick to fall back into the molten wax.​
  4. A higher percentage of fragrance in a candle doesn’t necessarily mean the scent will be more powerful. Light fragrances such as gardenia will need more essential oil to give a noticeable aroma. Conversely, heavier scents, such as rose, don’t need as high a concentration.
  5. Adjust the number of reeds in your diffuser. For a heavily-scented diffuser or in a small room, use just four or five sticks. For lighter aromas and bigger rooms add more reeds until you get the right strength.
  6. Warmer rooms will diffuse faster. So if you want an instant hit of scent, place your diffuser on  a covered radiator. Refresh the aroma by turning over the reeds.
  7. When you buy a refresher oil make sure you change the reeds, as the old ones will be clogged with the old oil.
  8. Look for candles and diffusers that use organic ingredients and pure essential oils to create beautiful scents with aromatherapeutic benefits. ​
home-fragrance-guest-tray

WHAT WAX?

There are pros and cons for all types of wax so one isn’t necessarily better than another.

  • Paraffin wax The most common and oldest manmade type of candle wax, it offers an excellent scent throw. With a high melting point it has good stability as it burns but if burnt frequently you may notice black soot marks on the inside of a glass candleholder.
  • Soy wax Soy is a vegetable and a renewable source, which burns cleanly with no toxins and little to no soot. Soy candles burn longer and cooler than their paraffin counterparts, and have an excellent scent throw. Wax spills can be cleaned up by simply using warm water and soap.
  • Vegetable wax Similar in consistency and appearance to soy wax, this is made from extracted and purified wax from different plants. You’ll often see it mixed with other wax types for improved stability.
  • Beeswax This is completely natural with its own unique scent and has a longer burn time than other types.
home-fragrance-scented-candle
[Source:- Housebeautiful]