Category - Technology

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» REVIEW: Ninja Coffee Bar System
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» REVIEW: Monster ClarityHD On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
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» REVIEW: LIFX Z Light Strip
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» REVIEW: Ring Doorbell and Stick Up Cam
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» 3 things you need to help survive Winter
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» REVIEW: Philips Hue
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» REVIEW: Click and Grow Garden
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» REVIEW: LIFX Color 1000 Light Bulbs
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» REVIEW: IMVIO Kit (iPhone Lenses)
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» REVIEW: Circle with Disney

» REVIEW: Ninja Coffee Bar System

I once had three ways to make coffee in my house that took up all of the kitchen counter space. This consisted of a traditional coffee maker for large pots when company was over, a Keurig Coffee Maker for quick single cups, and my personal preference at the time, a French Press for most mornings. The Keurig lasted for a grand total of 7 days. The convenience was great but I kept worrying about the hot water running through that little plastic cup and the amount of trash it was creating over time. I loved the taste of the French Press but became frustrated after breaking our third glass carafe in about 1 1/2 years.

After the last French Press carafe broke, I began to look for a better option. Once the Keurig was gone, I loved having the counter space but missed the ability to make a quick cup of coffee. Enter the Ninja Coffee Bar System, a coffee system complete with a variety of brew types and sizes (single cup to whole pot), a built-in frother, and tons of specialty (hot and iced) coffee recipes — Caramel Macchiato, Iced Mocha Latte, and a Vanilla Flat White just to name a few — you can create and enjoy at home. Bonus: I was able to go from three kitchen pieces cluttering my counter to one.

Set up

The Ninja Coffee Bar System we received comes out of the box ready to use. First run one or two classic brew cycles with water only to prepare the machine for drinking use and you’re ready to start serving up everything from drip coffee to lattes. We keep the water reservoir full (similar to a Keurig) so the machine is ready to make a single cup or full pot at any time. The unit includes features of your regular coffee maker such as a clock with programming abilities along with a heat plate to keep your carafe hot. The best part, the Ninja Coffee Bar has a sensor that alerts you when it has mineral build up and needs to run a clean cycle. This is the first of any coffee machine I’ve owned that had this feature.

Ease of Use

The unit comes with a fun little recipe book that explains how to make many coffee drinks and also details how to use the different settings on the machine. The coffee grounds scoop has different sizes on each end so you can easily put the right amount of grounds in based on how much coffee you’re wanting to make. Simply follow the directions a few times and you’ll easily start making your own creations.

What I love about the Ninja is the versatility. There is a pull-down setting that allows you to make a single cup, a glass carafe for a full or half pot and even a pitcher for iced coffee. The built-in frother is powered by the same plug as the coffee maker so no need to deal with batteries.

Quality of Coffee

I enjoy a strong, flavorful cup of coffee. The Ninja has plenty of options to make sure I get exactly what I want. I’ve tried every setting on the Ninja and every single cup and pot has turned out full-bodied and flavorful. Our favorites have been the half carafe classic brew and the lattes. The kids have enjoyed creating decaffeinated iced coffees. With the Ninja Coffee Bar System you truly have all the tools to make pretty much any style coffee drink. It definitely makes us think twice before picking up a coffee at a shop.

Conclusion

We LOVE the Ninja Coffee Bar System for our house. It’s so much fun to use and the coffee quality is excellent. We have enjoyed so many fun mornings and evenings whipping up delicious coffee treats. It’s truly a staple in our home at this point and I especially love the ability to make a single cup or a whole pot without sacrificing quality.

Ninja Kitchen website

buy Ninja Coffee Bar System on Amazon

» REVIEW: Monster ClarityHD On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

Because my iPhone 7 doesn’t have a headphone jack (and I’ve already lost the lightning adapter), I began looking for a set of Bluetooth headphones that I can not only listen to music on but also take calls with. Monster is a trusted brand, which led me to their ClarityHD Bluetooth Headphones. I opted for the On-Ear style because I felt they would be more comfortable wearing for longer lengths of time. So far, I’m loving these things. I have tried a variety of music ranging from Ben Rector to some great workout playlists on Spotify and the sound has been great for all types of music.

Set up

Out of the box, the ClarityHD is ready to go. You may need to charge it, which takes two hours for a full charge of 20 hours of wireless playback time. The ClarityHD on-ears are ready to pair via Bluetooth as soon as they’re turned on. And I was right, after wearing these for a couple of hours, I didn’t feel they were putting too much pressure on my head at all.

Of course you can play, pause, control the volume on your iPhone or computer but you can also use the touchpad on the right-hand side of the headphones, just above the earcup. For example, turn volume up or down by swiping up and down. This touchpad feature is really easy and convenient to use — no fumbling with your phone or buttons. To play or pause, make one tap on the touch pad. It definitely feels awkward at first but after a week or so the controls became a lot more natural to me.

Conclusion

The ClarityHD On Ear Headphones are among the most comfortable and lightweight headphones I have tried, making them a great for everyday and travel use. I’m planning a trip to Uganda this summer and already know the compact folding design will come in handy (I do wish these came with a case). Having a 3.5 mm audio jack option if my battery dies is nice to have, too. For more daily work-from-home use, I’ve taken advantage of the built-in microphone for taking calls many times. They’re very comfortable, and the overall design is basic and discreet, which is a good thing.

Monster website

» REVIEW: LIFX Z Light Strip

With the open floor plan in our house, it feels like we spend over half of our family time in the kitchen. We’ve permanently set up a LIFX Z strip in our kitchen to help brighten the mood in the morning, calm things down at night, and celebrate special occasions. LED light strips aren’t really a new thing, but LIFX Z light strips make things even more fun with the ability to use multiple colors all controlled by your smart phone.

Set up

Out of the box, you will you need to connect and plug in the unit, it’s as easy as it sounds. The (2 meter) light strip itself has a sticky 3M adhesive that can stick to practically any surface when you’re ready to commit. Behind the TV, underneath counter tops, or in the eaves of your ceiling are the most common places we’ve seen. I decided that above the cabinets was the perfect spot for our home. We already have LIFX Color 1000 bulbs in the house so setting up the light strip on our iPhones was super easy.

iPhone App

Once your light strips are set up and you are playing around in the LIFX app, you can do simple functions such as creating your own light combination to more complex things such as linking your light strip to an Amazon Echo, a Nest Thermostat or IFTTT.

New Motion Setting in App. Light looks 100x better in person.

For our home, we’ve created schedules via the app for the light to turn on/off during certain times of the day. In the morning, a nice warm glow followed by a calming blue for the evening. If you want to leave the light on overnight, you can bring the light brightness down to make a beautiful kitchen nightlight. Personally, I love creating color combinations to cheering our favorite team on game day, celebrating holidays, and letting the birthday/boy girl choose the color on their special day.

Kitchen is ready for @clemsonfb to start thanks to @lifx z light strip! #smarthome #fun #home #gotigers #clemson

A post shared by Erica Ho (@goodbye_normal) on

Conclusion

I tried not to overwhelm anyone with the possibilities of the LIFX Z on purpose, however they really do seem endless. If you are willing to learn some of the advanced features, you can do more helpful things like have the light change different colors if rain is in the forecast or turn on when another one of your smart devices (Nest Cam) senses movement. Just like the bulbs, the light strip is expected to last 28 years (based on 3 hours a day)! For families, the LIFX Z definitely isn’t a necessity but it does bring joy and awe to the kids.

Buy on Amazon

Lifx website

Disclaimer: The folks at LIFX kindly provided us a LIFX Z Starter Strip for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

 

» REVIEW: Ring Doorbell and Stick Up Cam

We live in a “safe” neighborhood but with young children, I wanted more peace of mind. Thanks to Ring and our internet recently being upgraded to faster speeds, we now have a reliable wireless solution instead of the traditional wired option. Once installed, setup for both the Video Doorbell and Stick Up cam are extremely easy as it is with almost all good smart devices these days.

Video Doorbell

Because the Video Doorbell was replacing our existing doorbell, we decided to have the power hardwired. This version also has an internal rechargeable battery so that you don’t have to use electric wiring if you don’t want to.

  • Compatible with all iOS and android Smartphone and tablets
  • Built-in motion sensors detect movement up to 30 ft. allowing you to know what is going on outside of your home
  • 720p HD Camera with 180° Field of View, 30 ft. Motion Detection, and Night Vision
  • Lifetime Purchase Protection: If your Ring Video Doorbell is stolen, we’ll replace it free of charge
  • Bank Grade Encryption
  • -5 to 120°F Operating Temperature

Elliott was excited to jump in and help make the swap. (I have to admit, I hated seeing our original-to-the-house doorbell gone… but I quickly got over it.) Everything you need is included in the box. Ring claims that the installation takes about 5 minutes but ours took a little longer since we had to make our wiring hole significantly larger to allow the new device to sit flush on the wall. Installation took about 20 minutes, you also have to consider that my nine year old was doing a majority of the work here.

If there’s motion or someone rings the doorbell, both Calvin and I get a phone notification. We can jump immediately to the live view and decide whether or not we want to talk to the other person or not. We’ve also taught the kids to use it as an emergency tool since they don’t have their own phones. So far I’ve been able to give instructions to the UPS driver and also turn away solicitors while nobody was home… nicely of course. There have been times that I didn’t get to answer on my phone in time but it was still great to open the app a few minutes later to see who just came by the house.

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Stick Up Cam

The Stick Up Cam is very similar to the doorbell except it’s designed to be installed anywhere else outside the home (or inside if you prefer). We’ve started with one Stick Up Cam so we decided to put it near our garage door as the kids often will gather and play on the driveway. You can keep the unit plugged in via USB or solely rely on the unit’s rechargeable battery.

The installation was even faster for the Stick Up Cam as we opted not to keep it plugged in. Ring claims that the battery will last up to 8 months, but of course that will vary depending on use and the traffic of the area it is monitoring.

  • Motion detection
  • Night vision
  • Two-way audio
  • Weather resistant for outdoor use
  • Bank grade encryption
  • 80 degree field-of-view

The most practical use I’ve used it for so far is checking on the kids from inside the home to make sure they are being safe and playing nicely. The Stick Up Cam also has two-way audio just like the Doorbell product. Even with our Stick Up cam installed pretty high up on the house, the microphone/speaker have worked really well so far. We even discovered that we had a opossum trying to get dinner from our trash can one night. The Stick Up Cam doesn’t boot up as fast as the doorbell does and sometimes not at all. I’ve even tried this next to our router to make sure we were getting the strongest connection possible. This can be a letdown to many in a real emergency situation. Hopefully they may be able to fix this in an app or firmware update in the near future.

Conclusion

Having a few more eyes and ears outside never hurts. Ring makes everything super easy to install and set up on your iPhone. Considering the peace of mind and security that Ring products offer, it’s worth the cost of the equipment. I have found the doorbell to be a little more reliable than the Stick Up cam but I also think it’s because of less movement. When someone rings the doorbell, they normally stand and wait for the owner to open the door. With the Stick Up cam pointed at the driveway, there have been times the recording started a little too slow to catch what triggered it in the first place. You should also plan on adding the cloud video recording option that runs $3 a month or $30 a year (per unit) for unlimited video recording. I’m still hopeful that Ring will give price breaks for multiple units as it can get pricey if you’re looking to monitor your whole house.

Buy on Amazon

Ring website

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The folks at Ring kindly provided us a unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» 3 things you need to help survive Winter

So far, we’ve had a very warm fall, and I’m okay with that. But I know evil Winter is lurking in the shadows. The picture above is not an exaggeration, it’s how I really feel every year during this dreaded season. Before we head into the thick of it, I’ve already started to prep… not my wardrobe (although that’s important) but my bedroom. There is only so much hot coffee and tea that one can drink so here are a few things that we’ve added to combat the oh-so-real winter blues.

1. Withings Aura w/ Sleep Sensor

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Rise and shine. When it’s cold out, I never want to get up and out of bed. The Aura (by Withings) has an awesome alarm feature that increases light that simulates a sunrise for a gradual wake up on those dark winter mornings. The Aura also has a nice bedside speaker that functions for the alarm (or sleep mode) and when you just want to listen to some tunes through Spotify (via iPhone app).

With the sleep sensor (optional) accessory and with the help with the (iPhone) app, you can begin tracking your sleep. This can come in handy if you run into a season where you’re not getting much sleep at night. The Health Mate app might help you find a pattern to when you’re tossing and turning… and hopefully help you figure out the root cause.

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The initial setup for both the Aura and sleep sensor doesn’t take long at all. The unit has no buttons but rather turns on/off by touch and up/down through gestures on the device. This takes some getting used to. Setting up and changing sleep/alarm settings is primarily done through the phone app. I’ve enjoyed managing the alarm times via the app as it is much faster and less annoying than having to hold the ‘alarm’ button and tapping the ‘minute’ button 30+ times on traditional clocks.

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Withings website

visit Withings on Facebook

buy Aura on Amazon

 

2. Envi Heater

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We all have that one cold room in our house. Unfortunately for our house, it’s my room. And the problem is, if we crank the heat to our liking for bedtime, our kids are upstairs sweating in their sheets… not to mention the gas bill that comes afterward. Enter the Envi Heater (Bonus: Made in the USA), designed to heat an average room of about 10 by 15 feet, which is perfect for our bedroom. During those cold winter nights, we’ve never considered heating our bedroom because space heaters can be ugly and expensive to operate. We like the Envi Heater because it’s silent (through convection heating) and only sticks out about four inches from the wall, unlike those big clunky hotel units that I’ve been fearful of. And about that electric bill? This thing only costs four cents an hour to operate!

The other reason we’ve avoided heaters this long is because of the hazards they can be. The Envi Heater has no exposed elements and operates at a safe surface temperature of approximately 90°F so that it’s not hot to the touch. The Envi does have it’s own temperature sensing, thermostat for easy temperature regulation so that you can leave it plugged in and not worry about any children or adults accidentally leaving it running.

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The unit must be installed onto the wall to work but Envi Heater makes it super easy with the included instructions, wall template, and hardware. Plug it in and you’re good to go (they also have a hardwired model for a nice permanent finish, plan on getting an electrician of course). Installation time took me about 10 minutes. And the company backs their product with a 3-year warranty.

Envi Heater website

visit Envi Heater on Facebook

 

3. Brooklinen (Bedding)

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When you work all day and tend to the kids all night, moms need a good night’s sleep! The first time I layed in Brooklinen sheets, I immediately thought of the sheets at a W or Loews Hotel. You know, the kind that takes you to an imaginary place that you never want to leave, or get up in this case. I’m now a believer that good bedding is worth the investment. Their most popular mix-and-match Luxe Hardcore Bundle includes a Core Sheet Set, 1 duvet cover and 2 extra pillowcases in a smooth 480 thread-count weave. We are currently using a comforter we’ve already had but when it’s time to replace it, we will be giving Brooklinen’s a shot.

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By working directly with leading factories in developed markets and cutting out middle men, they are able to offer exceptional quality products, manufacture responsibly and are comparatively cheaper than same quality sheets in a retail store. I don’t know why these feel so good, they just do… maybe Brooklinen’s explanation will help for those of you curious enough. Don’t believe me? You can try their sheets for 60 nights risk free. If you aren’t completely satisfied, they offer free return US shipping and easy exchanges, no questions asked.

Brooklinen website

visit Brooklinen on Facebook

 

Disclaimer: The products mentioned supplied units for review purposes only. As always, the opinions are my own.

 

» REVIEW: Philips Hue

Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to try out LIFX bulbs. That experience really convinced us that smart lights were an asset to our home. After researching all the smart bulb options, I wanted to give the Philips Hue line a shot.

huekit

I was pretty thrilled when we were given the opportunity to try out the White Ambiance Starter Kit. At night time, we like to keep some lights on for the kids as they wind down. However, many nights I am already in my own room reading and decompressing before the kids actually fall asleep. When it’s time for me to go to bed, I want all of those lights that I had to leave on to be off…  Hue allows me to do lights out without having to walk back through the house. This is just one of many benefits of a home set up.

Set up

The Philips Hue Kits comes with a hub that will need to be plugged in directly to your router. Your next step is to screw the bulb(s) into any existing ceiling light or lamp, then make sure to power it on. As expected these days with smart home products, all of final set up is controlled through their app (iPhone for me) that will walk you through step by step directions to get your lights connected. Super easy, you will be up and running in about five minutes.

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iPhone App

The official app is easy to use and I’ve been able to bring the lights from full brightness during dinner time to a lower light setting when it’s time to settle down, this is currently my way of giving the kids an early hint that it’s time for bed. Turning the lights completely off is even easier with the widget’s feature on the new iOS.

hueapp

If your schedule is predictable, you can set up routines and schedules or allow your phone’s GPS to know when your home or not to turn the lights on/off. I had no real issues with the app however I do prefer the look and feel of the LIFX app a little more, but it’s not a deal breaker. If you’re more savvy, Hue works well with IFTTT, Wink, SmartThings, and Alexa/Echo.

Conclusion

The White Ambiance Starter Kit comes with a separate remote switch that is a huge selling point for me over LIFX. It allows me to turn lights on/off and control the brightness level without always having to use my phone. The whites on these bulbs are comparable to the LIFX bulbs. I didn’t get a chance to compare colors as we tested the white ambiance kit. However, the new Hue color bulbs boast that they now have “richer colors”. The bulbs we did try are great to keep in high traffic and common areas. I tested them in different rooms and found them to be most valuable in my kitchen. The White Ambiance Kit is just one sliver of the Hue line and is a great introduction to smart home lighting for anyone. They have plenty more bulbs and other lighting solutions that we will be adding soon. One bridge (that is included in this kit) can support up to 50 bulbs!

Buy on Amazon

Philips Hue website

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Disclaimer: The folks at Philips Lighting kindly provided us the Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» REVIEW: Click and Grow Garden

Fall is officially here and winter will be here before we know it. Our Nashville climate isn’t conducive to growing much outdoors once that shift happens and we love having fresh herbs in the kitchen. The solution? And indoor herb garden with Click and Grow.

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Set up

The Click and Grow unit has three pods allowing you to choose to purchase and insert any combination of refill cups as you’d like. The kids really enjoyed peeling off the lids and being able to pop each cup in. It’s like a garden Keurig! On the left side, there is a water reservoir that has a floating piece to let you easily see when more water is needed. When the tank is full, it lasts about four weeks until it is completely empty. This is pretty amazing for people (like me) who forget to water plants. Once the pods were in we simply plugged the unit in (first thing in the morning) to allowed the light to do it’s job. The unit’s light will stay on for 16 hours and then shut off for 8 all on it’s own.

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Basil, Basil, Basil

With three basil cups in place and a tank full of water, we were ready to watch our little garden grow. In about two days, we started to see little sprouts. From there, the plants grew and grew at such a surprising rate. For two months we’ve been able to trim off a few pieces every few days and only have to refill the water reservoir as needed.

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Conclusion

A year-round garden is always a challenge as the seasons change and especially in the fall and winter months. Click and Grow makes it easy for busy moms to keep some nice fresh herbs or vegetables on hand. The kids also enjoyed being part of the opening and setup process. Three pods can feel limiting, especially if you’re trying to grow strawberries or cherry tomatoes. If you’re looking for a more complete solution, the Click and Grow Indoor Farm (fits 38 and 57 pods) may be worth checking out.

Buy on Amazon

Click and Grow website

 

Disclaimer: The folks at Click and Grow kindly provided us a unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» REVIEW: LIFX Color 1000 Light Bulbs

Putting four kids to bed is not for the weak. LIFX bulbs can’t help with bath time, bed time snacks or reading books out loud, but they have been ideal for setting the mood right and making sure lights out really happens. The different colors and brightness settings can create an environment to help kids get focused when it comes to cleaning or reading on their own, then easily changed to calm and relaxing when its time for sleep.

lifx1

Set up

One of the best features that set LIFX apart from other smart light options (that I’ve found) is that LIFX bulbs don’t require anything additional, such as a hub. All of the initial set up is controlled through the app. You just screw the bulb into a ceiling light or lamp, power it on, and go through the step-by-step instructions on your phone or tablet. A total of about 3 minutes per bulb. I used my iPhone 6 for everything and didn’t run into any issues.
lifxgroup

iPhone App

The app is super easy to use and just makes sense. Which is silly to type but I have had too many good products or services get ruined by the app. A simple swipe up or down changes the brightness level and a turn to the left/right easily changes the color. Some of my favorite bed-time features include being able to make lighting schedules or setting a timer on the fly.

lifxgroup2

I’m also looking forward to the holidays when we can bring in a little green and red for Christmas. Speaking of themes, LIFX provides a handful of fun effects (like candle flicker, strobe lights, music visualization, and more) without having to download anything additional.

Conclusion

LIFX seems to have the best smart bulb out on the market when it comes to quality of light and the app is great. $59.99 a pop can get expensive really quickly but a single bulb is expected to last for 28 years (based on 3 hours a day)! I assumed that this kind of bulb would cost more to operate but was surprised to see that it’s only $1.32 per year. With these costs, we can see these bulbs as more of an investment purchase for our home. We’ve been able to use them nightly for the kids and been able to utilize them for movie nights, too. As winter time approaches, these bulbs will be useful for getting the kids asleep…and awake!

Buy on Amazon

Lifx website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The folks at LIFX kindly provided us Color 1000 bulbs for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» REVIEW: IMVIO Kit (iPhone Lenses)

Disclaimer: The folks at IMVIO kindly allowed us a unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

Fish-Eye and Wide-Angle lens for your iPhone

With four kids, it’s difficult to carry anything more than what I absolutely need. That includes my DSLR camera. After searching for a happy medium, the IMVIO lens kit sounded like a great addition with minimum impact. After a few weeks of use and going around town, I love this little accessory. The two lenses come in a case that attaches nicely to your keychain and you can easily screw/unscrew the lens as needed. You are required to use the case that the kit comes with.

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Conclusion

There’s not much more to say about this product other than it works and it makes pictures fun. There’s no additional app needed so setup is literally just the time it takes to swap the iPhone case. The lens does not make your image quality any better since it’s still using your phone as a camera. Lighting is always important but I’ve found that with the lens attachment, it helps to have more (brighter) light. With the recent price drop to $40, any mom (or dad) would love this little gadget. I’ve also seen Coral color as low as $37.50 on Amazon!

  • iPhone with No Lens
  • Fish Eye
  • Wide Angle

 


 

» REVIEW: Circle with Disney

Disclaimer: The folks at Circle with Disney kindly provided us a security unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

Currently, we don’t have a huge need to censor the Internet from our children. They don’t have devices and all screen time is closely monitored. However, we realize it won’t be that way forever.  Our nine year old has begun to use the computer for school and has also talked about saving money for a used iPad. We’ve even realized, after chatting with friends who have older children, that we also have to be concerned about our children’s visiting friends and the devices they bring. Enter Circle.

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Circle with Disney (which is actually square shaped) does so much more than just turn the Internet on and off in the home at designated times. We’ve had ours for two months, so I’ve figured out how it works best for us. To be clear, this is not a router, it’s a device that connects to your router and acts like a gatekeeper to all devices on your network. Even visiting devices. (take that sneaky friends!)

Set up

One of the best features is that everything, including the initial set up, is controlled through your iPhone app (Android is supposed to be coming soon). That’s it. No need to set up different time limits and restrictions on each device. If you already have Kindles with FreeTime, you know the headache I’m talking about. Imagine having to set that up four times on four different devices.

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Doing the initial set up for all devices can still be time consuming depending on how many devices there are in the household. An added bonus is that you receive push notifications on your phone anytime a new device is added to the network. If your children’s friends are over, you can easily add any restrictions to their devices the moment Circle sends you a notification.

Parental Controls

Set time limits on internet-connected activity

  • Set a daily overall time limit
  • Set a daily time limit for a particular app, website or category of content.
  • Set a bedtime

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Circle is designed so that each person in your house has a profile with their device(s). From there, you can set different limitations, for instance: you can allow three hours of online activity a day, but only 30 minutes of that can be YouTube and no activity after 8pm. You can also choose to block YouTube altogether or even the newly-debated app, Snapchat. The limits are across all devices so that an individual can’t do 30 minutes of a game on their iPad, then jump to their computer for more.

Content Filtering + Ad Blocking

You can use pre-set content levels for each family member, from Pre-K, Kid, Teen, Adult or None. From there, you can customize to meet your needs.  For example, with the “Kid” level, Club Penguin, Disney and Minecraft are allowed, but if you prefer to disable Minecraft, you can do so with the flick of a switch. Depending on the level you choose, it will block websites, they provide a long list of categories. You can even spare yourself from content that you don’t want to see. If there’s a site that’s blocked but is acceptable for your child, you can manually grant access to that site.

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In the Content Filter settings, you can turn on Google safe search, YouTube restricted mode, and Ad blocking. This didn’t cut out ads 100% but it’s definitely better than nothing.

Insights

The reporting under “Insights” shows you how long each family member spent online each day, week, and month, going back one month.  You can see which sites were visited, and which sites were blocked by the content filters.  From there, you can easily unblock a site, if needed.

Pause the Internet

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Yep, that’s right.  You can pause the internet for everyone, or for a certain family member, or for a certain family member’s device. So if Bobby has been told to come to the table for dinner, and won’t turn the Netflix show off, you can pause the Internet for Bobby. There are a variety of ways to assign devices so you can just pause the Internet for all the kids in the house or parents as well if you catch yourself checking your phone during family game night.

Conclusion

For $100 and no subscription fee, I think Circle with Disney is well worth it. We’re  looking forward to seeing the device staying current and get better with time (we’ve noticed a few App updates since we’ve received ours). The app is super easy to use and I love the ability to pause the internet on the fly without having to know how to set up a guest network on my router.

However, there are some things you need to know before purchasing your unit. The Circle does not give any control for games (apps) that don’t rely on the Internet so parents must still be mindful of time spent on screens. For those of you who have kids with iPhones, Circle does not control or account for 3G/4G activity. Circle Go is in product development and is supposed to be the solution for this problem. Additionally, Circle does not have control over phone calls, texts, or social media activity.

Buy Circle with Disney

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal