Speaking of staying alive, this product will probably kill me, but I’ll die with a smile on my face when I go. Once I got a mount for the bottom of my TV and didn’t have to adjust for the camera being off center, I retired my Wii and started moving around my living room like I was mad. I find I can get rather winded relatively fast, and that the pictures it takes of me in strange positions could likely be used as blackmail at some future date, but damned if I’m not having as much fun as I initially did with the Wii before it got old. This has been a huge treat at the end of the year, and I’m tickled to be having so much fun with it. Hey, and this week it was reported that Kinect is outselling the iPad two to one. It sold 2.5 million in 25 days, versus 2 million in two months for the iPad.
This is the most advanced integrated system from any of the major nationwide security vendors. It integrates home automation, with video surveillance, with traditional zone and perimeter security. On events, it will take pictures with the cameras and store these pictures in the cloud. While I’m traveling, I can view logs of when people entered the home and watch the cameras live, or check to see if the security system is set and the doors closed. I can even turn lights on and off remotely to check around the house all from the same console. I know companies that aren’t this secure, and while it isn’t cheap, it gives me piece of mind, which is kind of priceless.
It took me about two months to get this set up so that it would work right. It wasn’t a software problem, but finding the right mix of monitors so I had enough size, but wasn’t driven nuts by the gaps between them. But I finally found the right mount, and the right set of three monitors (two Dell 24” monitors on the sides and a Gateway 24” monitor in the middle) all in portrait mode (the Gateway is a taller monitor, more square, and better for the middle). The end result is a great gaming rig that isn’t spinning my power meter like a top.
This is just geeky cool. I picked up one of thee for a King-sized bed earlier this year, and it has brought near harmony to our bedroom. The problem is my wife tends to run cold, where I tend to run hot at night, so I’m either sweating or she is shivering, and the right mix is hard to find. The ChiliPad uses circulating heated and cooled water to regulate temperature just like what is used for spacesuits and for some types of racing. The end result is I can chill my side of the bed down as cold as I like it, while she can heat her side up, and both of us are relatively happy. The wireless remote controls could have better range, and you do have to refill the water every couple of weeks, but this thing has been a dream come true for us and one of the highlights of the year.
When it comes to moving music around the house there really is only one product that has consistently worked well, and that is the Sonos platform. I have one of these things in every room, they run off their mesh wireless networks, connect to Rhapsody and Napster, and will even work with an iPod Touch as a controller. It has a party mode, so you can have every station on the same song and the same note, something that simply doesn’t work with alternative players, and even my wife can figure out how to use it because it is so simple. This is one of the few products that could give Apple a run for the money on ease of use, and I just wish I could find something as good for video.
Wrapping up… and my favorite car
These were the products that stood out for me this year, and truly contributed to making my life better rather than complicating it. If I’d gotten this done on Thanksgiving week, these would be the products I’m thankful for. However there was one I left out: I bought new car this year. What I ended up with was an Audi S5, after asking my Twitter friends which one they thought I should get; and being told by them the S5 was the one. I can’t remember being happier. The car is fast, very attractive, I can keep up with my super car driving friends because they are so worried about breaking their expensive beasts, and it has a navigation and media head unit with Nvidia graphics. This car has been a dream, and the only thing I don’t like about it is my cat Gracie like to sleep on the roof which hasn’t done nice things to the trunk lid she uses as her launching point.
2010 has been a great year. These were the products that helped make it that way for me.