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After four months with the Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale ($130), I haven’t shed any significant weight. However, should I find the motivation to improve my fitness and diet, I do believe the Aria will provide an attractive and effective mechanism for tracking my progress. But let’s back up a bit…

As our homes and appliances collectively gain sentience via Internet connectivity, health gadgetry has become something of hot topic. The current crop of digital pedometers doesn’t do much for me, but a WiFi scale with automated tracking and charting is appealing. In this burgeoning new category, there are basically two manufacturers to choose from: Withings and Fitbit. And I went with the Fitbit Aria primarily because it clocked in $30 cheaper than Withings (at the time) and Fitbit has decent buzz due to the success of those aforementioned activity trackers (that don’t do much for me). So, while Withings may have a more sophisticated display, at the end of the day I’m just looking for two numbers — weight and body fat percentage. Assuming both products provide similar accuracy, which I can’t definitively address. Continue Reading…

Nest Thermostat 2.0 Hits The FCC

Dave Zatz —  September 22, 2012 — 20 Comments

2012 Nest left, 2011 Nest right.

While perusing the FCC’s seemingly limitless database of upcoming gadgets, looking for something streamy, I landed upon what looks like the second generation Nest learning thermostat. And, I gotta say, the timing is fortuitous… Because, as a new home owner with dual climate control units, I’ve been stockpiling my Lowe’s coupons ahead of a potential Nest purchase. So my dilly dallying on the fence may allow me to pick up the latest greatest — assuming this new model (02A) replaces the original (01A). Most of the juicy details will remain confidential until March, 2013. However, I expect we’ll see the new “home monitoring unit” arrive this fall. Reports indicate the original Nest, launched in 2011 for $250, might incorporate a Zigbee chipset… whereas the new FCC docs proudly proclaims it via a dedicated “Zigbee report.” Hopefully foreshadowing the future direction of Nest Labs, either in terms of building out their own home automation solutions and/or integrating with other related HA products. I would’t mind a lower price of entry, either.

The FCC yesterday released its latest pricing data on pay-TV services. In the twelve months leading up to January 1, 2011, the average cost for “expanded basic” service increased 5.4% across the country to $57.46 per month. The price for expanded basic service is defined as “the combined price of basic service and the most subscribed cable programming service tier excluding taxes, fees and equipment.” Oddly, however, the FCC also points out that average costs increased slightly more in competitive communities than they did in non-competitive communities. The difference was 5.7% to an average monthly cost of $58.47 in competitive communities versus 5.2% to an average monthly cost of $56.82 in non-competitive communities.

The findings here are highly counter-intuitive. Why would pay-TV service cost more in communities with reasonable service provider competition?

There’s no simple answer to that question, but there are a few critical things to point out about the FCC data. First, the FCC isn’t including equipment fees in these numbers. Continue Reading…

Geek chic with a healthy amount of disposable income? Christian Louboutin has you covered with these (new?) Lady Peep Geek Embroidered Pumps: From the description:

Embroidered with microchip-inspired patterning, numbers, and sequins, a satin upper boasts eye-catching shine balanced with texture. In addition to a distinctively sexy aesthetic, Christian Louboutin shoes are also instantly recognizable for their vibrantly red-lacquered soles.

While $1700 seems somewhat steep for this unfashionable working stiff, if you’re a shoe connoisseur in the market for a pair of designer “red bottoms” these pumps are sure to impress your peers at any celebrity LAN party.

(Thanks, Ricky Tan!)

My wife and I just can’t seem to kick this gypsy lifestyle and are on the move once again. While we’d initially contemplated moving closer in to DC or returning to Maryland, we’ve changed tack and will be venturing deeper into the Northern Virginia suburbs next month. And, as with our former home, we’re fortunate to have Verizon’s FiOS TV & Internet service as an alternative to the cableco. At the house we’ve vacated, it was a no-brainer to dump Cox Communications given their inability to sufficiently support the two SDV Tuning Adapters required to power our TiVo DVRs and Verizon’s superior CableCARD support. But, this time around, we’re starting with a blank slate and the decision will be a bit trickier… as Verizon’s CableCARD experience has diminished and Comcast hasn’t implemented SDV.

On the Internet front, I assume either provider would be sufficient. Verizon may offer insane new speeds over fiber, but Comcast’s offerings aren’t too shabby. And, honestly, for most there’s a point of diminishing returns — how much broadband do we really need on a regular basis? Yet, there is one area where Verizon trumps Comcast’s Xfinity. At least for now. And that’s the lack of data caps.

Regarding television services, we’re not prepared to cut the cord and one of these two will be providing “cable” TV. Verizon’s DVRs beat Comcast… unless Xcalibur/X1 is being deployed to our region. Not that it really matters as I’ve upgraded to a TiVo Premiere Elite XL4 and intend to distribute one or two TiVo IP-STBs around the house for a whole-home DVR experience. So what will be the differentiators? What comes to mind at the moment is that Comcast continues to block HBO GO over Roku — for reasons unknown, that obviously have nothing to do with providing a great customer experience. On the other hand, Comcast does offer the nice Xfinity TV iPad app with tons of On Demand content. And, speaking of On Demand, it’s started rolling out to TiVo Premieres.

Decisions, decisions.