What is Microsoft Home Hub?

So, what is Microsoft HomeHub?

So is it Amazon Echo for Windows? Well, kind of.

What is Microsoft Home Hub

Here’s what we know so far.

According to reports from the Verge, work is underway at Microsoft on software expected to do everything you can do with other virtual assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Called Microsoft HomeHub, it will enable Microsoft’s own virtual assistant Cortana to control smart devices and perform voice queries. It is rumoured that it will support Phillips Hue, Samsung SmartThings and Nest among others.

So, all Windows 10 PCs will, in the near future, be able to perform like the Echo and Home.

I would expect HomeHub to be part of the next major release of Windows 10 in September of this year.

HomeHub will feature a new welcome screen that will display shopping lists, to-do lists, calendar appointments and the ability to wake Cortana from the welcome screen.

It seems that this is a response to Amazon’s Echo Show which is due for release on June 28th.

Expected to be primarily aimed at Kitchen PCs with small screens, Microsoft is thought to be working with HP and Lenovo to have these all-in-one PCs ready for Christmas.

Best Smart Home Thermostat

Why use a smart home thermostat?

Before we get into which of the devices we’ve reviewed below is the best Smart Home Thermostat currently on the market, I’d like to breakdown some of the features that Smart Thermostats provide and the advantages they can provide to you.

The first obvious benefit of these smart devices is convenience. There is no need to go to the controller to manually configure your heating or hot water schedule or status. You can configure them from the comfort of your couch using your smart phone or from the office using a web browser.

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Tado Smart Thermostat Review

What is it?

The Tado 3rd Gen is a smart thermostat with similar features to Nest and Hive.

Apart from the usual smart feature of remote management using mobile or web it can also learn from your usage and automatically schedule your heating system to accommodate when you leave or arrive home.

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Nest Thermostat Review

What is it?

The Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen is a thermostat like any other but with smart features to boot.

As with any thermostat, it can turn on or off your heating and hot water and schedule these actions. But it can also learn your habits and adjust to them to increase the efficiency of your home heating. It will even make a schedule for you.

The system will actually learn how long it takes to get your home up to the desired temperature and will start the boiler accordingly, in order to stick to the schedule.

A leaf appears on the display when you set the system to an energy efficient temperature.

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Amazon Echo Show Review

In an effort to stave off competition from Google and others, there had been rumours for quite a while that Amazon had been working on the predecessor to the Echo.

The rumours of the Amazon Echo 2 have proven true. On May 9th Amazon announced the upcoming release of the Amazon Echo Show.

What is it?

Essentially it is a smart speaker with Alexa built-in, just like the original Echo, but with the bonus of a touch-screen. It has a 7 inch touch-screen that now lets you visually interact with, as well as control the device using touch. It also has a 5 megapixel camera to facilitate video calling.

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What is Google Home

What is it?

What is Google Home? In a nutshell Google Home is a voice activated virtual assistant that can answer questions using Google Search, play music, and read books through its own speakers. It can also control your smart devices throughout your home network.

Music services on the Google Home are better than the Amazon Echo’s, in my opinion. Home allows you to use services from Spotify, Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and TuneIn.

Although it has no Bluetooth, it does have Google Cast which will allow you to send music from your phone to the device’s speakers.

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Ford to Integrate Alexa

As revealed at CES 2017, from the summer we will see Ford include Alexa in it’s SYNC 3 infotainment system.

Ford owners with SYNC 3 will be able to use voice activation to play music, get weather reports, check the news, as well as use their Echo at home to ask Alexa to remote start, lock/unlock doors, and get general vehicle information.

They also have the functionality to accept locations from Alexa directly into the navigation system. This means, for example, you can ask Alexa to find the nearest McDonald’s drive through and the location can be sent directly to the embedded navigation system in the car, bringing you straight there. Really cool!

Fun with Alexa

Some things to ask Alexa:

  • Alexa, what did the fox say? (Multiple responses)
  • Alexa, what does a Lannister do?
  • Alexa, what does AFK mean?
  • Alexa, what does BTW mean?
  • Alexa, what does IMHO mean?
  • Alexa, what does LOL mean?
  • Alexa, what does the fox say? – Ylvis (Multiple responses)
  • Alexa, what does TTFN mean?
  • Alexa, what does TTYL mean?
  • Alexa, what does YMMV mean?
  • Alexa, what happens if you cross the streams?
  • Alexa, what happens when you play the game of thrones?
  • Alexa, what is a hundred million billion squared?
  • Alexa, what is his power level?
  • Alexa, what is love? – What is Love by Haddaway
  • Alexa, what is the airspeed of swallows? – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Alexa, what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?  – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Alexa, what is the answer to life, the universe, and everything? – The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
  • Alexa, what is the first rule of Fight Club? – Fight Club
  • Alexa, what is the Jedi code? – Star Wars
  • Alexa, what is the loneliest number?
  • Alexa, what is the meaning of life? – Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
  • Alexa, what is the Prime Directive?
  • Alexa, what is the Sith code? – Star Wars Alexa, what is zero divided by zero?

What is Amazon Echo

What is it?

So, to answer what is Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo is a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi speaker that also contains Amazon’s competitor to Apple and Google’s virtual assistants. If you don’t already know, Amazon’s virtual assistant is called Alexa.

The Echo connects to a dedicated voice service hosted in the cloud. When you want to ask Alexa to do something you, speak the wake word “Alexa” and after the tone speak your question.

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Set Amazon Echo Default Music Provider

This can be done using the Alexa mobile App or using a web browser.

I’d recommend using the browser when setting up your Echo or Echo Dot.

Use this link and login in using your Amazon credentials.

Alexa settings web page

Should you not have an Amazon Prime Music subscription, you will need to link your Spotify account to Alexa by clicking the Spotify link and entering your credentials on the next page.

Incidentally, you can get a Prime Music Unlimited for Echo subscription for £3.99. This allows you to play music from Music Unlimited on one Echo device.

You’ll also see TuneIn radio here, this is free.