GeekDad http://geekdad.com Raising Geek Generation 2.0 Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:03:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 GeekDad Daily Deals: MOTA 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub http://geekdad.com/2015/08/mota-4-port-usb-3-0-hub/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/mota-4-port-usb-3-0-hub/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:03:22 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107773 A hub of activity; the MOTA 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub: 35% off today Continue reading

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MOTA 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub

Move up to a new standard with today’s Daily Deal, the MOTA 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub. This easy to use hub charges your USB 3.0 devices as it transfers data at dizzying rates. Check out more details by clicking the link above.

Be sure to check GeekDad’s section called Daily Deals. Each weekday we will offer new deals on cool stuff. These deals have limited lifespans, so keep checking back. Also, create an account and sign up for our newsletter at https://deals.geekdad.com/sign_up or follow our Store RSS Feed at https://deals.geekdad.com/feed.

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Hasbro and Indiegogo Announce the ‘Next Great Game Challenge’ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/hasbro-indiegogo-game-challenge/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/hasbro-indiegogo-game-challenge/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:00:01 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107652 Hasbro and Indiegogo are teaming up to find five designers to crowdfund a new party game in the Next Great Game Challenge Continue reading

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HasbroGamingChallenge

As you might have noticed, the past few years have brought a tabletop gaming renaissance. This has been thanks, in large part, to crowdfunding (you might have noticed, we have a bit of a Kickstarter tabletop game habit here at GeekDad). Well, Hasbro, along with their newly-minted partner Indiegogo (man, if only I could have been ringside for the Kickstarter/Indiegogo shootout for this deal), is looking to tap that market by running a crowdfunding competition, the “Next Great Game Challenge.” Any guesses as to what they’re looking to find? Take it away, press release!

Starting today, Hasbro will call on game designers nationwide to share their ideas for a new party game on www.nextgreatgamechallenge.com. Five game designers or teams of designers will be chosen as finalists and will be invited to launch campaigns for their concepts on Indiegogo and will be promoted on Hasbro’s partner page. The grand prize winner selected by Hasbro will receive $10,000 and a trip to Hasbro headquarters to meet with and work with the game development team to help make his or her party game a reality.

So pretty great, eh? As long as you’re a designer and have a solid idea how to run a crowdfunding campaign. This kind of screws the little guy, right? Well…

The challenge begins today on www.nextgreatgamechallenge.com where designers can submit ideas through September 30, 2015. The five finalists will be announced on October 30, 2015 and will officially launch their campaigns on Indiegogo to obtain funding and build fan support. Hasbro and Indiegogo will work with the finalists to build their campaigns and offer support. The campaigns will run until December 1, 2015 and the grand prize winner chosen by Hasbro will be announced later in December. Ideas will be evaluated by a team of Hasbro game experts and designers who will be specifically looking at each concept’s gameplay mechanics, theme, potential for ‘fun-ness’ and viability.

So, for all of you who have been sitting on a blockbuster idea, but didn’t have any idea where to start, Hasbro and Indiegogo will help you get things off the ground. I think that there’s still a distinct advantage for those who have run previous crowdfunding campaigns – they know what works and what doesn’t to entice backers. But hopefully between a professional gaming publisher and a professional crowdfunding company, they’ll help even things out.

HasbroGameLab

This will be the the first time Hasbro has worked with a crowdfunding company. It’s also the first project I’ve seen led by the Hasbro Gaming Lab, a team at Hasbro that’s “dedicated to connecting with the growing gaming community to discover and develop great new games.” So it sounds like they’ve finally realized that the legion of tabletop fans over on BoardGameGeek represent a market of deep-pocketed fans that Hasbro has yet to reach.

So who stands to win from this contest, other than the designer that gets their game published? Well, we got to talking around the Ol’ Miskatonic Watercoolor here at GeekDad’s deep-sea headquarters and came up with a few points:

1. Hasbro wins because they get a new game for relatively cheap, and get to branch out safely into crowdfunding without expending a lot of their own resources.

2. Indiegogo wins because it gets their name out there in a crowdfunding market that is dominated by Kickstarter.

3. The designer wins because they get their game professionally published and get a cashout that’s actually better than your average crowdfunded payday. The potential downside for them, based on our initial assumption, is that the designer would give the rights to their IP to Hasbro (Update! After reading through the Challenge Terms, it seems that designers do retain their IP rights – so this gets even better…bummer though – they specifically say no 50-ft. game boards. So no Cones of Dunshire for you!).

4. The backers most certainly win: The game will be polished by pros, produced on time, and be of solid quality.

This will be an interesting experiment to follow, and I’m looking forward to see what kind of ideas are presented. If you’ve always toyed with the idea of becoming a game designer, or just didn’t know if the world was ready for your hatching spider egg party game; head over to the contest site and put your name in the hat. My opinion? Any time you can get your feet wet and be supported by industry pros at the same time is a win-win.

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The Truth Is Out There, and On Sale Today: The Complete X-Files for $75 http://geekdad.com/2015/08/the-truth-is-out-there/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/the-truth-is-out-there/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:06:03 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107780 Now that we know the show is coming back, isn't it the perfect time to binge-watch every single episode and movie, just to get immersed in the mythology again? Well, here's your chance: the complete series and both movies in one box set, totallying 54 discs, for just $75 today on Amazon. I want to believe! Continue reading

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xfiles

Now that we know the show is coming back, isn’t it the perfect time to binge-watch every single episode and movie, just to get immersed in the mythology again? Well, here’s your chance: the complete series and both movies in one box set, totallying 54 discs, for just $75 today on Amazon. I want to believe! 

 

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See ‘The Iron Giant’ on the Big Screen! http://geekdad.com/2015/08/iron-giant/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/iron-giant/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:30:52 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107739 In case you missed it earlier this week, Fathom Events is bringing 'The Iron Giant' back to the big screen in just over a month, and tickets are available now! Continue reading

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The Iron Giant

In case you missed it, Fathom Events is bringing The Iron Giant back to the big screen in just over a month, and tickets are available now! This is a limited event–it’s on Wednesday evening, September 30, and some locations have a second showing on Sunday, October 4, so if you’re interested you should start planning.

The Iron Giant is one of my favorite movies. First released in 1999, the film is based loosely on Ted Hughes’ book The Iron Man. The movie version is about a boy and a giant robot, about Cold War paranoia, about choice and destiny, and it’s terrific. I loved the message of the film, and later bought it on both VHS and then DVD twice (including a Chinese version that had a bizarre music video included on the disc).

The critics loved it (96% on Rotten Tomatoes), but it didn’t do so well at the box office (earning less than half of its $70 million budget worldwide). It wasn’t a musical. It was from Warner Brothers Animation, which wasn’t really known for its big blockbuster cartoon films at the time. It didn’t have a slew of toy tie-ins.

Oh, and it had a first-time director at the helm, some guy named Brad Bird.

Now that Brad Bird is well-known for his later films like The Incredibles, I’m hoping more people will give the movie a chance and find out what a gem it is. The Iron Giant has been remastered and has two new scenes added, and I’m really looking forward to taking my kids to see it on the big screen. And, I suppose, buying another version of it eventually when it’s released digitally.

Here’s the trailer, which was released on Yahoo this Wednesday:

Seriously, folks. Whether or not you’ve got kids, The Iron Giant is worth watching. Visit the Fathom Events website to find out if there are screenings near you.

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Excellent Middle-Grade Adventure: ‘HiLo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth’ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/boy-who-crashed-to-earth/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/boy-who-crashed-to-earth/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:00:10 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=105263 My 8-year-old and I just finished reading Judd Winick's latest middle-grade graphic novel, 'HiLo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth,' and I cannot stop smiling. Continue reading

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Hilo Cover

I’m dating myself here a bit, but I was in college when MTV’s The Real World made its debut. The show was popular and the first season’s cast were a memorable mix. In that group was Judd Winick–it took me a quick Google search to put the name to the right face, but yep… I remember him. Judd’s now a dad and an award-winning cartoonist, and is currently head writer for The Awesomes (Hulu network).

The reason I bring up Judd Winick is because my 8-year-old and I just finished reading his latest middle-grade graphic novel, HiLo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, and I cannot stop smiling. Any fan of Calvin and Hobbes will immediately be drawn to both the artwork and one of the main characters, HiLo–scenes almost move off the page when Hilo is in action. There’s a sense of energy and movement that is reminiscent of Spaceman Spiff, but in no way am I implying HiLo is a Calvin knock-off. HiLo stands on his own, as I’ll explain.

Hilo 1

Winick obviously knows how to draw in a young reader–when the book opens, HiLo and another main character, DJ, are being chased by this giant robot-like boulder monster called a Rant. No background… no explanation of how they got here… they’re just running and screaming. And when DJ falters and the Rant moves in for the strike, the reader learns there’s more to HiLo than meets the eye.

The cliffhanger was enough to make my son and me want to keep reading. The story jumps back to how DJ and HiLo met (the secret being in the book’s title), and then moves forward as HiLo begins to remember more and more about his origins. Along the way, DJ’s friend, Gina, moves back to town after a few years away, and the two of them attempt to regrow their friendship while dealing with HiLo’s strange behaviors, DJ’s family of super-geniuses, and Gina’s controlling family that consists of older twin sister cheerleaders who drive her crazy.

Hilo 2

The nature of the three characters’ origin stories, combined with the graphic novel elements, makes the book a fast read. There’s a Big Bad Guy tossed into the mix, and my son kept saying “one more page… one more page…” as HiLo’s mystery began to reveal itself. Even better, Winick delivers one mega-cliffhanger at book’s end, ensuring my son’s going to be on the lookout for book two.

My son has been struggling with reading. It’s not that he can’t read… it’s that he doesn’t WANT to read. My wife and I have been trying to find ways to expand his vocabulary and just get him away from TV and electronics to spend some time with a book. I’m fine with a graphic novel, too… anything to get him reading and discovering new words and excited about a storyline. HiLo nails all three of those.

This is just an amazing little book–the colors and artwork are outstanding, the three characters each have their strengths and weaknesses, and the mystery evolves at just the right pacing. I loved it. Just loved it. Even if my son wasn’t interested, I’d be hunting down book two to see how it resolves… thankfully, however, he’s just as hooked as I am.

HILO: The Boy Who Crashed To Earth will be available on September 1, 2015.

Note: An unsolicited copy of HiLo was sent to me by Random House Books for Young Readers. I like surprises, and this was a good one.

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A Long Time Ago, in a Toy Store Far, Far Away… http://geekdad.com/2015/08/toy-store-far-far-away/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/toy-store-far-far-away/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:30:30 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107710 During my first Gen Con a few weeks back, I had such a great time... and a large part of that was being able to hang with fellow geek dads Dave Banks, John Booth, and Jonathan Liu (among others). John introduced me to a friend of his, Brian Stillman, who was also a member of our ragtag group, and over a number of nights we played many games and had dozens of interesting conversations... and one of those was about Brian's special 'Star Wars' toy documentary project titled 'Plastic Galaxy' that was playing at Gen Con. Continue reading

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Plastic Galaxy

During my first Gen Con a few weeks back, I had such a great time… and a large part of that was being able to hang with fellow geek dads Dave Banks, John Booth, and Jonathan Liu (among others). John introduced me to a friend of his, Brian Stillman, who was also a member of our ragtag group, and over a number of nights we played many games and had dozens of interesting conversations… and one of those was about Brian’s special documentary project titled Plastic Galaxy that was playing at Gen Con. I wasn’t able to attend a showing, but Brian put a DVD copy in my hand before I left Indy.

Thank you, Brian!

When I finished the main documentary and the bonus material, I was grinning ear to ear. You see, I remember my mom driving me to my hometown’s store (this was years before Walmart or even Kmart reached our borders) and taking me to the small toy area where I saw what looked like an infinite wall of official Star Wars figures from Kenner… hanging on the wall in those wonderful black packages with the silver racetracks going around the edges. An original image from the movie caught your attention just before your eyes glazed over at the bubble-protected figure to the left. I selected C-3PO, my brother R2-D2. And over the next few years, I think both our collections reached maybe 20-25 characters each. Figures were sometimes rewards for good grades or test scores, birthdays, and sometimes… just because my parents saw my love of both the movie and the creative storytelling those figures pulled from my imagination.

Many of you probably have similar stories. Many of you also probably still have some of your figures, bruised and battered, and maybe even some of the various vehicles. My brother had a TIE fighter, but we’ve long since given up trying to find it. I still have my C-3PO, although his gold luster is mostly gone and he’s a flat white-ish yellow-y color. It doesn’t matter… like fellow geek dad John Booth says in the documentary (he’s one of many interviewed), I will never part with those childhood friends and the memories they spark.

The documentary is quite entertaining, and as the home page states:

Plastic Galaxy is a documentary that explores the groundbreaking and breathtaking world of Star Wars toys. Through interviews with former Kenner employees, experts, authors, and collectors, it looks at the toys’ history, their influence, and the fond and fervent feelings they elicit today.

I loved listening to these former Kenner employees talk about their day-to-day activities, the meetings they would attend, the toys they would pitch that might or might not get the green light. I listened as interviewees shared their memories of the figures and vehicles and how they allowed us to put ourselves in the movie and tell tales of adventures never seen on the big screen. Looking at some of the amazing collections and the rare items they have behind glass gave me a better understanding of just how huge the Star Wars toy market was, is, and likely will be again.

The video is fun, humorous, and filled with historical bits and imagery, and behind-the-scenes photos, sketches, prototypes, commercials, and much more. I imagine most Star Wars toy fans will find a number of new facts in the almost 120 minutes of material (70 for documentary, 40 for extras/bonus material) as well as a strong incentive to go digging through boxes in the attic or basement in search of long-lost toys.

You won’t have any trouble finding this documentary if you’re interested–a download can be obtained on iTunes or the DVD purchased from Amazon. I’m really wishing I’d tried to attend a showing because it would have been fun to participate in Brian’s discussions with attendees. I’m not as big a Star Wars toy collector as I was as a kid, but I can appreciate the love and devotion to what I consider to be the first hobby I developed as a kid. If you owned and loved these wonderful little Kenner toys, you owe it to yourself to get the backstory on how they came to be… five stars for keeping a smile on my face for almost two hours straight.

You can find more information on the documentary on its webpage here.

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Marvel Collector Corps Unboxing – Box 3: ‘Secret Wars’ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/marvel-collector-corps-3/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/marvel-collector-corps-3/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:00:52 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=106759 Spoilers abound as we unbox the latest Marvel Collectors Corps subscription box. The theme this time? 'Secret Wars!' Continue reading

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CollectorsCorpSW_1It’s that time again! Funko has shipped the next wave of what’s proven to be the most fun subscription box this year, Marvel Collector Corps. The first two boxes had the benefit of being shipped close to major movie releases (Age of Ultron and Ant-Man), but there are no Marvel movie releases for the rest of the year. So it’s time to head to the comics for inspiration with Secret Wars!

When the theme for this box was announced, I was excited. Secret Wars has generated some amazing designs and fun storylines. Heck, the box alone was enough to make me giddy: I’m a big fan of the new Thor.

CollectorsCorpSW_2Upon opening, we have our standard pin and patch. It’s a couple of jerks, but at least they’re good-looking jerks. Thanks to a suggestion from Jay in the comments for the the Ant-Man box, I’ll be picking up a cork board to display these properly (though my daughter still thinks I should get a jean jacket).

CollectorsCorpSW_3Squee!

CollectorsCorpSW_4SQUEEEEEEEE!

CollectorsCorpSW_5SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

*ahem* Sorry about that; the cuteness temporarily overloaded my ability to communicate. Needless to say, the bobbleheads are absolutely adorable this time. Miles is very nicely done, but Thor really knocks it out of the park. The detail on her is astounding. (Lookit Thor’s teeny hammer! Squeeee-*ahem* hold it together, Karcz.) I’m almost sad that my daughter confiscated Thor seconds after I’d finished taking this picture, but knowing that playing with her new thunder goddess will mean less time with Barbie makes that bearable. The shirt and exclusive comic follow suit with the cuteness (which is ironic in the case of Secret Wars #1, since it’s just about the darkest event comic opening ever). Though I do hope we’ll see a return to shirt designs other than Logo + Picture of Funko Figure, like we did with Box 1’s Avengers vs. Ultron boxing match poster. No mystery figures, but the fact that we get two exclusives this time around more than makes up for it. I’m hoping for a non-exclusive Superior Iron Man at some point; he’d round out this trio nicely.

We’ve got one more box for the year, and I can’t wait to see what they do next. I wasn’t a Funko collector when we started, but these boxes have been a blast. It’s a great way to start a collection–far superior to haunting end caps at Target to see if they’ve restocked the figure you want. If you like Marvel and Funko designs, I really can’t recommend the Collector Corps enough.

Missed any of our previous unboxings? Click here:

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For Force Friday: Enter the GeekDad/EE Elite 212th Attack Battalion Utapau Clone Trooper Statue Giveaway http://geekdad.com/2015/08/clone-trooper-statue-giveaway/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/clone-trooper-statue-giveaway/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:30:28 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107732 It's hard to express how important Star Wars is to geeks. Episodes IV-VI are core components of our lives, and how we raise our kids. We remember the excitement and then disappointment of Episodes I-III, and yet now, with Episode VII coming, the excitement is back. We NEED it to be great. We want more. Continue reading

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clonetrooper
It’s hard to express how important Star Wars is to geeks. Episodes IV-VI are core components of our lives, and how we raise our kids. We remember the excitement and then disappointment of Episodes I-III, and yet now, with Episode VII coming, the excitement is back. We NEED it to be great. We want more.

September 4, 2015 has been branded as Force Friday. It’s a worldwide event in preparation for the December launch of the next Star Wars trilogy, and so much more. It’s all about new toys and merch. And we here at GeekDad have teamed up with the good folks at Entertainment Earth to bring you a little teaser.

We are giving away this amazing, high-quality statue. It’s called the Star Wars Elite 212th Attack Battalion Utapau Clone Trooper Statue. Here’s a brief description:

Continue your collection of troopers from the Star Wars universe! This Star Wars Elite 212th Attack Battalion Utapau Clone Trooper Statue is highly detailed and made from cold-cast porcelain. Measuring over 8-inches tall in 1:10 scale, this great statue from Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is a limited edition of 999 pieces!

 

The 212th Attack Battalion was a unit of Clone Troopers under the leadership of Clone Commander Cody and Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi during the Clone Wars. Troops of the 212th Attack Battalion were distinguished by the orange markings on their armor. General Kenobi led the 212th Attack Battalion to the Utapau system and The Battle of Utapau was one of the final battles of the Clone Wars. While Obi-Wan battled head to head with Grievous, the 212th was able to gain the advantage, though not without heavy casualties. It would prove pivotal due to the death of General Grievous at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi. This was the last major battle before the destruction of the Jedi Order and the fall of the Republic.

It’s important to realize this is a collector’s item. Only 999 have been made, and they retail for $125 on Entertainment Earth. You have a chance to win one. Just enter using the form below, and we’ll announce a winner here on GeekDad on Force Friday!0

Star Wars Elite 212th Attack Battalion Utapau Clone Trooper Statue Giveaway!

Fields marked with an * are required

Winners will be chosen at random. Only one entry person. Entrant must be 18 years of age or older. Contest only available to residents of the continental United States. I understand the restrictions and certify I meet the restrictions.

Data collected will be used for contacting winners only.

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Review: ecobee3 Wi-Fi Thermostat with HomeKit http://geekdad.com/2015/08/ecobee3-wifi-thermostat/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/ecobee3-wifi-thermostat/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:00:12 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107615 The ecobee3 thermostat, one of the first HomeKit enabled smart thermostats, packages intelligent design in a sleek, easy to install package. Continue reading

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The ecobee3 thermostat, one of the first HomeKit enabled smart thermostats, packages intelligent design in a sleek, easy to install package.

ecobee3 Wi-Fi Thermostat

ecobee3 Wi-Fi Thermostat

Hardware
Prior to installing the ecobee3, our 12 year old home had a digital thermostat that was anything but smart. The thermostat hangs on the wall in a seldom used room on the sunward side of the house, so it was far from accurate when assessing the temperature for most of the rest of the rooms.

After receiving the test unit, I proceeded to install it myself in about 25 minutes. The unit comes with stickers for labeling all of the wires that were on your old thermostat, and installing it requires simply inserting the wires into the lettered slots on the new thermostat base. Two screws hold the unit to the wall, and the kit includes large and small back plates to cover any holes or paint gaps from your existing thermostat. Once screwed into the wall, the display portion of the thermostat snaps into place.

Packaging for the ecobee3. Photo by Gerry Tolbert

Packaging for the ecobee3. Photo by Gerry Tolbert

The remainder of the setup consisted of connecting to the app on my iPhone and the Wi-Fi system in my house, which took less than five minutes. I created an account with ecobee and answered several questions about the location of the thermostat and our temperature preferences. This model interfaces with up to 32 remote sensors for more accurate assessment of average temperature, meaning better efficiency and energy savings. The base model includes a single remote sensor, which paired seamlessly with the thermostat.

Software
The onboard UI utilizes touch controls and simple menus, but allows significant customization. Adjustable profiles automatically control temperature while home, away, and asleep. Depending on your system, the thermostat can also control humidifiers or other accessories and set thresholds for humidity as well as temperature. The unit has a calendar schedule and vacation settings, allowing for more granular scheduled changes in high and low temps.

Finally, there are several alerts for filter changes, maintenance, and low and high temperature or humidity. These alerts can send an email or ping your smartphone, meaning I’ll actually see when it’s time to change the filter on time rather than 2 months later.

The software also links with the local weather database over the Internet to provide realtime feedback on ambient temperature and humidity. These data neatly display alongside indoor temperature and humidity. You can also pull up temperature data for any remote units connected to the thermostat.

Software Interface - Main Unit, iOS, Apple Watch

Software Interface – Main Unit, iOS, Apple Watch

Being HomeKit enabled, the ecobee3 has both an iOS app and an Apple Watch app for controlling temperature. There’s also a web interface. The phone and tablet apps mirror the onboard software, while the watch app simply allows for temperature adjustment. Buttons respond quickly and all settings are accessible from the secure app. Once added to HomeKit, you can even use Siri to adjust the temperature.

Verdict
After three weeks of continuous use, the ecobee3 exceeded all of my expectations. It’s kept our house cool without being too cold, with a more even temperature throughout the whole house. Where our upstairs bedroom was previously warm all day and far into the night, it’s now comfortable right at bedtime and throughout the night. Installation was painless, and the interface and apps make controlling the temperature super easy. We haven’t received an energy bill yet for a savings comparison, but I anticipate significant savings over our older system, and I’ll update this article when I have more info.

This ecobee website allows you to check compatibility with your existing HVAC system. While it was easy to install, the unit may not work as well with older systems, so make sure you examine your existing system or speak with an HVAC professional before you buy.

The only negative I’ve noticed so far has more to do with the layout of our house than with the unit itself. Like most smart thermostats, the ecobee3 uses motion detectors to determine if the house is occupied. If the thermostat resides in an infrequently used location, the accuracy of home and away detection decreases dramatically. The upside is that with Homekit, I can just tell Siri “Set the temperature to 70 degrees,” and the thermostat gets the message. I shut off the automatic tracking and adjustment, but, for folks with a thermostat in a high-traffic location, it shouldn’t be an issue.

All together, solid hardware, nice interface options, and a pleasant gadget that will hopefully save a little money. I’d recommend for anyone, especially if you’re in the iOS ecosystem.

For more info in the ecobee3, check out the website or follow them on Twitter.

Disclaimer: ecobee provided me with a production model for review purposes.

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Kickstarter Alert: Play Board Games Online with Tabletopia http://geekdad.com/2015/08/kickstarter-tabletopia/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/kickstarter-tabletopia/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:45:12 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107696 A new Kickstarter project aims to be the digital home for board games. Continue reading

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Tabletopia_Main

Tabletopia is a virtual game table, a sandbox where you can play existing, published games with friends or create your own games. The project, which runs until September 24 and has already met its funding goal, has an ambitious feature set list and is scheduled to be available for Mac, PC (via browser) soon after the project closes, and iOS and Android by next summer.

There will be public and private tables and rooms, player ratings, an automated matchmaker, text chat (audio and video to follow), tournaments and prizes, achievements, and leaderboards. You’ll be able to play remotely with your friends, no matter where on Earth they live (as long as they have an Internet connection). Like I said, ambitious.

Starting a game is simple. Find the game you want to play, choose the number of players, and create it. The files all load to your browser and you’re quickly off and running. Should you become disconnected, the system saves your seat.

Tabletopa_TM

A game of Terra Mystica I created – easy!

Creating an original game at Tabletopia is as easy as dragging and dropping images from your desktop and filling out a form. There is a robust set of existing elements that creators can utilize to create their games. There are tokens and cubes and cards and pawns and the promise to be able to upload custom bits. Because it’s a sandbox, there’s no programming involved.

The platform is five years in the making and aims to be the premier online location for playing, creating, and showcasing board games. Among the publishers that have already signed up–Mayday Games, Grey Fox Games, Stonemaier Games, Portal, Arcane Wonders, Game Salute, Knizia Games, LudiCreations, and many more. Currently, there are 65 games in their library, with plans to have at least 100 at launch and keep growing and growing after that.

I’ve had access to the beta this week and the site is well on its way. Since it’s a sandbox, I haven’t had much of a chance to play an actual game against anyone yet, but tinkering around in games, drawing cards, and moving chits, everything seems to operate as it should. It looks great and interaction is pretty easy. There are already some good games at Tabletopia and I look forward to that library growing. I am hopeful that Tabletopia will be the platform that I go to so I can play games with friends in other cities. So hopeful, in fact, that I’ve already backed the project and think you should too.

Tabletopia_page

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GeekDad Review: Taco Dual, Stereo Bluetooth Speaker(s) http://geekdad.com/2015/08/taco-bluetooth-speakers/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/taco-bluetooth-speakers/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:30:45 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107673 One of the cooler tricks that some higher end wireless portable speakers are able to pull off is pairing two units for stereo sound. I've tried out this feature with speakers like the Vers 1Q and various Sonos products and it's great—having a pair of wireless speakers for true stereo separation adds a lot to the listening experience compared to a single speaker. However, it's also expensive. Continue reading

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ideaUSA Taco Dual Bluetoothspeaker

As the “Dual” part of the name suggests, with the Taco Dual you actually get two speakers for portable stereo sound (Photo by Brad Moon)

One of the cooler tricks that some higher end wireless portable speakers are able to pull off is pairing two units for stereo sound. I’ve tried out this feature with speakers like the Vers 1Q and various Sonos products and it’s great–having a pair of wireless speakers for true stereo separation adds a lot to the listening experience compared to a single speaker. However, it’s also expensive. You get the capability out of the box, but have to buy a second speaker to actually take advantage of it. IdeaUS’s Taco Dual wireless sound system offers Bluetooth portability, stereo sound support, and both speakers in single, affordable package.

Open the Taco Dual box and, sure enough, inside is a pair of attractive speaker units, each about 7-inches long, with red trim and buttons, and a two upward facing drivers visible beneath a black metal grill. IdeaUSA didn’t cheap out on the accessories, providing two micro USB cables, two 3.5mm auxiliary cables, two cloth carrying bags, and two non-slip pads.

Each of the speakers is equipped with Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, a microphone (for use with a smartphone), 3.5mm auxiliary jack, and a microUSB port for recharging the built-in battery. The dual drivers in each speaker are 1.8-inch units, each with 6W of power and a frequency response range of 80Hz to 20,000Hz.

The speakers connect to each other using Bluetooth, and setting everything up was a lot simpler than I was expecting. Once they’re charged (an LED shows red during recharging and displays Blue when powered on and ready to rock), hold the Power button on both units simultaneously and the speakers soon announce they’re connected. You then use a Bluetooth button to pair the whole system to your device (it shows up as a single unit), and that’s it.

Impressively, the sound delivered is true stereo, not just synchronizing duplicate audio output in two different speakers. For example, playing The Doors’ “Peace Frog,” Robby Krieger’s opening guitar riff blasts from the right channel speaker to kick off the song, instead of both speakers–the way it should be. The triangular speaker profile has the drivers pointing straight up, so sound is dispersed instead of being directed forward.

Sound quality is very good, especially for an inexpensive, portable system. The Taco Dual isn’t going to overpower you with booming bass response, but low end performance is decent. Mid range is well represented, and the high end is clear without getting tinny. They pump out a lot more volume than you might expect and don’t start to get buzzy until pretty close to the maximum–at which point they are loud enough that you won’t be able to have a conversation anywhere in the immediate vicinity.

Taco Dual speakers can be used individually

Use just one of the Taco Dual speakers if you want to go compact (Photo by Brad Moon)

If you don’t want the stereo effect or don’t want to carry both around, each of these speakers can be used on its own as well, so you are truly getting two portable speakers. Battery life is claimed to be 12 hours. As always, that’s going to vary depending primarily on volume but also on whether you use Bluetooth or that AUX input, but I was able to easily go 8 hours wirelessly at medium volume (and intermittent high volume) on a charge. That’s a good showing and more than long enough for most events.

The only issue I ran into were the printed directions, which suffer from some awkward translations. Skipping tracks on my iPhone using the speaker buttons was easy, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn the volume up and down on the shared buttons, instead of skipping forward and back through the music. Eventually it dawned on me to hold the button down instead of a quick press, and that solved the mystery of controlling the volume.

After putting the Taco Dual speakers through their paces, I’m left scratching my head over two questions.

First, what’s up with the name? Is TACO an acronym for something? Did they choose the name figuring everyone loves tacos? Second, why had I not heard of the Taco Dual before? There are hundreds (if not thousands) of inexpensive Bluetooth speakers on the market these days, but a system that offers this combination of performance, portability, price, and dual speaker stereo–with both speakers included–is virtually unheard of.

At the time of writing, Taco Dual is on sale for $65.99 at Amazon (where it holds a 5-star rating with 82 reviews).

Disclosure: IdeaUSA provided a Taco Dual wireless speaker system for the purposes of this review.

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You Know Who Else Likes the ‘Regular Show’ Movie? My Mom! http://geekdad.com/2015/08/regular-show-the-movie/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/regular-show-the-movie/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:15:05 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107717 'Regular Show: The Movie' is more of the characters your love in the outlandish situations you've come to expect. Now with more time travel! Continue reading

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regular show the movie

Cartoon Network does a nice job of pairing its property. For example, characters like Finn and Jake, Steven and the Crystal Gems? They’re heroes, plain and simple. They are courageous beings on the righteous path. They are what most of us aspire to be.

Meanwhile, the characters from their sister shows–Mordecai and Rigby, Clarence and Sumo–are just like us. They’re regular people… er… animals. And kids. Animals and kids…

But I digress.

We’ve learned a lot about the cast of Regular Show over the past seven seasons, and Regular Show: The Movie–which will be available on DVD on October 13th and streaming starting September 1st via iTunes, Google Play, and the like–gives us yet another glimpse into the past (and future) of everyone’s favorite blue jay and raccoon.

The film opens in a dark future where a time-nado threatens all of existence. Our only hope rests in the past: six years ago from our time, to be exact. Mordecai and Rigby (along with Skips, Benson, Pops, Muscle Man, and Hi Five Ghost) travel back to the boys’ teenage years at West Anderson High to solve the problem before it starts.

Of course, since this is Regular Show, there are unforeseen complications, which all hinge on Rigby’s tendencies toward selfishness and general disarray. A powerful enemy is made, and a secret is discovered–one that could end the duo’s friendship once and for all.

Like the series itself, Regular Show: The Movie features a stellar voice cast, great dialog, nice use of licensed music, and a marvelously clean animation style. But, this time around, expect a lot more action and suspense. Given its war-to-destroy/save-time plotline, there’s also a fair bit of violence, and even some character death. (Though, rest assured, all of your core timeline favorites make it through relatively unscathed.)

Despite the fact that Regular Show is geared toward a slightly older audience, I know that plenty of younger kids–my 7-year-old included–are big fans. Still, you’ll likely want to prescreen this one before you share it with your youngest or most sensitive geeklings.

For older, longtime fans, though, there’s nothing not to like about Regular Show: The Movie. It’s more of the characters your love in the outlandish situations you’ve come to expect. Now with more time travel!

Promotional and review materials provided by: Cartoon Network, Turner Broadcasting

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Daily #DadJoke for August 28, 2015 http://geekdad.com/2015/08/dadjoke-082815/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/dadjoke-082815/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:00:46 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=105466 What is old, dusty, and tucked away in the back of a closet? Continue reading

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Daily #DadJoke for August 28, 2015:

20150828What is old, dusty, and tucked away in the back of a closet?

The 1974 Hide-N-Seek World Champion.


Have a great joke that you would like to see in print (complete with a “submitted by your name here” shout-out)? Send it in to GeekDadJokes!

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Kids Play ‘Disney Infinity 3.0: Star Wars’ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/kids-play-disney-infinity-3/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/kids-play-disney-infinity-3/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 07:00:51 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107524 Ahead of a full review, here's a look at some first impressions of kids playing 'Disney Infinity 3.0.' The space travel and improved lightsaber combat are both winners. Continue reading

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Ahead of a full review, here’s a look at some first impressions of kids playing Disney Infinity 3.0. The space travel and improved lightsaber combat are both winners:

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GeekDad Weekly Geekaway: The GoPro Hero4 Session Giveaway http://geekdad.com/2015/08/gopro-hero4-session-giveaway/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/gopro-hero4-session-giveaway/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:15:37 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107657 Get it on film with The GoPro Hero4 Session Giveaway Continue reading

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GoPro Hero4 Session

No more cell phone videos on your mountain bike with our latest Geekaway, The GoPro Hero4 Session Giveaway. Small, light, durable and waterproof it takes vacation memories to the next level; now you can prove you did that crazy stunt after all. Save your cell phone for calling an ambulance afterwards. Click the link above to see contest details.

Be sure to check GeekDad’s section called Daily Deals. Each weekday we will offer new deals on cool stuff. These deals have limited lifespans, so keep checking back. Also, create an account and sign up for our newsletter at https://deals.geekdad.com/sign_up or follow our Store RSS Feed at https://deals.geekdad.com/feed.

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This Amazon Daily Deal Is Going Down the Drain http://geekdad.com/2015/08/going-down-the-drain/ http://geekdad.com/2015/08/going-down-the-drain/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:42:38 +0000 http://geekdad.com/?p=107661 Most mornings that I post one of these Amazon Daily Deals, I try to focus on gadgets, electronics, pop culture, and other stuff that will appeal to the geeky folks who read GeekDad. And while there is a nice pair of Skullcandy bluetooth headphones on sale today, I think the other big daily deal is a more homey alternative. Continue reading

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disposal

Most mornings that I post one of these Amazon Daily Deals, I try to focus on gadgets, electronics, pop culture, and other stuff that will appeal to the geeky folks who read GeekDad. And while there is a nice pair of Skullcandy bluetooth headphones on sale today, I think the other big daily deal is a more homey alternative.

In my life, I’ve installed a few garbage disposals. It’s one of the simpler plumbing-related things you can do yourself, involving just two connections and a power cord, but it’s very satisfying to get the work done, turn on the water, toss a couple scraps down the drain, flip the swich, and listen to the blades whirl away. And today, Amazon is selling the Waste King 8000 series 1-hp garbage disposal for just $88. No, it’s not a glamorous gadget or cool bit of anime, but it is a useful piece of kitchen hardware.

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