Can Staples Connect bring order to the smart-home universe?

There's little doubt that the popularity of "smart home" products is surging. Connected devices both large and small were everywhere at CES this year, and with Google buying Nest recently, it's clear that the titans of tech are paying attention.

But with all of these new devices comes a Babel-esque smattering of networking protocols -- the "languages" they use to receive and transmit data. Some speak to your router over Wi-Fi, others speak to your tablet over Bluetooth. Kwikset, Yale and Schlage make smart deadbolts that relay information using Z-Wave, while Philips Hue bulbsRead more

What we loved and hated about the 2013 smart home

The CNET Appliances team has tested a whole bunch of stuff for you this year, from the surprisingly capable SimpliSafe home security system to the extremely disappointing Infinuvo CleanMate QQ5 robot vacuum. Hopefully our reviews have come in handy. And while we're excited about CES 2014, we're also feeling a bit nostalgic about the products we reviewed in 2013. So, here's a brief look back at the year in home appliances -- what worked, what didn't, and everything in between.

"Smart" large appliances

Several manufacturers introduced new ways to incorporate "smart features" … Read more

Do you really want to talk to your thermostat?

The $349 Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control is an intriguing new offering from Honeywell. While it is virtually identical to Honeywell's $249 Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat in design and functionality, the addition of voice control really sets it apart. Unlike some of its other key features, this one wasn't borrowed from Nest.

I think that's great. Unfortunately, I can't recommend it -- at least not yet. I really wanted the voice control to work, but instead it's very basic, and occasionally glitchy. That makes the extra $100 for this one feature seem excessive.

Most of … Read more

Install the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat in a snap

The installation process on the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat will be different depending on your existing heating and cooling system setup. Keep this in mind when you're starting out so you don't get too frustrated along the way.

Step 1: Go to your circuit breaker and switch off power to your thermostat.

Step 2: Remove your current thermostat and make note of the wires attached to the base plate; this will not be the same for everyone. My old thermostat had a G, a W, a Y, and an Rh wire.

Step 3: Make sure that you tag … Read more

Innovation-focused Nest partners with Intellectual Ventures

This just in: Nest is joining forces with privately held invention capital company, Intellectual Ventures (IV). Through this collaboration, Nest will purchase patents of interest and be able to access IV's portfolio of 40,000 patent assets.

The patent sales agreement relates in part to processes for automatic registration of devices, while the license agreement gives Nest access to IV's IP for Defense program (IPFD). The IPFD not only grants Nest access to its massive patent library, but also allows Nest to get patent rights to protect its products.

Nest has been involved in some patent unpleasantness with … Read more

Automate this: Smart devices for every corner of your home

When you talk about smart appliances, the first things that come to mind for most people are Wi-Fi-enabled washing machines or refrigerators with touch screens built into the door. But some of the smartest upgrades of all might actually lie in the world of home automation, where an explosion of new smart gadgets is offering homeowners entirely new levels of functionality for their day-to-day lives. Best of all, unlike that Internet-ready washer or touch-screen fridge, a home automation upgrade isn't likely to cost you thousands of dollars.

With more and more products rolling out each month, from both established … Read more

Honeywell wants to take down the Nest

Editor's Note: The power cord used for this installation is not included in the standard packaging.

Thermostat giant Honeywell designed this Wi-Fi-enabled model in direct response to the innovative Nest Learning Thermostat created by Apple alumni Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. Honeywell went so far as to file a lawsuit against Nest on February 6, 2012, claiming the new company violated seven existing Honeywell patents in the making of their iPod-inspired thermostat. Strip away all of that drama, and you still end up with two extremely capable products that have top-notch functionality and identical $249 price tags. So, what … Read more

Would you swap toilet access for good in-flight Wi-Fi? You're not alone

Thirteen percent of US airline passengers who have used onboard Wi-Fi say they'd give up access to the bathroom for a stronger Wi-Fi signal.

That odd number is just one to come out of a new survey about in-flight Internet conducted by contractor Honeywell. Among the other conclusions? Eighty-six percent of Americans want ubiquitous onboard Wi-Fi; 9 out of 10 would happily ditch one of their favored amenities if Internet was available throughout all their domestic and international flights; and 73 percent said they use onboard Wi-Fi just because they want to, not because of an obligation, work or otherwise, to stay connected. … Read more

Honeywell energy savings calculator counts the trees

Being able to control the environment inside of a house is one of the hallmarks of modern living, yet for many years it was simple; turn on the heat or turn on the air conditioning and that was that. Considering the dynamic nature of hot and cold -- along with humans' inherent desire for control -- it should make perfect sense that on and off simply wasn't enough.

Precise control over home heating and cooling systems has increased by leaps and bounds in the past few years. The popular Nest thermostat helped take things to the next level by … Read more

Allure Energy latest to file infringement suit against Nest

Allure Energy sued Nest Labs yesterday, claiming that the company's much-celebrated Nest Learning Thermostat infringed on its patent.

Filing the suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the Austin, Texas-based Allure alleged that its patent for the invention of an "Auto-adaptable energy management apparatus" trumped Nest's right to develop, market, and sell a smart thermostat.

Allure said it first began designing its product, which is known as EverSense, in 2009, and filed it patent application in 2010. The company said in a release that it also got a patent for &… Read more