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Figured I'd start a discussion on smart speakers & displays like Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc. Do you use them? Why or why not?

For me, getting some Phillips Hue bulbs is the gateway to me using Google Assistant more on my phone, and I'm seriously considering getting a few Google Homes and/or a Lenovo smart display.

While I know some may consider these devices too invasive, Google already knows enough about me that it doesn't worry me too much. Yes, these devices are technically always listening for the trigger word (OK Google), but I don't think they're listening all the time. Google even addressed that one in the Mini when it was first released and reviewers discovered pressing the middle would keep the mic active.



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I'm deep into Google Home with 4 Google Home speakers, a chromecast audio I treat as a speaker and a Lenovo Display speaker. I also have an Echo Dot I got for free. Everything I have was bought on sale.

The reason I got into it is that my wife who is a relative newbie when it comes to computers, etc didn't know how to play music from our stereo system. With Spotify, IHeart Radio, etc., she can give a voice command and get what she wants. I have a speaker group that includes the speakers we listen to the most but can also play music everywhere if I wish.

That was the start. Then, we have TP-Link and Wemo light switches and plugs and a Canary security system that I can control with Alexa and get stats like temperature, humidity, etc. from Google Home. I say "Alexa, Trigger Away Mode" and the alarm is set and "Alexa, Trigger Home Mode" to turn it off.

I have an Insignia smart speaker from Best Buy US that has a digital clock and perpetually displays the temperature outside. That is on my bedroom night table and is my alarm clock.

The Lenovo is in my dining room. I've used it to watch youtube videos but most of the time it displays a photo slideshow. Some people have had problems with the display dying on them but not me. I've had it since last Black Friday.

There are 2 or 3 items that I still would like to implement - a door lock, a Ring or Nest doorbell and a smart thermostat. I have a Nest smoke detector and tried installing a Nest thermostat and found that it's not compatible with our electric baseboard heaters. I ended up selling it on Kijiji. So far every thermostat I've looked into won't work with my heating system. If I install a ring doorbell, the Lenovo will show me who is at the door.

As for the door lock, I'm waiting for good sale on a unit like the August where you change the inside unit but the outside unit remains the same. Living in a condo building, I'm not allowed to change the outside appearance.
 

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1 google Home and 2 mini's so far, have them set up to do routines, turn on and off lights, run the Nest thermostat and the Nvidia Shields I have can be voice controlled as well.

Just wish I could put in a smart doorbell. The old wired doorbell messed up years ago so when new front doors went in, they covered the hole. The Nest indoor camera covers the front of the house well though
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have a Mini that will eventually be sent thanks to that Spotify promotion. I did have one before, but wasn't really using it much, but now it'll be handy for controlling lights.

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I cannot find a use for a smart speaker in our place. Just two of us, we have different tastes in tv programmes so we each have our own tv and pvr.


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I wouldn't have a smart speaker. Invasion of privacy and data mining is far too prevalent with these types of devices. It's one thing to provide smart devices, which I applaud, but the amount of data mining and it's uses are much too invasive. We've already seen many cases where data was sold to or stolen by companies or individuals that used it illegally. When that's scaled back significantly I'll take another look at smart devices and assistants.

The smart features on my TV are disconnected. It doesn't offer enough features to make it worth it. Smart TVs and their apps often lose support after a few years so it will soon be moot.

Using an app to control lighting and other devices or appliances is a trade off I will accept if it provides enough benefits. When they start building cameras and microphones into refrigerators and other items I must take a close look at the reputation of the company and what it is planning to do with the data they are able to collect.
 

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I use the Amazon Echo Dot aka the Alexa. I am cautious in how I use it though and I press the mute button on the device and only use the voice commands when need be, and most of the time I use it to listen to streaming AM or FM radio broadcasts because they come in crystal clear, I check the weather, sports scores and thats about it, I do NOT do my grocery shopping with it or have it tied to any payment or purchase account, I think people are too eager to do that and should have some sense of caution and hold back and not jump into these things right off the bat.
 

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Still no smart speakers here but just yesterday we bought new laundry kit that has wifi built in. LG as it happens. So I went off to the (Apple) App Store and downloaded the LG app. Can’t try it yet until the machines are installed next week. Interestingly the comments on the App Store say it doesn’t work on IOS but it does at least initialize.

So I doubt there is a privacy problem with a washing machine but I wonder why it needs connectivity in the first place?



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Every new appliance seems to insist on having "smart" features which mostly barely work, are paired with janky apps, and are not particularly secure and likely to be future soldiers in the bot armies. But those features are selling points for salesmen.

I have a Google Home Mini. It's mostly useful to control lights (mostly Ikea Tradfri bulbs with a few Kasa plugs and switches), set timers while cooking, and find out whether it's going to rain as I'm heading out the door. I do have a Chromecast on my TV and Chromecast Audios throughout my home, but I find that I prefer to browse music and video content, so I only really use my phone to initiate and control there. I also have a Nest thermostat, but is mostly runs itself.

One feature I use rarely but very much appreciate when it's there is the broadcast function, which allows you to send voice or text messages to be read aloud on your speakers. If you have someone in your home who is not reliable at checking their phone, it can be really valuable in an urgent situation.

I'm sure I'll eventually get a Nest Hub (I like the live albums feature) but I'll wait until Google inevitably steeply discounts them to pick one up.
 

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Still no smart speakers here but just yesterday we bought new laundry kit that has wifi built in.
On mine it's NFC, not WiFi. Here's the information from the Operating Manual for my recently-purchased washer.

LG SmartThinQ Application Features For appliances with the logo...The Tag On function can only be used with most smart phones equipped with the NFC (Near Field Communication) function and based on the Android OS (operating system).

Download Cycle: Download new and special cycles that are not included in the basic cycles on the appliance. Appliances that have been successfully registered can download a variety of specialty cycles specific to the appliance. Only one cycle can be stored on the appliance at a time. Once cycle download is completed in the appliance, the product keeps the downloaded cycle until a new cycle is downloaded.

Tub Clean Coach: This function shows how many cycles remain before it is time to run the Tub Clean cycle.

Smart Diagnosis: This function provides useful information for diagnosing and solving issues with the appliance based on the pattern of use.
I haven't bothered using it yet, but it could come in handy for troubleshooting.

Smart Diagnosis: through the Customer Information Center. For appliances with the (applicable) logo This gives you the capability of speaking directly to our trained specialists. The specialist records the data transmitted from the appliance and uses it to analyze the issue, providing a fast and effective diagnosis.

LG SmartThinQ Smart Diagnosis: For appliances with the (applicable) logo Use the Smart Diagnosis feature in the LG SmartThinQ application for help diagnosing issues with the appliance without the assistance of the LG Customer Information Center.Follow the instructions in the LG SmartThinQ application to perform a Smart Diagnosis using your smartphone.
 

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Actually, the LG sets have either WIFI or NFC, I also have the NFC but wish I had bought the WIFI set due to more features with the app
 

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According to my manual ( downloaded from LG) my LG washer can use NFC or WIFI. It is not at all clear how it connects wifi as there is no way to enter a password but I get the impression that it can get the info from the phone. I will experiment next week.


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The Chromecast is the same in having no way to enter a password. The setup program seems to take care of connecting to the Chromecast and then registering the Chromecast on the network. It's kind of creepy really. I've got to wonder what could be done by a malicious app that takes advantage of this feature.
 

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Machines arrived and are set up. Made myself an LG account. Needed to do 2 machines.
Followed the instructions using my iPhone, although comments on the App Store suggest IOS devices don’t work.

Both the washer and dryer appear as separate WiFi networks on the phone and as devices on my wifi seen on the router network map.

Looks as if the only real use is to report an error code to LG.

That’s it.


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I have two google home mini and I used them for:

Hey google: set temperature to ..., play ..... from Netflix, turn on/off the porch light, turn on/off backyard light, turn on/off living room lights, general quick google search (what is .. ft to m, population of ..., how to make ...), set alarm, play music on my TV speaker, play something from youtube, dim or brighten the lights and tell me a joke!

It all started last year with my Christmas tree. Bestbuy had a promotion to buy google home mini and a Smart Plug, hey google: turn on/off Christmas tree.

You need smart light bulbs, plugs, thermostat and Chromecast to do most of what I mentioned above.
 

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I am with ExDilbert. Too much invasion of privacy. Having said that, I have to admit that I do have insteon lighting, Harmony Hub in my rec room, Logitec Circle2 to monitor instrusion into my house. These have low risk of being hacked. I also have a Bose QC headphone which uses Google Assistant to monitor and read incoming messages. I don't really know if Google can listen to my Google Assistant reading my messages, but I do not use it often enough to worry.
 

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There were some earlier discussions in this thread regarding "smart" washing machines. Hope you don't mind if I extend that discussion here.

We've had our compact LG front loader for 4 months and I have the following questions/comments.

1. We've probably run about 50-60 cycles in that time and our machine still hasn't recommended the tub clean cycle. It's supposed to after a certain number of cycles - perhaps related also to the type of cycle, etc. Our washer doesn't smell because we leave the door open and our clothes are rarely very soiled. We mostly run the delicate cycle on cold water and our clothes are perfectly clean.

Just wondering what other people's experience is if they have been "told" by their machines when to run "tub clean"? I see many websites recommend once a month, but we probably only do about 12-15 loads per month, so I've been waiting for the machine to tell me. ;)

2. The downloadable apps are supposed to be able to tell you when the next tub clean cycle is due - has anyone used the app for that purpose? Does the app even tell you that in Canada because the app is really hobbled up here? The reviews by Canadians are very poor for the app.
 
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