From the Cheapskate: Ready to dip your toe into home-smartening electrical outlets? This one works with Apple's HomeKit and normally costs $35. Plus three bonus deals, including a free Walking Dead game!
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I can't say I'm sold on the whole smart home thing, much as I love my app-powered thermostat and voice-powered Amazon Echo. The Echo's smart in and of itself, but it has no integration with my actual house.
I mean, heck, if I want a lamp to turn on and off at designated times, a cheap mechanical timer will get the job done. Smart home gear tends to get expensive.
Not today, though: For a limited time, Tomtop is offering the Koogeek Smart Plug for $23.99 shipped when you apply promo code P1US at checkout. Regular price is $34.99.
This is exactly what it sounds like -- an electrical outlet that plugs into an existing electrical outlet. It connects to your home network via Wi-Fi and works with Apple's HomeKit, meaning you control the outlet via your iPhone or iPad.
Plug in said lamp, for example, and you can subsequently say to Siri, "Turn on the lamp." Add Koogeek's app into the mix and you can schedule timers, monitor energy consumption and -- if you deploy multiple plugs -- create "scenes" to control multiple devices simultaneously.
The reviews at Tomtop and Amazon are mostly positive, but rightly note that the design of the plug is such that it nearly blocks the second plug in your typical wall outlet. I say "nearly" because although it does prohibit the use of a three-prong plug, a two-pronger (like, say, another lamp) can still fit.
What's more, I had trouble testing mine because of Apple's idiotic iCloud Keychain requirement, notably the way it requires verification. Most users won't have this same issue, but ultimately I can't comment on how well the plug works -- or the operation of the app, which looks pretty straightforward, at least.
Once I get all that straightened out, I do have one potentially smart use in mind for the Koogeek: resetting my cable modem and router on a nightly basis.
Bonus deal: Game time! Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is an updated version of the Sega Genesis classic, and widely regarded as one of the all-time great platform games. It normally runs $5.99, but for a limited time, you can get Castle of Illusion (iOS) for just 99 cents. (Just checked: The Android version is on sale as well! And Amazon Fire owners can get it free via Underground Apps.)
Bonus deal 2: Game time, part 2! If you've never tried Telltale's Walking Dead series, you're in for a treat. Especially today, because Amazon Prime subscribers who link their accounts to Twitch Prime can get The Walking Dead Season 2 (PC) for free. Regular price: $24.99. Don't have Twitch Prime? That's also free as part of your Amazon Prime membership. (So hit up that latter link, sign up for Twitch, then go to that first link to claim the game.) One small hassle: You'll have to download and use the Twitch Launcher in order to play the game.
Bonus deal 3: VR time! It's barely been four months since Samsung unveiled the 2016 edition of its Gear VR headset, with the same $99.99 list price as its predecessor. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Dww-US (via Ebay) has the Samsung Gear VR 2016 for $48.90 shipped -- the lowest price I've seen. Amazingly, it's new, not refurbished. It's compatible with most current- and previous-gen Samsung phones, though obviously you shouldn't use it with the ill-fated Note 7.