Special Thanks to Universal Devices Inc, Mar-Tune Music and ERS Surf.


Hey guys, welcome back to Cool Toys. Really appreciate you guys being here. Um, this is not one of our big outdoor plane with a Jeep having a lot of fun episodes. This is all about making cool toys at home. So as winters come in, you get locked in the house. Smart homes, connected homes start to become the thing, you know, all these, uh, great toys that we can buy and put into our homes like Alexa. So nice little toy. I can just say Alexa play rock, end rock mix from Spotify, Alexa off. So I don’t wanna get in trouble for copyrights, so I won’t play the music, but it’s that simple and it’s a lot of fun. But, Michel Kohanim at Universal Devices, and I had a very good and long conversation about something in the home tech business.


Both of us have been in the industry forever. Um, I started installing home networks in 1984. I don’t want to give away my age, but 89, somewhere in there, uh, maybe 87. And making homes smarter, better networking, better connectivity, better. , we now have this thing called the internet of things. You might see IoT, your washer can talk to your refrigerator, can talk to your television, but all of that is not truly smart. It’s connected and it’s two very different things. And that’s what Michel and I were talking about. His company, Universal Devices and several others have been struggling recently for a lot of reasons. The biggest one, obviously the economy. Yeah. You know what they say, it’s the economy, stupid. Well, you know, it’s true about everything when, the 2006 through 2009 housing crash happened, 75% of every audio video manufacturer in the United States disappeared. They were consolidated into other companies. And in fact, one of the things I’m gonna show you today has already consolidated, meaning that that company’s had to get absorbed by somebody else in order to stay alive. And it’s too bad because it’s a great product.

All of this turned out to be this long conversation and we started looking at it like a human. So a human has this ability to be totally autonomous and to go out into the world and survive and do all these things by itself, right? We can do that. Sheep are so stupid. They’re an animal that is considered not enough brain power to survive in the wild.

If you let ’em go in the wild, they don’t even know how to eat. They can eat, but they’ll just let other stuff eat them, and that’s part of the problem. The connected home and the smart home, two different things, and then we’ll get into something else after that. But let’s talk about smart versus connected.

Think of your connected home as being part of the Matrix. When I talk to that little device over there, the echo, uh, and call it by name. Uh, in fact we name them differently throughout our house. We have a Ziggy, we have an Alexa, we have, uh, each of the names. So every room you can turn music on or off by that room just by using the correct.

It’s a neat feature. Those are connected features. They go out to the internet, out to Amazon, and then back to you with the music. The same is true for Google Home, and the same is true for the Apple home, but. If you have little device like this, universal devices, this little teeny thing, it looks, uh, for those of you that are super nerdy, kind of like a raspberry pie, stuffed in a box, it’s got a couple of lights on the front, very simple, very straightforward.

This is the brains to my house. This little box controls everything. Um, and that’s what makes it a smart home. So if the internet disconnects from my house, if I go back to a box and just unplug the internet from the outside world, My smart lights don’t quit. If I say, Hey, Ziggy, turn on the lights, then you know, Ziggy’s gotta be there to turn on the lights, right?

But if we’re disconnected from the internet and I say, Hey Ziggy, turn on the lights, what do you get? Oh, I’m having trouble disconnecting to the, or connecting to the internet. Right? Um, so the smart home, if the internet goes down and I push the smart button that says, turn on some. Then the lights still work.

That’s the smart home. So a smart home has this ability to be somewhat autonomous, and that’s really what this episode’s about. We’re gonna talk about connected versus autonomous in each of the pieces of how we live at home, electronically and technologically in our current world. Um, you know, lighting, simplest thing, lighting control, Phillips hue.

You go buy the little light bulb, screwed in, give it the uh, app, and boom, you just. Ziggy turn on the light and boom, light comes on. Right? Very cool. Ziggy make that light red. And my neighbor across the street’s got two of them and he says, Ziggy make one light named, you know, right gate red, make left gate green.

Now he’s got Christmas lights. So very cool, connected. If the internet goes down when he is doing that, Boom. Dead done. Can’t do it. If he goes to bed, the internet goes down and he says, Ziggy, turn off the lights. Well, or Google turn off the lights. Guess what? Google can’t do it because he can’t talk to Google to get the lights to turn off.

And that is the connected home. It’s the matrix. You gotta be part of that matrix. Otherwise you don’t exist with a smart home. You don’t need it. So like, let me show you this switch. So this switch here is, , um, six button. The top one in the bottom one are re really just a light switch. So if you see on and off right then the four in the middle are smart switches that do different things around the house.

And then even if the internet goes down, that switch still works, which is a really a cool feature. So, um, Now you ask why does that matter? Well, and why is this important? So this little box also talks to those switches, so I can give it some programming. And so this is, this screen right here is, um, just a simple program.

Turn some lights on and off. Right? Well, I have hundreds of those programs that decide based on motion sensors. If somebody’s in the house, if I’m on vacation, if the alarm is on, it talks to my alarm. I have an Elk M one. Um, and we have that in the studio and the house. They talk back and forth. So if the alarm is on, it says, oh, he’s not home, but go ahead and run the lights as if he’s home.

And then if I am home, it says, run the lights based on how he’s living in the house. So it does change a little bit, but most of my neighbors can’t tell if I’m home or not, which is exactly what you’re looking for. You don’t want to be the victim because it looks like you have an empty house. And that is what happens if you.

Internet connected and somebody disconnects. Your internet lights don’t change. And if you’re a good thief, what’s the first thing you want to test? Disconnect the internet. Do the lights change? Nope. Okay. They’re not home. It’s all internet connected. So this is a simple thing. And that’s all about the connected home, right?

Versus the smart home. So having this little is y um, this is the old version. It’s called an is y. There’s a new one. There’s a policy that’s out now that’s way smarter. , um, these work and the thing, here’s the other part I like, and this is where Michelle and I have a great understanding in, in why we have a good friendship, is that we both agree we don’t want to be hamstrung by a company.

And this comes from that 2006 downturn when all those companies went outta business. If I bought a lighting control system from, let’s say, Scott Lighting and Scott Lighting goes outta business, you’re outta luck, right? So, One of the things that I learned at in that business was problem solving and how to get around being stuck and universal devices solve that.

They’re one of three brands of these little boxes that allow me to talk to a Z-Wave, A ZigBee, an insteon an X 10, and if you. been around at all. You know, X ten’s been around since the seventies, and there’s several companies that make X 10 compatible lighting and switches and alarm clocks and all kinds of cool things.

So Universal does that. We don’t want to be stuck with something. I like Lutron a lot. I like Crestron a lot, but I can’t talk to Crestron with this because Crestron demands that you use their stuff, control. Same thing, but with the udi, the Universal Devices box, the new one. The newest one coming out this year is the Easy E I S Y.

I have all of these great little plug-in modules that can control when my car charges for the maximum efficiency. They’ve even got one that talks to your power company. So if the clouds block, the solar, your house drops. Its need for power for just a few minutes while those generators spool up. And that’s a big.

but lemme show you how this kind of all rolls out. Let’s look at this bank of four switches. So there’s four switches there. One of everything, right? The first one you’ll notice there is a timed switch that’s got a timer and that’s the fan for the shower. You push a button, shower come, you know the fan comes on, you take a shower, you get out and you forget to turn the fan off.

No big deal. Walk away, turns itself off and that works great for things like a fire. Um, you know, if you want to have a little fire ambiance when you go to bed, if you got a fireplace in your bedroom or downstairs and you use it to heat your house, or you push the button for 20 minutes, go to bed, you know it’s off.

You don’t have to worry that, oh, did I leave the fireplace on? Because that happens, right? Um, now once that’s all done, you move to the next step, right? Entertainment. So we go to the next switch and we have a basic light switch on off. and because we’ve got two different sets of lights in this particular bathroom, we have one that is automatic, one that is not.

So you can see going through this, we’ve got a time switch, an automatic switch, a manual switch, and then the one with the little lights on the side is the insteon dimmer switch. And that one’s the coolest one because you walk into the bathroom, you set, you hit it, you can predetermine how bright you want it.

We always set it to the lowest 10% so you can walk in at night and make a little nightlight. Go in. Um, and then that motion sensor does the same thing. It actually puts on the toe light, walk outta the bathroom. Five minutes later, toe light turns off so you have a safe light in the middle of the night to use the restroom, come back, do whatever you wanna do.

The other one, if you forget to turn off the bathroom lights, but you leave the house. House says, oh, there’s nobody in the house. Nobody outside the house can see that that light’s on. Turn it off, and it turns off. If you set the alarm, that light automatically turns off. That’s one of the cool things with those Sion switches, and again, Universal devices is really the thing that runs the house.

I don’t care if it’s Sion, Lutron, ZigBee Z-Wave, any brand or any format of that lighting or X 10, even old X 10 works great. All of that works perfectly with my little Udi. Um, My, this isn’t is y and the new one again, policy and easy. So I’m looking forward to get the easy cause I can get some more polys in there, which are those little plugin modules that let you do all kinds of cool stuff.

Um, you know, if you’re really nerdy, you can go get a raspberry pie and do all this yourself. But like I showed you earlier, that little simple program that universal devices puts together makes my life super easy. So why not, you know, a couple hundred bucks, no big deal. Now that. . We’ve got the company that consolidated.

This is that whole audio, video, entertainment, everything. The whole industry is changing because we as consumers consume differently. We want now, we want instant, and we’re okay renting, which is bizarre to me. I’m very much a control freak. I’m a pilot, right? I want to be in control. I want to know I own it when I go to watch tv.

and I have to pay 60 bucks a month to stream what I can watch with an antenna. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. So the funny part is we had cable, we went to streaming over the internet. Internet went down one day and I thought, this is ridiculous. I put up an antenna, a little $9 s seen on tv, hdtv, whatever, antenna, and I got 15 channels with that little.

I thought, geez, why am I paying 64 bucks a month to watch abc, N b, nbc, cbs, which is really what I watch on my streaming service. And I, we had YouTube TV and Hulu TV at different times and Direct TV and at T tv, which became Direct tv. So all of those streaming services plus local really didn’t give me anything different because you had to pay extra for Paramount Plus, or you had to pay extra for hbo.

You had to pay extra for Apple tv. Extra for Disney Plus, right? So if you wanna watch Mandalorian, you pay for Disney, you wanna watch Acapulco, you pay for Apple. Neither of those were in the YouTube part. Everything was there. And then I found this little gem. So this is Tableau TV, little box, a little bit bigger than the universal devices.

It’s got four tuners in it, so four off air tuners. You can have four different TVs playing in the house all at the same time. Uh, all different channels and recording one of them. So we DVR one channel, we watch another channel. , the DVR is based on how big of a hard drive I stuck on there. So I went to, you know, Costco and grabbed an eight terabyte hard drive for 150 bucks and plugged it in there.

And that’s gonna be like a month and a half worth of television watching that little store. So I go back and off air, I get to watch all the old Baba Black sheep episodes that, you know, growing up I got to meet Poppy Boynton. So I got this cool thing of this old TV show, and at the same time, we’re recording all the new stuff, you know, ghosts and survivor and whatever else my wife wants to.

And we have tons of room just, and it’s, you know, 2 99 for this 200 bucks, uh, $2 and 99 cents a. For the guide so I don’t have to manually program in which channels and what times to do it, uh, to record. And that gives me automatic commercial. Skip for. So three bucks a month versus 65 bucks a month, I’ll pay the 150 bucks for little Tableau and the 4K unit is coming out soon, so keep that in mind.

If you want. True 4k Would Dolby Atmo surround sound because you’ve got nice surround sound stereo, you spent all that money on that Denon receiver and those Dolby Atmo speaker. . Don’t really get that with streaming, do you? But you do get it if you go off air, off air tv, especially now with ATSC three coming out, you’re going to be able to get 4k.

It’s just an outstanding product and it’s free. Why not? So Tableau tv, I’m gonna say right now, five star Cool Toys approved great product. Um, the app is fantastic because you can put it on any Apple TV or other stick in the house. And stream from the tableau to those TVs. And we did notice though that streaming does degrade the picture just slightly.

Not as bad as streaming over YouTube TV or Hulu or something like that. But it does make a slight difference. It does record with a little bit of compression. So, uh, that’s the part tableau I’d like you to fix. So 4.75 stars. We still give you five on the website, but the reality is we’d like to see that a little better.

Um, and I’m looking forward very much to. Uh, 4K version that should be outstanding. So we’ve got the smart home with its own independent brain for watching and recording tv. We’ve got its own independent brain for controlling the lights, talking to the alarm, figuring out if we’re home, turning on the coffee maker, turning off the refrigerator when we need to for the power company and those kind of things.

But we still stream. Netflix and all those things. Amazon Prime, right? So we got our way around that too. And this is one of my favorite old, old school toys. Very sad to see that they’re not a lot of anymore, very hard to find in dealers. They is a request media server. Um, again, I hang a NAS drive network accessible storage off the back 16 terabytes I’ve got.

I want to say 700 CDs that I’ve collected over the years recorded onto there and another 350 movies. Uh, lemme show you this little screenshot here. This is, uh, the screen. When I, when I’m watch a movie and it, and as long as I’ve got a media player, smaller version of this box in each room, I can play my DVDs that I’ve already paid for in any room that’s got a media player in the house.

I can stream music to all the rooms in the house that are connected by the Abus system, and we’ll get to the home audio in just a second. But, so we’ve got a legal way and an easy way to store all this stuff. request.com. Um, they still make the servers, they’re hard to come by. Uh, use market. Good luck.

There’s guys like me, they’re gobbling ’em all up because they are expensive. Um, but when the internet goes down, guess what? I still have. DVD storage and blueray. Now they do have a Blu-ray edition, so you know, if you wanna be out in the ocean in your yacht, or if you just wanna be home without internet watching movies or you don’t want to pay, how many times have you known that you bought a CD and paid 3 99 to rent the same stupid movie again later?

Especially if you got kids. How many times did you pay for cars or Pocahontas or frozen? Geez, buy frozen for 34 bucks and then you gotta pay 3 99 every time your kid wants to watch it because you didn’t get the Disney. Solved by a request. And the coolest thing, I will tell you this, the coolest feature of request.

If you’re lucky enough to have two houses or you wanna cheat a little, get a second server, bring it with you on the road. You can stream from your home to your second server over the internet, and then watch all the movies that you own at your second house or your second yacht, or whatever it is that you have to do it.

It is a high end piece. It’s a lot of fun, but it goes back. Smart home. I’m, I own it. I’m it versus the matrix where I depend on the streaming service. I depend on internet access and I depend on the, the internet capabilities. Now, one of the big things with streaming services is the little smart speakers.

You can put ’em all over the house and I can say echo play music in everywhere group and every speaker in the house can come on. If I have 10 of these things sticking all around the house. Reliability is a little iffy. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. It’s a funny thing and you gotta reset ’em 3, 4, 5 times.

I don’t like that. Again, I want to be in control. I want this stuff to work. So I have this little black box right there. It’s got, uh, just category five wire going in and then some RCA connectors that connect audio devices. So I can come out of that, um, request server. I can come actually out of an a little echo.

With a headphone jack into two RCAs. So now I’ve got two sources. Then I can come out with a FM tuner and I can come out with a serious satellite tuner if I wanted, so I could have four different sources and this keypad right here, pick the power, pick the source, and I can listen to music in any room.

And all it is is a cat five wire to the keypad, and then speaker wires to the two speakers in the ceiling. And I’ll tell you, it’s bulletproof, reliable. . Good last, long time. I’m very sad that Channel Vision has sold out or been acquired by another company. Uh, I hope they make it. Fortunately, there are other companies that make this technology abus very inexpensive, easy to install.

All of this, you can go berserk and go buy Crestron or Control four is a little more reasonable, or Ilan or some of these other. make these whole house audio, video lighting control systems. But the cost difference, and again, cool toys, we like doing stuff ourselves here. You know, you see me working on the Jeep and you see me tick going surfing.

I got my buddies custom making surfboards for me. These, you know, these aren’t things we bought in a store. These are things we’ve done or somebody we know has hooked us up. And that’s really kind of the cool choice thing is getting out there on our own and doing it. Um, so a. , that’s a little iffy one. You can hand break a Mac illegally and do the same thing.

But, um, if you get a request and you get a decent dealer, once it’s installed, it’s very easy to manage and maintain Tableau. You can do it yourself. The udi, the, uh, now, the, the policy or the easy little box. You can manage all the lights in your house. And if you can change a light switch, you can put an Sion, ZigBee Z-Wave, or even Lutron.

and have all of that stuff be completely automated. The elk alarm, ah boy, I’d probably have an alarm guy put it in cuz they are a little bit of work. But um, again, once it’s in, you own it, you manage it, you get a ring, somebody cuts off your internet, guess what? Ring don’t work. So my elk works over the internet to call me, text me, page me.

Anytime somebody comes into the house of the. It also has a cellular data backup. So if the internet goes down, I’ve got a little box with a cellular antenna and boom, I still get the call so we don’t lose anything. Again, smart home versus connected. Now, let’s go to the coolest part of all of this hybrid.

You can train your universal box with a little poly to talk to Alexa and vice versa. The camera system. On our house, we have a lorex. Uh, 4k both in the studio and the house surveillance system. So if somebody shows up at the studio and I’m still sitting here at home, or if I’m sitting here at home and somebody’s, you know, if I’m sitting over at the studio and somebody’s knocking on my front door wondering why I’m not in the big studio and I’m shooting here at home.

There you go. I can see ’em right on the screen and I can put those right on the Echo Show, the big LCD TV style Amazon. . I can also train in some of the lighting from the universal devices, so I can say, turn on the lights, set the scene, my holiday lights turn on. Holiday lights. Party lights is my favorite.

If we’re gonna have company over, I say Becko, Ziggy set party lights and it talks to U D I. This has a program called Party Lights. Party lights goes to town, and boom, the whole house is lit up exactly the way I want it for entertaining. You can do that without it. You can do it with hue lights and do that all over the house.

But I will tell you, way simpler, way more reliable. And if your internet goes down, you can still entertain your guests. You’ve still got music on a request. You’ve still got TV on Tableau. So if you’re showing the football game, and I will tell you football’s coming back Thursday night, Tableau High def.

I’m telling you, you can see the difference in football, soccer, uh, you know, European football. . My wife is a sports nut. I’m a car guy. I like watching F1 and man, I’ll tell you off air f1, it is phenomenal and I did not think it would be there, but it is there too on some channels. So CBS has got F1 once in a while and they’ve got some other auto racing.

It’s a lot of fun to watch it on the big screen and pure high definition without compression is absolutely phenomenal. So anyway, lot of fun stuff. So if you’re thinking about smart home versus connected, Cool toys here. We’re gonna say smart home all day long. Second hybrid home, get a smart home, hybrid it.

Integrate all this stuff because the truth is we’ve got Google home boxes, we’ve got Alexa. Remember though, if you’re connected home, you’re paying Amazon, Google, apple, somebody to bug your house, that gets a little creepy. So I will tell you that half of my home has no connected devices whatsoever in it.

So there is. Spying on me in my bedroom or in my guest bedroom. My guest can stay safely. They can’t say, Ziggy turn on the lights, but they don’t have to worry about Ziggy listening into a private conversation for their work, which is important with some of our guests and me personally. If I need to talk to you about your password for your company server, really don’t want that little thing listening in and they say it doesn’t, but I, we all know it does.

We’re paying them to bug us. So connected. Smart home. I go smart home. Hybrid connected is my vote. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff. Um, that’s it for today. Uh, next time we’re gonna go a little nuts for the season finale of season four. I am going to test out something that just showed up a brand new electric.

Why is the handle on the bottom? There we go. I got it backwards. Mepo skate. This is the extended range. It is, uh, seven miles from here to downtown Huntington Beach to the pier. And I’m gonna ride it and see if I can make it all the way there and back. And then I’ll tell you how fun. It’s um, that’s what we’ve got coming up next time.

Really appreciate you washing. Get some swag@cooltoys.tv. Get your cool Toys T-shirt. If you’ve got a cool toy, send it to us. Tell us about it. Let us get it on. And let us play with it and see if it gets a cool toy star. But for now, going through it, universal Devices, five Stars, Tableau five Stars request.

Cool Toy is approved. Barely one star. So part of it is that they used to have Netflix, Hulu, and all those apps built into the request. They currently don’t work. If you saw that on the screen, don’t be fooled. Click on. It doesn’t work. Weather doesn’t work, stock don’t work. There’s a lot of things that this used to do that it could do better and that’s why we pulled a couple stars off of it.

Um, four years ago I had given it five. It’s not there. So anyway, thanks for watching. Have a great night, subscribe, and I hope to see you next time.


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