All posts by Hoddy

Home Center 3 from FIBARO – FIRST HANDS-ON

Home Center 3

This is my first hands-on with the Home Center 3 (HC3) from FIBARO. The HC3 is an IoT hub for controlling your smart devices be they FIBARO’s or other manufactures. Currently, the HC3 only supports Z-Wave devices but has the hardware to work with Zigbee and 433Mhz and 868Mhz. These extra protocols are not yet implemented in the software but are due to be added soon, which bring me to my first point:

Software

The software on the HC3 is very intuitive in my opinion, It can be a little bit complex but I feel that just because of all the functionality they have available to use.

Software updates are regular it seems in my limited time with the device but time on the forum shows this is historically true too, the FIBARO team seem to release stable and beta updates every few weeks with new features and bug fixes, unlike a lot of devices when you buy a FIBARO HC, support doesn’t end when you take delivery they still regularly update the older devices which are good to see!

Forums and support

FIBARO hosts a very active forum that adds a lot of support for the Home Centers, it’s home to a lot of guides and information. I find it really encouraging to see a community like this that are all helping out and making the experience even better with things like self-written Quick Apps and troubleshooting setups.

The developers of the devices can also be often found in the forums answering questions and taking feedback, which goes towards future updates. On top of this if you have bought through a FIBARO installer you will have their support as well as FIBARO themselves directly.

Integrations

The setup of Z-Wave devices is seamless, and I’ve found setting up with Alexa and Google home simple (Subscribe for future guides on this!). All my devices show in my Home or Alexa app and devices can be renamed so you can use voice controls.

Automation’s are set up with Scenes and you have the choice of writing the code directly or simply using a block. If you’ve not seen block before you simply drag and drop the devices and the actions that you want to complete into your scene and it’s as simple as that. In the video, I show a simple example of how easy it is and just how much flexibility you have.

Review

I’ve been using the HC3 for a few weeks now and I’m happy with the stability and the sheer amount of flexibility that you can get out of the hub.

There’s definitely a balance between functionality and user-friendliness and I think the HC3 has struck a good mix. In the Smartphone App, they have gone too heavy on the user-friendly side which is perfect for me, If I need to make changes to how things work I use the web interface, if not I have the App where I can quickly run scenes and toggle devices. Probably the best bit of this is you can give the App to other less savvy users and they will still get all the functionality of the system without the ability to make changes.

As I’ve said in the video we will have plenty of content coming up on the setup of integrations and lots of other FIBARO products. Why not subscribe on YouTube to get notified of our next videos! If you enjoyed this content you might like our OpenWrt Guide.

Viewflex VF-K2 Video Creators kit

The VF-K2 is a multifunctional smartphone video kit from ViewFlex, In the box, you will find a tripod, a phone holder, a shotgun-style microphone, a wind and pop filter and finally a bag to keep it all in.

Viewflex VF-K2 Video Creators kit

First impressions

Opening the box, the first glance is very good just from the weight of the kit, all of the stand except for the legs is made of metal and it shows in the quality, it will be a very strong and durable little kit that I have no doubts will stand the test of time. The overall flexibility of the unit you couldn’t ask for much more and using standard fittings like the cold shoe (or H bracket) just makes it easier if you want to upgrade your filming down the line to something like DSLR.

The Mic

The Mic is really directional, so much so in a couple of places during the dubbing of this video I just turned my head while speaking (a bad habit of mine while filming!) but you could hear my voice fade. This might sound like a negative but it really isn’t, you don’t want anything except what is straight in front of a shotgun mic to be recorded and this mic does just that exceptionally well! I just need to get out of my bad habits!

Flexibility

Plenty of sizes for any phone, mine in the video was 80mm (8cm) and I measure the max to be 100mm (10cm), the ability to rotate the phone using the thumb turn on the back is a nice feature I’ve not seen in any other kit like this before but is probably ideal for those making TicTok or Instagram video’s with that portrait view whereas things like youtube your probably more likely to use landscape, but either way it has you covered.

Final thoughts

Overall a great little kit for newcomers to content creation, and plenty of room to upgrade in the future! If you’ve enjoyed this review you might also be interested in our review on the Uhuru Video Creators Bundle.

FIFINE Studio USB Microphone T669

The FiFine T669 Microphone comes with a large kit, including not only a boom arm but also a tripod desk stand if that’s what you would prefer. The first thing that I noticed was the look and feel of the kit, its got a real quality look with its matt black finish and things like the foam filter just feel a little bit thicker and firmer than some of the other microphones I’ve reviewed.

They have really taken the time to go through everything you need in the instruction manual and I know this seems like I small thing but that sort of attention to detail makes it easy for me to recommend it to anyone who is new to microphones and getting them set up correctly. They also have gone the extra mile by including some spare springs and a clamp screw head just to make sure this mic will last and can be well looked after.

The sound is quite bassy and picks up a wide range, I think with the way the diaphragm itself is very exposed (you can see it clearly through the mesh) this mic would also be good for instrument recording, perhaps I should get a guitar or something for future reviews? Let me know in the comments if you think that would help.