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Keyboard doubles as universal remote

ANYTIME you use a set-top box such as Apple TV or Roku you are forced into the cumbersome process of inputting username and passwords with a remote, scrolling around for one letter at a time.

To the rescue comes Logitech's Harmony Smart Keyboard, a streaming media universal remote for your system.

The smart keyboard functions as a control center. Use it like any other keyboard, although it does take just a few minutes to get used to since you are essentially using it as your remote.

All the keys you would expect are there, with letters and numbers across the top. A trackpad replaces the numbers keypad on the right side.

Also included is the Harmony Hub, the brain of the system. It accepts signals from the keyboard and turns them into wireless commands (Bluetooth, IR or Wi-Fi) that your existing devices will understand. The hub supports more than 225,000 devices, including program services such as Netflix and Hulu on devices such as Apple TV, Xbox, or PS3 to name just a few.

The Harmony app makes your iOS or Android smartphone an entertainment remote control for your personal favorites and up to 50 of your favorite channels.

Since I'm not a gamer, I'm pretty much locked on DIRECTV and Apple TV. So I tested the keyboard system out with my Apple TV and it was as simple as advertised.

A great thing about Logitech is the company's tech support, which is right there on the page for the Smart Keyboard. This includes videos on setup, forums and a knowledge base.

Details: $149.99, www.logitech.com

A lightbulb never sounded so good

I got to see a demo of the AwoX Striimlight B-10 light bulb and Bluetooth speaker at a trade show earlier this year but it's a whole lot cooler trying it out in my own house with my own music.

Just screw the LED bulb into any lamp and you now have a speaker lamp.

The multifunctional, eco-friendly LED lightbulb measures just short of nine centimetres in diameter and has an integrated Bluetooth speaker in the center.

The speaker's specs are: 10 watts, 8ohm (range: 200Hz to 20000Hz).

An included remote controls the light (on/off/dimming) along with the speaker volume. The setup consists of screwing in the light bulb (standard E26 or E27 socket) and then pairing the speaker with any Bluetooth enabled-device.

As for the long-lasting LED lighting, it's 110-240v -- a 40W incandescent equivalent.

Details: $99, www.awox.com

Jabra does it again

I've reviewed many products from Jabra, and every one of them has been great. So I'm confident these earbuds will be no different.

This week I opened the Jabra Rox Wireless (Bluetooth 4.0) earbuds.

Just like with the above speaker in the light bulb, you just pair it and play your tunes. The speakers are at opposite ends of a wire that has a three-button remote integrated into the cable. The speakers have built-in magnets, enabling them to be attached and turned off, or separated and turned back on.

An omni-directional microphone with a noise filter is also built into the wireless headphones for hands-free calling. There's a USB charging port on the left ear and a battery status indicator.

You get a bunch of different sized ear tips to get the right fit along with a carrying case.

Details: $129.99 available in black or white, www.jabra.com

Twitter.com/greggellman

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2014 ??65521

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