New time, money or energy saving products for your home

Interesting review of new products for your home from Newsday. Some I’ve seen, some I haven’t. The products highlighted are:

Read the full story 8 hot household helpers by Gary Dymski on

Keep your secrets safe

Electrical Outlet Secret Safe from Spyville

A new twist on home security, recently featured on Good Morning America. Hide your valuables in plain sight with a line of cool “secret safes” from Spyville.

Disguise your “family jewels” or other valuables as innocuous household products or items. A can of Dr. Pepper, a jar of peanut butter. A decorative candle. An electric outlet in the wall. All can be more than they appear … if you order from Spyville. According to the site …,

All of our hidden safes are made from actual name brand products. They look and feel real!

Prices range from about $20 to $50. Neato!

Other fab home security stuff you can buy: full video security systems, VCRs and DVRs, nanny cams.

They also sell things one hopes wouldn’t be needed in your neighbourhood – bug detectors, voice changers, night vision goggles. I think though you have to supply your own foil headgear …

Biometric Deadbolts – Kwikset SmartScan Resources

KwikSet SmartScan, as profiled on The Arizona Republic

Curious about the new fingerprint deadbolt coming out in June from Kwikset? Kwikset bills it as the “world’s first residential biometric keyless entry system”. “Right now it’s the only one of its kind for residential,” said Leo Hancock, a sales manager for Black & Decker. “It’s the wave of the future.” Consumer Reports has a video demonstration, taped at the recent International Builders’ Show in Orlando, FL. Highlights from the Consumer Reports advance product review and other research:

  • easy to use
  • swipe to open
  • tap 3 times to lock
  • sub dermal finger scan – works with dirty fingers
  • programmable for 50+ fingerprints
  • lock out feature – temporary access at specific days and times
  • backup key
  • replaces a standard deadbolt
  • standalone – uses AA batteries
  • RF Technology
  • Grade-1 security

From the press release:

“Consumer acceptance of biometric technology is accelerating,” says Eric Lundquist, director of brand marketing for Kwikset. “It is currently available on portable hard drives and IBM ThinkPad computers, as well as in grocery store checkouts, gas stations and automobiles. Biometrics is an emerging technology that gives consumers an increased level of home protection and peace of mind.”

Kwikset’s SmartScan is specifically designed as an effective, yet stylish alternative to the bulky, undistinguished industrial biometric security systems currently available. It delivers a sleek, attractive designer look and feel, with its biometric fingerprint reader stealthily integrated into the overall design. SmartScan is available in a variety of finishes, which carry a lifetime anti-tarnish warranty. SmartScan…it puts security and convenience right at your fingertips.

More preview information can be obtained directly from Kwikset’s website,

Let your cellphone be your butler

Ding dong. “Who’s there?”. If you’re in the shower or the basement, they’ll never hear you. If you’re in the garden, you won’t here them.

Waleli's GSM Doorbell

Enter the GSM (Global Standard for Mobile) Doorbell. This creative application of wireless technology allows you to answer the door remotely, even if you aren’t home.

How does it work? When a visitor presses your doorbell, your cellphone rings. When you answer, you can talk to your visitor directly and unlock the door by entering a PIN from your cell if need be.

This is a good for all kinds of situations. Forgot your keys? Phone home (using your cell of course) and let yourself in. Kids home early from school and don’t have keys? No need to leave work, you can just let them in. Big one for me because I like to order online – courier arrives needing a signature and you’re not there (always!)? Talk to him directly to make arrangements.

The GSM Doorbell also works as a regular doorbell when needed.

The product is being actively marketed to home security specialists and property developers as it is often integrated with electronic door systems. Currently available in Europe, Waleli hopes to go global with the product in the near future.

Fingerprint Locks – Are They Worth It?

The other day we looked at the “bump key” threat and the higher security locks you can buy to combat the problem. But what if you wanted to take your home security to the next level? To stop the determined professional thief? Are the new biometric fingerprint locks the answer? Hmmmm …

KwikSet SmartScan, as profiled on The Arizona Republic

Certainly they offer certain practical advantages over conventional locks. Firstly, you shouldn’t be able to lose your key because it’s, like, um, permanently attached to your hand.

They’re also programmable, allowing you to control access your home by different people at different times of the day; the ordinary lock is “all or nothing”. I can see how a fingerprint lock could have prevented this incident where a troubled bathroom remodeling contractor used the housekey given to him to vandalize a vacationing customer’s home, doing more than $200,000 in damage.

But how well do they work? As with anything, it depends on the quality and manufacturer. This first in-depth review I came across on The Gadgeteer was not positive; missing or sketchy instructions, installation issues, and fingerprint registration issues were a problem. Basically the testers found it too unreliable to use day to day.

On the other hand, the reviews on the sites selling these products are generally very positive and sound like they come from real customers … but don’t offer much of an in-depth assessment. Epinions had some reviews but only on 1 brand / model which always makes me wonder …

The bottom line with fingerprint locks, more so than other locks, is that “you get what you pay for”. If you choose a better quality (i.e. $$$) fingerprint lock, you will get better and more reliable performance.

So they work. Good. But are they more secure, in and of themselves? Are they really burglar proof?

Manufacturers say yes. But the MythBusters say no. Watch and learn people.

Watch on YouTube if doesn’t load below.

So it seems that if someone can get your fingerprint, they can also get into your house.
And where could they get one of those? Um, the scan pad maybe? To be fair, swiping fingerprints requires some skill but the “determined professional thief” should have no problem there …

The takeaway from all this is that if you need a fingerprint lock, the reason probably has more to do with the other features – the convenience, the programmability – and not just security alone. As with any home security measure, it needs to be used in conjunction with other secondary measures. “Bumping” a lock isn’t going to work out for an intruder if you’ve also got an alarm system. The same applies here.

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