Baby, it's freezing outside. And February is far from over.
So here's some hot technology that can keep your home safe -- and keep you entertained while you hunker down under the blankets.
A friend who posted a note about the pipes in his kitchen freezing this week reminded me of one of the dangers of protracted frigid weather: water leaks.
Enter another device in the smart, connected home, Internet of things parade: Wally. The name is derived from the fact that instead of a wireless connection, Wally uses the electrical wiring in your home to transmit readings on moisture, temperature, and humidity to its hub and then to your smartphone or tablet. When a leak is detected by one of the six included sensors, a free alert is sent to the owner via text or email. It can also send you an alert when the temperature drops precipitously and threatens to freeze your pipes.
The sensors need to be placed near pipes or potential trouble spots. They include disposable lithium-ion batteries that the company says should last for about 10 years. Wally also works with the Nest smart thermostat in a single app, simplifying monitoring, particularly for people with a second home or for those lucky enough to be on vacation.
While the $299 price for Wally may deter some shoppers, keep in mind that detecting one threatening temperature drop or early leak can save a home owner thousands of dollars in repairs. One caveat: if you've got a large, older home with idiosyncratic wiring, you may have difficulty making a connection to the Wally hub from distant corners of your abode.
Video Guard Dog
There are dozens of webcams available, including popular models like the Dropcam (now owned by Google's Nest). Guardzilla is a noteworthy new model for its easy installation, modest price (it's $100, which is half the price of the Dropcam Pro), and the fact that it can sound an audible siren when an intruder is detected.
The Guardzilla connects to a home network via Wi-Fi and plugs into a regular electrical outlet. A green LED beneath the camera lets you know it's working, and a circle of nine LEDs around the lens gives it enough light to deliver a clear picture, even in a dark room. When motion is detected it will send you a still image. Alerts are free and you can arm Guardzilla to sound a deafening alarm.
Using the free iOS or Android app, you can set the camera to automatically arm when you leave and adjust motion sensitivity in five settings from low to maximum. You can check out the live video feed on your smartphone any time. The app also has a panic button, which triggers the siren.
One criticism of Guardzilla is that the video is not HD quality; it's only a 640 by 480 pixel picture.
Best TV for Hibernating
When it's too cold to venture forth outside, the best thing to do is snuggle up in front of a big screen and do some serious binge watching. The best picture I've found -- at a less than stratospheric price -- is that of LG's 55-inch 55EC9300 OLED TV. OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode and differs from standard LCD displays in that each picture element or pixel in an OLED screen can be lit individually, acting as its own light. LCD panels require a separate back or edge light and consequently are not as precise in illuminating objects on screen. LCD screens also cannot go completely black.
The result is one of the most stunningly crisp and colorful pictures I've seen yet. Stars in space are sharp, pinpricks of light. Red roses don't bleed color into the background, and there's almost no motion blur. The 55EC9300 has a curved screen, which I do not care for, but its brightness and contrast levels more than make up for the design quirk. LG has also beefed up the smart TV features of this OLED set with snappy webOS software that's easy to navigate.
At roughly $3,500, the LG 55EC9300 still isn't cheap, but its price is comparable to larger, high-end LCD sets. Buyers should note that the 55EC9300 is not a 4K (a.k.a., Ultra HD) set; it's standard HD (1080p). But when compared to Ultra HD LCD screens, the LG delivers a superior picture that's so clear you can imagine you're outside even while you're hibernating.
John R. Quain is a personal tech columnist for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @jqontech or find more tech coverage at J-Q.com.