If you’ve been looking for a great start to your smart home in 2017, there’s no better way to begin than with iDevices’ ‘Smart Home Essentials’ kit.
Compatible with both Apple HomeKit as well as Amazon Echo, look no further for your beginning to a connected smart home. The kit itself will set you back $499, which will obviously give you sticker shock but trust me, it’s worth saving up for to get everything you need all at once. You get virtually every appliance in one large black box that regardless if you live in an apartment or home, there’s something in the box for you. Coming with five indoor light switches, three light bulb socket adapters, and two dual outlets for outdoor uses, the Smart Home Essentials Kit by iDevices allows you to control everything from your smartphone. And unlike other HomeKit accessories on the market, one bonus to iDevices accessories are that they now come bundled with compatibility with Amazon’s Echo, so not only can you control the iDevices products by using Siri or Apple’s Home app directly from your iPhone, but if you want to, you can now summon Alexa to do a command for you, from turning off your living room lights to turning off your coffee pot.
“The Smart Home Essentials kit was born from iDevices’ vision that home automation should be as seamless and invisible as possible to the user. Smart home products should enhance everyday life and create peace of mind, not headaches. iDevices set out to simplify and educate consumers with one package that will deliver the ultimate smart home experience that programs and pays for itself. The Essentials kit serves as a smart home foundation which users can easily and dynamically expand upon with new products and customizations moving forward, especially as iDevices expands their product offering”, says iDevices.
All of iDevices’ apps work completely with Apple’s very own Home app, but I must say, look great in iDevices’ own app which is free in the app store. You can set up each app individually, as well as see devices that are not made by iDevices on the app as well, which is helpful as long as they are indeed HomeKit compatible devices. The app allows you to create triggers and scenes just like any other HomeKit app like Elgato’s Eve or Apple’s “Home” app, which is nice, it just does so in a more elegant manner with its black interface that looks way more streamlined. Also, there’s 3D-Touch compatibility to interact with your most used as well as most recently used products. There’s no widget which is a bummer, but hopefully, iDevices is working on that. Another added bonus over other products is the the iDevices app is available for Apple Watch also so you can control these products straight from your wrist.
First up is the iDevices indoor power outlet, which just so happens to be one of my favorite on the market currently. The HomeKit and Alexa-Enabled outlet go that extra mile in terms of home accessories as not only does the outlet allow you to wireless turn on and off your devices, but it saves you space as well. Not your traditional outlet, the iDevices Switch has its AC outlet sitting on the right-hand side instead of sitting on the front like most on the market. So for someone who has an outlet behind furniture, you can now make use of that outlet behind your couch since the cord will no longer stick out making it hard for a dresser or other furniture to sit flush to a wall. Once caveat about the Switch however if you cannot turn the outlet upside down or rotate it in a particular direction since the three-prong plug only sits one way.
A bonus, however, is the fact the iDevices included an LED light that not only is customizable by color but works as an awesome accent nightlight to the room that it’s in. I have one of the Switches sitting in my master bedroom, so instead of having to turn the light on in the middle of the night, I’m very comfortable leaving the nightlight function on in the bathroom 24/7. It’s low-power so it doesn’t suck up a lot of resource in your home which will cost you money which I find to be nice, but if you want to be sure it doesn’t, you can always turn that functionality off, all while leaving the ability to plug up devices on. The LED light feature works separately from the outlet feature in HomeKit as well so you can control them individually. And of course, if you want to turn off the appliance plugged into the switch manually, you can use the button on the side of iDevices’ switch to control power coming to the Switch.
Up next is the Socket by iDevices. To be clear the socket is just that, a socket, and not an actual lightbulb. Which means you simply screw it into your existing light fixture, then screw the light bulb into the iDevices Socket. This is worth mentioning, more specifically for those of you who intend on using this with lamps that have a shade or cover on them. My best advice to you is simply “good luck”. Since the Socket by iDevices is pretty big itself, I found that the Socket is more geared towards standalone light fixtures, more specifically ones that don’t have a cover to them.
Compatible with all standard bulbs up to 60-watts, you can fit any halogen or incandescent bulb into this Socket and feel content that you’ll be saving energy as a result. On the side of each socket that comes in the Smart Home Essentials Kit is a physical button that allows you to turn it on and off manually if you see fit, like your standard bulb. This is great if you do not have a “smart switch” in your home that can run off of HomeKit, and it’s just plugged into a wall outlet with no need for a physical wall on/off switch. I learned this the hard way as my Living Room Light is not only controlled by a single wall on/off switch, but if you decide you want to use iDevices Socket in tandem with the on/off switch you’ll have to leave the switch on 24/7, which could potentially cost you money. So if you’re going to use the Socket, take my suggestion and leave it for accent lights, possibly end tables, or that bedroom lamp that is not connected to your home’s physical on/off switch.
Besides that, the Socket is an AWESOME accessory to your homes lighting in MANY ways. The Socket works with the iDevices app to allow you to dim a light directly from the app, although you can’t do it manually. But just like the iDevices Switches, there’s a built-in LED night light that works separate your own standard light bulb. The Socket has the ability to change colors like the iDevices Switch, however, it will not change the physical color of the bulb that it is connected to. If you’d rather go the cheap route, however, you can go bulb-less and just use the iDevices Socket’s LED light as its own standalone if you want your room to be a different color, you just have to be mindful a light bulb cannot be attached. This isn’t a big letdown, but at $79 by itself, I wish iDevices would’ve made the effort to include that functionality. Especially when you could just buy Phillip’s Hue Start kit for essentially the same price.
Finally, there’s the iDevices Outdoor Outlet ($80), which even if you do not have a home with a balcony or patio, can serve a great use. As someone who loves to decorate their home during the holidays, one thing I’ve always hated is having to go around the Christmas tree to turn off the lights before bed. With the iDevices Outdoor Switch, regardless if you have decorations indoors or outdoors you can now turn them off, from wherever you are. The Outdoor Smart Plug from iDevices just like other iDevices products allows you to control and monitor your appliance using the iDevices App, Apple’s Home app, or Amazon’s Echo. Unlike the Indoor Switch, however, this Smart Plug-ins particular features dual outlets allowing you to control two different appliances simultaneously.
Notice I mentioned “simultaneously” and not “Separately”, as one caveat to the outdoor switch compared to say ConnectSense’s indoor switch is you cannot control each outlet individually. So for example, if you have your Christmas tree plugged in, as well as your outdoor window lights to this switch and toggle “Off” within the iDevices app, both will shut off which is an absolute bummer. If I could change ONE thing about the Outdoor Switch it would certainly be this, because to be honest, it does its other functions flawlessly. It has some weight to it, but the upside is it’s waterproof so your outlets will not electrocute you, and protected against the elements, but not only can you use this outlet outdoors, it works perfectly fine in your home if you just want a dual outlet somewhere in your home.
If you can get over the small blunders like needing a smaller physical lightbulb to use the Socket under a lamp shade, or the inability to individually turn off one and not both devices from the Outdoor Switch, all of these products are a great fit for your home. Now mind you, each of these appliances are pretty pricey individually, so you might do yourself a service by just buying the bundle. But regardless, all of the products work great, not just with one another, but with Alexa, as well as other connected home appliances.
For more information on iDevices Switch, Socket, or Outdoor Smart Plug, please head over to iDevices site for more information.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: Night lights on the Socket and Switch are excellent; seamless integration with HomeKit; Alexa is a nice addition
What Needs Improvement: Outdoor Switch needs to be able to control separately.