Review: Elgato's Eve Energy smartplug is easy to use, but highlights HomeKit's flaws

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2016
Elgato's Eve Energy smartplug is a perfectly serviceable home automation product, but in some ways it proves that Apple's HomeKit platform still has a ways to go before it becomes mainstream.




Setting up the accessory is easy, as one would hope for. After downloading the Elgato Eve app for iOS and installing the plug, owners can then just scan a label to complete HomeKit pairing. At that point the app lets users assign a name, room, and/or a zone to the device.




At its most basic, there are two advantages to the Eve Energy: remotely turning something on or off, and monitoring power consumption. For the former, you can use either Siri or the Eve app -- it's potentially faster to use the app, but Siri is normally the best option. As usual, you can't control any HomeKit devices away from home unless you have an Apple TV to serve as a hub.




Despite using Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi, we found the plug to be consistently fast and responsive. Of course, people with especially large homes may want to seek out a Wi-Fi accessory instead, though people in apartments or small- to medium-sized houses should be alright.

When tracking consumption, the app offers separate views for current and total power usage. The latter is probably the most useful function, offering hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly graphs, not just for a single accessory but for any Elgato product registered with the app, organized by room. This can be handy for people trying to narrow down the cause of expensive bills, or running off a limited power supply.




In the app's Settings menu, you can set up groups, zones, and automation, much as with other HomeKit products. This where the Eve Energy's dependence on Bluetooth rears its ugly head again though, since trigger rules (like arriving home) can't be set for Bluetooth devices. That fundamentally limits how "smart" the Eve Energy can be.




In fact this makes the product a dicey value proposition, especially when you consider the other limits of the hardware. It can't be used outdoors, and there's just a single socket, which feels ludicrous for something that costs $50. Even a second socket would make it seem like a better value.

That's just a fundamental problem with HomeKit at the moment, however. Many compatible accessories are overpriced, making it hard to justify the idea of a fully-equipped house.

Indeed, the platform still feels like it's in a rough state. Until costs come down, and Bluetooth is phased out or given more automation support, shoppers will have to be very careful about what they buy. The Eve Energy might be fine for you, but be sure to do comparison shopping first.

Score: 3 out of 5



Pros:
  • Easy setup
  • Offers quick control & consumption monitoring
  • Well-designed companion app


Cons:
  • Bluetooth limits automation functions
  • Expensive
  • Just one socket, can't be used outdoors


Where to buy:



The Eve Energy costs $49.95 at the Elgato website or Amazon.com.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,552member
    iOS 10 should include a HomeKit app called Home that would negate the need to install any third party app, where rules, devices, scenes and even phrases could be added. It should be minimal and affective and work with wifi and Bluetooth.

    I like the way 'hub-less' bulbs are beginning to appear now. That require you to just screw in the bulb and download an app. The next step is to not even require an app to be downloaded. Then you're approaching the usability of an "analogue bulb".

    tikteck.com is one of the best smart bulbs I've seen up to now, it's $10 and seems like a great product, their app looks good, no hub, but sadly Bluetooth only and no European bayonet. Their Twitter also doesn't reply which is sad.
    edited April 2016 justbobfchiadacloobrian greencornchip
  • Reply 2 of 36
    JotWeeJotWee Posts: 4member
    Bluetooth does not limit automation functions. iOS 9.3 would allow for triggers but Elgato has to update the firmware of their products first.
    irelandbrian greencornchip
  • Reply 3 of 36
    jeromecjeromec Posts: 63member
    I have an Elgato Eve Energy and can perfectly have trigger rules for it, such as turn it on when I arrive home.
    I have attached 2 screenshots to show that. They are in French, but quite easy to understand: it is a rule to turn on the Elgato Eve Energy when I arrive home.

    The fact that I have an Apple TV (4th gen), might help, since it enables remotes access to Homekit.
    I have the European version of the Eve Energy, which has a different shape (as well as obviously voltage and plugs), but I cannot see why this would be different.

    Roger, you should modify this article.


    irelandMacProjustbobfbrian greencornchip
  • Reply 4 of 36
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 431member
    I'm new to HomeKit and I thought I would try it by purchasing a Phillips Hue bulb to test.  I know that Phillips requires a bridge (second gen for HomeKit), but I have TV 4.  Do I still need the Phillips bridge or does the TV handle those duties?

    i've asked two Apple geniuses and gotten two different answered (so far).
  • Reply 5 of 36
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 191member
    Steve Jobs: "It's that easy." 

    "Except for HomeKit, which sucks right now. We're working on it. At some point in the future, if our guys can figure it out, you will be able to setup a HomeKit device within 50 minutes and it will work flawlessly for over 12 minutes without having to be setup again." 

    I'm 0 for 5 with HomeKit. I've ignored the HomeKit stuff for now, and will wait for the 14.0 update. 
    edited April 2016 bdkennedy1002justbobfbrian greenpotatoleeksoup
  • Reply 6 of 36
    rbonnerrbonner Posts: 635member
    I have an automated home through Insteon. This look fairly equivalent to what is offered there, but there is 1 thing that breaks all of these solutions, the light switch. Over and over, at night my wife will turn off the lights at the switch which the next day renders automation useless. I ended up embedding micro switches in the lamps that react to the switch to solve this issue. So the switch sends out the signal to the unit controlling the lamp, works super well. Am surprised there are not more connected appliances on the market yet.
    potatoleeksoup
  • Reply 7 of 36
    emoeller said:
    I'm new to HomeKit and I thought I would try it by purchasing a Phillips Hue bulb to test.  I know that Phillips requires a bridge (second gen for HomeKit), but I have TV 4.  Do I still need the Phillips bridge or does the TV handle those duties?

    i've asked two Apple geniuses and gotten two different answered (so far).
    I think this page will answer your Apple side of the equation questions. Then I suggest talking to a Phillips expert: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204893 ;
  • Reply 8 of 36
    michael_cmichael_c Posts: 164member

    Cons:
    • Bluetooth limits automation functions
    • Expensive
    • Just one socket, can't be used outdoors


    It looks like the writer of this article doesn't understand the architecture of HomeKit, and automation.  HomeKit, nor Elgato are limiting the remote control.  I don't see any of the "Cons" listed, per se, as issues.  The biggest deficiency of the Elgato devices that I see is they haven't employed any range extension capability and are thereby limited by the Bluetooth range.

    Bluetooth devices, by themselves, can't be "seen" via the Internet and require some other device with an IP address to manage the communications when outside the range of the Bluetooth device.  Apparently, AppleTV fills that need, so there is at least one way the HomeKit platform can be implented for remote control - I use UDI system for automation of Insteon and ZWave devices, so am trusting what others have said about Apple TV serving as a hub.
     
    Regarding the "can't be used outside" aspect:
    I don't see this as a bad design decision.  Providing a housing that is suitable for outdoor use requires additional considerations, and keeping the devices both attractive and compact without increasing the cost is no triavial matter.   It seems reasonable that Elgato is leaving the outdoor solution for other devices.

    Regarding the "Just one socket" aspect":
    I'm not sure what situations the writer is trying to address, and there may be some where multiple sockets would be useful.  However, for the most part the majority of situations I've seen, I want to control a single lamp in a particular part of the house.  I use indoor modules to control lights and devices which are not controlled by a hard wired switch - such as lamps plugged into an outlet.  In the few cases where I want to control multiple lights, there are other "old tech" solutions which allow a single socket to power multiple devices.  Most of the cases I have where I want multiple lights turned on at the same time, are ones which are currently hardwired to a wall switch.  In those situations I replaced the switch with one that can be controlled by the automation controller.  If they don't already exist, I would expect the HomeKit compatible devices will (over time) include hard wired switch modules.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,158member
    emoeller said:
    I'm new to HomeKit and I thought I would try it by purchasing a Phillips Hue bulb to test.  I know that Phillips requires a bridge (second gen for HomeKit), but I have TV 4.  Do I still need the Phillips bridge or does the TV handle those duties?

    i've asked two Apple geniuses and gotten two different answered (so far).
    I have the second generation Philips Hue lights. You do need to use the Philips bridge. HomeKit needs to communicate with other hardware. It won't work on it's own. HomeKit can't control the lights without using the Philips bridge. The only function using an Apple TV is it enables you to be able to control your Philips lights away from home with Siri commands. You have to set up your Philips bridge inside the Hue app with HomeKit in order for it to work. If you are away from home, you can actually log into the Philips Hue website and control your lights. 
  • Reply 10 of 36
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,292member
    The entire concept is flawed:

    https://medium.com/internet-of-shit/the-internet-of-things-has-a-dirty-little-secret-28bce2d412b2#.g3xk1th1i

    I have found one and exactly one use for these kinds of devices: the memo wall light switch for my porch light. It works like the switch it replaced - toggle on/off - and I set it up to come on as a timer. Done. Who wants a "lamp" that you have to find your phone to control? Or dick round finding the plug on the wall behind a table? 
    potatoleeksoup
  • Reply 11 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,552member
    eightzero said:
    Wasn't a bad read. Certainly one way of looking at it.

    "I own a ton of these devices already: a Tado thermostat, Sonos speakers and Hue lightbulbs. It just kind of happened before I realized it."

    Eh, no it didn't. You bought them with your money.
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 12 of 36
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 431member
    emoeller said:
    I'm new to HomeKit and I thought I would try it by purchasing a Phillips Hue bulb to test.  I know that Phillips requires a bridge (second gen for HomeKit), but I have TV 4.  Do I still need the Phillips bridge or does the TV handle those duties?

    i've asked two Apple geniuses and gotten two different answered (so far).
    I have the second generation Philips Hue lights. You do need to use the Philips bridge. HomeKit needs to communicate with other hardware. It won't work on it's own. HomeKit can't control the lights without using the Philips bridge. The only function using an Apple TV is it enables you to be able to control your Philips lights away from home with Siri commands. You have to set up your Philips bridge inside the Hue app with HomeKit in order for it to work. If you are away from home, you can actually log into the Philips Hue website and control your lights. 
    Great, thanks for the assist.  I guess the best solution is to purchase the Phillips Starter Kit (second gen HomeKit approval seal).  I've done considerable reading on this and IoT still seems to be in its infancy.  I'm starting to build a new home this summer and I wanted to wire it up for IoT, so this is an opportunity to start testing what works and what doesn't.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    Thank you for your mail and interest in our Eve Energy. A UK version of this product is not planned in the near future.

    The UK is obviously not regarded as a market for Eve products.
  • Reply 14 of 36
    michael_cmichael_c Posts: 164member
    eightzero said:
    The entire concept is flawed:

    https://medium.com/internet-of-shit/the-internet-of-things-has-a-dirty-little-secret-28bce2d412b2#.g3xk1th1i

    I have found one and exactly one use for these kinds of devices: the memo wall light switch for my porch light. It works like the switch it replaced - toggle on/off - and I set it up to come on as a timer. Done. Who wants a "lamp" that you have to find your phone to control? Or dick round finding the plug on the wall behind a table? 
    I'm assuming you typed Wemo and autocorrect changed to memo.  There are definitely a lot of products forcing a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, but there are more useful functions offered than simply allowing someone to turn on a light via a phone.   It seems like this is a common progression with a lot of new ideas, but I think there are more useful applications than either the porch light example you mentioned or ones I can think of.   Some ideas will stick, but most will fall by the wayside.

    Every automation device we've bought so far has provided multiple functionality, and have found adding a few lines of code has added some benefit we hadn't originally thought of.

    By no means do I think we've thought of all of the useful things automation can do, but so far the things we've done has made life flow better.

    Just a few things we've found useful:
    We use automation to open our entrance gate when we get within range and close it when we drive in.  We get a text message if someone comes onto the property.  And, if it's dark outside, it will turn on driveway lights, path lights and turn them off when we're inside.  This also allows remote control, so when someone presses the call button at the gate, it connects to the cell phone and I can open the gate if it make sense.  So, it gives the impression we are home, yet can be half way around the world.  For a relatively small cost, I can have events automatically control my home and surroundings, with the added benefit of being to control the devices via the phone.  We have a light in a gazebo, where we can turn it on from the physical switch inside the gazebo, and leave it on until we get into the house, where using the phone to turn it off is handy.

    We have a light that comes on in the living room at sunset, but also flashes whenever anyone drives up to the gate area regardless of the time of day.  Really useful when we are expecting a delivery.

    Our porch light switch operates normally when you toggle it on, but if you toggle it on a second time within 3 seconds (arbitrarily what I chose), it will turn on 4 sets of outdoor lights which will light up the walkways and driveway.  And, even though I didn't add these devices so they could be controlled via the phone, there have been times when I found it very nice to turn on a light via the phone.  
     
    Typically we have a few days of frost each year that can damage citrus and avocado trees, so turning on lights connected to an outdoor module via the phone while sitting in a warm house has been welcomed.

    None of this is necessary to live life, but for a relatively small amount of $$ it makes life a little nicer and in some cases a bit safer.

    lolliverapollaknolamacguy
  • Reply 15 of 36
    doggonedoggone Posts: 179member
    Read the article.  Did a search and came up with ConnectSense smart outlet which has two independently controlled outlets that work via Wifi.  At $75 definitely a better deal.
  • Reply 16 of 36
    rbonner said:
     Am surprised there are not more connected appliances on the market yet.
    As someone who setup much of what counts for an automated home these days back in the 1970's (light swiches, motion sensors Heating controls) while at University as part of degree in Control Eng, I have been following the IoT things with some interest.
    I will not connect any appliance I purchase to the internet. I really don't want to be spied upon. Also given the issues that surfaced this week with Nest kit being effectively bricked by Google, who wants to take that chance.
    While it is neat and cool to be able to control your home from anywhere in the world, given the really crap security of much IoT kit do you really want to risk it? Do you really want to risk someone finding out that you are off on Vacation for the next 'n' weeks and getting their friends to ransack your home?
    Soyy, I really can't risk connecting anything up until the bits of kit use proper Security. However quite how I'm going to update a TLS Key in a lightbulb, is a problem for the future.

  • Reply 17 of 36
    aumgnaumgn Posts: 1member
    The title of the article mentions that this device highlights Homekit's flaws. Since when is a lack of features and unbalanced price/value the fault of the protocol in which something runs?

    This is like blaming a crappy router on the 802.11ac spec, total nonsense.

    Cons:
    • Bluetooth limits automation functions (not Homekit's fault)
    • Expensive (could partially be Homekit's fault due to the chipset limitation, but the price seems on par with competitors)
    • Just one socket, can't be used outdoors (not Homekit's fault)
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 18 of 36
    mtbnut said:
    Steve Jobs: "It's that easy." 

    "Except for HomeKit, which sucks right now. We're working on it. At some point in the future, if our guys can figure it out, you will be able to setup a HomeKit device within 50 minutes and it will work flawlessly for over 12 minutes without having to be setup again." 

    I'm 0 for 5 with HomeKit. I've ignored the HomeKit stuff for now, and will wait for the 14.0 update. 
    "Thank you for beta testing our products for free at full price. At some point in the future, we will release version 2.0, which is what version 1.0 should have been."
  • Reply 19 of 36
    jeromecjeromec Posts: 63member
    emoeller said:
    I'm new to HomeKit and I thought I would try it by purchasing a Phillips Hue bulb to test.  I know that Phillips requires a bridge (second gen for HomeKit), but I have TV 4.  Do I still need the Phillips bridge or does the TV handle those duties?

    i've asked two Apple geniuses and gotten two different answered (so far).
    You need a Philips Hue bridge (2nd gen). They are included in the Hue starter kits.
    Apple TV allows you to access your Hue lights from outside your home.

    Hue works great, whether through the specific Hue apps (such as Philips's Hue app), or Homekit apps (such as Elgato's Eve app or the Home app)
  • Reply 20 of 36
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    eightzero said:
    The entire concept is flawed:

    https://medium.com/internet-of-shit/the-internet-of-things-has-a-dirty-little-secret-28bce2d412b2#.g3xk1th1i

    I have found one and exactly one use for these kinds of devices: the memo wall light switch for my porch light. It works like the switch it replaced - toggle on/off - and I set it up to come on as a timer. Done. Who wants a "lamp" that you have to find your phone to control? Or dick round finding the plug on the wall behind a table? 
    perhaps you should try the Hue products before describing how they don't work -- you done need your phone. you can turn them on and off via normal switches if you like. but you can also have them set to schedules for different scenes, and use your phone, tablet on the coffee table, or watch on your wrist to set a specific scene (ex: relax, reading, tv, movies are our top scenes). 
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