iHome's iSP5 SmartPlug Is Far From Perfect, But It's a Cheap Way to Give HomeKit a Try

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    iHome's iSP5 SmartPlug is one of the first five HomeKit-compatible devices on the market, and it's the most affordable option for Apple users who are looking to try out the company's home automation platform. The SmartPlug is a simple device that plugs right into any outlet, transforming any appliance - from lights to fans - into an iPhone-controlled Siri-compatible smart product using WiFi.

    We tested out three of iHome's SmartPlugs, simulating what it might be like to control lights and fans across multiple rooms to turn an ordinary home with ordinary outlets into a smart home with a reasonable monetary investment and a bit of time.


    As with the Elgato Eve review I did earlier this summer, using the iHome SmartPlugs makes it clear that there are still a lot of issues that need to be resolved with HomeKit and Apple's HomeKit partner companies, but at the $40 price point, I can recommend the SmartPlug to anyone curious about HomeKit who has the patience to deal with bugs that can range from minor inconveniences to frustrations that make you want to toss your SmartPlug across the room in anger.

    Hardware Overview

    The iSP5 SmartPlug is a no-frills device that plugs into any outlet within the home to transform it into a WiFi-connected outlet. Each SmartPlug connects individually to a home's WiFi network, so a central bridge is not required. SmartPlugs are rectangular in shape and fairly compact -- small enough that two can be plugged in next to each other in a single 120v wall outlet.


    Setting up the SmartPlugs is as simple as plugging them in and downloading the iHome Control app. From there, a WiFi network needs to be confirmed within the app and the HomeKit code supplied with each SmartPlug needs to be entered to register the devices with HomeKit and an iCloud account.

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    Article Link: iHome's iSP5 SmartPlug Is Far From Perfect, But It's a Cheap Way to Give HomeKit a Try
  2. Macwick macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2008
    This is why - for the most part - home automation is a solution looking for a problem.
  3. Four oF NINE macrumors 68000

    Four oF NINE

    Sep 28, 2011
    Hell's Kitchen
    This could be a good option for someone to take an experimentation with HomeKit
  4. DBZmusicboy01 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2011
  5. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    American sockets have such cute little surprised faces.

    Would probably give these a go if they ever came to the UK if just for the novelty.
  6. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    hehe.... cute

    I was wondering from a tech perspective how they would work because its an ordinary outlet, connected to an non-smart light, lamp etc..

    Then i released the on/off switch, u control that remote via the app,,, Am i close ?

    Basically controlling the on/off switch from an app is "smart" just because u don't have to get up ? ok :cool: i can dig it.

    If i could get them for 240v, i wouldn't mind trying these out.
  7. charliepratt macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2009
    I have two, and they work great. The accompanying iOS app is very nice as well. They just work.
  8. mxmgodin macrumors member


    Oct 22, 2014
    Toronto, ON
    Exactly, when it's 11:30pm and the S.O. is sleeping next to you, it's very inconvenient to pick up your phone to ask Siri to turn off the bedroom table lamp... And opening the app to do it would take much longer than just pulling the switch (especially if the app crashes and/or requires you to login again like the review states).

    These smart plugs really need a way to be turned off manually too when needed.
  9. TonyC28 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2009
  10. RogerWilco macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2011
    Third try: "Hey Siri, turn on the #*%$ light!".

    Siri: "I tried and HK framework 03F5D4 does not respond. Get up and turn it on yourself, lazy ass"
  11. Macwick macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2008
    "I'm sorry, I can't find the device 'Smother Ducking Clocksucker light".
  12. AngerDanger, Aug 28, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015

    AngerDanger macrumors 601


    Dec 9, 2008
    Pre-cooked bacon ➝ toaster oven ➝ SmartPlug ➝ triggered by morning alarm ➝ "Siri, cook me breakfast when I wake up."
  13. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    WeMo doesn't have any of the Siri features, so at worse, it would only match it. iHome did update the app to fix the app crashing.

    It really does feel like Home Kit is the issue often because repeating the same command gets it to work when it fails the first time. Glad it's not just me.
  14. herocero macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2003
    down on the upside
    Why the hell would you recommend a product to a reader and acknowledge that it sometimes errs to the point of throwing it across the room to n frustration?
  15. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
    Just another thing to make us not have to get up and become fatter.
  16. utwarreng macrumors 6502


    Aug 8, 2009
    This has been my thought as well after testing the Philips Hue over the past few weeks. The problem becomes allowing all of the fine tuning that can be done with the manufacturer's API's, while keeping a centralized app to organize all of the different schedules. It's something not done easily, and quickly makes my mind go back to the XKCD comic about different competing standards.
  17. avanpelt macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Apple has a serious problem with HomeKit. I have yet to see a single HomeKit-compatible product that has glowing reviews. Actually, even worse, I have yet to see a review on a single HomeKit-compatible product which states that the product works as intended on a consistent basis. All the reviews I've read about HomeKit-compatible products say quite the opposite, unfortunately.

    If Apple wants to be a serious player in the home automation space, they need to step up their game big time and start working more closely with the companies that are developing products for their platform.
  18. azentropy macrumors 68020


    Jul 19, 2002
    I already have a few WeMo devices - a couple plugs and a couple of light switches. While Siri would be nice, not enough feature update to justify the price to swap those out.

    I initially read that these had some sort of report generation and the ability to check how much energy things were using plugged into them, but haven't seen a single review cover that. Maybe the feature was never implemented?
  19. Mr Fusion macrumors 6502a

    Mr Fusion

    May 7, 2007
    $40 is considered "cheap"? In what universe am I living?!?

    Make all the excuses you want about how it's new so things cost more. But these price points aren't high, they're ludicrous. HomeKit won't go anywhere till the price drops significantly.
  20. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    $40 for a single outlet is inexpensive? Since when? I can buy a power strip for $4.

    Anyways, this seems like a pretty useless product to me. All of the lights that are controlled by light switches right now are hardwired to the house. Anything that isn't hardwired to my house has an on/off switch somewhere on it - simply cutting off power and then restoring power isn't sufficient for anything in my house to turn off/on.

    Nothing that I've seen in the home automation area is even close to useful looking so far.

    Ways home automation could be improved would be if things just worked without me saying anything at all. IE, when I walk into a room, the lights should turn on. When I sit on the couch, the TV (and friends) should turn on and the lights should dim. When I walk to my door, it should unlock, and when I walk away from it, it should lock. When someone else tries to get in, it should identify the person and have a rule table saying whether to just let them in, just reject them, or pop a notification on my Apple Watch or iPhone or computer asking me.
  21. skellener, Aug 28, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015

    skellener macrumors 68000


    Jun 23, 2003
    So. Cal.
    Is this a joke? Am I the only one that finds this form factor a bit ridiculous? Look at the size of those plugs? And one outlet? Not even an additional one? I mean, c'mon!!! What's in there? Think about how thin your iPhone is and look at that thing. It only has to have one tiny radio in it right? Am I missing something? Why couldn't it simply be integrated into a new wall plate like some of the USB charging solutions?
  22. ayale99 macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2007
    I live this scenario and it's not as bad as you think. You're forgetting the quick shortcut widgets on the pull down screen. S.O. is sleeping, I turn the lights off in two moves: 1) pull down widget menu on my phone that's docked next to me 2) hit the Hue / Wink / whichever widget to turn the lights off. Done, quick and easy.
  23. mdelvecchio macrumors 68040


    Sep 3, 2010
    it's also a common misconception. my home automated lighting (Hue) work perfectly with the wall switches.
  24. Zeos macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2008
    Sorry have to disagree. I have one and I don't like it at all. Does not work "anywhere" (only on my home network), and even then it loses connection. The "Rules" feature on that app does not work for us either. Maybe a serious firmware/app upgrade will fix it, but for now it is so not worth the cash. Also, I hate having to fully login in every time I want to control the outlet. Sucks in the middle of the night.
  25. mdelvecchio macrumors 68040


    Sep 3, 2010
    then it would be foolish to use the app. but -- apply the same story to the living room lamp you left on. get up, out of bed, put on robe, walk downstairs, turn off light. or...use the app. or better, let your timed scene take care of it for you.

    imagination is required to properly understand how these devices work.

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