I love technology! I could waste away hours, in fact have wasted away hours just merely looking and wishing I could try or have certain gadgets. I’m not sure whether its just the curiosity of how they work, or the addiction to collecting as many, sometimes needless gadgets as possible.
One area of technology that I’m massively interested in is “home automation” and being able to control or remotely log into gadgets whilst away from home. Sky were first on the scene for me with their remote record function, I also remember having my Sony PSP which I also had Location Free, the ability to stream my TV to anywhere in the world and view on my PSP, providing I had wifi… All very well and good but I never really travelled back then. More recently we’ve had British Gas Hive installed at our new home, the ability to control your heating and turn it on when out of the house meaning you get home to a warm house (and possibly a higher gas bill come December). That aside, I’m still massively fascinated by these types of gadgets and so when D-Link got in touch to ask if I’d like to review their Home Automation range, I gladly jumped at the chance.
I was sent their Smart Home HD Starter kit which includes a Wi-Fi Motion Sensor, a Smart Plug and a Motion HD camera.
All three products as you’d imagine focus around connecting to the internet and are controllable via D-Links mydlink website (log in / account based) and also via a mobile phone app on either the iPhone or Android.
Out of the box set up is incredibly simple, first having downloaded the respective app on your iPhone, you simply plug in the devices in locations you with to use them, and using the WPS button on each of the devices, connect to your router and subsequently internet connection accordingly. (Don’t worry, if you’re not a techno geek like me, the pictorial instructions are still really easy to follow). Once connected (seen through a green light) you then add them to your app / d-link account via their own unique QR codes which are located on each of the units or via the instructions.
I would say that deciding where to put the devices was possibly harder than the set up, although due to me setting up alone, and deciding to place them furthest away from the router, it did mean I had to keep running back and forth our router in order to press the WPS button.
After about 20 minutes though, all devices were set up and ready for go.
The App itself is incredibly intuitive to use as you’d expect with any app nowadays, in the case of the camera, you simply load up, press the camera icon and within seconds you are seeing live streaming. The same goes for the smart plug, a simple on and off button is there to use. You can even put in schedules of when to turn on and off as well as check the power usage and add in an automatic shut off it is gets too much. This is where you’d also set any notifications you wish to have too.
Motion HD Camera
We use the Motion HD as a temporary baby monitor, we never got round to buying a video monitor for D and instead used the audio one from H’s day with a view to getting a video one… one day. So when we hear the sound of D’s crying we quickly load up our iOS apps and check out what she’s up to without having to go in and check on her, particularly useful if she’s just winging as she’s trying to get comfortable.
The night vision works really well and auto changes depending on the light so during the day you can have full colour and by night, the night vision kicks in and allows you to see plenty of detail at night… including D’s eyes as they glow like demon’s… You can also zoom in (which is the well known pinch to zoom on the iOS devices) which allows you to really see whats going on. The quality is fantastic and really does pick up the detail.
Within the app, you also have the ability to notify you if there is any sound or motion detection so if you did want to use it as a outright baby monitor, you don’t need to have an audio back up like we have as you can hear sound through the app too, albeit slightly delayed due to internet processing.
The video monitor sadly doesn’t have the ability to record video which is the biggest disappointment in my opinion as it would be nice to be able to capture short clips, particularly if you were using it as an intruder camera. It does allow you to take stills but I think the ability to record video’s would really enhance it.
WiFi Motion Sensor
The WiFi motion sensor works very much like any motion sensor in that it is triggers when human movement is in its range. It is our least used one of the three, mainly due to the fact we have a house alarm and tend not to worry so much about this as there is normally someone around the house during the day and the desire to know someone has just walked across the landing isn’t really high on either of our agenda’s. The app again allow’s you to set up notifications as to when someone has triggered the motion sensor however we have seen no need to use this to date. That said, if I was to go on a holiday, I would possibly set this up properly and use as intended.
This one excited me the most, the ability to turn a plug on remotely regardless of where you were in the world…. It took us a while to decide where to actually put this.. should I do the responsible thing and use it on Mrs F’s hair straighteners plug, that way if she ever forgot to turn them off I could do so remotely… probably not as the fact that Hair Straightening is conducting whilst D sleeps means that its all packed away pretty promptly and thus no immediate worry. Another option was to use with a living room lamp as if we were out we could turn on the lamp creating the illusion that someone was home…. being a two car family, the chances are one car is always on the drive when out together so that in itself would create that illusion. Finally we decided to put it in the plug we use for the kettle… ingenious! Not only does it mean we can set the kettle to boil prior to arriving home, thus by the time we arrive its not boiling so the cool down period is shorter and D get her bottle sooner. But as D’s bottles are fading out now, the only plus point is when I am lying in bed in the morning, I can remotely switch on the switch and voila! The kettle is boiled by the time I venture downstairs meaning quicker cups of tea/coffee! There is one problem though, in order for this to work, you have to first switch the plug off, then flick the switch of the kettle down in preparation each time, something which I regularly forget so the theory is great, my execution however.. not so!
The one negative for the Smart plug, and it is a massive design fault in my opinion, its the manual on/off switch is located on the front of the plug and not on the top meaning that one you plug something into it, it becomes almost impossible to use the button as it is blocked by the plug cable. It would make much more sense to locate it on the top so allow greater use.
The D-Link Home – Smart Home HD Starter Kit retails for around £120 and is available from various online retailers.
Overall, despite one or two wished improvements, I still believe the D-Link Home – Smart Home HD Starter Kit is value for money and a great addition to any technology loving family. This is only the beginning of their range and since reviewing these, I have noticed wifi smoke alarms, sirens, door and window alarms all being added to their product catalogue. I really think the ability to link up all these things, all controlled by one app, is amazing and can’t wait to see whats next in the world of home automation.
Until next time
NB: I was sent a D-Link Home – Smart Home HD Starter Kit for review in exchange for my honest opinion on the product, all opinions are my own.