Let me paint a picture for you. It’s 11:30pm, you’re in bed, just about ready to fall asleep. Your significant other rolls over in bed and asks you “did you turn off the Christmas tree lights?”. No one really knows if they turned off the Christmas tree lights. You might have, you kind of remember doing it, but maybe you didnt? Christmas tree lights exist in a kind of quantum flux, being both on and off at the same time if no observer is present. “They’d never get hot enough to actually start a fire, would they?” you ponder to yourself. “You better go check” your spouse finally interjects, breaking up your internal monologue. You stomp downstairs, stopping halfway as soon as you can see the tree, of course they are off.
If that sounds familiar then boy do I ever have the right product for you! It’s a Smart Socket. A simple device that sits between the outlets in your wall and any device that you connect to it. The Smart Socket allows you to control the flow of power using your phone or smart home system of choice.
Now I’m not a rich man. I don’t have unlimited funds for smart home gadgets. I suspect many of you don’t either. Cheers to those of you who do though. I’ve been looking for a smart socket for a little while now. Most of the brand names are charging north of $50 for a single smart socket. That’s too rich for my blood. So I checked my favorite website, Amazon.ca, and found a bunch of vendors of questionable reputability selling smart sockets. There were a number of people selling the same product under different brand names, counter intuitively this can sometimes be a good thing. If a large number of vendors are willing to stake their reputation on the same device its generally a good sign of quality. So I decided to roll the dice on a $25 smart socket. I ended up ordering this one by EVALOGIK, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter which one your choose. Here are my impressions using it within the Google Home ecosystem.
This is what showed up on my doorstep Monday morning. I was surprised at just how small the box was. These guys are serious about not wasting packaging material. Also the box was covered in dust. So were off to a great start. I didn’t think to investigate the validity of that FCC stamp on the box, probably best not to look under the hood on that one.
The first thing you’ll see when opening the box is the instruction manual, or instruction accordion as I like to call it. Normally I’d toss something like this in the trash right away, but I immediately realized I had no idea how to set something like this up. I searched on the PlayStore for an Evalogik app and nothing came up. Fine you win smart plug, I’ll read your damn accordion manual.
At first I was surprised by how well written the instructions are. That’s not normally something you see with generic products purchased off the internet. But wait… uh oh…. my heart started to beat a little faster. The manual only explains how to setup the smart socket with an Amazon Alexa enabled devices. Did I buy the wrong smart socket, did I mistakenly buy one that isn’t compatible with Google home? A quick review of the Amazon listing reassured me that it is in fact compatible with Google Home. Guess I’m on my own for this setup then, thanks Evalogik or whoever actually made this thing.
The instructions made reference to an app called “Smart Life” so I downloaded that and eventually muddled my way through the setup procedure. It wasn’t easy, but then again I didn’t pay much for this thing so I guess I shouldn’t expect the greatest “presentation”. In the app I renamed smart socket to “Christmas Tree Lights”, because that’s what I plan on controlling with this thing. I plugged the smart socket into a regular dumb socket next to my desk, a blue indicated LED under the physical power switch sprung to life. I gave a quick test. “Ok Google, turn the Christmas tree lights off” and hurray it worked!
You know how I know it worked? It has a very audible click whenever it turns on or off. To me that’s not that big a deal, but if that kind of thing bugs you, take note. The next step was to set this thing up in the living room near my Christmas tree where I’ll actually be using it. I plugged it into a regular socket and then plugged my Christmas tree lights into it. Another quick test and everything is working just fine. All of the setup I did at my desk was retained even while it was unplugged. It connected to the WIFI again seamlessly. I use my Google Home to switch it on and off a few times and everything is going swimmingly until….
Huh? Wait a second, does this thing obstruct the second socket?
Because of the size of this smart socket, it partially obstructs the second socket in a standard north american outlet. Note the clearance between the second outlets grounding pin and the top of the smart socket. You definitely couldn’t have two of these things on the same outlet. Again, not a huge deal, some plugs might even still work, but something to note if you plan on running many of these things around your house.
One last, slight, hiccup. The response time of this thing isn’t great. It can take anywhere between 5-10 seconds after issuing the command to my Google Home before the socket responds. It’s been my experience that most things connected to my Google Home don’t have lightning fast response times, but it seems a little more prolonged than usual with this particular device, so I thought it was worth mentioning.
So does this thing have flaws? Sure it does, but don’t we all? Plus it’s only 25 dollars. I cut it a lot of slack because of it’s price. At the end of the day it works the way it’s supposed to and offers you the functionality of other products at a fraction of the price. It feels solid and well built. I’ve had no issues with WIFI connectivity. It’s a no frills smart socket at a price low enough to make it a stocking stuffer on Christmas morning.
25 dollars is a cheap price to pay to ensure that I never have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to check if the Christmas tree lights are actually off again.