A week in reviews: 4 - 8 August
It's been a busy week as Pocket-lint wraps up its first week covering the connected home.
The Internet of Things (IoT) means we'll see increasing numbers of products available designed to make the home smarter. This week we've reviewed automated lighting systems and robot vacuum cleaners, Bluetooth-connected toothbrushes, app-controlled kettles and even a heating system that knows when you're heading home and when to turn up the heat.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. We'll be covering far more in the near future too: from smart washing machines, to coffee machines with a difference. If it's smart, fun and fits into the future home then it's got a new home here on Pocket-lint in among the usual techie mix of phones, cameras, tablets, tellies a more. Exciting times.
Quick review: Tado knows where you are. That sounds kind of creepy, but it's not. The app-controlled thermostat can automatically switch the heating on based on your movements back from the office to home. If you have the necessary hardware it can control hot water too (not something we could test in our setup). Even though it lacks individual room or zone controls, Tado otherwise does exactly what it sets out to do: intelligently controlling your heating based on your location to home. We just wouldn't dare do the install ourselves, but as that costs £50 it's a reasonable investment in our view.
Pros: Good design, intelligent operation worked well, easy to use, makes heating control simple, good app features, potential savings
Cons: Tricky installation, technical support limits, not possible to control individual room temperatures, no Windows Phone app yet
Price: £249 (plus install cost)
Full article: Tado review
Philips Hue review
Quick review: We've been using the Hue lighting system - which provides colour and brightness control via an app - for two years now. And in that time it's only got better. With integration of IFTTT (If This Then That) you can do clever things like automate lighting colour when it rains, or even get subtle alerts. It's all very clever. We've reviewed various Hue lighting system additions over the years, but as part of our special week we wrap it all up into the definitive edition. It's a pricey bunch of kit, but we think its got more worth it as time has gone on.
Pros: Lighting control via your smartphone, easy to install, easy to setup, easy to expand, IFTTT support
Cons: Expensive, app and service is isolated to just lights, requires smartphone to setup
Price: £180 starter pack setup
Full article: Philips Hue full review
Full article: Philips Hue Tap review
Quick review: Haven't you always wanted to boil the kettle from the comfort of your own bed? No. Well, now you can whether you like it or not. The iKettle is a fun example of what connected home products can do, but it feels like a first step: the app is unstable, maintaining a connection was a problem for us and, therefore, while happy with it as a stainless steel kettle with multiple temperature settings, it didn't fulfil its full connected potential. Almost, but not quite on this occasion.
Pros: Android and iOS app control, app control not a requirement, four temperature settings for multiple teas/coffees, classic design
Cons: Connection setup hit and miss, connection drops and resets for no reason, Android app not always stable, lacks audible beep level control
Full article: iKettle: The Wi-Fi kettle review
Oral-B Pro 6000 SmartSeries review
Quick review: An electric toothbrush that talks to your smartphone via Bluetooth might sound pointless to some, but it's a clever way of delivering information between two devices that you'll use a lot. There's no doubt the Pro 6000 SmartSeries is an excellent toothbrush for starters, while the data, brushing frequency, pressure sensitivity and visual feedback all go a step towards making your cleaning experience that much smarter.
Pros: Helps you focus on cleaning each zone of your mouth for the correct duration, plenty of information
Cons: High price, Bluetooth connection might be wasted on some
Full article: Oral-B Bluetooth toothbrush review
Neato Botvac 85 robot vacuum review
Quick review: We've seen robotic vacuum cleaners before, but the Botvac 85 works better than most. It does a good job of cleaning up to the edges, although don't expect it to do the stairs - so you'll still need some kind of back-up vacuum too, which given the price point means the cost adds up fast. If your house is a constant moving assault course that even you struggle to manoeuvre then chances are your new robot friend will struggle too. But busy professionals with no kids or pets might already have a tidyish house and want the peace of mind of automated cleaning.
Pros: No-hands cleaning, systematic in its approach, auto-charges, gets close to edge of rooms
Cons: Can get tangled in wires or toys, can't do the stairs, not cheap, won't remove 100 per cent of dirt
Full article: Neato Botvac 85 review