Review –Revolv Home Automation Hub
In the industry, we know that cost is a significant barrier to many people interested in automating their home. Revolv is one startup’s solution to inexpensive DIY Home Automation: a centralized hub communicating with the most popular smart home devices on the market today. After spending some time with it, I consider Revolv to be an immature product with some flaws in its current design, but with lots of potential.
Revolv Review – Overview
The Revolv has only one built in port, to accommodate a power supply. It connects to the internet wirelessly through the home’s wi-fi router.
Revolv is a home automation hub available to the mainstream directly from the manufacturer with a retail price of $299. It has the ability to talk to a variety of wireless smart home products, using its array of built-in wireless radios. The box ships with the Revolv hub, power cord, and a quick start guide (a QR code linking to the iOS app store page for the required app). Using the app, the user can detect supported devices on the home network and within wireless range of the Revolv hub. Once they have found their devices, the users can use the Revolv app to turn the devices on and off and modify other basic functionality, such as changing the color of Phillips Hue lights or adjusting a Nest thermostat.
Revolv Review – Community Feedback
Revolv is capable of handling a range of 3rd party devices at present. Much of their current customer feedback on their support page regards requests for support for additional devices. Also requested is a developer API and the Revolv team have stated their interest in creating one. The support team is very enthusiastic and has been known for helping their customers troubleshoot issues. This responsiveness has been a consistent point of praise in their customer feedback. What has not been praised on their forums is the app’s limited interface with some of the supported products. Consistent criticism has been for the inability to edit Sonos playlists, as well as for the limited color selections for Phillips Hue as opposed to the continuum provided by the Hue app. Another criticism is for the lack of basic control logic. This may be addressed soon as the Revolv feature voting page features IFTTT support as the highest voted feature request as of this morning. However, there have been rumblings in customer reviews that new features have been slow in coming. It is uncertain when these features will be added.
Revolv shown with a few of its most compatible devices: a Phillips Hue lighting hub, a Sonos Play:3 speaker, and a Belkin WeMo outlet.
Revolv Review – My Experiences
The Revolv app homepage.
My experimentation with Revolv has been frustrating. The supplied documentation states that an iOS 6 enabled smartphone is all that is required, but the iPhone 4 that we tested first was unable to download the app, getting only a “this app is not compatible with this iPhone” message for explanation. The Revolv FAQ explained that the app is only compatible with iOS devices supporting Bluetooth 4.0, i.e. the iPhone 5, iPad 3 and 4, and iPad Mini. There is no Android support yet but it is supposedly coming soon. It ran well with Phillips Hue, though the color palette was limited to 8 colors. I was also able to connect the Nest thermostat in the break room to my test router, add it to my network, remotely change the current temperature, and turn the heat, air conditioning, and fan on and off.
Revolv – Integration with Nest, Hue, Sonos and Belkin
The integration of Hue and Nest was fairly seamless once they had been set up on their own. Sonos and Belkin devices were each slightly more complex to integrate. A Sonos Play 3 running into a Sonos Bridge was detected by the hub and I was able to set up actions to change between stream channels that I had visited in the Sonos app and change Hue lighting simultaneously. The Belkin outlet and motion sensor also required their own app to be installed before they could be used by Revolv. They were both immediately detected, and the outlet worked fine with Revolv but the motion sensor did not. I set up an action to have the motion sensor adjust the Hue lights, but nothing happened when I triggered the sensor. After performing a factory reset and updating the sensor’s firmware, no improvement was made. The Insteon remote integrated seamlessly and I was able to assign all of my of my light-changing actions to buttons on the remote in seconds.
Revolv – Review of User Interface
My impression of the app is that it’s designed to be very simple and inviting. The menus are uncluttered and have humorous tooltips to guide the user along. That being said, there are a few aspects of it that I found made it slightly awkward to use in certain situations. The home page doesn’t scale well to large numbers of devices or actions; the way to save an action is to press the back arrow out of it; some buttons aren’t properly labeled or are missing tooltips that might be helpful for understanding exactly what the button does. There is a built-in product finder for compatible automation products. The one-tap to edit, double-tap to activate aspect of buttons on the home page is also potentially confusing. However, the inviting layout of the app and humorous tips keep the user engaged. When devices are added to the hub, they are listed on the homepage by default. Double tapping actuates the device between on and off, while single tapping allows you more fine control. Actions are also listed here; double tapping an action causes it to take effect, while single tapping edits the action.
Here we provide an example of adding a device to the Revolv hub; in this case, a Sonos Play:3.
Revolv Review – Conclusion
Overall, for the $300 investment, Revolv provides a decent amount of functionality for the DIY-er, but the undelivered Android support and fledgling device roster will be limiting factors in the Revolv’s market for some time. The current lack of a developer API also prevents 3rd parties from handling product integration themselves until it eventually gets released. The few features provided at launch and the gradual rollout of features suggests that Revolv intends to capitalize more on the potential of their product than its current feature set. Less than half of the radios within the device are currently activated, and the company is a long way from having comprehensive support for the automation market. Until Android support is added along with branching logic of some kind, and additional 3rd party support, I would not recommend this product to an end user interested in serious automation. As a starting point for a basic smart home, Revolv is a fair choice, and could be a great one if the developers live up to their claims.
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