by Michael Crider on
If you want high-speed network access throughout your home and Wi-Fi isn’t cutting it, you’ve probably considered running Ethernet cables. But why not take advantage of the power lines you already have going everywhere?
Your smartphone can control a lot of things these days—your smart home lighting system, your thermostat, even your TV. Sometimes though, it’s useful to have a physical and tactile button to control such things. That’s the thinking behind the Logitech Pop Smart Button, which offers you a traditional way to control your smart devices.
So what’s so special about the Logitech Pop? The premise and promise is straight forward. You’ve got a bunch of smart stuff in your house—speakers, blinds, lights, thermostats, you name—and Logitech wants to give you a button that you can click to make those smart home items do stuff.
That’s it. There’s no screens, no speakers, no anything. The Logitech Pop is a smart switch, a smart home unitasker if you will, and that’s that. It’s a plastic square button that you stick onto a wall or surface with an included adhesive pad, change the battery every few years (they claim it lasts up to 5 years in the face of normal daily use), and other than that you don’t really need to think about the switch beyond in the initial programming—it just becomes like a light switch, albeit a light switch with super powers of a sort.
Priced at $60 for a starter kit comprising of one smart button and a home bridge, or $100 for the same kit plus an extra smart button, the Logitech Pop Smart Button isn’t exactly cheap to get started so that begs the fundamental question: does it deliver on its premise and is a light switch with super powers worth it?
I like it when a new gadget or piece of tech arrives because there’s a certain excitement in trying out a new tech toy. Invariably though, setup takes a little while and I end up leaving said gadget to another day when I have the time spare to get to wrestle with it. The Logitech Pop Smart Button is a rather uncommon gadget in that regard as it’s really quick to get started.
Setup is a matter of downloading the free Logitech Pop app and following onscreen instructions. Essentially, you plug the home bridge into a power socket, ideally centrally placed within your home, and Logitech Pop Smart Button does the hard work. It’s no harder than pairing any other Bluetooth device to your phone, such as a set of headphones. Pairing the smart buttons to the bridge (and your phone) is just as easy and typically only takes a couple of taps.
That’s clearly where the Logitech Pop Smart Button strengths lie. It’s remarkably simple to use — the kind of technology I could hand over to my mother and she’d have no problem setting up.
Where things get a little trickier is setting up the buttons to do what you want them to do. For the most part though, there’s a fairly gentle learning curve. This is a gadget that’s as complicated as you want to make it. Once your button is paired with the bridge, you can hit the plus sign on the app to assign it to a room or location. From there, another plus sign leads you to the ‘My Devices’ section highlighting what’s available to you. Adding additional devices is only ever a quick scan of your Wi-Fi network away.
The app then adjusts to your needs depending on which device you’ve dragged and dropped into setup. It’s like a simplistic version of IFTTT with the option of actually integrating IFTTT recipes into the app. Although, bear in mind that setting up an IFTTT trigger does involve switching over to IFTTT before diving back into the Pop app to actually get things going.
If simple setup is a minor strength of the Pop system the major strength is flexibility. The buttons aren’t designed for just one smart home thing, they’re designed for lots of smart home things. It’s not just a light switch or a themostat toggle or a remote control for your blinds, it’s any (and potentially all) of those things. Let’s look at how that can play out.
In my case, I started out with one tap of the button located near my bedroom door turning on my LIFX bulb. It took seconds to set up and immediately saved me the effort of some electrical issues elsewhere with the ‘regular’ light switch. Similarly speedy setup is possible if you simply want to open your Hunter-Douglas or Lutron blinds, or lock or unlock your August Lock. Support for the Sonos speaker platform is also baked in.
Delve in further and toggle the advanced mode slider though, and Logitech Pop Smart Button can do a lot more than just one thing. Using either a HomeKit scene or a POP app recipe (think IFTTT but Logitech-y), it’s possible to have a switch that sets the smart lock at the same time as turning your lights to night time. Each button actually offers three functions too—in the form of a quick tap, double tap, and long tap, so you can accomplish quite a lot. To an extent, it grows with both the physical expansion of your smart home stable as well as your increasing use there of.
As you’d expect from a Logitech gadget, it’ll work alongside a Harmony Hub and remote which further expands its potential. At a touch of a button, you can turn your TV on, dim the lights, tweak the thermostat, and you’ve got the perfect home cinema set up with the minimum of effort. The beauty here is that you could just leave the switch on your coffee table so you hardly have to move.
So, what’s the catch? The biggest hangup will be, naturally, if the Pop doesn’t have direct and easy integration with your particular smart devices. The only smart lock it works with (barring wrestling with IFTTT) is the August smart lock, for example. The only music platform it currently directly supports is Sonos. Like all smart home stuff at the moment, integration with the stuff you already have is the biggest selling point.
Potential compatibility issues aside, it’s not exactly cheap for what it is. Few people will want the cheapest starter kit at $60 as it only provides you with one button. The better value option is the starter pack at $100 with two buttons, with additional buttons at $40 each. To get the most out of it, it’s really going to help if you own a Harmony Hub or Harmony Remote. Depending on which option you go for, that pretty much doubles the price if not more—but it will give you a lot more breathing room when it comes to programming the Pop.
Finally, if your home runs on more than one router, you’re going to run into some issues. The Logitech Pop Smart Button bridge needs to be on the same network that the devices you want to control are on. In some homes, this is going to require some additional consideration (although if you’re already deep into smart home tech and running multiple parallel networks then you’ve likely already wrestled with this.
So do we recommend it? If you regularly have less than tech savvy guests, want the simplicity of physical buttons, or wish to set up smart home tech for a relative who isn’t comfortable with apps or voice commands, then the Logitech Pop is a good entry point into the world of physical smart home control.
That’s where the Logitech Pop Smart Button comes into its own and, in terms of versatility, it doesn’t have much competition. It’s a reasonable combination of new and old technology, and small short comings aside, it works well when paired with supported smart home gear (or whipped into shape with IFTTT).
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