Recently appeared solution for “smart home” from the company Archos relates to affordable systems that have recently appeared on the market just a month.
In essence, it is a tablet based on Android with a set of options, ie, assembly kit that allows you to control the temperature, monitor home in his absence and provide a few more automation functions.
Let’s look at the system more closely.
The basic idea was to create a scalable wireless system that allows you to painlessly add to it new devices and systems. All these elements must be connected to the tablet, rather than a hub connected to a home router.
This somewhat limits the range of usable devices because each device must be connected to a central unit, not mesh-network (cellular network), as happens in some other systems.
On the other hand, it is easy and each device appears immediately in the control application. Total to date Connected Home supports up to 12 devices. How all this is well implemented will be discussed below.
The tablet works as a base station, which is associated with all other devices. This device with a 7-inch touch screen, which has a round base, can freely set it on a shelf or desk.
However, unfortunately, without the possibility of adjusting the height, so you can install it everywhere. The screen itself is of average quality with no extra-wide viewing angle and a resolution of 1024 x 600 touch screen is not very responsive, judging by the reviews of the first members.
The shape of the device makes it not very convenient to use as a regular tablet, but it can successfully perform the functions of the music center: to its 3.5 mm output can be connected to speakers and musical compositions will be played directly from the internal storage capacity of 4 GB with a microSD-card.
Music can be streamed over the network using DLNA or via the Internet with, say, Google Play Music or any other similar service, which is not hard to find in Google Play Store.
The filling of the tablet corresponds to its purpose. It contains a dual-core processor RK3168 processor with a clock frequency of 1.2 GHz and 1 GB of RAM, which is enough for normal work on the operating system Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, but only if you are limited to basic applications.
All that will require a little more, will “stutter”, well into the three-dimensional games are also better for him not to play. Well, it is, by the way, it’s still a device has its different purpose. The tablet has a built-in battery, which is enough for 5 and a half hours, but in fact he does not have to be transferred back and forth, and stand still in its place with a connection to the mains.
The system consists of two weather sensor, two motion sensor, two webcams MiniCam, which are connected to the tablet via Bluetooth Smart. This means that these devices can be within the range of the larger channel of communication with the features of your own home.
Ie large house with thick brick walls are unlikely to be covered entirely by the system. However, according to the company Archos, they have increased the range of the Bluetooth Smart for their devices from 10 to 20 meters, but because, Bluetooth Smart is not built into Android 4.2, it is unlikely that you will be able to use other smart devices in the system.
Additional motion sensors and “smart” socket can be purchased separately.
All devices use the built-in battery and you will not have to worry about how to connect them to the network or charging. According to the manufacturer, all the sensors and modules included in the system, be able to work for about a year before you need to replace the batteries.
Themselves, these devices are small enough in size that allows you to place them anywhere, and each has a base with double-sided adhesive surface, and you can install them on the wall or on the ceiling at its discretion.
The system is controlled by means of the application Archos Smart Home, which has a simple application for instructions on connecting all related devices. During installation, you can assign each module to a particular room, and after the installation is complete, you can see what’s going on in every room, just leafing through the pages on the main screen.
This means that you can check the temperature in the room, be sure to shut doors or windows, the light is turned on or not, as well as see the latest picture of the room, made a webcam. Of course, it depends on a set of devices that you have installed in the rooms.
The quality of the image, which gives a webcam, nice enough, but it depends on the lighting and do not like direct sunlight, directed at the camera. Moreover, the 5-megapixel camera built into the tablet, making photos, even better quality than MiniCam, but it is not very suitable for monitoring the safety of simply due to the fact that the tablet is usually placed in areas not suited for this purpose.
The system software allows users to customize the use cases, or, as they are called Archos, “the program.” These programs are a set of rules, which are structured according to the “recipes” IFTTT. For example, turn off the light, under certain conditions, or record video when the signal from the motion sensor. The system also supports third-party application to automate Tasker.
Unfortunately, Archos closed system, ie, you can not connect to it such popular devices like thermostats Nest or Tado, and working with her temperature sensors are not particularly useful.
The system provides remote access and management, if you install the app on your Smart Home SmartPhone or tablet. And, when you are at home, both devices (your smart phone and tablet Archos) automatically detect and connect, and to access the system from the outside through your phone you need to enter a 16-digit access code that generates the base plate.
Starter Kit Archos Connected Home is worth about $ 250 and it includes a tablet that mini-camera and motion detector. Additional elements of the system can be purchased separately.
In fact, if we compare the Archos with similar systems at a cost of “smart home”, the Connected Home creates the impression that it has been assembled in a hurry to settle down in the rapidly growing market with a familiar product, sharpened to a specific task. The main disadvantages – limited support outsiders “smart” devices, the lack of “long range” and possible problems with the need to expand.
In the current year, the company opened its Archos English representation, which is a positive factor, as is likely to substantially simplified service support units “smart home” and their localization to English conditions.
From the competitors, we mention here a few systems, similar in functionality and value. For example, this Viper Home, valued at $ 230, a starter kit which includes a hub, a motion sensor and the sensor opening the door / window. To set you can buy, camera, siren and other additional accessories. The camera is supplied service contract worth $ 10 a month.
Or Piper, a starter kit which costs $ 199 and that includes even more different devices than the Archos – camera with “live” monitoring, siren, motion sensor and a built-in hub Z-Wave.
Finally, SmartThings, in Starter Kits that includes a hub and a number of different sensors connected to this hub. Cost of starter packs – $ 150-200, and they contain enough elements to make a couple of “dumb” devices controlled using a smartphone “smart” system. SmartThings essential feature is that the system is very easy and inexpensive incremented. Additional sensors of different types are in the range of $ 25-30.
SmartThings sensors operate on the basis of low-power mesh-protocol ZigBee, which allows them to operate on a single battery for a few years, even if the central hub will check their status every 10 minutes.
Each sensor can be operated at a distance of several tens of meters, each of which acts as a repeater for the network SmartThings, which allows you to automate the entire house – from the basement to the roof. And all this with the help of cheap sensors. And it is a fundamental and powerful unlike Archos Connected Home.