Lowe's expands Iris home automation kit

Iris wants to be your everything in home automation.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Breadth can be appealing, and that's apparently what Lowe's is counting on with today's announcement of a handful of updates to its Iris home automation system at CES 2014. Starting in the first quarter of 2014, Lowe's will begin offering, among other things, leak-detecting smart shut-off valves, smart lawn sprinkler control, and a voice-command interface for Iris.

The company hasn't offered any pricing information, but those add-ons as well as upcoming smart energy grid compatibility and a garage door opener accessory will make Iris one of the most feature-rich smart home kits available.

We were already impressed with the sheer number of sensors and other options Lowe's offers with Iris in our review in December. We'd like to see it go deeper on its security features (no monitoring option, no touch-screen keypad) though, and its Web interface is too fragmented, dispersing settings controls in too many different places. The $10 monthly fee also stings.

Regardless, it's clear that the Iris project continues to be a priority for Lowe's with this update, and with home automation competitors coming from smaller and larger companies, it's not too surprising to see some polishing left for later in the scramble to establish these brands and capture early market share. The risk is that Lowe's might sacrifice too much usability by going too wide, too early. We hope to find out more once we get our hands on the new accessories.

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