Edyn Garden Sensor review: Paradise lost: The Edyn Garden Sensor falls well short of perfection

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MSRP: $99.99
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2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good From the soil near your plant, the beautiful Edyn Garden Sensor connects to your Wi-Fi and sends your Edyn app accurate measurements and recommendations on more criteria than any other plant sensor.

The Bad Despite a sizeable database of plant knowledge, Edyn's unfinished and buggy app won't tailor its recommendations to your specific garden. The app updates slowly and is often unresponsive.

The Bottom Line The Edyn Garden Sensor does a lot of things right, but an unfinished app mars the experience.

5.9 Overall
  • Features 6.0
  • Design 9.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Usability 4.0

On paper, the $100 Edyn Garden Sensor is better than any other plant sensor I've tested. From your garden's soil, it can send you information and make recommendations on your plant's moisture levels, nutrition levels, temperature, humidity and ambient light. That's an extra parameter or two over the competition. It has iOS and Android apps. It connects to Wi-Fi so you can check on your plant remotely. It even has a solar powered battery that can supposedly last more than 2 years. On top of all of that, it looks beautiful -- as you'd expect from something that was designed by the well-regarded Fuseproject firm under the guidance of Yves Behar.

The good news -- Edyn could get better, someday. The hardware is solid, the meters are mostly accurate and it's as beautiful as advertised. The bad news -- it's currently far from that coveted perfection. The app, though pretty, is the shallowest of any plant sensor I've tested. It's slow, both in responsiveness and in populating recommendations for your plant. It lacks options for customization, and a number of the promised features just aren't working yet. I'm still excited for what Edyn could be, but I don't recommend you buy it until it gets much closer to the perfect paradise that its name implies.

Hardware heaven

The Edyn Garden Sensor makes a strong first impression. The bright yellow squared top will remind some of blooming daisies, sunflowers, or daffodils. It made me think of the color of Wolverine's comic book uniform, because... of course it did. Either way, all in our office agreed that it looked great.

A squared solar panel runs edge to edge across the top. Underneath it, you'll find a button to turn on the device or check its status once it's up and running. Setup couldn't be simpler and Edyn's free app for both iOS and Android will walk you through every step.

Once it's connected, you can place Edyn into the soil of your garden or in the dirt near your potted plant and let it go to work. Both the metal probe that goes into the soil and the yellow handles underneath the squared top are nice and sturdy. As a result, I was able to push Edyn into solid dirt without any concern that it would bend or break.

Edyn looks as good as advertised. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Once it's in position, you'll tell Edyn's app about your garden, so it can start offering recommendations for what to plant, and how to care for what plants you have. Again, Edyn measures soil moisture, ambient temperature, soil nutrition, relative humidity and ambient light. Edyn will chart data for each over time, and give you recommendations to help optimize the conditions for your plants based on all five criteria.

The aforementioned iOS and Android apps are free. You can buy the Edyn Garden Sensor for $100 now on Home Depot's website. That price converts to approximately £64 and AU$136 for our readers in the UK and Australia.

Getting to know the app

The main page of the app looks almost as attractive as the device itself. A diamond split into four pieces gives you a quick visual representation of each of your garden's measurements. Click any quadrant -- or the temperature underneath -- to open up more detailed measurements.

Get a quick view of your sensor, or an overview of all measurements on the app's front page. Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

All five specific pages give assessments and recommendations at the top, beneath current readings. For example, you might see that your moisture level assessed as "a bit dry" resulting in a recommendation beneath the assessment that "Your soil's feeling dry. Make sure you water in the next 3 days."

At the bottom of a measurement screen, you can find the data charted over time, followed by weekly averages. The long-term charts aren't specific. You can switch the scope so the data spans a day, a week or a month, but you can't scroll or zoom on any of them, and you won't be able to see the exact numbers behind the data points.

Click any measurement for detailed charts. Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

Your moisture readings will be plotted as a line graph. The rest of the measurements use vertical bars to represent the data instead of a single line. Neither actually show what the plotted numbers are, so you'll have to guess based on their relative position between the given upper and lower limits of the graphs.

If you're trying to gather data from your garden over time, you'll need a different device other than the Edyn Garden Sensor. The $60 Parrot Flower Power does this quite well.

Database woes

The rest of Edyn's app follows a similar pattern to what I experienced when looking at the measurements. It all looks great and functions smoothly at first, but the more I dove into the various features, the more I discovered annoyances and spots where I wished the app did more.

To get recommendations on when to water and fertilize, you'll want to add plants to Edyn's digital garden to match the ones you have in your real garden. Supposedly, Edyn has over 5,000 plants to choose from in its database with more being added all the time based on user requests.

That's a fine number that stacks up well against the competition, but the database lacks the nice touch added by Koubachi's Plant Finder , which guides you through a series of questions to figure out what your plant is if you don't know.

Plant sensor specifics

Edyn Garden Sensor Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor Parrot Flower Power Oso Technologies PlantLink
Price $100 $100 for the indoor version, $130 for the outdoor $60 $80 and $35 for extra links
Signal Type Wi-Fi Wi-Fi Bluetooth Zigbee
Apps iOS, limited Android iOS, Web-based, limited Android iOS Web-based
Soil Moisture yes yes yes yes
Temperature yes yes yes no
Light yes yes yes no
Nutrition yes no data, yes recommendations yes no
Humidity yes no no no
Push Notifications yes yes When in Bluetooth range yes
Plants in Database 5,000 800 7000 50,000
Plant Finder no Yes No no
Battery Type Solar powered 2 AA 1 AAA 2 AAAA
Battery Life 2.5 years 1 year + 6 months 1 year +
Interoperability Upcoming Edyn Water Valve None IFTTT None

You can search Edyn's database for your plant name if you know it. You can also search the database based on plant type and the plant's relative difficulty on a scale of 1 to 5, but if you don't know what type of plant you're dealing with, Edyn can't help you the way Koubachi's app can.

Once you find your plant, Edyn will show you a picture, the difficulty rating, and how much light, humidity, nutrition, and water the plant will need in the general terms of high, medium, or low. You'll also see the plant's ideal temperature range and a description under the plant's "overview." Click on the "planting" tab and you'll find specific tips, as well as advice about when and how to plant.

Find your plant and learn about it using Edyn's database. Screenshots by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

Click "add" and you'll specify if you're starting with seeds or a starter plant, with no option for an already full grown plant. Though once you answer that first question, the next one asks you for a start date, and you can pick one from the past.

Not that specifying the date will change anything once you've added your plant to your garden. In fact, the detailed information Edyn provides in the database seems to have little if any effect on the supposedly "tailored" recommendations provided for your garden.

I did most of my testing on a potted majesty palm, but since I couldn't find majesty palm in the database, I told Edyn it was a windmill palm. According to the database, the windmill palm has a difficulty rank of 2; it needs high light, high humidity, high nutrition and medium water.

Once I added the windmill palm, I checked the thresholds given for each criterion. It showed a moisture range of 10 percent to 40 percent, humidity and temperature ranges of 18 to 72 percent and degrees Fahrenheit respectively (about -8 to 22 degrees Celsius), and a light range of 8,000 to 32,000 lux. The nutrition range is given broader terms -- the bottom of the chart is marked "depleted" the top is labeled "too much."

Don't expect the thresholds to change with your plant's needs. Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

Using the listed thresholds, Edyn does an admirable job of being as specific as possible with its recommendations. When my light readings were low, it told me to find a sunnier spot or supplement with grow lights. You might not know how much water to give your plant exactly, but you have a range you can aim for and specific instructions to help.

At least, I thought it was the range meant for my specific plant. Later in my testing, I removed the windmill palm from my database, and added a marsh horsetail. The horsetail had a high water rating, but the optimal range listed by the chart was still 10 percent to 40 percent. The other four measurement ranges stayed the same as well. The database even lists the optimal temperature range of the marsh horsetail as 15 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 to 18 Celsius), but the chart kept the upper and lower boundaries at 18 to 72.

I did the same test with oregano, a low-water plant, to the same results. As it turns out, according to a company representative, the thresholds given in the chart aren't meant to be the ideal range for your plant, just generic labels that aren't dynamic. But without specificity and without dynamic customization, the graphs are confusing, misleading, and much less helpful than they could have been.

The page listing your specific plants isn't much better. Once you've added a plant or two to your personal database, you can switch from the main app page to a plant tab to see your personal garden. Your plant's status will be listed as "sprouting." It doesn't matter when you said you initially planted it, it will always be listed as "sprouting" for the first several days, then will update to "mid-season" at a seemingly predetermined time unrelated to how your actual plant is doing.

You won't get much help with your plants once you add them to your garden. Screenshots by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

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