The $200 Brilliant Control isn't the first product to focus your smart home control on a touchscreen light switch.
Like the Wink Relay, the Brilliant Control combines the functions of a basic switch with a touchscreen that allows you to do a lot more than control the lights.
The Brilliant responds to touch, like the Relay. It also adds motion and voice controls with Alexa built in. Like the $180 Amazon Echo, Alexa's primary device, Brilliant's goal appears to be making it easier for the whole family to control the smart home. Instead of relying on the apps on an individual's phone, anyone in the house will have equal access to the devices connected to the Brilliant switch.
A big bag of tricks
Created by California-based tech startup Brilliant, the Brilliant Control has a 5-inch LCD touchscreen that can display art or family photos when it's not in use. It connects to your home's Wi-Fi network and also works with Bluetooth.
The Brilliant Control will fit panels with up to four light switches, although you'll need to pay more to cover bigger panels. It'll let you turn the lights on or off and dim them as well. Brilliant also goes beyond competitors like Belkin and Lutron by adding the option to control a lot of other smart home gear. At launch, Brilliant will work with an impressive variety of platforms:
You can scroll up and down on the panel to adjust your Nest Learning Thermostat's temperature, or use Ring with Brilliant's built-in camera and microphone to talk with the delivery person at your door. And if you install more than one Brilliant panel, you can use them as intercoms.
Compared to the competition
Brilliant has an impressive list of features, but we had problems controlling the similar $90 Wink Relay when it came out a couple of years ago. And if you don't have a lot of smart home gear, Lutron switches will add smarts to your fixtures for less -- $190 nets you a starter kit with two switches -- while still working with Alexa and Apple's Homekit.
The Brilliant Control starts at $200, which is a little pricey given that Wink's competitive product is now on sale for $70 on Amazon. Combine that with Amazon's mini Echo -- the $50 Echo Dot -- for voice commands, and you still won't reach Brilliant's off-the-shelf price. But you can preorder the Brilliant Control now for a more tempting special price of $150.
Brilliant expects to start shipping this summer. Right now, you can only order the panel in the US, though Brilliant plans to expand to the rest of the world in the future. The US price converts to roughly £160 or AU$260.
If Brilliant wants to beat the current DIY offerings, the Brilliant Control will need a polished interface and snappy controls. The company's positioning itself as an easier and more affordable route to professional systems such as Control4 and Crestron -- but those companies offer contract-based support and do all the installation work for you. Brilliant isn't quite the same.
Brilliant's Alexa integration is a nice touch, as are its many other smart home integrations. But since it's aiming to centralize the smart home, the Brilliant Control has a steep hill to climb if it wants to beat the Amazon Echo at its own game with its own assistant.