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Back in 2016, ConnectSense debuted one of the first smart home products to work with Apple HomeKit, the ConnectSense Smart Outlet. It cost $80 and worked exclusively with Apple's HomeKit and Siri voice assistant. With Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri compatibility, as well as power monitoring and a lower $60 price tag, the ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2 is here to set things right.
However, one thing remains the same -- bad design. If you can live with the chunky design of the ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2 and its determined takeover of your walls and outlets, you'll get a lot of plug for your money.
ConnectSense is full of features. In addition to working with the most popular voice assistants (sorry, Cortana), the Smart Outlet 2 also includes energy monitoring, a feature the original outlet didn't have. Inside the ConnectSense app, you can view how many Watts each socket is using in real-time and as an average.
Choose from a long list of small appliances and devices to customize each plug with an icon and rename it anything you like. There aren't direct options for scheduling or timers within the ConnectSense app itself, but that doesn't bother me much given that most users will go through their respective voice assistants to up those features.
You can rename them individually and control them with the tap of a button in the app or through your voice assistant's app. A toggle bar in the ConnectSense app adjusts the brightness of the LED indicators on the plug's front. That's a small, thoughtful feature given that this giant plug could definitely glow brightly in a dark bedroom.
Physical buttons on the side of the plug will power each outlet on or off, and the 2.4-amp USB isn't smart, but adds a third method of powering or charging your devices.
Setting up the ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2 works much like setting up other smart plugs on the market. Download the ConnectSense app for iOS (10.3 or later) or Android, create an account and connect the plug to your Wi-Fi network by following the steps provided.
Once you've connected the outlet to your network, you can link your ConnectSense account to Google Home or enable the "ConnectSense Smart Outlet" skill for Amazon Alexa. For HomeKit, you'll need to have a ConnectSense account created in the ConnectSense app before scanning the QR code to add it to HomeKit.
I tested all three setup experiences and each one was easily accomplished in about 10 minutes.
A lot, in fact. Smart plugs are an ever-increasing corner of the smart home market and while there are plenty of choices, they aren't all created equal. Which plug is right for you depends primarily on which assistant you want to work with in your home. ConnectSense delivers well in that regard, because it works with all three major voice assistants, something that I've only seen in the disappointing Koogeek P1 smart plug or in WeMo models with an additional bridge for HomeKit.
Rather than block up your outlets with plugs like these, I'd prefer a smart in-wall unit like the $100 iDevices Smart Outlet. I think the future of smart plugs is going that direction, but we're not there yet.
For now, ConnectSense is a bulky but practical way to get the most out of your smart plug. You'll get the flexibility to work with all three major voice assistants, a USB charging port and power monitoring. That's more functionality than any other plug I've tested. While $60 seems high and it's true you can get capable smart plugs for around $25 or $30, you are getting two individual outlets with ConnectSense.
However, if you know which voice assistant you're committed to, there's no need to put this eyesore on your wall. There are plenty of affordable, sleeker models for Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant individually, like the TP-Link Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini or iDevices Switch. We've got a great guide here to walk you through all your options.