Edyn Garden Sensor review: Paradise lost: The Edyn Garden Sensor falls well short of perfection
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|Apps||iOS, limited Android||iOS, Web-based, limited Android||iOS||Web-based|
|Nutrition||yes||no data, yes recommendations||yes||no|
|Push Notifications||yes||yes||When in Bluetooth range||yes|
|Plants in Database||5,000||800||7000||50,000|
|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.
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."
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.
Tap a plant name, and you'll get a few tips for maintaining them, but not the detailed information from the database. If you want to see that again, you have to go back into the database and search for your plant species again.
Allowing you some sort of input or means of notetaking here could have gone a long way. Not showing the detailed info on your garden page, and not using plant specific information to frame the collected data are both odd oversights that hinder the usefulness of Edyn's plant database. It won't allow you to track actual progress. You can't see any helpful information on your plants once they're added, and they don't affect the thresholds framing the data.
To top it off, the app has lots of other smaller annoyances that stack up as you use it. It's frequently unresponsive, and the screen shakes as it updates. When you open the app for the first time in a while, you'll also need to wait before you can press any buttons, as none of them will work while the data updates.
Moving the sensor to a new Wi-Fi network requires adding a new sensor to your database, you can't simply change the network of your existing sensor, you'll need to create a whole new digital profile. You'll double tap the button on the base to restart sync mode, but you won't find that info anywhere in the instruction manual. The instruction manual even directs you to a dead support page. Here's the real one if you have an Edyn sensor and need help.
On one occasion, after hitting the button twice, I couldn't get the app to work at all for days. According to a company representative, it was an isolated incident that only affected a few people, and was caused by a bug in the code of one of the plants I added to my garden. Crashes can happen to any app, but among all the rest of the software issues, this glitch struck a nerve.
To his credit, Edyn's founder, Jason Aramburu, responds to a lot of user questions and concerns on the support page himself. He seems dedicated to helping his clients and giving them the best experience he can.
The apps are also being continually updated. The Android app, when I first started testing Edyn, was barely functional, but it's now mostly finished. Push notifications were just added, though they're limited to moisture readings for now. That's intentional, as moisture tends to be the most time sensitive plant care aspect.
Someday, Edyn could be great. And outward signs show the company is still dedicated to that cause. Still, it hit retail with an unfinished app on one of the major platforms, and a number of problems that still haven't been fixed. Edyn's app wasn't ready for the public, it still isn't, and for a smart device, that's tough to forgive.
The back of the class
Edyn's app falls well short of the wonderful Koubachi app. With Koubachi, you can move the plant sensor to different spots of your garden. It learns the moisture patterns of the area, forms recommendations, then you can move it somewhere else while it still keeps track of when you need to water the old area.
Even PlantLink 's system, which only monitors moisture, lets you put a name for your plants in the database to give them personality and develops a watering calendar for you. It also updates its data and reacts to changes quickly. PlantLink is simple, but it makes better use of its software than Edyn.
For the time being, Edyn also gets beat by the competition in terms of interoperability. Both Parrot and Koubachi can talk to the GreenIQ sprinkler system. Soon, Edyn will release it's own water valve to the same effect. Given the app's difficulty with communication, though, I'm glad it's not here now.
Again, though, the hardware is fine, and that includes the sensors themselves, which proved accurate over the course of our two week tests. We placed Edyn in a pot with a majesty palm, next to calibrated meters to determine its accuracy across all five criteria.
As you can see, the two sensors started off with distinctly different moisture readings. I placed them close to each other in the soil, but my Majesty Palm was newly potted and it's completely understandable that two different spots in unsettled soil read different levels of moisture. As the soil settled, you can see the graphs getting closer and closer together until they spent days overlapping exactly.
The only concerning part of this graph was on the 22nd. As noted, I watered and fertilized, and Edyn didn't pick it up. I even waited a few hours after I watered to take a reading, and Edyn's moisture levels stayed unmoved. When I watered and fertilized on the 24th, with twice as much water, Edyn got right back on track, but it's again sometimes slow to react and not in tune to small changes. Even on the 24th, the recommendations still told me to water for hours after the number had adjusted.
Edyn's temperature readings didn't miss a beat, staying within an acceptable margin of error for the entire two week test. It even kept up with the temperature spike when I took my potted plant outside into the summer heat for a day.
The humidity readings don't show quite the same impressive consistency, but still stayed within an acceptable margin of error throughout the tests.
Since Edyn doesn't give any number for soil nutrition, just a general value on a graph between depleted and too much, I looked for patterns in the data to determine its accuracy. Similar to the moisture readings, the values looked good, but missed the watering and fertilizing on the 22nd.
Nutrition's measured in soil conductivity, so it's susceptible to overestimating how much fertilizer is present after you water. I watered the palm without fertilizer after the end of the official tests. Before I watered, the graph sat approximately 55 percent of the way up between depleted and too much. The next morning, it was all the way up to 100 percent too much nutrition, and I didn't add any fertilizer
The Parrot Flower Power -- the only other smart plant sensor to measure nutrition -- used the same method and had similar issues. Edyn's nutrition values seem accurate most of the time, but give it time to adjust its readings after you water.
Edyn's light readings didn't seem accurate at all. It shows a 24-hour average as the listed value, and only gives current data in the graph as a relative position between 8,000 and 32,000. You have to do some guesswork to get a current value, but the value I parsed from the graph was significantly off from our calibrated light meter.
A bright interior setting should be between 600 and 800 lux, that's the value our meter gave when I took readings, but Edyn placed the light around 12,000 lux or more. When I took my majesty palm outside, Edyn's readings spiked up to 32,000 lux, but direct sunlight should be significantly more than that, and the calibrated meter showed readings of over 60,000 lux.
It looks like Edyn smoothes over the data to approximate its numbers. Nonetheless, the recommendations seemed accurate, if slow as usual. Edyn would tell me to find a sunnier spot for my plant if it was in a shaded corner of the office for a few days -- a good call.
When I took it outside, into direct sunlight, it still recommended I find more light. That's the downside of smoothing the data and providing recommendations based on 24-hour averages -- if you fix the problem, you'll have to wait awhile to get confirmation and you might over adjust by mistake. The day after I left it outside for a while, even though it was back in the same shady indoor spot, Edyn told me to shade my plant.
It took three different meters to verify Edyn's accuracy, so it could certainly be a useful tool once its app gets fixed. Nutrition and light both show skewed numbers, but they smooth out their data over time, and the recommendations should prove solid as long as you wait for averages to process. The rest performed accurately. In general, I found Edyn's data performance acceptable and sometimes good, you'll just need to have enough patience to wait for it to process new info, as across the board, it's slow.
Since it takes patience to use this device anyway, I recommend you stay patient and hold off for now if you want it. The company needs to prove it can get the app right before I'd call Edyn worth the $100 cost. The app has been updating throughout my testing process, both for better and for worse as it's added push notifications and gotten the Android app up and running, but caused my app to freeze for a few days in the middle of my tests. It simply isn't finished yet.
Lots of apps update once they hit the market, but this one feels like it's still in beta. If you want a connected garden device, I recommend either the Koubachi Wi-Fi Sensor , and its awesome app, or PlantLink and its simple but charming interface. Slow readings, a handcuffed database, and occasional unresponsiveness render the Edyn Garden Sensor much less useful than it should be. Edyn could still be the best garden sensor out there, someday, but for now, it's a smart device with a bad app, so I don't recommend it for your own garden paradise.