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Elgato Eve Energy review: Siri can't save Eve Energy from mediocrity

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The Good The Elgato Eve Energy smart plug is compact, HomeKit enabled and features one of the deeper HomeKit apps out there.

The Bad The $50 price tag still feels a little high for products like this, and the app lacks the intuitive user interface of its competition. Worst of all, you can't control it remotely without an Apple TV.

The Bottom Line Elgato's Eve Energy smart plug is a solid product, but doesn't leave enough of an impression in an already-saturated market.

6.4 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 7
  • Design 5
  • Performance 7

Elgato, the company that brought us products like the Eve Room and the Thunderbolt Drive, is shooting for a tough goal with its Eve Energy Switch and Power Meter: to make a difference in the saturated market of connected outlets. The recent proliferation of these products makes sense. Their simple retrofit approach to automating homes is affordable and accessible to casual consumers. Want to schedule when your light bulbs turn on? Or track your TV's energy consumption? Or smarten up dumb appliances, like humidifiers or speakers? Smart plugs could be the solution.

The problem is, at $50 a pop -- and the Elgato Eve Energy's price is par for the course -- users want a plug that really feels smart. After all, remote control plugs cost only a couple bucks, and timed plugs are the same story. And Elgato almost succeeds. I can schedule commands, control it with Siri, track energy usage, and set up scenes. But while the Eve Energy boasts those features, it also succumbs to a big problem: you need an Apple TV to control it remotely. So it may be a solid purchase for Apple TV users, but it's definitely not a must-buy. And for non-Apple TV users, it's just not the best plug on the market.

How does Eve compare?

Eve Energy's biggest competitor is the iDevices Switch -- the other big HomeKit-enabled smart plug. Although Eve works better with Siri thanks to the customizable device naming in the app, iDevices wins out on many of the features. Most notably, you don't need an Apple TV to control it remotely.

If Elgato wants to compete in the broader market, it also needs to take fuller advantage of its Bluetooth technology. For instance, Eve doesn't take any advantage of Bluetooth's unique capabilities to detect user-presence and respond accordingly, as the Zuli Smart Plug does.

Finally, the Elgato app needs improvement. The app is functional, but it's not as intuitive as the iDevices counterpart. The Elgato app is also missing triggers, a feature that's key to home automation. The lack of triggers might be a problem with the HomeKit platform, not just Elgato's app, but it's a problem that needs to be solved before Eve Energy competes with more automation-friendly plugs, like the IFTTT-compatible Belkin WeMo Insight Switch.

Overall, the Elgato Eve Energy Switch and Power Meter isn't a bad smart plug, but in an increasingly dense market, and with a $50 price tag, it just doesn't do enough to justify itself.

elgatoeveproductphotos-2.jpg

The Elgato Eve Energy is relatively compact, but you'll still want to use it on bottom outlets so you don't block any.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Pros:

  • Setup is easy.
  • The Elgato app offers more customization, like personalized Siri commands and guest access, than most other HomeKit apps.
  • Siri works well with Eve Energy. You don't have to say "Turn off my Eve plug." You can just say, "Turn off the fan."
  • Elgato Eve is responsive, with almost no latency when you toggle it on or off.

Cons:

  • You can't control the Eve Energy remotely unless you have an Apple TV.
  • Elgato Eve Energy features no dimming capabilities.
  • The design is plain, and the app isn't very intuitive to use.

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