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.
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.