Connected plugs are one of the best entry points for the smart home market. They offer convenience for a relatively small commitment while adding voice control, remote access, scheduling and energy monitoring to otherwise dumb devices. But a $35 entry point -- the price of the up-till-now best affordable plug -- still feels a little expensive and the cost quickly adds up when you expand your setup.
Enter the Geeni Energi, a smart plug that doesn't break new ground with its hardware or software, but does hit an affordable new price: $25. The Geeni Energi doesn't have the flashy design or features of industry leaders, or the integrations of the best competitors. But it establishes itself as one of the best affordable entry points to smart home tech -- which is exactly what a smart plug should do.
Geeni doesn't make a great first impression. It looks almost exactly like the original-- which is over five years old -- just flipped upside-down. Its bulky design blocks the outlet beneath it, and when I was starting my account, one of the setup directions popped up in a different language.
So yes, the Energi comes across as a little janky at first. But it turns out, Geeni's product is pretty reliable. The scheduling and remote control features work well, and the energy monitoring adds a nice bit of smarts that many more affordable plugs forgo. Even the app, once the device is set up, is simple and easy to use.
Despite its low price, the Energi boasts an integration with Amazon Echo ($34 at Amazon) and Geeni says Google Home voice control is on the way. While I'm disappointed by the lack of an IFTTT channel, which really expands the use-cases for other smart plugs, Geeni says that's next on their roadmap.
The Geeni Energi's features won't blow away competitors, but this smart plug is nipping at the heels of devices like the Belkin WeMo Mini at a significantly lower price. Compare it to pricier gadgets like the iDevices Switch and Belkin WeMo Insight Switch ($45 at Amazon) (both selling for around $50 now), and those devices start to look pretty unappealing, despite their sleeker designs.
The Energi is a solid deal right now. As soon as Geeni adds Google Home and IFTTT integration, it'll be one of the top devices on the market at a lower price than many competitors. Here's hoping the updates come soon, and the next model has a design that looks a little less 2012.