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Smart Home

New iDevices Instant Switch on-wall light switch makes convenience king

The Instant Switch injects other iDevices plugs and switches with an extra measure of accessibility. But is it worth the price?

Over the past few years, iDevices has slowly been expanding its roster of smart home devices -- from smart plugs, to a thermostat ($65 at Amazon), an in-wall switch and an outlet. Now it's adding a device to draw them all together: the iDevices Instant Switch.

Unlike every other iDevices product, the Instant Switch doesn't use Wi-Fi to communicate with users via their phones. Instead, it uses Bluetooth to pair with any other iDevices power device (such as its plugs and switches) and inject a little more control to them. And at $50, the Instant Switch fits right in with the pricing of the other iDevices products -- which is exactly the problem.

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You can affix the Instant Switch to any wall you want -- no wiring necessary, thanks to the included Command adhesive strips.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Instant Switch basically works like this: you stick it to a wall (using included Command adhesive strips on the back), pair it with another iDevices gadget and use it to control that gadget. That could mean, for instance, sticking the Instant Switch beside your bed, connecting it to a lamp via the iDevices Switch and just punching it from bed whenever you're ready to sleep.

Or if you have a more elaborate setup, the Instant Switch could control multiple products at once, turning off in-wall switches, outlets and plugs all in concert.

I like the usability of iDevices' latest product. As someone who's wasted countless hours on cumbersome smart home device installations, I appreciate the effort to streamline the experience. But the features offered by the Instant Switch seem a bit anemic.

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You can control the Instant Switch on iOS or Android -- with Siri or Alexa.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

First off, its convenience comes at the cost of independence: you can only use the Instant Switch as intended if you already have iDevices products. That immediately limits the audience. Plus, that convenience isn't new: you can control the Instant Switch and other iDevices gadgets with Siri or Alexa, so as long as you have your phone, you can control the lights from anywhere already.

Secondly, the Instant Switch doesn't integrate with other non-power devices -- not even iDevices' own Thermostat. That makes it far less appealing than, say, Lutron's in-wall switches, which can integrate with platforms like IFTTT to perform much more complex tasks, or the Belkin WeMo in-wall switch, which also integrates with more devices and still clocks in at the same $50 price as the Instant Switch.

Unless the Instant Switch drops its projected $50 price to something that better reflects its feature set among the competition, it amounts to little more than an interesting failure. Here's hoping when it becomes available in summer 2017 that it will boast more features or a more appropriate price.

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