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iDevices Socket review: The iDevices Socket performs well enough, but why use it?

The iDevices Socket can dim, schedule and voice-control lights. But so can everything else, for less.

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David Priest
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David Priest

Editor

David Priest is an award-winning writer and editor who covers home security for CNET. When he isn't waving his hands wildly in front of motion sensors or making faces at video doorbells, he spends his time playing board games and video games with his wife and family.

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3 min read

Lighting is one of the easiest and most affordable entry points into smart-home gadgetry. Connected LEDs, switches and plugs typically slide in around or under 50 bucks. But now a new type of device is available -- a retrofit Socket that lends smarts to any bulb screwed into it. Sure, crowdsourcing hopefuls have proposed similar products in the past, but this is different. iDevices is an established company, and the Socket integrates with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Echo.

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5.8

iDevices Socket

The Good

The iDevices Socket works pretty well as a dimmer and nightlight.

The Bad

Its design is bulky and inefficient, and its price is absurd.

The Bottom Line

The Socket is a gadget you want to hide, but in so doing, you lose its primary appeal -- the ability to display unique light bulbs. Why anyone would shell out $80 for this product, I cannot imagine.

On its surface, the Socket functions as advertised: it smartens up almost any standard bulb, adding dimming, scheduling and voice-activated controls with both Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa. It even includes an RGB color changing nightlight. But there's a fundamental question I've been unable to answer: When is the Socket consistently more useful than a smart switch or bulb? The $80 price tag only adds to my befuddlement, since you can easily find more feature-rich lighting devices for considerably less cash.

Until I find a unique use case that justifies the Socket's otherwise outrageous asking price, I can't recommend iDevices' newest product.

This smart Socket gives a dumb lightbulb a brain

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What it gets right

Taken as it is, the Socket actually works pretty well. The iDevices app has always been one of the better third party HomeKit apps out there, and it continues to support its devices with an intuitive interface and easy setup process. Getting the Socket up and running takes barely a minute, and operating its dimming, scheduling, and nightlight capabilities is slick the whole time.

The iDevices app also connects to the Socket using both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so the connection is reliable whether you're home or away.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

What it gets wrong

The big problem with the iDevices Socket is that it doesn't fulfill any particular customer need. If you want a bulb that can dim and schedule, buy a smart LED -- you'll get more lighting features than the Socket. If you want to keep your current retro bulbs, but also want smart features, buy a smart switch or plug -- you'll avoid the strange look of old bulbs hanging from a white plastic device.

I asked the developers at iDevices what exactly distinguishes the Socket from other devices on the market, and they responded with two primary features: it's easy to install (meaning it doesn't require a hub), and it works with Apple HomeKit (meaning you can control it remotely and using Siri).

Lighting device feature comparison

MoveableLampsFixturesHomeKitAmazon EchoDimmingSchedulingRGB or White-Light color changingPriceHub requiredInstallation
iDevices Socket YesSometimesYesYesYesYesYesNo$80 NoQuick
Philips Hue White YesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo$15 Yes - $60Quick plus hub
Philips Hue White and Color Ambience YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes$60 Yes - $60Quick plus hub
Lifx Color 1000 LED YesYesYesNoYesYesYesYes$60 NoQuick
Belkin WeMo In-Wall Switch NoSometimesYesNoYesNoYesNo$50 NoSlow
iDevices Switch (smart plug) YesYesNoYesYesNoYesNo$50 NoQuick
Lifx White 800 LED YesYesYesNoYesYesYesWhite-light only$30 NoQuick
Lutron Caseta In-Wall Dimmer NoSometimesYesYesYesYesYesNo$55 Yes - $80Slow

But look at the Socket versus the Philips Hue White bulbs on the chart above. They're almost identical. Sure, Philips Hue bulbs require a hub, but that added cost and hassle stops looking so bad when each light bulb afterward costs only $15 -- $65 less than a single Socket.

Across the chart above, you can see that, yes, the iDevices Socket has a unique feature set. But that doesn't make it a unique product. Plenty of devices do scheduling and let you keep your original bulbs. Plenty do dimming, work with HomeKit or do hubless setup. If you need this exact combination of features, and you almost certainly don't, then you should consider the iDevices Socket.

But for most consumers, finding a gadget that offers a marginally different feature-set isn't worth 80 bucks.

idevices-socket-product-photos-9.jpg
5.8

iDevices Socket

Score Breakdown

Features 5Usability 8Design 3Performance 8
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