iHome iSP8 SmartPlug review: The iHome SmartPlug gives renters a taste of the smart-home dream

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The Good The iHome ISP8 SmartPlug works with a slew of leading smart-home platforms, including Amazon Echo and Apple HomeKit. Plus, its base performance is reliable.

The Bad Although its partners are well chosen, the iHome doesn't have the depth of integration possibilities (offered by platforms like IFTTT) to satisfy my more experimental sensibilities.

The Bottom Line The iHome matches the performance of most competitors, but can't quite ascend to the smart plug throne without IFTTT.

8.1 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 8
  • Design 8
  • Performance 9

When you're building a smart home, connected in-wall switches are a great way to smarten up your lighting. But in a rental space, you need a lighter-install product: enter the smart plug.

Read more: These smart plugs are the secret to a seamless smart homeWant to buy a smart plug? Read this first

A smart plug can give any pluggable device a brain. And in the case of the $50 iHome ISP8 SmartPlug, one of the leaders in the market, that brain connects your dumb old lamp to Siri, Alexa, Wink, SmartThings or Nest.

The iHome ISP8 is making a play in a tough market, with impressive competitors like iDevices and Belkin. And although the device is an improvement over the older ISP5 SmartPlug, connecting with new platforms and introducing energy monitoring, the ISP8 doesn't offer quite enough to surpass the industry leaders.

The iHome is a solid smart plug that left me with a bad first impression. I set up the device on two Wi-Fi networks, and both times it took at least three attempts to connect successfully. Next, I wanted to integrate the SmartPlug with our Amazon Echo ($11 at Walmart) -- usually a pretty simple process. Instead, the online directions instructed me to download another app -- Wink -- and set up an additional account to bridge my iHome account and the Alexa app.

When I called iHome's tech support to double check I was following the process correctly, they also walked me through the same directions. It only took an extra 5 or 10 minutes, which wasn't the end of the world, but I didn't want an extra app cluttering up my phone. Later I learned using the Wink app as a bridge was unnecessary in the first place; iHome recently added an Alexa skill to directly integrate with the Echo. The issue with this experience wasn't so much the device itself, but a combination of an annoying setup process and unclear instructions.

After moving past this speed bump, however, the iHome performed admirably. The device connects seamlessly with HomeKit and Siri as soon as you pair it with the iHome app. And setting up the included remote control takes only a few seconds.

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