When you think of Kohler, you probably don't think of the smart home. The 145-year old kitchen and bath fixture manufacturer is working to change that. Earlier this year, we took a look at Kohler's Konnected line of products and how the company is bringing tech into our most private spaces. Front and center in Kohler's campaign for tech-infused living is the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror. It includes a built-in Amazon Alexa speaker and brings voice control into the bathroom.
For many people, the thought of inviting Alexa into the bathroom is downright creepy, and I understand that. Privacy concerns are at an all-time high, and most of us have at least one ax to grind with technology or the internet these days. Still, I can see the convenience of being able to ask for your favorite song from the shower or make a to-do list while shaving. The hands-free element of smart speakers and voice assistants is perhaps at its most practical in a bathroom or kitchen context. So I get where Kohler is going.
Still, there are big hurdles with this smart mirror -- the price, for starters. At $1,200, it is expensive. It's aimed at customers with deep pockets and a dedication to Alexa. It's not a mirror for the rest of us. It also doesn't work with Google Assistant or integrate with the smart home in any other way. If you're ready to splurge, Kohler's mirror is one fancy way to smarten your bathroom. Just know that its innovation doesn't go too far beyond slapping an Alexa speaker onto a mirror with built-in lighting. A $50 Echo Dot ($50 at Amazon) would get you pretty close to the same experience with your existing vanity.
Kohler's Verdera Voice mirror is 33 inches tall and is available in three widths: 24, 30 or 40 inches. (We tested the 34-inch model.) The tri-fold design includes two thin outer panels that each house an embedded LED bar. With a depth of just two inches, the mirror doesn't feel as bulky as some designs. These Alexa-enabled mirrors don't come in a medicine-cabinet style, so anyone looking for included storage will be disappointed.
The light and visibility provided by the LED bars is great. This mirror is perfect for personal grooming and applying cosmetics, and the LEDs are dimmable via a touch control or the Kohler Konnect app, or by asking Alexa to dim the mirror to a specific brightness level percentage.
In addition to the two vertical LEDs, there is also a nightlight function and a motion sensor to activate the nightlight when someone steps in front of the mirror. It's a nice touch and helpful for seeing your sink in the dark, but there isn't really enough light to illuminate a bathroom floor and keep you from tripping.
Installation and smart mirror setup
Our Labs Manager, Steve Conaway, installed the Verdera Voice mirror in the CNET Smart Home above a pedestal sink. A well-illustrated guide with step-by-step instructions is included in the box and covers everything you need to know about mounting, wiring and centering the mirror. Once the mirror is installed, you'll need to connect it to your home Wi-Fi and enable Alexa smarts through the Kohler Verdera skill. Instructions in the manual for this portion of the setup are pretty slim.
Download the Kohler Konnect app, select the device you'd like to add to your Wi-Fi network, join a proxy Wi-Fi created by the app, then return and log in to your actual network with its password. This is the same process used by many smart home manufacturers, and while it's not difficult, it is tedious. The first time I tried setting up the mirror, I had a problem connecting the mirror to the Wi-Fi. Turns out the mirror's pairing mode had timed out. There's no mention of how to troubleshoot this in the instructions, but the easy fix is to press the rubber reset button behind the control module for six seconds to re-initiate its pairing mode. Once you're connected through the Kohler Konnect app, you can enable the Kohler Verdera Alexa skill.
Alexa built in
Alexa's smarts and the mirror's speakers are both housed in a control module beneath the bottom edge. That's also where dual, front-facing microphones listen for voice commands and where you'll find touch controls to adjust volume and lighting levels. A separate blue light behind the module waves when Alexa hears her name and when she responds to your request, similar to the Amazon's Echo speakers.
If you're worried about waterproofing and audio speakers, Kohler has you covered. The embedded speakers sit in the rear of the control module, sealed in a watertight housing to maximize sound quality while protecting the speakers from moisture. Sound quality in the Verdera Voice mirror won't knock your socks off, but it is entirely adequate for any normal-size bathroom and plays music clearly.