Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you own a lamp. You like this lamp, but it's either on or off, with nothing in between. You can't dim it, and you wish that you could. Better yet, you wish that you could dim it with a simple Alexa voice command on your Amazon Echo smart speaker -- let's go ahead and say that you own one of those, too.
This is where the Wi-Fi-enabled Leviton Decora plug-in dimmer comes in. Plug it in and plug that lamp of yours in behind it. You'll then be able to turn it on and off or dim it up and down remotely using the My Leviton app on your Android or iOS device, or by using Alexa voice commands. The asking price? $48 per plug.
That's a little steep for my tastes, especially considering you can pick up a Belkin WeMo Mini smart switch for $35 or less. That switch won't let you dim the lights, but it boasts better third-party connections than the Decora lineup, and it also features a much, much less awkward design that doesn't block adjacent outlets or force you to plug your lamp in at an uncomfortable angle on the bottom of the device.
Still, the Decora plug has some good stuff going for it. Despite the fact that my phone timed out during my first attempt at pairing with the plug, I came away impressed with the My Leviton app. It's simple to use, yet fully featured, with good controls for organizing multiple plugs by room and programming automated lighting changes. You can also customize things like the lamp's dimmable range or the fade duration whenever you turn it on or off.
Many will also appreciate that the new Wi-Fi Decora devices speak the same language as your home network. That means you don't need to plug a hub into your router to act as translator.
Syncing up with Alexa is easy. Just enable the Leviton skill in the Alexa app and tell your Echo, Echo Dot or Tap to scan for new devices. From there, you'll be able to tell Alexa to turn the lamp on or off or dim it up and down by using whatever name you gave it in the My Leviton app. Everything worked perfectly when I tested it out in the CNET Smart Home.