As the smart home market grows, convenience is becoming one of the biggest measures of success for any given gadget. Sure, you can control your smart LEDs with your phone -- but if it's not easier than using a conventional light switch, who cares?
With that convenience in mind, Logitech released the Pop, a device that controls your smart home gadgets with the ease of a button press. The Logitech Pop works like most other connected buttons, sending personalized commands to smart home gadgets with a single, double or long press. And it works particularly well in homes with multiple occupants and a bunch of smart home tech already built in.
Although the device can't quite rise above the competition because of the high price for its limited uses ($100 or £120 for the starter pack, $40 or £35 for each additional button), it will find a home with many people because it works so well with particular smart home ecosystems.
The Logitech Pop Starter Pack includes two buttons and a plug-in bridge. It works very simply: The buttons connect via Bluetooth to the bridge, which connects using Wi-Fi to the rest of the devices around your house.
This setup might seem simple, but it's unique in the smart button market. Many competitors anchor themselves to particular phones, rather than a hub. For instance, with the Flic smart button, Mom might not be able to control the lights while Dad is out of the house, because the button relies on his phone to translate its Bluetooth signal into a Wi-Fi command the Philips Hue lights can understand.
Logitech deftly sidesteps this issue by using a hub -- making the Pop a more flexible device for multiple users.
Here's the full list of devices that work with the Logitech Pop:
It's not a huge list of partnerships (it's comparable to the more affordable Flic's), but the integration with IFTTT vastly expands the capabilities of the Pop button. You can not only control smart home gadgets, but you can toggle any device or service that works with the IFTTT platform -- which includes cloud storage services and communication apps, not to mention even more smart home devices. A smart button adds convenience, but it must be flexible enough to accomplish what diverse users want, and IFTTT brings that flexibility.
But the Pop really shines when integrating with Logitech Harmony remotes. Using these devices, you can set up "scenes" that will turn on your TV, select the correct input and activate your preferred streaming service (assuming you have a compatible TV and streaming device). With this cooperation, the Pop can pretty easily become a Netflix or HBO button -- a feature I would use daily.
The one weakness in the Pop's feature list is its in-app behavior. Competitor Flic has over 50 functions built into its app -- everything from having your phone read texts aloud (Android-only), to toggling your music, to ordering a pizza. Pop users can accomplish many of these tasks using IFTTT, but that takes extra time, and discourages the sort of mix-and-match experimentation that makes smart buttons so fun.
The second problem is that too many of the Pop's features rely on other devices. Harmony hub remotes can cost hundreds of dollars, compatible TVs cost hundreds more, and streaming devices add another hundred to the bill. If you've already got such a setup, the Logitech Pop might be a nice addition. But the Pop in and of itself isn't really offering this sort of connectivity -- it just adds convenience to existing integrations.
This is the weakness of smart buttons in general: They're only as powerful as the tools at their disposal. And that's why it's important for them to offer flexibility and convenience at a low price. For the Logitech Pop, there lies the rub.
Competitor Flic costs $34 for a single button. That's a much easier pill to swallow for people who just want to try out this type of device. Paying $100 is a serious buy-in (£120 is even more serious if you're in the UK), and it's one that might not be worth it, if you don't have a certain suite of products and a particular smart-home setup that will work well with the Pop.
I like the Logitech Pop. Its design is slick and minimalist. Its features open up fun possibilities. I still love pressing a button and watching my lights turn red, my TV turn on and Netflix start up. If you have a lot of compatible devices, the Pop could be a really cool addition to your smart home.
But for those who don't have other Logitech gadgets, the Pop isn't the best smart button out there. It doesn't boast the same flexible in-app features as other smart buttons, and it costs more.