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Lucis Nubryte review: NuBryte's combo of features doesn't add up to much

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As of an update due out today (but not live yet as of the time of writing), you'll actually be able to connect your Google Calendar to NuBryte, but you can't actually merge calendars or interact with your Google Calendar in any meaningful way via NuBryte. Supposedly, Google Calendar will just send a notification to your Touchpoint's screen when an event is about to start.

I'd have liked a more robust integration with Google Calendar. The ability to bring your family's calendars together in one place would have been uniquely beneficial, and should be part of an update further in the future.

I'd have appreciated a more robust app in general, actually. Other smart switches, such as the Caseta switches from Lutron, offer geofencing, custom scheduling, and work with Amazon's Alexa, Apple's HomeKit, Nest, and online rule-maker IFTTT.

NuBryte works with Alexa now. If you have an Amazon Echo, you can activate the NuBryte skill, then control your connected lights with a voice command to Amazon's always listening speaker. NuBryte has also announced integrations with IFTTT and Nest. These upcoming upgrades could go a long way to helping NuBryte catch up to Lutron, but competitively, it's not close as a smart light switch yet.

Security

Activate security, and you'll have about a minute to make your exit before it arms.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Similarly, as a security device, NuBryte is competent, but lacking in depth. You can't use the camera to view a live feed of your home when you're away. The only way to see any footage of the room is if someone sets off the alarm.

Hit the shield button on the panel, and you're prompted to create a PIN. You also determine how long of a grace period you need to make your exit. Once the grace period is over, NuBryte is mostly accurate at sensing motion, though I was able to make my way through the room a couple of times without activating the alarm by moving quickly along the far edges. Once triggered, NuBryte offers another grace period to shut off the alarm with the PIN.

After the grace period ends, a 100 dB siren sounds and the lights flash. The alarm isn't as piercing as a smoke detector, but you'll be able to hear it throughout your house. NuBryte can't call the police, but it will send you a push notification and record the event so you can see what's going on. Again, though, you won't be able to pull up a live feed. You'll need to wait until NuBryte finishes recording, then download the video to watch it.

You can also activate security via the app, and watch recorded video if the alarm was triggered.

Screenshots by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

NuBryte stores up to 200 MB of footage for free -- which is plenty for several clips -- and it rolls out old clips once room runs out. Its wide angle lens clearly captures 120 degrees in front of it, and you can activate and disarm security remotely.

Other smart cams sense faces, ignore pets, and let you customize alerts and notifications based on your location and the time of day. NuBryte lets you turn the security on or off, and that's it. NuBryte doesn't keep up as a security device.

All in the family?

With multiple NuBrytes, you can use the camera and microphone as an intercom. You can't use your phone to chat with NuBryte, though, so to take advantage of the intercom, you'll need to spend at least $500 on two Touchpoints. You can control the lights connected to any Touchpoint from one panel, and check the temp and humidity near all panels at once -- so having multiple Touchpoints offers a couple of other advantages.

As a family centered device, though, it's a surprising pain to add multiple users to the app. Finding the feature under settings is easy enough. Just tap "Manage Members," then "Family Members." From there you can add users by inviting them over email. For some reason, though, the email field has a character cap. I wanted to use my personal phone to test multiuser capabilities, but I couldn't invite myself using my work email because it wouldn't fit.

Especially for a family-focused device, it's a large pain to add family members to your account.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I shrugged off that setback and set up an account using my personal email, and again the system stepped on my toes. You can only invite users who don't yet have a NuBryte account. Both the character limit and the new account limit are strange oversights that you might never notice, but if you do, they could prove significant hindrances for your family. I was unable to add a second account for myself, and had to enlist a coworker to help me test the system.

Once you do manage to make it through the odd limitations and add a family member, they'll have full control over the system via their phone. You can't customize who has access to what, or delete family members once they're added. Multi-user integration is tough for a lot of smart home devices, but it's practically broken on NuBryte.

Verdict

Right now, the competent hardware within the $250/$260 NuBryte Touchpoint is let down by shallow software. The mic doesn't respond to voice controls -- it's just there for the intercom, which you can't use unless you shell out $500 for two units. The cam won't show you a live feed. The touchscreen is responsive, but only controls lights.

NuBryte aims to be the center of your smart home by bringing lots of functionality to a device everyone at home can access -- as opposed to your individual smart phone. NuBryte works with Amazon's assistant Alexa, and has announced upcoming integrations with Nest and online rule-maker IFTTT which will help tie it into a larger smart home setup. NuBryte needs a few more of those integrations to become a reality before it'll actually be a viable centerpiece of your smart home. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the future, but I don't recommend buying the NuBryte Touchpoint now.

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