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Nyrius Smart Outlet review: This smart plug fails to impress with form or function

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MSRP: $39.99
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The Good The Nyrius Smart Outlet is easy to set up, and the app is simple to navigate.

The Bad The app won't integrate with other smart tech; the Bluetooth connectivity seriously inhibits the Proximity feature; and the physical design is ugly.

The Bottom Line Clunky design, simplistic features and inconsistencies in its basic functions hurt what might've been a decent smart outlet.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.5 Overall
  • Features 5
  • Usability 7
  • Design 5
  • Performance 5

Review Sections

Smart plugs and outlets, as I've mentioned before, are the foundation of a smart home. They retrofit everyday electronics like lamps to transform a household from a fragmented group of things into a unified space. But different products work for different people. Just as a city dweller whose daily destinations are within blocks of his or her apartment might not need a very good geofencing lock, a person looking only for remote-control electronics might not need a more versatile but expensive smart plug.

Certain plugs, though, I have a hard time recommending to anyone. The Nyrius Smart Outlet is one of those. It can't integrate with other products -- even other Nyrius products. The Bluetooth connectivity is spotty, and some of the features work only sporadically. Its design is clunky, and the price is too high. At $40, the Nyrius is only 10 bucks cheaper than the far superior Belkin WeMo Insight Switch and $20 cheaper than the high-potential iDevices Switch. For most people, I'd say skip this offering.

Setup

Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

If you've paired Bluetooth tech with your phone before, setting up the Nyrius Smart Outlet will be a breeze. Most other smart plugs, like the Belkin WeMo Switch, use Wi-Fi or perhaps Z-Wave to connect with user devices. Bluetooth is easier to set up, because you don't have to sync the Outlet with your home network -- just your phone. Basically, plug in your Outlet and activate your Bluetooth, and you'll be able to access all of the Nyrius Smart Outlet features almost immediately.

Once I set up my Nyrius Smart Outlet, it only took a couple of minutes to familiarize myself with the corresponding app, Nyrius Outlet. The app's interface is spare and the three primary functions of the plug are immediately apparent. While this simplicity is welcome, I was surprised by the app's exclusivity. Unlike applications created for flexibility and integration, like WeMo's or SmartThings', the Nyrius Outlet app deals only with Nyrius Outlets. That means even other Nyrius products require a separate app.

Part of the appeal of smart technology is ease of use. In theory, it should be more efficient to tap your phone a few times than to manually control all your electronics. But if you have to pull up separate apps for each product, you lose that efficiency. And even if you were to outfit your home exclusively with Nyrius Smart Outlets, you still would have to activate each one individually, since the app offers no group commands.

Overall, despite a relatively simple interface and setup, the Nyrius Smart Outlet suffers from the app's exclusivity and inefficiency.

Design and features

The design of every smart plug or switch aims for a different effect. The Belkin WeMo Insight Switch features a functional aesthetic that aims for unobtrusive. The iDevices Switch uses a sleek, white plastic face and colorful LED strip to distract from its blocky form. The Nyrius Smart Outlet somehow combines the worst elements from its competitors.

Put bluntly, the Nyrius Smart Outlet is ugly. If plugged into the top of a standard wall outlet, its bulky matte-white body covers both inputs completely. The oblong shape is also distracting, and the light on it is barely visible. From a distance, the tiny rectangle could be mistaken for a spot of dirt on the plastic background.

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