Oomi Home Starter Kit review: Oomi's do-it-all smart home kit is impressive but expensive

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The Good Oomi devices pair using NFC, which makes setup about as foolproof as it gets. The system is incredibly versatile, offering automation, security, color-changing light, entertainment controls and more.

The Bad Oomi is expensive and the system isn't compatible with as many third-party gadgets as Wink or SmartThings. Also, the tablet's universal remote feature lagged badly with each button press.

The Bottom Line It isn't cheap, but Oomi is a stable, easy-to-use smart home system with a lot to offer.

7.7 Overall
  • Features 8
  • Usability 8.5
  • Design 7
  • Performance 7

Editor's Note, 11/1/17, 5:25 PM EST: Oomi has lowered the price of its starter kit in the US from $700 to $500. That's still expensive, but not unreasonably so given Oomi's versatility. We've raised the score from a 7.4 to a 7.7 as a result; the full review, as originally published, follows below.

We've seen no shortage of smart home starter kits over the past few years, and Oomi, an Indiegogo success story and perennial favorite at CES, is one of the more ambitious.

In addition to color-changing smart bulbs and attractive-looking smart plugs, Oomi's starter kit offers a Piper-like camera embedded with sensors and smarts. It's also got a sophisticated rules engine and a dedicated tablet controller that doubles as a universal remote. Along with automating all of it and using Oomi as a DIY security system, you can sync the starter kit with Alexa for voice controls, or put your Nest thermostat, Philips Hue bulbs and Z-Wave devices under Oomi's control. All of Oomi's gadgets have near-field communication (NFC) built in, so you can connect each device just by tapping it with the tablet.

There's a "but" coming, though, and it's a big one. Sure, Oomi is a likable smart home system, but it costs $700. I rarely get to use exclamation points in my reviews, so allow me to seize the opportunity: $700!

Oomi points to the versatility of the system to justify the expense. That's all well and good, but consider this. If you swapped an Amazon Echo Show in for Oomi's touchscreen controller, two color-changing Lifx LEDs for the bulbs, a Nest Cam for the Oomi Cube and a Belkin WeMo Mini in place of Oomi's smart plug, the total cost would be about $560 -- and that's if you bought everything at full price.

"By piecemealing a system together, you don't get the simplicity that Oomi provides," counters Colin Marshall, vice president of Oomi's parent company Fantem. He also points to Oomi-specific features such as its compatibility with Z-Wave devices and the multitude of sensors packed into the Oomi Cube. It's a fair point to an extent, but it doesn't make the price tag any easier to swallow. 

All of that said, I like Oomi, and think it could have been an interesting competitor to names such as SmartThings and Wink a couple of years ago. But today there are simply too many strong alternatives that cost less for most people to justify spending so much.

Oomi's tablet can pair and control devices, program automation rules and serve as a universal remote for your AV gear.

Chris Monroe/CNET

All about Oomi

Oomi's starter kit ships out in a distinctive black box with gilded, Gucci-esque lettering. The first impression is a far cry from the plasticky white hardware of Wink and SmartThings -- by comparison, Oomi's weighty devices feel refined and maybe even a little bit haughty.

To add an Oomi device to your setup, just hold the tablet next to it.

Ry Crist/CNET

You'll start by plugging in the tablet's fancy, magnetic charging dock and powering it up. From there, it'll walk you through the setup process, which is one of the easiest I've ever experienced from a starter kit of this kind thanks to the NFC radios built into each device. Just tell the tablet you're adding something, then tap it against the gadget you want to add. There's no scanning, no temporary Wi-Fi networks to join and no access codes to enter. Just super simple setup by way of physical proximity. (I should point out that this makes for a system that's less vulnerable to outside hacks.)

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