Orbit B-hyve Smart Hose Faucet Timer review: Orbit's Faucet Timer makes a simple garden hose pretty smart

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Manually start the sprinkler, set a schedule yourself, or B-hyve can schedule your sprinklers for you.

Screenshots by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

You can tell the app what you're watering, what kind of sprinklers you're using, the amount of sun your plants get, the soil you're in and more. The B-hyve app will take a guess at any info you don't know, and you can fine tune even further in the advanced settings if you're an expert.

The app's mix of easy-to-use basics and advanced details makes it a good fit for both beginners in need of basic help and experts looking to specifically control all the variables. The app's also a big part of why I gave the original B-hyve a great review and called it the "best budget-friendly smart sprinkler."

When you turn on smart scheduling, the app uses any info you gave it along with local weather information to plan out a perfect watering schedule for your yard. Unfortunately, the app doesn't have many options specific to a garden -- both in terms of plant types and garden-specific sprinklers like drip tubes -- so the smart scheduling for the Faucet Timer might not be that smart. 

I previously criticized the app for not having any choices between fully smart and fully manual scheduling. By comparison, Rachio's sprinkler lets you customize a lot of details yourself and will still add its own weather awareness. With B-hyve, you're either letting the system automate all watering or you need to be responsible for setting the schedule and setting rain delays. That flaw is more pronounced in the Faucet Timer because you might not be able to set the smarts according to what you're actually watering.

Talk to Alexa

Still, the app's easy enough to use that setting a schedule on your own and punching in a rain delay never takes more than a couple of seconds. You can also turn on your sprinklers or set a rain delay with a voice command using Amazon's digital assistant Alexa. The B-hyve Alexa skill carries over to the Faucet Timer.

Talk to any Alexa equipped device, such as the Amazon Echo ($35 at Amazon) smart speaker, and say "ask B-hyve" and Alexa will respond to a wide variety of intuitive commands. Here's the list. I actually thought B-hyve's Alexa skill offered a little more polish than Rachio's, and I'm happy the Faucet Timer gets that same advantage, especially since you might need to be a little more hands-on with the scheduling.

Later this year, Orbit's also adding compatibility with Siri -- Apple's digital assistant -- to its sprinkler with a free over the air update.

The verdict

I wish Orbit's B-hyve app let you customize smart watering schedules for specific plants you might be growing in a garden bed. I also wish the app offered a middle ground between fully smart scheduling and manual schedules. Both features would have been especially handy for the B-hyve Faucet Timer, since you're more likely to use a garden hose and sprinkler setup in a garden.

Nevertheless, the fact that the Faucet Timer lets you smarten up a basic garden hose setup at all is still an achievement. If the competition does get more stiff, Orbit will need to start polishing the Faucet Timer's flaws with updates. In the meantime, the B-hyve Faucet Timer offers unique and useful smarts at a reasonable price, so it's worth buying if you need help in your garden this spring.