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CNET First Look
Spotlight on the SpotterIs this brainchild of Quirky and GE ready for its close-up?
Hey, I'm CNET's Ry Crist and this is the Spotter from the team of Quirky and GE. This is a multipurpose sensor that can track light, sound, motion, temperature and humidity changes, and then use that to trigger your devices or send you notifications. Now, the Spotter is magnetic, so you can stick it to your fridge, or you can mount it to the wall using mounting screws, or sticky tabs, or just sit it on a desk. You can power it in one of two ways, you can plug it in using the included AC cable or you can use the battery back-up. Just two AA batteries and that'll keep it going. On battery mode, though, it will only do motion and light detection, it can't do the extra stuff. Now, this is a very new product and it shows a lot of promise and potential. It'd be great to have a sensor capable of doing all the things it can do that works reliably. However, the Spotter doesn't quite work as consistently as I'd like at this point. Now in my tests, I found that it worked well when it had the power plugged in and the batteries out. The reason for this is that, you reboot the Spotter by taking all the power out of it- no batteries, no power cord- and then plugging that cord back in. It'll log on to the network, download any firmware that's up there and get up to speed, and at that point, it seems to work really well. But if you change the battery status by adding batteries and then plugging it, or if you remove the Spotter somewhere, that can kind of confuse it, and then it stops working so reliably. The app you use to control it is the Wink app from Quirky. And this is the same app we saw with the Pivot Power Genius and with the Egg Minder we looked at; it's a great app, it looks really nice. It gives you a lot of helpful information. But, it's lacking some key features. It doesn't give you a timeline of events. It won't tell you all the things that happened during day to the Spotter. Like, when the lights came on or when the temperature changed, you can't go back and view that history and that's kind of a big omission in my book. Also, you can't check the status of the Spotter in real time. It's got the temperature sensor in there, but you can't log in to the app and check what the temperature is at the current moment. That seems like a big oversight in my opinion. We also saw some little things that sort of threw us for a loop, like if you try and turn a trigger off that you've set up and then exit that menu, when you come back, that trigger will be on again. It's kinda strange-- And I think it just needs another pass from the development team. Now, if you're an early adopter, and you wanna try out this new technology, Quirky has a bunch of devices coming out that are all supposed to work with this. So, it could be very cool. And like I said, it's got a lot of promise. And a lot of these problems might be fixed with a couple of good firmware updates. But right now, it's not working as reliably as I'd like. If I was gonna automate my appliances, I'd probably go with the Belkin WeMo Switch and Motion which, in our tests, did quite well. So, holidays are coming up, if I had to choose one to have in my stock, it would be Belkins. But, next year, don't be surprised if these Spotter ends up on my wishlist. For CNET, I'm Ry Crist.