Today we’re looking at the iDevices Smart Socket, a device that can turn an individual regular light bulb – especially one capable of dimming – into a smart bulb. To my knowledge there are 4 different HomeKit-compatible light sockets on the market right now – Koogeek, Incipio, a new one from Xiaoyan (China) and this, the iDevices socket, which would suggest they’re not really as popular with the public as smart bulbs, smart plugs or switches. Compared to the four sockets mentioned, there are currently around 10 times as many smart outlets on the market, so you can see they’re a niche product, but there is a use case, even if it’s more limited.
Anyway, let’s have a look at this device.
So, as it’s an iDevices ‘device’, you know you’re going to get decent, protective packaging, and so there’s absolutely no disappointment in that area. The socket is housed in a tough little box, with a plastic inner to hold the device securely. The packaging, as with other iDevices products, comes with their distinct purple ‘livery’, the product image on the front, along with the all important ‘works with HomeKit’ stamp on the front, with a fair bit of detailed information on the back. besides the socket itself, there are also an instruction manual that also contains one of two instances of the HomeKit code, along with a smaller manual for non-HomeKit/Android users.
Onto the device itself, and whilst it’s fairly small, this socket will add some height to any lighting fixture you add it to, which we’ll touch on a bit later. The second instance of the HomeKit code appears on the side of the socket itself, which while a guaranteed way to not lose it, may also present a problem for scanning the code, should you need to reinstall the device in the future, but it’s set into a high ceiling fixture for example – so make sure you keep the other code! The iDevices logo is printed on another part of the body, along with the physical switch. So, the same possible issues mentioned regarding scanning the code on the device also exist with the physical switch, located on the side of the device. This isn’t an issue if you have it in a floor lamp or if you exclusively control it via the iPhone or perhaps even use iDevices’ very own Instant Switch, but if like me, you have it in a ceiling light, you may eventually get a step-ladder out eventually. No one said Home Automation would always be easy…
What sets the iDevices Socket apart from other smart sockets is hidden in the top of the device, namely a set of full colour LEDs, so, just like it’s smart switch brother, this comes with a night-light. This LED ‘ring’ also appears as a separate controllable device in the ‘Home’ app. Having tested this in a white lamp shade, I can say with certainty that not only is it a great night-light, but it’s also nearly as powerful enough to give a genuine colour bulb a run for its money, depending on the colour you choose. As with most decent colour bulbs, iDevices claim the night-light is capable of up to 16 million colours. I won’t be counting…
So, we should really address the issue of the product adding ‘height’ to your light fitting. While this and other sockets allow a ‘dumb’ bulb to become ‘smart’, it also adds height to an area that’s mostly already limited in terms of space. It isn’t always a problem, but it’s wise to make sure you know where it’s going to go and make sure you have the headroom to begin with. I’ve got one of these, along with the Incipio model, and luckily I’ve managed to use them with lamp shades that are large enough to accommodate the additional height. However, that might not be the case with an enclosed bathroom fitting, so you really have to make sure this will fit before spending your hard-earned cash.
Onto the final point in regards to making your bulb ‘smart’, this socket does allow you to adjust the brightness of the LED light you have plugged into it, which is fantastic, but you must ensure the bulb you’re using is in fact capable of being used for dimming, as not all bulbs, LED or otherwise, are. The brightness levels can be controlled in the Home app, iDevices’ own app of course, but you can tell Siri to also set the brightness, and if like me, you are using the iDevices Instant Switch, you can physically control the brightness this way too.
All in all, this is a product that can really provide a lot of uses, in very certain circumstances, which may seem limiting, but you do get the addition of a really colourful night-light that could almost be considered a colour bulb, but you also get dimming capabilities too, so for me, it’s definitely the best of a (very small) bunch!