Smart home device manufacturer Onvis has today announced that it is launching an ‘early bird’ presale offer for its latest product, the S4EU smart plug. Whilst a smart plug isn’t something so unusual these days, this particular product not only uses Thread, the new wireless protocol designed for smart home networks, but it comes with Matter certification, so it will work with not only Apple HomeKit but all the other relevant platforms – Amazon Alexa*, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings. Shipping of the S4EU will begin in Mid-June.
*Amazon has yet to officially activate Thread Border router functionality across all relevant devices.
Onvis is offering a massive 40% off the regular retail price for consumers buying the S4EU in advance, so you can get a 2-pack for €27.99 (MSRP EU€45.99), making each smart plug just €14.00. If you want to stretch to a 4-pack, you can buy a set for just €48.99 (EU€79.99), which brings each smart plug to a very attractive €12.25. By comparison, a single Eve EU smart plug using Matter over Thread is currently selling on Amazon.de for €39.95, more than three times the price of Onvis’ offering. In fairness, it should be noted that the Eve Smart Plug offers energy monitoring, which the equivalent Onvis plug doesn’t offer.
Onvis is also offering free shipping for the S4EU to the following countries – Germany, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, and Poland – via the Onvis web shop.
THREAD | MATTER
If you’re not familiar with Thread, it’s a relatively new wireless protocol that takes the best features of Bluetooth and Zigbee, creating a new and more effective wireless network specifically designed for the smart home; low power use for battery-powered devices, faster response times, and permanently powered devices (light bulbs, wired switches, smart plugs etc) can create a Thread mesh network that helps spreads the signal from a (required) Thread Border Router, which can be found in devices like Apple’s HomePod Mini, HomePod (2nd Gen), Apple TV(2nd Gen), Apple TV (3rd Gen w/ Ethernet). Google offers Thread Border Router functionality in some of its devices, like the Nest Hub Max and more, whilst Samsung offers Thread Border Router functionality in its new SmartThings Station.
As regards Matter, this is described as a new smart home ‘standard’ which in the first instance makes things simpler for consumers purchasing smart home products. So if you see the Matter logo on product packaging, you can be assured that it’ll work with any of the main smart home platforms. On the manufacturer side of things, instead of companies having to choose which platform(s) to invest in, in terms of testing and certification (each platform requires separate certification) etc. developers/manufacturers can now just apply for Matter certification to cover all Matter compatible platforms. This should, in theory, then reduce development costs overall.
The second large selling point for Matter is that it’s designed to be entirely local. Whilst Apple HomeKit is largely already local when it comes to control and automations etc, for Amazon and Google, for example, users are required to create an account with the manufacturer of the product in question, which is then tied to the Google Home and Amazon Alexa platforms. This, in turn, means that whenever you ask Alexa or Google to do something, these instructions are relayed via the ‘Cloud’, between Google/Amazon and the manufacturers’ servers, so if you lose your connection to the internet, there’s no way to control your devices on these platforms. With Matter, this is no longer a requirement, making cloud-based control a thing of the past, which will not only allow you to control your devices regardless of an internet connection (when you’re in the home and connected to your network) but keep things local, private whilst also offering consistently faster response times.