Revolv: Not Quite Your Smart Home’s Best Friend
Remember the home of the future? You know, that vision in which you’d control all the devices in a house with just a few taps on some magical handheld gizmo? Sometime in the past year or two, it arrived.
Unfortunately, it turns out that the future is kind of a mess. The stuff that was supposed to make our lives easier has created a fresh new hell of apps and gadgets all clamoring for our attention. Efforts to stitch them together into one seamless interface range from hopelessly complex and costly home automation systems to promising-yet-still-buggy upstarts. Frankly, it’s still easier to just walk over and flip the switch yourself.
The makers of the $300 Revolv wireless hub hope to change all that. The system is billed as a “universal smart home hub and app.” It can communicate with devices that use a variety of home control wireless protocols (like WiFi, INSTEON, and Z-Wave) and enable them to work together to do cool things for you. All you need is an iPhone 4s or later iOS device. (Or an Android device, later this year.)
The 5-inch-wide teardrop-shaped hub is a dead ringer for an old-timey CD holder. (Revolv)
Revolv pitches an appealing notion: It’s one system that can talk to any smart gizmo, and it keeps evolving as you add more of them.
But Revolv isn’t quite ready for prime time. It’s a lot like those universal remotes that promise to declutter your coffee table by giving you one device to control your TV, DVR, and stereo: It will probably do most (not all) of what you want it to do, but only if you’re willing to fiddle with it. It’s not as push-button simple as it should be.
You remember that over-eager bunkmate at summer camp who decided you were instant best friends, even if you weren’t quite so sure about it? That’s Revolv. It starts before you even open the box. This is what it says on the back of the container:
Setup is pretty simple and takes about three minutes if everything goes perfectly. You start by snapping a photo of a QR code that comes on a card inside the box, which directs your phone to a page where you can download the app. Plug in the Revolv device or “hub,” and then hold your phone an inch or two over the hub for about 45 seconds as it flashes instructions to it, displaying cheery messages onscreen like, “Hang in there, Sparky.”