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This article was published on February 28, 2019

Sorry, I’m too busy planning our smart home to help pack

Don't tell my fiancee I'm just pretending to write this review

Sorry, I’m too busy planning our smart home to help pack
Smart Plug
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

I’m supposed to be packing up all the electronics I “won’t need until after the move.” What does that even mean? I need all of my electronics all of the time. Instead, I’m pretending to write a review of these Aukey smart outlets. I’m really just surfing Amazon and planning out our new smart home.

Aukey makes everything from headphones to keyboards. I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality from its products – they usually aren’t the best, but they’re often the best value – and these smart outlets are no exception. They feel well-made, there’s nothing wrong with how they look, and they work as advertised.

Look: they each have a button. You plug it in and push the button to turn it on and off. It works. You can buy the single plug-in model in a 2-pack on Amazon for $27.99, and the double-plug model for $26.99.

Now that that’s over with, let’s talk about smart homes. My goal is to let Alexa or Google Assistant handle as much of my life as possible. I can’t be bothered with flipping switches, pushing buttons, or turning knobs. I need a virtual assistant to do those things for me. Otherwise I’ll be forced to face the fact that I’ve wildly over-estimated my family’s need for Amazon Echo Dots and Google Minis.

But a real smart home – like Matt Farley’s – is way, way cooler:

Farley is a lot smarter than I am. I’m just going to buy gadgets and download apps.

We’re picking out new furniture when we move, so I’m not quite ready to decide on smart lamps, LED lighting, or which decorative lights we’ll purchase. I might need an Alexa wall clock, I’m not sure yet. But I know I’ll need smart outlets. My TVs don’t have Alexa or Google Assistant integration. Those are among several other gadgets I’ll want on my voice-control network.

Aukey’s aren’t the only smart outlets I’ve tried. Amazon’s own smart plugs work well (but the ones I purchased didn’t feature Google Assistant support), and I’ve used other, cheaper plugs. But, I’ve settled on these two Aukey models because they’re unobtrusive and respond to commands quickly. When I tell Alexa to turn off the lights I mean now, not eight seconds from now.

Also, set-up is a breeze:

  1. Download the Aukey app.
  2. Set up an account.
  3. Plug in the smart outlet.
  4. Turn it on (wait for light to blink).
  5. Follow the in-app instructions.

I set up each outlet for both Alexa and Google Assistant. The entire process takes about 1-2 minutes per assistant, per outlet. Once set up, you can manage the outlets and connect them to “routines” in your Google Home or Amazon Alexa app.

My plan is to set up routines for all of my connected devices, so that I can change the mood in any room in my home with a single voice command. “Alexa, it’s date night,” for example, might trigger soft lights, shut the TV off, and play Teddy Pendergrass Radio on Amazon Prime Music. Meanwhile, “Hey Google, it’s movie night,” might extinguish all luminescence with the exception of the bias-lighting behind the TV.

The sky is the limit when you’re dealing with an empty slate, but I do need to keep my costs down. Aukey’s relatively inexpensive price point for these outlets makes them a winner for my budget.

I have one complaint about the Aukey smart outlets: when you slide a plug into them you encounter resistance at the last few millimeters. I really have to jam the cord into it to get it flush, and it always seems like I’m going to break something. Each of the Aukey smart outlets I tested had the same issue. Don’t get me wrong, nothing’s actually broken – it seems more like a “tactile feel” problem than a manufacturing one. I just wish it was smoother.

I’m planning to use these Aukey smart outlets to fill in any gaps in voice-control coverage in my my new home. That means, of course, I highly recommend them.

But, I’m going to need a lot more tech if I’m going to reach “Wall-E” levels of human laziness. Stay-tuned for more recommendations and reviews from a guy who is shopping for smart gadgets on the internet instead of helping his family pack for their upcoming international move.

This post includes affiliate links to products that you can buy online. If you purchase them through our links, we get a small cut of the revenue.

In love with the idea of building the ultimate smart home or office? Check out our Future of Work and Machine Learners tracks at TNW2019

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