After the first surprise release in mainland China, Aqara Roller Blind Driver E1 is now rleased in the UK (Sept 22) via Amazon.co.uk, followed by a release in France in the coming weeks via Aqara's brand new store on Amazon France (amazon.fr). Other EU and Asian countries will follow in the coming months through independent and established distributors.
If you are unfamiliar with this device, it is essentially a retrofit product, meaning you add it to existing hardware (in this case your roller blinds) to add smart functionality to it. the Akara Roller blind drive E1 works in much the same way as other products on the market, by pulling on the bead chain or string attached to your blinds, causing the blinds to move up or down, to the open or closed position - or anything in between.
The other main product currently on the market that does this job is through somaAlthough their product — the Soma Smart Shades 2 — isn't officially compatible with HomeKit, relying on the company's bridge to show the motor (unofficially) to HomeKit. The E1 uses Zigbee 3.0 and so uses an Aqara Hub (M1S etc) to expose it to HomeKit, although in this case everything is officially certified to work with HomeKit. The E1 uses a lithium battery and can be charged via the USB-C port, using the included USB-C cable.
The E1 comes with four different sprockets for different sizes of beaded cords that you would find on many roller blinds, while the E1 is also suitable for blinds, although it wouldn't be able to tilt your blinds, at least not as much as raising or lowering them. The E1 also comes with on-device controls for quick access should you prefer not to pull out your phone or shout instruction to Siri, so it has a lot of control that the Soma lacks.
The international version of the E1 can work with: Amazon Alexa, House of Akara and Apple HomeKit, like IFTTT, while the Chinese model only works with HomeKit. The Chinese model is also listed in the Mi Home app when it's set up on the mainland Chinese server, although at the time of writing it's not listed when it's set up on other overseas servers.
The price on Amazon.co.uk is UK £59.99, but to celebrate the launch of Aqara's latest product, the company is offering a 15% discount, with the coupon code RSDE1PR1, valid until September 24, bringing the price down to UK £50.99.
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