As someone looking for any reason to add smart technology around the house, replacing the Brilliant Home Control light switch has long been on my radar. However, with a premium price tag and lack of support for Apple’s HomeKit, I was never able to come up with a justification for one of the Controls, even though they always seemed so amazing.
All that changed a few weeks ago, but when I was contacted by Brilliant about an imminent HomeKit update and was given the opportunity to test their support before going live. After installing two switch variants and after playing with everything they have to offer, I can honestly say that I shouldn’t have slept on the switches. It is certainly not for everyone, but if you bought into the madness of the smart home, then it can be the light switch of your dreams.
Brilliant Home Control
Bottom line: Brilliant Home Control offers an amazing amount of features and integrations alongside a sleek touchscreen on the wall. Although not for everyone, if you are connected to the connected house, then this is the light switch for you.
- Easy installation
- The touch screen display is invited
- Board room
- Alexa built-in
- Works with HomeKit
- HomeKit support is limited
- The room has no night view
Features for days
Brilliant home control: features
At its core, Brilliant Home Control works like any other smart light switch, with remote control, darkening and smart integration capabilities in the home. However, the biggest difference is that the Home Control includes a 5-inch LCD screen with touch screen, as well as convenient physical controls for multi-pole variants. The home controls have a single-switch configuration, as well as configurations that go up to four switches, and Brilliant offers six different color options for its faceplates. Although it is built for lighting, Brilliant Home Control can also work with ceiling fans, but does not adjust speed.
Installing the home control requires a neutral wire, which is a common requirement for smart lighting, but makes it incompatible with a lot of older homes. Everything you need for installation comes right in the box, except for a Philips screwdriver, including wire nuts and portions of extra wires to extend the existing wiring. Once installed, Home Control connects to home networks via Wi-Fi without the need for an additional hub and works in combination with the Brilliant app available on iOS and Android.
In addition to lighting, the house control is packed in a few other smart home staples, including a motion sensor, speaker, microphone and even a camera. The built-in motion sensor allows the switch to turn off automatically or turn on the connected lights, as well as the display, as it can be set to turn on only when someone approaches. The microphone, speaker and combination of cameras work in combination with other bright controls in the house for convenient intercom calls, audio or video, and for a quick look at the house.
Home Control also works with a variety of popular third-party services, allowing it to act as a kind of home control center. Integrations include Ring door bells, ecobee and Nest thermostats, Sonos speakers, August locks and Samsung SmartThings, to name a few. The built-in services work exactly as you expect, with the ability to view the ringtone when a visitor arrives, adjust climate controls via ecobee and play music through all Sonos speakers in the house.
As mentioned earlier, Home Control now works with the Apple HomeKit through a public beta and also supports Alexa and Google Assistant. However, Alexa integration is deeper than the others because Amazon’s voice assistant is built into Home Control. Through the on-board microphone and speaker, Home Control is essentially an echo point installed inside a wall and can be used to shoot weather and sports scores with just one shout.
Rounding up the function list is the ability to display photos on the 5-inch screen. Brilliant includes several examples of images, from animals to skyscrapers, and users can upload their favorite photos directly to Home Control. A total of 50 images can be uploaded, using the Home Control function by self-cycling through images on its lock screen when the screen is not in use.
Brilliant home control: What I like
Even with all the technology included in Home Control, it’s still easy to install and small enough to fit most electrical boxes on the wall. Installing the home control requires basic electrical knowledge and follows the same wiring diagrams as standard and intelligent light switches. In most cases, the physical installation will only take about 30 minutes, depending on the model involved, but, as always, your mileage may vary.
After installation, pairing Home Control and setting up third-party integrations was also quick and easy, thanks to the touchscreen display. While I would have preferred an application-based pairing process, setting up internal control simply involves entering credentials and following a series of requests by pressing directly on the device.
Navigating the Brilliant switch is fast and familiar with most options, which is no more than a few clicks. I love how Brilliant offers the ability to customize the home screen with four dedicated sections that can be set to display shortcuts, scenes, and even quick access to third-party devices. When you use a third-party service, Home Control will display a custom UI by category. So, for my house, one of the four areas on the home screen is for climate, which allows me to view and adjust the ecobee thermostat directly from my switches.
I love how Brilliant offers the ability to customize the home screen with 4 dedicated sections that can be set to display shortcuts, scenes and even quick access to third-party devices.
The performance of the home control has been solid in the two weeks since I started testing it. I still haven’t encountered situations where I couldn’t access the device through the Brilliant app, and the lights in the HomeKit have always been responsive. The remote lighting settings take effect almost instantly and it takes about five seconds or less to extract the camera’s live stream to my iPhone.
Turning to the camera, I appreciate how Brilliant has offered several ways to keep the privacy of its users in mind. One of these is the inclusion of an easy-to-use sliding privacy cover that blends seamlessly with the rest of its surroundings. When the camera is active, Brilliant makes it known to everyone in the room not only by flashing a red indicator next to the lens, but also by displaying a large message that requires interaction from the device.
Other cases of attention to detail of Brilliant come into play with the way the physical switch is controlled. Being a touch screen device, I expected there to be a long adjustment period, but I was pleasantly surprised to see controls based on available gestures. By simply swiping up and down anywhere on the screen, you can adjust light levels without having to point, and two-finger touch can turn them on or off completely.
Surprisingly, I’m very impressed with the quality of the Home Control display and how good the photos on the small screen look. Before installation, I wasn’t going to use the photo capabilities, but I quickly changed my tone after posting a few family photos. Even if you have access to photos all the time on phones and PCs, having a display always rotated through your favorite moments is simply nice to have around.
Brilliant home control: What I do not like
On the hardware side, positioning Brilliant Home Control on a wall can be challenging for some. Now, things can be different depending on your age at home or who built your house, but light switches are usually at a maximum height of about 48 centimeters on a wall. In my case, at 6 meters high, I have to bend down slightly to interact comfortably and to see Home Control. This slight upset is not an outcome for me, but for those on the high side, it is something to consider.
Moving on to the software, despite the recent addition of support for HomeKit in beta, Brilliant Home Control is pretty much missing when it comes to the Apple platform. The lights and fans connected to the Home Control are exposed to the Home application, along with the dimming functions, but other functions such as the camera and motion sensor lack HomeKit fun. HomeKit support is also not a two-way street, as Home Control does not provide controls for HomeKit accessories on the screen.
Unfortunately, Alexa’s onboard capabilities are also quite limited. Invoking the Amazon Assistant via the Home Control system for anything other than basic commands will simply fail due to integration limitations. Also, the on-board microphone and speaker are not as good as a dedicated echo, and Home Control had problems when it took a long time to answer the basic questions.
Finally, the built-in Home Control camera, while adequate, lacks a few key features, making it less useful than I would have liked. In general, the image quality of the camera is good enough for quick viewing or calls during the day or in well-lit areas. However, things take a turn when it is dark, as the camera has no night vision capabilities at all, which is definitely a scratch.
To be fair, Brilliant does not market Home Control as a security device, but just having a camera on the device will no doubt conjure up the thought of using it for home monitoring for most people. The lack of focus on the camera is also evident in the Brilliant app, as there is no landscape view at all, letting users see the entire action from an incredibly small area.
Brilliant home control: Bottom line
I don’t often summarize a review without touching all the available features of a device, but Brilliant Home Control is definitely one of those products. Home Control can be a light switch, dimmer, music player, voice assistant, intercom, digital photo frame and more. But the best part is that, at this point, it still feels like we’re just scratching the surface of what can really become.
The current limitations of HomeKit and Alexa, the lack of night vision from the camera, the necessary neutral cable and its expensive price, make it more of a niche product at the moment. That being said, if you want a futuristic wall-mounted display that can meet some of your smart home needs, then Brilliant Home Control won’t disappoint. However, for most, Home Control is definitely a product that requires careful attention before diving.
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