I have been using the Amazon Echo since it was first released in 2014. Over the past nine years, I have purchased various smart home products from different manufacturers, including a door lock, a doorbell, security cameras, multiple Echo devices, a thermostat, a weather station, and even a luxurious ice machine. I even replaced my phone's weather app with a $340 forecast station. However, managing multiple devices from different ecosystems can be challenging. While my Amazon Echo devices can handle most tasks, there are times when I prefer to press a button or avoid any miscommunication with Alexa. Switching from app to app is not an ideal solution either. That's where the Brilliant Smart Home Control Panel comes in.
The Brilliant Smart Home Control is an all-in-one operating system for smart home devices. It is available in plug-in and wired versions, replacing one, two, three, or four light switches. The control panel, a small touchscreen that can be mounted on the wall or installed in place of a light switch, works with about 30 different smart home systems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Arlo, Ecobee, Nest, Augustus, Hue, Ring, SmartThings, Schlage, and Yale. However, Blink, where I have my doorbell camera and security cameras, is notably absent. There are four models available, each replacing a specific number of existing switches and coming in six different colors. The control panel requires hardwiring, but clear instructions are provided, and most homeowners should be able to handle it. The latest model I tested is a plug-in version that requires no wiring. It has a five-inch tall screen, two side sliders with a camera on top, and is about the size of a plate with two light switches. The power cord has a low voltage, allowing it to be run behind the wall for a neater look. While the plug-in version cannot control traditional light switches like other models, it can handle most smart switches. The installation process was simple. After logging into all my accounts in the app, Brilliant automatically detected all my smart devices and allowed me to assign them to rooms.
Upon setup, the main panel of the Brilliant Smart Home Control greeted me with four customizable shortcuts. These can be used to control individual devices or set up scenes that group devices together. For example, a "Bedtime" scene could lock the door, turn off lights, and adjust the thermostat, while a "Morning" scene could start the playlist, coffee maker, and lights. The side sliders on the control panel provide volume control, blind adjustment, and lighting dimming. There's a camera above the sliders that can be used for video chat, security monitoring, or motion sensing to trigger actions like turning on lights. There's also a physical slider to hide the camera for privacy. The bottom row of icons provides direct access to scenes, adding devices, using the intercom, setting an alarm, and controlling door locks. The "Rooms" icon allows control over devices assigned to specific rooms, such as the kitchen, living room, or bedroom. The Brilliant display also shows the current time, temperature, and weather icon. When not in use, it scrolls through pre-selected images from chosen categories, but manual selection is required for personal photos.
ZDNET's buying advice
Initially, I was skeptical about using the Brilliant screen since my Echo was already fulfilling most of my needs. However, once I discovered the capabilities of this operating system, my doubts vanished. Setting up a bedtime scene made my nighttime routine easier, and the live view from the camera provided peace of mind for my home's security. While it won't replace one-time smart home commands, the Brilliant has made multitasking significantly easier. If you're looking for an all-in-one solution for controlling your smart home devices, the Brilliant Smart Home Control should be at the top of your list. The price may be a bit steep at around $400, especially for models with more switches, but the value is worth it, particularly if you have numerous devices and are comfortable setting up scenes. It won't completely replace my Echo devices, but it's a great addition and looks incredibly cool.
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