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People who want to start with home automation and HomeKit have pampered themselves with the choice when it comes to buying devices for their smart home. Devices such as video ringtones, air purifiers and lights are all available for purchase and installation to make a person's life easier.
Those who don't necessarily want to be all-in on HomeKit will most likely gravitate to more obvious and seemingly easy-to-use devices, namely smart lights and plugs. This makes sense, as they can be purchased at very low cost and can be easily added or removed from a home setup without too many problems.
Of course, anyone who goes the smart way can search Amazon and can find many outlets to choose from, sometimes at a low cost. The Meross Smart Wi-Fi plug is an example of what you can buy at the cheaper end of the range.
The Smart Wi-Fi Plug is a relatively compact offering, measuring 2.6 inches by 2.6 inches by 2.3 inches, including plug-in pins. The tested version is for stores in the UK, but there are variants for stores in the US, EU, Australia and France.
Although small, the plug is a little too large to be ideal for extension cords, as the relatively close positions between them make it difficult to fit anything next to the smart plug, although it is possible. For wall-mounted sockets, where there is usually more space between each socket, this is fine.
This sheet has the model number MSS210, but Meross sells alternative versions. The MSS110 is a thinner version that will fit on an extension cord without any space problems between sockets.
The main point of interaction is the button at the top, which can be pressed to manually turn on and off the smart plug. It's pretty similar to the rest of the case.
The button also houses two LEDs, which can flash amber and green to show if it is initializing, updating, connecting to Wi-Fi, or allowing power to be switched to connected devices.
On the front of the socket, a warning label indicates that it can work with devices up to 13A for this version. Depending on the regionalized version, the plug can withstand between 10A and 16A at most, but in the end it reminds us that the smart plug cannot be used with heavy appliances such as a washing machine.
While the regulatory information is based on the left side, the HomeKit sticker is on the right side. Displaying the scannable code, the documentation also includes a special section for gluing the HomeKit sticker, instead of leaving it exposed on the plug itself.
For a cheap smart socket compatible with HomeKit, the real setup process is quite simple, as it is the usual process of adding an accessory through the Home application. You don't need to use a manufacturer-specific application, because you just scan or enter the code, make sure it's connected, and go through the final setup in Home.
One of the requirements is to have access to a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, which the vast majority of HomeKit users will have available for use. It will not work on a 5G Wi-Fi network.
After relatively quick setup, it immediately becomes usable in the HomeKit. Because it is a basic smart socket, you can turn it on and off remotely, set it up in scenes and with automation and other common HomeKit applications.
The response time for starting and stopping requests is relatively fast, with a delay of about one second before the status changes.
Although you do not have to strictly use the accompanying Meross application, it is available if you need it. This largely falls within the spectrum of Android users if you want to work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or SmartThings.
You can control it from the app if you want, offering familiar scenes and routines, though you'll probably only use the Home app for that. Setup is probably easier because you don't have to enter the code into the app.
The Account section helps you with integration with other smart services and the option to check for firmware updates. For such a simple device, it is unlikely to benefit from such updates, although the chance of doing so is always there.
There are also social media links to the manufacturer and a "Smart User" section that provides a way to buy more of the company's smart goods.
Because you can only get all the functionality you want from the smart plug in HomeKit, there's very little need to use the companion app if you're only using the Apple ecosystem. It's safe to ignore the app in this case, especially if you want to keep your personal data more private without having to create an account.
Smart sockets are fairly easy to understand devices and are a reasonable entry point for building a smart home configuration. It is safe to say that the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Plug definitely falls into the category of easy to use and simple by design.
If you're worried that you have enough space next to the smart plug to connect multiple devices to outlets, there is a risk that it will block your path in some cases. Other models may be much smaller, even one that Meross produces, but it's certainly not as smart a socket as some on the market.
The accompanying app may be a concern for privacy and additional sales for some, but it's really a problem only if you have to use it. Sure, if you need to use it with Android devices, you need to use the app, but those who only need it for HomeKit can do without it.
If you want a cheap and cheerful smart outlet to start with an Apple-based smart home, it's hard not to recommend the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Plug.
The revised UK version is also available from Amazon UK, priced at 12.99 ($ 18.07) including VAT.
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