Aqara makes a range of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices that are stored in Apple stores around the world. This review takes a look at some of Aqara’s latest products, including the TVOC air quality monitor and the Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1, which is released today.
With these new accessories, we were able to add to the HomeKit setup we created with some of the Aqara devices earlier this year and tested the company’s new additions to the smart home.
While Aqara has its own app for controlling and configuring accessories, you can fully control, automate, and manage them through the Apple Home app.
To connect the new devices, I used the Aqara Hub M1S. Hub M1S serves as a smart control center for a wide range of Aqara sensors, controllers and other children’s devices using the Zigbee 3.0 protocol, which can connect up to 128 devices. Hub M1S will also support Matter, a new smart home protocol built by companies, including Apple and Amazon, through an over-the-air software update in the future.
In terms of design, Hub M1S has a compact, circular design with matte white plastic. There is a speaker grille with a pattern on the front, an 18-LED RGB ring on the outside and a convenient HomeKit sticker on the top.
Unlike many omeHomeKit hubs, the M1S connects directly to an outlet without the need for additional cables or adapters. This design is much more convenient, although it comes with the cost of not having an Ethernet port for a cable connection to a router. As a result, the M1S Hub connects via Wi-Fi, but I didn’t notice any significantly slower latency compared to other wired hubs.
The hub design extends backwards more than we might expect due to the need for a built-in adapter, but it’s thin enough once plugged in to be unobtrusive and broadly as good-looking as you might expect with such a device.
Hub M1S integrates seamlessly with the Home application, initiated by a simple scan of the HomeKit code tag at the top. The initial pairing process was frustrating and any subsequent devices associated with Hub M1S automatically appear in the Apple Home app.
Hub M1S also supports all four native modHomeKit alarm modes and offers a surprisingly powerful two-watt built-in speaker. The speaker does not sound like a high-fidelity component, but because it is not for music, the quality is suitable for short alerts and can be easily projected into a large room. Like other Aqara hubs, the Hub M1S uses its speaker to talk you through the setup process and pair other accessories, and can also be used to provide automation alerts in the Aqara application.
The lighting sensor and RGB LED matrix are similarly configurable in the Aqara app, with brightness and color options. While the speaker and LED ring do not integrate directly with the Home app due to Apple’s limitations, they allow the Hub M1S to be used as an alarm, ringtone or even night light via the Aqara app, in addition to omeHomeKit Capabilities .
Read Roller Shade Driver E1
Aqara Roller Shade Driver E1 is a new product that allows users to easily adapt the smart functionality of the house to the existing roller shades, motorizing their cable with beads. The design reflects other Aqara products with matte white plastic, but is surprisingly heavy due to the internal engine and battery. It feels very substantial and well built and is subtle enough not to be an eye when attached to a wall.
Roller Shade Driver has a removable plastic holder on the back with screw holes to screw directly into a wall. The correct wall screws and anchors come in the box, as well as an optional tape. Although it requires screwing into a wall, as any other shadow driver would require, the installation process is relatively simple afterwards.
Roller Shade Driver offers two power modes. You can operate the device wirelessly, then recharge the internal battery every two months via the USB-C port, or leave a power cord plugged in at all times to avoid recharging.
Roller Shade Driver comes with a selection of four adapters to accommodate different beaded cords, which means it should work with most beaded roller shade cables between three to six millimeters thick, as well as plastic and metal chains . Once you have simply inserted the shadow cable into the adapter, it is very easy to pair the shadows to an Aqara hub, like the other devices in the company, using Zigbee 3.0, by simply pressing the pairing button and instant connection to the hub Aqara, which is also automatically adds shades to the Home app.
In the Aqara app, you can adjust the default open and closed positions so that the driver knows when to stop opening or closing the shadows and understands the percentages in that range. After that, you can use the Home app yourself and set up automations to control shades, such as sunset and sunrise, or you can add shades to scenes and shortcuts. An excellent addition to the design are the physical buttons for quick manual control, just in case you don’t have a Siri compatible device nearby and want to close or open the shadows.
In daily use, I found that the engine is much quieter than some competing cuHomeKit roller shade drivers and was also much less prone to slipping and losing exact open and closed positions. Crucially, we found that reliable connectivity is the biggest problem with some of the existing brands that offer roller shade drivers, but the Aqara Roller Shade Driver connection has been consistently reliable. The USB-C port for power buttons and manuals are also excellent practical advantages over some competing products.
Roller Shade Driver launches today as the product begins to be launched in a number of countries around the world, starting in Europe and Asia.
TVOC air quality monitor
The Aqara TVOC Air Quality Monitor is a HomeKit compatible temperature, humidity and air quality sensor that can display this information directly on the sensor itself via an electronic ink display. This means you can track changes in real time and take a look at current values without having to open Siri or use the Home app, but still feed those values into the Home app for when you want that functionality.
Pairing is extremely quick and easy once you’ve set up an Aqara omeHomeKit hub, with a simple push of the top button to pair with Zigbee 3.0, which automatically adds it to the Home app. The Home app displays current sensor temperature, humidity, and air quality information that allows you to use these values to trigger automation in the Shortcuts app or simply take a look at the current status in the Home app.
The design is very small, thin and compact, with the front perspex placed in a matte white case. The back of the sensor is flat and magnetic, allowing users to glue it to a surface like a refrigerator, if desired.
The air quality monitor is powered by two small single-use batteries, which Aqara says should power the device for about a year before it needs to be replaced. When I tried to replace the batteries, I found the plastic plate to be extremely difficult to remove, even needing a flat-head screwdriver to get enough leverage, but fortunately this will not be something you have to do often. .
With these accessories, Aqara maintains its high standards of design, easy association and reliability. The company’s support for omeHomeKit and the focus on seamless integration into the Apple Home app continues to be better than many other smart home brands. Aqara’s practical designs, easy setup process and reliable connectivity are still present with Hub M1S, Roller Shade Driver and TVOC Air Quality Monitor.
Hub M1S, although not as complete as Hub M2, has a remarkable minimal design that reduces cables, and I would like more smart home brands to embrace this more practical design for their hubs. The added features, such as the ring with LED speaker, make an otherwise unattractive product more useful, even if these aspects do not integrate with the Home application.
Roller Shade Driver is an affordable and convenient way to update your handheld roller shades with smart functionality and offers a distinctly better experience than other competing devices we’ve tried. Although the need to screw in a wall can take away some users, once completed, the configuration is quite easy and becomes a device that works reliably in the background.
The air quality monitor is a great addition to any office, with its flashy electronic ink display and minimalist aesthetic, but it’s also useful in the Home app for any growing growingHomeKit setup. Although it’s a little pricey at $ 44.99, the combination of the electronic ink display and the HomeKit integration, as well as the multiple values, will make it worth the cost for many people.
How to buy
Aqara is currently offering a 15% discount on the Roller Shade Driver E1 from its Amazon store in the UK with the promo code RSDE1PR1, valid until September 24, 2021.
Note: Aqara is provided MacRumors with a Roller Shade Driver E1, TVOC Air Quality Monitor and Hub M1S for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.