Meross, established in 2016 and based in Chengdu, China is fast becoming one of the most prominent players for smart devices at home.
Unlike many of its home rivals, Meross has a range of HomeKit-compatible devices - including smart sockets, lights and switches - and offers compatibility with both Alexa and the Google Assistant.
I've spent the last few weeks living with a number of Meross smart home devices; read on to find out what's good and what's not and if this is a brand you can rely on to build your smart home.
Go to meross.com and you will see that the company has an absolute multitude of smart home devices.
However, for this review, we will focus on the devices that the company is pushing on the fronts of Amazon stores in the US and the UK and those that we have used in recent weeks.
Let's face it, you're out there and you're probably wondering, "Is Meross a good brand?"
First, there is a range of smart plugs offered. The designs change slightly between the UK / US variants, but overall the range is quite consistent on both sides of the pond.
Plugs are a little cheaper if you choose versions that aren't HomeKit, but if you go to HomeKit, they're also Alexa / Google Assistant and SmartThings compatible.
There are also weather-resistant sockets and outdoor sockets with or without HomeKit compatibility.
As for the switches, there are versions for both wall sockets and to make smart stupid lamps and there is also a garage door opener. These are not part of the HomeKit range yet.
When it comes to smart lighting, you'll find light strips, lamps and bulbs in a variety of shapes and sizes - even an Edison / filament design.
Again, these are capable smart devices with the full range of major smart home ecosystems; Alexa, GA, SmartThings and HomeKit.
Digging deeper and you will find a HomeKit compatible radiator thermostat; as well as smart humidifiers, baby monitors and smart sensors.
Merros smart home devices work after connecting to your home Wi-Fi network; do not use local mesh networks such as Zigbee, Z-Wave or Thread to talk to a hub.
As with any device you add to the Wi-Fi network, there are security implications. Meross wants to emphasize that, through its range: "All data is transmitted and stored securely using AWS servers in the US."
Obviously, you can eliminate any major risk or concern you have by following the HomeKit variants, which do not require the use of the app (and therefore tell Meross's Wi-Fi password) and must comply with Apple's strict encryption standards.
A Which? A study conducted in late 2020 stated that when setting up a Meross smart connector, a user? Wi-Fi passwords have not been encrypted. This means that a hacker could, in theory, use the Wi-Fi connection and may even compromise other devices.
We asked Meross for an answer to the above and we will update this story when we hear back.
The big gain for Meross is that if you go the HomeKit route, then you don't have to touch the native app at all, everything can be done in the Apple Home app - it's the same process for adding compatible Meross devices as it is for rivals with bigger names; that is, scan the HomeKit code and assign a name and a camera within the Apple platform, as shown above.
Adding to the Google and Alexa Assistant is also fairly simple once you've created an account and navigated the native app, and we've also found that it's been possible for devices to sing and dance with SmartThings as well.
The complete range of those offered, especially when it comes to smart sockets, differentiates Meross; with single, double, multiple, indoor and outdoor options.
The quality of the construction is excellent, and the prices are as low as you will probably see. At the time of writing, Amazon.com is selling a pack of 4 smart outlets for just $ 22. That means just over $ 5 per outlet.
Sure, the HomeKits are a little bigger - around $ 10 per outlet - but that's still a price you'll struggle to beat elsewhere.
As always, the native app is the weak point of the smart home platform of any budget brand.
However, the Meross app is pretty clean, has very few translation issues (which can often be a major sticking point) and even has pretty good routine and scene features; if you want to control devices outside of a major smart home ecosystem (which is quite unlikely, let's face it).
There are some discrepancies, here and there. For example, any smart light has much more nuanced controls in the native app, with changing colors and shades much heavier and heavier inside HomeKit, Alexa and so on.
But this is not a problem limited to Meross, bigger name brands like Hue and Lifx also suffer from this.
The compatibility with SmartThings, which I have achieved, is also a bit confusing. It's easy enough to find Meross in the SmartThings app, but it asks if you want to add "Garage Doors", "Outlets" or "Switches and Drives".
None of these obviously cover a light bulb or a lamp. I just touched "Outlets" and found that once I connected my Meross account to SmartThings, it automatically synced all my Meross devices, not just those covered by these three categories.
There is also a unique shiny tab in the Meross app: "Smart User". I thought this might open up some sort of beta testing area for new features, but instead was presented with a showcase of the latest Amazon discounts and codes for Meross products.
Meross smart home devices
Undoubtedly, if you want to build your smart home with a wide range of devices from a budget Chinese brand, then Meross should definitely be a consideration; especially if you live in a HomeKit. There are a lot of devices offered, with perfect integrations, not only with the Apple ecosystem, but also Alexa, Google Home and SmartThings. The native app is easy enough to use and I haven't experienced any major drawbacks; although this security vulnerability is somewhat worrying.
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