Add the dual iclever BoostSmart Series Smart AC Power Plug devices to your home network and enjoy portable power control.
Despite the success of the Marvel empire, the original Iron Man remains one of my favorite movies. Even though the tech within the movie now seems a bit dated, the idea of J.A.R.V.I.S still excites me. The tech advanced with each movie and exponentially increased the “WOW” factor. How many of us can remember having to get up from the couch to change the channel on the television? Actually, many of us were the television remote for our families. With more intelligent homes, we have gained additional functionality. Many of the activities that we had to complete manually became automated or remotely controllable. We have the ability to add cameras, sensors, automatic door locks, motion sensors, Bluetooth buttons, controllable lights, to control our power outlets, ceiling fans, thermostats and so much more. Surge Protectors and power strips have had the ability to turn on/off power to our devices for a long time. Now we can control them from our phones, tablets, computers and from anywhere that we can get a cellphone signal. We may not have J.A.R.V.I.S but we may be able to direct Cortana to tell Google to inform Siri to ask Alexa to turn on my bedroom lights. I do not know how you may feel, but smart home tech is exciting.
If you have not heard of iclever products, I would encourage that you navigate to their website and check them out. As a product tester, I have been impressed with their products and with what you get for the price. However, I have repeatedly critiqued the company about their generic packaging. Since we live in an all-about-me, right-now era, the initial experience can make or break a product. Basically, the customer makes up their mind in-a-glance. There was nothing about the iclever IC-BS08 packaging that drove me to want to learn more. The dual smart AC power plugs arrived in a 3 1/16 inches wide by 3 3/16 inches tall by 2 1/8 inches thick brown cardboard box. The front cover displayed the rectangular Type B smart outlet, the “iclever” title and the “BoostSmart Series Smart AC Power Plug” subtitle. Along the top left corner of the cover (your upper right), you will see a black triangle with “x 2” in the negative space of the triangle. The right side of the box provided useful QR codes that linked to the iclever website and to the SmartLife App on the App store. The left face provided a UPC product sticker and seven icons that detailed the smartphone app control of the device, share access to control, IFTTT, Alexa compatibility, Timer function, overload and fire protection. The back panel listed the product specifications: AC 100-240V 50/60Hz input, 125V/15A power rated, iOS and Android support, 3 inches long by 1.5 inches tall by 1 inches thick (76.1 mm long by 38.1 tall by 27mm thick) and 1.85 oz (65g) weight. The top of the box displayed the iclever logo and the bottom of the box was refreshingly devoid of writing.
When looking at the packaging for the iclever device, it would be easy to assume that the device would be bulky and unsightly. I too had this preconception but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box. Inside, I found two rectangular, single-outlet Type B, devices within semi-translucent plastic bags, a light blue/white warranty card, and App/device user manuals. The device measurements were accurately represented on the packaging and I was impressed with the clean white surface of the product. The area surrounding the wall outlet had a flat white coloration, whereas the area towards your right was glossy and had an attractive reflective quality. Located on the opposite end from the Type B port, you will find a single circular power button, which can be used to manually activate/deactivate power to the outlet. The device will not block the other wall port and you can use both of these devices with a single standard wall outlet. The reverse face of the charger provided a small QR code, to link you to the SmartLife App. Towards your left, you will find the same product specifications as found on the outer packaging.
The BoostSmart Series Power Plug Manual opened into a sixteen-panel informational guide. The first panel listed the same product specifications that were provided on the box and the reverse face of the device but also provided information about overload protection, overheating and recommended indoor use only. It is important to note that this device is capable of functioning without the App. You can simply plug it into a standard type B wall outlet and enjoy the same power supply as your wall but with the added functionality of a manual on/off push button. If you want more control of your outlet and remote access to that control, the App adds a significant dimension to this device. You can download the iOS or Android version using the QR code listed on the box or in the manual. I had previously used the app, so I did not have to redownload it or to register an account. For those new to the App, you will need to create an account. Tap “Register” along the bottom of the screen and you will be taken to a secondary registration panel. Enter your phone number, receive the SMS message, enter the sent SMS code and then enter a password. I loved that I could choose to subsequently log back into the App using my phone number and the unique SMS code that they texted to my phone. To add the wall plug to the App, simply tap the “+” icon along the top of the app and then hold the side button of the wall outlet for 5 seconds until the lights alternate green and white. You can then add the device to the App, add your Wi-Fi router password and conveniently enjoy the ability to control the outlet remotely.
Like the famous Shrek quote “Ogres are like onions,” the Smart Life App has layers. At first glance/utility, the basic functions of the app were quite simple to use. Once you have added the outlet, you will be taken to the device’s page. From the page, you can turn on/off the app by touching the main power circle in the middle of your screen. You can also tap the “Switch” icon along your bottom left to turn on/off the switch, tap the countdown button and set a schedule to turn on/off the switch. The schedules can repeat once or you can tap each day of the week that you want to repeat. I loved that the app provided the option to change some of the features of the device. When I tapped the three circles along my upper right, I was able to modify the device name, learn how to add my device to Alexa or Google, learn device information, create a group and to check for firmware updates. If complex automation seems beyond your scope, you could theoretically stop at this point. However, the advanced features add to the overall device. If you return to the main App page, you can tap “Scenes” or “Profile” along the bottom. Under the “Scenes” tab, you can customize condition/tasks based on certain events. You can add events such as temperature, humidity, weather, air quality, sunrise/sunset , and device. You can navigate to your Alexa App, ad skill and search for “Smart Life” from the list. You can ask Alexa to discover devices and she will say I found “Bedroom Outlet” or whatever you renamed the device. You can ask Alexa to “Turn on the Bedroom Outlet,” or you can ask Alexa to “Turn off the Bedroom Outlet.” If desired, you can control the App with your Google Home or you can use the IFTTT app to make more specific if/then activities. The 24 page BoostSmart Series App user manual provided a lengthy discussion of the above features. To use the added functionality, you will need an Amazon device, a Google device or to download the IFTTT app. Since my wife and three children have quite varied schedules, the IFTTT conditions have been less useful to our family.
The ability to control an outlet remotely has numerous implications. Turn off your coffee pot or toaster from work, turn on your lamp/light or fan based on a timer/schedule or you can create more complicated If/then/then/that statements. For example when your phone arrives home, turn on your lights. Combine this with broader themes and also unlock your door as you pull into your driveway and then turn on the lights when the doors unlock. Set a timer to lock the door 5-10 minutes after the previous event and then turn off the light after a certain period of time. You can set schedules to thwart the Wet Bandits from “Home Alone” and enjoy nearly limitless customization. The strength/weakness of this device revolves around the App, the integration with your other tech devices and with your imagination. In summary, the product was very attractive, fully functional but could use work in packaging design. The Smart Home App beautifully complemented the fantastic device and simply worked.