Switchbot Thermometer and Hygrometer Review

Posted on 16th September 2020 by Mark Tiddy.

Switchbot recently reached out to me and sent me their thermometer and hygrometer monitor to review. After using it for a couple of weeks here’s my review. You can also watch a video review on my YouTube channel.

The Thermometer and Hygrometer is a small, plastic device with a LED screen (no backlight). It comes with 2 AAA batteries and a magnetic stick-on mount for sticking it on to a wall but you can also just place it onto a shelf.

Once it’s powered up the screen shows you the temperature and humidity level in your home plus the device’s battery level. You can also connect it to your phone using bluetooth and the Switchbot app allowing you to view graphs or data over hours, days, months, weeks and years. (The device itself stores up to 30 days of data).

It also has an impressive operating temperature working between -20 degrees Celsius and 80 degrees Celsius and humidity between 10% and 90%. This means you could even monitor the temperature of your fridge if you wanted to!

Once you’ve connected it to your phone you can see the temperature and humidity on your screen when you’re within the bluetooth range or if you hook it up to a Switchbot Hub mini you can monitor this anywhere in the world.

The other feature you gain when you hook it up to a Hub mini is the ability to ask Alexa for the temperature and hook it up to services such as IFTTT, allowing you to do things like turn on a plug (perhaps linked to a heater) when a temperature reaches a certain low.

And that’s it! The Swiss-made censors inside give you an accurate result, it’s got a great temperature range and costs just £25!

If you want one you can pick one up here and if you want the extra smart features you can get a Switchbot Hub Mini here.

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Switchbot Hub Mini Review

Posted on 14th September 2020 by Mark Tiddy.

The Switchbot Hub mini is a £29 smarthome hub for adding extra features to Switchbot devices and making your remote controls smart. You can watch a video review over on my YouTube channel.

The Switchbot Hub mini is a way of adding voice control and out of home control to Switchbot’s devices alongside allowing you to control any infrared remote control through you phone.

The Device

The Switchbot Hub Mini is pretty small and compact with rounded edges. It has a status light which you can disable and is powered via a microUSB cable.

It connects to your existing Switchbot devices using bluetooth and connects to your home wifi to enable voice control and out of home access. It’s worth noting that for it to work with remote controls it must be in the same room as the device you want to control (simply because that’s how infrared works!)…it also needs to be within bluetooth range of the Switchbot devices you want to control with your voice/out of home.

Set Up

Setting up the Hub is super easy…you download the Switchbot app, click the add button and then follow the instructions.

From there on you can adjust the settings in your other Switchbot devices to allow cloud access.

How well does it work?

In terms of how well it works we should talk about the three main features.

  1. Out of home control – Using the Hub allows you to control switchbot devices from anywhere…this works well every time and is great!
  2. Voice Control – The Hub lets you add voice control for your devices via Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri Shortcuts and IFTTT. Again, this works every time although Alexa commands need to be preceded by the phrase ‘turn on’ which means a scene that turns up your TV ends up with the command ‘Alexa, turn on turn up TV’ which is a little clunky but works every time (unlike Samsung’s official Alexa skill).
  3. Remote Control Mirroring – This feature lets you set up any existing remote control with your device which you can then operate from your phone. Setting up is easy with a few ‘one touch setup’ options for devices such as TVs and there is then the option to manually add missing buttons. The interface for a remote isn’t the prettiest but (and importantly) it works every time making this a great alternative to the Harmony Hub.

The final thing to talk about is scenes within the Switchbot app which have been really well thought out. They can operate on a timer (e.g. at 3pm) or on manual activation and you can even tag commands together…for example you might turn on a lamp and your coffee machine or (in my case) to turn up my TV volume it presses volume up 4 times. You can then link these scenes to the voice control services too.

Summary

All in all, the Hub has surprised me. I started not understanding the point of it and now I think it’s an essential accessory for anyone using Switchbot devices but also for anyone looking to make a remote control smart…and at £29 it’s a bargain!

You can pick one up here

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Zigma Spark Smart Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review

Posted on 31st January 2020 by Mark Tiddy.

Read on for the written review, watch the video review here and pick one up here.

A few weeks ago Zigma sent me their Zigma Spark Robot vacuum cleaner with mopping function to review ahead of it’s UK launch. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and here are my thoughts.

The Zigma Spark is one of the most well thought out products I’ve come across for a while and it basically gets everything right.

The spec of this vacuum is pretty impressive: it has 1,500PA suction power which can be adjusted in the app, a cliff-detection setting to stop it falling, an impressive 600ml dust tray (double that of my existing robot vacuum) and up to 120 minutes of battery…which you’ll never get through unless you live in a mansion!

On top of that the bump on the top of the device is a laser which spins round to accurately map your room. This means you can watch the map fill in via the smartphone app as it cleans your house (it’s really quite mesmerising). This also adds a huge amount of logic to the hoovering routine, it covers the whole place once, knows its done and takes itself back to charge.

In the box you get: the vacuum, the charger, the dust tray, a spare filter, some spare brushes, a brush to clean the removable roller blade, a remote control and a mopping accessory with two cloths.

The design is black and will fit nicely into any home. The front bumper is soft to protect your furniture from bumps and the dust tray slides out easily. It’s pretty slim too which means it can get under some furniture.

Once it’s unboxed setting up is as simple as download the Zigma app (for iOs and Android), creating an account and following the steps. From there you can start it via the app, via Alexa or Google Assistant, via the remote or by pressing the button on top of the device.

The app has some really clever UI tweaks depending on the function the vacuum is performing to avoid overwhelming you with menus. For example when you start the vacuum process you can then adjust the suction power via a sub menu that appears, the same applies to water flow with the mopping function.

Within the app you can also view the map created (with a function to save maps to reload later coming soon), add specific areas to concentrate on cleaning or avoid and add virtual walls. You can even record your own voice (on the off chance you wish to make your vacuum speak in your voice!). The map updates in real-time which shows you just how accurate this device is at cleaning your rooms effectively.

But how well does it clean?

The simple answer? Incredibly well! – It picks up 99% of things with no issues and even during the toughest test I gave it which involved me emptying the cat little mat out on the floor it picked up pretty much everything after 2 trips round without flicking too much of it around.

The automation features which let you programme how often it runs automatically also mean you don’t even need to worry about starting it (you just have to empty the dust tray every so often).

The mopping function is another well thought out function. To use it you simply add water (which should be cold but floor cleaner is ok) into the tank and swap the tank out with the dust tray. The vacuum automatically detects that it has the mop and let’s you adjust the mopping pattern and water flow. The Y pattern option means that it goes over each part of the floor from different angles.

This function is great to have but certainly more for everyday mopping and not tough stains…it didn’t get a tomato stain off the kitchen floor (but did loosen it).

What’s the verdict?

The Zigma Spark Robot Vacuum packs in tons of features and most importantly actually cleans your house effectively. The laser mapping means it does it in a logical way, it can get into corners and rarely gets trapped.

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© Mark Tiddy 2020