In the age of the smart home, there are plenty of devices out there that focus on doing one thing, such as measuring temperature within a room. While devices that focus on one metric fulfill particular needs, there will eventually come a point where it would be nice to pair everything down into as few devices as possible. This is where the iHome 5-in-1 Smart Monitor comes into play. With this monitor, iHome provides motion detection, temperature, humidity, sound and light levels, all in one package for a retail price of $49 (but can frequently be found cheaper on places like Amazon). So how does this jack of all trades device perform? Let’s take a look.
The iHome 5-in-1 Smart Monitor sports a simplistic design, and basic build quality. The device features white and silver plastic in a compact, rectangular frame and has a motion sensor located in the center, and a small LCD display. On the back of the unit, there are two buttons, one for resetting the unit, and the other to adjust the backlighting for the display. The monochromatic display will show current temperature, humidity, and the Wi-Fi connection levels all at once, and when the backlighting is turned off, the screen will disappear into a dark room. The screen is handy to have, for those times where you just want to be able to glance over to see what the temperature is within a room, without having to summon siri, or to pull out and unlock a device. However, because the device features a screen, it unfortunately, is not portable. The device which uses micro-USB for its power connection, must be plugged in at all times, which could potentially limit placement around the home. One issue regarding power that I have seen is that when a power outage occurs, more often than not, the device will simply not come back online within the Home app. The device will reboot and will display its metrics on the on-board display, it just will not connect back to HomeKit, requiring another power cycle to restore functionality.
After setting up the device, either using the iHome app, or just by using the HomeKit set up code, located on the back of the unit, most of the sensors within the unit will be exposed to the Home app. Temperature, humidity, light, and motion, all have individual device tiles in the Home app, but unfortunately, sound is excluded. In order to see sound levels, you will need either the iHome Control app or a third party HomeKit app. Of course, because a separate app is needed just to see sound levels, this also extends to creating automations and scenes as well. This is not a fault of iHome, it just happens to be something that Apple has not implemented into the Home app as of yet. Speaking of the Home app, temperature, humidity, and light levels are, like other devices on the market, not able to be added into automations or scenes at this time. Again, this is not iHome’s fault, it is squarely on Apple. As far as accuracy of the monitor’s temperature and humidity readings go, I found them to be acceptable, but not perfect. Temperature in particular seemed to read about 4-6 degrees higher than my ecobee sensors within the same room, even when they were situated right next to each other.
So out of the 5 sensors within the unit, only one of the metrics can be actionable within the Home app. Motion detection works just as you would expect, as automations can be created based on status. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the response time of motion sensor. While detection does work, it is awfully slow, with a simple turn light on when motion is detected automation taking upwards of 5 seconds. In my case, I was able to enter a room, and walk all the way across it before my lights would come on. The lighting devices that I used were Hue lights and a Leviton in-wall dimmer switch, which have pretty much instant response times when using them either via an app or via Siri, so I was quickly able to narrow it down to the speed of the motion detection sensor. On the plus side, I did find that the motion sensor was able to detect motion from a nice distance. The way that I have the monitor set up was within a bedroom, facing a hall that I have to walk through in order to get to the room. If I were to stand down the hall and wait for my light automation to trigger based on motion, the device could sense me from a distance of around 30 foot.
At the end of the day, the iHome Smart Monitor is tough to recommend. While the device certainly delivers on its ability to monitor several different metrics, accuracy, responsiveness and reliability keep it from becoming a must have. HomeKit limitations also prevent the device from being much more, unless you decide to go with a third party app route, which can be complicated. Unless you have a particular need to have sound or light automations, or just want something with a display that you can quickly look over at, I would suggest holding off on picking up the iHome Smart Monitor, and instead looking at options such as the Eve Room, or even Hue motion sensors, as they both have similar feature sets.