Telstra Smart Home is its foray into smart home control. Like the Telco it is, you take this on a 24-month contract.
Review – Telstra Smart Home
GadgetGuy tested the Automation and Energy Starter Kit at $25 per month comprising
- Telstra Smart Home Hub
- 2 x Door/Window magnetic sensors
- 1 x wide-beam motion sensor
- 2 x Smart power plugs – that measure power consumption
Alternatively, for the same price, you can get a Watch and Monitor Starter Kit
- Telstra Smart Home Hub
- 2 x Door/Window magnetic sensors
- Indoor HD camera
Telstra Smart Home also offer additional devices also paid for in 24 monthly instalments (or outright price shown) including
- Indoor HD camera – $192
- Outdoor HD camera – $216
- Water leak detector – $48
- Zen Thermostat – $216
- Sengled Light Bulbs – $72 per pair
- Philips Hue Bridge and three lights – $288
- LED Floodlight with PIR motion sensor – $48
- Roost Smoke alarm – $84
- Smart smoke alarm battery (WI-Fi) – $48
- Narrow-beam monitor – $48
- Wide-beam motion sensor – $48
- Door/window sensors – $24
- Smart Power plugs – $48
- Amazon Echo – $149
- Amazon Echo Dot – $79
- Google Home – $199
- Google Home mini – $79
Setup – too easy
Next, plug in the Hub at no more than five metres from the router and pair it to Wi-Fi.
After that, the app guides you to connect devices. I connected the kit devices plus Google Assistant and Philips Hue – no issues as all worked.
The app is basic and had several recent revision. Possibly due to quite a lot of helpful suggestions from users. To Telstra’s credit, it is monitoring the responses.
Depending on the attached device there may be limits, e.g. cameras have a storage limit of still photos (200) or videos (30).
Automations are rules for how your Telstra Smart Home should react when at home, away, at night or on holiday.
For example, to send an alert to you when a motion sensor trips. These are basic now, but IFTTT (If this then do that) support is coming to make automations more useful, e.g. if a motion detector trips send an email and turn on the lights etc.
It also has a web portal here.
What are the technologies underpinning Telstra Smart Home?
The hub/app can only control Telstra approved devices. For the most part that is because the ‘smart’ in ‘smart home’ is in its cloud. The devices continue to work if you pay a monthly subscription (the Hub needs to use the Telstra Cloud).
A bit of digging revealed
- The platform is by iControl;
- Cameras, smart plugs and door sensors are by Sercomm;
- Motion sensors originate with Tyco Visonic;
- Light globes by Sengled;
- Thermostat by Zen;
- The Smart Hub by Flex; and
- The Smart door lock by Lockwood (not on the website)
- Air conditioning controller
- Garage Door controller
- Music integration
- Video Doorbell
But if you buy Telstra Smart Home, you need to continue with it. Although it uses a Zigbee controller, it is not an open system.
Cameras – not tested
Both the indoor and outdoor camera are functionally the same. The images/video is a maximum of [email protected] User feedback is that while the cameras perform as promised the image quality is low-end.
Currently, third-party cameras won’t connect to the hub.
OK let’s get into smart homes
Sometime in the next few years, smart home technology will mature sufficiently to buy something with confidence.
Telstra is banking on you joining this discovery trail with it. Telstra guarantees its smart home devices will work as advertised. It is not a bad bet, but you have to follow whatever direction it takes. And be prepared to pay a monthly subscription.
Telstra has also confirmed one of its future directions. John Chambers, Telstra Executive Director Product Innovation, said, “Customers with a Telstra Smart Home kit and a Google Home will be able to ask Google to turn their lights on when they come home with their arms full of groceries or use a smart plug to turn off the iron before they run out the door by simply asking their Google Home. Over time, we’ll continue to work with Google to build more integration with our current and future Smart Home range.”
Note Telstra Smart Home also supports Alexa.
Alternatively, in two years you just let the subscription lapse and hope that whatever Telstra devices you have will work with another Zigbee based hub – it is a good bet they will.
But believe me that the smart home battle will be bloody, and there will be no prisoners. Apple, Amazon, Samsung and Google will fight for smart home supremacy.
Why is Telstra investing in Smart Home?
Its 2017 Sustainability report casts some light on this.
The Telstra Smart Home concept is more than just connected devices in the home. It’s about how they connect and talk to each other and use data to automate and enhance different aspects of our lives.
With the aim of bringing smart home technology to the mainstream, we launched our first range of products as a part of our Telstra Smart Home platform in November 2016. In partnership with iControl, the range of connected gadgets are controlled from a smartphone or tablet through the Telstra Smart Home app.
Telstra Smart Home is here to make lives easier for the everyday person, whether it be to check on your home when you’re away, make sure the kids are home safely from school, or making sure we remember to turn off an appliance. Smart home advancements also have huge potential for people living with a disability or those who want to remain in their own homes as they age.
iControl is now XFINITY – a Comcast company that specialises in white label home automation. It aggregates smart home products into the app platform. That may add some additional comfort that Telstra Smart Home is unlikely to become an orphan solution.
Comcast is an American global telecommunications conglomerate that is the largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world by revenue.
GadgetGuy’s take – Telstra Smart home for dummies
We are not using the term dummies at all disparagingly. It is just that Telstra (or iControl) have done all the work and – well it just works.
Easy setup and having access to Telstra 24/7 support make this a viable proposition for the non-tech savvy user.
Tech-savvy users will want to play and may be better looking to OK Google options and a Samsung SmartThings Hub. Of course, this path is fraught with issues and exasperation, but you may get the smart home system you want.
There is an interesting list of more than 200 OK Google Home Control partners, 1500 devices and one million actions here.
- Easy set-up
- Good support
- Does what it advertises
- As a package may get you interested in home automation
- Only on a 24-month package (rolls over monthly after that)
- A closed system even though it’s Zigbee based
- Requires internet to function
We are not going to rate the package as it is unique to Telstra. As an entry-level package, it would rate well.
We would need further convincing it is the forerunner to a sophisticated smart home.