B.One Eazy is a super simple smart home hub
Mimicking an infrared remote to control your household appliances from afar, the B.One Eazy offers a simple way to give your home a smart overhaul.
Last year, Australian-backed Blaze Automation unveiled the ambitious $550 B.One Hub which is designed to control practically any smart or dumb appliance around your home. Now it's back with the stripped-down $88 B.One Eazy, which acts like a universal remote for less-complex smart homes.
The palm-sized Eazy is small enough to tuck away out of sight and even comes with a wall mount. Keep in mind it still needs power via microUSB, as well as line of sight with any device you want to control via IR; such as your aircon, television, set-top box or sound system.
The Eazy works with most split systems, which typically come with an infrared remote, but not with central heating/cooling as these systems tend to rely on a wall controller rather than a handheld remote.
In return for its compact design, the little Eazy forgoes the Bluetooth, Zigbee and Z-Wave wireless standards supported by the more expensive B.One Hub. This might leave you in the lurch if you have a home full of low-powered smart devices such as door and window sensors.
It can however still control Wi-Fi-enabled smart devices like LifX light bulbs, Nest cameras and smoke alarms, and B.One's own energy monitors.
The little hub is easy to set up using the B.One app for iOS or Android. The fact it only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and not 5GHz might be a concern in homes which are an RF hellscape, but you should be okay considering that it's only sending commands across your network and not trying to stream content.
With the Eazy setup, you can tell it about your devices by linking your B.One account to your other smart home accounts from the likes of LifX and Nest.
Now these Wi-Fi devices appear in the B.One app's dashboard, where you can control them via the app whether you're at home or you're out and about. Google Home also works lets you control gear when you're away from home, although its remote access can be hit and miss.
Unfortunately the Eazy's list of compatible Wi-Fi-enabled ecosystems is pretty short at this point, especially compared to the wide range of devices that can be controlled using a Google Home or Amazon Echo speaker.
Thankfully you can link the Eazy to Google Assistant or Alexa (but not Siri), which is handy if you want to boss around your IR devices by talking to your smart assistant. IFTTT support is coming, along with Facebook for controlling your appliances from afar via Facebook Messenger.
Keep your cool
Considering the limited support for other Wi-Fi-enabled smart gear, the Eazy's real attraction is the infrared transmitter. You can even link several Eazy hubs around your home for controlling different IR devices in different rooms.
The app walks you through a simple set up process, during which the Eazy fires off a few test IR commands to determine the exact make and model of your appliance.
When it comes to driving your old air conditioner via infrared, the Eazy has several rivals including the $159 Sensibo Sky. While the Sensibo Sky has trouble identifying our old Panasonic split system, the Eazy picks it straight away, although obviously your mileage may vary.
One of the Eazy's key shortcoming compared to the Sensibo is that it can't keep track of commands coming from the handheld remote. This means if you're away from home, the B.One app can't tell if someone else has turned the aircon on or off with the remote. That said, this feature was temperamental on the Sensibo.
Both the B.One and Sensibo smartphone apps also support geofencing, for triggering events such as turning your aircon on and off automatically as you come and go from the house during the day. Once again, this feature was temperamental on the Sensibo while the Eazy seemed more reliable.
Mix and match
The Eazy's other strength is its ability to trigger events around your home and control a wide range of devices will a single command.
It features a temperature sensor but forgoes the Sensibo's humidity sensor in favour of a light sensor. Add to this the ability to tap into smart cameras and motion sensors around your home. This means the Eazy can switch on appliances when someone walks in the room, or switch them off after dark.
You can also create complex macros for controlling several devices at once, like Routines on a smart speaker, but with the added benefit of controlling a mix of Wi-Fi and IR devices.
Unfortunately the Eazy's Google Home integration is a work in progress and Blaze Automation is still working on it with Google. For example, Alexa recognises our LG television and offers full IR control via the Eazy, but for now Google Assistant categorises the television as a light bulb and can only switch it on or off.
So what's the verdict?
Considering how smart Google and Amazon's smart speakers have become, you really need a clear use case — most likely controlling your aircon — to justify the Eazy's place in your home.
The short list of compatible devices doesn't help, nor does the fact Google Home integration is still a work in progress, although it will be worth seeing how the Eazy hub improves over time.
For now, you really need to be using either the IR adaptor, geofencing or remote access features to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, it's just as easy to let Google Assistant or Alexa lord over your smart home.