Review: Koogeek Wi-Fi SmartPlug for Apple HomeKit
HomeKit has attracted many well-known home automation accessory vendors into its ecosystem, and it has encouraged other established accessory makers to make their first forays into building home automation solutions. However, a third aspect of HomeKit is that it's made it possible for smaller, relatively unknown companies to use Apple's HomeKit standard as a seal of approval. Smart plugs and bulbs that we might not otherwise give much consideration to become worth a closer look once they're including HomeKit support — providing both value in being able to participate in the same ecosystem with other accessories, as well as adding confidence that the accessory has undergone scrutiny and certification by Apple. Koogeek is a good example of this — a small accessory maker with only a Bluetooth scale and blood pressure monitor to its name upon entering the home automation space with its new HomeKit-enabled Wi-Fi SmartPlug ($78).
Koogeek fits into the HomeKit ecosystem as a smart outlet in much the same manner as other devices we’ve seen. In the box, you’ll find little more than the outlet itself, which plugs into any standard North American wall socket, providing a way to switch a connected accessory such as a light or a fan on or off — any accessory of up to 15A load can be connected to it, so you can even use it with an air conditioner or kitchen appliance such as crock pot or coffee maker. The Koogeek outlet has a relatively unobtrusive profile, and although it’s not as compact as iHome’s iSP5, it can be plugged into most standard wall outlets without entirely blocking the second outlet. A button conveniently located on the top allows the outlet to be switched on and off manually.
The process of setting up the Koogeek SmartPlug is the same as for any other HomeKit device, and Koogeek provides its own app on the App Store that can assist with the process, as well as provide basic control of other HomeKit devices. Koogeek’s app is a competent but basic app for HomeKit control, providing the ability to trigger and configure accessories and scenes, but it has no support for rules or automation — schedules set within the Koogeek app are unique to Koogeek’s SmartPlugs and do not sync with HomeKit.
Realistically, however, with many other good third-party options available and Apple’s own Home app coming in iOS 10, the capabilities of each vendor’s HomeKit app are becoming less relevant with each passing month. When iOS 10 ships, it won’t even be necessary to install any third-party apps at all for HomeKit accessories — the iOS 10 Home app will take care of almost everything from adding new accessories to controlling them and setting up automation.
That being said, Koogeek’s SmartPlug does provide one specific feature that hasn’t yet been addressed within Apple’s own HomeKit framework — power consumption monitoring. Like iDevices’ Switch and Elgato’s Eve Energy, you’ll need to use the vendor’s specific apps if you want to be able to monitor how much energy your connected devices are using. Further, because HomeKit doesn’t provide a way to store or read this information, if you’re looking to do a lot of power monitoring with your outlets, it may be more convenient to stick to outlets from a single vendor. Koogeek’s app provides basic power consumption information, including current watts being consumed as well as graphs of power consumption by month or day. But unlike Elgato’s Eve app for Eve Energy, there is no way to actually export this data, so you’ll be limited to viewing it within the app.
With all of the options we’ve seen thus far, it’s probably fair to say at this point that HomeKit-enabled outlets are becoming an almost commoditized accessory, and Koogeek’s Wi-Fi SmartPlug generally fits into the same category as other options we’ve seen such as iHome’s iSP5, iDevices’ Switch, Elgato’s Eve, and Incipio’s CommandKit outlet. Although there’s still just enough between each of these to distinguish them slightly from each other — for instance Elgato’s Eve Energy is Bluetooth-only, and iHome’s iSP5 provides no power consumption monitoring — Koogeek’s SmartPlug doesn’t really stand out from the pack in any one specific way. Koogeek only sells the SmartPlug via Amazon, and although Amazon currently lists the Koogeek SmartPlug for $35, the MSRP shown is $78; it’s a very good value if you can snag it at the lower price as it provides both Wi-Fi connectivity and power consumption monitoring, but at a $78 MSRP it can earn only our limited recommendation.