Review: Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack
Logitech's new Pop Home Switch is a deceptively simple looking device — it's little more than a big white button — that interfaces with a number of popular home automation systems to set up lighting and audio scenes in your home. For example, provided you have the compatible systems, a single press of a Pop button could adjust the lights, turn on the TV and soundbar, and draw the blinds to get your home ready for movie night. Or, a single press of a button on a bedside table can turn off all the lights in your home and make sure the doors are locked before you go to bed. Additional double-press and press-and-hold gestures can also be set up and assigned to other functions. Sadly, it's not HomeKit-capable, which may limit its usefulness in certain environments, but Logitech has done a good job of partnering with a number of major home automation providers. Pop is compatible with Philips Hue, Lutron Caséta, Sonos, the August Smart Lock, and of course, Logitech's own Harmony system.
To get started, you’ll need the $100 Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Kit, which includes two Pop switches and a wall plug that serves as the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth bridge. The package also includes two adhesive squares for users who want to mount Pop switches on walls or other vertical surfaces. Once you’ve got the Starter Kit, Logitech sells Add-On Home Switches individually for $40, which add more switches to a single bridge. Each Logitech Pop switch is powered by an included CR2032 battery, which the company claims should last for five years of normal use.
The setup process for Logitech Pop is relatively straightforward — plug the bridge into an appropriate, centrally-located wall receptacle, and then download and fire up the companion iOS app to discover the bridge and add it to your Wi-Fi network. We were a bit surprised here to discover that you’re required to enter your Wi-Fi password manually during the process — it feels like a step back in an era when most of the iOS apps for accessories that we’ve used can now simply ask for permission to access the Wi-Fi network configured on your device. Once the bridge is added to your Wi-Fi network, the app will prompt you to login or create a Logi account — if you already have an account even for something like Logi’s Circle, it’s the same system, so you’ll be able to use your credentials for that.
The app will then take you through adding at least one of the two Pop Switches to the bridge — a simple process that involves pressing the button on the switch once and letting the app find it — and will then go out and try to auto-discover compatible home automation products on your network. In our case it found our Philips Hue bridge straight away and took us right into the process of pairing that. From there, it went into a very clear and thorough tutorial on creating an initial control recipe. Once you’ve gone through the tutorial, additional buttons and home automation systems can then be added separately.
Each button can trigger three sets of actions using different presses — a single press, double press, or a long press — and you can choose whether the press acts as a toggle (turns a set of lights on with one press, and then off again with a second) or discrete states (turn all the lights off when the button is pressed). However, some accessories, such as an August Smart Lock, only allow for discrete states. So you can only assign a press to lock or unlock a door, not to switch between locking and unlocking with each press. Accessories from different vendors can also be combined within each recipe — so you can turn off the Hue lights and lock the August Smart Lock, for example — and if you have a Logitech Harmony hub, you can also assign presses to control anything that the Harmony remote would be able to control, such as turning off the TV.
Logitech Pop Home Switch is an attractive idea for families with highly automated homes, and members that don’t necessarily want to mess with complicated apps to control their devices. Although it doesn’t have HomeKit support, we have yet to see a standalone switch like this that does; Logitech may not tie directly into HomeKit, but it does interface with nine other popular systems, making it a viable option for users who have invested heavily in products from those vendors. It also ties into IFTTT, which opens up a realm of other integration possibilities through the IFTTT service. That said, if everything else in your system is HomeKit compatible, Logitech Pop is going to be a tougher choice; even if you’re only using accessories that tie into Logitech Pop, by investing in Logitech Pop you’re basically creating an intersection of two proprietary home automation systems — those that work with HomeKit, and those that work with Logitech Pop — which may limit your future choices. For example, even if you have all Lutron Caséta and Philips Hue lighting now, the addition of a HomeKit-compatible Elgato Eve Energy outlet would suddenly add a device into the mix that couldn’t be used with Logitech Pop.
Considering that companies like Lutron and Philips both sell remotes for their own systems for about half the price (although of course those can only be used with their own systems), it’s hard not to balk a bit at the $40-$50 price tag per switch; as useful and flexible as Logitech Pop is, this is something that you’d really have to have a need for to justify spending that money over simply using Siri commands or pulling your iPhone out of your pocket and swiping to bring up the Home Control Center panel. Logitech Pop works very well doing what it’s designed to do, but the question of whether what it does justifies the price only makes it worthy of a Limited Recommendation.