As someone who looks for any reason to add smart technology around the home, Brilliant's Home Control light switch replacement has been on my radar for quite a long time. However, with a premium price tag, and lack of support for Apple's HomeKit, I was never able to come up with a justification for one of the Controls, even though they have always looked just so darn amazing.
This all changed a couple of weeks ago though when I was contacted by Brilliant about an imminent HomeKit upgrade, and was given the opportunity to test out its support before it went live. After installing two single switch variants, and after playing with all that they have to offer, I can honestly say that I shouldn't have slept on the switches. It's certainly not for everyone, but if you have bought into the smart home craze, then it may be the light switch of your dreams.
Brilliant Home Control
Bottom line: The Brilliant Home Control offers a staggering amount of features and integrations alongside a sleek in-wall touchscreen display. While not for everyone, if you are all-in with the connected home, then this is the light switch for you.
- Easy installation
- Inviting touchscreen display
- On-board camera
- Alexa built-in
- Works with HomeKit
- HomeKit support limited
- Camera lacks night vision
Features for days
Brilliant Home Control: The features
At its core, the Brilliant Home Control acts just like any other smart light switch, with remote control capabilities, dimming, and smart home integration. However, the biggest difference here is that the Home Control includes a 5-inch LCD touchscreen display as well as convenient physical controls on multi-pole variants. Home Controls come in a single switch configuration, as well as configurations going all the way up to four switches, and Brilliant offers six different color options for its faceplates. Although it is built with lighting in mind, the Brilliant Home Control can also work with ceiling fans, but it does not adjust speeds.
Installation of the Home Control requires the presence of neutral and ground wires inside of the switch wall box, which is a common requirement for smart lighting, but it does make it incompatible with a lot of older homes. Everything needed for installation comes right in the box, aside from a Philips screw-driver, including wire nuts and portions of extra wires for extending existing wiring. Once installed, the Home Control connects to home networks via Wi-Fi without needing an additional hub, and it works in conjunction with the Brilliant app available on iOS and Android.
In addition to lighting, the Home Control packs in several other smart home staples, including a motion sensor, speaker, microphone, and even a camera. The integrated motion sensor allows the switch to automatically turn off or on connected lights as well as the display, as it can be set to only turn on when someone approaches. The microphone, speaker, and camera combination work in conjunction with other Brilliant Controls in the home for convenient intercom calls, either audio or video, and for quick looks into the home.
The Home Control also works with a variety of popular third-party services, allowing it to act as a home command center of sorts. Integrations include Ring doorbells, ecobee and Nest thermostats, Sonos speakers, August locks, and Samsung's SmartThings, to name a few. Integrated services work just as you would expect, with the ability to view Ring doorbells when a visitor arrives, adjusting climate controls through ecobee, and playing music through all of the Sonos speakers within the home.
As previously mentioned, the Home Control now works with Apple's HomeKit through a public beta, and also supports Alexa and the Google Assistant. Alexa integration runs deeper than the others though, as Amazon's voice assistant is built-in to the Home Control. Through its on-board microphone and speaker, the Home Control is essentially an echo dot installed within a wall, and it can be used to pull up the weather and sports scores with just a shout.
Rounding out the list of features is the ability to display photos on the 5-inch display. Brilliant includes several example pictures, ranging from animals to skyscrapers, and users can upload their favorite photos directly to the Home Control. A total of 50 pictures can be uploaded, with the Home Control auto-cycling through images on its lock screen when the display is not in use.
Brilliant Home Control: What I like
Even with all of the technology packed into the Home Control, it is still easy to install, and is small enough to fit into most in-wall electrical boxes. Installation of the Home Control requires basic electrical knowledge, and follows the same wiring schemes of standard and smart light switches. In most cases, the physical install will only take around 30 minutes or less, depending on the model involved, but as always, your mileage may vary.
After installation, pairing the Home Control and setting up third-party integrations were also quick and easy thanks to the touchscreen display. While I would have preferred an app based pairing process, setting up the Home Control simply involves entering credentials and following a series of prompts through taps directly on device.
Navigating Brilliant's switch is fast and familiar with most options never being more than a few taps away. I love how Brilliant provides the ability to customize the home screen with four dedicated sections that can be set to display shortcuts, scenes, and even quick access to third-party devices. When using a third-party service, the Home Control will display a custom UI for it depending on the category. So for my home, one of the four areas on the home screen is for climate, which allows me to view and adjust my ecobee thermostat directly from my switches.
I love how Brilliant provides the ability to customize the home screen with 4 dedicated sections that can be set to display shortcuts, scenes, and even quick access to third-party devices.
Performance of the Home Control has been solid in the two weeks since I began testing it. I have yet to come across any situations where I could not access the device through the Brilliant app, and the lights within HomeKit have always been responsive. Adjustments made to lighting remotely take effect pretty much instantly, and pulling up the camera's live feed on my iPhone takes around five seconds or less.
Moving over to the camera, I appreciate how Brilliant has provided several ways to keep its users privacy in mind. One of which is the inclusion of a simple to use, sliding privacy cover, that blends seamlessly into the rest of its surroundings. When the camera is active, Brilliant makes it known to everyone in the room by not only shining a red indicator light near the lens, but also by displaying a large message that requires on-device interaction to dismiss.
Other instances of Brilliant's attention to detail come into play with how the physical switch is controlled. Being a touchscreen device, I expected there to be a lengthy adjustment period, but I was pleasantly surprised to see gesture-based controls available. Simply swiping up and down anywhere on the screen can adjust light levels without having to look, and tapping with two fingers can turn them on or off completely.
Speaking of surprising, I am really impressed by the quality of the Home Control's display, and just how good photos look on the small screen. Before installation, I wasn't planning on using the photo capabilities at all, but I quickly changed my tune after putting some family photos on it. Even with having access to photos at all times on phones and PCs, having an always-on display rotating through favorite moments is just plain nice to have around.
Brilliant Home Control: What I don't like
On the hardware front, the Brilliant Home Control's position on a wall may present some challenges for some. Now, things may be different depending on how old your home is or who built your home, but light switches typically sit at a maximum of around 48-inches high on a wall. In my case, at 6-feet tall, I have to bend/crouch down slightly to comfortably interact with and see the Home Control. This slight annoyance is not a deal breaker for me, but for those on the tall side, it is something to take into consideration.
Moving over to software side of things, despite recently adding support for HomeKit in beta form, the Brilliant Home Control lacks quite a bit when it comes to Apple's platform. Lights and fans connected to the Home Control are exposed to the Home app, along with dimming functions, but other features like the camera, and motion sensor miss out on the HomeKit fun. HomeKit support is also not a two-way street as the Home Control does not offer up controls for HomeKit accessories on its display.
Unfortunately, the on-board Alexa capabilities are also rather limited. Summoning Amazon's assistant through the Home Control for anything other than basic commands will simply fail due to integration limitations. Also, the on-board microphone and speaker are not as good as a dedicated echo, and the Home Control had bouts where it took quite a while to answer basic queries.
Finally, the Home Control's built-in camera, while adequate, lacks some key features making it less useful than I would have liked. In general the camera's image quality is good enough for quick peeks or calls during the daytime or in well lit areas. However, things take a turn when it is dark, as the camera does not have any night vision capabilities at all, which certainly is a head-scratcher.
To be fair, Brilliant does not market the Home Control as a security device, but just having a camera on the device will no doubt conjure up thoughts of using it for home monitoring for most people. The lack of emphasis on the camera is also apparent in the Brilliant app as there is no landscape view at all, leaving users to view the all of the action from an incredibly small area.
Brilliant Home Control: The Bottom Line
It is not often that I sum up a review without touching on all of a device's available features, but the Brilliant Home Control is definitely one of those products. The Home Control can be a light switch, dimmer, music player, voice assistant, intercom, digital photo frame, and so much more. The best part though is that as this point, it still feels like we are just scratching the surface of what it can truly become.
Current limitations on HomeKit and Alexa, lack of night vision from the camera, required neutral wire, and its expensive price tag, make it more of a niche product at this point in time. With that being said, if you want a futuristic in-wall display that can meet some of your smart home needs, then the Brilliant Home Control certainly will not disappoint. However, for most though, the Home Control is definitely a product that requires careful consideration before diving in.
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