02 smart home subscription service review – is the 02 subscription based starter pack the best way to begin your smart home journey? 02 have launched their 02 View, 02 Comfort and 02 Connect as three rival starter smart home packages, giving you an off the shelf smart home solution that you could have up and running within plenty of time of Christmas. We want to explore whether the combination of hand selected smart home products and a more staged costing model (subscription) make sense for those moving into the smart home space, or is there a better solution available for those looking to build their first smart home? Lets dive in and explore their offering in detail
Smart Homes are suddenly getting very popular
Smart home products are set to be the product of Christmas 2016, with leading retailers like John Lewis claiming that searches for smart home related products are up nearly 600% on their website www.johnlewis.com. The whole concept of the samrt home made a fairly sedate start, and as recently as earlier in 2016 they were still dragging their heels. The Consumer Electronics show in Las vegas this past January was full of smart home products, and that is normally a good forbearer of whats to come, but as recently as summer 2016 the smart home market was looking stagnant to the point of being on the verge of going into recession. That has all changed with the reinvigoration of products like Amazon’s Alexa, which is demonstrating the value of simple voice commands to control a whole host of the homes appliances. This simple to use gadget has sparked a middle aged homeowner smart home revolution – as we explored here with the best devices that you can connect to Alexa
O2, better known for their smartphones than their smart homes have joined the party, but they have done so with a subscription based model which closer mimics a phone contract rather than other electrical goods. Lets see what they are offering.
02 are aiming to cut through the confusion in the marketplace. As it stands today there are countless variations of each core category of smart home products. Smart home products are typically spanning areas like smart security (cameras, locks and sensors), lighting (intelligent lighting systems which are app controlled, such as Phillips Hue), heating (products such as Nest and Hive, compared here) and central to it all, the concept of smart home hubs which control all of these interconnected devices in order to add a central brain to the home. We looked at the 9 best smart home hubs here.
The problem is that there is genuinely a tonne of choice in the market. The whole concept of the smart home has been seen as a gold rush for a technical industry chasing their next trillion dollar product after the smart phone (this market is now saturated) and i guess it could be argued that never more so is this gold-rush [especially when pertaining to the slowing uptake of smartphones] more evident then when a company like 02 rock up and offer this shinny new toy, and they’re so fragrant that they even price it on their favoured subscription model. The mitigation of course is that smart homes place your smartphone – as is increasingly the case in all things, at the very centre of your home.
02 Smart Home Subscription – why it makes sense
However, it would be churlish to discount the offering from O2 just yet. The concept of the subscription model, whilst more expensive in the long run, does have some benefits;
- 02 have hand selected some of the better smart home products on the market – and that helps the smart home layman to get up and running quickly
- If you buy your smartphone package from 02, then why not synergise this with a selection of smart home products from the same vendor, especially as it makes it easier to get technical support?
- A subscription model helps spread the cost of what [for the time being at least] are relatively expensive one off purchases
- A subscription model lets you upgrade after a period of time – something which is likely to look attractive in a market which is moving very quickly
02 Smart Home Starter Packs – what are they and what do you get?
02 have launched three smart home starter packages. These consist of the 02 Home view, 02 Home Connect and the 02 Home Comfort:
The 02 Home View
The 02 Home View package is intended to provide the tools that you require in order to get a remote ‘view’ or your home, meaning it is really focussed on the sub-section of smart home security products. The door senses provide the technology needed to alert you when a door unexpectedly opens for example, and this alert would come up on your smartphone. The combination of motion senses and indoor cameras should then capture any intruder on tape – providing the raw building blocks for a successful police investigation and ultimately, prosecution.
- Two internal cameras
- A motion sensor
- Door sensor
- O2 home hub
- Cost: £30 a month
What are the best 02 home view alternatives? Well there are no shortage of smart home products on the market focussed on security. This package is very internal focussed, and does not necessarily do much to deter, and providing a good deterrent is a cheaper way of saving the pain of an actual break in. As you can see from the HomeTechStar right hand railbar, there are a lot of cost effective outdoor security cameras which would certainly work well as either a cheaper standalone solution or as part of the 02 home view package.
We love the Hive window and door sensors package, which we reviewed here, and they play ball with the wider Hive ecosystem which includes a smart thermostat called Hive active heating. Hive is owned by British Gas and as such has the same reputable brand name as 02 if that is a consideration for you.
02 Home Comfort smart home package
The second package offered by 02 is their Home Comfort package, which is very much centred around the Tado thermostat
- Tado thermostat
- Two smart plugs
- A motion sensor
- O2 home hub
- £30 a month
What are the best 02 home Comfort alternatives? As this package is so centred around the concept of smarter home heating solutions, there really are a lot of choices. The overall connectivity of Nest with other devices makes it stand out, but you are looking at paying circa £150 in a one off payment. Tado have a solid smart thermostat, and you’re getting half a year of the Home Comfort package before you have covered the price of the Nest alone. However the two smart plugs and 02 Home Hub leave me unconvinced that this package is a great buy. Two smart plugs and a motion sensor are underwhelming, it would have been good to see a better smart lighting offering in there too.
02 Home Connect smart home package
The final package is the cheapest of the 02 starter home packs, coming in at £20
- Two motion sensors
- Two door sensors
- Two smart plugs
- O2 home hub
- £20 a month
What are the best 02 home Connect alternatives? Really, you’re getting a whole lot of not a lot with this package unfortunately. In our opinion you would be better swopping this 2 year subscription for an Amazon Alexa, which pays for itself on the value of its Bluetooth speaker alone, and then slowly adding smarter components around it. You could throw in some Hive window and door sensors and begin with a smarter proposition than this almost instantly in my view.