What Consumer Reports Omitted

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When Consumer Reports magazine published their first ever collection of ratings for smart home gear in their June edition, it created a buzz of activity within our own social media and elsewhere. It’s my job here at Vera to monitor these comments, and for a few days this article was our most talked about subject.

I was disappointed by the Consumer Reports article because it really missed the boat when it comes to what smart home is all about, and what Vera brings to the table. The highly regarded magazine had the opportunity to educate many people about smart home technology, but chose instead to take a much narrower approach.

Consumer Reports reviewed a bunch of single-function devices. In “Run your home from your phone” they reviewed a smart thermostat, a water valve, a smart generator, a smart wall oven, two light control systems and a few oddballs like a smart toilet. Each device had its pros and cons, of course.

They did not look at any controllers. Not just our Vera brand controllers, which of course are the best, but they didn’t review any controller whatsoever!

They seemed to have missed what we at Vera believe is really the whole point of all this technology: The ability to integrate it into a single system, all controlled from a single app, and coordinating various security elements into a coherent home security system.

In all fairness, the article did mention the possibility of a controller, but then dismissed it as something that would require monthly fees. Of course Vera offers controllers and entire systems that require no monthly fees whatsoever.

What Vera offers consumers is really much more than a controller. It is the synergy of a single system with a single integrated dashboard for all of the devices, combined with the convenience of solutions that include everything needed in one box. Instead of viewing smart home technology as a system, Consumer Reports chose to view it as a handful of components. They never reported on the synergy that results from using a controller to coordinate the smart home. Ironically, the energy savings aspect of smart home technology was also missing from this article. Consumer Reports has historically been influential in promoting energy efficiency, and it’s disappointing they missed this aspect of smart home technology. The energy savings don’t just save the planet, they also save consumers money!

I am a huge fan of Consumer Reports, and would never even think of re-coating my deck with weather sealant without checking their ratings first. Their no-advertising policy ensures credibility. But sometimes, especially when whole new product categories come along, it takes them a while to catch on.

I hope that next time Consumer Reports looks at smart home technology, they can take a wider view, and explain how controllers can provide more powerful home automation, energy savings and security capabilities. It may be a bit more challenging, journalistically, but it would also provide their readers with a more complete picture of the easy-to-use technology that’s available today to make life more convenient and homes more efficient and secure.

— Cliff Roth, Smart Home Blogger for Vera Control

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