D-Link mydlink Home makes home automation simple
Home automation is getting easier and easier. Once the reserve of tweaking geeks and electronics tinkerers, D-Link wants everyone to have the chance to tech up their home with their mydlink Home range.
mydlink Home comprises of five modules aimed at letting homeowners control technology around the home via their WiFi network using a smartphone or tablet, be it from the comfort of the sofa or when out and about.
The main four modules centre around home monitoring and security:
- Home Monitor HD: This is a one-megapixel camera with wireless AC connectivity, night-vision with infrared illumination and an integrated microphone. This has a fixed point of view and is intended for monitoring entrances, garages, and similar areas.
- Home Monitor 360: A fully-featured pan and tilt camera, the Monitor 360 is for monitoring large areas or to reduce blind spots. It boasts real-time H.264 and MJPEG compression, night vision capability and an integrated microphone.
- Home Smart Plug: This Wi-Fi-enabled module is a simple device that plugs into a wall outlet, with appliances then plugged into the module. This allows users to turn appliances on and off remotely, schedule automatic activation and deactivation, receive activity notifications and monitor energy use. The plug also has a overheating safety cutout.
- Home Wi-Fi Motion Sensor: This motion sensor is a one-piece module that also plugs into a mains socket. It has one-button setup and can detect any movement within 8 m (26 ft).
- Additional to these there is Home Music Everywhere which is another Wi-Fi enabled plug which has an stereo audio out port. This slurps up any music held on your network and then can squirt it out to any speaker or Hi-Fi.
Home Monitor HD review
The Monitor HD can be positioned up to 1.5 metres away from the nearest power socket via the included micro-USB power cord (you could always buy a longer USB cable if you needed to). It consists of a bracket which can be screwed to the wall, and the camera itself which can be swivelled to any angle you desire. The base is stable enough for you just to stand it on a flat surface, such as atop a bookcase, too.
Dimensions of the unit are just 60 x 92 x 24mm for the camera and 85 x 58 x 40mm for the stand, so it should fit in quite unobtrusively to most homes.
Hooking it up to your Wi-Fi network is simple, as long as your router has the neat WPS button – most do these days. Press the button on your Wi-Fi router and then press the one on the back of the camera and that’s pretty much it. When you get the green light, all is set.
There’s a card containing QR codes in the pack one is for the app and the other is for the device. Scan these and follow the instructions and you’re sorted.
Home Monitor HD in use
The user interface has a HD button and the audio/video was of pretty decent quality. Good enough to have it streaming to my PC and confuse my other half who was sat in the office yet could hear someone whispering through my computer’s speakers.
You can take a snapshot of what’s on screen, whether it be a pet doing something cute or a burglar doing something not so cute. It is a shame that you’re not able to record video though, but then I am guessing that would up the price somehow.
The images captured by the 1280×720 image sensor were bright with good colour reproduction. Obviously capturing higher resolution images would be a challenge for a streaming device like this. At less than 1 megapixel you can’t really zoom in to see the details, but the overall image looks good on phone sized screens and you can easily recognise faces.
Night vision mode, thanks to four infrared LEDs, can be automatically or manually enabled, and images can be captured up to 5 metres away in complete darkness – although the bright flashing green Wi-Fi light could give the game away in the dark. But, on the other hand, could also work as a deterrent. Maybe?
When viewing video a timer automatically starts which shuts the feed off after 5 minutes, and I couldn’t find any way to adjust or disable it. This is fine for a quick look at what’s going on, but can be irritating if you want to keep an eye on something long-term.
This is where the motion and audio detection comes in and, when triggered, the camera can alert you by email so you can go see what’s going on.
You can highlight zones on your screen where you want the motion detection to be triggered. This is handy if your camera has partial view of a busy road or a garden that sees a lot of wildlife.
Home Monitor HD Conclusion
This is a great home surveillance IP camera and priced at £79 on Amazon.co.uk it certainly makes a sensible purchase for those that want an easy to set up and well connected security camera.
Home Wi-Fi Motion Sensor review
The fact that it needs to be plugged in may cause some of you concern. I’m lucky as the place I have recently moved in to is quite a modern build (1990s) and it has a power outlet in the little hallway leading from the front door and at the bottom of the stairs – an ideal situation for motion detection in my book.
The sensor will send you an email notification when motion is detected which makes it a handy security product for your home (assuming you don’t have pets triggering it every 5 minutes).
With its 8 metre, 100° horizontal and 80° vertical range I found the sensor to be on the money no matter how quick or slow I moved passed it. Ok, pulling it out of the plug socket or turning the power off will disable it but, as soon as it loses connection to your Wi-Fi network, an email also gets pinged off so you know something is afoot.
It gets even more useful when combined with the Smart Plug (letting you switch something on when motion is detected) or the Monitor HD so you can take a look to see what’s going on. However, as the Monitor HD also includes (albeit less sensitive) motion detection, this may be sufficient for your needs. Personally I had the Motion Sensor covering the front door and the Monitor HD covering my living room which also houses the back door to the garden.
Home Motion Sensor in use
Creating a new action is as simple as selecting a detection trigger and then what action you’d like to happen. The example above was completed in less than a minute. As you can see I have it so that if the Motion Sensor (big eye) detects something it is to tell the Smart Plug, or pluggy as I called it, to turn on. Pluggy is attached to a double socket extension fitted with a radio and lamp which will power up once the Smart Plug is switched on. It’s as easy as that.
You can enable/disable motion detection, view the log of previous motion events by tapping on Last Detection, adjust the IR sensor sensitivity and create schedules. By default, motion detection is always enabled. Without a companion device to trigger, the only use for the Motion Sensor would be for notification.
In testing the Motion Sensor, trying it in several locations around my home, it triggered as expected. I had the trigger set to turn on the Smart Plug that had a light and radio attached. When motion was detected and the Smart Plug was already turned off, the Sensor told the Plug to switch on. This could be enough to confuse any would-be tea leaf as the light going on and the voices of Talk Radio were just loud enough to be audible from outside.
Home Motion Sensor Conclusion
In looking at just the Motion Sensor and the Smart Plug, both worked well on both mobile platforms and with each other. My only point that may cause would-be purchasers some concern is that the Motion Sensor relies on you having a plug socket where you want to place it.
Priced at £43 on Amazon.co.uk the Motion Sensor is definitely worth trying as a move in to home automation and security.
Home Smart Plug review
To simply connect the Smart Plug to your home WiFi network, hit the WPS button on both the plug and your router (you should know the drill by now 😉 ) and it’s all set up within minutes. All that is now left for you to do is decide what to plug in it.
Not only can you switch the Smart Plug on and off remotely, but you can set up advanced schedules and even see how much electricity it’s using or monitor the temperature. You can also set limits and get notifications on electricity consumption and temperature so, should it reach the maximum you’ve set, it will automatically switch off.
Home Smart Plug in use
The plug worked flawlessly for me, taking anywhere between 1 and 5 seconds to react to me switching it on or off. I had great fun freaking out my other half by switching the light on and off when I was away at the studio – it all got a little Paranormal Activity, especially watching her reactions through the Monitor HD. Anyhow, these are serious, grown-up tools so back to the review…
Should you want to switch the thing that’s plugged in to the Smart Plug on or off old skool manual like, there is a small button on the front which can also be used to toggle the power on and off. If you use it or disconnect it from the mains then a notification pops up on your connected phone.
It is quite interesting using the Smart Plug with different household gadgets to see just how much power they actually consume. This can be a real eye-opener in terms of knowing what you don’t need to worry about switching off and what the real power-hogs are – even when they’re left on stand-by.
In use, it does work very well indeed, and pressing the switch in the app for that particular plug (as many other units can be added to the same account) resulted in the light coming to life in just a second or two. Handy for the security conscious, or just the gadgety minded.
Home Smart Plug Conclusion
The Smart Plug not only covers the task of those timed power switches of old that people use to fool criminals that there’s someone home when, in fact, the house is empty, but also so much more.
As a stand-alone device you are able to monitor the power used by a device and heat generated. Plug an extension block in to it and then you can have more than one thing turn on and off at the same time, like a lamp and radio.
It really comes in to its own when you can trigger whatever is plugged in to it from the Monitor HD or Motion Sensor. Yes, I had the kettle switch on when I walked through the door on an evening at one point – I just had to remember to fill the kettle and flick the switch before setting off in the morning. Well worth the £37 from Amazon.co.uk
Home Music Everywhere
Not really linked to the security, surveillance or monitoring element of the rest of the mydlink stable but this little plug is just as easy to set up.
As its name suggests, the D-Link mydlink Home Music Everywhere is a device for sharing your music around the home.
It plugs into any mains outlet and then uses its Wi-Fi connection and audio jack to stream music from your phone or computer to your Hi-Fi or portable speaker. It also functions as a Wi-Fi extender, too.
Connecting to your home network is done via Wi-Fi, so it’s that exercise in WPS button pressing again. The 3.5mm jack for the audio is on the underside while a single light on the front indicates connection status, power, etc.
You get an audio cable in the box and the 1.5m in length of it should be plenty for most. This is particularly welcome as the likelihood of having a cable of sufficient length so as to reach right from your plug sockets to the input of your audio system is pretty slim for most households.
Saying that though, I used my own cable that has a 3.5mm jack on one end and then RCA connectors on the other so that I could plug it in to my Hi-Fi amp.
D-Link states that My Music Everywhere is compatible with either Apple’s Airplay streaming system or the more widely supported DLNA. This means it’ll register as a playback device on a host of systems including iOS and Android phones and tablets as well as Macs and PCs running iTunes and Windows Media Player (many other programs and mobile apps will work too).
To get audio working on my Android device I chose BubbleUPnP to control the audio playback and playlists. After a few moments using the app everything went swimmingly. As you can see in the screenshots above, it detected my old machine which is used as a media server and my current machine which is built in a CM Storm Stryker case, hence its name. You can also use the app to play files stored on your phone, the Local Media Server option.
The app will also search files stored in Cloud (you can just see Google Music, Google Drive and Google+ listed), your local device as well as anything on your network. Not bad for a plug and an app.
Audio quality was pretty good when passed through the Musical Fidelity M6si and the Arcam irDAC but it is the ease of use that is this device’s strong points. That an the fact that anyone with access to your Wi-Fi network can easily share their music.
I can see people working in their garage or shed (as long as it’s in Wi-Fi range) plugging Home Music Everywhere it in to a little portable speaker or old stereo with an Aux in, and instantly getting networked wireless audio as well as a beefed up Wi-Fi signal.
Home Music Everywhere Conclusion
The Music Everywhere gets the job done, providing an easy way to add wireless audio to your existing home audio systems by enabling you to stream music from just about any PC or mobile device you could own. It also gives a modest bump to your Wi-Fi signal.
This is a relatively inexpensive way (£50 from Amazon.co.uk) to get both a wireless music player and access all the tunes on your network as well as adding a Wi-Fi Extender.
D-Link mydlink Home round up
The app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices, works with the Smart Plug, Motion Sensor and the Monitor HD as tested. It will also play nice with the Monitor 360, should you have one of those too.
It can be used to both help set up the device and to monitor the products, allowing schedules to be set and rules to be made that cause one device to trigger another. For the Monitor HD it can be used to view a video feed, turn the unit on/off, adjust noise/motion alerts and more.
Accessing the mydlink Home gadgets though the weblink offers you a little more and, together with the mobile apps, ensures that you’re always connected with your home security tech.
Overall, D-Link’s hardware is well made and performed flawlessly for me. I did have to do the ‘turn it off and on again’ a couple of times with the Motion Sensor but, as all the others worked first time, I’m just putting it down to my network gremlins.
All of the software is well designed with a simple user friendly layout – you don’t need to be a gadgety geek, although some basic Wi-Fi and app knowledge will help.
I would like to see an ‘Advanced’ option where you can link the mydlink Home tech with the likes of IFTTT (If This, Then That) Android Wear or even Arduino. Also, it would be great to have the option to receive a text instead of an email and perhaps even an MMS from the Monitor HD containing a snap of who/what was there when it was activated.
I can safely report that D-Link have created some really competitively priced introductory tech to the world of home automation. After having these gizmos in my home for a couple of weeks, I have got to the point where they feel part of my day-to-day life. I don’t look forward to sending them back.
You can have many Home Smart Plugs, Monitor HDs (yes, I called the camera wuffles!) and Motion Sensors about the place and have complete control over them, and your house.
The Android compatible Music Everywhere audio streaming device wraps up the wireless suite nicely.
Do check them all out. You wont be sorry.