Homey Pro test: the Plug and Play home automation box from Athom!

Simple and efficient home automation

Athom Homey Pro

Homey Pro | Home Automation Box Compatible with Alexa, Google Home, Homekit / Siri with Z-Wave, Zigbee, WLAN, BLE, 433MHz, Infrared, KNX-IP, Somfy

Price as of: May 19, 2022 22 h 04 min

We recently asked you about your use of home automation. Unsurprisingly, more than 60% of you told us that you were content with the application of your voice assistant, 20% of you nevertheless declaring themselves interested in a home automation box (phew!). Except that you find, for many, the open-source solutions too obscure. Although we offer you many Home Assistant tutorials, we set out to present you an alternative, a solution plug and play able to please the greatest number, and it is Athom Homey Pro which caught our attention.

Easy to install, quick to set up, this attractive format gateway seems to have more than one advantage, in particular its compatibility with no less 7 home automation protocols of the most used. Available from € 299, Homey home automation box is certainly not given, but it could well make you crack, especially since it seems today to have reached the stage of maturity ...

Homey Pro: the Hub Smart Home ultimate?

Presentation

It all started in 2014. Founded by Emile Nijssen and Stefan Witkamp, ​​the startup Athom BV then presents his intelligent personal assistant project on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. In a few days, Homey hits the mark and finds its audience. The campaign of crowdfunding is a real success and even allows the young Dutch shoot to achieve an important fundraising of more than one million euros some months later.

Realizing the dream of its two creators of simplifying the connected home, Homey is a real hub smart home, a kind of central for the connected home, which allows devices using different protocols to communicate with each other. You will understand, it is therefore neither more nor less than a home automation box. Does this word scare you? We can only understand this, but rest assured, because if there is something that sets Homey apart from its competitors, it is its simplicity.

Unboxing

The box Homey Pro comes in an elegant cardboard cube that looks like it came straight from an Apple Store. There is a visual of the device and its name on the front. That's all ! Or almost…

The other faces obviously teach us a little more about this sphere. Without too much surprise, it is an iPhone which presents the application part of the product to us.

Homey is indeed above all a home automation application which would allow, according to Athom, "Control and monitor no less than 50 devices from hundreds of different brands in a great, easy-to-use app ”. Impressive ! We wonder a little about the calculation method, but either ...

It is also a question of automations, here applied "Flows", which allow to combine devices which are however not natively compatible, and to make them interact with our favorite Internet services, in particular our voice assistants. Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit (but not Siri). Attractive, isn't it?

Attractive on paper, the product is also attractive once removed from its packaging. It is also not without making us think of the new Amazon Echo 4, although the latter is much more recent.

The object is nice, design, it can only satisfy our "geekitude".

With three small feet, the Homey Pro box is in the form of a sphere, or perhaps an atom? Anyway, it is much more aesthetic than a Raspberry Pi or most of the boxes on the market, that's for sure.

With only 12 cm in diameter for 600 grams on the scale, it will undoubtedly find its place at home and will blend in elegantly with contemporary interiors. A good thing, isn't it?

[...] the Homey Pro box is in the form of a sphere [...]

First downside, however, as to the perceived quality of the object held in hand. We realize, then, that  the finishes such as the quality of the plastics are frankly not extraordinary. It's a bit of a shame, because at € 399 in this pro version, we really expected better - the photos are deceptive, aren't they? - and we are not really up to the standards of the apple brand that Athom seems to be inspired by. Disappointment !

To be honest, however, this is all very quickly forgotten when Homey Pro lights up.

The show must go on!

Fueled by a surprising as well as anachronistic mini-USB socket - yes yes, mini, not microphone! - the object immediately becomes much more attractive! When its LEDs come alive, you immediately forget your plastic not at all fantastic !

The ring can take different ranges of colors, it is possible to adjust the intensity (rather powerful!), To change the style (spectrum, beat, weather and stop) or even to personalize it with an app. (LED-Ring collection). It's pretty neat, actually!

The crush is not finally so far ...

Unfortunately, the second downside does not take long to point the tip of his nose when we discover the connection. In addition to food, we are indeed only entitled to a simple 3.5 mm mini-jack output. Athom relies on wireless, we understood that well, but an Ethernet socket would clearly not have been refused when it comes to home automation… The good old cable, more than reassuring, has proved its worth in terms of reliability. It's a bit of a shame, but not crippling either.

As we announced to you above, Homey Pro indeed contains no less than 7 wireless home automation protocols :

  • 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi,
  • Bluetooth LE 4.2,
  • Z-Wave Plus,
  • ZigBee,
  • RF 433MHz (Somfy RTS compatible)
  • 868MHz,
  • Infrared.

As for the rest of the hardware, the box is animated by a 7 GHz dual-core ARM v1 processor with 1 GB of RAM et 4 GB storage . It's frankly little, even less than a Raspberry Pi 4, but obviously enough to run about 20 applications for the "basic" version and more than 40 for the Pro version tested here. A little circumspect at first, we must nevertheless recognize that Homey has never shown a lack of potency during our tests. We will come back to that.

Finally, you will notice the presence of a loud speaker, or more exactly holes testifying to its presence. Indeed, Homey is also a connected speaker equipped with a "speech synthesis". Admittedly, we are not at the level of Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, but the Text To Speech function proposed can be interesting because it will allow us to make our device speak.

Last detail, which we almost forgot, an accelerometer lets Homey know when you flip it. This only serves to reset the bug. Finally, a priori, but we did not want to experiment with it as the advertisement is stressful and the interest close to zero ... Indeed, its presence in a menu would have been sufficient, the functionality appearing to us particularly problematic with children. which can, potentially, reset the device by playing with ...

Fortunately, Athom offers a daily backup system in the cloud ... Optional, the functionality is billed only 0.99 € / month. A ridiculous cost, it must be recognized. We regret all the same that we cannot do it locally, on a personal computer for example. Too bad, it's probably part of the economic model.

Information

  • Brand: Athom
  • Model: Homey Pro
  • Processor : ARMv7 - 1 GHz Dual Core CPU
  • RAM: 1GB RAM
  • Storage: Go 4
  • Audio: internal speaker
  • Sortie: stereo in 3,5mm mini-jack headphone format
  • Protocols: Wi-Fi • Bluetooth • Zigbee • Z-Wave • 433 MHz • 868 MHz • Infrared
  • Dimensions: 12 cm in diameter
  • Supply : 100 - 240V / 5V 2A 10W adapter

Homey vs Homey Pro: the differences

What is the difference between Homey and Homey Pro? Besides 100 € to purchase, it is quite simply the power.

  • Homey integrates a single-core processor, 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage.
  • Homey Pro has a dual core and 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of storage.
Although the storage capacity remains the same, the difference will be played on the number of supported applications. Of a XNUMX for the classic version, we move on to forty for the pro, but you already knew that if you followed the presentation ...

Also note the imminent arrival on the market of a solution named Homey Bridge. Unlike the two models above, this multi-protocol gateway does not host the software and therefore relies on the cloud. An interesting and inexpensive solution that we are currently testing in beta as you can see in the test below.

TO READ :
Homey Bridge test: all your home automation in a single application?

That being said, let's practice! You will see it, this is undoubtedly the most interesting part.

Homey: Plug & Play home automation has a name!

Installation

Athom has taken great care in the user experience and this can be seen from the launch of the application. The home screen is stylish, modern and attractive. After creating an account, all you need to do is connect to the WiFi network created by the device. Great classic, but everything is natural and fast. In short: efficient. It starts very well!

The home screen is stylish, modern and attractive.

And here we are already on the application! Although here on Android, it almost feels like iOS! The Homey application is frankly pleasant, light years away from what most home automation boxes on the market offer ...

The Wow effect! is really there, we are already almost satisfied with our purchase.

By going to " Appareils“, Homey invites us to add one. Good thing, we were just waiting for that! Let's start by using the integrated ZigBee and Z-Wave bridges ...

With integrated ZigBee and Z-Wave bridges

As you can see, Homey has a chip in particular ZigBee ! We therefore wanted to see if it was possible to directly manage a simple take Aqara Smart EU plug. Unsurprisingly, this is indeed the case, and the installation speed is worthy of that of the brand's hubs: turn on the plug in pairing mode, click on “connection”… And that's it.

The procedure is so fast that it is almost exhilarating ...

We have renewed the experience with all of our Aqara bulbs, switches and sensors like Xiaomi: success across the board! You can therefore do without your "Gateway" thanks to Homey. Obviously, you will no longer find them on your Aqara Home or Xiaomi Home applications, but all of the devices tested were found to be compatible (16 devices tested), even our Aqara switches | Opple with six buttons only available on Chinese servers!

You can also add a breathing machine provided get your token of course (this is the same procedure as for Home Assistant).

As for Z-Wave Plus, no worries either, we were able to combine our Fibaro Wall Plug connected socket (view product) and many other devices of the brand. Everything works perfectly, with reduced latency and rapid feedback on all our sensors. Nothing to complain about here too, we are convinced!

The procedure is so fast that it is almost exhilarating ...

Philips Hue integration

We know it, Homey is natively compatible with Philips Hue… An interesting option for those not wishing to invest in the famous bridge, but the Hue application being particularly pleasant to use, we preferred to keep its use and see how the Hue Bridge was managed. Indeed, keeping it has the advantage of allowing the updating of products by Philips and, with the Matter update promised at the end of 2021, we can only advise you to do the same. In addition, in the event of failure of the cloud version of the new Homey Bridge, you keep local use with your Hue application.

To do this, we simply activated theofficial app by Athom BV, then pressed the central button of our V2 hub, and finally selected the latter in Homey. A few seconds later, all the devices linked to this bridge were present and functional. Awesome… And practical!

Fear not, pairing your Philips Hue bridge with Homey will not change your hub configuration in any way.
TO READ :
Philips Hue: installation of the hub and use

From then on, it is possible to control each element directly! Virtual switch, equally virtual dimmer and other color panels are in the game. The use is intuitive and the application extremely swift. No delays, minimum latency: the Homey application is a pleasure to use.

To be honest, we've hardly used the Philips Hue app since… Especially since all of our scenes are available and can be used in Flows, we'll see what they're all about in a few minutes.

[…] The Homey app is a pleasure to use.

The infrared hub

Homey also integrates IR transmitters / receivers and can play the role of Universal remote controller. Few devices are integrated to date, but it is possible to teach him IR remotes for, for example, controlling a TV, A / V devices, or an air conditioner. Moreover, it is even compatible with the famous Broadlink RM Pro hub ! If you have one, the best is still to combine them and the result is rather interesting ...

TO READ :
Broadlink RM pro +: get rid of your remote controls

[…] A very comprehensive energy dashboard.

Energy dashboard

Among the features highly appreciated by home automation users is the monitoring of electricity consumption. Athom has understood this well and offers a very comprehensive energy dashboard. If the device allows it, you will find its individual consumption, but also the consumption per room and for the entire dwelling. Really well done!

Note, moreover, that it is possible to create routines from electrical data of a device. In our case, we had fun doing a Flow cutting off the power supply at the end of charging our smartphone. When Homey detects a change of state on our Aqara socket, it turns off the connected socket and warns us by voice synthesis.

Finally, we see that the Homey Pro box consumes on average 2W at rest. It's little, it's good!

Only regret, the energy dashboard is not yet available on the web application, but the latter is still only a few months old - six months at the time of the test, since it was released in December 2020, ed - and that will not be long in believing Athom. In the meantime, it offers an “Insights” section.

Insights

Useless but nevertheless essential, the table Insights allows you to cross a lot of data and create graphs very simply. Compare curves of temperature, pressure, rate of CO2, electrical power or use of the resources of the box only requires a few clicks.

Sadly, these graphs cannot be used on the dashboards principal and are also absent from the mobile application ... To believe the official forum, it will not be long. We are excited !

Homey Flows: automations

There is so much to say on the subject that we have made a Homey Flows tutorial dedicated, but let's quickly discuss the scenarios on Homey. Called flow, they are neither more nor less than the equivalent of the routines you know on Alexa or Google Home… Much better!

TO READ :
Homey Flows tutorial: creating home automation scenarios

Indeed, Athom has gone much further than the GAFAMs and offers a model close to Home Assistant automations or Jeedom scenarios. Except that Flows are much faster and easier to implement!

A flow will thus allow you to create complex routines following a well-known scheme:

  • WHEN: allows you to select a trigger event. It can be the change of state of a device, a defined event, etc ...
  • AND / OR: you can add one or more conditions and use operators “AND” and “OR” (“ET” and “OU” in French). This is what our voice assistants lack and which allows us to go much further ...
  • THEN: it is the action or actions to be performed.
Homey would she be the box for dummies? No, not at all, because you can go much further by using flows in your flowsbut also defining variables if the heart tells you or by coding your own scripts in Javascript. Thanks to a fairly dynamic and above all friendly community, you will easily find ideas or scripts shared by users to go far… And that, it must be admitted, is really great!

Homey compatible connected objects

We didn't have the courage to list all the native apps and compatibilities, but here are some Homey compatible brands:

  • Automation :
    • WiFi : Philips Hue, LifxTP-Link Kasa, Shelly, Tuya / Smart Life ...
    • Z-Wave+: Aeotec, Danfoss, Danalock, Eurotronic, Everspring, Fibaro, Heatit, Hank, Heiman, Neo, Nodon, Qubino, Zipato ...
    • Zigbee: Aqara / Xiaomi, Frient, Innr, Ikea Trådfri, Philips Hue, Tuya, Lidl Home, Osram Smart+ ...
    • 433MHz: Chacon DiO 1.0, Somfy RTS, Smartwares, Trust, Oregon Scientific…
    • Other systems: Home Assistant, HomeKit, Home Wizard, IFTTT Ikea Trådfri, Somfy Tahoma / Connexoon, Xiaomi Home ...
    • Various: Bosh Siemens Home Connect, Dyson, Gardena, Google Maps, Neato, Netatmo, iRobot, Tesla, Volvo, Withings ...
  • Voice assistants: Amazon Alexa, GoogleHome,
  • Audio / Video: Chromecast, Sonos, Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay, Denon Heos, Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha, Marants, Google Chromecast, Plex, Kodi ...
  • Heating and air conditioning : Daikin, Ecobee, Eurotronic, Fibaro, Honeywell, Netatmo, OpenTherm, Tado, Vaillant ...
  • Home appliance : Home Connect, Bosch, Siemens,
  • Security / Alarm: Arlo, Blink, Doorbird, Honeywell, Foscam, Loqed, Netamo Security, Synology Surveillance, Verisure, Yale ...
  • Smart TV: Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, LG WebOS, Sony ...
  • Solar: Omnik, Goodwe, SolarEdge
  • Streaming: Spotify, Youtube, iTunes ...

ALL HOMEY APPS

Our opinion on Homey Pro

Obviously, this is only a first assessment, and we will come back to the subject as we discover it. Nevertheless, after several weeks of use, we found the Homey Pro home automation box more than convincing and this for many reasons.

Although the quality of the finishes of the product is a little disappointing compared to the price, the solution is toease of installation and use that commands respect. The application offers a top user experience it is so fluid and well thought out.

The web application, still in beta and therefore still stripped of a few functionalities, is just as promising and we have taken great pleasure in using it on a daily basis. smartphone, tablet or computer, Homey is a great app. It is also a real pleasure to find consistent interfaces and, above all, very aesthetic without having to code a design yourself.

If most dashboards home automation boxes are to make an application designer sick, competing for the most part with heaviness as with effects from another time, this is not the case here and Athom has clearly put the package on his Ux. Note, moreover, that you can also have fun designing your own ...

Those who love "Get your hands dirty" will be able to have fun for hours with Homey, provided you master HTML5 and CSS or even Node-RED for design, or Javascript to create HomeyScripts tailored…

By the way, if you come from another environment such as Jeedom or Home Assistant, you will probably be happy to learn that you can use MQTT and deCONZ, to recite nobody else but them.

And why not create new applications? Indeed, its API is open and many compatibilities are made by third party developers. True, Homey is not open source, but it is a sufficiently open home automation box so as not to have to be ashamed of most of its competitors (we didn't say all of them!) ...

By integrating no less than seven protocols of the most used in home automation, including the essentials ZigBee and Z-Wave, Homey allows you to do without many hubs. Although we preferred to keep the one from Philips Hue (for the application, but it is possible to do without!), We were able to eliminate all the others: Tuya / Smart Life, Ikea, Sonoff, Aqara / Xiaomi... Moreover, it is even possible to use devices that are not compatible with European models such as Opple switches. Likewise, we were able to use our Z-Wave devices from Fibaro which benefit from a perfect native integration.

As for voice assistants, here too, nothing to complain about. Everything goes back perfectly to Amazon Alexa, or even better than with the proprietary gateways, the Flows being available as scenes and allowing to add a dose of vocal via routines. We had echoed a few latencies, but they remained very reasonable on Alexa.

The case thickens, a little, on Google Home… The number of devices coming back up is much lower, the latencies higher, but that's not really a surprise… Note, however, that Homey does not seem to impact the well-known lack of responsiveness of the Assistant.

For users of HomeKit, be aware that the integration is quite efficient and that there is a very efficient third-party app that allows you, unlike the one offered by Athom, to select the devices to be traced back to the Apple application.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a easy-to-access home automation box allowing you to go further than the possibilities offered by your voice assistant and want to group all your devices on the same application without spending hours setting up home automation software, Homey is reaching out to you! Admittedly, at 399 € in its pro version and 299 € in its classic version, it is not cheap, but it is an efficient and complete solution that will suit 99% of users. For now, we are really won over and we can only recommend it to you if you are looking for simplicity! 
Fascinated by Alexa since the day I received it in beta test, I gradually became passionate about the subject, before deciding to go further by creating a site with Jean-Christophe. An activity that allows me to quench my thirst for new technologies and share my discoveries about the nicest of communities: Les Alexiens.