There are so many companies wanting their technology and services to be the brains of your smart home devices that it is almost getting scary. Is there some ulterior ambition they all have to spy on everyone or hit us with subscription services?
Whatever their cunning plans, the VeraEdge is just one of many of the new generation of smart home controllers that can help manage your thermostat, cameras, locks and other gadgets.
The VeraEdge claims it can pull all the usual tricks of controlling a range of third party products, with simple settings to switch between circadian or seasonal themes.
There are no monthly fees or contracts, unlike some vendors and the product is aimed at all users, so you don’t have to be a PC genius or a cable splicing hobbyist to make the most of it.
Once installed and connected to the app, you can run everything from your smartphone or tablet, with no concern for services, wireless radios or other worries.
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Key Features of the VeraEdge Controller
- Initial Look: The VeraEdge is a plain, matte, black box with a gentle curved design, retailing for around $99 (For the latest prices check here). Once connected to the network, following the online setup instructions, the VeraEdge is managed through a single app that you can access via your PC or a smartphone or tablet.
- What’s Inside: Inside the box are a modest MIPS 60MHz CPU, a smallish 128MB of RAM, USB and WAN ports, plus radios supporting the Z-Wave Plus and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi standards. With some hubs offering specifications more commonly found in a small PC, the market is definitely changing, but there’s nothing wrong with a pure and simple hub like the VeraEdge.
- Capacity: The whole thing is just 4.55in x 3.13in x 1.2in and can manage up to 50 devices, although you might want a Z-Wave repeater if you are flooding your home with lights, locks and other sensors to speed up the flow of information.
Pros of the VeraEdge Home Controller
- Simple Set-Up: The VeraEdge is pretty simple to set up if you avoid the old quirks like strange network and user names.
- Quick Pairing: Devices also pair to the hub quickly and efficiently.
- Single Control Access: Once everything is on-board you can use the single Vera app to set up profiles, manage settings and enjoy that early burst of fun turning everything on and off again, or dimming the lights to impress neighbors.
- Ample Compatible Devices: At the practical level, the VeraEdge is compatible with a huge number of products and seems to work well with most of the ones we tried. The response rate can slow down if there’s a heavy workload, but if you manage your smarthome carefully and sensibly then there isn’t much you can do that would bring the whole system down.
- Well Rounded: Being able to run all those gadgets from the one app is something that many will consider the key selling point, and creating profiles or timings for each device is straightforward to achieve.
Cons of the Vera Edge Home Controller
- Not for ZigBee Devices: The VeraEdge plays well with Z-Wave products, but doesn’t work with ZigBee or older tech. That is fine if you’re starting out with plans for a new smart home, but if you have a lot of ZigBee or other tech around the home, they you’ll need to make other plans.
- Older Products and be Problematic: Even if you do have Z-Wave gear, you can have all sorts of difficulty connecting them to the hub if they’re used to working with an older system. This isn’t strictly speaking Vera’s fault, but can be an annoyance for anyone kitting out a smart home and then upgrading the hub.
- Mediocre Mobile and Web App: Another issue is the Vera app for Android or iOS, which has consistently received a middling to poor rating across its life, despite the regular updates. Recent updates have added support for Philips Hue lights and Apple Watch, but the developers don’t seem that keen on fixing some of the common woes with the app crashing regularly. That and the very slow response of the desktop browser interface mean that the VeraEdge isn’t quite as easy to control and manage as it could be.
Final Recommendation – Worth the Cost?
The VeraEdge is a powerful, simple to control home hub that is ideal for building out a new smart home with recent devices and the latest innovations. If you have older gear around the home, then you can guarantee that something won’t work as it used to.
With smart home expectations changing rapidly, the major query over the VeraEdge is whether you will need it in an era when an Apple TV, Amazon Echo or other gizmo could act as your smart home hub.
With many happy users of previous Vera products, there should be plenty who will delight in this upgrade with the slightly more powerful processor and more storage, but with the smart home rapidly becoming a big screen or multi-user, multi-sensor, experience, it may not be enough to see Vera and Mios into the future.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!