Only just hitting the market, the VeraPlus is the latest in the growing line of Vera Z-Wave controllers for your smart home. An upgrade to the VeraEdge, it provides wider compatibility with smart devices and gets a performance upgrade to run faster under heavy load in larger homes.
Is it a straight upgrade choice for existing Vera users, or are the improvements not enough to get them excited, and how will it cope in a world of HomeKit and other rivals?
At about $149 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) as of this writing, it is competitively priced with the Apple TV, but a little more than the previous generation of smart home hubs.
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Key Features of the New VeraPlus
- Multi-Protocol Compatible: The VeraPlus, or something like it has been a long time coming. Why not support all the smart home radio protocol standards, Z-Wave, Zigbee, WiFi and Bluetooth, then let the user choose whatever device they want to buy.
- Ho-hum Curb Appeal: Inside the unit, which looks a bit like WiFi router with the terribly 90s flashing bank of LEDs, and indeed it can be used as one, although the company doesn’t really recommend it, the silicon has also had a bit of an upgrade.
- Improved: Internal Specs: The 7.71in x 5in x 1.33in box packs a faster CPU, an 800MHz MIPS SoC, plus more memory with 128MB of NAND flash and 256MB of DDR3 RAM.
- Compatible with Latest Standards: Its cluster of radios support the latest standards, including Z-Wave Plus, ZigBee HA 1.2, Bluetooth 4.0 + BLE and Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac to connect to pretty much any smart home gadget. There’s also a USB and WAN port for connectivity.
- User Friendly Interface Options: Out front is the new UI7 user interface, which provides an overhauled way to create scenes, manage devices and to work with the latest generation of iOS and Android apps. Handily, if you are setting up a complex set of scenes, then you can always use a PC web interface to speed through any heavy
- Improved Apps: The apps have been updated and overhauled to work with the new UI, and offer improved login times, along with PIN code and Touch ID support on iOS, plus tablet and watch support, and compatibility with Philips Hue lighting.
Pros of the VeraPlus
1. Easy to Port Settings from Previous Vera Devices: Apart from all that flexibility in hardware and connectivity, the first major pro for the VeraPlus, is that VeraEdge (review here) and users of previous Vera devices can transfer their settings to the new device in a few simple steps.
That will come as a huge relief to anyone who has an existing sizeable setup, or just can’t remember how they set everything up in the first place.
- Helpful Community of Users: If you don’t have a Vera device, then things might be a little more complicated, but we’re sure the community will help you find a solution before you upgrade. That said, the more knowledge you have about your smart home, and the underlying technology in general, the more you will get from
- Increased Device Capability: The increased hardware power of the hub means you should be able to control more devices, ideal for a larger, or tech heavy, home. Although there are probably some signal boosters and range extenders needed for really large properties.
- New Triggers: New features include custom automation for scenes with time or event based triggers helping to set multiple devices
- New Notifications: There are also a range of push notifications, for people arriving or motion detection, all within the one app, rather than getting them from a different services. There’s also Geofencing, but for now that’s listed in the Cons section.
Cons of the VeraPlus
- Settings Transfer is a Bit Complicated: While we’ve highlighted the fact that Vera lets you upgrade from an old hub to the new VeraPlus model, plenty of users report having trouble getting their old settings running on the new UI7.
There’s a fair amount of digging required to get everything up and running, while some battery powered devices will have to be re-paired with the hub. Most of this will be familiar territory to Vera users, but may put off those who were hoping for a more novice-user friendly experience.
- Options can be Overwhelming: If something doesn’t work out the box, then there’s always the army of Vera Plug-ins. This is both a pro and a con, as finding the right one and getting it working can be a hassle to achieve. For a generation increasingly used to things just working, these MiOS apps can add to the cost and may require some research to find.
- Geofencing is Unstable (as of this writing): The biggest complaints revolve around geofencing, which doesn’t currently seem to be stable, failing to change your in/out setting as you come or go. It fails to recognize when you’re coming home or leaving. While other issues have been fixed by early firmware and app updates, this still seems to be a major problem for some users. If that is essential to your needs, hold off buying one until the issue is proven to be fixed.
On the plus side, if you do have a problem, the Z-Wave team are always on their forums to try and help out, and the community continues to grow as one of the friendliest and most useful for smart homes, we can’t ever imagine Apple or Google being so courteous.
Final Input – Enough New Features?
Smart home technology continues to evolve and mature pretty fast. The VeraPlus is the latest exhibit of this, supporting some 1,400 different devices thanks to its multiple radios. It also has the power to run hundreds of devices at once, which would make for a pretty impressive smart home.
However, it maintains links to Vera’s tweaker’s legacy and is still very much a tool for the knowledgeable smart home creator. Someone who just has a couple of smart lights and a thermostat will end up using barely 1% of the VeraPlus’s power, so there needs to be caution when making a buying decisions.
If you are heavily into your smarthomes, then the VeraPlus is exciting new territory, opening up a new world of devices and opportunities via the advanced settings and scene options.
Being able to link pretty much any device to any other and create simple rules is a good step forward for UI7, but it still might not be for everyone’s tastes.
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!