Home automation on a budget – BroadLink vs. Orvibo

Home automation on a budget – BroadLink vs. Orvibo

If you are thinking of home automation and want to start small and on a budget – two companies of Chinese origin, Orvibo and BroadLink, have a vision you may find interesting.

Remote control over the internet is your first step and relatively simple to achieve (this post is a followup on the previous “Broadlink Orvibo Harmony  – Smart Remotes” with a more detailed review). In a more advanced scenario you will be able to monitor your home and establish advanced  smart rules to be executed automatically for predefined events.

 

BroadLink RM Pro

Broadlink RM2 Pro side view
Broadlink RM2 Pro

The triangular shaped BroadLink RM-Pro smart universal remote requires direct connection to a power source (a wall socket / computer) via a Micro USB cable. It is lightweight and relatively small so most chances you’ll find an inconspicuous place to put it (I hang it upside down from one of the speakers in the living room using a Velcro sticker), bear in mind tough it needs to be within clear line of sight and range from whatever device you want it to control.
Once the device is connected the configuration is done via the app which you can find on the app store (iOS / Android) – you’ll connect the unit to your local Wi-Fi 2.4GHz network and then choose the various devices you want to control and add them one by one.

There are several types of predefined remote templates e.g. Air condition / audio receiver / TV as well as Apple TV or free style user defined set of buttons or hand gestures which you can program however you like.

Each button click on the remote you customize can correspond with an action on the original remote (as part of the customization process you click each button on the app remote and then on the original remote which is directed at the RM Pro, the device picks up the signal and stores it). You can also program “Combo button press” or scenes that consist of a series of clicks on one remote or several remotes – the programmed set of commands will be executed using one click on your universal remote app button.

 

* Prices / availability may vary – check both Banggood & eBay before purchase 🙂

Orvibo AllOne

Orvibo Allone side view
Orvibo AllOne

The circular AllOne is slightly smaller in diameter compared to the BroadLink RM Pro but has more presence due to its colors and the pulsing center light. The base of the remote is a detachable mounting disk which helps if you want to set the device on a wall for example.

Once connected to a power socket via micro USB, the configuration is done using the app but you may also have to press the main button on the AllOne remote – located at the center of the device and set the device in the correct mode.

The initial setup process for the AllOne and connecting it to the network was a bit more confusing I have to admit (and I had to do it more than once since the unit lost internet connection for some reason). The app interface was even more confusing and took longer to master, but basically you get several remote templates you can program e.g AC / TV / Stereo / DVD / Set Top Box and others – apparently more templates than the RM Pro only without the gesture control option.

You can teach the app individual button commands or combo sets as well as scenes (however they scene activation buttons are located in a different area in the app, nowhere near the remote and are therefore really not user friendly).

Home Automation on a Budget

Once you taught the Orvibo or BroadLink universal smart remotes to control your devices, you can activate them from anywhere in the world provided you are connected to the internet and also you can set scheduled actions.

It turns out, for both companies – the vision does not begin and ends with offering universal remote controls, additional smart IoT devices can be connected to the app and enhance the functionality to a degree of an affordable smart home solution.

Orvibo SP20 Smart Plug UK EU US Samples
Orvibo SP20 Smart Plug

Orvibo offers the Smart power plug model S20 with various optional connectors (for US / EU / UK / AU plugs), this plug is connected between your wall socket and any other old fashion electric device (like a lamp or a fan for example) with their switch set to ON and after a quick setup process and connection to local network, you can either switch that device ON / OFF using the small button located on the smart plug OR using the app from anywhere in the world (as long as you are connected to the internet of course).

BroadLink has similar smart plugs SP2 / SP Mini or the next gen BroadLink Contros which is currently available for pre order via Indiegogo crowed funding project and is scheduled for delivery in August 2015 which is not too far away.

* Prices / availability may vary – check both Banggood & eBay before purchase 🙂

BroadLink also has a number of other products compatible with its app such as BroadLink TC (a touch light switch panel that comes with 1 / 2 / 3 switches) and the BroadLink A1 Sensor which can detect noise, temperature / humidity changes, light changes and all sorts of other situation which will serve as triggers for actions by the app. The internal rule engine allows the user to activate appliances (light switch / smart plug / remote control) per any given situation detected by the A1 (e.g turn the light on once the level of light in the room drops, turn the fan on once the temperature is high and sound level indicates people are present…)

For Smarter home – take BroadLink

If you read between the lines, it’s pretty clear I guess that I was not very much impressed with the Orvibo App although in the end both devices perform well. It seems the BroadLink vision is more mature and the suite of compatible products that interact with the app and the RM Pro give it even greater advantage PLUS they stated Apple home kit (which will allow Siri control for iPhone owners) & ifttt.com integration are in the pipe so that would be a safer bet IMO.

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  • Fabio

    Hi, maybe you can help me,
    My orvibo disconnects after some idle time. This is a defect or erroneous configuration?

    • Hi Fabio,

      I really can’t say if you have a defective unit or some other problem unfortunately.

      I can tell you that I had similar issues with Orvibo at the beginning,
      but I am not 100% sure about the cause, I suspect in my case there was an
      overload of devices on the network and my old router couldn’t handle the amount
      of connected devices so occasionally it kicked out some devices (at the time I
      saw similar problems with my iPad for example and other devices), after buying
      a newer router and playing around with the settings now everything seems to be
      stable for me.

      So maybe you can check your network and see if you experience disconnect
      in other devices as well?

      You can also try connecting the Orvibo unit to another network and see
      if the problem reoccurs, and maybe try contacting their support (I got some
      help from this person in the past: leaf@orvibo.com)

      • Fabio

        Many thanks for the prompt reply!
        My router is a TpLink which really had presented problems. Maybe this is the problem.
        I will test it with another router suggested by a friend.
        I don’t recomend this router. It is my second unit.

  • Peter

    Hello. Does anyone know if you can use the T020 Orvibo Smart Switch Puzzle Broadlink RM2 Pro?

    • Sumit Mahawar

      Did you get your answer ?