A Hard Look at Archos Smart Home


The verdict on Archos Smart Home is in and it’s mixed. Although, there are some things about the system that sets it apart from the competition in the smart home niche, not all of them are good. The smart home market seems to gain new manufacturers every month. Let’s review the features and specs of this system from Archos and then look at its strengths and weaknesses so you can make an informed buying decision.

An Overview of the Archos Smart Home System

Not everybody either wants to have to run wires for their home automation and security system or they can’t do so because they don’t own the property. The last few years has seen an explosion of easy to install wireless security and automation systems. Archos has jumped on this bandwagon with their Archos Smart Home system. Archos first announced this product at this year’s CES, but now we’ve had a chance to take a better look at it.

The Starter Pack contains the controller, two motion tags, two cameras, and two weather tags. The cameras and tags are wireless and connect to the Android-based controller via Bluetooth. There’s also an Android app that you can download for your other Android devices. To me, the Starter Pack seems more home security and weather monitoring system than home automation, but, as you will see later, they do have some home automation components you can add.

Wireless Video Monitoring of Motion and Notification

The Archos Smart Home cameras are small, and with their flat bases, can be placed on tables or shelves to keep them out of sight. Their wide angle lenses give them a large field of view, so a single thoughtfully-placed camera will cover at least a large portion of the room you want covered. The cameras offer a 110 degree field of view with a resolution of 640X480. They also have a base that is magnetic to help make placement easier.

When you install and configure the system, you configure scenarios that will trigger specific actions by the system. For example, your camera covers the room to allow you to see the sofa. When the camera detects motion near the sofa, the system will email you. You could also have a camera covering the front walkway and commanding a light to turn on when motion on the walkway is detected.

I want my video monitoring system to allow me to see real-time video and snapshots. Unfortunately the Archos system will only let you capture video or snapshots when motion at certain thresholds is detected.

Archos Smart Home Motion Tags Have Many Uses

You could also use one of the Archos Smart Home motion tags to turn lights on. You could use one in the above scenario or at the top of the basement stairs to automatically turn on the basement light. They can also be programmed to send a notification to your phone when a door or window is opened. When I first started looking at this system I thought the motion tags detected the motion of people through an area, but it turns out I was wrong.

Calling them motion tags is somewhat misleading. Sure, they detect motion, but only of the objects they are affixed to and only because contact with another sensor is lost. These tags function exactly like alarm system door and window contacts, which they are. Calling them motion tags is somewhat misleading because the motion they detect is the breaking of a magnetic proximity switch.

Weather Tags Can Help You Decide What to Wear

The weather tags are multi-purpose sensors. You can use them to monitor and help control the heating and cooling system in your house. You can also use one to help you figure out what the weather should have in store for that day and into the next by seeing what the temperature and humidity outside are. Archos should have added barometric pressure to the capabilities of the weather tags though to help make your weather predictions more accurate.

Archos Smart Home Lets You Add to the Starter Pack

To my thinking the things you can do with what’s included in the Starter Pack are pretty limited. Thankfully Archos lets you add to this limited capability by adding other tags. For instance, the Motion Ball truly detects motion. Place it in the corner of the porch to turn on the light when someone walks up the walkway.

The Archos Smart Plug allows you to turn the power on and off from wherever you are. Plug a lamp into it and you have the ability to turn it on and off while you’re on vacation or at work. You can pair the Smart Plug with the Motion Ball so the light turns on when you walk into the room and turns off two minutes after the least person has left.

It’s a Start but It’s Limited

Archos is a company that’s known for its tablet products. They really should have stuck with what they knew. We’ve reviewed quite a few smart home systems and products here at Digital Landing. The Archos system can help you save money on energy costs, but there are products better-suited to that use available. I can think of easier ways to get a basement light to turn on also.

The Archos controller tablet isn’t really what most of us would call a tablet, either. It’s more like an over-sized desktop clock that has tablet functionality. I don’t know about you, but I bought my tablet because I wanted something that was easier to carry than my laptop and fit in a backpack filled with books easily. This thing can’t do that. It’s got tablet width and height dimensions, but it’s got digital clock depth dimensions at 2.3 inches thick with a curved base. I expected more out of a product with a sticker price of about $250.