The CONNECT Smart Powerboard with 2x USB delivers solid performance for the budget conscious. Part of the CONNECT SmartHome device range, the powerboard (CSH-4PWV2USB) provides four power outlets and two USB ports, all controllable via smart devices, for a reasonable price of $48. But how has it integrated and made life easier for me?
The CONNECT Smart Powerboard with 2x USB powers straight up
Straight out the box, the powerboard is no frills and easy to use.
Solid in hand, white with a dark grey end cap (and grey highlight where the USB ports are) and a few little indicator lights, the board comes with a reasonable 1.5m cable. It features two 5V 2.1A USB outputs for charging your mobile devices, with a 10A (max) rated current. It also features four power outlets with a 2400W power rating. What’s all that mean? It’ll charge and power things and it is to Aussie standards. So, win.
Worth noting that it also features a safety overload switch. There is also a “Master Power Button” (more on that later) and “all sockets and USB ports can be controlled remotely via the App” (more on that, too).
Connecting the CONNECT
Getting this into use is as simple as following the “easy setup” guide on the side of the box.
Download the app.
Connect the Powerboard.
Pair it to your phone.
And it is almost that simple. You can use CONNECT SmartHome app (highly rated on the iOS App Store). While I did test it with this App, I discovered it was exactly the same as the App I use for other devices with no bonus features. As such, I set up the powerboard in the TuyaSmart App.
With the App at the ready, set up was simple. I just plugged in the Powerboard and turned it on. The light above power point #1 started flashing. I searched for it with my App. And away I went.
Using the App to control the CONNECT Smart Powerboard with 2x USB
After pairing, life was easy.
I could name each individual point depending on what I had plugged in. This is important for integration into your smart ecosystem (e.g. Google Home). Using this board in my bedroom, I plugged in my bedside lamp, my oil heater, and my electric blanket (which requires two points) and named accordingly. Easy! Now when opening the App, I know exactly which point I am controlling.
Adding the powerboard (or, rather, individual appliances plugged into it) to my Google Home environment was a super easy process since I already had TuyaSmart linked to my account. Google Home picked up which devices were new and let me assign them to my bedroom easily. Commands tie back to the names I put on each outlet, and happy days.
A great feature in the TuyaSmart App (and identically within the CONNECT SmartHome app) is the ability to add timers for when things turn off and the ability to set up schedules. As such, I can go to bed and put a timer for my electric blanket to turn off in half hour, and set my heater up to turn on and off through the night a couple of times to keep my room at a relatively nice temperature on chilly winter nights. The features of timers and schedules are great, but they are exclusive to the App.
What do I mean by exclusive to the App? Well, after pairing to the app, the next step was integrating into my Google Home environment. “Sorry. Because of potential risk to safety, I can’t schedule actions for devices configured as outlets.” This isn’t a criticism of the CONNECT Smart Powerboard with 2x USB, as it’s not entirely their fault that Google Home operates with these ‘safety’ precautions.
Powering your life is limited by your imagination
Naturally, home automation is only limited by your imagination. Having a few smart power points at your disposal can be handy for a wake up or bedtime routine.
For me, via my Google Nest Minis or Google Nest Hub, I can easily control things from anywhere in the house (or, via the App, anywhere I have mobile reception!). Half hour before I go to bed? “Okay Google, turn on blanket” and Google Home, TuyaSmart and the CONNECT Smart Powerboard with 2x USB work together seamlessly to turn on BOTH powerpoints with my electric blanket plugged in. Tell it to turn on the oil heater and bedside, and my light is on when I go to bed and my bedroom is also warm. Easy. Even easier is I can set up commands so that I can just say “Okay Google, it’s freakin’ cold!” and my heater and electric blanket comes on.
Going back to the previous point, I really do hate that I cannot put a timer on anything plugged into the powerboard through Google Home commands due to safety risks. It would just be nice to wake up at 4am freezing, and just tell Google to turn the oil heater on for half hour; instead, I have to wake up fully and use the App.
These aren’t deal breakers, but the CONNECT Smart Power Board is far from being perfect for me. They’re little things. But if they were changed, I would be stoked with this board.
THE LIGHT! TURN DOWN THE LIGHT!
My room is dark. REALLY dark. Block out blinds makes for a nice dark room in the dead of night.
The CONNECT Smart Powerboard with 2x USB has some sexy little blue lights to indicate which individual point is on. If you have all the points turned on, it is bright as well as smart. (See what I did there?) The indicators illuminate the ceiling of my room with pretty blue while I have my heater and blanket turned on.
Even with the heater and blanket off there is a lot of light noise. I use the USB points to charge my phone overnight. This means there’s always one indicator light left on (and the worst of them all as it’s INSIDE the USB ports, rather than a little pinhole indicator light). As such, there is always something shining bright.
An ability to turn these off would be great. Firmware update, please?
One power button to rule them all… unfortunately
A major flaw for me is the lack of manual control for each power outlet.
Other than those with devices always left on (such as those with my computer or my TV), I have made a point of using power boards in my house that have individual switches for each separate power socket. Don’t want the heater on? It’s turned off on the board as well as on the heater. It’s also a safety thing for when my nieces and nephews visit and want to plug things in to powerboards that they’re not plugging into a live socket.
If used ‘dumb’, the CONNECT Smart Power Board has a bit of an odd set up. There is a button on the side of the board called the Master Power Button. As implied, you can turn every socket on or off by pressing this button. And that’s it. And when I say every socket, I mean EVERY socket.
With my current set up, as said, two power outlets used for electric blanket, one for an oil column heater, and one for bedside lamp. All these devices are left ‘switched on’ and controlled via the smart board to be on or off.
I then use one of the two USB ports to charge my phone overnight without having to have a designated power brick to charge. (No, I’m not giving Apple any credit for removing them from new phones.) If I don’t use smart commands (either via the app or my Google Home commands), I have limited options for controlling individual sockets.
All on. Or all off.
Which you’d think wouldn’t be an issue, but it manages to be one. Twice recently, when going to bed on cold winter nights, I’ve turned my electric blanket and heater on. Get to my bedroom a little bit after, and it is all toasty warm. Nice.
“Okay Google, turn off blanket and oil heater.”
“Hang on while I get connected to WiFi.”
At this point, I’m in my PJs, curled up in bed. I can’t be bothered getting up to restart my WiFi (fixing that with some more MESH soon, but until then…). I also don’t want to turn off the oil heater or blanket on the appliance, as they’re set to work just right for me to warm things up before I go to bed.
The obvious thought I had first time? Turn them all off at the board manually with the Master Power Button.
I woke up half hour later to my phone screeching because it was almost flat and if it didn’t get charged my alarm wouldn’t work in the morning.
That power switch IS a Master Button that turns off EVERYTHING – the two USB ports included.
Two-For-One USB Power!
While on the two USB ports: there are two. Two.
Dear CONNECT, you have TWO USB ports on the board.
I make emphasis of this because via the App you can turn power on for the two USB ports or turn it off for the two USB ports. Together, always, on or off.
There should be an option to control each individual USB port individually. As an example, I might want my phone connected to USB port 1 always turned on for charging, but I might string some LED lights or power a night light for a child or any number of USB powered devices running that I want to tell Google to turn on and off separately. Currently, I can’t.
Some flexibility would be nice there.
TWO USB ports…
The CONNECT Smart Powerboard with 2x USB
Is the CONNECT Smart Powerboard with 2x USB perfect? No.
Simple addition of a couple of buttons to control each of the four power outlets and being able to control the two USB ports separately would take this device from a 3/5 to a 4.5/5 instantly, even with the bright lights.
That said, this device is an amazing offering at the price point. If you pick it up on special, even better, but at $48 from Harvey Norman it is great value. With integration with Google Home and Alexa, you can easily set up lamps in your lounge, heaters in your bedroom, or any number of devices, with the added peace of mind that if you go out you can check on the power status of those devices while you’re out.
This CONNECT SmartHome appliance will continue to be part of my smart ecosystem for some time. Thanks to CONNECT for providing me the opportunity to use it.
Keep an eye out for my upcoming review of another CONNECT SmartHome WiFi Plug with dual USB charging port and power monitoring features!