Picostone Basic review: Home Automation, Done Well

Home automation a.k.a smart-home-technology has been evolving since 20th century. It all started with the need to automate menial tasks, and appliances were thus invented. Over years, the technology has greatly evolved and such appliances can now be operated through smart IOT devices. You could be at home, or may be half-way across the world – it won’t make much difference. Your smartphone is all there’s needed to remotely control your home appliances. I’ll talk about my experience with Picostone Basic, a device that let’s you achieve just that.

What’s in the box?

Main Device (1 Unit), Connector (1 Unit), Fuse (1 Unit), Connecting Wire (1 meter), User Manual and Warranty Document.

Specifications

Number of Switches controlled (on the same circuit board)Upto 4
Input Voltage230V/50Hz
Output Voltage230V/50Hz
Power Consumption1W
Input Voltage for Switches230V/50Hz
Communication Security256-bit AES encryption
Connectivity802.11.b/g/n WiFi
Min Power per Channel5W (Resistive Load)
Max Power per Channel220W (Resistive Load)

Installation

The entire setup spans between 15-20 minutes and can be performed by your local electrician. The device is roughly the size of your palm and should fit well in the circuit board cavity. If there isn’t enough space, it may be left hanging outside the board – This can be aesthetically unpleasing, so as a work-around you can ask the the electrician to mount the device onto a surface-box (you may need to purchase this from your local electrical store).

Picostone basic supports upto 4 switches and once the installation is complete, all 4 of them become 2-way switches.

The device hosts it’s own private wireless network. This is particularly useful when you’re at home and when all sources of internet are offline.

The Main Device
From left to right – Connector, Fuse, Connecting Wire

Security

Picostone is designed to prevent unsolicited access. The device connects to WIFI networks only with a WPA2 security level (AES 256 bit encrypted).

During first time registration, the device owner has to register their account via OAuth/ email. This user also has the authority to add one or more trusted users (family members per se).

The settings screen where you can add more users (click to view a larger image)

App (Android) and device reliability

v2.0.0.39 of the app looks pretty and works fine. The in-app switches are responsive on a WIFI network, but there’s a teensy-weensy delay while on mobile internet – this is super common across all types of remote-access systems worldwide, so it’s acceptable. I discovered a glitch during a momentary electricity outage in my area (happens quite often during summers in Mumbai). Once electricity was back, Picostone could not remember which switches were previously “turned on”. After speaking with the support team, they considered the anomaly at priority and promptly fixed it! The device have been working reliably otherwise.

Scenes and schedules

This is one of my favorite features. While adding a scene, you’re basically creating a custom profile for your room. One of the scenes may be configured to turn-on 2 appliances at the same time (for instance, 1 light source and 1 ceiling fan), while rest can be turned off. Likewise, you can create several combinations of such one-shot toggles.

Scenes that I created (click to view a larger image)

Additionally, you can schedule each of the 4 appliances to automatically toggle on/off at a specific time of the day.

A handy option to set schedules (click to view a larger image)

Dimmable appliances

For added convenience, you can also regulate the speed of your ceiling fan. As a recommendation from the company, it’s best to use a step-regulator (with upto 5 levels of speed) for seamless experience.

Customer Support

I’ve had several interactions with the support team and they’ve always been prompt. I hope their quality of support persists in future too.

Pricing and discounts

Picostone Basic is priced at Rs. 11,800 (MRP). I know, it’s a little steep on the price. You can avail the device at a good deal during their end-of-season/ festive sales.

Warranty

The device comes with 2 years of replacement warranty. Currently there’s no way to extend it – but they’re working on something similar to benefit their existing customers.

Other available variants

Very soon, they’re launching a new variant called Picostone Polar. It’s aimed at allowing users to control ACs and set-top boxes with the same Picostone app. So with basic and polar together, most of the appliances at home at covered.

Conclusion

It’s super-quick to setup, performs well, is backed with good after-sales service and also a little expensive. I’ve used the device for a fairly long time (more than a month) and it’s been good so far. If you don’t mind spending a little more on a good quality product, then Picostone basic is definitely worth considering.