Judgment Flic 2 Starter Kit:
The smartest smart buttons where money can be bought, and very developer friendly. Which is good because the APIs for the products it integrates are often flawed, and you have to take the time to work around things to make things work the way you want them to.
Shouting at Alexa to control your lights and other smart home devices is good and good, but sometimes you just want to button. A physical switch you can push to make things happen! Do you remember them? I don’t, but Click button from Shortcut Labs is just that – and much more besides.
In addition to integrating with multiple smart Home Lights and other devices, it can also connect to your favorite online services such as IFTTT, Zapier and Slack. You can chain multiple commands together, and each button has a button, double-press, or hold action.
Now is the time to add smart buttons to your smart home? We think so.
Flic 2 design and specifications
Now in its second iteration, the Flic 2 Starter Kit ($ 160) includes a Bluetooth 5 “Long Range” hub and three buttons and a micro-USB power cord. Note that the USB power supply and Ethernet cable are No is included in the package, but is required to use Flic LR Hub.
While this can be considered a failed starter kit for a marketed product, it is a profit to reduce e-waste because they are common components that you probably already have spare parts for. The Flic Hub does not have a Wi-Fi receiver, so you need to connect it to your router or switch it with an Ethernet cable.
The buttons can be connected to a hub, smartphone, or Mac. In the future, they also hope to have MIDI and Bluetooth HID keyboard features enabled.
However, we find them useful for pairing with a hub, which means they work even when your smartphone isn’t in use or you’re not there, so we’ve focused on this review.
Of course, you can purchase more Flic 2 buttons as well as an infrared module for the LR hub, which allows you to issue infrared commands to devices below the hub’s visibility (such as a TV or ceiling fan). For those who really want to add buttons to everything, check out the Flic 2 Mega Kit ($ 400), which comes with a hub, 15 buttons, and an infrared accessory.
You will also find one other port on the Flic LR control panel: the audio output connector. This allows you to connect the speaker and use the Play Sound feature in your command lists. So it can be a really sophisticated doorbell if you want (even if we think about it, don’t put the buttons on the outside, they’re not waterproof).
Setting the Flic 2 buttons and hub
As the simple product packaging and design show, everything on the Flic 2 is easy to install. A smartphone must be used to initialize and create duty cycles, but then the logic is stored locally on the hub itself. Assuming the Flic 2 buttons are paired with the hub, the smartphone does not need to be in range or turned on for the buttons to work.
After connecting the Flic 2 LR hub to the router and USB charger, open the application and add a new hub. It is automatically detected online. then you can add buttons. This includes Click and hold the Add Click button until the pole detects it. This worked flawlessly during testing, and we were running and on time at all.
Then comes the tedious task of remembering the connections to the desired service credentials; or by performing a “press this button within 30 seconds” dance, which some devices require for authentication.
The Flic 2 buttons use an enhanced long-term Bluetooth 5.0 connection to the hub, so I placed the hub at the other end of my home in the office space along with the SmartThings and Hue hub. I usually have no problems Z-Wave or Zigbee
What is the difference between Zigbe and Z-Wave? Here is everything you need to know
devices because they work on a network, with each device forwarding messages to those further down the chain. However, Wi-Fi is another matter. Part of my home was built in 1850, so the walls are thick stone that is impervious to weak signals. To complicate matters, the house is built on a hillside, resulting in a long corridor with one side branched into the rooms. As expected, the Flic 2 buttons couldn’t get right from one side of the house to the other, and the Bluetooth signal couldn’t penetrate some areas. I managed about 15 feet from an unobstructed hallway or 10 feet through some walls.
It is clear that in most homes should clearly not have this problem: the range is certainly more than regular Bluetooth devices, and I am impressed that I had even made it as far as possible. If you have a more traditional “cube” shaped home and you can place the Flic Hub somewhere in the middle of it, the reception should be no problem. Multiple poles can also be used as needed.
I could probably have placed the hub centrally for better coverage, but I should have made some serious wiring. This takes me to the only real complaint about the design of the hub: the lack Power over Ethernet
What is Ethernet (POE) stream and how is it useful for you?
acquirements. POE allows low-power devices to be located anywhere where you can use a single Ethernet cable. It’s easy enough, and I have Ethernet all over the roof in the loft with security cameras and Wi-Fi access points. Alternatively, adding Wi-Fi to the hub would allow it to plug directly into an electrical outlet.
Both Ethernet and USB Power requirements limit the optimal placement of the hub.
What can the Flic 2 buttons do?
Flic buttons can connect directly to multiple smart home appliances, as well as network services such as IFTTT, Zapier, or even generic HTTP requests. This makes the system highly extensible: anything with a web API is theoretically supported.
For direct API implementations coming from the hub, smart lighting seems to have the widest support. You can find LiFX, Philips Hue, Nanoleaf and Ikea Traddfi. Wemo and Wink are present, but Samsung SmartThings is not. On the entertainment side, there are VLC, Chromecast, Spotify and Sonos. Although with official support, I found that implementations were limited (and not necessarily Flic’s fault).
For example, I wanted one button to play a specific song from Spotifif to one or more Sonos speakers. My first call point was Spotify. The Spotify Connect feature displays all Sonos speakers in a standard Spotify app, but for some reason the API doesn’t list them as available items (only the Alexa speakers were listed, and the MacBook Pro, which uses the Spotify app). So the next attempt was through Sonos skill; unfortunately, these functions are limited to gaming, next / previous, and volume control. At this point, I sought support and they suggested using IFTTT as a mediator. Of course, the IFTTT Sonos skill lets you play a specific item from your Sonos favorites; So all I had to do was find a song, add it to my favorites, create an IFTTT Sonos skill, and link it to a button. It takes a good half hour of Slicing so I can press a button and play on the “Everything Stunning” player through the speaker, and I have to group them into the Sonos app first
if I want it for all the speakers. There are inherent delays in going through services like IFTTT, and of course, telling your Philips Hue center depends on your Internet connection and not a direct local link. But it works.
In addition to playing the song, I can also dim the room lights (Philips Hue light bulb), turn on the party lights in reactive music mode (Nanoleaf scene) and send a message to Slack to say “It’s party time! ”- all at the touch of a button. It’s really awesome.
Interestingly, the Flic 2 buttons connect to an Android device and have many more implementations. You can view the full list at Flic.io. Hopefully some of them will move to the pole soon.
Should you buy the Flic 2 Starter Kit?
If you get tired of constantly shouting at Alexa to turn on the lights and just wish you had a button instead, this can definitely do the job. It can also message your colleagues at Slack to tell you that you are taking a coffee break. Then direct the mains-connected coffee machine to make said coffee. It locks the front door so that your moments of tranquility are not disturbed. And put your favorite Spotify playlist. At the touch of a button.
However, I understand the irony of spending hundreds of dollars to install smart bulbs that can no longer be turned off at the switch, only to then go at the expense of installing smart bulbs so you can turn your smart bulbs back on with a physical switch.
In my experience, the Flic 2 buttons themselves are very reliable, and the Bluetooth 5 range should be sufficient for most households. But how easily it’s easy to integrate into your favorite devices depends largely on what the manufacturer has opened in their API, as well as which bits of it Flic has implemented. Like all smart home appliances, it never quite fulfills the sci-fi dream of an integrated, automated and smart home.
On the other hand, Flic has proven to be very developer friendly and you will find the perfect one SDK Documentation available to implement Flic features yourself. You can even integrate Flic into your Arduino project. This fits well with Flic’s future and means that community integrations will continue to grow.