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Iris by Lowe's (second generation) review: Good features, diverse ecosystem

Ed Oswald | Jan. 4, 2016
Lowe's is building a second level on its solid connected-home foundation, and making intriguing promises for future expansion.

Lowe’s sent a large collection of its Iris 2.0 components, so I was able to get a thorough look at the new system (it did not send either of its new security cameras, though). Using the app, it almost always took less than five seconds to pair each device with the hub.

The App

The mobile app is the best part of the Iris platform. It’s well designed and simple to use—at least until it comes to defining automation rules, such as automatically turning on a lamp when the front door opens at night. Lowe’s did the best they could given the limited display real estate on a smartphone, but I found myself craving a web-based app that I could use on a desktop PC.

Iris App
You can upload a photo of each of your devices to the Iris app for visual confirmation.

An undelivered feature

When Lowe’s announced Iris 2.0, it touted a maintenance feature that would set its service apart from the competition. It would be able to monitor compatible appliances and automatically respond to fault codes, offering to send you a replacement part if you wanted to effect a DIY repair, an appointment with a service technician if you wanted professional repair, or a discount off a new appliance if it’s too old to be repaired. The service will also suggest maintenance tasks to help homeowners stay on top of things. But those aspects of Iris 2.0 are not yet available. 

The bottom line

The new Iris hub is faster and more flexible in terms of protocol support, and the Iris 2.0 components are smaller and more attractive. Lowe’s has a better retail strategy in terms of its bundles than it did when it first entered the market, too. But the most attractive element of today’s Iris system is the diversity of compatible products.

If you’re already an Iris customer, by all means, upgrade to Iris 2.0. The new hub is free to you, and you’ll be able to take all your first-generation Iris products with you. Your decision is more complicated if you’re looking to start fresh. Staying in the DIY vein, there are systems like Samsung’s SmartThings to consider, as well as services that do offer professional monitoring, such as FrontPoint Security. And if you’re not the DIY type, you might want to look at ADT, Vivint, or one of the host of other full-service providers; just know that they’ll cost more and require you to sign a contract. 

Iris 2.0 is a very good system with a very good ecosystem now, and it could become a whole lot better if Lowe’s delivers on its maintenance and repair promises. While it’s not a good idea to buy any product based on features it might offer one day, Lowe’s offers enough today to make Iris a solid buy.

 

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