Evaluate: First Alert’s Onelink Protected & Sound Packs HomeKit, a Speaker, and Alexa Right into a Smoke Detector

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Evaluate: First Alert’s Onelink Protected & Sound Packs HomeKit, a Speaker, and Alexa Right into a Smoke Detector

Again in mid-2018, First Alert launched its Onelink Protected & Sound smoke and carbon dioxide detector that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker and Wi-Fi linked Alexa assistant whereas additionally together with HomeKit assist to combine with the remainder of your good house merchandise within the Apple ecosystem.


I have been utilizing the Protected & Sound for a number of months now, and I need to say, it is turned out to be extra helpful than I would initially thought it could be.

Set up

The Onelink Protected & Sound is a hardwired smoke detector, so you will have to make use of this in a location that is tied into your own home’s electrical system quite than with the ability to depend on battery energy. However should you’ve already received hardwired smoke detectors, swapping them out for Protected & Sound models is straightforward and simple for anybody with a modicum of do-it-yourself expertise. Simply be sure to flip off energy to your present detector on the breaker, unscrew the detector from the ceiling, and disconnect the wiring.


As soon as you’ve got received the naked wires hanging out of the ceiling, it is only a matter of attaching the Protected & Sound’s mounting plate to the ceiling (doubtless by merely screwing it straight into the present junction field within the ceiling), plugging within the correct wiring harness to the again of the Protected & Sound, connecting it to the home wiring with included wire nuts, and attaching the physique of the detector to the mounting plate with a twist.


Flip the facility again on on the breaker, run via the setup for Onelink, HomeKit, and Alexa within the Onelink app in your iOS gadget, and also you’re good to go. It appears like fairly a number of steps, however they’re all fairly straightforward and fast to perform.

Setup

The Onelink app makes it straightforward to arrange the Protected & Sound, strolling you thru a sequence of illustrated steps to make sure your gadget has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth lively, configure Wi-Fi for the Protected & Sound, and pair it to your gadget with non-compulsory notifications for varied occasions. From there, you may scan the HomeKit code on the physique of the alarm to permit the Protected & Sound to point out up alongside your different HomeKit gadgets, whereas additionally assigning it a reputation and site inside the home and setting a reputation Siri will acknowledge.


When you’ve got a number of detectors, you will must set them up separately within the Onelink app, however as you add them to the identical house within the app it’ll routinely interconnect them in order that an alarm activated in a single space of the house might be repeated on all different alarms to make sure everybody in the home is alerted within the occasion of an emergency.

Verbal Cues

When the alarm prompts, it contains each loud alert sounds and voice directions urging residents to evacuate the premise. Utilizing names given to the varied areas for the alarms, the voice directions will say, for instance, “Smoke detected within the hallway.” A carbon monoxide alarm set off will embrace the placement of the detected hazard and the height degree of carbon monoxide detected.

Onelink App

As soon as the detector is ready up, the app continues for use because the place to handle it. The app permits you to modify varied settings on the Protected & Sound, in addition to activate a testing mode to make sure every little thing is working correctly. First Alert recommends the alarms be examined weekly, though most individuals doubtless will not do it almost that incessantly as soon as the novelty wears off.


The app can be used to set the colour and brightness of the nightlight characteristic of the detector, which I’ve discovered to be a pleasant addition contemplating its location within the upstairs hallway the place my kids and company might have to seek out their approach to the lavatory in the midst of the evening.


Past the alarm and nightlight features, the app can be the place you may handle the Alexa and speaker features of the Protected & Sound, that are the extra distinctive features of this product.

Speaker Performance

A distinguishing characteristic of the Protected & Sound is its capability to perform as a Bluetooth speaker, permitting you to stream music to it straight out of your telephone, laptop, or different Bluetooth-enabled sources. The sound is definitely pretty first rate with a stunning quantity of depth contemplating the restrictions of placing a speaker in a smoke detector. It is not going to win audio awards, but it surely’s adequate should you simply need some tunes or a podcast beamed to a centrally positioned speaker for background sound.


Following my authentic set up a number of months in the past, I did discover a little bit of choppiness over Bluetooth, notably firstly of tracks as they had been buffered. Efficiency improved the nearer I received to the speaker, however given the mounted placement of the Protected & Sound, it isn’t at all times handy to get nearer to it. That choppiness has, nonetheless, improved considerably in latest months, presumably via firmware updates to the Protected & Sound. I can now reliably stream audio from my telephone to the Protected & Sound from not less than 20 ft away in one other room with no choppiness.

Alexa

Not solely does the Onelink Protected & Sound act as a Bluetooth speaker, but it surely additionally helps direct entry to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. My children particularly have discovered it useful to make use of Alexa as an encyclopedia or dictionary, because it’s the one Alexa-enabled gadget on our second ground.

I’ve discovered the Protected & Sound to be fairly delicate to the Alexa wake phrase, to the purpose the place the Protected & Sound in our upstairs hallway will activate as an alternative of the Amazon Echo in our front room even once I’m talking in the lounge. As with different Alexa merchandise, we do expertise the occasional spurious activation of the voice assistant, which is not helped by having a child named Alex, however other than that, it’ll sometimes get up in response to speech that is not clearly near the meant wake phrase.


For those who’ve received Alexa set as much as deal with different features in your own home reminiscent of telephone calls, good house management, and extra, you may also entry these features from the Protected & Sound.

For those who’re listening to audio content material on the Protected & Sound over a Bluetooth connection, you may nonetheless entry Alexa. The Protected & Sound will cut back the Bluetooth audio to a whisper in the course of your interplay with Alexa, returning it to regular quantity if you’re finished.


With Alexa, you may also entry quite a lot of music companies, letting you stream songs and different content material from Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, iHeartMedia, Audible, and TuneIn. Playback will be managed by way of voice and a easy data/management display screen within the Onelink app, or within the Amazon Alexa iOS app to a point. You will not have full app assist within the Alexa app, however should you simply must entry a playlist, album, or tune, it is easy sufficient to get it happening the Protected & Sound.

For Apple followers with Alexa gadgets round the home, a welcome latest addition is assist for Apple Music, letting you play content material out of your Apple Music subscription proper out of your Alexa gadgets. Sadly, the characteristic is at the moment restricted to Amazon’s personal Echo gadgets, so Apple Music is not supported on the Onelink Protected & Sound at the moment. Amazon has, nonetheless, mentioned it plans to increase assist to third-party Alexa gadgets sooner or later.

HomeKit and Siri

With HomeKit assist, the Onelink Protected & Sound detectors turn out to be a part of your bigger house automation ecosystem, that means you may arrange them into Rooms for grouping varied HomeKit objects in the identical location. The detectors can even present up in another apps such because the Eve and iDevices Related apps, enabling you to see all your linked gadgets and examine on their standing.


HomeKit assist additionally means First Alert’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors work with Siri instructions. Provided that these detectors are typically passive gadgets that primarily solely must be interacted with on uncommon events, it isn’t a essential characteristic, however is usually a useful one for these occasions. Out there instructions embrace variations of:

– How is my [location] CO detector?

– How is my [location] smoke detector?

– Do I’ve a smoke detector?

– Is the [location] smoke alarm tripped?

– Is the [location] CO alarm tripped?

– Change the brightness on my [location] smoke detector to [x] p.c.


Although I do not use HomeKit and Siri controls fairly often with the Protected & Sound, it is good to know they’re out there and that I can shortly use Siri or the House app to examine on my alarms whereas away from house if the necessity arises.

From the time of the Protected & Sound’s authentic announcement at CES 2018 and launch in mid-2018, First Alert has promised future assist for AirPlay 2, which might let the Protected & Sound’s speaker performance combine with different gadgets and audio system within the Apple ecosystem for synchronized multi-speaker playback, Siri music assist, and extra. Sadly, a firmware replace so as to add AirPlay 2 assist to the Protected & Sound has but to seem, and First Alert has not dedicated to a timeframe for a launch, so we’re nonetheless ready for that characteristic to make its debut.

Reliability

Once I first had the chance to check the Onelink Protected & Sound, I used to be skeptical about how it could carry out. I had a pair of first-generation Onelink Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (one hardwired and one battery) again in 2016 that merely did not carry out properly, and that is a significant situation when these detectors is usually a matter of life and demise. Regardless of being rated for a ten-year lifetime, my authentic battery-powered unit started chirping a low-battery warning inside a matter of weeks. A alternative unit died inside an identical timeframe. It wasn’t clear whether or not one thing with my community setup or another issue was inflicting extreme battery drain, and First Alert later issued a firmware replace meant to deal with the battery life situation.

When it got here to my authentic hardwired Onelink Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm, that detector carried out a bit extra reliably than the battery-powered model, though it did lose its connection to the app and HomeKit and need to be reset a number of occasions. And after a yr, it stopped accepting firmware updates, with the app reporting the detector’s firmware was updated when it positively was not. First Alert did change the detector freed from cost (because it did with the battery-powered ones that failed), and the alternative had no related points.

These experiences gave me important pause when contemplating the Onelink Protected & Sound, however in over six months of testing, I’ve had completely no issues with its reliability. It is maintained a connection to my HomeKit setup ever for the reason that preliminary configuration, and I’ve had no bother connecting to it by way of the Onelink app.

In addition to the Protected & Sound, First Alert just lately launched second-generation variations of its fundamental Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms, so hopefully classes discovered from the unique model and integrated into the Protected & Sound have additionally made their approach to the brand new standalone detectors.

The Future

Simply final month at CES 2019, First Alert introduced its second-generation Onelink Protected & Sound that features built-in mesh Wi-Fi expertise as a part of First Alert’s push into house Wi-Fi with an upcoming Onelink Encompass Wi-Fi system that may be capable to use second-generation Protected & Sound models as nodes for a mesh community.

Wrap-up

I fortunately have not had a chance to check out First Alert’s Onelink Protected & Sound alarm capabilities in a real-life state of affairs, however I have been happy with the straightforward setup and strong reliability in connecting to the Onelink app and HomeKit.

The Alexa and speaker capabilities are a pleasant bonus, and I used to be pleasantly stunned to seek out it is capable of produce first rate sound, definitely enough for informal music listening and offering assistant features like answering questions, setting timers, and extra. Music service integration via Alexa is quite fundamental with solely barebones app assist, however Bluetooth offers you an alternative choice for piping music straight from one other gadget.

For those who’re okay with being a part of the Alexa ecosystem, it is a handy package deal, however the Onelink Protected & Sound’s price ticket will undoubtedly give many potential prospects pause. It carries an MSRP of $249.99, though it may commonly be discovered via some retailers reminiscent of Amazon for round $199.

Granted, the expertise packed into the Protected & Sound necessitates a premium value, however this most likely is not one thing you are going to wish to purchase a six-pack or extra of and scatter throughout your own home wherever you want a smoke detector. However if you wish to put one or two in central areas of your own home to complement your extra fundamental smoke detectors, it is an attention-grabbing product.

AirPlay 2 may actually be a game-changer for the product, delivering loads of additional worth to these in Apple’s ecosystem by serving to ship whole-home audio via an array of speaker merchandise. Sadly, the long-promised characteristic has but to seem and we do not have an estimate of when it would present up. So not less than for now, I would advocate making any shopping for choices beneath the belief that AirPlay 2 might by no means arrive, and if it does, it’s going to be a pleasant bonus.

Observe: First Alert supplied MacRumors with a Onelink Protected & Sound for the aim of this evaluate. No different compensation was acquired. MacRumors is an affiliate associate Amazon. While you click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, we might obtain a small cost, which helps us maintain the positioning operating.

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