Picostone Basic Review: Easy Home Automation for Everyone
After getting my hands dirty with SmartHome Products like Oakter and D-Link switch, I decided to pick another product —Picostone Basic— with features very similar to Oakter Smart Box switches which can control 4 switches including Fans and Lights. While it would not have worked differently from an existing product, Picostone included an option to control FAN regulator from their app. This is why I was interested in reviewing their product.
- Offers native apps on Android and iOS which lets you control your switches, and fans.
- You can create Scenes.
- Option to DIM any light or Fan. The hardware comes with a dimmer which allows you to lower light intensity (supported devices), and regulate the speed of Fan.
- Works offline if your phone is connected to your WiFi network as the switches.
- Physical Switches work with or without the Internet. However, they become a two-way switch.
- No Central HUB required.
Installation and Set-Up
The product is a rectangular brick looking paper-weight which connects with your switches through wires. The size is just right to get installed and stay at the rear of your switchboard. It is 87mm x 57mm x 22mm to be exact. Here are the technical details of the device:
- Input Voltage: 230V/50Hz
- Output Voltage: 230V/50Hz
- Power Consumption: 1W
- Input Voltage for Switches: 230V/50Hz
- Communication Security: 256-bit AES encryption
- Connectivity: 802.11.b/g/n WiFi
- Min Power per Channel: 5W (Resistive Load)
- Max Power per Channel: 220W (Resistive Load)
- Dimensions: 87mmX57mmX22mm
Along with the main device, you get a fuse, 1 ft of wire which needs to be cut into 4 pcs for the switches and a socket which gets plugged into the main unit.
The first thing you should do is call a professional electrician to get it installed. The diagram is pretty straightforward and is available with the device manual. It’s fairly easy to understand with a clear indication of how wires need to be connected.
Once done, the second thing you should do is install the Picostone app from the Play store (or App store), and create an account. Once installed, it will ask you connect to the Picostone device. There is a wifi chip inside the unit which comes with a pre-configured password which you will need when setting it up for the first time.
- Open your WiFi configuration, and connect to the Picostone WiFi which will be similar to “Pico-XXXXX”
- Enter Password
- Next, you will need to give your Home WIfi network name, and password.
- Once done, it will recognize the switches.
- You can identify each of them by turning on and off and then name properly for easy identification.
To enable regulator or dimmer functionality of FAN, and supported lights, long press on its listing in the app, and select switch settings. Next screen will have the option to Rename it, and select type as “DIM it”. In the same screen, you can add a schedule for each of the switches.
Customer support over the phone was brilliant. In case your electrician is not able to understand the wiring instruction that comes with the manual, you can always call the support number, and let them talk to each other to sort out things. Once the setup is complete, and you have checked that everything works both from App and the physical switches, chances are you won’t need to call them again anytime soon.
However, I did raise issues to figure out how their support was, and it lived up to the expectations. The team is prompt and should get your issue resolved sooner.
Using with Alexa & Google Assistant with Picostone
While there was no support for Google Assistant at the time of writing this article, support for Alexa was available in form of Skill. So you can shout to your Alexa, and say “Ask Picostone to turn off the lights”. That said, it’s half-baked.
Alexa cannot discover the switches and list it on your Smart Home devices list, and calling on Alexa to ask Picostone is not practical. A better approach would be to get listed under Smart Home, and then just shout to Alexa to turn off Bedlight, and even control the speed of the fan. It will also help to make it work in together with other Smart Home devices, especially if you are planning to schedule.
This also means you can’t schedule routines and use their scenes in Alexa.
Most of the time the skill did not really work, and it kept telling me what the skill can do but did nothing. I did send the feedback to the team, that they need to convert this into an idle Smart Home Skill which both of the assistants can discover, and it can be used seamlessly.
Performance, Reliability, & Goof-ups
The Picostone app works flawlessly most of the time, especially when it comes to controlling lights, and plug points. If you are kind of person who hates to get out of the bed because you forgot to turn off the light, this is a blessing.
Picostone products also work offline. If you ever lose internet at your home, but your phone and Picostone switches are connected to the same WiFi, you will be able to operate it without a problem.
That said, it works most of the time, but then I have seen at times where the state of devices sometimes aren’t in sync, especially when you have shared this with somebody in your house.
My wife often complains that many a time the fan keeps running at a very slow speed even when turned off from the app. After a bit of brainstorming with my wife, I finally figured that the problem was the dimmer state which wasn’t syncing back to the app if she had used the physical regulator.
Also, note that sometimes there is a lag of a second or half a second which happens with every smart home products. That said, it works 95% of the time, and with a month of experience, it is good enough. I would strongly suggest them to let their app run background processes, and API work gets the job done.
Picostone Basic is officially priced at Rs 11,800. It’s a pricey affair for the convenience it delivers. If I compare this with Oakter Switches, there is a difference of Rs 4,000 but then it misses on the dimmer/regulator functionality, and as of now there is no offline support.
That said, the company keeps running offers which can get you one unit for somewhere between Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000, but that keeps changing, so keep an eye.
When it comes to warranty, the company offers 2 years with the products, where they replace the product in case of failure identified on the hardware after troubleshooting. Post which they would offer a replacement at a discounted price.
Picostone is a great product without a doubt. While I can’t comment on its long-term performance, one month experience does add it to the recommendation list. If you are looking for a smart home automation and can spend that amount of money, it should be worth the investment.
Check out the official website here.