It's amazing what you can do these days.
Modern world, modern problems - but if you look hard enough, you can find a modern solution.
Not everything has to be complicated either. Some things can be solved with the flick of a switch. And sometimes you don't even need the switch.
What the hell are you talking about, glennzb?...
In case you were wondering, yes, this is a plug.
To be specific, it's the DSP-W118 mydlink Mini WiFi Smart Plug. This is perhaps the most simple, but most ingenious piece of tech I've ever reviewed.
The concept couldn't be more straightforward; a power point you can control via WiFi - in theory that means you can turn it on and off from anywhere. Not just from anywhere in the house, but from anywhere in the world. In theory, you would also be able to schedule that plug to switch on and off automatically. Theory also suggests the plug could be operated according to conditions created by other devices.
All good theories. As it turns out, in the case of the mydlink Smart Plug, theory is also reality.
There's quite a bit of clever kit bundled into this smallest of packages - and I do mean small. D-Link claims the DSP-W118, "Fits any socket without obstructing plugs in adjacent outlets." This isn't entirely accurate, as some of those adjacent plugs are likely to be weird shapes and sizes but I can confirm I have one these nestled comfortably next to two other plugs on a three-outlet multiboard with no issues.
Capable of WiFi speeds up to 300Mbps, the plug responds instantly to remote commands and it's almost as fast to set up. Using the mydlink app, you add the DSP-W118 to your existing WiFi network with a simple scan of the QR code printed on its side.
From that moment, the plug appears on the app and you can name it and give it a location. You can then select it to appear as a shortcut on the mydlink start page, allowing you to turn it on and off manually. But where's the fun in that?
Time to start thinking about the powerpoints you'd like to automate at your place.
My first challenge was my bedside light. I want it to turn off every weeknight at 9PM. Why? Because my alarm goes off at 2:55AM. Yes, I could just turn it off myself, but I don't. Because I'm reading. I tell myself I'll just keep going till the end of the chapter and before I know it it's 9:30 and I've missed half an hour of precious slumber. Basically, I can't be trusted. But it turns out, the DSP-W118 can. There's a schedule option on the mydlink app that takes care of that. There's also a countdown feature which means you can leave something running for a certain period of time and the plug will turn itself off when that timer runs out.
You don't even need to pick up your phone - the mydlink Smart Plug can be voice controlled via Google Assistant, Alexa or IFTTT - this means it can be added into routines run by those assistants as well.
Following that logic, other smart devices can be easily linked to the DSP-W118 too.
Which is how I solved my next problem...
My garage door opener doesn't light up anymore. Yes, I've checked the bulb. Turns out, it's an issue that can't be fixed without replacing the whole unit, which is a pretty pricey fix for having to put up with a dark garage.
Luckily, I happen to be monitoring the garage with a security camera; the D-Link DHS-8600LH full HD outdoor WiFi camera to be exact.
This is also a very smart device in its own right. IP65 weatherproof rating, nice wide viewing angle and great night vision - up to seven metres in complete darkness. This makes it the perfect camera for keeping an eye on my garage and now, thanks to the smart plug, the perfect sensor to activate a garage light when the door opens.
In fact, it's so much better than a normal garage door light, because it can detect any motion or sound, so the light comes on as soon as you enter - whether you open the garage door or not.
Only problem is, turning it off again.
The mydlink app let's you automate the smart plug when camera registers motion or noise, but unfortunately there's no "wait a couple of minutes then turn it off again" option.
Luckily, Amazon Alexa offers exactly that option on its app. All I had to do is add the D-Link skill onto my Alexa account and I was in business. You don't even need an Alexa-enabled speaker to access this functionality - the app will work on any half-decent smart phone.
I had to do a bit of fine-tuning with the DHS-8600LH's motion and sound detection settings, because I'm monitoring the same area I'm lighting up. Initially, every time my Alexa routine told the smart plug to turn out the light, the camera thought it had detected a new movement and turned it back on again. Luckily, the DHS-8600LH features a highly customisable detection zone setting and you can even set the sensitivity of the microphone if it's picking up sounds from another area.
I was also most impressed with the length of the power cords that come in the box, including the weather-tight USB adapter, packaged with its own mounting hardware.
The timecode displayed at the top of the screen is another welcome addition some other D-Link security cameras have lacked in the past.
Of course, my bedside and garage lights are just two examples of how useful the DSP-W118 smart plug can be. Cookers, heaters, coffee machines... just a few more things that become a lot smarter once they can be activated remotely or on a schedule. Or maybe you just want to save a little power by turning everything off at night, automatically.
Basically, if you ever had a switch you wish you didn't have to reach for, the DSP-W118 will take care of it for you. A bit lazy? Maybe. Clever? Definitely