Home Automation: Elgato Eve Button Review

Of all the varieties of home automation I have explored, none have matched the elegant simplicity of Apple HomeKit-compatible devices. Elgato has taken this design principle to the extreme with its Eve Button ($49.95) smart home appliance. But does such a button warrant a fifty-dollar price tag? Read on to find out.

Related: Smart Home for Renters: Best 8 Renter-Friendly Home Automation Gadgets

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Eve Button is the latest Apple HomeKit appliance released in the Elgato Eve family of products, and it retains the look, pairing, and ease of use found in the rest of the Eve line. The product's primary use case is simple one-click activation of other Apple Home devices and scenes. This can all be done without ever having to resort to launching the Eve Home app on your iPhone or iPad and swiping through several screens to toggle something on or off.

The Button can be assigned three different actions depending on the type of button press: single, double and long. Assignments are configured via the Eve app and require the iCloud-activated Apple Home agent to be running on either an Apple TV running tvOS 11 or later or a stationary, internet-connected iPad in your home running iOS 11 or higher.

In my own home-automation scenarios, the Eve Button has proven to be quite convenient. For example, I placed the Eve Button on my nightstand and assigned the single button press event to a scene that turns on my bedroom lights, TV box (via Elgato's Eve Energy appliance), and outdoor porch light. A double tap of the button turns those electrical items off. Holding down the button turns on just the lights. I could have just as easily assigned these scenes to an icon on the Apple Home Favorite Accessories control panel, but trying to access that icon in the middle of the night is a hassle. Groping for my iPhone in the dark, unlocking it, waiting for my eyes to adjust, and swiping and tapping blurry-eyed would be the alternative to just tapping a single physical button.

I would like to see a few minor enhancements to future iterations of the Eve Button. For example, instead of just a tiny LED pinpoint of light when pressing the button, it would be nice to have a much larger visual indicator such as a full LED ring encircling the button when it is pressed. This visual cue would make it much easier to see that the button has actually been activated. 

Another nice-to-have feature would be a cut-to-size padded double-side adhesive tape that could be used to stick the button to a surface (such as on a wall, under a table or on the side of a bed post). The package does include four tiny, adhesive rubber feet, but these only prevent the button from sliding on a table and they fell off almost as soon as I stuck them on the bottom of the button.  The package also includes a variety of adhesive labels with icons in a variety of different colors to help remind you what functions have been assigned to the button, but I would have preferred the machine-cut padded adhesive instead.

Final Verdict

Overall, the Eve Button is a noble, albeit expensive, time-saving device. If you are deeply invested in the Apple home automation platform, the button may provide an easy, accessible way to trigger the activation of complex scenes. However, if you are just dipping your toe into home automation waters, there are other devices such as lighting and other Eve products (Eve Degree and Eve Energy being two useful devices) that might provide a more immediate and rewarding return on investment.

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.