It seems that home automation is all the rage these days. It lets you control electrical devices, see who’s at the front door, keep an eye on the baby’s room and more. All while watching TV from the comfort of your couch. Or – with the free SAGE mobile app – from wherever you happen to be at the moment, home or away. And things like an automated thermostat can actually save you a little cash on the power bill. So, when Hughes provided their new SAGE security and home automation system for us to evaluate in this sponsored post, I was eager to see what it’s all about. Let’s take a look!
It has come to our attention that the SAGE service is no longer offered. We received the following notice:
“EchoStar has made the difficult decision to discontinue the SAGE by Hughes product and service offering. SAGE will be shut down at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 30th . This means that the mobile apps on your smartphone, as well as controlling the system through the TV interface, will cease to function—including access to your cloud-stored videos and the MyLocal911 feature.”
What’s The Buzz?
SAGE is an all-in-one home automation and self-monitoring security solution that puts you in control. It imbues you with the power to remotely operate lights, your thermostat and deadbolt lock as well as power small home appliances on and off. Customizable rules allow automation devices to be activated in response to security sensors, deadbolt keypad entries, camera events, the SAGE remote, and the mobile app. And the system is fully secured by multiple layers of Echostar’s proprietary data encryption technology, keeping the hackers at a comfortable distance.
In addition to home automation, an assortment of security devices is also available: indoor and outdoor cameras (with built-in microphone, motion detection and IR mode), infrared motion detectors, door and window sensors and a doorbell sensor. Personally, I’d like to see a siren added to the mix. But SAGE is a new product and the starting lineup is still pretty solid. It wouldn’t surprise me to see other accessories become available in time.
Gonna Let You Know
SAGE allows you to customize whether or not – and in what way(s) – you are notified when a camera or other sensor detects something. It also lets you control devices and monitor your camera feeds from wherever you are (through your TV or the iOS/Android mobile app). You can then decide whether or not you’re dealing with a legitimate security concern and contact authorities if needed.
Basic SAGE Service is included with every starter kit purchase. With SAGE Premium Service, however, video from your cameras is stored online “in the cloud”. Next time that package bandit loots your front porch you’ll have the video evidence to do something about it. Who knows, maybe your camera will catch a special family moment, such as baby’s first steps. If the camera sees it, you can download and save the video, which can be played back and shared any time you want.
The SAGE mobile app was not available for hands-on testing during the time this review was written.
“MyLocal911™” – a SAGE mobile app feature that comes with premium service activation – allows your mobile phone to call the 911 service nearest your home, rather than wherever you happen to be at the time. This is a great feature, albeit one you hope to never use. But if you ever do need it, you’ll be glad it’s there.
What you’re really getting with SAGE home automation is the ability to make day to day life a little easier. If you’ve ever gotten all the way to the grocery store only to remember you left the curling iron plugged in or the coffee pot turned on, you’ll like the convenience and peace mind offered by the appliance switch. Away from home? No problem; Simply open the SAGE app on your phone and magically turn off the switch. Done; Crisis averted!
An Illumination Situation
The lamp dimmer device converts a regular incandescent plug-in lamp into a controllable, dimmable one. Like the other automation devices, lamp controllers can be triggered manually or as an automatic response to another action, such as motion detection or the SAGE Wi-Fi light switch (more on that later).
This proves really handy when coming home to a dark house or when away on vacation and you don’t want your home to look unoccupied and inactive. Or maybe you just want to enjoy a little lazy time, unspoiled by the burden of standing up and walking all the way over to that desk lamp way across the room. I won’t judge you; It does look pretty far away.
The Brightest Bulb
The light controller is a nice way to upgrade a plug-in lamp. But for light sockets permanently wired to the house, SAGE LED bulbs are the perfect solution. The bulbs have built-in Wi-Fi controllers and work in the same manner as the lamp dimmer module.
There are three different light bulbs to choose from. I was impressed by all three. Not only did each bulb type appear to shine as brightly as its incandescent counterpart, they also have comparable color temperatures. That is, the “regular” style indoor bulb has the warm – hint of reddish-orange – glow you’d expect from a standard incandescent bulb. At the other end of the spectrum is the outdoor flood bulb, emitting a much cooler, whiter light. Perfect for piercing through the darkness.
A Wireless Light Switch? What Sorcery Is This!
The SAGE light switch has been unexpectedly pleasant to have around. It can be assigned to control the appliance switch module, the lamp dimmer device or any of the SAGE bulbs you are using. In fact, you can have it control more than one at a time!
The devices can still be operated via your SAGE Control Center or SAGE remote. But the light switch gives you a one-touch solution that you can mount wherever you want. The best part: There’s no wires to run!
You’re The Coolest!
Would you like to save money on the electric bill? The SAGE thermostat is easy to install and allows you to return to a comfortable home without being forced to run your AC while you’re at work (or off on a week long cruise). Use the mobile app to adjust the thermostat before leaving the office and, viola! Who’s the coolest? You’re the coolest!
The SAGE Hub
The automation and security components all interact with a central Wi-Fi hub. The Hub also couples the system to your television and Internet router. An on-screen interface turns your TV or mobile device into a control center. Setup is fairly straightforward. Since you don’t have to run wires to everything, it’s easy to install and refreshingly malleable.
The cameras, however, do require a power supply that plugs into a wall outlet. But that’s easy enough to do, even with the outdoor cameras (when using the weatherproof flat Ethernet cable accessory, allowing you to pass the cable through a window frame and still close the window).
You Make The Rules
All components are “paired” to the Hub following on-screen prompts. Once paired, you can assign custom rules. “Rules” tell the system what to do when some event occurs. For example, you might want to set it so that when your outdoor camera detects movement, the porch light comes on. Or maybe you want your doorbell to trigger a light on the pool deck to let swimmers know that the pizza has arrived. They’re your rules; be creative.
You also have the convenient option of assigning rules to the number buttons on the SAGE remote, creating what equates to 10 customizable hot keys. This means the remote can be used even if your TV is turned off, a feature I immediately valued.
Hot or Not?
We’ve touched on some of the many ways to enjoy SAGE and its automation capabilities. There are many more to be discovered. I have found it to be a rather versatile and useful home security and automation solution, limited only by your creativity. The system is easy to install – or expand – to fulfill your unique needs.
Granted, SAGE isn’t perfect. But its merits far outweigh any shortcomings. Overall, it’s a great product that will earn its keep. To learn more about SAGE by Hughes and how it can work for you, check out their website and YouTube channel. The system starts at $199.99.