Broadlink is a nightmare of a device
Hello ladies and gentleman and welcome to my new post talking about what should be an amazing device. Granted this may actually fit to what you need but for me it was a nightmare. When I first heard about this device I was a little excited in all honesty. It was cheap, apparently easy to set up, can be used with the smart speakers and can turn the ordinary technology in to a smart controlled powerhouse. In an ideal world this was a perfect cheap solution for me. Anything with infrared or radio frequency could theoretically be controlled by the voice which if works opens up a realm of possibilities. So let’s have a look at Broadlink and see where the problems lie!
What can it do?
In theory the device sits somewhere in the home and acts as an I.R. blaster. This can control televisions, set top boxes, consoles and other things like automated blinds. It was sold to me as a device you simply plug in, load up and program the remotes in to a smart phone. It was supposed to be a simple process to update the Alexa skill and bam, set to go. You will feel like a god in the home (or a slob) controlling the TV, the blinds, turning the volume up and down, changing the channels and so on.
Setting the device up
To be honest setting the device up is pretty simple you just plug it in and download the app and the ready to start programming the remotes you have around the home. I started with the television and it prompts you to press certain buttons so that it can learn the frequency used by that particular remote control. After quite a lengthy process which is necessary but really frustrating and long-winded you are set to go. You now have an animated version of the remote control on the smart phone and it works. You can change the channel you can turn it on, volume up or down and so on. You can even create scenes so that if you are ready for a movie night just one command can get it all perfect for you. If this is all you require then the broadlink is actually not so bad after all because it actually does what it says on the tin. However, we don’t want to stop there and we do actually want to take the lazy attitude further and use our voice only. This is where things get slightly complicated and very frustrating.
Getting it to work with voice commands
There are a number of problems with the apps that they are using and have two different versions on the play store one of which doesn’t work. You will also see another separate version on the alexa skills section which makes you think why do I even bother? After a long-winded set up process, linking it to Alexa I was ready to start using my voice. However, once I asked Alexa to search for new devices there was a constant problem and nothing new could be found. Needless to say I was ready to just throw the device out of the window at this point. I decided that for now I was going to call it a night an attempt it again in the morning with a fresh out look.
The next day I woke up feeling positive and sure I could crack this with a little effort. I decided to start fresh and factory reset it so I had a clean slate. I did all the steps again (including programming all the controls I had) and again hit the same problem. I tried working around some apps and tried all the apps out to no avail. I watched countless YouTube videos many of which contradict themselves because of the vast amounts of updates this thing has had. I then decided to see if it would work better with the Google home devices and had the same problems there, it just seems I am not going to get this to work.
I will revisit this again and see if I can get it to work so expect a Broadlink part two at some point. For now however it is machine 1 human 0.
A problematic device?
This device is full of problems from the several buggy apps that are available. To the annoyingly frustrating smart assistant integration I just got seriously angry with it. As a standalone remote control it works but for actual smart home voice control in my opinion it does not. Perhaps you will have better luck than what I did but I did search every video I could find on the subject, read many forums and some people have managed it but the majority cant get it to work. It doesn’t help that by the time you have done all the setting up and got to the voice commands stage quite a lot of time has passed. In this day and age I do kind of expect almost plug and play with little configuration needed. This unfortunately is not the case!
I will not allow myself to be defeated by this and will be revisiting it at some point. If I do figure it out I will obviously post on how I managed to get it to work just to give you folks the knowledge to save from frustration. The shame of it really is I do understand what Broadlink are trying to do with the device and in theory it is a good thing. We all know that a smart home and automation is an expensive hobby so broadlink wanted to make a cheap device that can control cheaper R.F. and I.R. items. Things like infrared light bulbs are much cheaper than the Phillips hue bulbs so I believe they were hoping to make a smart home more available. Which is rather noble and I have to commend them for this but its not all about the hardware and many other companies struggle with the software part. They really need to make the devices work in harmony together and when they do this, if they can do this then perhaps we will have an amazing device after all.
For now folks it is a frustrating mess that will waste several hours of the time for little to no progress. I would advise that you only use this device as a single remote control, because this is all it is good for at the moment.
Have you had a hard time setting up the broadlink? Have you managed to find the strength not to just throw it in the bin? Perhaps you have actually got it to work and if you did I have utmost respect for you. If you have managed to get it to work don’t hesitate to get in the comments or contact me so I can try it out for my self.
Thanks for reading folks I will see you next time.