Smart home technology is rapidly changing how we interact with the devices in our homes, from our door locks to our music systems, and of course, our lighting. Unfortunately, this new ecosystem of intelligent gadgets often requires that we haul out our smartphone, or call out to Alexa or Google, just to turn off the lights or change a playlist. If this strikes you as less convenient than the old way of doing things, you’re exactly the person for whom Senic has designed its Nuimo Click wireless switch. It looks like the kind of wall switch you’d find in a luxury European boutique hotel, but it’s completely wireless and self-powered. You can use it to remotely control a Sonos sound system or Philips Hue lights. The increased simplicity doesn’t come cheap however — the Nuimo Click starter kit, which includes two sets of switches, is $229. Can the Click’s promise of a better smart home user experience justify its steep price tag? Here’s what we learned.
Simple design, simple setup
We really admire Senic’s approach to the Nuimo Click. The device is meant to simplify your interactions with technology, and despite that it is a technological solution to this challenge, the Click lives up to this philosophy. The starter kit ships with two Clicks (the wall-plate style with 4-button switches), the Nuimo hub, a power supply, a USB dongle, and a special adhesive sticker for safely mounting your Clicks to virtually any surface. Setting everything up is done via the free Senic app (iOS/Android) and it takes less than three minutes.
The app’s visual design matches that of the Click, with an ultra-minimal, yet very clear step-by-step setup process. Getting the Nuimo hub powered up and connected to your network is effortless. There’s no awkward Bluetooth pairing or switching back and forth between the app and your Wi-Fi settings screen. Adding your Clicks to the system is even easier: Press once on each button in the order given by the app and you’re done. As soon as this step is complete, the app automatically starts to look for compatible devices. After scanning for only a few seconds, it found our one Philips Hue bulb and the nine Sonos speakers on our network.
As is often the case with products that put an emphasis on simplicity, the Click only offers a tiny amount of customization. With both the Sonos and Philips Hue, the circle button and the plus/minus buttons have fixed functions. The circle turns the connected light on or off (or play/pause for Sonos), while the plus/minus act as a light dimmer switch or volume level for Sonos. The enigmatic star (asterisk?) button is the only one that offers you a choice of function, but even this is limited.
We think it’s likely that Senic will grow its ecosystem over time, but for now it’s a two-trick pony.
For Sonos, the star button can be assigned three of the items contained in your My Sonos favorites. Pressing the star button cycles through these three selections. We chose a TuneIn radio station, an ambient music playlist from Google Play, and an album from our personal music collection. Since you can save every kind of music category, such as artists, songs, albums, and stations to My Sonos, there’s an unlimited choice of music — but you’re still limited to three selections.
For Philips Hue, you’re even more limited. The Click supports any three selections from the Hue’s default scenes, but doesn’t work with custom scenes you may have created.
Then there’s the issue of overall limitation. Now and for the foreseeable future, the Nuimo Click can only control these two products. There’s no support for IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple’s HomeKit. We think it’s likely that Senic will grow its ecosystem over time (it would be foolish if it didn’t), but for now, it’s a two-trick pony.
No power? No problem
Connecting devices within a smart home is nothing new. Thanks to the proliferation of hubs and services like IFTTT, there’s almost always a way to get two or more gadgets to talk to each other. The catch has always been that these devices must have their own power source, be it A/C power from a wall plug, USB power, or even a coin-cell battery. The Nuimo Click doesn’t need any of these. Senic refers to this feature as “energy harvesting,” but that label is a bit misleading. With a term like that, you might expect the Click to magically slurp up power from surrounding Wi-Fi signals or other radio frequencies, but the reality is far less exotic. Each time you press on one of the Click’s buttons, you generate enough kinetic energy that the resulting mechanical “click” can produce a very small burst of RF. The Philips Hue Tap switch uses similar technology.
This is hardly a new trick. Some of the very first TV remote controls, marketed by Zenith under the awesome name “Space Command,” used mechanical buttons to generate ultrasonic frequency bursts — no batteries needed — which Zenith TVs were designed to receive and respond to. The Nuimo Click is a modern twist on this idea, swapping a proprietary RF signal (in North America it uses 902 MHz, while European models get 868 MHz) for the old-timey ultrasonic ones. Based on this communication model, we didn’t have high hopes for its range, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised; the Click worked even when we mounted it as far from the hub as we could get. Senic claims a 30m (98 feet) operating range indoors, which gives you plenty of flexibility when choosing a location for your Clicks. Since the hub itself uses Wi-Fi, your options are even greater. As long as the hub can reach your Wi-Fi, and the Click can reach your hub, you’re good to go.
Senic nailed the design and proportions of the Click’s buttons. From a size and shape point of view, they fit right in with typical wall switches, which was clearly the point. We think the neutral, white color (dark grey coming soon), and perfectly square symmetry of the design will look great no matter where you mount them. Unfortunately, Senic neglected to provide any kind of tactile match for the buttons’ icons. All four are perfectly smooth and can only be distinguished by their relative location to each other. We think that a future version should use textures or raised/embossed icons to help those with visual impairments.
The Click feels like a throwback with its large switch travel distance and relatively loud operation.
The tradeoff for a totally energy-independent device is a button press that is decidedly clunky. We’ve become used to controls that require less and less effort, with touch-sensitive buttons now the norm on many devices, including all the new speaker models from Sonos. The Click feels like a throwback with its large switch travel distance and relatively loud operation. To be clear, it’s not obnoxiously loud, and we enjoyed the combination of tactile resistance and sound, but there’s a definite disconnect between the Click’s ultra-modern clean lines and its strongly mechanical action.
There’s no tradeoff in terms of performance. We found that both our Sonos speakers and Philips Hue bulbs responded to our clicks with no perceptible lag whatsoever. Play/pause and volume changes were instantaneous, while My Sonos favorite changes were no slower than if we had initiated them via the Sonos app.
Lights, camera, er… lights?
When we originally set up the Nuimo Click, we had no problem finding and controlling our Philip Hue bulb. Unfortunately, this didn’t last. After some issues with the bulb not responding to clicks, we reset the system and tried to add the Hue back in. This time, our efforts were fruitless; the Nuimo hub just couldn’t find the Philips Hue. Given the Nuimo Click is a new product, we’ll chalk this up to a temporary glitch that will probably be solved on the next update, but we think this illustrates one of the growing pains associated with an immature product.
Is this really better?
There’s no doubt about it: The Nuimo Click does exactly what it promises, and (Hue hiccups aside) it does it well. The real question is, do we need what the Click does? Every Sonos speaker comes with its own set of physical controls for play/pause, volume up/down, and track skip. If you’re in a room with one or more of these speakers, it’s no harder to reach for the built-in controls than it is to reach for the Nuimo Click, assuming it’s in an easy-to-reach location. The exception to this rule is Sonos’s three non-speaker products: The Connect, Connect:Amp, and Amp. They’re all designed to be tucked out of sight and out of reach because they power your speakers instead of being your speakers. Being able to control these with an easily accessible and dedicated physical switch is very handy — we’re just not sure it’s worth paying $30 more than the cost of a Sonos One for the privilege.
Its high price and highly limited device and customization options might make you wonder just how badly you need one.
The same thing can be said for the control over Philips Hue lights. It’s nice being able to control your Hue lights sans-app, but Philips has already given Hue owners this option with the far cheaper $50 Hue Tap switch.
The Senic Nuimo Click comes with a one year factory warranty.Our Take
Elegant and minimal, the Nuimo Click does two things and does them well. For basic physical control over your Sonos or Philips Hue systems, with virtually unlimited placement options thanks to its self-powered tech, it’s a nifty little device. Its high price and limited compatibility and customization options might make you wonder just how badly you need one.
Is there a better alternative?
So far, we haven’t found a single self-powered wireless switch that controls both Sonos and Philips Hue. But given that this is such a narrow scope, does it matter? Philips sells the Hue Tap switch, which offers the same level of control over the Philips Hue, using the same tech as the Nuimo Click, and for a fraction of the price. Granted, it lacks the Click’s clean, modern lines and looks like Amazon’s first attempt at an Echo Dot, but still — it’s a way better price. If Philips ever got together with Sonos to make the Hue Tap work with Sonos, it would make a very strong argument against a Nuimo Click.
How long will it last?
Tricky question. As long as Philips and Sonos don’t pull the rug out from under Senic’s ability to control these devices, it should be able to perform well for years. However, much will depend on the robustness of the Click’s mechanical switches themselves. Though the company proudly declares that the Click is “designed and manufactured in Germany using the highest quality materials,” we don’t really know what this means in terms of longevity.
Our only frame of reference is the Philips Hue Tap, which promises a 50,000-click lifespan. If Senic can make the same promise, we think that ought to be enough for most folks. Assuming you press each button 20 times a day, you’d get 6.8 years of life.
Should you buy it?
No. We know that’s harsh. After all, the Click totally lives up to its promises. The problem is, those promises can’t justify the Click’s price tag. It doesn’t do enough, and most people simply won’t feel a pressing need for what it does do.
Let’s amend that: Don’t buy it yet. Over time, we expect the price to drop, and its ability to control more than just two products will expand. Even the addition of IFTTT support would be enough to for us to revisit this recommendation. For now, the Nuimo Click is an expensive toy, aimed at a very small chunk of the market.