Soma smart shades review – Turn your normal blinds smart

If you already have blinds or shades in your home and you want to make them smart, then the Soma smart shades could be an option. If you don’t want to take the risk to see if they are for you, then carry on reading this Soma smart blinds review.

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For this review of the Soma smart blinds, I will test two pieces of hardware. The first being the Soma smart shades that attach to your existing blinds. These are battery operated and can either be recharged via a wall sock or the supplied solar panel.  The second is the Soma connect that you require if you want to use smart home platforms such as Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.

Soma smart shade review in pictures

For transparency, Active JR received the Soma smart shades and Soma connect as a Media loan. But to be clear, Soma has no control over the content, nor will the influence this review outcome. You can read more about the Active JR review promise and ethics statement on how this site operates.

Soma smart shade

The smart shade unit has a few different parts to it. You’ve got the Soma Smart blind module. Which has a small gear to move the blind bead up and down and on the rear a sticky pad to attach to the wall. Then you get an USB power cable if you have a power socket close by. But if you don’t, then it also comes with a solar panel.

I think the solar panel is a great idea. Instead of worrying about a power adapter, you can stick the solar panel in your window, and it will charge the interna battery inside the motor.

SOMA Smart Shades supports a variety of endless loop beaded chains along with a variety of blind types. The motor supports a maximum weight of up to 5 kg with a recommended shade size of 2m wide and 2m high.

Soma Connect

Soma connect is a small white little device with ports like USB, ethernet and HDMI dotted around it. In fact, the connect device is a Raspberry Pi module built into a plastic box. While this is a good idea to to have control over the software with little investment for Soma, on the other hands the amount of ports could confuse customers.Soma Connect

Installing & setup

When you setup the hardware, you do this in two parts. The first being the Soma Connect shade unit and the second the Soma connect. However, I want to point out you do not need the Soma connect to use the blinds, they will work perfectly well with it. You just won’t be able to connect it to HomeKit, Google Home or Alexa.

Setting up Soma Smart blinds

The Soma unit itself is simple to set up. First you connect it to a power source and plug in the charger into the power port.. Then you need to pair with the Soma app, which they oddly call Smart Shades in the Apple App Store.Soma Connect blinds app setup

I fitted the Soma Smart Blind unit in the guest bedroom window which involved feeding the beads into the gear. Once I had the beads and gear setup, I then stuck it to the wall with the sticky pads, but you can use screws. I then followed the rest of the setup process that involved calibrating it for the open-and-closed state of your blinds or shades. Assign a room and you’re done. You can now control your blinds with your phone, but you will need to follow the pairing process with each additional phone or tablet you want to connect.

Setting up Soma Connect

Like the smart blind motor, setting up the Soma Connect is straightforward. You plug in the power, open the app and select Soma Connect option. Then follow the instructions, which involves adding your Wi-Fi details. You are then ready to connect your Smart Home platform of choice; I am using HomeKit.

Adding it to HomeKit is an odd experience. As the SOMA Smart Shades don’t have official HomeKit certification by Apple. So when you add the connect to the Apple Home app, it warns you; you are adding an unsupported accessory. But other than that everything works as expect with HomeKit. In fact, it’s been stable through my testing for this review, more so than official HomeKit devices I have tested.

Using Soma smart shades

Starting with the app, it’s very bare bones for a smart home product. On the main page, you get a window diagram with a gradient background that changes with the time of day. Sliding shade graphic will set your desired position and the Soma smart blind unit will respond.

Th side menu on the left lets you change rooms and add the Soma Connect. On the right, there’s another menu for accessing the status of different devices in this room and setting up triggers.

Speaking of triggers or automation options for the soma smart blinds. The triggers are only time-based, so you can choose any day and time, set the desired position, and that’s it.

While in the main you will use the app or smart home platforms to operate the blinds. There is no way operate the blinds manually as the device requires the cable to be tight. This means once Soma has been to the blinds. It’s the smart way or no way and this is not ideal if you have visitors that don’t have access to the app. Another limitation, unlike other smart blind options, you don’t get a remote included. I have found this useful with another brand I have in my living room to operate when I walk in or out of the room.Soma Smart shades review

So how do they perform when opening and closing? Very, slowly. If you raise/lower the blinds via a voice assistant or using the app, you will wait an age for them to finish. In fact, it took 1 minute and 17 seconds to close and 1 minute and 21 seconds to open for a 123 cm drop. Compared to the Ikea smart blinds I am reviewing at the moment took 17 seconds for the same drop length.

However, despite the almost snail pace speed, no issues with App commands being ignored or any problems with Siri closing the blinds.

Using HomeKit with Soma

As already mentioned, the Soma blinds do not officially support HomeKit. But regardless, HomeKit support has been faultless, and I have experienced no issues like “No response” within the Home App.

You can lower and raise the blind by sliding the control inside the Apple Home app, or use Siri voice commands. Using HomeKit, you can even make specific requests like “Siri, set the blind to 25% open”.Soma Smart shades HomeKit

You can also integrate the blinds into scenes and automation. For instance, I have the blinds set to the morning scene and when activated it will raise the blinds automatically. You can use the sunrise and sunset automation to control the blinds.

Soma smart blinds review conclusion

First, the system is relatively expensive for what it is, comparing it to some other options like Ikea which offers the full blind solution. The operation of the blinds is slow and, depending on how far away you usually sit/sleep, these are loud.

MUST READ  Ikea smart blinds review: In-depth look at FYRTUR blinds & KADRILJ shades

On top of all of that you can’t manually operate the blind’s shades once it’s installed. I am also surprised that Soma didn’t include a remote to operate the blinds with the app when you do not have your phone close by.

Despite the limitations, the Smart Shades work perfectly as advertised, and the installation is hassle-free. Controlling the blinds has worked faultless, whether with HomeKit or with the app. I found them reliable and quick to respond and I didn’t encounter any connection issues.

You can pickup a single set of Soma Smart Shades for $129/£129 and the connect is $99/£99 from Soma Smart Home’s website.

So thanks for reading and I hope this Soma smart blinds review has helped you. Don’t forget to subscribe for more smart home reviews. If you have a question or a comment, then leave it below. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube and Instagram.

***** Summary
Despite the limitations, the Smart Shades work perfectly as advertised, and the installation is hassle-free. Controlling the blinds has worked faultless, whether with HomeKit or with the app. I found them reliable and quick to respond and I didn't encounter any connection issues.
Pro's
Works with HomeKit, Google Home and Alexa
Easy to setup
Con's
Slow to operate
Expensive
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    • SOMA Smart Shades supports a variety of endless loop beaded chains along with a variety of blind types. The motor supports a maximum weight of up to 5 kg with a recommended shade size of 2m wide and 2m high.

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Jon Ratcliffe
I have a huge passion for technology having worked in the sector for over 18 years in a variety of roles. I cover Wearables, tech and smart home. My reviews and information will talk about how the product works in reality and not just what the marketing departments want you to think.

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