Arc Home Management System Aims To Make Smart Homes SimplerBy - 10/25/2018
You might have to throw away your router, smart home hub, and entertainment center pretty soon because a new device is getting ready to take over. Meet the Arc Home Management System by Matricom, the all-in-one smart home device that aims to make your smart home simpler.
What’s the Arc Home Management System?
The Arc Home Management System is orchestrated by a single device, Arc. It’s a computer built into a 9.5-inch tall casing. Under the hood, Arc packs (in computer geek language) a quad-core Amlogic-2950x processor clocked at 2 GHz, a penta-core ARM Mali-450 3D GPU capable of up to 4K video output at 60fps, a 2GB DDR3 RAM, and 16GBs of internal storage (eMMC) expandable with up to a 2TB external storage device. In plain English, Arc packs a lot of power. If it were a gaming computer, it would be able to run most high-graphic video games.
But it’s not a gaming rig nor is it a personal computer. Arc uses its powerful hardware to achieve its goal of making smart home management simpler. But how?
Arc: The Center Of Everything
For starters, Arc does the job of three central components most smart homes can’t afford to lose. It can act as an entertainment center, a router, and a smart home hub.
Arc As An Entertainment Center
To use Arc (not just as an entertainment center but in general), you’re required to hook it up to a display that accepts HDMI input, ideally a television. It works with any TV that supports HDMI, even 4K TVs. As I mentioned earlier, Arc is capable of up to 4K video output at 60 frames per second.
The primary reason why you need to hook up Arc to a TV is so you can access Arc’s user interface. From the interface, you can control settings, see your home’s activities, and customize your entire system. You can also interact with Arc using the included remote control.
The second reason it needs to be attached to a TV is so Arc can do its job as an entertainment system. Arc is an Android-based TV box that can stream movies and TV shows from popular services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Fox+. Of course, you need a subscription to access such streaming services, and you also need to download their apps to Arc. If you don’t have a subscription to a streaming service, you can access free-to-air live TV channels from around the globe without a subscription, courtesy of Matricom. Finally, as Arc is Android-based, you can download compatible Android games and play them on your TV.
Arc As A Router
Although it looks nothing like a router, Arc is one. You can use it as either your primary router or as a Wi-Fi extender.
Unfortunately, it’s not an impressive router. It only has two LAN ports, and both of them are 10/100, not Gigabit ports. As for Wi-Fi, Arc supports 802.11 b/g/n/ac. According to Matricom, the top internet speed it can provide (when connected to Wi-Fi) is 1200 Mbps.
Matricom also added network management features to Arc. Using your TV as the interface, you can prioritize devices and services. For example, you can choose to prioritize gaming or streaming devices.
Arc As A Smart Home Hub
And finally, Arc is a smart home hub. Can it replace your existing hubs? Well, it connects to both Z-Wave and cloud devices, such as smart lights, smart plugs, and some security sensors. As of now, Matricom doesn’t have a full list of compatible devices. However, their website shows Aeotec (Smart Switch 6 & Multisensor 6), Dome (Motion Detector), and GE (Z-Wave Dimmer Switch & Smart Sensor) as recommended accessories. On their website, they also mention being able to watch your home through the Arc companion app, but it looks like they currently lack home security camera partners.
When it comes to features, they are fairly basic smart home features. You can control your home using the included remote or through the X-Home smartphone app, you can create and trigger scenes based on schedules, and you can even create geofencing scenes. However, it lacks true automation that allows your devices to really integrate with each other. For example, although the system supports both smart lights and motion sensors, Matricom explicitly states on their FAQ page that connected motion sensors can’t trigger your smart lights to turn on.
If you think Arc already has a lot of features, wait until you we talk about its “extra” features.
First, Arc has internet security features built-in. Matricom hasn’t specified how Arc protects its users from cyber threats, but they did mention that it can protect you from malware, adware, and viruses. However, there’s a catch: The anti-virus feature of Arc’s Smart Firewall is only free to use for six months. After that, you’ll need a subscription.
Second, Arc can function as a sub-meter to your entire home and help you monitor and control your energy consumption. It taps into the grid and measures the overall energy use throughout your home. Using your TV, you can watch in real-time how much energy your devices are using. You can even set Arc to compute how much your monthly energy consumption costs using the local kWh pricing in your area.
Do I Recommend Arc?
If you’ve been following me, you know that I only recently started to feel comfortable with multi-purpose devices. Not too long ago, I gave my seal of approval to SmartThings Wifi, a hub and router in one device. However, with Arc, I’m kind of on the fence. I like that it can replace three central smart home components (entertainment system, hub, router) and that it offers a couple of additional features, but I’m not sure its smart home feature set is robust enough at this time. It’s a good entertainment system, an okay router, a mediocre hub, and a smart idea. In my opinion, it’s better to have a separate TV box, router, and hub just in case one of the elements goes bad or needs to be upgraded for performance.
What about you? Let us know what you think about Arc in the comment section below. And if you want to learn more about or purchase Arc, you can visit their Amazon listing page. At the time of publishing, Arc was selling for $349.99.
Photo Credit: Matricom