CES 2018 Home Automation

Onelink Puts Alexa around Your Home—at a High Price

Last year at CES, we saw a number of third party products with voice assistants on board, but one of our favorites was an announcement from First Alert about a Onelink smoke alarm that would be coming out with Amazon’s Alexa built in. We even mentioned it as a highlight in last year’s CES recap episode of Home: On.

The idea is pretty brilliant, actually. When you outfit a home with smoke alarms, you typically put them in every bedroom and on every level of your home. So you can imagine that if those alarms all had Alexa built in, you’d basically be blanketing your home with Alexa’s voice services—mounted to the ceiling of nearly every room.

Unfortunately, First Alert’s announcement didn’t materialize in a commercial product last year, but this year they’re showing the new product and discussed the immediate availability of pre-orders (though at the time of this writing, we did not find the product available to order at Amazon.com as advised).

Onelink Safe & Sound - Product OnlyThe new product, now dubbed the “Onelink Safe & Sound,” has evolved a bit since the initially-promoted concept. It’s now a hybrid product—part smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, part “high-end/premium/immersive” speaker (their words), and part digital voice assistant. Hence the almost painfully clever name.

The speaker integration has us scratching our heads a bit. We haven’t had an opportunity to hear it for ourselves, but it’s hard to imagine that audio speakers sharing component space with the typical sensors and electronics in a smoke alarm are going to yield sound much better than the disappointing quality of native echo devices. Another concern is the added cost that adds to the product. The new Onelink Safe & Sound will come in at around $250 when it’s available later this year (they’re saying March). Compare that to $120 for a smart smoke alarm + $100 for an actual Echo, and that’s a hard price point to defend.

As for the original concept of distributing a voice assistant and services throughout the home, we still think this is a winning idea—we just wish they’d followed more closely in Ecobee’s footsteps, foregoing the premium audio, and shot for a product they could price more competitively.

The Onelink Safe & Sound will also be offered in a Google Assistant variant later in the year.

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About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.