Living in a smart home may allow you to control everything from a phone, but it can be a frustrating experience if your phone is not at hand. Shortcut Labs Flic 2 Smart Buttons can help by automating a wide variety of smart home devices and routines with little buttons that can be taped to the wall or even used.
Cute as a button, the white Flic 2 devices are small. They are 0.3 inches thick and 1.2 inches wide; they weigh only 5 grams. Looking like a small stack of Necco wafers, Flic 2’s round buttons are half the size of Eve Systems’ square Eve button.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart home systems, where you will find reviews of competing offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide on the features to consider when purchasing this type of product.
Each Flic 2 button has adhesive on the back so it can be pasted on the wall, under a kitchen counter, or on a refrigerator door. The adhesive can be used a couple of times if you change your mind, but a magnetic option would have been a good idea. There are even optional metal clips to use a Flic 2 button.
The buttons on Flic 2 come in any color you want as long as it is white. They are IPX4 rated, which means the buttons can be safely splashed with water, so they are fine near a sink or shower. The manufacturer does not publish an ingress protection rating for dust intrusion. You can read all about IP codes in this other story.
The buttons have a tri-color LED and are powered by a CR-2032 battery that Shortcut Labs says should last three years of moderate use. It took about a minute to change a cell and press the Flic 2 switch.
How Flic 2 works
The key to the success of Flic 2 is that your Hub LR acts as a command clearinghouse and communicates wirelessly with a house full of buttons. It can handle connections to 63 buttons at once for a home full of smart devices.
Flic 2 covers the smart home basics by working with Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, HomeKit, and Wi-Fi devices. In contrast, Eve only works with HomeKit devices. Flic 2 adds voice control via Alexa and Siri, but lacks Google Assistant support and cannot be paired with Hubitat or Aeotec smart home hubs.
At 3.3 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches (LxWxH), the hub is easy to hide but requires power from a USB adapter; It comes with four outlet plugs for use in different countries. In addition to a headphone jack to connect Flic to speakers, the hub has a port to use an infrared transmitter to integrate a TV, stereo, or other device that uses an infrared remote control.
While the Eve buttons are $ 50 each, the Flic 2 products are a bargain at three for $ 80 or six for $ 120. The $ 160 starter kit I looked at came with four buttons, the LR Hub, and a page of stickers to show what each button does; Two additional sheets of ID stickers are $ 5. There is also a professional kit that includes six Flic 2 buttons for $ 220 and the high-end Flic 2 Mega Kit for $ 400 that has 15 buttons, the hub and an infrared transmitter. .
Flic 2 configuration
Getting the Flic buttons online is a two-step process: configuring the Hub LR and the buttons themselves. Fortunately, the Flic support site has a comprehensive online manual with instructions and tips, as well as lots of videos for setting up specific things.
After obtaining, installing and activating the Flic app on my Samsung Galaxy S20 phone, I created an account. Next, I plugged in the Flic Hub LR using its included AC adapter. Its red LED dims to show that it is ready to be discovered by the application.
With preliminaries out of the way, I hit “add Hub +” in the app and it found my hub in a few seconds. At this point the LED turned yellow, I named it and connected it to my home Wi-Fi network.
Next, I hit “Add Flic to Hub” and held the button for Flic 2 until it appeared on the app screen. After tapping to define the button in the app, I ran its setup routine to use a WeMo output. I set a single press to turn it on and a double press to turn it off. The buttons can also accommodate a long press as a third option.
Using Flic 2 in the real world
In total, it took 14 minutes to set up a single device to be controlled by Flic. Using the WeMo preset routine was one of the easiest things you can do with a Flic 2 button. Unfortunately, this process is limited to various smart home items, such as SmartThings, Home Connect Plus, IKEA Tradfri, and Philips Hue devices. There is also an IFTT interface that is flexible enough for almost any contingency.
For the rest, I needed to use Alexa to paradoxically set up a voice command skill and then have the Flic 2 software activate it. It is cumbersome and time consuming, but it works. Checking my C by GE Sol lamp took another 15 minutes. I needed to create an Alexa skill and set up a routine to turn the light on and off, which required some changes between the Alexa and Flic apps that probably could have been avoided with smart programming.
There is hope for the future because Shortcut Labs is heavily involved in establishing Matter and is providing the necessary software to jump-start this effort. Should it happen, any button on Flic 2 should be able to be programmed to directly control any compatible smart home device much more easily. Personally, I can’t wait.
The Flic 2 buttons had excellent range with the ability to stay in line up to 95 feet within two walls of the hub. When in operation, the Hub LR only drew 1.2 watts of power and never got hotter. It should cost an estimated $ 1.35 a year if you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity.
Sometimes I was frustrated by the button-press aspect of Flic 2, but Shortcut Labs is working on an alternative. Called Twist, not only will you have a dial to adjust a variety of items, but you will be able to apply a second action by pressing the center button while turning the dial. Slightly larger than today’s Flic 2, Tomorrow’s Twist will work with today’s hub to do things like adjust the volume of an audio stream and dim lights from one location. Also look for a smaller and cheaper center.
Here and now, Flic 2 can be a valuable addition to a smart home by allowing you to turn anything on or off with the touch of a button. Try to be careful, because the biggest danger of using the Flic 2 system is that it can be addictive to control a variety of smart home devices. Once you start with the individual lights, turn on Spotify, and turn on the water sprinkler, you run the risk of getting hooked.