FYI: US mega-retailer Best Buy will switch off the "smart" portion of its Insignia-branded smart home gadgets this coming Wednesday, rendering them just plain old dumb gear.
Folks who've bought these soon-to-be-internet-less Internet-of-Things gizmos can apply for some money back in the form of a gift card, though a full refund is off the cards, literally.
“As the Insignia Connect platform will be discontinued on November 6, 2019, this process will determine your eligibility for compensation for your eligible Insignia Connect products,” Best Buy stated on its webpage about the shutdown. An FAQ with more details is here.
"The compensation will not be a full refund of your product, and will be determined by product type."
The affected Insigna Connect line includes smart power plugs, in-wall light switches, security cameras, and a God-damn freezer. Yes, a freezer. Being Wi-Fi-connected, these devices can be remote-controlled via an iOS or Android smartphone app, allowing you to turn lights off and on, monitor power usage, schedule stuff to turn on, view camera footage, and so on, wherever you are. They can also be directed via Amazon's voice-powered assistant Alexa or Google Assistant.
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However, when the Insigna line's backend systems are shut down for good, and the phone apps withdrawn, on Wednesday, this gear will degrade to normal non-smart stuff. Crucially, though, the camera will be completely useless – and the footage inaccessible from the apps by the time you read this – and while the NS-SP1XM8 smart plug with metering will work with Apple's Home app, via HomeKit, the other plugs will just be normal plugs.
The shutdown means switching things at home off and on, and tweaking other settings, from the comfort of your couch or bed or office chair will be over. Now you'll have to get up and use that mark-one control system: your finger directly on the equipment.
Insignia said it will partially compensate customers. “In order to proceed through this process, you will be required to enter the email that you are currently using in the Insignia Connect APP,” it instructed. “Further, the Insignia Connect products you own must be associated (activated) with your Insignia Connect APP, and you must be able to enter the serial number of your active product.”
Unsurprisingly, punters are devastated. Some have left poor reviews online. One person known as Willis generously gave Insignia’s Wi-Fi camera two stars out of five.
“Best Buy and Insignia has given up on their support for the camera and the app. I would look at another brand that is more invested in their product,” the review read.
Others took to Twitter to vent their frustrations. One netizen alerted the popular and aptly named Twitter account Internet of Shit to complain about having to fill out tedious online forms only to receive a “partial refund”:
The Register has asked Best Buy for comment. ®