Matter has arrived on the scene. Many different devices now have some amount of Matter support coming. A few Matter devices have already arrived. I have been fortunate enough to play around with a Matter controller, a couple of Matter devices, and a Matter bridge. Is Matter ready for prime time? Let’s see what my experience says about that question.
Editor’s Note: If you aren’t sure what Matter (or Thread) is, be sure to check out my article explaining Matter, Thread, and the promise they hold for the smart home.
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I started investigating Matter devices and playing with Matter in February 2023. Fortunately, I have a few Google/Nest Home devices, a Google Nest Hub Max, and a Google Nest Hub. All of these devices can act as Matter controllers. So, all I was missing was some Matter devices.
Table of Contents
Adding Matter to Home Assistant
The first experience I had with Matter was trying to enable a Home Assistant-based Matter controller. At the time of writing this article, that integration is in beta. However, since I run Home Assistant Core in a Python virtual environment, the situation is even worse.
The Home Assistant instructions point to this GitHub repository for getting it going. I gave it a try and after figuring out how to get all the Python dependencies installed, I was able to get the Matter server to install.
However, I never was able to get the Python Matter server to run without failing, and I still haven’t. I’m hoping instructions to get this working for my Home Assistant installation type won’t get ignored and become clearer.
Verdict: Fail. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use Home Assistant as a Matter controller soon. Otherwise, I may consider doing the work to switch my installation type.
Finding Matter Devices
Luckily, I already have a few Google-powered Matter controllers in my home. I don’t have to wait until I can get it to work with Home Assistant. But, I do need some Matter devices.
I made a list of Matter-enabled devices. Since I just wanted to try out Matter I didn’t want to pay a ton. Also, many of the devices are going to be Matter-enabled in the future, aren’t available yet, or are out of stock. I ended up with four Matter-enabled devices:
- TP-Link Tapo P125M (smart switch)
- Eve Motion (Thread-enabled motion detector)
- SwitchBot Hub 2 (Matter bridge, temp sensor, cloud bridge)
- SwitchBot Blind Tilt (blind automation)
Verdict: Pass. There aren’t many easily attainable Matter devices, but I can already get my hands on some.
TP-Link Tapo P125M Smart Plug
- 【Matter: All-Round Compatibility】With Matter, users are no longer tied to specific platforms and works with all certified smart home platforms, such as Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Samsung SmartThings.
- 【Matter: Smooth LAN Control】All Matter-certified devices in your local area network (LAN) will work smoothly even when your home internet goes offline. Matter allows effective communication directly between devices, without the need for a specific ‘forwarding’ device. For example, a Matter smart switch or sensor can turn on/off a Matter bulb directly without being connected to a cloud service, or other specific action. Once configured, communication and control between Matter devices can be achieved directly on the local network.
So this one started out great. I got my smart plug and booted up and was immediately presented with the Google Home Matter setup screen.
Then, I proceeded to go through the Matter setup and everything appeared to be working, but at the end, I was presented with this screen:
Oddly, the device was on my Wi-Fi network, so I know I was able to reach the device to give it Wi-Fi credentials. I was also able to ping the device. Also, I had no problem adding the device to the Tapo app and controlling it from there. I even successfully controlled the smart plug via Google Assistant using Tapo’s Google skill.
I contacted technical support and tried at least a couple of dozen tries of resetting the device and adding it. They even gave me some beta firmware to try, but the first beta firmware didn’t work. I always ended up with one of the two following screens:
Finally, after some more troubleshooting, they gave me an updated beta firmware that fixed whatever the problem was and the Tapo finally worked! I was told that they improved discovery communication with the Matter controller. They fixed it after I told them I have multiple Matter controllers on my network. Not sure if they fixed something related to that, but that’s my suspicion.
Verdict: Failure turned into a success! I was beginning to think something was wrong with my network but it seems TP-Link needed to make some changes to the firmware. I’d like to think my continued troubleshooting will help others.
- Eve Motion requires iPhone or iPad with the latest version of iOS/iPadOS
- Control lights, devices and entire scenes with movement, or even depending on brightness or time of day.
I was really excited by this device. Eve Motion supports Thread, and I happen to have a Google Nest Hub Max, which is a Thread border router.
Eve traditionally has primarily supported the Apple Ecosystem, but I thought its move to Matter meant supporting other ecosystems. I mean, isn’t Matter supposed to make ecosystem incompatibilities a thing of the past?
Well, the problem is that you need to use the Eve app to upgrade the device to support Matter. And, as of the writing of this article, Eve only has an iOS app. I don’t have any iOS devices.
I believe Eve will come out with an Android app soon. But until then…
Verdict: Fail. Although I believe I can add Eve via the Home Assistant HomeKit Controller integration, this is still a failure because I want to use this with Matter and Thread.
SwitchBot Hub 2 & Blind Tilt
The SwitchBot Blind Tilt is a Bluetooth device that has been working well for me. I have three in my home. And, Home Assistant directly integrates with it.
However, with the arrival of the SwitchBot Hub 2, the Blind Tilt gains Matter capabilities. It serves as a Matter bridge. It allows SwitchBot devices that connect to it to gain Matter capabilities.
You can learn more about how this went for me in my SwitchBot Hub 2 review. Long story short, I was able to add both the SwitchBot Hub 2 and the SwitchBot Blind Tilt as Matter devices in Google Home without any problems.
Well, for me Matter started off as a frustration and ended up a mixed bag. It has promise, but it is early and there are definitely kinks to be worked out.
I look forward to having a few more of my devices gain Matter capabilities. I also look forward to my primary hub, Home Assistant, having a stable Matter implementation I can use as well. This is only the beginning.
What experiences have you had with Matter so far? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.