Orvibo’s Smart Home Device Is Cool, but Do You Really Need It?

Tiny and mighty, but needs some work

When I think of smart home devices, my mind automatically ventures to robots cleaning my kitchen and laundry becoming an automated task, but maybe I’m thinking too far into the future.

The Orvibo smart home Magic Cube resting on the edge of a table
Lifewire / Michelai Graham

Those are some of the thoughts I had while exploring Orvibo’s Magic Cube, a device that connects to and controls tech and other smart items around your home that usually use a remote. This includes TVs, DVD players, fans, air conditioning systems, and beyond.

Though the device was fairly easy to get acquainted with, there wasn’t much I could do with it since I really only use remotes for my TV. Since the magic cube connects to a mobile app, I wanted to give it a try anyway.

Now, full disclaimer: I’m no smart home enthusiast; Orvibo’s device is actually the first of its kind that I’ve tried out. I chose to play around with this device because it is a fairly cheap grab on Amazon, and the company has a pretty extensive suite of smart home systems and solutions I’m interested in learning more about. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve also had an Amazon Echo on my wish list for quite some time, so I was hoping Orvibo’s Magic Cube could give me a true taste of the smart home life.

Orvibo Can Be Very Handy

To my surprise, setting up Orvibo’s Magic Cube was quick and pretty easy for me. The device came in a small box with a 20-page manual guide that answered almost all of my questions. It only took me a good 15 minutes to get it up and running and connected to the first remote. Once I got the cube plugged in, I downloaded the iOS app to go with it, created a quick profile, and I was ready to go.

"For comparison, it’s a tiny bit smaller than a standard Rubik’s Cube."

The app is very intuitive, with a short step-by-step guide on how to quickly navigate things. I had to connect my magic cube to the app, then I was able to connect my remote to the magic cube. Within the app, I’m able to control everything I decide to connect, and there’s even room for Siri to guide some things since my phone is connected to the cube.

I decided to connect my Roku TV remote in my office first. I had two options to connect it, which were either pointing the remote at the device, or simply searching for Roku under the remotes listed in the app. I went ahead and just searched for the remote, and within seconds I was powering my TV from within the app.

Now this seems cool, but to me, I was still just using a remote, just digitally. What I like most about using the cube, though, is that technically, I could throw my remotes out and power everything from the app. I tested this by taking the batteries out of my remote and I was still able to control my TV from Orvibo’s app.

The Orvibo app's Add device screen, default room screen, and it's remote control screen

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have many things in my home that are technologically enabled, but using the magic cube, you can control other technology-powered things like fans, lights, heaters, projectors, and audio devices.

Orvibo Can Be Improved

The Magic Cube isn’t battery-powered, so it needs to be plugged into a power source via its USB port and remain stationary somewhere. This also means that your phone has to be consistently in range of the device in order to use it, and it can only be functional in one room at a time.

For instance, I have my Magic Cube set up in my office, and I tried to power my TV from my bedroom, which is about 30 feet away, but it wouldn’t work. I was hoping, since all of my TVs could be powered with one single Roku remote, that the app would function the same, even without the cube in range, but that wasn’t the case.

I was also shocked by the overall size and appearance of the device since I expected it to be much bigger. For comparison, it’s a tiny bit smaller than a standard Rubik’s Cube.

Orvibo's Magic Cube resting on a table next to a Rubik's Cube for size comparison
Lifewire / Michelai Graham

And I know this isn’t always the case, but the smart home devices I’m used to seeing are usually equipped with their own speakers and buttons. Orvibo’s Magic Cube has none of that; there are no buttons at all and if I want to speak to it, I have to do so through my iPhone.

I was most excited to get some Siri commands connected, but the biggest bummer to me with this device is that I wasn’t able to do that. I followed the instructions correctly, added a short Siri command to try to turn my TV on and off, and it just wouldn’t work. The manual says you could use Siri to change the channels, which would be good for me since I use Xfinity Stream, but getting that set up hasn’t been so easy and clear. I’ll definitely be playing around with it more, but for now, I’m simply just using a digital remote.

"Though the device was fairly easy to get acquainted with, there wasn’t much I could do with it since I really only use remotes for my TV."

Another thing: if your devices aren't already listed under the devices within the app, you’ll have to manually add them (and they'll have to be infrared-friendly). Sometimes that little infrared light is hidden within the device or behind dark plastic, so it can be difficult to get them connected.

Outside of Orvibo being cool and giving me my first taste of smart home products, I don’t think it really added value to my place for the devices I have right now. I’m interested in getting it connected to mood lights if I ever decide to invest in some in the future. Now that would be a game changer. Until then, though, into the junk drawer it goes.

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