Yesterday Sonoff shared a post and link to a website about their upcoming iHost: a local server for your eWeLink compatible devices. Apart from a very simple description, a few specs and some renders Sonoff didn’t spoil much details about the device. Now a few more details came out in the form of multiple teaser videos. What can we expect from the iHost?
The teaser video’s
Sonoff shared their iHost teaser videos on several social media. Let us all watch the videos and after that analyze the videos.
First teaser video at March 6th:
Second teaser video at March 7th:
Teaser reel at March 7th:
Contents off the box
At the beginning of the first teaser video and at the beginning of the teaser reel we see a quick unboxing of the packaging box of the Sonoff iHost. What strikes us in the first teaser video is that there seems to be a cut between images of the retail box (with print) and images of the blank prototype box,
Then all contents are displayed on a flat surface. What we see from left to right and from top to bottom:
- The Sonoff iHost
- Small manual
- Reset pin
- USB C power cable
- Ethernet cable
We will mention the last 3 items later on at this article.
Multi-color front light bar
The next thing we see is an array of colored lines. It has about the shape of the bar at the front of the iHost that is visible later on in the video. This seem to indicate the bar at the front is capable os showing multiple colors. At first sight it seems the bar can show all colors you can imagine and thus seems to be configurable or respond to several actions like music, status of several devices, etc. We believe it gives a fancy look at a device that is potential boring to look at because it should do its job in the background.
In the second teaser video we see the confirmation that the light bar can show all possible colors. Sonoff does use indiviually controlled S5050 leds for this. Later on in this article you can see how this leds are placed on the mainboard.
At the top of the Sonoff iHost we see 4 buttons. The image at the first video is rather blurry and so at first sight we could not completely determine which features we can expect for the buttons. Luckily at the teaser reel Sonoff published later on the buttons are clearly visible.
At the image on the right we look at the buttons from the left to the right as in practice this will be from the top to the bottom.
The first buttons seems to be just an ordinairy powerbutton to turn the device on or off. Like you ever want to do that, but hey… Maybe it comes in handy when you ever need to restart the Sonoff iHost.
The second button seems to have a chain icon. We believe it refers to pairing or so. We believe it will be used to easily pair a Zigbee device to the included Zigbee coördinator. Maybe it will be also used to pair other kind of devices (LAN mode, WiFi devices, Matter support devices).
The third button looks like a music note. Together with the multicolor light bar at the front and the embedded microphone (see later on in this article) we believe it reacts to music / sound. It could be that the recent new feature
Rythm Live can be called with the press on this button and operates locally.
The last button looks like a shield or a LAN icon. When it is a shield the iHost could be a standalone Zigbee home alarm. Sonoff already has this feature on their Zigbee bridge pro and NSPanel Pro and so we won’t be surprised the iHost with its embedded Zigbee coördinator chip will include the feature too. If it is a LAN icon this button might be a pairing button to quickly add a LAN mode enabled eWeLink compatible device.
Connections at the back side
At the back side of the Sonoff iHost we see from the top till the bottom:
- A number (possibly a seria l number or Device ID)
- Micro SD card slot
- USB A female
- USB C female
We believe the Sonoff iHost will use QR code pairing and therefore uses the QR code at the back of the device.
We believe the reset button really will reset the Sonoff iHost as we strongly feel the iHost will be an almost complete computer with offline data that might need to get reconfigured at a sudden moment. To be able to press the reset button a small pointy object like the reset pin (that comes with the iHost) is required.
It is a bit unclear what the Micro SD card slot does at the iHost. Rumors say it will be used to save a configuration of all eWeLink compatible device settings.
Then we see an USB A female port. Possibly it will have the same feature as the Micro SD card reader: to transfer settings of the eWeLink compatible devices on your network to the iHost. If this port can be used to build your own NAS with a mass storage disk or harddrive then that would be a big plus for the iHost.
The next thing we say is an USB C port. We believe this will only be used to power the Sonoff iHost.
The last thing we see is an Ethernet port. As stability of your eWeLink local network is important we believe this will be the only way to connect the Sonoff iHost to your home network. Your eWeLink compatible devices remain connected with your router. The iHost probably will intercept the connection in one wway or the other. The Ethernet could also be an extra options aside of a WiFi connection. If the iHost has an embedded router systemonboard to connect all local eWeLink compatible devices too then this would be a big plus to the iHost. In this way eWeLink compatible devices won’t take up a long list of IP adresses in the DHCP server pool anymore.
On March 7th the second teaser video got published which reveals some hardware details. We took screenshots of it and analyze them one by one.
Thirst we see a module with a RAM chip and Flash chip. As we see a double specification for the RAM we suspect the Sonoff iHost comes in 2 variants. A cheaper one and a more expensive one with more computing power. The variants come with either 2GB DDR4 RAM or 4GB DDR4 RAM. Both variants will come with a 8GB eMMC 5.1 Flash chip. This seems to be suitable to install multiple plugins and maintain quite some device and automation data.
Then we get to see the (probably) other side of the module. Again we see a double specifications for the same chip which again seems to indicate the Sonoff iHost will come in 2 variants. The cheaper version will get the Rockchip RV1109 Dual-Core CPU with 1.2 TOPs NPU and the more expensive version will get the Rockchip RV1126 Quad-Core CPU with 1.2 TOPs NPU.
We see Rockchips CPU’s more often at Android based devices. The Sonoff NSPanel Pro also contains a Rockchip CPU. Based on this we believe the Sonoff iHost runs on Android or a light Linux distribution.
The next thing we see is the mainboard. Some components are highlighted. Because this most complete screenshot could only be taken while the image moved the image is a bit blurry. What we see at the top are 8 individually controlled S5050 RGB leds. This forms the multi-color light bar at the front of the Sonoff iHost. As mentioned before in this article we believe it will be used to react to sound / music with the usage of the embedded microphone (see below) and perhaps it also cooperates with the recent
Rhythm Live feature. Maybe these lights also act as a status light fot the iHost.
We already discussed the connections at the back side of the Sonoff iHost. Now we see a bit more details about it. The USB A port is a USB 2.0 port, the power input specification of the device appearantly is 5V / 2A and at last the Ethernet port is a 100 Mbps port. Sonoff doesn’t specify in this image whether the Ethernet port is full dusplex or half duplex. Also nowadays most devices come with 1 Gbps (= 1000 Mbps) ports and so including “only” a 100 Mbps port feels a bit outdated. Although most Internet of Things devices won’t need 1 Gbps speed.
At the back side of the mainboard we find the Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 SoC for Zigbee communication. As said earlier in this article the Sonoff iHost is also a Zigbee coördinator.
We also find a RTL8723 that handles 2.4 GHz WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Whether the iHost will let you allow to pair devices to an accesspoint running on the iHost to save up IP adresses on your own router or not is unclear, but we believe the iHost will certainly be able to connect over WiFi to your router. We believe the Bluetooth will be mainly used for eWeLink’s own modified version of Bluetooth: eWeLink-Remote. This is currently being used in only a few Sonoff devices like the MINIR3+MATE, MINIR4+MATE, M5 Switchman and the NSPanel Pro. We don’t think you will be able to pair daily use Bluetooth devices with it.
At last we see a microphone at the topleft of the still and a speaker at the bottom right. We believe the microphone will be used to let the front light bar react to sound and music. Maybe it is also being used to locally drive the recent
Rhythm Live feature. As the Sonoff iHost also contains a NPU (Nural processing Unit) it might be the case that the iHost also has speech recognition for voice commands. The speaker might be used to let a synthesizer voice speak out the replies to voice commands. The speaker might also be in use for a simple mediaplayer and for simple sounding confirmations for actions performed by the Sonoff iHost.
At the teaser reel we also get to see the bottom of the Sonoff iHost. Nothing to special, but here we can find the product sticker.
Currently the retail price is not published yet. Manufacturer ITEAD will release the Sonoff iHost tomorrow, wednesday March 8th, 2023. We are all curious which exact details we can expect. I’m sure some people got the Sonoff iHost already (e.g. for beta testing or so) and will publish their findings soon.
Details page shared by Sonoff: https://sonoff.tech/sonoff-ihost-coming-soon/