The Brand New Sonoff NSPanel Pro

Sonoff NSPanel Pro

Firstly, what’s an NSPanel Pro? It’s like an NSPanel but newer – and – erm – different. I’m kind of hoping that in my rubbish photo on the left further down, you can see that this is a full screen display and that there are two holes near the top.

One hole is for sound input, the other a light sensor. Note, no buttons.

So backtracking, back in October 2021 I wrote about the Sonoff NSPanel from Itead. At first glance the new panel looks the same, but at second glance… no. A lot has changed. Rather than repeat myself, here’s the link to my original NSPanel article

A LOT has happened since 2021 including a world-changing chip shortage which as you can imagine will have changed lots of plans – I note the new Sonoff Zigbee Dongle branded ZBDongle-E has had a chip change but otherwise looks like the ZBDongle Plus I covered back in October 2021. More on that when I figure out how to activate it without messing up my existing Zigbee installation. Note that you can only use it if you have no more than 32 children (sick joke – see the Itead advert and take note) – until July 30 they had a sale on – I briefly spotted something like $20 US dollars – postage will depend where you are – but the unit is quite small and light – and I’m digressing so I’ll stop.

Sonoff NSPanel Pro

Back to the NSPanel Pro: I started writing about this on July 27, 2022 but as requested by Itead, I held the review back as the unit was preliminary – as far as I can tell it still is, to some extent, on August 9, 2022, despite updates.

Firstly, it LOOKS LOVELY – even the BOX looks good enough to eat. If you saw my blog entry on the original panel, that had (has) two large buttons on the front and both mains power in and relay out connections on the back. Much of that has changed.

So, I plugged power into the device – for now I’m limited in what to do with it as there isn’t a relay output but then the holes are there in the molding – I’m still wondering what they plan to do next. The display let me choose between available WiFi access points and gave me a bunch of locations to select from, much as you might find on a phone – but the strangest set of locations I’ve ever seen. By sliding my finger up and down the touch-panel, I could (somewhat slowly) pick a city near enough in my time zone – I picked MADRID. Next, after initially managing without my phone, now I was asked to open the eWeLink APP on my Android phone – add device – scan QR code. Meanwhile a QR code had appeared on the NSPanel Pro screen.

Sonoff NSPanel Pro

By the time I got the APP up, the screen had blanked. I touched the screen and a new QR code popped up – then the APP itself timed out and wanted me to re-enter my eWeLink password – so I had to go off to my notes to find that.

I hit “+” on the APP and pointed the phone camera at the NSPanel Pro screen. “Device added successfully” appeared on the APP screen. The NSPanel screen was not so helpful. “undefined get account err…”.

Now, no matter what I did, the NSPanel Pro kept up the message “Please open eWeLink App>Add Device>Scan QR code but instead of a QR code, it sat there with a BUSY look about it… I turned the panel off then on. After a moment or so, the main screen came up on NSPanel complete with the wrong time and probably the right temperature and again wanted me to log in. This time the QR code appeared. Since then, we’ve had firmware upgrades.

“Device added successfully”. “Done”. Now I had the new NS Panel showing in my list of devices (subdevices 0). The device had my eWeLink account on display so I touched BACK to go to the main display. The time was still wrong and is again after upgrading to the latest software (according to the panel – APP v1.2.2 OS v1.2.3 – according to eWeLink APP v1.1.2 ROM v1.1.2 Zigbee v1.0.0) – this all made very little sense – but now for the last few days I’ve been showing APP v1.2.2, ROM V1.2.3 and Zigbee V1.0.0 – go figure – normally you see current Zigbee referred to as V3…

See the display on the left – if you looked at DISPLAY or ABOUT etc., is it me or would you expect pushing the arrow on the RIGHT to let you dig deeper? Well, even at release date – you can’t – touching anywhere BUT the arrow will do that for you – touching the arrows does nothing. this needs work..

I used my finger to slide the display DOWN and reached SETTINGS and was given a choice of Add Device, Notice or Device Settings. While I was on a roll, I selected “Weather”. Units were already in degrees C, it wanted me to select the city. I selected from the menu – my home town of GALERA – it did not appear in the list. (That’s odd – all the weather systems incluing KODI and Chrome weather lookup I’ve seen up to now include Galera, Andalusia).

I selected the nearest town, several kilometers away and with slightly different weather to us – Huescar, Andalucia. That worked – I went back to the main screen. “21.7c” it said. On my phone, Google default weather search returned 24c. Accuweather returned 21c just like the NSPanel. By v1.2.3 I STILL could not select GALERA, ANDALUSIA and let me assure you the weather in nearby Huescar is NOT the same as ours here in Galera. Invariably it is raining in Huescar while sunny in Galera.

The time was not 22.18 as indicated on the NSPanel – the actual time was 23:18. I’d set the time zone correctly – the zone was and is UTC/GMT+1. So why was the time incorrect by an hour? That time has not improved with the latest updates. Maybe we’re missing the summertime setting – I can’t see it anywhere.

So far, light sensor and microphone on the top – no relay output, NOT an ESP8266 or ESP32 (so no Tasmota), the chip is a 4-core processor it seems. Those wanting to experiment will find a microUSB OTG connector inside.

I forgot to mention the pop up keyboard, reminiscent of Android boxes – indeed – it seems this is running Android 8.1… as I went back into settings to get a photo for readers – I noted under wireless settings, “Available networks” was busy. Why? I waited for at least a minute and the display stayed that way, yet my phone in the same situation immediately returned the list of WiFi networks.

It looks like the NSPanel is a Zigbee hub amongst other things and so should pair up with Sonoff Zigbee devices. There is available now and has been since from August 8, 2022 – I hope to see more improvements very soon.

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