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Review: Josh One and Josh Micro Control System

Josh One is designed for smaller projects and, at a $599 retail, it is easy to justify on nearly any project.

Kudos: App is great to use; offers unparalleled voice control

Concerns: Getting full voice experience can be pricey

Remember a few years ago when voice control was all the rage? It seemed like you couldn’t visit a booth at CEDIA without hearing some new Amazon Alexa or Google Home integration announcement. And while it was definitely cool and had its place, it never lived up to the Jetsons dream of true whole-home voice control people envisioned and expected. Now people are undoubtedly using voice control, but it seems to be for small, very specific tasks.

Delivering the dream of having a truly smart home that is easy to control and accessible via natural language is the challenge that is looking to solve.

While Josh has been around since 2015, their pricing previously made it geared more toward premium projects. However, at this past CEDIA, Josh had two pretty major announcements on both the hardware and software side that opened its system up to projects of practically any budget. After sitting through a demo given by company co-founder and CEO Alex Capecelatro, I knew I wanted to bring Josh into my own home for a review! Josh One Josh One


As mentioned, was founded in 2015 and started shipping its first products in 2016. My first encounter with the company was at its new-exhibitor booth at the company’s first CEDIA Expo. While I thought the technology was interesting, at the time it required a dedicated Mac Mini to run the Josh software, along with a Lutron HomeWorks system as its primary integration partner, and was priced for high-end, luxury projects. Cool, to be sure, but limited and pricey in my opinion.

As Josh has developed, it has added new products and pricing to its platform, and it was the launch of Josh One at this year’s CEDIA that really caught my eye. Josh One is designed for smaller projects — supporting up to 100 devices — and at a $599 retail, it is easy to justify on nearly any project. According to Josh, the One is “the first AI-powered home control platform for customers seeking a modern app-based experience.”

For larger projects, two Josh Ones can be paired together to support up to 200 devices. For customers looking for hands-free voice control, Josh Micro far-field microphones can be added to Josh One systems.

For even larger jobs, a Josh Core ($1999 MSRP) controls up to 500 devices, with two Josh Cores being capable of supporting more than 1000 devices. The Core also supports the architectural and incredibly small Josh Nano ($659 MSRP), a quarter-sized far-field microphone that is designed to disappear into its surroundings. Josh Nano can even be integrated into a special dual-gang Lutron screwless wall plate for a truly custom finished look. Josh One - Top View Josh One – Top View

Along with launching Josh One, Josh also revamped its software pricing model, allowing customers to enjoy the company’s bespoke software starting at just $10 a month for Josh One systems with app control. (Adding in-app voice control raises the price to $20/month.) A discount is offered on the pricing if purchased on a yearly basis. And for customers looking to get away from another monthly charge, they can go all-in on a Josh One and lifetime software subscription for $1799.

Josh also announced a change to its software plan management, allowing for dealer-managed or Josh-managed software plan,s depending on what works best for a given company.

It’s this custom-developed software that truly makes Josh so different and powerful. Josh uses Natural Language Processing and machine learning to adapt based on users’ preferences. Josh takes the complexity and custom programming out of the install, instead being able to intuit what a user wants by how they want to ask for it, with the ability to handle multiple requests like, “Hey, Josh, turn off the lights, close the shades, and watch a movie.” Josh is also designed to work with professionally installed automation systems, connecting with devices over the network and integrating with control systems such as Crestron, Control4, Lutron, and more.

If you’re curious about Josh’s logo — a dog’s head in profile — here’s the official answer: “Josh is a home’s best friend. And like a dog, Josh is intelligent, responsive, and learns his owner’s commands. While other smart home control systems only know one trick, Josh combines all aspects of smart homes into one friendly, well-trained responder. Josh is your companion, and always happy to see you come home.” Who wouldn’t want that in their life?


Prior to installing Josh in my home, I breezed through the company’s online Technical Certification Training courses, which took about two hours to complete. These classes not only provide a good overview of the different Josh hardware and what it can do, they also show how to navigate the configuration at Josh’s online portal and perform system customizations. New dealers need to pass a Technical Certification Exam. There is also an online sales training course.

For my review, Josh sent a Josh One, a Josh Micro, and the Josh Remote that has been developed in partnership with AVA. Along with that hardware, I downloaded the Josh App onto my iPhone. While it didn’t affect me, Josh recently rolled out a full update to its Android app as well, bringing it to version 5.0 and giving Android users the same experience as iOS users.

Installation really couldn’t have been any simpler. Both the One and the Micro power and communicate on the network via PoE. However, for better performance, Josh recommended I move the Micro to a more central location, away from my rack and Luxul PoE switch, which meant connecting it via USB power supply and using Wi-Fi. The remote’s charging base plugs into power and it communicates via Wi-Fi. Once the devices are installed, you add the license key to authorize your software. Josh Micro Josh Micro

Josh has the ability to stand on its own and directly interface and control a whole host of products, like Sonos and HEOS audio systems, Sony, LG, and Samsung TVs, Dish satellite, Roku, and Apple TV streamers, and a variety of AV receivers from the main brands. However, in my home, I already had a variety of control systems installed from Control4, Lutron, and Hunter Douglas.

Fortunately, Josh not only layers right into these installs, it does so quickly and easily, and with very little configuration required to be up and running.

Once connected, Josh scans the network and discovers devices it can work with. For my Control4 system, I installed the Josh driver into my project, “authorizing” it to work with my system. Some other devices — Apple TV, Crestron Home, Dish, HEOS, Lutron, Sonos — require authorization to work, but the Josh portal walks you through the process.

Once I authorized my Lutron system, Josh went out and pulled in all the information from my project, which not only included all the lighting, fans, and shades, but also all my rooms, saving that work. Ditto for my Control4 system, which created the audio bindings for each room.

You can then set preferences for Josh to use with music and video services, telling it which to give priority to. For example, if I ask for music, it will select Tidal over Pandora, and if I ask for a movie, it will first go to Kaleidescape to see if it’s in my movie library.

After Josh imported this basic information, I could easily customize it to make it work better for me, such as grouping rooms together into areas to control them all with a single voice command. For example, my daughters are always leaving lights and fans on, so I created a “Back of House” area that includes both of their rooms, their bathroom, and hallways, then I can just say, “Hey, Josh, turn off all the devices in the back of house,” and it does it.

You can also adjust your property’s layout with Josh if a room/area is indoors, outdoors, or on a specific floor. Then you can simply say, “Hey, Josh, turn on/off all the outdoor lights,” and you won’t need to know the names of all those lights.

Another fantastic feature is the ability to add an alias to room names. For example, say a customer (or guest) can’t remember whether to call it the master bed, master bedroom, or whatever. Josh will automatically intuit that it is the main bed, primary bed, or principal bed, but you could also tell Josh to associate it with my bed, the owner’s room, or anything else you want.

Part of the power of this is being able to look back at the chat history of what Josh thinks it heard. So maybe you said it correctly, but Josh heard it differently. Or you see that a customer is routinely asking for something to happen a few different ways before it finally works. With the ability to add as many aliases or nicknames as necessary, you can add a new alias to make sure Josh gets it right next time.

Of course, you can also use Josh to create and execute scenes. For example, a Good Morning scene that adjusts lights, shades, HVAC, starts the music, and announces the weather. Scene creation is very intuitive and can be done via voice — “Hey, Josh, create a scene called XX that does YY” — in the Josh Portal or in the Josh App. Beyond triggering the scene via voice or button press, they can automatically launch at a specific time of day, based on the weather, a device turning on/off, or motion sensing. Josh also offers a ton of conditional programming that lets you fine-tune exactly what happens based on a variety of conditions.

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You also have access to lots of other configuration options, such as how long Josh will save the chat history, Josh ducking audio in an area when spoken to, do you want to use “whisper mode” for a quieter reply during certain hours, how do you want to “wake” Josh, using either OK Josh, Hey Josh, Hey Micro, OK Home, or Nikola, which voice/accent do you want Josh to use to respond to you, what do tap actions and the LED ring on Josh Micro do, and more. The great thing is that all these options are fast and simple to employ and change.


Josh One essentially offers three use cases. At its most basic, the One operates solely via the Josh App. From there, you can step up to voice control in the app, and from there you step up to the full Josh voice experience by adding far-field voice control using a Micro. To any of these cases you can also add the Josh Remote. So, I’ll describe the Josh experience from basic to full.

I loved the Josh App. It is simple, well laid out, attractive, and makes it easy to see what is happening in the home. In fact, the Josh home dashboard has become my preferred way to look at my home, showing everything that is on/open in my house at a glance. Whether it is lights, fans, outlets, shades, AV, etc., the Josh home dashboard shows what is on throughout the house, letting you quickly adjust something. There is also a clean “Areas View” where you can view the entire home at once or view in groups such as outside, by floor, etc. The app also makes it easy to personalize by adding your own pictures to identify each room/area.

The app can also do AV control, and for things like controlling my Apple TV or Kaleidescape, which are essentially D-pad/enter, it was fine. I really liked how the Apple TV interface gives a keyboard for on-screen searching and has a Channels tab that expands to show tiles of all the apps downloaded onto the ATV. For controlling my Dish to watch TV, I didn’t love the Josh app as much, and typically resorted to using my Control4 Halo remote. For audio, Josh has a music search feature that lets you browse and find music in your preferred service. App App

When you add voice control in the app, a blue microphone button appears at the bottom of each page. When you press the mic, you can ask Josh to perform any task your home is capable of completing. While I’d used voice control with Alexa and my Control4 system for some time, I eventually gave up on it because it seemed all too often I’d ask Alexa to do something, then I’d need to repeat it, I’d get the device name wrong, I’d get a device not in your system reply, and eventually I’d just open the app and do it myself. With Josh, these hiccups have all ceased. And not only does Josh do what I ask, the speed of its response, especially with my Lutron devices, was incredible.

Of course, the ultimate Josh experience is using it with far-field microphones. Obviously, the microphone’s ability to pick up voices will vary based on location and ambient noise, and I set my Micro on top of our kitchen counter, which is directly behind the couch where we sit when we’re watching TV, and set Josh’s wake sensitivity to “4 – Easier to Wake.” When it was quiet, Josh was probably 90 percent successful when trying to engage it, but when sitting on the couch watching movies at even moderate volumes, I’d often have to wait for a quiet passage, then turn my head and shout, “Hey, Josh!” During these times, I’d usually just open my phone and app to talk to Josh (or pause/mute the movie). Interestingly, Josh would almost never wake up for my 7-year-old daughter, even when she stood right in front of him saying, “Hey, Josh… OK, Josh…” But once awake, he would listen and respond to her.

Another recent upgrade to Josh is JoshGPT, which adds another layer to Josh’s awareness, knowledge, and answers. When enabled, you can ask Josh nearly anything and he’ll give a thorough and witty answer. However, Josh isn’t great with live events (don’t ask for a current sports score) and other random things like telling upcoming weather forecasts. When JoshGPT is enabled, Josh’s answers can be lengthy, and we couldn’t find a way to get Josh to stop talking once he got going short of going to the Micro and giving it a tap. [According to, “Weather forecasts should work fine, but live events are challenging due to the data that LLMs are trained on not being current. Also, you should be able to interrupt it and say, “OK, Josh, cancel” to stop it talking.]

I was familiar with Josh Remote, as it is essentially a “locked” version of the AVA remote I reviewed previously. (You can “unlock” it to enable it to be a full AVA remote.) With practically no hard buttons (there are side-mounted volume up/down and remote power) and the touchscreen buttons being SO tiny when controlling things like Dish, I had to constantly look at the screen and be really careful with what button I was trying to push and ultimately found it mostly unnecessary. While it was nice to have the mic button in my hand, for me, the iOS app is laid out better, has larger buttons, does more, and is free. I guess if you had a lot of guests the remote might be good, but for as a daily driver, it was a pass for me.

Josh also promises regular software updates and upgrades — pushed on a bi-weekly basis — seamlessly adding new features and improving the user experience, and I certainly experienced several of these during my review. For one, they added the Apple TV deep-linking integration and ability to create push notifications to the Josh App. They also added the “Areas View” interface.

While there is a ton of power and flexibility offered to professional programmers, I loved the power that Josh puts into the hands of the homeowner. They can look through chat history, add alias names, create scenes, adjust defaults, and so on. Basically, any of the high-level things people would be most likely to want to do, Josh gives them the ability to do it.

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After just a few weeks with Josh, I found myself wishing I had more microphones located around my home. With a Josh Micro paired to a room, you don’t need to tell Josh what room you want to operate, it just intuits that you want to control that room. So, entering a room and saying, “Hey, Josh, turn on the lights, lower the shades, and play some jazz” would tell Josh everything it needs to know to make that room ready. Or you could simply fire off a scene like, “Hey, Josh, I’m home” or “I’m in my room.”

Living with Josh, you quickly see it as less of a novelty and more something you use to easily accomplish things and simplify life through automation. With Josh you can deliver the true whole-home voice control that people have been imagining.

Product Specs:

  • Home control powered through Josh App (iOS and Android)
  • Supports up to 100 devices; two Ones scale up to 200 devices
  • Works with either Josh Micro or Nano for voice control
  • 6-core AR processor with speeds up to 1.8 GHz
  • Optional 1U rackmount kit available
  • RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet PoE connection for both network and power
  • Able to respond to more than 1000 app queries
  • Offers both local and remote system control
  • Requires software license
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.07 x 7 inches (WxHxD); 2.2 pounds