EKoral is a new aquarium controller which is promising to deliver some real advances in the aquarium monitoring and controlling space. The hardware from EKoral includes all the same basic components that we’ve become familiar with from the incumbent players but what really sets EKoral apart is that they are a software developer first, and got into the hardware game second.
There’s no question that the Apex and Profilux can do a lot of things, but you can’t do any simple functions as easily as drag-and-drop – for anything more complex, you practically have to be a programmer or engineer yourself. EKoral promises to change that paradigm with simple, easy and intuitive software that will do all the same basic functions we expect from an aquarium controller, but you might not even have to read a manual to really dial in your reef tank.
Unlike the very limited Fishbit controller, the EKoral should do just about as much as the ‘big boys’ with subtle but noticeable design tweaks to help with the overall function of their machine. The widely spaced and angled surface outlets of the powerbar should make it much easier to plug in even the most ungainly power bricks, while color coded plugs with indicator LEDs help streamline basic setup – sure seems a helluva lot easier to have the outlets programmable but predetermined than to have to assign all the basics by yourself!
The Ekoral ecosystem includes everything you’d expect a fully fledged controller to do, pH, orp, salinity, a digital temperature probe. The water level sensor is particularly interesting since it it continuously monitors water level from a distance with two optical cameras that never come into contact with the water.
Of course, from our perspective the EKoral is going to live or die based on the quality of its software interface. If I can easily find what I’m looking for in the EKoral app – basic dashboard controls, current chemistry status and long term graphing, and especially probe feedback & calibration – without having to open the instructions, I’ll be sold on the system in an instant!
There’s no question that the Apex and Profilux are very capable hardware that can really satisfy the aquarium control freaks, but they are downright depressing to use and program on any kind of regular basis. If these products were introduced today they’d have a hard time getting any kind of market traction, and hopefully this is where EKoral can really improve the experience of owning an aquarium controller.
At $900 for a fully loaded system, the EKoral is actually a pretty fair package price. If they can live up to their software developer roots, and bring aquarium controllers into the 20teens, they’ll have a a very attractive platform for aquarium controls when they expect to start shipping later this summer. [EKoral]