Are you planning on creating a whole ecosystem of smart devices for your home? Do you already have several smart devices in your home but want to access all of them in one device?
Smart home hubs allow you to operate several sensors and smart devices in your home through this single device. If you are on the lookout for a reliable smart home hub, you are in the right place. In this article, we will feature the best smart home hubs to fulfill all your smart home needs.
What are the best smart home hubs in 2018?
There are several smart home hubs that you can buy on the market nowadays. Some of them take a more straightforward approach providing you with only the essential features. While some go the extra mile by adding some interesting features that will make your experience with it more convenient.
In this part, we will talk about the smart home hubs that offer the best value for your money. Read on to know which of these hubs cater to your smart home needs.
From its humble beginnings as a crowdfunded product way back in 2012, the Samsung SmartThings has clearly gone a long way. Before being bought by Samsung, this product was already showing a ton of potential. When Samsung finally slapped its branding on the product, the rest was history and it became a favorite smart hub for several homes in the country.
The main selling point of the Samsung SmartThings is its sheer versatility and flexibility. We say this because it is compatible with a wide array of different platforms and interfaces such as Zigbee to Z-Wave.
The Samsung SmartThings can be used in two means. You can use the hub by itself. The hub has its own battery backup feature and can be plugged in directly to a router. Aside from this, you can also set it up with the Samsung Connect Home mesh router.
Moreover, you can buy several of these mesh routers and place them in different areas of your home, thereby enhancing the strength signal as well as the connection. It relies heavily on the cloud service of Samsung. In the cloud is where all data is kept and where the hub communicates with. Communicating with the Samsung SmartThings is also a breeze, thanks to its compatibility with Google Assistant as well as Alexa. Voice Control is accurate and responsive.
However, we hoped that this device is compatible with HomeKit or Nest Integration. However, since SmartThings is compatible with IFTTT, we hope there will be a workaround this in the near future.
In terms of the SmartThings hub app, you can make use of two different apps. These are the built-in SmartThings app and the Samsung Connect App. Making these two apps available can be complicated at times. Moreover, Samsung is trying to get everyone on board with the Connect app which is newer. However, there have been some compatibility issues with this app with non-Samsung smartphones. Another drawback of the SmartThings is its interface. Compared to the other smart hubs in this list, its interface is basically more complex and more intended for the tech-savvy users. Some features are not clearly placed on the main interface and you need to tinker a bit more just to get access to a certain feature.
Nevertheless, we still think that the Samsung SmartThings is one of the best smart home hubs available in the market. Flaunting sleek looks and a reliable operation, this product is still a worthy addition to this list.
Being an heir to its excellent predecessor, the Wink Hub 2 provides the same build quality coupled with several more additional features that you will find very useful.
Unlike most smart hubs that rely on the cloud in order to operate a couple of functions, the Wink Hub 2 makes use of an in-house setup that allows you to connect to the home network directly, communicating with each other in simpler more stable ways.
The entire platform that the Wink smart home hubs are built to feature a wide array of functions making it one of the most holistic and versatile smart home hubs you can buy in the market. It is compatible with several other interfaces, these include Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Google Thread, Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT among others.
In terms of form factor and looks, the Wink Hub 2 does not disappoint. It is one of the most compact and lightweight smart hubs available in the market. Stow it behind the lampshade or picture frame and you get a seamless setup.
You can connect the Wink Hub 2 over Wi-Fi at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The main selling point of the Wink Hub 2 is its list of automation which they refer to as “Robots”. This automation includes scheduling, alarm setup, music synchronization and a ton more. In fact, it can connect with its Nest Cam IQ which notifies you of some motion it detects when you’re not at home.
Moreover, it allows you to connect to Sonos speakers which play music whenever your doorbell is pressed and you’re not at home. The possibilities are basically endless with the Wink Hub 2.
Connecting the Wink Hub 2 is very simple also. With just a simple swipe or tap on the device’s app and you voila! You’re connected.
What we think is missing with the Wink Hub 2 is the battery backup option. This is somehow disappointing since other smart hubs within its price range offer this feature. As a result, you need to plug in the Wink Hub 2 in a socket at all times for it to function.
The next entry on our list is one of the most popular smart home hubs in the country. Thanks to its reliability and excellent form factor, the Almond 3 has been a favorite for several homes for the past few years.
It comes with an 802.11ac router which acts as a basic router or can connect with other routers thereby strengthening your home’s overall Wi-Fi signal. Doing so can blanket your house with over 4,000 sq ft of WI-Fi. If you plan on using the sole router it also achieves 1500 sq ft of Wi-Fi signal. It achieves fast download speeds soaring up to 80 MB per second.
Aside from the reliable built-in router, it comes with the smart hub that is compatible with the Zigbee platform. Aside from Zigbee, you can also connect with Z-Wave and other platforms. However, to do so, you must purchase a compatible dongle for the platform.
Compared to the above mentioned Samsung SmartThings, the Almond 3 is equipped with a more straightforward and easy to use interface. You get the typical Almond touchscreen which is unfortunately not as responsive as modern smartphones.
However, the Almond 3 makes up for it by providing us with a user-friendly interface. Moreover, it comes with a pop-out stylus that makes it easier to navigate through the screen. You have to switch between the built-in app and the touch screen display to start things up, which can be annoying for some.
The Almond 3 excels in connecting with other smart home products. For example, it works like magic when connecting with the Peanut smart plug, a sensor for doors and windows. Inside the hub, it is also equipped with a built-in siren that provides additional security.
Aside from the Peanut Smart Plug, it is also compatible with Alexa, Nest and Philips Hue. Ultimately, you can try and plug in any compatible device and the Almond 3 works seamlessly without any hassle. You can also setup routines and scenes to help organize how your smart devices work with each other.
You can do this through the interface. It does take some tinkering as it is not as simple compared to the other features provided by the smart hub.
Another caveat we noticed with the Almond 3 is the fact that we had trouble trying to connect it via the cloud in some attempts. However, when everything is set up and is connected to the cloud then everything works just fine.
These are the products that have made it into our list of the best smart home hubs of 2018. Smart home hubs are built to provide you with the utmost convenience and comfort.
Smart Home Hubs Buying Guide
Just like buying other gadgets, there are also some things to consider when buying a smart home hub. Because smart home hubs are built to provide you with sheer comfort and convenience at your home, it would be ironic to buy one that gives you constant headaches.
You need to look for several features and components for available smart home hubs so that you can narrow down your options to the best ones. Here are the things to consider when buying a smart home hub.
Voice Control is one of the features that set other smart home hubs above the rest. Not all hubs have this feature. Having one is certainly not a necessity but is very useful, especially when you don’t want to constantly stand near the hub and operate it through its interface.
However, not all smart hubs with voice control are created equally. Some manufacturers just haphazardly slap it in their products without assuring a reliable operation. More often than not, these products just serve as a nuisance rather than convenience.
With that being said, choose one with a reliable voice control feature.
Another feature you should look into is the reliability and compatibility of wireless protocols. Unfortunately, not all products are compatible with one another.
When planning on buying certain smart hubs, make sure that they are able to communicate their wireless protocols with existing smart devices. Better yet, it is wiser to buy these smart devices and smart hubs in a package setup so you will know that they are compatible with each other.
Several smart hubs carry more features compared to others. Some smart hubs only work for certain common sensors such as doors, light bulbs, thermostats, and windows; other smart hubs are able to adapt and interact with other devices and appliances.
Some smart hubs allow you to control the music you are listening to or turn on the TV when you plan on watching your favorite show.
Smartphone App Functionality
A smart home hub should have an app that allows you to create a wide range of intelligent commands and rules for automation. When instructions are set-up in the app, you should be able to switch on/off or adjust your home appliances without lifting a finger.
Build quality is also one of the key features you should look into when buying a smart home hub. This also includes the design and form factor of the hub.
Since smart home hubs are usually placed in living rooms or areas where guests stay, there is a great chance that your visitors can see them. Because of this, make sure to equip yourself with a smart hub that does not only provide you with the essentials but also with good looks.
A smart home hub’s compatibility with your phone’s operating system is also one of the factors you must consider. Not all smart home hubs are compatible with iOs devices, consequently, some are solely for Apple devices and not for Android smartphones. With this being said, make sure to check whether your smart home hub is compatible with your smartphone OS.
Several smart home hubs rely on their corresponding cloud to operate. To do this, you need to connect to the internet in most cases. Some smart hubs can be connected directly to your modem or router via an Ethernet cable while others make use of a WiFi connection.
Choosing which of the two you should buy is up to you. However, WiFi smart home hubs tend to be more expensive than those who need to be connected through a cable.
With that being said, we want the best for you. We want you to get the best out of your stay at home by giving you a list of the best smart home hubs you can get your hands on. We hope that you found the right smart home hub in this list that caters to all your needs.