Smart home Hub
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Top 5 Smart Home Hubs For 2020

Over the year, we have seen a massive increase in the number of smart home device available. And with that, I can bet that you most likely have more than one smart device in your home from different manufacturers. And while you can control most devices directly from their dedicated app, unlocking your phone and opening the app sometimes can be quite a hassle and those apps don’t allow you to link devices from other manufacturers to create automation or routine.

Well, that’s where a Smart Hub comes into the picture. A smart home hub will serve as the primary station where all your smart home devices will be linked to, and with this, your can use the smart hub to control numerous smart devices as well as grouping some smart devices to create automations.

While there are tons of smart home hubs available right now, we have narrowed down the list to the best five smart hubs you should get for your home. Let’s start with our top pick.

Samsung SmartThings hub 3rd Gen:

smartthings smart home hub

When it comes to smart home hubs, you must have heard the name SmartThings, and there is a reason for that. The Samsung SmartThings hub has been the first option to consider when thinking of getting a smart home hub for your house. With the latest generation of the SmartThings improving on some aspect and also see it drop some cool features which were available on the previous version. But first, let’s talk about the design of this device.

When it comes to design the 3rd generation SmartThings hub look identical to the previous version but the time it has a rounded profile and a curved surface. At the face of the device, all you have is the SmartThings logo, turning to the back of the device you will find the power port, Ethernet port and USB port.

The device is small enough to be hidden behind your counter or book self thanks to the WiFi onboard you can place it anyway in your home, and if you want to hide it, the SmartThings hub looks attractive enough to blend with your home decor.

Installation and setup of the Samsung SmartThings is straightforward forward. You should be done with the entire setup process in a couple of minutes.

When it comes to features, the Samsung SmartThings is packed with a lot of features to help Automate and control your smart home. The Samsung SmartThings hub uses both Zigbee and Z-wave protocol to control your smart home device, which is a more reliable and faster medium than WiFi. It should be able to Communicate with ZigBee or Z-wave devices within 50-130 feet away, any further than that and you may experience some occasional drop-off.

SmartThings also allows you to create advanced Automations and scenes with multiple smart devices since it uses IFTTT protocol. You can create a bedtime scene that turns off your lights, TV and arm your security Cams or a scene that turns on the light when even your door contact sensors are triggered.

And while it is missing on voice commands, you can link it with either the Google Assistant or Alexa to help you control your smart home with your voice.

The app on its own has seen a lot of improvement over the years. And now the SmartThings app is a lot more user-friendly and organized than when it was initially launched. Adding and controlling smart home devices is easy and create scenes and Automations with the app is straightforward.

Another reason why we picked the SmartThings hub as our best is because of the vast list of device compatible with the device. From big names like Lifx, Phillips hue, Ring, Lutron and so much more. It’s sad the Nest, and some other devices are not yet compatible with the SmartThings hub.

Well, thanks if the ease of use and advance options available on the hub, the SmartThings hub is an excellent option for both smart home starters and seasoned smart home users. While we don’t get the battery option, which was included in the previous version, the SmartThings hub is still a great way of controlling your smart home.

Read More: Samsung’s SmartThings Review. Is It Still Worth It?

Echo Dot 3rd Gen: 

Echo Dot Smart Speaker

The Echo dot 3rd is the latest Generation of Smart Speakers from the Amazon Echo brand. And the new version has seen great improvements to the speakers, design and even Microphone to improve the user experience.

Being an Amazon device, you also get the Alexa Assistant inbuilt, which you can use for controlling your smart home as well as read news, get wheater and traffic report and play games. And although it may not come with Zigbee or Z-wave protocol which is present in dedicated smart home hubs, it’s low price tag, makes it an ideal choice for people starting with smart home or just looking for a cheap hub.

As I had said the design of the Echo dot 3rd gen is a considerable improvement from its predecessor’s industrial design. The Echo Dot looks modern, minimalist and compact, with a fabric cover that goes around the Echo Dot.

The Echo Dot about 1.7 inches high, 3.9 inches wide in diameter and weighs 10.6 ounces. Meaning that the Echo dot takes small area, especially if you live in a small apartment. I love the new design, and it fits in well with my home design, and it’s available in multiple color options to help fit most home designs. 

Read More: Amazon Echo Vs Echo Dot. Which One Should you Get?

While we don’t get ZigBee and Z-wave on the Echo Dot, Alexa can still Control your smart home devices over WiFi. With a massive list of compatible devices you can easily link up your lights, sensors, switches and cams to your Alexa account and with a simple command like “Alexa, turn off the lights in my room” or “Alexa, change the temperature to 20°”. You can also group-specific devices together to create Routines like a morning routine or movie time routine. 

If you have multiple Echo speakers or Dots around your home, you can use them as an intercom network thanks to the Alexa Drop-In and Announcement feature. Which lets your send a voice message to a specific speaker for the drop-in, or Announce a message on all Echo speaker in your home to inform everyone that dinner is ready.

At $30, the Amazon Echo Dot is an excellent option for someone who has only a few smart home device or a great way to cut cost when building your smart home. Obviously, if you are worried about your data bandwidth or speed, dedicated ZigBee and Z-wave smart hub should be your best bet. But apart from that, the Echo Dot is an Excellent smart home hub.

Hubitat Elevation Hub: 

hubitat smart home hub

The Hubitat name is also another prominent name on the smart hub area. If your home is packed with smart bulbs, thermostat, cameras, motions sensors and so on, and you want to create some cool Automation, then the Hubitat Elevation hub is the hub you should get.

While it’s not the most learner-friendly smart home hub available because of its complicated setup process and poorly designed web app. The Hubitat Elevation still has a few tricks off its sleeves

Aesthetics wise the Hubitat looks sleek and attractive, in its compact and small design. So small that you can compare it with thick coaster, which means that fitting it into tight spaces or hiding behind places won’t be an issue.

At the face of the device, you have the green Hubitat logo, at the back if the Hubitat Elevation you have the power and Ethernet port. But sad that we don’t get support for WiFI, so we are stuck with the Ethernet cable, which reduces our placement options. Underneath the case, you have a ZigBee and Z-wave radio transmitter for controlling smart home devices. 

Now when it comes to setting up the Hubitat Elevation hub, the process was quite frustrating and mentally stressful, if you are not a seasoned, smart home user, you may find it very difficult to get it setup. In fact, it took me about 20 mins to setup the Hubitat Elevation hub. But here is a video to help guide you on how to install it. 

Previously we could only operate the Hubitat hub from its web app, which wasn’t the most convenient way of controlling a smart home. So Hubitat decided to release a Mobile app to help ease out the process. On the Hubitat dashboard, you will find the Devices, Apps and Settings icon, as well as other advanced options like the Driver code, System Event and Logs.

Another downside side of the Hubitat dashboard was that adding devices to your hub was not as seamless or straightforward like other smart home hubs on our list, but invest a little of your time, and you will be good to go.

Now let us look at some of the good sides of the Hubitat Elevation hub. The first thing is that I like the fact that all Automations, logics and settings are stored locally rather than in the cloud, so if you are all about security, then this should be a plus for you.

When it comes with automation and routines, this is where the Hubitat Elevation Hub wins the other smart home hubs on our list today. The depth of automation and rules Hubitat allows you to create is insane.

You can create automation based on scenes or even based on conditions. For example, you can create an automation that turns down your TV when the doorbell is rung if the time of day is night, and so much more. you can create even more in-depth automation, you are free to go wild here. 

Currently, the Hubitat is priced at $100, which is above the $70 of the SmartThings and the $30 for the Echo dot. But is the Hubitat smart home hub for you? Well, if you have a few smart home devices around your home, then you are better off getting the other smart home hubs on the list. But, in a scenario where you have a lot of smart devices, and you wish to create some cool Automations then the Hubitat Elevation Hub is your best option.

Google Nest Hub Max: 

google home alarm on the nest hub max

Smart displays are excellent smart home gadget to have in your home. It can be used to display weather report, news and even the recipe of that strawberry pie you want to make. But smart display also makes for a great smart home hub. Thanks to the touchscreen onboard, you can control smart home devices from the touch screen or use your voice.

And our pick for the best smart display is the Google Nest Hub max. The Nest Hub Max is an excellent smart display boasting of numerous feature, from its 10-inch high-resolution touch screen display to its impressively loud and clear audio performance. But first, let’s talk a look at the design. 

The Google Nest Hub Max sports a sleek, modern and attractive design. At first glance, you will notice the 10-inch touch screen set at a max resolution of 720p, which is slightly angled upwards to face the user. Below that, you have the speaker which is covers by the fabric clothing, and behind the device, you have the power and Ethernet ports.

The clean design makes the Nest Hub max a great choice for your kitchen or living room. The sounds produced from these speakers were also superb, music was loud, clear, and crisp. It also supports streaming services like Spotify, TuneIn, Pandora, Youtube and Google music, but does not support Amazon music and Netflix.

You will truly appreciate the large screen when it comes to controlling other smart home devices. With tons of smart home products already compatible with the Google assistant and more being added, you can control your lights, camera, thermostat, and so much more with the Google Assistant.

You can also create Automation/routine with the Google Assistant, you can create a movie Routine which dims your lights, turns on your TV and changes the temperature or a bedtime routine that turn off all your Philips hue lights and turns on your security system.

Read More: The Best Smart Displays To Buy Right Now In 2020

he only downside to this is that the Nest Hub Max does not support the Zigbee or Z-wave protocol, meaning it only works over WiFi and Bluetooth, which might be a deal-breaker for people who own a lot of ZigBee or Z-wave devices installed. 

Another cool feature of the Nest Hub Max is that it supports hand-free gesture, which lets your play/stop music and alarm by raising your hand to the screen, thanks to the camera. You can also use it to video call family and friends using the Google duo app. 

At a price tag of $229 the Nest Hub Max is the most expensive device on our list today, but the features and functionalities like the HD touch screen, impressive sound quality, Google Assistant and Excellent smart home automation. The Google Nest Hub Max is Worth Checking out.

Wink hub 2: 

Age-wise the Wink hub 2, is the oldest smart home hub on our list today, but regardless, time has been good to the Wink hub 2. With Wink always improving and enhancing the Hub. The Wink Hub 2 is a huge improvement from the first generation by having dual-Wifi and higher memory capacity.

For the design the Wink hub 2 looks completely different from the other smart home hubs design, it looks like a WiFi router, but in a good way. The design looks sleek and elegant with its matte white colour, and it’s vertical form factor.

At the front of the Wink hub 2, you have a led strip which changes based on the operation. It flashes blue when pairing, turns white when it’s rebooting and a solid blue when the hub is in operation. Flipping to the back, you have an ethernet cable and a power port, and under the hood, you have Z-wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth and WiFi antennas for connecting your smart home devices.

For app experience, the Wink App UI was organized, user-friendly and the navigations was smooth. On the dashboard, you have the Shortcut, Robot and Activity icon.

For Shortcut, you get a one-touch method for executing some smart home automation like, having a shortcut that activates your morning scene. Robot is meant for creating some Automation with your smart home devices, like creating automation that turns on your lights when the door or Windows contact sensors are opened. And Activity is for checking your recent activities and tasks.

On testing the Wink Hub 2 smart hub worked excellently, controlling smart home devices was fast and snappy, Automations and routines were all executed properly.

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