The introduction of smart devices and appliances have made life a heck of a lot easier. These smart appliances connect to your home’s Wi-Fi, and using a smartphone app; you have full control of what they do from afar. But switching between apps can be a nuisance; this is where smart home hubs come into play.
Smart home hubs turn a regular home into a smart home ecosystem. As the brains of the organization, smart appliances connect to the smart hub, which is then controlled via a single smartphone app. With the app, you have full control over every connected device. This, right now, is the key to a futuristic home.
Today, we’re comparing two smart home hubs – the Samsung SmartThings 2nd Generation and the Wink HUB 2 – to see which of them deserves our love more. Only one will be showered with praise while the other is ridiculed until it skips town. Which is the better smart home hub? Let’s find out together.
Connectivity to Router
Although smart hubs are the brains of a smart home ecosystem, an internet connection is the blood that keeps the brain functional. Modern smart hubs connect to routers using either a wireless connection or an Ethernet cable. The SmartThings 2nd Generation can only use an Ethernet cable, limiting where you can place the unit for optimal connectivity and speed between devices.
As for the Wink, it can connect using a cable or wirelessly to your router. This offers a lot more flexibility over where you can place the unit that it’ll reach every smart device in your home. Setting up the wireless connection may be a problem at first, but a bit of tinkering or maybe even restarting the Wink usually helps reestablish a connection your home’s router. The Wink is compatible with both 2.4- and 5-GHz bands.
Conclusion: The absence of a wireless radio in the SmartThings 2nd Generation necessitates a hardwired connection to your router. Although wired connections are generally faster than connecting wirelessly, it’s not as convenient, and you may need to relocate the router in order to establish a stable connection between the hub and every smart device. The Wink makes use of the best of both worlds by giving you an option to choose either connectivity option at any given time.
Backup Power Supply
Even though living in a developed world offers a lot of benefits that other nations may not have, we all have one thing in common: power outages. As soon as the lights turn off, all hell breaks loose, which is why the backup batteries in the SmartThings is such a great idea. When one or more circuits fail, you won’t have to worry about each of your smart devices losing power. The AA batteries supply up to 10 hours of battery.
The Wink doesn’t have a backup power system. You could always connect this hub to a UPS backup battery, but this is such overkill knowing that other hubs run on batteries when the time comes.
Conclusion: SmartThings – good. Wink – not so good, at least in terms of backup source of power. You never know when your home will lose power, even for a minute, causing a sudden loss of control over simple automated routines.
There is a growing number of devices that are compatible with SmartThings. As time passes, more and more smart device manufacturers are making products that are specifically compatible with Samsung home hubs (Arlo Pro and Skybell). If you’re looking to future-proof your home, the SmartThings might be the best option.
The same can be said for Wink but at a lesser extent. It’s true that more than a fair share of devices work together with the Wink, but not nearly as many can naturally integrate with the hub’s ecosystem. Luckily, there are many ways around these limitations as users have programmed custom integrations.
Conclusion: Even though any ZigBee or Z-Wave product can work with either of these hubs, more third-party smart devices can connect to the SmartThings than Wink. Also, Samsung has a line of various sensors that are native to SmartThings only. Wink doesn’t as it works with other manufacturers.
Maximum Number of Connected Devices
You might find it odd that certain home hubs have a finite number of connections to smart devices. This is not the case with the SmartThings 2nd Generation. This hub can connect to an infinite number of smart devices without interference. As the number of smart devices grows, you can make use of them all with the SmartThings in the center of them all.
A maximum of 530 devices can connect to the Wink at any given time. Granted, you may have a difficult time finding more than 500 devices to integrate into the wireless ecosystem, but who’s to say that things like carpets, rugs, or even sinks won’t join the IoT initiative? For now, the 530-device limit is nothing to worry about.
Conclusion: Today’s technology age makes the 530-device limit in the Wink a non-issue, but as an increasing number of electronics manufacturers are jumping on the smart home hub bandwagon, we may even find ourselves needing more than a thousand products to connect to a hub at once. This is where the SmartThing’s infinite integration count reigns supreme.
Any smart home hub can come with a wide range of features, but it’s how it automates every integrated device that matters most. Customers’ experiences with using the SmartThings have varied from “excellent!” to “not working at all.” The in-betweens include huge delays of anywhere between 15 seconds and 2 hours after sending commands via the smartphone app. Samsung customer support has been very helpful in finding solutions, but more often than not it’s an unforeseen fault in the hardware.
As a relatively new piece of technology, no smart home hub is perfect, and the Wink is a testament to this statement. The number of products that work with the Wink are extremely limited, and those that naturally integrate with the Wink’s ecosystem may not respond to orders at all. Some users even expressed their frustration and the hub’s inability to lock doors which, as we all know, makes our homes more prone to theft.
Conclusion: It’s a shame that these brands haven’t successfully cleared all of the kinks before releasing their hubs to the market. Reconfiguring smart devices is a pain, but having them not function at all when they are supposedly compatible with the hub is beyond unacceptable. We’d like to say that too many devices connected at once is the issue, but seeing their respective maximum connection limits, that’s simply not the case.
Shape and Design
Although the aesthetics of a smart hub is of very little importance, you should know that they might be permanent fixtures and a part of your home that automatically attracts a passerby’s attention. The SmartThings is pretty much what you’d expect – a square device with rounded corners and sits flat horizontally. It doesn’t look special, but it’s not a sight for sore eyes.
The Wink is a lot different from the SmartThings as it stands on a thin base, is several inches tall, and is tapered at the top. The thin design makes it a perfect fit in shelves and can even be hidden in between books partly due to its Wi-Fi compatibility, although solid objects surrounding it can interfere with signal strength. It’s a pretty snazzy-looking hub that would make the perfect addition to any futuristic home.
Conclusion: Once again, looks aren’t everything, but we simply can’t get enough of the tower-like design of the Wink. The SmartThing’s design, though space-efficient, is so plain. The housing isn’t bad to look at but it just doesn’t have that “umph” future-proof home owners might be looking for.
SmartThings vs. Wink: Final Thoughts
So after comparing these two smart home hubs, we’ve concluded that they’re both quite unreliable for several different – and sometimes unknown – reasons. These may not be the safest hubs to rely on when integrating smart home security devices, which may be the very purpose of automating your home in the first place.
Assuming that both hubs work flawlessly, we tend to lean towards the Samsung SmartThings as the marginally better hub. We’re happy to report that more and more smart device manufacturers are working together with Samsung to make their products compatible with SmartThings.
One major plus in our book is the inclusion of a backup power source in the form of AA batteries. The SmartThings uses four of batteries which supply up to 10 hours of power, giving users the chance to switch off any automated processes during power outages.
The SmartThings would be much closer to perfection if it could connect to your router without an Ethernet cable. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but you may be forced to either move the router to a more strategic spot or purchase multiple SmartThings hubs to reach every smart device in your home.
Just a quick note for our readers: the SmartThings 2nd Generation is not the latest smart hub from Samsung. The SmartThings 3rd Generation solves a lot of compatibility, reliability, and connectivity issues found in the 2nd Generation.
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SmartThings vs. Wink: Battle of the Smart Hubs
Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub 2nd Gen.
Wink WNKHUB-2US 2 Smart home hub, White