When it comes to smart home hubs, there are many to choose from. In my experience though, there are only three worth considering currently:
I'll go into detail on each one, but first I should disclose that I own both an Apple TV and a Wink Hub 2. I have never tried the Samsung SmartThings Hub. I'll explain in detail what I believe are the pros and cons of each, but I'll be able to provide the most detail about the ones I own.
What is a hub anyway?
A smart home hub, or home automation hub, is a device that talks to and controls all of the smart devices in your home. Think of it as the command center for your smart home. The hub is used to send signals to devices, monitor their activity, and it facilitates the installation of new devices.
Do I need a hub?
The short answer is, yes. Most smart devices can operate independently, but you'll miss out on some of the features each device offers when you don't have a smart hub - plus the interactivity of devices that a hub facilitates is the best part of building a smart home.
For example, let's say you have some Phillips Hue lightbulbs, and a Nest Outdoor Cam. Each has their own app, and you can login to their individual apps and turn things on and off remotely, see who's on your front porch, etc. Pretty cool. But, if you also had a Wink Hub 2, you could set up rules or tasks like this:
- When someone is spotted on my outdoor camera > Turn on the front port light
- When I leave my house (your location can be monitored using your smartphone) > Turn on my outdoor camera and Turn off all the lights in the house
The cool interactions you can create using a hub are endless, and they really can be very handy. Setting up rules that turn things off when you aren't using them can save you a bundle on your energy costs, too.