Ever wondered “what is a smart home hub?” In this article, we’ve listed the top 4 hubs for your internet-enabled household devices of 2019 and the main reasons you might need one (spoiler alert – because they’ll make your life so much better).
Smart home hubs are no longer fancy appliances to impress guests (aka striking Tony Stark’s mansion with JARVIS — Stark’s artificial intelligence system), but rather a handy device that brings more control and convenience over your home. Operated either by voice commands or by artificial intelligence, they are aimed at making all your smart devices work together and making your life a more pleasant experience.
For instance, lights, locks, thermostats, and even security cameras can be managed from a single hub and your smartphone. Besides, you can call your friends, order pizza, or even check if you’ve closed the window – all in one voice command or tap of a screen. Isn’t it cool? Now, here are more reasons why a smart home hub is a worthwhile investment.
Why Get a Smart Home Hub and How to Make the Right Choice?
The best hubs for a smart home are able to not only connect your smart home devices but also give you access to music streaming services, provide traffic reports, and more. The hubs are highly efficient, easily customizable, and bring you a welcomed peace of mind. What else? Read below.
Use a Smart Home Hub to Control Your Devices from One Place
Once you have multiple smart home devices from different manufacturers you’ll have a hard time managing them from different apps. These devices have come along to break down the boundaries of a smart home, meaning you don’t have to rely on an array of different applications. Instead, a hub gives you control over everything from a single program, voice assistant, or screen-based system. Besides, it enables you to set up various routines, modes, or scenes for different devices at once. Imagine waking up with the sound of the ocean from your speaker, having the curtains rolled up and the temperature in the room heated to your optimum temperature. Everything’s possible once you have a centralized hub to control your smart home tech.
Utilize the Convenience of Voice Controls
Hands-free voice controls are a thing of the future. Who’s not dreamt of saying something like “turn on my fave song, but not too loud,” or “Invite Jessica for dinner tonight,” and get all these things done immediately? Hubs that are capable of receiving voice commands and enabling you to stream music, turn off the lights, or even google something in mere seconds.
While choosing your hub, check if it matches up to your needs. For instance, some hubs work better at controlling safety and electrical devices, while others are mainly used for listening to the news, turning on the TV or a player, and other features.
Also, make sure the hub is compatible with your smartphone operating system. This especially applies to Windows phones or tablet users as not all smart hubs are compatible with Windows. Remember too, the device that you settle on needs to be able to get all of your devices connected through wi-fi, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, or Zigbee. So, here’s the list of the best smart home controllers of today.
The Best Smart Home Hubs
Read about the top 4 smart home hubs, their benefits, and features and pick the one that’s going to take full control of your smart home.
The best thing about the Google Home hub is that it not only controls your smart home devices and streams music, but it also allows you to ask any questions that spring to mind with its advanced Google Assistant and access to Google’s Knowledge Graph.
As one of the best home automation hubs, Google Home can identify rooms around the house, control your thermostat, turn off the lights, monitor your smart plugs, and more. Also, it’s able to recognize different voices and as a result, can give each member of your family more personal search results.
The Google Home is a great option for enjoying the Google ecosystem, setting up shortcuts and routines, and loads more handy features. Get it here.
- Conversational assistant
- Aesthetic design and customizable appearance
- The use of Google’s Knowledge Graph
- Hands-free operating
- Lacks balanced sound
- Smart home capability is limited, compared to other hubs
- Doesn’t hear well from afar
This multi-functional Apple device is considered to be one of the best home automation hubs, and for good reason. First of all, it is equipped with multitude speakers and microphones and, thanks to that, the speakers sound amazing. Secondly, it has an incredibly intuitive set-up and a classy, minimalistic Apple design.
Additionally, the top of the Apple HomePod is touch-sensitive, so you can manage the volume and the music simply by tapping the device. The hub is powered with the Siri voice assistant, which lags behind Google Assistant and Alexa, but is still capable of doing many things, such as ordering food, finding information, or even translating your spoken English words into French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, or Spanish.
Apple HomePod is more expensive than its competitors, it starts at $299. Yet, it’s a great choice for those who need to manage Apple HomeKit devices or people who are looking for a high-end speaker.
- Easy setup
- Compact, solid, and stylish
- Amazing sound quality
- Can only stream from Apple Music (other services require AirPlay)
- Lacks Bluetooth capability
Samsung SmartThings Hub
This hub provides you with control over multiple smart home devices through a single mobile interface. It sends notifications and alerts when you forget to close your doors or windows, if your house hits a certain minimum temperature, and even when the systems your home relies on break down or need a quick fix. Besides that, SmartThings is also a great tool for setting up various routines for different devices, and it’s also compatible with different types of security system components such as cameras and alarms.
It’s easy to repair and you can get one for an affordable price of $69 here. Also, one of the greatest features is that you can use Alexa and Google Assistant to control devices connected to SmartThings.
SmartThings Hub is a nice, stylish hub and we recommend it for those of you who need a hub with broad third-party product support.
- Simple interface
- Compatible with multiple protocols
- Supports Windows phones
- Difficult to upgrade from older hubs
- Must be hardwired to your router
Amazon Echo Dot
This one is the best budget option with a wide range of features. It has a nice design, is shaped like a dot, has a fabric wrap, and it comes in one of three shades of grey. What’s more, the new model has vastly improved audio when compared to previous Amazon smart home hubs. The speakers are larger and more powerful, so two echo dots can even form a nice stereo pair. With its 3.5mm jack on the back and in-built Bluetooth, you can easily connect your Echo Dot with other speakers and audio sources in your house.
The dimensions for the Amazon hub come in at a diameter of 3.9 inches, 1.7 inches tall, and has a weight of 10.6 ounces. It’s small and easy to pick up and move from room to room, but it does require plugging in. There is an LED light ring along with buttons for action and mute. It’s a nice feature for those who like more stylish devices.
Powered by Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, it’s easy and convenient to send voice commands and control your smart home devices, or listen to some music from Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and TuneIn.
Echo Dot is our top choice among the other smart home hubs and we recommend this model if you need a budget, yet classy and stylish device. It can stream music, news, and more, order from almost any retailer, control your smart devices, and call your friends who have an Alexa-enabled system. What else could you dream of needing? The price starts at $49 and you can get yours here!
- Powerful speakers
- Nice design
- Hands-free calling feature
- Easy set-up and integration
- No support for current Windows phones
Smart home hubs are designed to make our life better and they totally hit the mark. While choosing a hub, pay attention to the features it has, the compatibility with other devices and wi-fi protocols, and whether or not it has voice control (because this feature rocks). Finally, choose the one with a good price-value ratio.
We’ve reviewed the 4 top hubs of 2019 and picked Amazon Echo Dot as our favorite one for its unbeatable functionality and price. Follow our updates and learn about the latest tech trends first! We bring all the innovations and tech news at one point!