Thanks to the rise of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, smart home technology is becoming more popular by the day. To make the most of the various smart home gadgets you might have an eye on, you’ll need a smart home hub. Some smart speakers like the Echo can serve as hubs, but many aren’t as full-featured as a dedicated smart home hub box. If you’re in the market for a hub and want something versatile and powerful, that’s also easy to use, the Wink Hub 2 might be the right smart home hub for you.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at the Wink Hub 2’s features, specs, and pricing, and compare it head to head against similar smart home products on the market today.
WHAT IS THE WINK HUB 2 SMART HOME HUB?
The Wink Hub 2 is a slim, low-profile box that can rest comfortably beside your wireless router. It can connect to all the smart home devices in your home and control them with ease. It works with speakers, security cameras, thermostats, alarms, appliances, and more. It can even connect with voice-controlled devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, allowing users to issue vocal commands and control their smart home hands-free.
Using the Wink Hub 2 with its companion app gives users even more control. The app makes all the devices in a smart home visible, allowing users to control them from anywhere on the planet. For example, if you’re leaving for work and want to turn the heat on at home, you can access your smart thermostat through the Wink Hub 2’s companion app. If you want to turn on the lights or unlock the door for a guest, you can do that remotely too. It’s all surprisingly easy to set up, especially if you connect the Hub 2 to the Internet with an ethernet cable.
The Wink Hub 2 boasts 512 MB of memory to the original Wink’s 64 MB, meaning it can pair with and control a large number of devices. It also supports just about any wireless protocol you can think of, including dual band WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy, Lutron Clear Connect, Z-Wave, and more. This makes it capable of supporting many different devices.
The Wink Hub 2 includes a power jack and an ethernet port, but it lacks the USB ports and the backup battery you’ll find on other smart home hubs. It also contains a security feature called Secure Boot, which ensures only Wink software can run on the Wink Hub 2. This makes it much more difficult for potential hackers to gain control of your smart home system.
HOW IT COMPARES
We picked a few other smart home hubs available on the market to see how they compare.
- VOICE CONTROL: Works with Alexa and Google Assistant (devices sold separately)
- CONNECT ALL YOUR SMART DEVICES: Easily connect and manage your smart home ecosystem with Wink Hub 2. Compatible with all major smart home categories, including cameras & doorbells, lighting & locks, thermostats, sensors & alarms, appliances, speakers and more.
- ONE SIMPLE APP: Control all your home's smart devices, no matter where you may be, using the Wink app on your smartphone. Set up shortcuts that let you turn off all your home's lights with a single tap or automatically turns up the thermostat when the front door is unlocked.
EASE OF USE
The Wink Hub 2’s setup guide is clear and thorough, though setup is much easier if you start your Wink Hub 2 off with a wired ethernet connection. Once you’ve set it up, it’s easy to move it wherever you want in your home and connect it to your WiFi network. Adding devices is simple and takes mere seconds, and the Wink app often includes tutorials for how to use the devices as you add them.
Once devices are added, you can control them through the Wink app. The controls on the app often aren’t as full-featured as the controls in each individual device’s dedicated app will be, but they will be enough for basic everyday use.
While it lacks any USB ports and a backup battery, the wide range of WiFi protocols the Wink Hub 2 supports is second to none. It also supports voice commands from Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home devices, and it even includes support for If This Then That (IFTTT) protocols, allowing users to chain smart home actions together with ease.
The Wink Hub 2’s slim, white physical design looks great but is also easy to hide should you choose, but what’s under the hood is even more impressive. With a huge number of WiFi protocols supported and 512 MB of memory on board, the Wink Hub 2 can control a nearly limitless number of smart home devices.
Wink offers a 1-year limited warranty on the Wink Hub 2, so if your product is defective or has issues not caused by the user, they will repair or replace it within one year of the purchase date.
- Meet the Echo Plus - Echo Plus has a built-in Zigbee hub to easily setup and control your compatible smart home devices, and an improved sound for streaming music.
- Enjoy premium sound - New premium speakers powered by Dolby play 360° audio with crisp vocals and dynamic bass response. You can also use your voice to adjust equalizer settings or pair with a second Echo Plus (2nd gen) for stereo sound.
- Alexa has skills - Ask Alexa to play music, answer questions, read the news, check the weather, set alarms, control compatible smart home devices, play Audible audiobooks, call almost anyone, and more.
Rather than being a dedicated smart home hub like the Wink Hub 2, the Amazon Echo Plus is a smart speaker than includes a built-in smart home hub. This means it can play music and podcasts, read you the news, and tell you the weather, all in great-quality sound that approaches – but can’t match – top-quality wireless speakers like those Sonos sells.
This being an Amazon device, Alexa is built into the Echo Plus, and it is one of the best, if not the outright best, virtual assistants out there. Alexa can order you a ride from Lyft, guide you through a workout, or give you a traffic report, and new skills are being added all the time.
Of course, this article is about smart home hubs. How does the Echo Plus stack up? It’s easy to set up and add devices with the Alexa app on your phone, but it only works with a limited selection of devices. Specifically, those that run on the Zigbee wireless protocol. Z-Wave is not supported.
EASE OF USE
Once you’ve downloaded the Alexa app to your smart phone or tablet, getting started with the Echo Plus is about as easy as it gets. The Echo Plus will output a WiFi signal to connect to, and from there you can connect it to your home WiFi. Adding smart home devices is smooth and fast, and you can easily re-name them from within the app. Like the Wink Hub 2, the Echo Plus’s smart home controls won’t be as full-featured as what you get with the actual app, but they’re great for basic tasks.
The real star of the Echo Plus is Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant. Combine Alexa with a podcast skill, Spotify, news briefing skill, or your Lyft or Uber account, and it can follow your commands without you ever having to press a button or tap a screen. Ask Alexa to play your favorite album from Spotify, read you NPR’s top headlines, or even order you a pizza from Domino’s, and Alexa will make it happen. It’s also easy to schedule timers and alarms, add items to your Amazon wish list, and more. When you play audio from the speaker, it sounds great though not quite up to premium quality.
The Echo Plus is large and must be placed where its microphones can pick up commands, so there’s no hiding it. Luckily, the fabric-covered design is good-looking enough that most won’t mind. The biggest downside to the Echo Plus’s design is its inability to interface with many smart home devices. As a hub, it’s average at best. It’s the speaker and Alexa that make the difference.
Amazon offers a one-year limited warranty, plus service, on the Echo Plus, with 2 and 3-year warranty extensions available for an added fee.
- Your smart home needs a brain, so get started with a SmartThings Hub. It connects wirelessly with a wide range of smart devices and makes them work together
- Add smart devices and put your home to work. Choose from a wide range of compatible devices, including lights, speakers, locks, thermostats, sensors, and more
- Use the SmartThings app or Amazon Alexa to control your smart home. Teach your house new tricks by telling it what to do when you're asleep, awake, away, and back home
Samsung’s entry into the smart home hub field, SmartThings, is a solid entry at a reasonable price. It supports both Zigbee and Z-Wave wireless protocols, which means it can connect to most smart home devices, and has some great automation features. For example, the SmartThings app allows users to group devices together into rooms and create settings. You could have a living room setting for daytime, nighttime, movies, and more. This allows you to control multiple devices with a single tap on your smart phone.
The SmartThings hub also works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, allowing users to control thermostats, security cameras, lights, and more with their voice.
EASE OF USE
Thanks to its well-designed app, the SmartThings hub is a breeze to set up and use. While the device as an ethernet port, WiFi setup is surprisingly simple. Once you’re set up, grouping devices into rooms and setting up IFTTT protocols is easy. For example, you can set your speakers to play music if someone trips your security camera. These interactions and customizations give SmartThings a little more power than many smart home hubs.
The biggest downside to this device on this front is that there is no automatic upgrade available. If you have an older model SmartThings box, you’ll have to delete it and reconnect every smart device in your home to the new box manually.
Beyond connecting to a wide range of products, it’s the aforementioned ability to link those products together that makes SmartThings stand out. There are tons of interactions, and they get surprisingly sophisticated. If you have window sensors, for example, SmartThings can trigger a warning if a window is open when a storm is on the way, or turn your heat or air conditioning off when a window is open. These interactions can protect your home, save you money, or just make your life a little easier.
While it doesn’t offer support for quite the number of wireless protocols that the Wink Hub 2 does, SmartThings’ support for Zigbee and Z-Wave is sufficient for most homes. The slim design makes it easy to hide the SmartThings box, as well. The app is also well-designed and easy to navigate, and the included backup battery is much appreciated.
Like the above products on this list, Samsung offers a 1-year limited warranty on the SmartThings hub.
- Works with Alexa to easily control your home entertainment devices with your voice
- Combine up to 8 remotes and countless apps into one easy-to-use smartphone app.
- Create customized activities to control your home entertainment. For example, simply tap "Date Night" and Harmony can turn on your Sony Android TV, launch Netflix, dim your Philips Hue smart lights and turn on your Sonos connected speaker
Logitech’s Harmony line of premium remote controls is famous for its quality, and the company is hoping that reputation will extend to their entertainment-focused smart home hub. The Harmony Hub is a little different than the other devices on this list in that it isn’t a full-featured smart home hub out of the box. It requires an extender to support Zigbee and Z-Wave devices.
What it can do out of the box is put ultimate control of your home theater setup into your hands with your smart phone. It can connect with other hubs like SmartThings too, users to set lighting moods for movies and video games. The extender, which costs around $100 on its own, transforms the Harmony Hub into a more full-featured smart home hub.
EASE OF USE
The Harmony Hub is most useful for those with a great home theater setup. Users can group devices together and start up their whole home theater with a single command. For example, create a setting called “Watch a Movie” that tells it to dim the lights and turn on the TV and Blu-Ray player, and you’re ready to watch in seconds. All of this is simple to do with Logitech’s app.
The Harmony Hub connects with video game consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which is rare for smart home hubs. It can also let you jump to one of 50 favorite channels on TV, adjust the volume, and more. If you connect it to an Alexa-enabled device, you can gain full voice control over your entire entertainment setup thanks to the Harmony Hub’s compatibility with thousands of media devices. If you want a full-featured smart home hub, look elsewhere, but if you want to feel like a wizard while watching TV the Logitech Harmony Hub is the right device for you.
While the price is right, the Harmony Hub’s lack of true smart home control is disappointing. While you could buy the extender and use it to connect to your other smart home devices, this makes it as expensive as the Echo Plus. The Harmony Hub excels at what it’s made to do, which is to act as a smart remote for your entertainment center. It can even be hands-free if you link it to an Alexa device. The box itself is small enough to fit in your media cabinet unnoticed.
Logitech offers the standard one year limited warranty for the Harmony Hub.
The Wink Hub 2 is difficult to beat when it comes to dedicated smart home hubs. It may not have the Amazon Echo Plus’s speaker or the Logitech Harmony Hub’s media capabilities, but it can control a nearly limitless number of devices with ease. If you’re looking for a top-notch brain for your smart home, the Wink Hub 2 is a great choice.