Best Smart Home Hub: One Device to Rule Them All

Science-fiction novels and movies have been telling us about home automation for decades. But that’s all it evers was: science-fiction, an impossibly distant dream. Voice-controlled devices and AI virtual assistants were just a bridge too far.

This is no longer the case. Today’s homes are full of smart devices that make your life easier in a number of ways. Smart thermostats, smart door locks, and smart security cameras are just scratching the surface of what the market has to offer nowadays.

That said, not all smart hubs are equal. If you want to control dozens of smart devices successfully, you’ll need the best smart home hub you can find. In case you’re not familiar with how these devices work, we’ll clue you in.

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Best Hub for Smart Home: Top 10 Reviews

Echo Dot (3rd Generation) Review

Echo Dot (3rd Generation) Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • Elegant design

  • Supports over 10,000 smart devices

  • Integrated Alexa

  • Inexpensive

CONS
  • Non-customizable design

  • Lacks bass when playing music

The Echo Dot is one of the best-known smart home hub devices on the market. Amazon is currently selling its third generation of hubs, which combine quality and an affordable price.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Echo Dot is its pleasant and compact design. Less than four inches in width, the puck-shaped Dot is both unobtrusive and elegant. What separates the latest incarnation from the rest in terms of design is the stylish sandstone fabric that covers it. There are four buttons on the top that let you control the hub in case you don’t want to use your voice.

According to Amazon, the Echo Dot works with more than 10,000 smart devices, which is certainly an impressive number. The hub lets you perform a whole range of functions with a single voice control action. Obviously, being an Amazon product, the Echo Dot is the best smart home hub for Alexa. In fact, the virtual assistant is integrated into the hub.

When it comes to security, the Echo Dot uses multiple layers of protection, but its most interesting feature is the newly activated Alexa Guard option. All you need to do is tell Alexa that you’re leaving the house and you’ll get an alert if the smoke alarm activates, CO levels become critical, or glass breaks in your home.

For many users, the best thing about the Echo Dot is its price. It costs $49, which is almost half of what most other hubs cost. Undoubtedly, this is a great starter pack for users who need a reliable and affordable wireless hub for their home.

Wink Hub 2 Review

Wink Hub 2 Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • 5 GHz radio

  • Supports Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave

  • Automatic device detection

CONS
  • There’s no battery backup

  • Popup ads in the app can be irritating

The Wink Hub 2 is another reliable product that won’t tear a hole through your budget. Thanks to the tall and slim design of this WiFi hub for home, it should fit in nicely with any room in your home. It’s completely wireless, so you won’t have to worry about fitting the cables or drilling holes.

One of the biggest differences between the previous version of the hub and the current, second incarnation is the 5 GHz radio. When it comes to wireless technology, the Wink Hub 2 works with some of the most common protocols, including Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-Wave. The smart hub automatically detects all devices and guides you through the setup process whenever necessary.

Even though the hub supports IFTTT, you can create rules within the app itself by using the “Wink Robots” feature. Like most of the best smart home hubs on the market, Wink also supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings.

Even though it’s about twice the amount you’d pay for the Echo Dot, the Wink Hub 2 still isn’t too expensive. The hub costs just under $99, which is quite reasonable compared to some competitors.

Logitech Harmony Hub Review

Logitech Harmony Hub Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • Supports over 270,000 devices

  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant

  • One-touch actions and time-triggered events

  • Good price

CONS
  • Model numbers need to be inserted manually

  • No physical remote

There is something retro about the design of Logitech’s Harmony Hub, but it’s impossible to tell whether the product’s designers were intentionally aiming for that look or not. At first glance, the Harmony Hub looks like a discman, but that technology has been dead for decades now, so younger users might not even remember it.

Just the fact that the Harmony Hub works with more than 270,000 home entertainment and smart home devices makes it one of the top smart home hubs on the market. It supports two of the biggest voice assistants right now: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The hub is also compatible with some of the most popular home automation brands including Nest, SmartThings, and Philips Hue. 

The Harmony Hub doesn’t have a physical remote; you control everything through the dedicated Harmony app. While the hub automatically scans for devices, you still need to input all the model numbers manually. This slows down the setup process, so we had to mention it as a negative in our home automation review. Using this hub, it’s possible to control up to eight different devices in your home, which is more than enough for any household.

With the app, you can easily automate most functions you could possibly want. The Harmony Hub allows up to 50 one-touch actions and time-triggered events. It uses various wireless technologies like IR, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth to ensure the signal gets through regardless of any obstacles.

Logitech’s Harmony Hub costs $69.99. This is quite affordable considering you’re getting one of the best home automation hubs on the market.

Samsung SmartThings Hub Review

Samsung SmartThings Hub Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • Numerous automation options

  • ZigBee and Z-Wave protocols

  • Alexa and Google Assistant protocols

  • Affordable price

CONS
  • No Nest support

  • No backup battery

SmartThings was already a successful project in 2014 when it was acquired by Samsung. Supported by this technological giant, the company quickly became one of the most important figures in the world of smart devices. It’s no surprise, then, that this product would be included in our list of top smart hubs in 2019.

The design of SmartThings’ home hub is extremely simple and clean. It’s basically just a pure white, flat, square device with the company’ name on it. This Samsung smart hub can connect to other devices via Wi-Fi or ethernet cable, and can work with popular protocols like ZigBee and Z-Wave. However, it needs to be plugged into the wall and there’s no backup battery to keep everything going during power outages.

You control the hub through the dedicated app, which offers a lot of features. Among these is the fact that you can program the hub to get alerts whenever one of your smart devices detects a problem. Samsung’s best home controller also lets you organize automated events through so-called “SmartThings routines.” You can create a range of triggers and rules, then activate them with a single tap. If you want to use voice control, you can do that via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

The device costs $69.99, which is pretty standard for the industry. It’s possible to find better deals on platforms like Amazon, but don’t expect a drastic reduction in price. At the very least, you’ll be able to find a bundle deal to save money on this smart hub.

Hubitat Elevation Review

Hubitat Elevation Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • Local data storage

  • ZigBee and Z-Wave support

  • Offline automation

CONS
  • No native app

  • No support for Bluetooth devices

  • Requires some technical knowledge

So far, our smarthome hub reviews have mostly been aimed at casual users who aren’t all that tech-savvy. This is not the case with the Hubitat Elevation. While it’s more complex than most other devices on our list, it also offers some fascinating features.

Relatively small but elegant, this hub looks like a normal modem that doesn’t stand out from other similar devices. It connects to the local network using an Ethernet cable, which makes it extremely reliable and secure. Speaking of security, one of Hubitat’s key features is local data storage. Because the hub doesn’t use cloud storage, everything stays safely within your local network. All of the automation rules you establish work even when you’re offline, which is really important.

If we were to make a smart hub comparison between Hubitat and other brands, we’d immediately notice the company’s dedication to the user’s security. Besides storing all the data locally, the hub also lets you protect your controller with a local password. This level of security, however, doesn’t have a negative effect on the user experience. You don’t have to give someone your password to perform simple tasks like turning on the light.

The Hubitat Elevation is considered by many the best ZigBee hub, but it also supports Z-Wave protocols. Wi-Fi devices can be connected through your router, although the hub doesn’t work with Bluetooth technology. Strangely, there’s no native app that will let you control this smart hub. Everything happens through the company’s secure web page. You can also use two popular voice services: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

This smart hub device costs $74.95 if you buy it directly from the company’s website. However, this works only for the 48 mainland states in the US. If you’re in Alaska or Hawaii, you might have to pay about 50% more for the same product.

Google Nest Hub Review

Google Nest Hub Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • 7-inch display

  • Ambient EQ technology

  • Compatibility with over 5,000 devices

CONS
  • Poor sound quality

One of the biggest names in the world of smart devices recently joined forces with the trend-setting search engine to create something of a superbrand. It makes sense that users would have lofty expectations of such a high-end collaboration. Fortunately for them, the brand delivered.

Certainly the most noticeable feature of Google Nest’s smart hub is the 7-inch touchscreen display. No other hubs on the market offer this. That said, it’s peculiar that the company decided to advertise the product mainly as a high-quality digital photo frame, when it’s much more than that. Google Nest’s hub is actually one of the best home automation devices on the market.

Seeing how any smart home hub will be a central part of your home, it’s important that it fits in. Google Nest uses so-called Ambient EQ technology to adjust the color and lighting of the screen to blend in with the room. That way you don’t have to worry about matching the colors or changing the brightness throughout the day. The digital photo frame picks your best photos and showcases them automatically.

Of course, this is all just on the outside. The primary function of Google Nest’s best home automation system is to give you full control over your smart devices. The hub can control over 5,000 devices, which is fewer than what many of its competitors offer. Most of the time, however, it’s more than enough for any household. Automation works through customizable routines that can schedule actions based on your individual needs and preferences.

The hub has a built-in Google Assistant to help you control everything with your voice. In addition to that, there is also a full-range speaker, but don’t expect too much from it. The sound quality isn’t that great; you’re better off hooking up a good-quality portable speaker to the hub

Costing about $100, Google Nest hub is an affordable choice for a high-end device. You get all the home automation options you need in an eye-pleasing package that won’t let you down.

Securifi Almond 3 Smart Home Hub

Securifi Almond 3 Smart Home Hub - best smart home hub
PROS
  • Resistive touchscreen

  • Mesh network

  • Z-Wave and ZigBee support

  • IFTTT compatible

CONS
  • 2.4GHz connections not reliable

  • A single hub offers modest connection quality

  • Expensive

Year after year, Securifi Almond products keep getting better and better. The company’s latest, third incarnation offers a lot of new improvements and add-ons, securing its place on our list of the best smart home hub devices.

While the 3-inch display seems minute compared to Google Nest’s hub, there’s no denying that the design works. The resistive touchscreen is tucked inside a black casing that gives off an elegant, modern vibe. Each one of the devices covers about 1,300 square feet, which is more than enough for a small home. However, Almond’s usefulness really comes to light when you combine a couple of these hubs and create a mesh network. This ensures you get a reliable Wi-Fi connection with no dead spots. 

As was the case with previous versions, this one also supports several different protocols, making it a great Z wave hub that also works with ZigBee. You can control your network through the native app or voice-controlled assistants like Amazon Alexa. The app gives you a full overview of the network and the devices connected to it. You can restrict access and remove devices with just a few phone swipes. In addition to that, you get push notifications for any alert you deem relevant.

The hub is compatible with IFTTT, which is necessary for realizing the full potential of your smart home. In addition to that, the Almond 3 works with some of the biggest names in the smart device industry, including Amazon, Nest, and Philips Hue.

Securifi claims that its home hub works with hundreds of smart devices. This sounds impressive, but a quick home automation comparison with similar devices shows that it’s well behind the pack. Most of the other top players on the market work with thousands of devices. 

The price is far from cheap, with a single hub costing $149.99. You can get a discount if you opt for three of these hubs – $399.99 per bundle – but it’s still quite a lot of money.

VeraPlus Home Hub Review

VeraPlus Home Hub Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi support

  • Simple automation process

  • Can work without an internet connection

CONS
  • Requires personal information during registration

  • Supports a smaller number of devices

It’s highly unlikely you’ll be blown away by the design of the VeraPlus home hub when you first see it. Out of all the home automation systems on the market, this might be the most basic-looking. Indeed, there’s nothing that would make you think this is anything but a normal modem. But of course, appearances aren’t everything.

VeraPlus reportedly supports over 1,500 devices. While this isn’t as impressive as what some competitors offer, it’s still quite enough for most households. It supports connections through Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. The initial setup wizard will help you get everything going, step by step. The entire automation process is simple and relies on creating so-called “scenes.” In many ways, this is similar to SmartThings’ “routines.” You create a set of rules and triggers and activate them when you wish. Thanks to geofencing, the hub knows when you’re away and can use it as a trigger for activating alarms, for example.

In our home automation controller reviews, we feel it is important to point out whether or not a device can also work without an internet connection. While the VeraPlus can function without an internet connection, you won’t be able to control devices remotely. If you buy an external battery (that doesn’t come in the basic package), you’ll be able to receive text message alerts.

This hub isn’t exactly cheap, but there are certainly more expensive options on the web. The VeraPlus home hub costs $99.95 if you buy directly from the manufacturer’s website. This is a middle ground between the lighter version – VeraEdge – and the more complex VeraSecure. You can find the one that works best for your budget and needs.

Amazon Echo Show Review

Amazon Echo Show Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • 10.1-inch display

  • Premium speakers

  • Built-in Alexa assistant

CONS
  • Supports only ZigBee devices

  • Quite expensive

The second generation of the Amazon Echo Show goes beyond a simple smart hub that works with connected home devices. You can also use this device to keep track of your security, make calls, watch videos, listen to music, or simply get Alexa to help you solve any problems you have.

With a 10.1-inch HD screen, the Echo Show looks more like a tablet than a regular smart home hub. The premium speakers are located at the back to leave more space for the display at the front. However, just because they’re at the back doesn’t mean they’re not important. In fact, these premium speakers offer exceptional sound quality with rich bass. Because of that, the Echo Show is a great entertainment center for your home. If you want to, you can also surf the web using two of the available browsers: Silk and Firefox (but obviously not Google Chrome).

You can control your smart house devices using the touchscreen on the hub, but voice-controlled Alexa is probably the easiest method. When it comes to connectivity, the Amazon Echo Show works only with ZigBee devices, which is slightly disappointing. There is no support for Z-Wave or Bluetooth devices.

Besides the fact that you can check out footage from your security cameras directly from the display, you can also make video calls to people who have the same hub as you. It doesn’t sound like much of a feature, but it creates a community among Amazon users, which is probably what the company was going for.If there’s one thing that might discourage you from buying this piece of smart home tech, it’s the price. The device costs about $230, which is quite a lot to swallow, although you do get some cool features for that price.

Vivint Smart Home Hub Review

Vivint Smart Home Hub Review - best smart home hub
PROS
  • 7-inch HD touchscreen

  • Supports Alexa and Google Assistant

  • Backup battery

  • Local encryption

  • 24/7 monitoring

CONS
  • Only compatible with Z Wave devices

  • Requires subscription

Pairing a smart home hub with a 24/7 monitoring service is the best option for security-oriented users. Although it requires a monthly subscription, it lifts a huge weight off your shoulders. That is exactly what Vivint has in mind.

At a first glance, Vivint might not look like one of the best smart home hubs on the market. The light-green background of the 7-inch HD touchscreen really stands out in any room, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. That said, the interface is fairly simple and clear; any member of your household will be able to use it with ease. The camera at the front allows for two-way communication with family, visitors, and even monitoring agents at Vivint. If you’re in any kind of emergency, you there is a large panic button that alerts the agents immediately.

Vivint’s smart hub can communicate with Z-Wave devices, but it unfortunately doesn’t support other types of connection. Considering that security is the order of the day for Vivint, it’s no surprise that this device uses local-level encryption so that you won’t have to worry about hackers getting into your hub and taking over your home automation products. Furthermore, if there’s a power outage, the Vivint hub will keep soldiering on thanks to its backup battery. To make things easier for you, it’s also possible to control your hub through voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

The problem with subscription services is that you never really know what the costs will add up to. You need to call the company and get a quote depending on the size of your home and your security needs. Vivint’s packages start at $29.99 a month and include a smart home hub, a home security system, the Sky app, and support from the monitoring center.

FAQ

Why do I need a smart home hub?

Different smart devices in your home use different protocols, so you need a specific device to tie them all together. This is what smart home hub is for. It gives you unified control over all your devices and lets you create automated actions. In addition to that, the best home automation hub can also divert connections from your network and help reduce traffic.

Do smart bulbs need a hub?

When they first appeared, most smart bulbs required a hub, but that’s not the case anymore. LIFX is one of the first major manufacturers whose bulbs can be controlled through Wi-Fi without the need need for a hub. Recently, another big player joined this initiative: Philips Hue. Although most of this company’s products still need a Hue bridge, the newer models are slowly putting an end to this.

What is the best smart home hub?

There are a couple of devices vying for the title of best smart home hub in 2019. Samsung’s SmartThings hub gives you a lot of automation options at an affordable price. If you’re only just starting out, you might want to try the Wink Hub 2, which has all the connectivity you might need and, more importantly, is easy to setup and use. Of course, if you’re looking for something more, you might want to go with the Google Nest smart hub, which comes with a 7-inch touchscreen and looks amazing on any shelf.

What Is a Hub?

In order to function, most smart devices need to be connected to a central system in the house. Since there are thousands of different devices on the internet, they all rely on their own technologies and mobile apps. A smart home hub connects all of these devices and gives you complete control over them. Indeed, the best smart home controller can help you automate most of your home’s everyday functions.

Thanks to this connectivity, you can set up your devices, schedule events, and control everything remotely. A smart hub is basically the electronic heart of your entire home. In today’s world where time is the most valuable resource we have, home automation really makes a difference.

Because we want you to experience all the benefits of living in a fully functional automated home, we’ve compiled this selection of the greatest hubs the internet has to offer.

Finding the Best Smart Home Hub in 2019

You’ve heard us mention the best smart home hubs a couple of times by now. But how do we decide which of these devices is the best? Obviously, not all hubs are the same. While some are just an affordable way to tie your devices together, others are high-end solutions that go way beyond the basics.

With that in mind, we created this list of superior hub products by focusing on these factors:

Design 

Imagine buying a functional but unsightly home hub that dominates your room, rather than blending into the house’s aesthetics. It simply doesn’t work, does it? For this reason, design plays an important role.

Connectivity 

The best home smart hub’s primary function is to connect all of your smart devices. Because of that, it should be able to automatically recognize as many of them as possible and identify the technology they use.

Voice assistants

High-end home hubs usually also function as smart speakers. That way, you can use voice-controlled AI assistants like Amazon Alexa. Some of these hubs have integrated virtual assistants, some can only support them, while others don’t work with them at all. Can you really have a fully automated home without a virtual assistant?

Security 

When you have a single device controlling all other devices in your home, you want it to be as secure as possible. We’re talking about layers of encryption, two-factor authentication, anti-hacking mechanisms, and all other security precautions you’d expect the best smart home hub devices to take.

Special features 

Here we look at what separates this hub from its competitors on the market. Are there some special features that no one else is offering? We research the competition thoroughly to make sure we don’t miss out on anything important.

Price

Of course, no review is complete without taking into account the price of the product. If you need to sell all your smart devices just to afford the best hub for home automation, you might be barking up the wrong tree – an overly expensive tree at that. Don’t worry – we’ll always give you a heads-up about the cost of the product so you don’t get too excited or disappointed.

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