Among all the TVs and appliances Samsung announced at CES 2022, one device in particular caught my attention: the Samsung Home Hub, which promises to make it a lot easier to control the smart home devices in your home. And it’s something Amazon, Google, and Apple would do well to copy.
The Home Hub will have an 8.4-inch touchscreen that will sit in a charging dock. Two microphones will send your voice commands to Bixby(!), and two speakers will let you play music and more. In addition to smart home devices, the Home Hub will let you control other devices in your home such as appliances, monitor energy use and air quality, and look up recipes.
Even though it no longer makes one of the best smart home hubs, Samsung’s SmartThings platform is still one of the best when it comes to connecting and controlling smart home devices. It’s easy to create pretty complex integrations between lots of different products.
However, unless you want to have the SmartThings app permanently open on a tablet, you have to either connect it to Alexa or Google Assistant, or dig out your phone if you want to turn the lights on.
Voice control is useful, but being able to tap on a screen to adjust your lights or to quickly view your video doorbell is incredibly handy. The Amazon Echo Show 15 and its smart home widgets get you some of this functionality — as does the Google Nest Hub — but don’t let you really create a customized interface from which you can adjust lights, start routines and more.
While I like the spaciousness of the Echo Show 15, an 8- or 10-inch tablet feels the right size for this sort of application. In a perfect world, Amazon would make a wall-mountable Show Mode charging dock with built-in speakers for its Fire tablets. That would give you the greatest flexibility of where you want to place it, and let you use the tablet as an Echo smart speaker.
But, without a better smart home interface, any hardware would be for naught, which is what’s so appealing about Samsung’s Home Hub. Also working in Samsung’s favor is that, unlike Google and Amazon, it also makes connected appliances, so it could make a more seamless experience if you wanted to wait until you left the house to start your washing machine, or wanted to preheat your oven when starting a recipe.
Samsung also announced that it was joining the Home Connectivity Alliance, so presumably in the future, you’d be able to use its Home Hub even if you had a GE dishwasher or a Trane air conditioner.
Samsung didn’t provide a price for the Home Hub, but said it would launch in Korea in March, with global distribution to come after. Whenever it arrives in the U.S., I can’t wait to try it out.