Samsung SmartThings v.3
The Samsung SmartThings hub is still the best at integrating all your smart home devices, but it could still be improved in some areas.
Amazon Echo Dot
With a nicer design and vastly improved audio, the third-generation Echo Dot is Amazon's best, cheapest speaker yet.
If you put in the time, you can do a lot with the Hubitat Elevation smart home hub, but it's not for everyone.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of smart lights, digital locks, security cameras, thermostats, and more, but if you want to control them all from a single interface, then you're going to need a smart home hub. Based on our extensive testing, the Samsung SmartThings Hub v3 is the best smart home hub for the majority of consumers. Not only does it cost less than $70 and works with a wide range of devices, but its logic lets you set up fairly robust rules to trigger devices. Still, there areas where it can be improved.
Our favorite budget smart home hub is the third-generation Amazon Echo Dot; while not a hub in the traditional sense—you can only control devices connected to Wi-Fi— you can link lots of smart home devices in the Alexa app, and then trigger them using the Dot. Alexa's Routines also let you control multiple devices with a single command. Plus, the third-generation Dot has much improved audio over the previous model. Similarly, you can use Google Assistant to set up routines with Google Home-compatible smart home devices.
Make sure you check out all of our top picks for smart speakers, lights, locks, and more on our best smart home gadgets page.
Latest News & Updates (July 2019)
- Philips Hue's new Bluetooth smart lights can connect directly to the Amazon Echo Dot, Google Home and other smart speakers, so you no longer need a Hue Bridge in order to control your lights with Alexa or Google Assistant. However, you will need the bridge if you want to access all of the Hue lights features, such as away-from-home control and Friends of Hue functionality.
- The Hubitat Elevation now has a mobile app. Available for Android and iOS devices, it should allow users to more easily manage their smart home network; previously, they had to use a web-based interface, which is a bit clunky.
- Google is launching a new smart display this fall. The Nest Home Max ($229, available Sept. 9) will have a 10-inch display, 6.5MP camera, and will let users connect to and control smart home devices. The Nest Home Max will also have built-in support for Thread-enabled devices.
Best Smart Home Hub
The third-generation Samsung SmartThings hub can connect to hundreds of devices — more than most other hubs — and lets you create a wide range of different scenarios for all of the gadgets in your home. The newest version of the hub has Wi-Fi, which means you have more flexibility in where you can place it in your house, but it's lost its battery backup, so you won't be able to control connected smart home devices if the power goes out.
Best Budget Smart Home Hub
At just $49, the Echo Dot is half the price of most other hubs, making it an inexpensive investment for those just getting into smart home automation. However, it can control a wide variety of devices. The third-generation Dot has a larger and more powerful speaker than the previous model, and it has an updated design with a more attractive cloth cover. In addition to turning your lights and other devices on and off, the Dot can also read news headlines, weather reports, sports scores, and a host of other things.
Best for Power Users
The Hubitat Elevation hub is not for smart home novices, but advanced users will appreciate the depth and complexity with which they can connect all of their smart home devices. The hub itself is small, but can connect to both Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. There's a learning curve to Hubitat's web interface, and there's no mobile app yet, but you can do far more with Hubitat than SmartThings.
The second-generation Echo Plus is larger, and delivers a much larger sound, than other Echo smart speakers. The plus also has a built-in Zigbee radio, which lets so-equipped smart home devices (such as Philips Hue lights) connect directly to your network—no bridge needed. The Plus sounds great, and connecting smart devices was a cinch, but it lacks the more complex interactions you can get with other hubs, and it doesn't support Z-Wave devices.
Best Google Home Hub
This Amazon Echo competitor also has a built-in speaker, can respond to voice commands, and can both control smart home devices and stream music. But where the Google Home separates itself is its integration with Google Assistant, which lets you search for everything and anything. Plus, if you also have a Chromecast, you can control it via voice through Google Home.
Best HomeKit Hub
Hub + Mesh Router
If you're looking for a Wi-Fi router and smart home hub in one, Samsung's Connect Home Hub mesh router has its SmartThings hub built in. We liked its ease of setup, its fairly speedy throughput, and the ability to expand its reach with extenders. Samsung offers the Connect Home (which offers speeds up up to 866 Mbps/5GHz and 400 Mbps/2.4GHz), or the Connect Home Pro (1733 Mbps/5GHz and 800 Mbps/2.4GHz).
Apple's smart speaker sounds fantastic, thanks to its multitude of speakers and microphones, which automatically tune the HomePod to whatever room it's in. However, Siri can't do nearly as much as Alexa and Google Assistant, and HomeKit lags when it comes to smart home device integration.
Good For Beginners
Slim and sleek, Wink's second-generation smart home hub connects to a large number of smart home gadgets: Alexa, Google Home, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Lutron Clear Connect, and Kidde devices. It will also connect to Bluetooth LE, and has built-in support for Google's Thread interface. Plus, Wink added a more powerful processor, eight times the amount of memory, as well as 5GHz Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port. As with the original Wink Hub, the Hub 2's intuitive interface is good for those dipping their toes into smart homes, but power users may be put off by its lack of advanced features.