Smart homes have become increasingly more common in recent years. We know what a smart home is and what it entails, but what’s the best way to control one?

You’ve probably realized that having several “smart” devices can become overwhelming in short-order. Different brands, different apps to control each product or device – things can get confusing and disorganized in a hurry!

Enter the smart hub. 

Supports The Most Devices

Wink 2

Best Overall

Specs & Price: See Here

​Works Well With Samsung

SmartThings

Works Great In Samsung Ecosystem

Specs & Price: See Here

Both Wink and Samsung have designed their products with the user at the forefront. Each hub exists to streamline the smart home and give customers a more centralized, simple way to control all of their smart devices seamlessly. Gone are the days of rummaging through remotes or bogging your smartphone down with countless apps to control your smart technology.

The Wink 2 and Samsung SmartThings hubs both make some impressive promises, many of which are similar. But do they deliver on these promises? How will you know which to choose?

In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at both models and highlight the pluses and minuses of each, with the goal of aiding you in making the best, most informed buying decision possible.

Bottom Line Up Front:

If you’re in a rush, here are the points to consider when choosing Wink 2 or Smartthings

Wink 2

  • Supported by one of the largest varieties of smart communications protocols
  • Pairs to over 500 devices in your home, including Alexa and Google Home
  • Is straightforward and easy to set up

SmartThings

  • Like Wink 2 SmartThings also connects to Alexa and Google home so you can use voice commands
  • Has settings for routines like Good Morning, Goodbye, Good Night, and more 
  • Has a AA battery backup system so your hub doesn’t shut down if the power goes out

Wink 2 & SmartThings Specs at-a-glance:


Wink 2

SmartThings

Protocol

Bluetooth LE, Z-Wave (Security Enabled Z-Wave Plus Device), ZigBee, WiFi, Lutron Clear Connect, Thread (future), Kidde

ZigBee, Z-Wave, Cloud-to-Cloud, WiFi, LAN

Platform Compatibility (Products from which you can control the hub)

iOS, Apple Watch, Android, and Android Wear. Amazon Alexa, program recipes with IFTTT.

Android (4.1 or later) or iPhone (iOS 9.0 or later), Amazon Alexa, Google Home

Power

Connects to power source in wall

Connects to power source in wall

Connection

Connects to your WiFi with an included ethernet cable

Connects to your WiFi with an included ethernet cable

Requirements

- WiFi network with 5 GHz
- Ethernet Port 

- Android or iOS

- Wink app

- WiFi network with routers
- Ethernet port
- iOS (8.1 or later), Android (4.0 or later), or Windows Phone (8.1 or later)
- SmartThingsapp

Security

Very secure:
- Certificate Encryption
- 2 factor authentication
- Regular security audits

Secure:
- Encryption

Dimensions

7.2 x 7.2 x 1.2 inches

4.2 x 4.9 x 1.3 in

Key Features - Wink 2 Hub Review

As a hub, the wink 2 integrates all of your smart home technology into one language so you can control everything with a single app. You don’t have to fumble with different apps for every system in your home.

Use this hub for smart home convenience and security. Link and control such devices as door locks, door and window sensors, light switches, including dimmers, outlets, and more.

The Wink 2 can pair with up to 530 different devices. If you are upgrading all or most of your home to smart home technology, the Wink 2 can handle it. When you buy smart home products, the accompanying information should indicate if it is Wink-supported. Additionally, this Wink at Home Wiki provides a list of supported devices.

Something to be aware of is while that Wink 2 does support hundreds of brands and devices, not all work equally well. Most do work smoothly, but there are instances of some products working less reliably than the rest.  

Thanks to its auto-discovery feature, this smart home hub will not leave you feeling less than smart. Auto-discovery is a time-saver and a stress-reducer because when you startup your hub, it will automatically search for and link with your existing smart home devices.

Auto-discovery is a new-and-improved feature. The original Wink required you to manually enter and link each device. Wink 2 does this tedious task for you, making it incredibly user-friendly even for beginners.

Because Wink has partnered with Amazon Echo, if you use Amazon Echo/Alexa in your smart home, you can link it to Wink 2 and use voice commands to operate many of your smart devices and products.

People frequently ask if a television can be controlled with the Wink 2. Like all hubs so far, the Wink 2 can’t control your television, even if you have a smart TV. Hubs are designed to link all of your lighting, heating/air conditioning, and security devices through a central location (the hub) so you can control them all through a single app. Television control takes different engineering and operation.

If you are looking to control your TV you should look into getting a Harmony Hub or Fire TV. 

Wink 2 is reliable and consistent. It does very well when connected to WiFi, but drops and slow-downs are an inherent part of WiFi. If you’re WiFi frequently needs rebooting, you can avoid drops in your Wink 2’s functioning by connecting it to the ethernet using the included cable.

Pros

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    Very simple automation system that is easy to set-up and use—no technical know-how required
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    Simple and easy-to use app allows even kids to control smart home devices without difficulty
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    Improved memory over the original Wink (64 MB vs 512 MB)

Cons

  • Wink 2 must be accessed through its app, which is for mobile devices only rather than on a desktop computer or internet browser
  • Not yet compatible with Apple Homekit or Google Home
  • Range of up to 50’ may fall a bit short depending on a home’s layout

Key Features - SmartThings Hub Review

Samsung SmartThings is designed to be the center of your smart home. By linking your smart devices and equipment through SmartThings, you can monitor and control everything with a single app.

Although it is a Samsung product, the SmartThings app is available for both Android and iPhone. It is fully compatible with Apple devices, so you can set up SmartThings no matter what devices you have. 

Once you’ve connected all of your devices through your SmartThings, you can automate and schedule them. This feature is useful when you want your lights to turn on when you open your door to enter your house, for example, or you want your thermostat to kick in an hour before you arrive home at the end of the day.

An extension of the scheduling capability is the SmartThings Routines feature. You can program your home to behave in a specific way for a Good Morning routine, Good Night routine, and more. This is a handy way to signal transitions; for example, when the lights dim, and certain music begins to play over your stereo system, everyone knows that it’s time to get ready for bed.

The SmartThings hub coordinates your smart home devices like door locks, lights, outlets, thermostats, and more. This gives you control over your whole smart house with a single, user-friendly app. It does not however, support some major smart home devices like Nest.

You will also need to get a Harmony hub or Fire TV is you want to control your television unfortunately.

What the SmartThings does, it does reliably. Once devices are connected, they tend to remain connected without your having to repeatedly reconnect them. A nice, and simple, little component that adds to the device’s reliability is its use of AA batteries as backup power. If you experience a power outage, your hub will continue to operate on battery power. Great for things like door locks, not so great for things like lightbulbs.

SmartThings is simple to set up and use. Simply plug it in, install the app, and it does the rest. Auto-detection means that you don’t have to enter every one of your devices manually. The app on your phone controls everything you’ve interfaced through the hub. Everyone in your home can download and use the user-friendly app.

Pros

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    Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa and Google Home, so you can use the voice command system you already have to control all of your smart devices through your SmartThings hub
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    Range of 50’-130’ (depending on the home’s construction) provides a wide coverage area
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    Receive alerts if something is amiss, such as unexpected movement in your home

Cons

  • Fewer compatible brands than other smart home hubs (brands include Honeywell, Philips Hue, and Kwikset
  • A few smart home devices, such as the Honeywell Programmable Thermostat, might not be automatically detected when you set up the hub, requiring you to reset that device using a procedure called Z-Wave exclusion. Step-by-step instructions help with the process
  • Not compatible with Apple Homekit

Conclusion: Wrapping It Up

Smart home technology abounds. Devices watch our homes while we’re away. Other devices turn our lights on and off. We can control our heating and cooling system from afar. There’s so much more we can do now (and even more in the future).

This is useful, but it becomes very cumbersome to manage when we have a different app for each device in our home. That’s where a hub can come to our rescue and make life so much easier.

Integrating all of our smart home systems into one central operational hub makes interfacing with our home a snap. The best hubs connect to a wide variety of brands and devices, work with existing voice-activated systems, and are user-friendly for everyone in the home.

If you are looking for an incredibly simple smart home hub to link with the wide variety of products and brands you already possess, including Alexa, the Wink 2 might be a great choice.

If you need a hub that has an extensive range, back-up battery system to keep your home operational even in a power outage, and works with Alexa or Google home, then Samsung SmartThings might be the better choice for you.

While we’d be satisfied with either, if we had to choose, we’d pick the Wink 2. Wink 2 is compatible with more brands and devices, and more people might find it the easier of the two hubs to install and operate. In fact, Wink prides itself on being the first hub designed not for technically inclined consumers but for the everyday, regular people among us.

We’ll leave you with a little hint to assist you in deciding which product is best for you: download the app. It’s free, and while it won’t let you see how the hub actually would work for you, it gives you an idea about how it works, what the app is like to use, and more. Let all of your household members do the same. It’s not quite a product test-drive, but it’s close. It helps you be smart about your smart home hub.

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