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What Are the Best Alternatives to the Wink Smart Hub?
Wink pulled a fast one on its customers in May of this year.
If you’re a Wink customer, then you got an email in your inbox informing you all your carefully designed home automations would be inaccessible on May 20th unless you signed on for a $4.99-per-month subscription plan.
We can’t blame you if you’re thinking about ditching Wink rather than opt into the new deal. If you think your time with Wink is up, here are some alternate smart hubs you could switch to (no subscription plans required).
Smart hub options other than Wink
Wink’s not the only hub out there that can link all your smart stuff together. Check out some of these alternatives.
Security equipment available
Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Cloud-to-Cloud, LAN
Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee
What to look for in a smart hub
The best home smart hubs make living easier by having integration options, offers equipment, and connects to your other smart home devices.
Features to look for in a top-rated smart hub:
- Smart home integration
- Connects with multiple smart home devices
A great smart hub will have some type of smart home integration, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Z-Wave. This allows you to keep everything under your control by the touch of a button on your smartphone through the respective app.
You're here because you like the idea of simplicity of a smart hub, so connecting to other devices is a must. Most smart hubs will let you connect devices, such as cameras, thermostats, TV streaming boxes, and security sensors.
Samsung SmartThings is the golden child of smart home hubs. It’s a well-known brand, it supports a lot of different smart home protocols (including both Z-Wave and Zigbee), and it’s pretty affordable to get started. You don’t have to pay a subscription fee to use the SmartThings app or set up custom home automation rules.
For the most part, SmartThings replaces other apps you’d use to control your smart stuff. But there are a few functions you can’t do in the SmartThings app, such as check your camera’s live feed. You’ll still need the native app for that.
Amazon Echo Plus
Source: Amazon Press Center
Let’s be real: smart speakers are the future of smart home hubs. If you don’t already have an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, they’re the easiest way to link all your smart stuff together through voice control.
But if you still want the traditional smart hub functionality, then the Amazon Echo Plus gives you both. This little hub combines an Amazon Echo with a Zigbee integration. Keep in mind that it doesn’t work with Z-Wave, but if you’re a Zigbee devotee, then this one’s for you.
Don’t need the Zigbee integration?
If you don’t need Amazon Echo Plus’s Zigbee integration, then any old Echo device will let you control your smart home devices with your voice. Check out these other options to get Amazon Alexa in your home.
Amazon Alexa devices:
Google Nest Hub Max
Source: Google Nest
The Google Nest Hub Max doesn’t quite have full smart hub status. It doesn’t offer Z-Wave or Zigbee integrations, but it does work with Wi-Fi and gives you Google Assistant control in whatever room you put it in.
Voice control is good, but the real charm of the Google Nest Hub Max is that it’s a smart display. It has a built-in camera for video calls, it can show you live-feeds of your security cameras, or just display the latest family pictures. Plus, this hub works with Nest devices, which are some of our favorites cameras, thermostats, and home security sensors.
Apple TV 4K
Source: Apple Newsroom
If you’re an Apple HomeKit fan, then an Apple product is your best bet for full HomeKit support. Your Apple TV 4K will automatically set itself up as a smart home hub if you log in to your iCloud account on your TV. From there, you can use the Apple Home app to create rules and control your smart devices.
Apple TV isn’t the only device that can make you a HomeKit master. You can also use an Apple HomePod or your iPad as a smart home hub for HomeKit devices. Just remember, you can control only HomeKit-enabled devices through the Home app. No Z-Wave or Zigbee support here.
We like the Apple TV over the HomePod or an iPad because it also lets you connect to streaming services and live TV. But, of course, there’s nothing stopping you (besides, you know, money) from having the Apple TV, a HomePod, and an iPad in your house. Gotta catch ‘em all.
Best security system smart hub options
Did you know that home security systems often come with smart home hubs these days? Most security systems offer some type of smart home support, including Z-Wave and Zigbee integrations.
Security systems have higher up-front costs than a smart hub alone, and sometimes you have to sign on to a monitoring contract. But if you want to secure your home and still keep all your smart stuff working, a security system is a good way to go.
Z-Wave home security systems:
Zigbee home security systems:
Check out our Best Home Security Systems review to find a smart security system that can replace your Wink hub.
Recap: You don’t have to pay for Wink
If you’re not loyal enough to Wink that you’re willing to shell out five bucks every month, that’s ok. There are plenty of smart home hubs in the sea. Check out one of your other options:
- Samsung SmartThings: For $225, Samsung SmartThings connects to both Z-Wave and Zigbee, and you don't have to pay a subscription fee for the app.
- Amazon Echo Plus: The Amazon Echo Plus is the most inexpensive option on our top four list at $150. This smart home hub works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Google Nest Hub Max: If you like Google Assistant and have Nest devices, this smart home hub is for you. For $180, it has a built-in camera for video calls and it can show you live feeds of your security cameras.
- Apple TV 4K: If you're an Apple person, look no further. Starting at $160, your Apple TV will automatically set itself up as a smart home hub if you log in to your iCloud account on your TV.
We research, test, and compare smart home hubs based on these five categories:
- Smart home integrations
- Ease of app use
To decide which smart home system is the best, we looked at pricing in terms of getting what you pay for.
Some smart home hubs are pricier because it comes with the whole sha-bang: smart home integrations, a smooth app, and the opportunity to connect many smart home devices to said app.