A short review of the 5 best smart home hubs on Amazon
You’ve decided to that a smart home is right for you.
You’ve been researching what you need to do to build a smart home and came to our site…
Maybe you’ve even read our post “What is Home Automation and How Does It Work?”
Now you want to know what smart home hub is the best one to choose from.
So without further aduo, here is…
The 5 Best Smart Home Hubs You Can Buy On Amazon
Fair warning: I didn’t factor pricing into this review of the best smart home hubs, this is simply taking the amount of reviews, rating and the strength of the brand into account for each review
These smart home hubs are the highest rated and the best selling for an obvious reason, Amazon promotes them like crazy on the home page!
Echo Spot – Smart Alarm Clock with Alexa – $129.99 [4.5 Stars]
The Claim: The Echo Spot is designed to fit anywhere in your home.
The Review: The Echo Spot has gotten over 10k reviews but unfortunately, the Spot seems to offer more of the same whether good or bad. The Echo Spot has almost the exact same praise and complaints as the Echo Show.
The Bad: The things to try suggestions are a huge annoyance where marketing seems to be the main reason. Another slight issue with the Echo Spot is the small font size, which makes the clock seem almost useless.
The Positives: Not much in my opinion… I can’t really think of a reason to buy the Echo spot. If you just want an Amazon device with a screen, it just makes more sense to go with the Echo Show, even at the added cost. If you want something small, the Echo Dot makes more sense because you don’t need to worry pay for a screen you can read. The only reason I can really see for getting an Echo Spot is if you make and recieve a ton of Skype calls and you plan to travel with it.
Echo Plus (2nd Gen) -$149.99 [4.5 stars]
The Review: The Echo Plus gives you the basics you need for an Alexa powered Smart Home Hub. It allows you to control you home automation system with voice activation. You can use it to make calls, turn lights on and off and more. It you want to get started with a simple voice activation system that is easy to get set up and use then the Echo Plus is going to be a great fit
The Bad: The Echo Plus is going to give you a simple to use system to start with… If you have compatible devices. If you use, say, Phillips Hue lights with your system, you will get limited use capacity unless you buy a Hue Bridge to help you better control your system capabilities.
The Positive: Everything else. The simplicity of this device just makes it more valuable to someone who is just getting their toes wet with home automation and smart home devices. As long as you’re ok with buying the other smart devices to enhance your smart home hubs capabilities. The Echo Plus is going to help you do everything you want without having to waste functionality (and paying a premium) for things you don’t want.
Echo Show (2nd Gen) – $229.99 [4.5 stars]
Rated as a 4.5 star product with over 5,000 reviews on amazon, this Amazon product one of the highest rated Smart Home Hubs available. It has a 10 inch HD screen that allows you to watch videos on YouTube as well as Amazon Prime movies and TV shows. I also has dolby premium speakers, so that you can stream music or , if you’re like me, listen to audiobooks on audible. Plus, it let’s you make video calls on skype and has access to tens of thousands of skills to make your Echo Show even smarter.
For music, this device is an excellent choice, Great quality sound that is loud and clear. It even handles voice commands while the music is playing without any trouble.
It struggles when playing movies though. First, it has a hard time recognizing most of the movie names by voice command, even for Prime video selections. Prime video on the Alexa show only offers a lite version of the service which makes searching movies more difficult and offers less categories than the normal prime video service. Plus, the volume for video seems to be half the volume available for music.
Having the touch screen option leaves something to be desired. If you’re expecting it to be as simple as your phone, think again. With no clear index of abilities, you basically have to try new things to really get an idea of what your device can do. Overall, this is a device with 5 star potential but currently feels very limited by functionality of the system.
The “try this” commands that are suggested are kinda annoying as well
Finally, Amazon devices in general just seem not to play nice with very many non-Amazon devices. Getting them to work together can be a little bit of work.
The Amazon Echo Show is a great product for its marketed functionality at least in a basic level. The best use for the Echo show seems to be in the kitchen for recipes and streaming music and is serviceable when it comes to movies.
The Echo show does well picking up voice commands even while playing music and has an easy voice enabled setup with most Zigbee smart home devices.
It has a fast and simple set up. You just plug in, connect to your internet network and your ready to start using your Amazon Echo Show to shop with Alexa on Amazon or use any of your favorite Alexa skills to make your home automation easier.
Samsung SmartThings Hub (3rd Gen) – $67.97 [4 Star]
The Review: The Samsung SmartThings Hub is a great start if you’re looking for versitility. It allows you to pair with and control a multitude of smart home devices from a variety of brands. This means that the Samsung SmartThings Hub gives you the great potential in the future to try new things when it
The Bad: The negative reviews that I’ve seen around the internet almost always have to do with sporadic disconnections. This is usually a case by case basis so it’s not something that everyone will experience, but I’ve seen it as a complaint enough to know that you need to know it in case you run into the same issue.
The Positives: The great thing about the SmartThings Hub is that it is compatible with so many different smart home devices and brands, plus the price is excellent if you’re a Smart Home Dummy like me.
Philips Hue Smart Hub – $42.77 [4 stars]
The Review: The Phillips Hue Smart Hub is a solid smart home hub for the smart home newbies out there. A Great choice for most smart home automations projects simply because it allows you to use Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. It’s made by Philips, who also makes one of the most popular smart lights brands on the market. The Philips Hue doesn’t have many reviews so sales may be limited, which could also be an indication of the potential customer service issues.
The Bad: 98 foot range means that you may need to consider boosting your router to reach the rest of your home. Another not so great thing about the Philips Hue Smart Hub is that it doesn’t back up your programmed routines to the device you used to set up the Hue systems hub.
The Positive: The Philips Hue Smart Hub is available by itself or you can get it as a part of a home monitoring kit.
Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub – $79.95 [4 Stars] –
The Review: The Hubitat is a dark horse in the home automation world, at least to a Smart Home Dummy Like me… Hubitat seems to be a very high quality product but the company isn’t very well known outside of the home automation world. That being said, this smart home hub seems like it may be one of the best smart home hubs at least at first glance. The interesting thing to me that is different about the Hubitat Elevation is that they offer Tutorial videos and online documentation and support, which would be great for devices like the Echo.
The Bad: There seems to be a consistent complaint that even though there is a marketing angle of it being “local” that some of the devices you may use connect through cloud integration. There also seems to be a lot of very popular smart home devices that just won’t work with the Hubitat Elevate, which probably was something we should have expected from a company that most people have never heard of before.
The Positive: While the hubitat isn’t quite as developed as the SmartThings hub, it works with most of the home automation tasks you could want. It’s also faster than the SmartThings and a few other smart home hubs available on the market.
After going through all of these Smart Home Hubs trying to find out which is best a pattern starts to emerge and you end up realizing a couple of things…
There is a huge disconnect between what the market says they want and what they are getting.
The common complaints that you find while reviewing these devices tend to run accross the board for all of them instead of just being individual issues.
That makes it easier to overlook some of the more common complaints simply because there is no real way to get around them yet.
That being said there seems to be no clear “best” smart home hubs to choose from just yet…
Maybe at some point in the future a new device will swoop in and challenge the contenders for the top spot simply by giving consumers what they ask for. Until then, the best smart home hub seems like its a toss up based on personal choice.
My favorite hub is the Amazon Echo Show
Simply because I would prefer to have a screen to interact with for my smart home hub and I think that getting the Echo Spot with the smaller screen wouldn’t really make sense because the screen is just too small to really make sense of using it for anything more than an alarm clock in my opinion.
The Echo Show is also my favorite because it is a great device for the kitchen to use as a digital recipe book, which I love because my fianc’e and I take turns cooking and I like to get a little adventurous.
The Echo Show is the higher priced device among this list but I feel the pricing is worth it because of it’s ability to link with various different types of devices and the Amazon skills marketplace that will help you get more bang for you buck with this device.
Honorable Mention: Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub, Samsung SmartThings Hub