Top three best smart home hubs for 2018
By Martin Pratt
Smart hubs have been around for a few years, and as smart tech is now commonplace they are becoming more useful. The increase in popularity means household names such as Panasonic and Samsung are creating their own smart hubs and connected devices.
Now that you can use smartphone apps to control everything from your washing machine to your light bulbs, having a hub is a good idea if you want your connected tech to work harmoniously. The best hubs can control most, if not all, of your smart devices, which means you can use one app rather than bother with switching between different ones for each device.
The popularity of smart tech is only going to increase, so we’ve rounded up the best smart hubs to control the ever-increasing number of smart home devices set to be available in 2017.
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Top three smart hubs
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And here are three smart hubs to avoid
The meteoric rise of smart tech means that plenty of companies are trying to get in on the action. The rush to get competing products out the door leads to half-baked hubs that are dunces compared to the smart hubs in the table above.
Our testing found hubs that were difficult to set up, with some taking up to 30 minutes to connect to our router. We also found hubs that didn’t work with some of the most popular smart home gadgets, even when they were claimed to.
Unfamiliar tech can be challenging at the best of times and, while some hubs are simple to use and feel intuitive, we’ve found several that will leave you longing for the day when your phone and computer were the only things accessing the internet. We’ve rounded up some of the worst hubs on the market, so you know which ones to avoid.
Three smart hubs to avoid
Despite its low cost, we can’t recommend this hub. It doesn’t come bundled with any of its own smart tech and we found that when we connected other brands’ smart tech some features were missing. A smart hub is supposed to add functions and make it easier to control tech in your home. Any hub that can’t do that is one we can’t recommend.
The closed nature of this system is its major failing. If the range of devices was bigger, this wouldn’t be such a problem. Devices aside, we also struggled to create an account, and there are several niggling drawbacks to the app, such as not being able to group your devices by what room they’re in.
How to find the best smart hub
When we test smart hubs we look at how easy they are to set up, how well the control app works and whether they play nicely with other devices. Many smart hubs come with an assortment of devices such as security cameras, smart plugs and motion sensors. The hub will often be best at controlling these bundled devices, which is why we also look to see how the hubs work with smart tech from other brands.
The most important things to consider when you choose a smart hub are what devices it works with and how secure it is. If you’ve already got some smart tech at home, don’t buy a hub that isn’t compatible. Likewise, have a think about what connected tech you might want to add in the future.
Check to see whether the hub is part of a closed system. Some hubs, such as the Panasonic and Hive devices, only work with devices from the same brand, so if you’re looking to expand your collection of connected tech, you may find your choices are limited.
When it comes to security, you’ll want a hub that requires you to set your own password. Some go further by asking for a security code to connect with certain devices. There have already been high-profile hacks where criminals have exploited weaknesses in smart home security, which is why we tell you how secure each hub is.