Smart home hubs are the command center for your home.
Software based hubs are central apps that link to all the other smart home apps on your phone. The central app tells the other device apps what to do.
Other hubs are hardware based where the physical hub connects to all of your smart devices. The app is used to tell the hub what to do. Hardware hubs provide a more centralized experience, but they do require an extra device.
Be sure to read our very detailed overview of smart home hub features so you know what to look for when evaluating each hub.
We’ve spent countless hours reviewing and reading about smart home hubs looking for the right combination of features and simplicity. While your personal preferences will dictate which device you use to anchor your smart home, we think that either the Wink Hub or the Samsung SmartThings Hub are the best bet for most people.
Both devices communicate with a wide range of smart devices from many manufacturers so you can customize your system for your needs. They both have powerful and elegant smartphone apps and most of the critical features needed to manage your home from inside or from afar.
Let’s get started: the list below covers the major platforms. There are a lot of good options, but there isn’t a universal choice; the best platform depends on your needs. Click the name of the platform to jump to our review.
The Wink Hub 2 is a classic hardware smart home hub that includes Z-Wave and Zigbee radios. It works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. The Wink Hub is a great choice if you want a wide range of device options and if you don't mind a little tinkering.
SmartThings is Samsung's foray into the smart home — and it is a worthy entry worth full consideration if you are starting a new smart home system. This review covers the 2018 version of the device, often referred to as v3 or 3rd generation. There are plenty of devices that connect to it so you will be able to make a very versatile smart home.
The Echo Plus 2nd Generation is Amazon's most recent smart home hub — now with a new look. It combines the Alexa voice assistant with a Zigbee radio to become a true home automation hub. This may be the hub for you if you are already invested in the Alexa ecosystem and want to grow your smart home capability.
Insteon’s home automation ecosystem performs reliably due to its proprietary protocols. With a wide range of compatible devices and unique powerline communication technology, Insteon is a leader in home automation. If you want a system that just works and prefer to stick with a single manufacturer for your devices then Insteon may be for you.
The Google Home group of devices provides easy access to the Google Assistant, which can also link to and control other home automation devices. While none of the devices include Z-Wave or Zigbee radios, they can connect to a wide range of products via Wi-Fi and software. If you already use Google's network (Gmail, Calendar, Music, etc.) then it might be a good device to help control your home.
The Apple Home app give you full control over all of your HomeKit compatible home automation accessories. Apple Home is a software hub that can be paired with other Apple hardware devices so that it functions like a hardware hub. It is a good setup for people heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, especially if you already own an Apple TV or HomePod.