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Best Hubs for Smart Homes

Homes of today are being revolutionized in how they work and perform different functions. Now smart devices can do a range of tasks such as remotely manage lights, thermostats, appliances, doors and more—all with apps used on a smartphone or tablet. But to do these, a hub must be present. A hub is a centralized device that can communicate with other products (such as Nest, Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo and others).

So which home hubs are the best available? Take a look.

1. Lenovo Smart Assistant

The Lenovo Smart Assistant May 2017 release date makes it brand spanking new. And with its arrival, it’ll put the Amazon Echo for a run for its money. It’s due to the fact that it’s like the Echo in many different ways. To begin with, it looks like the Echo and it uses Alexa (an Amazon smart voice service) to perform hands-free voice commands, which include: controlling smart devices remotely (home automation), playing music and audio books, providing weather forecasts and delivering news & sports updates, etc.

What’s more is that the Lenovo Smart Assistant actually remembers your own personal preferences, such as which bands you listen to or the sports teams you always root for. It features 8 far-field microphones (the Echo only has 7) that allow it to pick up your voice from over 16 feet away—so there’s no need to yell or repeat yourself when speaking to the device. It connects via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

For other device specifics, it is listed on the lenovo.com blog site.

  1. Wink Hub 2

The Wink Hub 2 also works with Amazon Alexa for hands-free voice commands. And it works with Google Home (which is a direct competitor of Apple HomeKit), so it provides total home control in the sense of providing home automation features, such as remote control of: lights, appliances, doors and thermostats. Another useful feature is that it can be automatically programmed to operate on a specific daily schedule.

With the mobile app, custom alerts can be received and customized based on your personal preferences—much like something seen in “Pulse” a new ADT monitoring package that too provides home automation and an additional remote video surveillance option.  The Wink Hub 2 comes with an Ethernet port and can connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave technology and others. You’ll have to either visit Amazon for specific details or go to wink.com.  

  1. Samsung SmartThings (2nd Generation) 

First off, the Samsung SmartThings hub works with Amazon Alexa and can work alongside Amazon Echo, so it can perform different hand-free voice commands. Home automation is easy to do since SmartThings effortlessly syncs to over 200 compatible smart devices. So whether you are using Nest to remotely adjust the thermostat, or are using Hue to manage the lights, Samsung SmartThings is a useful home hub to consider based on it’s functionality and connectivity.

Be aware that it has several different port options: Ethernet and 2 USB ports. Works both with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave technology and other connections. Go to smartthings.com for more product specs.

Which home hub is right for you? You’ll have to examine which features work best for your home. Some may connect to more devices than the other or they may also vary in terms of built in speakers/microphones. But, whichever you choose, your home will be guaranteed to have a range of home automation features and it’ll also have Alexa’s hands-free voice services.

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