Tech Tools: Samsung SmartThings hub
Easy to set up, Samsung SmartThings hub permits automation of your home devices
Samsung SmartThings hub (€130): you can make it the heart of your smart home for the future.
Product name: Samsung SmartThings Hub
Where to buy: currys.ie
When Samsung bought SmartThings back in 2014, it opened up a new market for Samsung: the connected home. While the idea of turning your home into an internet-connected automated machine might still leave plenty of people cold, the interest is growing.
You might remember SmartThings from the Web Summit a few years ago; the company won the ESB Spark of Genius competition, netting €10,000 for itself. Its main focus was making it easy to connect your real-world devices to the internet through your smartphone.
These days, it has a lot of competition. Everything is getting an IP address, whether it really needs one or not. But SmartThings’ system has a couple of things going for it. Not only does it work with a range of its own devices, from movement and moisture sensors to smart plugs, but it will also allow you to connect other devices that support the open standards – Z Wave and Zigbee – that SmartThings uses. That makes it a fairly useful system.
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At the heart of all this connectivity is the Smartthings Hub. Without the Hub, you can do very little with the other elements; the Hub is the one small piece of technology that ties everything together.
That includes the most basic of the Smartthings family: the Smart Power outlet. While Belkin’s Wemo Plugs or TP Link’s smart plugs will work simply with an app and the connect directly to the power outlet via your wifi connection, you need the hub for the SmartThings power outlet to work.
For a boring white box, the hub isn’t cheap; at €130 to buy it separately, it’s a little on the pricey side. You can get it as part of a starter kit that also includes a motion sensor, multisensor that can alert you to open doors and windows, presence sensor and the power outlet, for €260.
That said, once you have the Hub in place, it’s easy to add more things to it. So while it may be a bit of an investment to start with, you can make it the heart of your smart home for the future.
The app that controls the SmartThings system is compatible with both Android and iOS, so there is no trouble with availability. The hub itself connects directly to your router, and while it needs to be connected to mains electricity, there is also a back-up battery pack that will give you several hours of power if the worst happens and you have a power cut.
Despite a rather ominous warning, setting up the system was surprisingly simple and quick. Don’t be fooled by the estimates of how long it will take to set it up. If the firmware is up to date, chances are you’ll be up and running in less than 10 minutes.
Adding more devices, if they are SmartThings branded, is simple and can be done in a few minutes through the app. Once your new sensor is in pairing mode, you simply hit the + button in the app, Add a Thing, and let the system search for new sensors.
The app itself does a lot of hand holding. Not only does it walk you through the set-up process, but it will also help you add “routines”, that will allow you to automate certain things such as a morning routine – turning on or off certain lights, for example. Your home can basically run itself with little intervention.
The SmartThings Hub is easy to set up. And with a wide range of devices that integrate with it, SmartThings is a system that could tie your smart home together.
The not so good
Having said that, it’s not cheap. At €130 for the hub alone and €40 for sensors and €60 for the power outlet, you’ll find kitting out your whole home adds up if you want the works.
The back-up battery capability means that if you lose power – say, for example, if your home floods – you will still be able to get notifications and control your devices. Just as long as your wifi hasn’t gone out with it, that is.
If you are prepared to invest, this could be the smarthome controller for you .