As the smart home market rapidly accelerates, eager homeowners run into a serious problem looking for cheap home automation. You can’t easily pick and choose your favorite devices because they all run on so many protocols and brand systems. They can’t communicate with each other, and homeowners are left juggling multiple apps and systems to get the home automation you want. The new Wink Hub seeks to solve the problem, and it comes with a very nice price to boot.
Meet the Wink Hub
Wink starts with a simple hub, one that looks a bit like a wireless router and can be placed on a shelf just as easily. Like other smart home hubs, the Wink Hub allows wireless smart devices to communicate across the same system … and ultimately, to you, the user. It works through the Wink app, available for smartphones.
This Wink app is pretty handy in its own right, allowing you to manage the hub, or in some cases communicate directly with devices themselves. These devices span the list from security sensors that monitor doors and locks to automated controls that you can use to operate lights and appliances.
Jack of all smart trades
What really makes the Wink stand out in the cheap home automation market is its versatility. Most of the other smart devices on the market only work with their specific brand: You buy an Insteon Hub, it plays well with Insteon devices but doesn’t work with other smart products. Even more general purpose hubs tend to only use one type of smart home frequency, limiting you to a certain number of devices.
This is good business sense in one way – it encourages people to stick with one company when building out their smart home. But as people pick and choose their smart devices from a variety of companies, this model grows less practical. So Hubs like Wink – and others, like Revolv – seek to make the process easier by working with almost any device. This allows you to set up a more extensive home automation system than nearly other brand.
To give you an idea, Wink can read Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, ZigBee, ClearConnect and Kidde protocols, which covers just about every format in the book. This allows the device to work with numerous brands and products, including GE’s wireless wall ovens and LED lights, Kidde’s smoke and carbon monoxide sensors, Bali’s Automated blinds, Chamberlains MyQ garage opener, Honeywell’s smart thermostat, Philip’s Hue light bulbs…the list keeps going on. Essentially, it is designed to work with any of the smart devices that you may have already bought, without the need to conform to one particular brand or replace any products.
Once devices are connected to the app, you can set up a number of different schedules and rules to ensure your home acts exactly how you want it to. Here the Wink hub gets a little more complicated. It uses a system of LED indicator lights for device status, some devices may take longer to update than others, and sometimes its updated information is not correct for some devices. These are early data problems that are likely to be smoothed out with future patches and enough time, but for now they do make things a little more complicated than they need to be.
Wink is also worth noting because of its low cost. The retail price for this cheap home automation gadget is $80, but it has been found discounted for $50 as well. This is very low on the general smart home scale, especially in comparison for usually expensive hub units. For example, the similar Revolv hub tries to offer multiple formats as well, but costs $300 and at the moment it has less compatibility.
Of course, take into account that there really isn’t a kit for the Wink hub yet, so this low price does not include any other sensors or devices the way that many kits do. Still, for the hub alone the cost is still worth commenting on. If you have a number of different smart devices and want to unite them in one system – or if you want as much home automation as possible without waiting for devices from particular brands – then this may be your best choice.
Photo Credit: NEC Corporation of America