The 12 Best Smart Hubs to Buy in 2018

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Generation)

The latest Amazon Echo Plus comes standard with a seamless protocol that lets it function as a true smart hub: Zigbee. The Echo Plus's Zigbee support allows it to more directly and seamlessly control devices like smart thermostats and smart light bulbs, making it a widely-compatible and user-friendly choice for a smart hub.

The Echo Plus is technically a follow-up to the original Amazon Echo, but it does bring with it a few new design features. First of all, you now have your choice of three different neutral colors: charcoal, heather gray, and a very light gray Amazon calls "sandstone." It looks a bit more premium, blends in with all kinds of decor, and with that signature gradient light ring on the top, it fits in with the rest of the Echo line.

The Alexa functionality is also still there, meaning you’ll be able to ask questions, check the weather and a whole lot more (Amazon has built an Alexa library that is more than 50,000 skills strong). But the real standout feature here, in our eyes, is the speaker setup. The smaller Amazon Echos sometimes struggle with quiet, thin sound quality. The Echo Plus here offers a three-inch neodymium woofer alongside a tweeter that’s nearly an inch big. For reference, the smaller Dot line sports a single woofer that’s only about one and a half inches. What this bigger speaker will most likely amount to is a louder, fuller sound that will more adequately fill a room.

Want to take a look at other options? Read through our list of the best Amazon devices available now.

Best Budget: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation)

If you can’t quite shell out the cash for Amazon’s new flagship Echo Plus, you can still get the latest tech in a smaller, less expensive package. The newest generation of Echo Dot gives you a pretty solid amount of features without breaking the bank. You do end up sacrificing the Zigbee smart home connectivity and the massive speaker set of the new Echo Plus (the speaker size here is 1.6 inches, which is admittedly small). But it does seem like Amazon has exerted some effort to update the speaker to give you more oomph and volume. The Alexa functionality is present here, too, allowing you can stream music, run searches, or teach it up to 50,000 different skills from Amazon's ever-expanding library. There’s a line out or Bluetooth connectivity, and that new premium mesh-grill look is present here. The three new colors carry through, as well — charcoal, heather gray, or sandstone. And because it’s a flat, smaller device, it’s perfect for smaller rooms or anywhere that you want Alexa capabilities without a big screen or big speakers.

Best Display with Alexa: Amazon Echo Show (2nd Generation)

The second generation of the Echo Show demonstrates a renewed commitment from Amazon to create a solid smart display hub. This version looks quite a bit more premium than the prior model, with a 10.1-inch screen with 1280x800 resolution (that amounts to 720p HD sharpness). Add that to the built-in 5MP camera, and you basically have a tablet’s worth of visual features sitting on your counter.

But this gets our pick for best display-based hub because of just how much more it can do. The wedged back housing contains a serious set of speakers — dual two-inch neodymium drivers, to be precise. Those 10W speakers are Dolby-tuned which means that you’ll get full, carrying sound. Naturally, you also get all the Alexa features — voice commands, day-to-day weather checking, and 50,000 other teachable, third-party skills — that you’d expect from an Echo device.

Best Display with Google Assistant: Google Home Hub

Google Home Hub

 Courtesy of Best Buy

With a compact seven-inch display, the Google Home Hub is a perfect fit for smaller spaces like a bedroom or office, or in an apartment where there isn’t much surface space to spare. The display is well lit, easy to read, and offers crisp resolution to show off your pictures. The Hub is also compatible with products from over 400 different smart product brands, allowing you to sync all your smart devices to one central unit including internet-connected thermostats, light bulbs, security cameras, and more. Plus, the setup is hassle-free.

In many ways, the Google Home Hub is a cheaper version of the Amazon Echo. The voice-activated Google Assistant provides the same hands-free convenience offered by Amazon Alexa. This device makes a few concessions to keep the price low, like settling for sub-par audio quality and skipping the front-facing camera (so you can’t make video calls). For most people, that’s a small price to pay considering the actual money you’ll be saving.

Best Display for the Kitchen: Lenovo 10" Smart Display

Lenovo 10
 Courtesy of Best Buy

Watch out, Alexa — Lenovo has introduced a new contender to the digital assistant hub market. The 10” Smart Display and its built-in Google Assistant are there to meet all your needs, whether you want to check your meetings for the day, watch a YouTube video, or turn up the air conditioning. Lenovo's Smart Display is fully voice-controlled. Treat it as a hub for your home, commanding it to turn smart lights on or off, adjust thermostats, or display feeds from smart home cameras. While it doesn’t have the strongest speakers, the 10-watt driver delivers a crisp, clean sound that pairs well with its 1920x1200 screen resolution for when your needs are just pure entertainment: Google Cast allows it to act like a TV, or you can run compatible apps like YouTube, Spotify, or Netflix. With a white body and a bamboo back, the Lenovo Smart Display easily blends into any décor for a sophisticated and smart addition to any room in the house. The 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 624 processor is sufficient for daily use, but it should be treated as a device to make your life easier, rather than store apps — if you’re expecting the latter, you won’t get much out of its 2GB of RAM. 

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best smart home products article

Best Speaker: JBL Link View

JBL Link View with Google Assistant
 Courtesy of JBL.com

Combining the best of JBL’s audio smarts with Google Assistant, the JLB Link View is hard to pass up. It goes without saying, this speaker is designed for sound. On each side of the smart display rests mesh 10-watt speakers while a passive radiator rests behind it. Each speaker produces exceptional audio quality allowing the radiator to focus solely on providing outstanding bass.

The Link View also has a 5MP camera on the front above the display. You can use that to make video calls through Google’s FaceTime competitor, Duo. Running the Android Things version of Android, the eight-inch HD display adds a bevy of content at a glance. Voice commands work similarly to any other Google Assistant device. Say “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” to begin your query. Support for YouTube is built in and can be easily launched from the touchscreen or through voice. Also available are Hulu, HBO, CBS All Access and a variety of streaming music services. 

Best Splurge: Google Home Max

Google Home Max
 Courtesy of Best Buy

The Google Home Max combines big smarts with big volume. Packed inside its streamlined profile are a pair of 4.5-inch woofers and dual 0.7-inch custom tweeters. And when you crank the volume, it really shines, delivering high, undistorted volume with a booming bass. And it's easy to set up. Just plug in the speaker to a power supply, open up the Google Home app, and it will walk you through the steps to get your speaker up and running.

Fortunately, heart-pumping sound isn’t the only claim to fame for the Home Max. The built-in Google Assistant makes it a two-in-one product. Just say “Hey, Google” to play music, control a variety of smart home devices or answer any search inquiry. Six far-field microphones will pick up your voice from nearly anywhere in a room even if you’re playing music. The Home Max is also capable of recognizing up to six different voices, synchronizing music between rooms, and playing music from a multitude of streaming services. 

Best Router with Smart Hub: Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi + Hub

If you own several Samsung devices or own some of the 200+ SmartThings-compatible smart devices on the market, the router you should invest in for your home is the Samsung SmartThings WiFi + Hub. This router lets you connect all your smart devices to one place, allowing you to control all the devices through the SmartThings app for iOS or Android. A single Samsung SmartThings WiFi + Hub will cover up to 1,500 square feet in your apartment or home, but if you want 4,500 square feet of coverage, you can buy three of these and connect them together. In terms of the Amazon reviews so far, the SmartThings WiFi + Hub has an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Reviewers say the Hub is perfect for covering a large home with wireless signal and great for delivering fast speeds to many devices.

Best Home Theater: Logitech Harmony Hub

Logitech’s Harmony Hub isn’t your typical smart hub, but it's compatible with more than 270,000 devices. With a simple setup that can have you online and connected to up to eight devices within minutes, the Harmony Hub works great with your TV, satellite, cable box, Blu-ray player, Apple TV, Roku, game consoles and more.

Creating customized activities is a breeze through the downloadable Harmony App for both Android and iOS. Tapping a pre-programmed button on the app can immediately turn down your Philips Hue smart lights, turn on your connected speaker and TV, launch Netflix and let date night begin instantaneously with one click. And the Harmony Hub adds Amazon Alexa support as well for voice control, so you can do this just by talking. Beyond voice control, the Logitech truly stands out with closed cabinet control, which allows it to send commands to connected devices through infrared commands that don’t require direct line-of-sight to function.

Best for Wide Compatibility: Wink 2

The Wink 2 is a second-generation smart hub that connects to an impressive number of gadgets, including Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Lutron Clear Connect and Kidde devices. Inside the Wink and its sleekly designed 7.25 x 7.25 x 1.75-inch frame are powerful Wi-Fi radio and Ethernet ports for rock-solid Internet connection. Fortunately, the ease of setup matches the quality of its design, thanks to a straightforward smartphone app for both Android and iOS. In less than five minutes you’ll be connected to smart devices such as Philips Hue lighting, Ecobee thermostats or the Nest camera.

The four main features (control, automate, monitor and schedule) round out the Wink 2’s full spread of capabilities. All totaled, between those four functions, the Wink 2 can support up to 530 devices paired at once with seamless integration. Additionally, the separately purchased Wink Relay plugs directly into your wall allowing control of all Wink-ready devices without a smartphone.

Best for Small Businesses: VeraPlus Smart Home Controller

Capable of supporting up to 125 devices simultaneously, the VeraPlus packs remarkable processing power into one compact unit. It is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, the VeraEdge model, featuring more protocols, memory storage, and processing power. As the “brain” of your small business, the VeraPlus connects to all the smart devices in your home or office (lights, thermostats, security systems, etc.) and is compatible with most brands (including Schlage, Yale, First Alert, Nest, and more). The VeraPlus can control over 200 motion sensors and alarms, so you’ll be sure that your home or office is safe and monitored. Also, you can set up cameras and watch the feeds from any connected device.

The VeraPlus offers easy set-up and operation with a downloadable app. It connects your devices via Wi-Fi, allowing you to control the settings on all paired devices (security cameras, home automation systems, and more), straight from your phone, tablet, or other smart devcie.

Best Dual Purpose: Tenda Nova MW6 (3-pack)

With 6,000 square feet of combined coverage, the Tenda Nova MW6 3-pack ensures powerful, high-speed internet in every inch of your house. Don’t quite need 6,000 feet of coverage? The Tenda Nova also sells two-packs and single modems to fit your home’s specific needs. Doubling as a Wi-Fi router and a home automation system, it is compatible with all major internet providers (AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Spectrum, etc.), and supports a stable connection for up to 90 devices simultaneously. The Tenda Nova also links to your favorite smart devices, like the Amazon Echo and Alexa, as well as your smart TV, security system, and other advanced appliances.

The set-up process is as simple as plugging in the modem and following the app’s instructions. From there, the Tenda’s system can be controlled from anywhere, and on any device: adjust temperature settings, listen to music from your home entertainment center, or even set timed-restrictions on Wi-Fi use for your children and teens.