The 11 Best Smart Hubs to Buy in 2018

Control all your smart gadgets from one simple place

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Controlling digital locks, light systems, appliances or even the temperature can now be done directly on your smartphone or with the sound of your voice. And centralizing all of this technology is the smart hub. A smart hub offers users hundreds, if not thousands, of commands that are custom created for their exact needs. So whether you're looking to turn up the music in the living room, shut off the lights in the dining room or turn up the AC in the master bedroom, a smart hub allows you to do it all from one simple place (so you're not accessing tons of different apps). Need help finding the right one? Here’s our list of the best smart hubs on the market today.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: SmartThings Hub

Samsung’s SmartThings Hub is an intelligent system that's constantly receiving software updates, so the list of peripherals that can be used is well over 200 devices. Whether you want complex controls or simple commands, the available Android and iOS smartphone apps or the Amazon Echo allow the SmartThings Hub to control any device with radios for Wi-Fi, Z-Wave or ZigBee. Ultimately, this means control over connected Samsung Home appliances, the Ecobee thermostat, Philips Hue lightbulbs and so much more.

Setup is a snap, even if you’re not technically inclined, though it's worth noting the Hub does require an Ethernet cable to function. Samsung’s SmartThings Hub app is incredibly intuitive and allows direct control over individually connected devices, as well as “routines” for preset device configurations. Measuring 4.2 x 4.9 x 1.3 inches, the Hub is compact enough to fit just about anywhere. Samsung ups the ante with the inclusion of its own SmartApps that integrate into the existing Hub with extra features such as turning on a smart power outlet when a door sensor is activated.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Amazon Echo

The best-known name in the Smart Hub game, the Amazon Echo, offers an excellent feature set that includes a 360-degree omnidirectional speaker for audio. That speaker comes in handy with support for all your favorite music services, including Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and more, which are all controlled with your voice. If you want to make a phone call, that’s also no problem. Just ask Alexa to make a call or send a message. Extras, such as reading the news and reporting traffic, weather or sports scores are on-board, too, but they pale in comparison to controlling lights, fans, switches, thermostats, garage doors or even door locks.

The addition of Amazon "Skills" offers widespread third-party developer support that allows the Echo to get both smarter and add new features created by the user community. Measuring 5.8 x 3.4 x 3.4 inches, the Echo takes up very little room but does require AC power, so placement on a countertop, desk or shelf is ideal. With added extras such as a 2.5-inch subwoofer or two-inch tweeter, audio sounds fantastic. And the Wi-Fi connection is rock solid, thanks to dual-band, dual-antenna support with MU-MIMO technology for faster music streaming.

Best Budget: Amazon Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo Dot is priced far below most other Smart Hubs without lacking functionality. While it does not have a larger speaker like its older sibling, the on-board microphone is just as capable of picking up voices from across a room, thanks to the seven far-field microphones. The Dot’s capabilities go well beyond ordering pizza; it can set alarms, read news headlines, sports scores and weather reports and more. The addition of a 3.5mm audio input adds the functionality of being able to connect to speakers or headphones for listening to music. Measuring 1.3 x 3.3 x 3.3 inches, the Echo Dot is truly compact enough to fit just about anywhere in any room.

Setup with the Echo Dot is as easy as its use. Just plug it into a wall once it arrives, download the Android or iOS Alexa app and follow the on-screen directions. Once you’re online, the simplest of voice commands will put the Echo Dot to use, including changing the temperature on your Nest thermostat. Even with its capability to control televisions, lights, fans and even some coffee makers, Amazon takes things up a notch with Amazon “Skills” and third-party developer support where the sky's the limit for its different uses.

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 Display: 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. 

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 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.