SmartThings vs Wink vs Wink Relay vs Insteon Central- Which Smart Hub Is Best For You?

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Are you thinking of starting out in home automation by buying a smart hub?

Or perhaps you are thinking of an upgrade?

Choosing the right smart hub is a very important decision because it will affect the choice of smart devices that you buy to work with it.

A smart hub is the centre of your smart home.

In this article, I compare four of the most popular smart hubs across 30+ features or specifications.

The features are split into smaller sections and presented in easy to read charts.

Just click or tap on the sections below in order to find the information you want.

[1] SmartThings vs Wink 2 vs...
[2] The Basics
[3] Connections
[4] Design, Warranty &
Power
[5] Smart Features
[6] Remote Access
[7] Smart Home Systems
[8] Compatible Devices
[9] Box Contents
[10] Ratings & Review
[11] Winners (Pros & Cons)

Section 1 | SmartThings vs Wink 2 vs Wink Relay vs Insteon

This chart displays the most important features of these smart hubs.

It is for any of you who are in a rush and unable to read the full written review below!

 

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Connection

This is the method that the smart hub uses to connect to your home wi-fi.

SmartThings connects via an Ethernet cable.

Wink 2 connects via an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi.

Wink Relay connects via wi-fi.

And the Insteon connects by an Ethernet cable.

Amazon Ratings

Wink 2 has the top rating of 3.9 out of 5.

SmartThings hub has a rating of 3.8 out of 5.

Wink Relay is 3.5 out of 5.

Insteon is 3.3 out of 5.

Apps

All of these hubs have apps for Apple (iOS) Android phones and tablets.

The Wink Relay does not have apps that you can download onto your phone because the Relay is almost like a small (4″ screen) smart tablet that is mounted in your wall.

Home Automation

All of the hubs in my comparison work with the Amazon Echo or Alexa voice command systems.

Remember that in order to have this feature you do need to have or be willing to buy an Amazon Echo.

All of the hubs, except the Insteon, works with Google’s voice activated system, Google Home.

Power

Three of the smart hubs are powered by an AC adapter.

They are; SmartThings, Wink 2 and Insteon.

SmartThings can be powered by batteries during a power failure.

The Wink Relay is fitted as a light switch.

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Section 2 The Basics

In this section I compare some of the basic features of these smart hubs.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

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Made By

There are three different companies that make these for hubs.

These three companies are some of the biggest names in smart homes.

Two of the hubs are made by Wink, one is made by SmartThings, the smart home arm of Samsung.

The other hub is made by perhaps a less well known company, called Insteon.

Launched

The oldest hub in this comparison is the Wink Relay which was first for sale in September 2014.

The newest product is the link to which was released in September 2016.

The SmartThings hub (which is version 3) was released in June 2015 whilst the Insteon hub was released in May 2015.

As we continue with this comparison you will see that the Wink Relay operates in a slightly different way than the other three hubs in this comparison.

What is interesting to me is that compared to other smart home devices ( which tend to be updated at the minimum every year) all of these hubs are relatively old.

I think that this shows that as smart home technology evolves, these traditional hubs will become less frequent and important.

Weight

The lightest hubs in this comparison are SmartThings and Wink 2. each of these weighs 8 ounces.

The heaviest hub in this comparison is the Wink Relay which at 40 ounces weighs 5 times as much as the Wink 2 hub.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that the Relay has a built-in touchscreen that the other hubs don’t have.

Price

The price of individual products is always changing on Amazon and so please be careful to check the price before you buy the item.

The most expensive hub is the Wink 2 which currently cost $99.

The cheapest is Insteon which costs just over $60.

The SmartThings costs just under $80 and the Wink Relay costs just under $70.

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Section 3 Connections

In this section I examine the different ways in which these smart hubs connect.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

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Any smart hub needs to connect to a home wi-fi network.

They can do this using a WiFi connection or an Ethernet cable.

Wi-Fi

The two Wink hubs are the only ones to use Wi-Fi.

The Wink Relay can only connect to a home wi-fi network which runs at a speed of 2.4 gigahertz.

This in practical terms means that it can connect to the overwhelming majority of home Wi-Fi networks.

The Wink 2 can connect to Wi-Fi networks that run at 2.4 gigahertz and also networks that run at 5 gigahertz.

Ethernet

Most modern Wi-Fi router’s have a few Ethernet ports.

These ports allow you to connect a few devices to the router using a cable, instead of relying on everything connecting to the router using Wi-Fi.

Three of these hubs use an Ethernet cable as a connection to the Wi-Fi router.

As I have just described above, the Wink 2 can connect to your Wi-Fi router using a Wi-Fi connection but it can also connect to a router via an ethernet cable- which is the recommended method.

The SmartThings hub and the Insteon hub need to be connected to the router using an Ethernet cable.

Bluetooth

The two wink hubs are the only two hubs in this comparison that use Bluetooth.

Storage

The SmartThings hub and the Wink 2 hub are the only hubs that have storage.

Both of them have 512mb.

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Section 4 | Design, Warranty & Power

In this section I look at features that relate to design, warranty and power.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

 

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Color

All of the pubs in this comparison are available in only white.

And it has to be said that in terms of design they all look very plain and boring!

There is none of the good looks and refinement that you may find on a smart thermostat such as the Nest or the Ecobee3.

Installation

Three of these hubs can easily be installed and set up by yourself.

Each of them comes with a very detailed user guide as well as videos that walk you through the process.

The exception to this is the Wink Relay.

Unless you are very competent and experienced in household electrics, then this hub needs to be installed by a professional.

The reason for this is because it needs to be installed in place of a single or double light switch.

Warranty

The Insteon hub has a 2 year limited warranty on it.

All of the other hubs in this comparison have a one-year limited warranty and a 30 day money back guarantee.

Power

The SmartThings, Wink 2 and the Insteon need a 120V power cable.

The SmartThings can also be powered, if there is a power failure, by 4 “AA” batteries, which are included in the box.

The Wink Relay is powered using wires that you would usually use to power a light switch.

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Section 5 | Smart Features

In this section I compare some of the smart features of these smart hubs.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

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Voice Control

Voice control is “the next big thing” with smart devices and hubs

The Amazon Echo and Google Home seem to be leading the way in this technology.

They are also turning themselves into the next generation of smart hubs.

Unfortunately none of the hubs in this comparison use voice control.

The next three features all relates specifically to the Wink Relay.

It is these three features that show how different the Relay is as a hub compared to the other hubs in this comparison.

Touchscreen

The Wink Relay is the only hub to have a touch screen and it is 4.3 inch big.

Sensors

the Relay is the only one of the hubs to have sensors built in. It has sensors that detect proximity, temperature and humidity.

The proximity sensor enables the Relay to detect when a person is near in order to “light up” the display.

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Section 6 | Remote Access

In this section I analyse how these smart hubs make use of apps and browsers in order to provide remote access.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

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Remote access is the ability to control your hub without physically touching it.

This is normally done through specially designed apps (for smartphones and tablets.)

In this comparison, The wink Relay is a little bit different because it has the app already built in.

Some of the very best smart devices also allow you to interact with them using a web browser.

iOS

If you are using an iPhone or iPad then the SmartThings, Wink 2 and Insteon hub all need it to be running version 9 or later.

Android

If you are using an Android phone or tablet then the requirements are slightly different for each of the hubs.

The SmartThings hub needs to be running version 4.1 or later.

The Wink 2 hub needs to be running 4.0.3 or later and the Insteon needs your Android phone to be running version 3 or later.

Windows 10

Two of these hubs provide apps for Windows mobile.

The SmartThings hub needs your Windows phone to be running Windows 8.1 or later.

The Insteon needs your phone to be running Windows 8 or later.

Most smart devices do not provide Windows apps because there are so few users using Windows mobile devices.

Browser Access

Unfortunately the SmartThings Hub, the Wink 2 and the Wink Relay do not provide any browser access.

However the Insteon does.

I think this is great for those of us who still use laptops or desktops quite frequently!

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Section 7 | Smart Home Systems

In this section I look at if these smart hubs are compatible with any other smart home systems, or home automation protocols.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

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Because the smart Home market is so large and very lucrative there are many different systems available.

And so in order to get as many users as possible these hubs need to work with more than one system.

There is a vast number of different systems Available. I only include six in my comparison but they are of course many many more.

The Insteon hub is not very compatible with many of these systems…

IFTTT

IFTTT (IF This Then That) is a website and an app that allows devices to respond and interact with one another automatically via “applets”.

An applet contains a set of instructions or rules that outline the circumstances under which two or more devices respond.

Only the SmartThings and the Wink 2 Hubs have official applets on IFTTT.

By official I mean that there are applets that have been created by the manufacturer themselves- as opposed to applets that are created by individuals.

If you like messing around with devices and tampering with a bit of code then you would probably really enjoy IFTTT.

Amazon Echo

All four of these devices work directly with Amazon Alexa.

Alexa is a digital assistant that enables smart devices (such as these hubs) to respond to voice commands via interactive speakers, such as the Echo.

Echo is rapidly evolving into an important “smart hub” from which many hundreds of devices can be controlled using your voice.

Google Home

This is Google’s equivalent to the Amazon Echo.

The only real difference being that Google Home is not quite as powerful as the Echo because it doesn’t work with quite as many devices.

Three of the hubs in this comparison work with Google Home:

They are; SmartThings,Wink 2 and Wink Relay.

Apple Homekit

Only one of these hubs works with Apple Homekit and that is the Insteon.

But, beware because their is a separate model of the Insteon hub that is compatible with HomeKit and only HomeKit.

Z Wave

Z Wave traditionally has been one of the biggest smart home systems.

The SmartThings and the Wink 2 hub are the only hubs in this comparison that work with Z Wave.

Zigbee

Zigbee traditionally has been another big name in smart home systems.

The Insteon is the only hub that is not compatible with Zigbee.

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Section 8 | Compatible Devices

In section eight, I list some of the main types of smart devices and what “brands” each hub is compatible with.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

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In this section I want to focus on some of the compatible devices that work with these hubs.

I have included some of the biggest selling types of smart gadgets ( such as thermostats) and then added some of the most well-known brands and manufacturers.

However it is important to note that my list is not exhaustive or complete.

Cameras

The SmartThings hub is compatible with Arlo cameras. the Wink 2 hub is compatible with Arlo and Canary smart security cameras.

the Insteon works with a smart camera that it makes itself.

Smart (Wi-Fi Video) Doorbells

Perhaps the most famous brand of smart doorbell is Ring the SmartThings and Wink 2 hub are compatible with these doorbells.

I could not find any doorbells that the Insteon is compatible with.

Smart Locks

The SmartThings hub works with Yale smart locks.

the Wink 2 hub works with Yale, Kwikset and Schlage locks.

The Insteon works with MiLocks.

Smart Thermostats

I don’t think that the SmartThings hub works with any thermostat.

Although I could be wrong- so if you know of any thermostats that work with the Hub then let me know.

Nest, Honeywell, Ecobee and Sensi thermostats will work with Wink 2.

Nest thermostat will work with the Insteon hub.

Lights

The SmartThings hub works with Lifx and Hue bulbs.

Wink to works with Lutron, Sylvania and Hue bulbs.

The Insteon hub works with its own brand of smart bulb.

Speakers

the SmartThings hub works with Bose speakers.

I could not find any speakers that work with the Wink 2 hub.

The Insteon hub works with SONOS speakers.

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Section 9 | Box Contents

In section nine, I list all the different items that come with smart hub when you buy it.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

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On this chart I show you what is included “in the box” when you buy one of these hubs.

I think the main thing that this chart highlights is how different the Wink Relay is from the other smart hubs.

Ethernet Cable

All of the hubs come with an Ehernet cable, apart from the Relay.

AC Adapter

The three hubs that come with an AC adapter are; SmartThings, Wink 2 and Insteon.

The Wink Relay is powered via your light circuit.

Batteries

The only hub that comes with batteries is the SmartThings hub which will power the hub in the event of a power failure.

Instructions

All of the hubs come with written instructions or Start Guides, apart from the SmartThings.

Extras

The only hub that includes extras is the Wink Relay because it is so different.

This Relay comes with a full set of tools including a screwdriver and wire stripper to help with the installation.

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Section 10 | Ratings & Reviews

In the final section, I look at the ratings and reviews that each hub has received.

If you would like to read a written description of the comparison table please click on the “Read More” link below the chart.

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To finish the video, we will look at the ratings and reviews that these smart hubs have received on Amazon.

What I have tried to do is to show some of the most helpful statistics.

To state the obvious, these numbers will change on an almost daily basis but I think that the overall trends that these numbers reveal will not change that much.

Overall Rating

None of these apps have a rating of over 4 out of 5 which to be honest is very poor.

Wink 2 has the top rating of 3.9 out of 5.

SmartThings hub has a rating of 3.8 out of 5.

Wink Relay is 3.5 out of 5.

Insteon is 3.3 out of 5.

Written Reviews

The SmartThings hub has the highest number of written reviews.

It has over 1800.

the Wink 2 comes next with 550.

The Wink Relay has 375 and the Insteon has 258.

Answered Questions

The SmartThings hub has the highest number of answered questions, with 573.

The Wink Relay has 375 answered questions.

the Wink 2 has 152 answered questions.

The Insteon has 76.

5 Star Reviews

The percentage of the reviews which are rated as 5 Stars is an important indicator of satisfaction.

The higher this percentage the more satisfied buyers are.

For the top smart products this percentage tends to be in the 70s or 80s.

None of the hubs in our review have such high figures. They are all low.

For the Wink 2, only 57% of all reviews have rated it as 5 Stars.

SmartThings has 49%, Wink Relay has 40% and Insteon has 30%.

1 Star Reviews

The percentage of reviews which are rated as one stars is an important indicator of dissatisfaction.

The higher this percentage the more disappointed buyers are.

For the top smart products this percentage tends to be 5% or lower.

The figures for the hubs in this comparison show that buyers are not very satisfied.

Insteon has a massive 31% of reviews that rate it as 1 star.

Wink Relay and the SmartThings hub have 19% of all reviews rating it as 1 star.

Wink 2 has 15% of all reviews rating it as 1 star.

FakeSpot

Fakespot analyses a product’s reviews on sites like Amazon and then gives them a reliability grading.

The reason for this is that many companies pay people to write fake reviews about products.

This is because the more reviews a product has, the higher it will appear in some of Amazon’s results.

The higher the FakeSpot grade, the more trustworthy that the reviews are.

It is the same grade system used on old school reports.

The SmartThings hub is given the best grade.

It’s reviews are graded as B.

In second place comes the Wink Relay.

It’s reviews are graded as D.

In joint last place is the Insteon and the Wink 2.

Both of these hubs have been given an F grade for the reliability of it reviews.

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