After reviewing the $279.99 Samsung SmartThings WiFi gear last month, I noted that I planned to also use the integrated SmartThings Hub functionality. I’ve done that, having removed all of my smart devices from my old Wink Hub 2, mainly because I’ve lost a little faith in Wink as a company but also because of some technical issues. Meanwhile, Samsung has continued to innovate, add more partners and improve their software.
So how did the transition from Wink to SmartThings go? In a word: excellent.
That’s not to say I haven’t had some challenges or issues. Overall, however, the Samsung SmartThings experience is far better, at least with my specific smart home devices, than when I last looked at it two years ago.
To start, I did what we always recommend when moving from one hub or platform to another: Carefully and properly remove all existing devices individually from the old system. This approach makes the new system setup relatively glitch free.
I say “relatively” because adding one of my old Z-Wave door sensors to SmartThings took a few stubborn tries.
I sort of expect that from Z-Wave from time to time, regardless of the hub or platform. And one time when trying to discover a Cree connected bulb, SmartThings found it but “it” was actually an old Wemo Insight Smart Plug. That’s really odd since the Cree bulb uses a ZigBee radio while the Wemo device uses Wi-Fi. Regardless, a reset of the Cree bulb and rediscovery solved the issue.
One other thing I noticed that I like from SmartThings over Wink is that with the latter, I usually had to have a Z-Wave device practically next to the hub for discovery. That wasn’t my experience when using Samsung’s hub.
When discovering a Z-Wave door or window sensors, for example, I was able to leave them where they’re currently installed. I’m not sure of the internal radio differences (if any) between SmartThings and Wink hubs but that could be the reason. And since each Samsung SmartThings WiFi unit has Z-Wave radios, perhaps the Z-Wave range is broader due to the mesh network set up around the house.
I was a little stymied by setting up some of my automations with SmartThings at first. For example, we have our family room lights turn on 15 minutes before sunset and then turn off nightly at 11 pm. After adding the two Osram bulbs for the family room to SmartThings, I didn’t see a “sunset” option; only clock settings for each bulb.
Later, I looked in the Automations section of the SmartThings mobile app, which does have both time and event options, i.e.; sunrise and sunset. In fact, this section is set up similar to IFTTT. You set up one or more “If” conditions and choose a “Then” action to take place. If conditions include the time, a change in device status, location and location modes of Home, Away, or Night. This is simple but powerful.
I’m not much of a “scene” user but did set up a few sample scenes for testing. This too was easy and the scenes all worked perfectly. Devices can be added to Groups as well, which is a key feature for me since I use more smart bulbs than smart switches.
And of course, I did link SmartThings to Google Home so the Google Assistant can control all of the devices on the SmartThings Hub. Amazon Alexa integration is also supported.
Simply put, the transition took about as long as I expected: Roughly 30 minutes to discover all of my smart devices and another 30 minutes to re-create automations from old routines. That’s a reasonably small investment of time. Since completion of that setup, the SmartThings Hub is working fantastic. And I now have access to a far broader range of supported smart home products.
For example, there are 33 supported switch/dimmer brands that appear in the SmartThings apps. According to the Wink site, there are 17 switches/dimmers and that also includes outlets. SmartThings shows 40 brands for outlets alone, although some of these are duplicates from the switch/dimmer category. Even though SmartThings doesn’t officially support my Nest or Canary gear, I feel that I have many more choices to pick from as my smart home evolves.
Note that I’m not against Wink as a company, brand or product. If anything, I’d rather see the Wink platform be successful because competition in the smart home hub space is good for consumers.
However, my SmartThings hub experience suggests to me that most mainstream smart home owners would likely be better served, at least for now, with Samsung’s SmartThings platform.