The smart home market is a crowded place. Unless you’re willing to commit to decking your home out with just one brand’s ecosystem of products – such as Nest, WeMo or SmartThings – you’re going to find yourself flicking through dozens of apps to control them all, while dedicating an entire bookshelf to the many control centres that plug into your router. That is unless you invest in a so-called ‘smart hub.’
Smart hubs let you consolidate your smart devices into a single, dependable system that you can control with one app. At the top end, there are products such as Google’s OnHub Wireless Router and Amazon Echo that include smart home integration, but you can also pick up dedicated smart hubs for under £100/$100.
As well as offering buttery smooth 1900mps streaming, Google’s $199.99 own-brand router works with Bluetooth and Weave to support a variety of smart home gadgets and even prioritise bandwidth to specific devices. Only available in the US.
Amazon Echo is like Siri in a Bluetooth speaker. Not only can you ask it about the news and weather, you can command it to control lights and switches. Priced at $179.99, Echo is currently only available in the US.
This futuristic glowing ball enables you to control your smart home through voice commands and recognises five languages. It speaks even more with your devices, working across Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, infrared, NFC and more.
A smart hub with a difference, the nCube will keep your smart home connected even if your internet goes offline. Putting privacy first, the nCube also ensures that none of your information is ever stored in the cloud. at £95 it’s also incredibly affordable, but is only available in UK and Europe.
As well as working with Samsung’s own ecosystem of motion sensors and power outlets, the reasonably priced £99/$99 SmartThings Hub also works with other products, like Philips Hue lights and Sonos speakers.