Samsung SmartIssues has been the leading product in the smart hub space just about for the reason that day it was launched, however one small downside has lengthy held it again: It needed to be tethered to your router with an ethernet cable. For many customers, together with myself, that one downside was a deal breaker. There are simply two obtainable ethernet ports on my router, and I’m simply not all in favour of turning my lounge right into a server closet with switches and cables working in all places.
With the third-generation SmartIssues Hub (Samsung mannequin quantity GP-U999SJVLGDA), Samsung lastly enters the wi-fi age in earnest. It nonetheless gives the choice to attach the hub to your router through ethernet, however Wi-Fi connectivity is the default.
As with the earlier generations of SmartIssues, the third-generation Hub is designed to bridge the hole between your smartphone and all kinds of wi-fi sensible residence merchandise—notably units that use the ZigBee and Z-Wave protocols. You may use SmartIssues to regulate Wi-Fi gear.
Samsung counts 329 appropriate merchandise on its “works with” web page, and whereas there’s a little bit of duplication (seven of these merchandise are totally different Philips Hue bulbs, for instance), that degree of assist just isn’t solely deep, but in addition broad, with sensible residence merchandise working the gamut from sensors, switches, and light-weight bulbs to sensible deadbolts and Samsung’s residence home equipment.
SmartIssues additionally helps Bluetooth units now, however solely on the Android model of the SmartIssues app, not iOS (a reality that’s barely documented). Nest’s product line (cameras, sensible thermostats, smoke detectors, doorbells, and door locks), nonetheless, continues to be not on that checklist. The identical goes for August sensible residence merchandise. And Apple followers will wish to know that SmartIssues just isn’t appropriate with Apple’s HomeEquipment ecosystem, both.
Cosmetically, the SmartIssues has been given a pleasant improve: The hub is roughly the identical measurement and weight as earlier than, nevertheless it’s extra streamlined now: a clean, rounded sq. with much less of an industrial look. There’s a USB port on the again of the gadget, however this doesn’t seem to have any precise utility. Of bigger notice: This newest model doesn’t have a battery backup; maybe Samsung has concluded sensible residence isn’t of a lot use if the ability’s out anyway.
Setting up a Samsung SmartIssues (2018) Hub
While SmartIssues’ setup is essentially a tap-and-enter-passwords affair if you happen to’re ranging from scratch, upgrading from an older SmartIssues hub is a surprisingly not-simple matter. There is not any migration path, so that you’ll not solely want the brand new model of the SmartIssues app (extra on this later), you’ll have to reset and reconfigure all of your units from scratch.
The new app is a key level to grasp right here, as a result of the brand new SmartIssues Hub just isn’t appropriate with the older model of the SmartIssues app. Whether you’re coming at this as a brand new consumer or have had your sensible residence arrange for years, you’ll want to start out contemporary. That makes it very arduous to suggest upgrading from a second-generation SmartIssues hub except you actually want that Wi-Fi connectivity choice.
And I have to say, whereas the brand new SmartIssues app actually seems higher, it’s a huge step again in the case of precise operation. Designed as a semi-clone to the iOS Home app, the default view of the first display screen breaks units down by room, with every additional populated with its respective units. It’s straightforward sufficient to navigate, however my troubles turned extra severe when it got here to including units to the system to regulate. While it was easy so as to add sensible plugs and even cloud-based units like a Ring doorbell, SmartIssues choked on units for which it has specific assist.
I couldn’t get my Samsung sensible TV to connect with SmartIssues, for instance, and connecting my Samsung fridge required a name to tech assist. I additionally had no luck getting Netatmo units to attach. In that case, after being instructed I would want to enter my login credentials, the subsequent display screen with which I used to be introduced was clean. I by no means obtained a few of these units engaged on the brand new hub, an issue that was sophisticated by having each the app crash and the lose its connection to my community throughout my testing, requiring a reboot. I couldn’t even get the SmartIssues “report an error” system to work to ask for assist at any time, resorting as a substitute to Samsung’s on-line chat-based assist or the telephone.
Beyond this, the app helps scenes and automations, together with a number of pre-loaded sensible scheduling methods that allow varied units work in live performance. Of course, SmartIssues nonetheless helps Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, and that’s even higher information for customers who wish to add issues like voice management or the power to hyperlink collectively units that SmartIssues doesn’t assist instantly.
Despite difficulties with its app (and hopefully these are merely rising pains at this level), it appears clear that SmartIssues continues to be the sensible hub to beat, because of its huge assist for myriad units and a basic maturity that different hubs simply can’t match. The solely different actual contender on this house, Wink, is these days dogged by hypothesis that it’s going out of enterprise. Although the corporate’s public relations division has not responded to e-mail queries for months, the platform’s tech-support group stays lively and was responding to reported service outages as recently as March 26.
Some fanatics had hoped that Amazon’s Ring division would step as much as tackle SmartIssues, for the reason that hub within the Ring Alarm has every thing it must assist a broader sensible residence system, however that product hit the market in July of 2018 and we’re nonetheless ready.
Smart residence hubs are nonetheless mandatory—for now
All that mentioned, the larger query is likely to be this: Do you actually want a sensible residence hub in 2019? We’re seeing rising numbers of sensible residence units that function on Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi units don’t want a hub as a bridge to the cloud. They may talk instantly with Amazon Echo and Google Home sensible audio system, and people can in flip deal with duties reminiscent of grouping, scheduling, and—with fashions geared up with shows—even streaming footage from your private home safety cameras.
Reduced energy consumption and native mesh networking, alternatively, stay the most important benefits that the ZigBee and Z-Wave platforms supply. Wi-Fi connectivity’s thirst for electrical energy makes it tough for Wi-Fi sensible residence units to run on battery energy. Z-Wave and ZigBee units sip electrical energy, and every era has gotten extra environment friendly. Plus, each Z-Wave and ZigBee gadget you deploy acts as a community repeater, vastly increasing the realm SmartIssues hub can cowl. Mesh Wi-Fi routers at the moment are obtainable (and Samsung presents a SmartIssues mesh router of its personal that has an built-in SmartIssues hub), however they’re costlier than typical Wi-Fi routers.
So the underside line is that proper now, the SmartIssues Hub stays essentially the most DIY-friendly path to a totally featured sensible residence, doubly so if you happen to’ve already invested in Z-Wave and ZigBee units. If you’re already utilizing the second-generation SmartIssues Hub, alternatively, it’s best to in all probability keep it up. Migrating to the third-generation hub will likely be painful (and for most individuals, pointless).