1; a single unit that can bind all smart devices together and provide a single source of control. Choosing a smart home hub can be difficult. Whatever you choose, some options will open and others will close. Knowing what kind of smart home features you need can help narrow down your choices. Here are five great options:
Update, 05/07/20: We originally published this article without a Wink recommendation because we were already unwilling to recommend Wink Hubs. Wink recently announced that it will add a mandatory subscription from May 13. No subscription is required for the smart hubs below. Although Control4 and Abode offer subscriptions, they are optional.
The original article is left intact below.
What to look for in a Smart Home Hub
The main advantage of a smart home hub is centralization. With a hub you can buy smart devices from different manufacturers and link them all in one coherent whole. Of course, you may not even need a real smart home hub – Google and Alexa have done more to unify smart home devices than most hubs in recent years.
But hubs can also offer additional benefits, such as advanced automation, local processing without the cloud, and in some cases less congestion for your network. However, smart home hubs are often more challenging to learn and use than a voice assistant app.
If those benefits are worth the extra effort, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying a smart hub:  Connection type: Some smart home hubs only allow wired connections, some Wi-Fi connections only and some offer both. You should pay attention to which hub you are viewing. Wired connections are faster, but you need space and an open space on your router to connect your hub.
Protocol support: Most smart home gadgets support a small number of protocols: usually Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If your smart hub only supports ZigBee, you cannot use Z-Wave gadgets. Keep that in mind when choosing a pad. Other hubs only support a proprietary protocol, which means you're limited to devices that specifically support that hub.
Local or cloud processing: Some hubs are little more than a standard printed circuit board without real intelligence. Instead, the hub moves all work to the cloud. But that is slower and if your internet goes down, the hub does that too. Some hubs handle everything locally, but they usually have a higher learning curve.
Support for app or dashboard: You need some way to communicate with your smart home. Most hubs offer an app that you can use on your phone or tablet. Others support a dashboard concept that you can access through a web browser. And a few offer both. Choose what is most comfortable for you.
Recently, Amazon, Google and ZigBee announced a new workgroup called Project Connected Home over IP, with the aim of simplifying some of the above choices. The idea is to create a unified standard that manufacturers can rely on to make smart devices work almost anywhere and with any hub (which supports the standard).
But right now it's a concept and promise at its best, and when they do get it out, the companies say your existing smart things will continue to work as they are. You don't have to worry too much about the changes that may or may not come as a result of this, but it's still worth considering when looking at smart home hubs.
There is something for almost every preference below. Your hub choice will heavily inform your smart gadget options, so choose the one that suits you best and support the devices you want most.