While the Google Home Hub is a fantastic device that let’s you control all of your smarthome devices from one convenient place, it’s not actually a true smarthome hub, despite what the “hub” in the name might suggest.
Before we dig in, let’s be clear on something: we’re not disparaging the Home Hub in any way by saying it’s not a “real” hub. The Home Hub has shaped up to be one of our favorite smarthome products of the year and it’s great at what it does. The name, however, is a wee bit confusing. Let’s look at why it’s confusing and some additional products that actually are hubs.
What’s the Google Home Hub?
The Google Home Hub is really nothing more than a smart display, similar to the Echo Show, only the Home Hub uses Google Assistant instead of Alexa. Just think of it as a regular Google Home smart speaker, but with a screen tacked on.
It’s a “hub” in the sense that it can serve as a central place to do a whole bunch of different stuff, like look at upcoming calendar events, set reminders, set timers, and of course control all of your smarthome devices using your voice or the screen. But it’s a hub in that sense in the casual way, similar to how someone might say “the kitchen is the hub of our house”.
Google Home Hub vs. Smarthome Hubs
While it’s not a problem, per se, that the Home Hub isn’t a true hub I’ve seen many people assume (or at least wonder) that the Home Hub is an actual smarthome hub that you can directly connect various devices and sensors to, but this isn’t the case.
The Home Hub merely just lets you link devices to it so that you can control said device with the Home Hub. So for example, if you have some Philips Hue bulbs that you want to use, you can’t simply connect them to the Home Hub directly—you still need the Hue Bridge hub. From there, you can link the Hue Bridge to the Home Hub.
Furthermore, if you want to take advantage of some Z-Wave motion sensors, you’ll need to connect them to a smarthome hub that supports Z-Wave devices. The Home Hub does not support Z-Wave or ZigBee.
Some Actual Smarthome Hubs You Should Buy
The Home Hub is still a fantastic device to own, even if it can’t act as an actual smarthome hub, but if you’re still in the market for a smarthome hub, you might want to keep these models in mind:
- Echo Plus: While I wouldn’t recommend it as a top-of-the-line serious smarthome hub, the Echo Plus ($149) does come with a ZigBee smarthome hub built in that’s easy to use, so you can connect Hue bulbs directly to it if you want.
- Wink Hub 2: If you’re looking for an actual smarthome hub that does (mostly) everything, the Wink Hub 2 ($99) is a great option. It supports both Z-Wave and ZigBee, as well as Clear Connect products. Plus, the app interface is really easy to use, and it works with Alexa and Google Assistant.
- SmartThings: While not quite as good as the Wink Hub 2 (at least in our opinion), Samsung’s SmartThings hub ($69) and platform offers many of the same features. And if you prefer the stability that large, trusted companies offer, then SmartThings can be a good way to go. Plus, they have their own line of devices and sensors you can buy, so you’ll know immediately that it will work with the hub.
However you outfit your home with a hub, the Google Home Hub will help you keep an eye on things, issue commands, and serve as a welcome point of interactio and integration with your smarthome system.