Samsung Connect Home Router vs. the SmartThings Hub: Which Should You Choose?By - 04/23/2017
Yes, you read that right. We’re comparing a router to a hub. What’s gotten into me? A little Samsung fever, that’s what.
At the recent Samsung launch event, where they also unveiled the all-new Galaxy S8 and S8+, the Samsung Connect Home was introduced to the world. Despite its unimaginative name, this router is actually quite creative. The Samsung Connect Home is a mesh router, a first for Samsung, that manages and controls Samsung’s smart appliances, and can even replace your SmartThings hub as the router itself is a SmartThings hub. But before you jump to conclusions, know that Connect Home isn’t simply a hub with router features. In fact, connecting your smart home to Connect Home might not provide the same experience as using a separate SmartThings hub. But before we talk about using the device as a hub, let’s talk about Connect Home as a router.
Connect Home: Router Features
Although a little less experienced than competitors, Samsung isn’t entirely new to the router game. They have previously sold and manufactured routers. However, Connect Home is Samsung’s first Wi-Fi mesh router.
What Is A Mesh Router?
Gone are the days of setting up bulky routers and trying to hide them in the closet. Mesh routers are made to be placed out in the open. More importantly, mesh routers can eliminate Wi-Fi dead zones without affecting your internet speed.
Like most mesh routers, Connect Home is sold as a one pack or a three pack. If you have multiple routers, one mesh router becomes the gateway by connecting to your modem. It then broadcasts the signal to other mesh routers that are also connected to your network. The “other” mesh routers are interconnected, receiving and transmitting data. The interconnectivity creates a mesh-like blanket of Wi-Fi signals that cover your entire home. In effect, whether your device is connected to the router closest to your modem or the one farthest from it, your internet speed remains optimal.
Another advantage of mesh networking is unified SSID. Whether you’re connected to router A or router B or router C, the SSID (a.k.a. Network Name) remains the same. Thus, your device won’t need to connect to a different Wi-Fi name as you move around the house, which is in contrast to using Wi-Fi extenders.
How Connect Home Compares to Other Mesh Routers
Samsung isn’t a pioneer in consumer-grade mesh networking. In fact, Eero has had this technology for years and Google has the recently launched Google Wi-Fi, their own mesh router. How does Connect Home compare to existing solutions?
Note: Connect Home comes in two versions: the original version and the Pro version. The Pro Version is the same as the original version in almost all aspects, except those noted below.
|Connect Home||Connect Home Pro||Google Wi-Fi||Eero||Eero Beacon|
|Price||$129.99||$179.99 each or $279.99 for 3 routers||$129 each or $299 for 3 routers||$199 each, $299 for 2 routers, or $399 for 3 routers||$149 each (requires Eero original router to work)|
|Wi-Fi Standard||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wave 2||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wave 2||802.11a/b/g/n/ac||802.11a/b/g/n/ac||802.11a/b/g/n/ac|
|Wi-Fi Speed||Up to 867Mbps on 5GHz||Up to 1.7 Gbps on 5GHz||Up to 867Mbps on 5GHz||Up to 600 Mbps on 5GHz||TBD|
|Wi-Fi Speed||Up to 400 Mbps on 2.4 GHz||Up to 800 Mbps on 2.4GHz||Up to 300 Mbps on 2.4GHz||Up to 240 Mbps on 2.4GHz||TBD|
|Range||1,500 sq. ft./router||1,500 sq. ft./router||1,500 sq. ft./router||1,000 sq. ft./router||1,000 sq. ft./router|
|Processor, Memory, Storage||710 MHz Quad Core
512 MB RAM
4GB Flash Storage
|1.7GHz Dual Core
512 MB RAM
4GB Flash Storage
|710 MHz Quad Core
512 MB RAM
|1.0GHz Dual Core
512 MB RAM
4GB Flash Storage
|700 MHz quad-core processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB flash storage|
|Smartphone App||Android, iOS||Android, iOS||Android, iOS||Android, iOS||Android, iOS|
|Where to Buy||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Our Thoughts On Connect Home As A Router
Connect Home is a mid-level router. It compares well to Google Wi-Fi, and on paper, it looks better than Eero. On the other hand, the Pro version appears superior to all. However, Samsung isn’t an experienced router manufacturer. They create great appliances, great phones, and great wearables, but their current routers? Not so great. If the price of the Connect Home router is similar to that of Google Wi-Fi, I’d probably still recommend Google over Samsung.
That being said, we can’t make a final recommendation without first knowing the price… and without knowing whether or not it explodes. Just kidding, Samsung!
Connect Home: Smart Home Features
Over the years, Samsung has sold a variety of connected appliances from refrigerators to washing machines. These appliances connect to Wi-Fi either directly or via a Wi-Fi dongle, and some of their features can be accessed using the Samsung Smart Home app for Android and iOS. And now? Thanks to the Connect Home router, you can add your Samsung connected appliances to a physical hub. If you connect your Samsung appliances to the router via Wi-Fi, you can control them using the Connect Home smartphone app.
Samsung Connect Smartphone App
Like all the other modern mesh routers, Samsung Connect Home will have a smartphone app. The app will be used to configure the router as well as control your internet use. It will also be used to control Samsung smart appliances and SmartThings devices connected to Connect Home. More on that later.
The Samsung Connect app is built into all Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones and is available via iTunes and Play.
Connect Home as a SmartThings Hub
Besides Wi-Fi, Connect Home is also compatible with other connectivity standards such as Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth 4.1. If you’re familiar with SmartThings, these standards are also what the platform uses to connect to its products and third-party devices. So if you own devices that are a part of the SmartThings ecosystem you have a choice: SmartThings Hub or Connected Home.
But here’s the thing: When used with a SmartThings hub, you can control your system using the SmartThings app. When your SmartThings devices are connected to the Connect Home router, you’ll need to use the Samsung Connect app.
Ask any SmartThings user their opinion on this, and they’re likely to say that swapping apps certainly can’t make anything worse. The SmartThings app is notoriously difficult to use and has maintained a low rating on iTunes for years. However, as it turned out, swapping apps CAN make things worse.
Under Samsung, SmartThings spent years improving the SmartThings app, so it’s only rational to expect that they’d use their experience to build the Samsung Connect app. But they didn’t. The app holds a 1-star rating on iTunes and 2.8 stars on Google Play. To make matters worse, when it comes to SmartThings functionality, the Samsung Connect app’s features are limited. In a conversation I had with Samsung’s customer support, they likened the Samsung Connect app to a Lite version of the SmartThings app.
Another thing to consider is the hardware factor. The SmartThings hub comes equipped with battery backup that can keep the hub running for several hours. In the event of a power or internet outage, the hub is also capable of allowing certain rules to run locally. Connect Home, on the other hand, needs constant power from an outlet.
Our Thoughts On Connect Home as a Hub
Now, to the main question: Which is better, SmartThings or the new Connect Home?
Given that Connect Home lacks a few hardware and software features, I suggest sticking with the SmartThings hub for now. In addition to what we’ve already discussed, this allows you to choose the best router for your home instead of selecting a router for your smart home.
Do I like the idea of Connect Home? Absolutely! We need to declutter our smart homes now more than ever, and AIO devices like Connect Home offer an easy way to do that. However, I don’t think Connect Home is the best solution. There are many different factors in play here:
- Connect Home won’t offer the same experience as the SmartThings hub.
- You’ll need to potentially sacrifice your Wi-Fi network in the name of decluttering your smart home. Hands-on reviews of the router say that it’s neither a good router nor a good hub.
- New product = new app; New app = hiccups. It’s been years, and some still consider the SmartThings app “terrible”. With fewer features, the Samsung Connect app is even worse.