Why You Should Give SmartThings Wifi A Second LookBy - 09/25/2018
It’s been a crazy month for Samsung as they introduced us to their new gizmos: the Galaxy Note 9, SmartThings v3 (which my colleague already tested), and the Galaxy Home smart speaker with Bixby built in. Sadly, amidst the whirlwind of news going around about their new products, it’s easy to overlook their less flashy releases. My job for today is to shine the spotlight on a new Samsung device that deserves more attention than it got: SmartThings Wifi.
What’s SmartThings Wifi?
SmartThings Wifi is a mesh router with two special features. First, it functions as a SmartThings hub, and second, it’s powered by Plume’s AI-based Adaptive Wi-Fi technology.
If you remember, this isn’t Samsung’s first rodeo with mesh routers. They released the Connect Home router over a year ago, which features mesh networking capabilities as well as SmartThings hub functionalities. Interestingly, SmartThings Wifi was built based on Connect Home. The two routers look alike, and they have a lot in common.
|SmartThings Wifi||Connect Home|
|Price for 1-Pack||$119.99||$65.00|
|Price for 3-Pack||$279.99||$160.00|
|Area of Coverage (per router)||1,500 sq. feet||1500 sq. feet|
|Processor||Qualcomm Quad-Core 710MHz||Qualcomm Quad-Core 710MHz|
|Dual-Band||2.5GHz & 5GHz||2.5GHz & 5GHz|
|Speed||Up to 400Mbps @ 2.4GHz
Up to 867Mbps @ 5GHz
|Up to 400Mbps @ 2.4GHz
Up to 867Mbps @ 5GHz
|Wi-Fi Standards||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wave 2
2 x 2 MU-MIMO
|802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wave 2
2 x 2 MU-MIMO
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, Zigbee, Z-Wave||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, Zigbee, Z-Wave|
|Ethernet Ports (per router)||2||2|
|Dimensions||4.72 x 4.72 x 1.16 inches||4.72 x 4.72 x 1.2 inches|
|Weight (per router)||0.46 lbs||0.46 lbs|
|Where To Buy||Amazon||Amazon|
So if you’re a Connect Home user, should you upgrade? If you base your decision solely on the hardware, the answer is most likely “no.” The two are practically twins. The only difference is SmartThings Wifi’s expanded flash memory which has little affect on the router’s performance. Even the router features are mostly the same, such as parental controls, site censorship, and usage monitoring. But that’s not the end of the story; there’s one more thing that could convince you to upgrade: Plume’s AI-based Adaptive Wi-Fi technology.
What Is Plume’s Adaptive Wi-Fi Technology?
The Adaptive Wi-Fi technology is an AI that learns.
Plume is a mesh router brand known for their stylish Superpod routers and Pod nodes. However, their main product is the cloud-based AI service designed to adapt to each household to optimize internet speed and reliability. The service, called Adaptive Wi-Fi technology, is offered to Superpod and Pod users who are willing to pay for a Membership that costs $60 annually. Users also have the option to sign up for a Lifetime Membership for $200. Does this mean that SmartThings Wifi users will also be charged for extra features? Luckily, no. All SmartThings Wifi users can access Plume’s Adaptive Wi-Fi technology for free for the lifetime of their product.
Out of the box, the AI learns your environment to provide the best possible signal coverage. During this process, the router may disconnect several times as it optimizes its signal output.
Within the first 24 hours, the AI learns your Wi-Fi devices such as smartphones, computers, appliances, and smart home devices. It also monitors your internet usage so it can allocate more capacity to the devices that need it most. For example, when you’re streaming Netflix, it may give priority to the computer or mobile device you’re streaming from over devices that don’t need as much bandwidth like your smart thermostat.
Over the next few weeks, your SmartThings Wifi’s AI will continue learning about your habits to finetune its Adaptive Wi-Fi feature.
Besides optimizing your internet speed and reliability, Plume also helps protect you from malware and viruses, gives you customizable control over your Wi-Fi network, and continuously improves your system through over-the-air updates. But there’s a catch: some features can only be accessed using the Plume app and not Samsung’s SmartThings (Samsung Connect) app.
SmartThings Wifi As A Hub
Let’s not forget that SmartThings Wifi is also a SmartThings hub. It can do pretty much anything the SmartThings v2 and v3 hubs can do, except maybe function locally given SmartThings Wifi’s limited processing power. (You can read more about what the SmartThings hubs can and can’t do locally here.)
That said, it can connect with all SmartThings sensors (both the newly released and previous versions) including the new SmartThings Button and Multipurpose Sensor, connect with compatible third-party products, and integrate with voice AI’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Bixby. And yes, IFTTT and Stringify, too.
Should You Buy It?
When I first reviewed the Connect Home router, I wasn’t convinced that a router with hub features is the best way to automate your home. However, I was proven wrong by the SmartThings community’s warm welcome for the router. Fast-forward to today, I now believe that a router/hub could work, especially if the device can offer more, such as Plume’s AI features. Add to that the fact that SmartThings Wifi ($119.99) costs less than Connect Home’s initial launch price ($129.99), and I’m sold.
To be clear, I’m not saying you should throw away your existing SmartThings hub or Connect Home router and buy SmartThings Wifi. I’m also not implying that SmartThings Wifi is the best SmartThings hub out there. But if you’re looking for a mesh router than can fill your home with Wi-Fi and simultaneously function as a hub, SmartThings Wifi could work for you.