The Best Smart Plugs in 2019 that Work with Alexa and Google Home

Everyone wants to cut energy costs. One of the easiest ways to do that is through energy monitoring tools, but another simple solution is to eliminate phantom power draw. “Phantom power” is energy drawn by devices even when not in direct use, such as to power LED displays.

The only way to stop phantom power is to shut off the flow of electricity to that device—and the easiest way to do that without unplugging an appliance when you’re done is through a smart plug.

Smart plugs can confuse even the most
tech-savvy person, however. To help you decide which one of these plugs is
right for you, we have narrowed down the top five best smart plugs you can buy
right now, in February of 2019.

1. Belkin WeMo Insight (Amazon)

Belkin is no stranger to smart home technology, but the WeMo Insight smart plug is one of their most popular devices. The WeMo Insight supports Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, and also has apps on both Android and iOS.

Belkin went above and beyond with this model by providing something few other smart plugs do: energy monitoring software. While not as robust as a whole-home monitoring system, you can monitor how much power the device plugged into your WeMo Insight draws on a daily and hourly basis.

For a single plug, the price point is a bit
high at $38.39. There is no web support, so you can’t access and control the
plug via the web, and the phone app can be a bit tough to use at times. Despite
this, the energy monitoring makes it one of the foremost choices on the market,
especially for people that are serious about reducing their utility costs.

2. iDevices Switch (Amazon)

The iDevices Switch has one major strength
that puts it near the top of our list: it works with Amazon Alexa, Apple
HomeKit, and Google Home. It also supports energy monitoring and allows you to
schedule specific periods of operation for a device plugged into the outlet.

The downside is that it isn’t the most
compact design for a plug. The outlet redirects the plug to the side, which can
be a bit inconvenient (or not) depending on the device. While it isn’t likely
to block the second slot on a wall outlet, the iDevices Switch might not fit
well on a power strip. It is lower-priced than the Belkin WeMo Insight at
$29.95.

3. TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Mini Plug (Amazon)

TP-Link is another well-name name in the technology world. Aside from a long history of making routers, the company also produces some of the most popular smart plugs available today.

The Kasa line has a lot going for it, especially with this mini plug. Not only is it compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, and even Microsoft Cortana, but also it provides energy monitoring and reporting for anything plugged into it.

The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Mini Plug has a slim,
narrow design that lets it fit into spaces other smart plugs might not—and
because it doesn’t redirect the plug, you can stick it into a power strip
without worry. It does not support Apple HomeKit, however. At $21.99, the Kasa
is one of the least expensive options on this list.

4. iClever Smart Plug (Amazon)

The iClever Smart Plug is not a
revolutionary addition to the market, but it does everything a smart plug
should—and for a lower price than anything else. The device works with Amazon
Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT, and gives you the ability to set the plug to
turn on and off based on different conditions.

The downside is that it does not work with
Apple HomeKit and does not have energy monitoring, but when you get two plugs
for just $27.99, it’s hard to nitpick.  

5. iSmart iSP100 Outdoor SmartPlug (Amazon)

The iSmart iSP100 is the only plug to earn
a spot on this list that isn’t indoor-only, but if you need an easy way to
control your holiday lights, an outdoor smart plug is an easy option. The
iSmart works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. It also has a
long enough plug that it can connect to a covered outlet with ease.

The downside is that it doesn’t have energy
monitoring or IFTT compatibility. While it would be nice to keep an eye on how
much energy your award-winning Christmas light display uses, it’s not a
necessity.

The Benefits of a Smart Plug

Smart plugs do more than let you control them via your voice; they can turn even a “dumb” device into a connected, Wi-Fi controlled appliance. They also provide peace of mind.

If you have a small, sometimes chilly office (like the writer of this article), then space heaters become a necessity in winter. And if you ever forget whether you turned it off or not, a smart plug makes it easy to press a button on your phone and guarantee the heater has no power.

The ability to connect traditionally non-connected devices to your home makes smart plugs a welcome addition to any home.

Although some plugs take up more space than seems strictly necessary, the ones with a slimmer profile make it easy to control your house by saying, “Hey Google, turn on the living room lamp.” A smart plug lets you bring your antique, heirloom 1950’s lamp into 2019.

The Most Versatile Smart Assistant

In this world of battle royales, there is one that stands out above all the others: the never-ending contest of the Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomePod.

The three smart assistants dominate the market, each one claiming to the best at what it does—and all three claim to be the right choice for your home. But which one really does the best job, and which one gives you the most bang for your buck?

We’re going to take a look at the
functionality of all three devices, their various models, different prices
points, and more to help you make that decision.

Google Home

The Google Home is perhaps the
“smartest” of the assistants, at least in terms of asking it questions
and receiving an answer in return. Google Home connects with more than 5,000
devices from over 150 brands.

There are four different models of the
smart assistant.

Model Price
Google Home Mini $50
Google Home $129
Google
Home Max
$399
Google
Home Hub
$149

Google
Home Mini

The Google Home Mini is the smallest and
most affordable of Google’s smart assistants. In fact, it often goes on sale
for $30. If you’re just starting out with smart home technology—or you just
need a smart assistant in another room—the Google Home Mini is well worth it.

The speaker is not as loud or as
high-quality as the more expensive offerings and comes with a distinct tinny
sound, but it is perfectly loud enough to fill a room if you aren’t picky about
audio quality. There are also multiple color options, so you’re sure to find a
device that fits the look and feel of your space.

Google
Home

The Google Home is the original smart home
assistant that Google produced. Priced at $129, it has better sound quality and
a more sleek look than the round, button-like Mini. It’s louder and has a much
better baseline overall, but has the same functionality as the Mini.

The Google Home comes in multiple colors,
but also has the aesthetic of an air freshener. While some people like the
look, it isn’t for everyone.

Google
Home Max

The Google Home Max is by far the most expensive option on the list, but for good reason. Google took all of the functionality of the other devices and stuffed it into the Max, but added speakers any audiophile will love.

If you intend to use Google Home mostly as a way to play music, the Max might be the right option for you. It boasts dual 4.5″ woofers and has clear tweeters to keep the high notes high and the low notes low.

Reviews say that no other speaker on the
market sounds as good as the Google Home Max. The device even looks like a
speaker. For the average person that only wants to control a smart home, the
Max might be more than you need—but for anyone with a deep love of music, the
Max will be right at home.

Google
Home Hub

Of all the available Google Home devices,
the Home Hub would be our primary pick for a smart home device. It boasts all
the functionality of the Mini, the Home, and the Max, but adds something else
to the mix: a screen. The Google Home Hub is equipped with a touch screen
display that gives you visual access to Google Photos, Google Maps, and a host
of smart home controls.

The Home Hub can be used as a digital photo
frame when not actively in use by someone in the home. You can watch YouTube,
look up recipes, and much more. As a centerpiece in the home—particularly in
the kitchen, where the step-by-step recipe instructions are most useful—the
Home Hub is without peer.

At $149, it’s half the price of the Max and
only $20 more than the basic Google Home assistant. Its versatile
functionality, clean look, and integration with smart home devices like the
Nest Hello make it a solid choice for anyone that wants to upgrade their home.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is evenly matched against
the Google Home when it comes to smart home control, but excels in one area in
particular: shopping. Because the Echo is a property of Amazon, users can order
products directly through the smart assistant. There are four different
versions of the Amazon Echo.

Model Price
Amazon
Echo Dot
$49.99
Amazon
Echo
$99.99
Amazon
Echo Plus
$149.99
Amazon
Echo Show
$229

Amazon
Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo Dot is Amazon’s analog of
the Google Home Mini. The device is a smaller—yet fully featured—version of the
basic Amazon Echo. Like the Echo, it answers to Alexa (or Echo.) The Echo Dot
can play music, start up your favorite show on the television, control your
lights, and much more.

Amazon markets the Dot as an
“Alexa-enabled” Bluetooth speaker. The device started out as a home
for the Alexa, but Amazon has since put more focus on the speaker aspect. You
can pair two Dots together for stereo sound within a space, or you can use a
3.5 mm audio cable to connect your own speakers to the device.

Amazon
Echo

The Echo is the original smart assistant. While other devices may have existed before it, none caught on with the same level of popularity as the Echo.

It has the same functionality of the Dot, but with better hardware and a more aesthetic case. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the system is just like that of the Google Home—or perhaps the Google Home is just like that of the Amazon Echo.

The Amazon Echo makes use of Dolby
technology to power its speakers and distribute audio evenly over a 360-degree
area. Seven built-in microphones mean the Echo can hear you from anywhere, even
if music is playing.

Amazon
Echo Plus

The Echo Plus is Amazon’s equivalent to the
Google Home Max. Built with a 3″ woofer and a 0.8″ tweeter, the Echo
Plus has the most audio capability of any of the Echo devices, but is not as
powerful as the Google Home Max. However, with a price point of just $119, the
Echo Plus gives mid-level sound for a fraction of the cost.

You can also run a 3.5 mm audio cable into
the Echo Plus and use it as a speaker to play music from another device, a
feature that none of the other Echo devices have. The Echo Plus only has three
color options: Charcoal, Sandstone, and Heather Grey.

Amazon
Echo Show

The Amazon Echo Show is the newest addition
to the Echo lineup. The Echo Show has a 10.1″ touchscreen that lets you
stream live TV, Hulu, check out recipes, and see album art from your Amazon
Music collection. You should note, however, that it does not have YouTube due
to the rivalry between Amazon and Google.

You can connect the Echo Show to a smart
doorbell and see who’s at the door, and also stream two-way audio. The Echo
Show also has video and hands-free calling, something the Google Home lacks.

Apple HomePod

The Apple HomePod is Apple’s attempt to get
into the smart assistant market, but doesn’t quite stack up to the competition.
At present, there is only a single model available for the HomePod.

Apple HomePod $349

The HomePod comes in two colors: black and white. While the HomePod does work as a smart assistant, it’s primarily a speaker. It has six built-in microphones for voice detection, which means Siri should be able to hear you no matter how loud you have the music turned up.

It also has seven horn-loaded tweeters and a high-excursion woofer. When it comes to audio quality, it’s hard to beat the HomePod. It gives even the Google Home Max a run for its money.

Siri doesn’t have the same functionality as either Alexa or Google. While she can search for answers to questions, she usually only provides a website with a search result.

Smart home compatibility is also limited. While most of the major name brands will work with Siri (after you set up the apps), some of the more obscure brands might pose a problem.

Apple HomeKit provides interesting options
for scheduling routines, but you don’t need a HomePod for that. Unless you are
looking for a smart home assistant that has truly amazing sound quality, an iPhone
or iPad will give the same smart home control a HomePod will.

Comparing the Assistants

We’ll start by saying this: if you want
great sound quality and aren’t worried about smart home technology, go for the
HomePod. It excels at audio, but doesn’t add up anywhere else. If you want a
mix of the two, then it boils down between Amazon Echo and Google Home devices.

Echo
Functionality

All Amazon Echo devices are powered by
Alexa. At present, Alexa has more than 50,000 Skills, with more added every
day. You can even create your own Alexa Skills with the Skill Blueprints,
easy-to-use templates that allow you to set up a series of commands tied to a
specific phrase.

The downside lies in actually speaking with
Alexa. A lot of updates have improved both the overall quality of her voice and
the range of questions she can answer, but Alexa still sounds distinctly
robotic. If you ask a question, she won’t remember the previous question. For
example, if you ask, “Alexa, what was the number one film of 2018?”
she will give you the proper answer (it’s Black Panther, by the way.) But if
you follow up and ask, “Who was the leading actor?” she will be
confused.

Google
Functionality

The Google Home is easy to set up and
install, but the skills it comes with are what you get. Google does not have
the same Skills Blueprints that Alexa does, which means you can’t create custom
commands.

On the other hand, speaking with Google
sounds much more natural. The Google voice has more natural inflection. Google
will also remember the questions you’ve asked previously. To reuse the above
example, if you asked “Who was the leader actor?” Google would
respond with “Chadwick Boseman.”

Screens
or No Screens?

If there are no other circumstances, go for one of the devices with a screen. It expands the overall functionality of the smart assistant to never-before-seen levels that will make it a part of your routine.

The sound quality on the Amazon Echo Show and the Google Home Hub may not be the level of the HomePod, but it’s more than enough to hear what the devices say and listen to some background music.

The Recommendation

When all is said and done, the Amazon Echo Show is the most bang for your buck. While pricier than the Google Home Hub, it also has a much broader range of functionality.

Both can show recipes, both can play music, but the Echo Show lets you shop, access your calendar, and even create custom commands to fit need you may have of it.

The Best Mileage Tracking Apps

If you aren’t tracking the miles you drive for work, you’re losing money. Period. Any self-employed person can deduct up to $0.585 per mile from their annual taxes for qualified miles, and believe us, that adds up.

Think about it like this: for every 100 miles you drive, you can deduct $58.50. And if you’ve ever filed taxes as a freelancer or self-employed person before, you know that those self-employment taxes are killer.

The trick is
remembering to log those miles. It can be tough to remember to write down your
mileage at the start of each day, and then it’s even more of a hassle to
subtract the ending and starting miles and add those numbers up at the end of
the year. To help you do exactly that without all the fuss, we’ve put together
a list of some of the best mileage-tracking apps on the market.

Stride Tax (Download)

Stride makes tracking mileage literally a one-touch process. Open the app and tap “Track my Miles.” Tap the button again when your trip ends. It automatically calculates the distance traveled, provides a map, and tells you how much you saved based on current tax law.

You can include up to two different jobs, too—one specific one, and one “Other.” If you forget to start your mileage tracking, you can enter it manually later. You can also enter other expenses and even scan receipts to track all of your business-related spending.

Stride lets you connect a bank account to the app so you can automatically record business expenses. The best part? Stride is totally free. The app is incredibly accurate with mileages, too, so you don’t have to worry about a margin of error.

At the end of each week, Stride will send an email with a total of your earned deductions for that week. And at the end of the year, just follow the steps and let Stride produce an IRS-ready form for you. Stride can automatically import into various tax software, including H&R Block online.

MileIQ (Download)

MileIQ is produced by Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean you’re restricted to using it only on Microsoft platforms. MileIQ operates in the cloud, so you can access your account via smartphone, tablet, through the web, and from your computer.

This lets you print reports, classify any of your drives, and customize every detail of every mile driven. The downside is that MileIQ isn’t free—it’s $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. There is a free version, but it only records 40 drives per month. On the flip side, if you have a Microsoft Office 365 Business subscription, MileIQ is included free.

Unlike Stride, you don’t have to start and
stop recording your mileage with MileIQ. The app records every mile driven, and
all you have to do is classify whether the drive was personal or for business.
The app sends a weekly report of miles driven and gives push notifications that
remind you to classify potential deductions.

Everlance (Download)

Everlance is designed with both companies and self-employed people in mind. Like MileIQ, it’s a paid app. You receive 30 free trips per month, after which you’ll need to sign up for Everlance Premium to record more trips—an $8 per month or $60 per year cost.

The good news is that you can give it a 7-day free trial to find out whether the premium features (which include auto-tracking, advanced reports, and bank integration) are worth it. And, as the company points out, the cost pays for itself after one big trip.

Everlance lets you add mileage manually, list non-mileage expenses, and even add in revenue that you might not receive a 1099 for. One interesting feature is that you can choose two locations and find out the value between those two points.

If you link your bank to your Everlance account, you can monitor your transactions and classify them by swiping right for work and left for personal. At the end of the year, Everlance will compile an IRS compliant report that makes it easy to report your yearly mileage.

Why an App?

Maybe you prefer pencil and paper for tracking miles. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with it—and we actually use an app and a notepad, then compare the two at the end of the day to check for accuracy.

But an app makes the entire process easier and allows you to get more precise than just what your odometer tells you. The added benefits of expense tracking and automated reports are also a major plus.

If you decide to go with one of the paid versions, remember that the yearly cost of using the app is also a tax deduction. When you’re self-employed, every deduction you can find counts.

Use one of these apps to make sure you’re logging your miles properly—and that you can provide proof you did, in fact, drive those miles. You know, just in case the IRS needs verification.

Netflix vs Hulu vs Prime – The Best Streaming Service in 2019

Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are almost more prevalent than cable these days. In fact, a news story from late 2017 showed that Netflix had nearly as many customers as traditional cable services did.

The service has only grown since then. Streaming services win out because they offer more on-demand options at a lower price than cable services do.

When Netflix was the only real streaming option, the choice was easy. But with so many services to pick from, it can be hard to narrow down which one of the major three is the better option. The average person might have Netflix because of its vast span of originals, then either Hulu or Prime for a single show or two.

Toss on HBO from Game of Thrones, and soon the Disney streaming service for all of the tragically canceled Marvel shows, and you’re looking at the equivalent of a cable bill.

There are only so many hours in a month to
watch television with. There’s no need to spend that much. Here is a breakdown
of what each service offers to help you make the most cost-effective decision.

4K Versus No 4K

If you’re a true cinephile (or you just
like watching content in the best possible quality), then 4K resolution is a
must. And thankfully, it’s available on almost
every platform. The problem is that early in 2018, Hulu killed all of its 4K
content and removed the option from all platforms.

Even the 4K page on the website is now
gone. Hulu said that 4K was never a huge point for them, and even before they
shut down availability of the higher-quality streams, they were only available
in two places: the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X. Hulu has a lot going
for it, but the lack of 4K is a big mark against it, especially as more and
more 4K content emerges.

Amazon Prime Video does have 4K support,
although it is limited based on the content. Netflix falls into the same
category. Only limited shows have 4K support, but the ones that do look fantastic.
The downside is that it requires a higher payment tier to stream in 4K than at
lower resolutions.

The upside to this downside is that, when
Netflix detects a 4K-capable smart television, it automatically offers you the
option to upgrade. Almost every Netflix Original has a 4K option, as well as
many Pixar movies.

Original Programming

On-demand television is one of the primary
appeals for any streaming service, but as time has gone on and Netflix, Hulu,
and Amazon Prime grew their own dedicated fanbases, the services started to
produce original shows not available on any other platform. And many of those
shows far exceed anything available on traditional television.

Netflix leads the race in original
programming, with around 700 new shows, movies, and documentaries added in 2018
alone. Some of the ones you might have seen include The Blacklist, Black Mirror, and Sense8. Outside of the bevy of
Netflix originals, you’ll find fan favorites like Friends and Grey’s Anatomy.

Hulu has 50 original series, several of
which have won awards. Among these are The
Handmaid’s Tale, Castle Rock, and Harlots.
Hulu also nabbed the rights to
beloved sitcoms like How I Met Your
Mother
. Although not an original, sitcoms with big fan bases bring a lot of
viewers to the platform.  

Amazon Prime Video also has its fair share
of originals. Although we could find no specific numbers, they have somewhere
between 150 and 200 original shows, with more to come in 2019. Some of the best
ones include the incredibly popular Marvelous
Mrs. Maisel, Sneaky Pete,
and the police drama Bosch.

If we had to judge a platform based on
numbers alone, Netflix would be the clear winner. On the other hand, Hulu has a
lot of well-produced originals. It’s a sort of quality over quantity situation.
In the middle of these two lies Amazon Prime. It has a few hits, a few misses,
but overall, the platform’s originals are worth checking out.

Pricing

The one factor that sways more people than
anything else is price. Because there are so many different pricing tiers,
we’ve broken them down into a table to make it easy to understand.

Streaming
Service
Service
Plan Price Per Month
Netflix Standard Definition, Single Screen: $9 High Definition, Two Screens: $13 4K UHD, Four Screens: $16
Hulu With Ads, $7.99 Without Ads, $11.99 Hulu + Live TV With Ads: $39.99
Amazon
Prime
Amazon Prime Video is included with
Amazon Prime, a service that costs $119 per year. There are no other pricing
tiers.

You should note that these are not all of
the options for each service. While Netflix and Amazon are rather
straightforward in pricing, Hulu has a number of customization
options—including the ability to HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz to any plan
for varying extra monthly costs. You can also choose to have Enhanced Cloud DVR
and Unlimited Screens to the Live TV plan.

Other Services and Considerations

These three “primary” streaming
services will probably always be at the top, if only for the variety of programming
they offer. On the other hand, HBO has a lot of fans because it’s the only
place to watch Game of Thrones.
Disney+ promises to be a major contender because it will have so much original
programming, as well as many of the Marvel shows people loved on Netflix.

Services like Crunchyroll are also popular
for more niche audiences due to the growing popularity of anime, although
Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all have a fair share of Japanese animation in
their repertoires.

And the above services don’t even take into
account the people that pay for independent sports packages. All this is to
point out how much competition there is, and how difficult it can be to make a
choice.

Choosing Only One

The fact is, you’ll probably have more than one streaming service. That’s just how it works in this day and age. That said, if you had to pick just one of these three, the 4K, four-screen package from Netflix is your best bet.

Not only does it allow you to stream on up to four different screens at one time, but you gain access to a library of more than 700 original shows and hundreds of classic, much-loved reruns—and you can access it in the highest definition possible at this time.

On the bright side, most people also have
Amazon Prime just for online shopping, so if you do you can always check in on
what their video offerings are for no additional cost.

Battle of the Smart Home Hubs – SmartThings vs Wink

Smart home hubs are the lifeblood of any
fully connected home. These devices act as a “translator” between
protocols. For example, if a device that uses only Zigbee needs to communicate
with a device that only uses Z-Wave, then a smart home hub can be used as an
intermediary between the two. There are two major names in smart home hubs:
Samsung SmartThings and Wink.

It can be tough to decide between each one.
Here’s a point-by-point breakdown to help you come to a decision.

SmartThings vs.
Wink

There are a few differences between the
two, but at first glance, both smart home hubs have many of the same features:

Samsung
SmartThings
Wink
4.9″ x 4.2″ x 1.3″ 7.25″ x 7.25″ x 1.25″
Wi-Fi and Wired Ethernet Wi-Fi and Wired Ethernet
10 hour battery life No battery
Alexa, Google Alexa, Google
$65 (Amazon) $155 (Amazon)

One major thing to note: the prices aren’t 100% accurate. While the Samsung SmartThings system is sometimes purchased on its own, the Wink Home Hub usually comes as part of a $200 starter kit that includes motion sensors, sirens and chimes, and door and window sensors.

There are also two versions of the Wink (version 1 and version 2.) This comparison focuses only on version 2, the most recent iteration of the Hub.

Samsung SmartThings Hub

 Size

On a purely inch-by-inch basis, SmartThings is smaller and has a more sleek look than the Wink. Smart home technology has become quite aesthetically pleasing, but the classic square techno-block look that describes both SmartThings and Wink doesn’t really look great.

While many smart home devices blend in among decor, both of these hubs will stand out. If you don’t want to display your hub for all the world to see, then the SmartThings is likely the better choice.

The Wink Hub 2

Connectivity

Both the SmartThings hub and the Wink hub
can connect through Wi-Fi and Ethernet. This is sort of the default for smart
home technology, however. The vast majority of devices connect over Wi-Fi, but
the hub itself should be connected through Ethernet. The reason is simple.

As an intermediary between multiple devices, the hub needs to be online and broadcasting at all times. A Wi-Fi connected hub creates a failure point that could result in connectivity issues between devices.

Anyone that has ever tried to troubleshoot technology knows that the less variables, the better—so whatever hub you choose, make sure to leave a spot for it in your router.

Battery Life

The Wink has no battery, but the
SmartThings does. This makes it an interesting failsafe in the event of power
loss. You might wonder why a smart hub includes a battery; after all, if power
fails, then there isn’t likely to be Wi-Fi either. The reason lies in security.

Samsung produces several security devices
that connect via Bluetooth, so even if you do not have Wi-Fi, as long as the
device and the hub have power then they remain operational. Devices like the
SmartThings Arrival Sensor , SmartThings Water Leak Sensor, and other home
security and prevention devices might be at their most useful at times when
there is no power.

In terms of comparison, the SmartThings hub
is the better choice for anything with battery backup.

Voice Control

Both the SmartThings Hub and Wink Hub connect
to and can be controlled by Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Other voice control
devices like the Siri (through the HomePod) and Sonos control is not yet
supported, although a few select Samsung products might be compatible via
SmartThings Lab.

Any device released these days is expected
to be compatible with voice control, and both of the primary smart home hubs
are. The one you choose is up to you.

Price

For many people, one of the main points of
influence will be the price. While the hub alone costs less with Samsung, it
would not be fair to evaluate the two based solely on this one factor. Instead,
take a look at the bundles that SmartThings and Wink offer.

SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit

The SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit costs
$142.00 and contains the following:

  • 1 SmartThings Hub
  • 2 SmartThings Multipurpose
    Sensors
  • 1 Smart Things Motion Sensor
  • 1 SmartThings Outlet

All in all, this isn’t a bad value—and not a bad way for someone new to smart home technology to start decking out their home. Smart outlets can turn even “dumb” appliances into things you can control from your phone.

The multipurpose sensors can be used to automatically turn on lights when doors are opened, alert you to open windows, and much more. The SmartThings motion sensor can also be used to trigger lights when motion is detected, or to act as a subtle home security tool that alerts you if it picks up unexpected motion.

Wink Lookout Smart Security Starter Kit

At $199, the Wink Lookout Smart Security
Starter Kit contains more security-focused tools than the SmartThings starter
kit:

  • 1 Wink Hub 2
  • 2 Door/Window Sensors
  • 1 Siren/Chime
  • 1 Motion Sensor

The Wink starter kit packs a lot of value
into its accessories, but these are geared more toward home security than home
automation. The Wink can do both, but buyers interested in connecting smart
home tech might not see as much value in the Wink starter kit. The siren/chime
unit is an interesting addition; if triggered, it will chirp or sound the siren
to alert the household.

Of the two, we find more value in the
SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit. It can be used for both home security and home
automation and contains the same number of additional products as the Wink Lookout
Smart Security Kit for a lower price.

SmartThings vs Wink: Which is Better?

Both of the smart home hubs are capable of
controlling smart home technology, but there is one criteria we did not touch
on: the number of devices each can control. According to Samsung’s FAQ page,
the SmartThings Hub can control 232 devices—or 231, since the hub itself
technically counts as part of the network.

The Wink Hub is capable of controlling more
than 400 devices. While Wink is the clear winner in this category, you have to
ask yourself: how many smart home devices do you own? Will you ever reach the
point where this criteria becomes relevant?

Ultimately, the hub you choose comes down to your personal preferences, but our recommendation is the SmartThings Hub. Samsung is a company with a long-established reputation for quality, the starter kit is a better value, and the inclusion of a battery failsafe makes it more reliable in our book.

On top of all of that, the SmartThings devices have a more aesthetic look to them than Wink devices.