Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wink Connected Hub - Review

        With the rise of home automation, there has been an onslaught of products and devices that claim they can achieve the futuristic home we all have desired since we first saw The Jetsons on TV as a kid. Home automation is not a "new" thing , in the sense that it has been around for more than 20 years but up until recently, it has moved from a single home based system that was specific only to manufactures , to a cloud based internet of "things". With that has brought , z-wave, Zigbee, bluetooth, wifi connected devices. Within the last year a company called Wink has come out with a device (Hub) that communicates on all of the above mentioned communication frequencies(z-wave, Zigbee, bluetooth, wifi) About a year and a half ago I had purchased TCP Connected bulbs which had their own hub and used them for a bit but bulbs were expensive if you had a light fixture that had 10 + bulbs so I put it away , that is until I purchased a Schlage Connected door lock (more on that in another blog) . I realized I had a few devices that would now communicate and started looking at different devices/hubs. I was at HomeDepot and decided to take the $50.00 dive ( also available on Amazon ) So for the part you all really want to know about. Does the devices stand up to its promise of working with all the devices that are out there and is it easy to use/setup ?  Well, I wish it was a simple yes or no but it's really not.  This is my experience.

I got the Wink Connected Hub and 2 Connected GE Link Bulbs along with a GoControl "Home Security " kit (also more to come on that in another blog) Got home and pulled the Wink Hub out and read the instructions.  Simpe enough it seemed.  The Wink Hub is a Wifi only device so you must have wifi connection to use it  ( no ethernet) .   I got it connected to my wifi and setup in a matter of minutes(which seemed great) .  Then I went to Add my Schlage Connected Door lock and was prompted to install and update to new firmware (this is where it all went to crap).  I let it update, but it kept saying it still needed to update.  I was not able to add any devices or use it at all until it updated the firmware. For the next hour , I kept trying to update it to no avail.  Finally I called customer support and they walked me through several steps from moving the hub around the house (literally every room) to as far away as possible while still being within the walls of my home.  They "pushed" the firmware update each time (yes they have access to your Hub and can see if it's online or not) but again still had the same issue....Did this for nearly another hour to have the Rep tell me this was a "known" issue and that up to 70 other people were also having the same issue.  He told me he would keep "pushing" the update and for me to keep moving the device around and that I may just have to wait and call back.  I did this but became inpatient and an hour later , called again and went through the same steps with another rep for another hour and just gave up at the frustration of having just spent a decent amount of money on different products that I can't use.  I left home and returned in the evening and tried once more to move the hub and let it connect and much to my surprise it finally updated to the appropriate firmware (hooray!!) It was late so went to bed and waited till the morning .
In the Morning I got everything together and much to my surprise again, it all synced up perfect and quickly.  So for me my experience was less than savory on the initial setup but once the firmware was pushed and updated, everything went smoothly.

Pros: Cheap, easy to setup (assuming you don't have the same issue I had), lots of different devices work with it, great API and APP interface, easy to use , works with other non z-wave devices (tcp connected, honeywell thermostat), they have live person (American ) support

Cons: Can be a hassle to setup in some circumstances, has only wifi connection (only 2.4ghz ...DOES NOT SUPPORT 5GHZ) , Has limited support for some items , no ethernet

All this said, great product for what It is, the app is well put together, the hardware is robust but lacking a bit, I believe they will improve further as the tech catches up.

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