This is an interesting development. Well, at least for smart home and home automation enthusiasts it might be.
SmartThings (now owned by Samsung) today announced a USB stick called the SmartThings Link that works with the NVIDIA Shield streaming box to create a smart home hub.
It costs only $39.99, though itâ€™s on sale for pre-order on the ST site for a very reasonable $14.99.
That means you could plug it into your Shield and then connect various smart home devices â€” bulbs, motion sensors, light switches, open/close contact sensors, etc. â€” and then control everything via the SmartThings app (which is quite good).
Can the SmartThings Link Replace the SmartThings Hub?
Itâ€™s unclear to me if the SmartThings USB stick has identical functionality to the actual SmartThings Hub. If it does, then this is a very low cost way for existing Shield owners to add a smart home hub. Currently the Hub costs $50. So for only $15 you presumably get the same functionality for a lot less money.
If youâ€™re interested in SmartThings but donâ€™t donâ€™t already own a Shield you will, of course, be better off going for the $50 hub. Unless you want an Android TV box to also stream Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, run Kodi, and other apps, in which case combining the SmartThings Link and NVIDIA Shield is a compelling, if not slightly pricey, option.
One of SmartThingsâ€™ many strengths is its broad compatibility. Thanks in part to its support for both Z-Wave and Zigbee wireless protocols, many partner products work with the hub including: Lutron, Schlage, Honeywell, Leviton, Ecobee, Arlo, Ring, Philips Hue, Yale, among several others.
Also today, NVIDIA announced a software update, Shield Experience 6.0. In addition to including SmartThings support, the new version includes support for Google Assistant (so you can say, â€œOK Google, watch Game of Thronesâ€), YouTube 360 support, a new YouTube Kids App, security updates, and a bunch of other fixes and updates (Iâ€™m particularly pleased to see â€œimproved A/V syncâ€ for the Amazon Video App).
Andâ€¦ Out of Curiosity: Is the Smart Home Hub Dying?
But, itâ€™s been asked before: is the smart home hub dying? (already!)
It seems the smart home hub hasnâ€™t even reached critical mass, and, yet here we are wondering if itâ€™s going the way of cable or wired telephone service. Is the hub dying â€” that is, the dedicated smart home hub like Wink and SmartThings?
Given that Amazon is pushing hard with Echo devices (now offering one with Zigbee-based wireless home automation connectivity) and Google and Apple offering similar devices with the Home and upcoming HomePod respectively, it could get tougher for makers of pure-play hubs. And, donâ€™t forget, these also offer the huge benefit of voice assistant technology, a natural and very convenient feature for controlling stuff around the home.
In addition, two bundles are available:
- SmartThings Link Smart Bulb Bundle $34.99: 1 SmartThings Link for NVIDIA Shield and 2 Sengled Element Classic A19 Bulbs
- SmartThings Kit for NVIDIA Shield $59.99:Â 1 SmartThings Link for NVIDIA Shield,Â 2 Sengled Element Classic A19 Bulbs, 1 Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor
Iâ€™m hoping the Link stick offers all the same capability of the traditional ST Hub. If it does, then thatâ€™s one more hub I can disconnect. Keep it simple, right?