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The best smart home hubs for 2022

Thinking about automating the lighting throughout your home? Have you ever wanted to build and manage your daily schedule through a mobile app or by using voice commands? Better yet, what about seeing your schedule displayed on an interactive touchscreen? If the answer is a resounding “yes,” it sounds like a smart home hub should enter your life.

The best smart home hubs connect to devices from multiple brands, keeping all your tech under one easy-to-navigate roof. Touchscreen hubs like the Google Nest Hub Max and Amazon Echo Show are fully interactive tablets that link you up with all of your preferred devices, streaming services, news and weather, and more. Speaker hubs like the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod use voice commands (and app-based controls) to control your smart ecosystem while connecting you to premiere streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and more.

There are a plethora of hubs out there, so we’ve taken the liberty of breaking down the best of the best. Read on to see which smart hubs get the two thumbs up from us.

Google Nest Hub Max

Nest Hub Max.
John Velasco/Digital Trends

The Nest Hub Max is a smart display packed full of features, thanks to Google’s experience with previous smart hubs like the Google Home. The touchscreen display on its own is a great way to read the news, watch videos, play interactive games, or show a rotating gallery of your favorite photos. But that’s only a tiny part of what the Nest Hub Max can do. With the help of the built-in Google Assistant, it can connect to compatible smart devices around your home and form scenes that involve adjusting lights, playing music, reporting the news, checking your calendar, and many other things. You can control all of this with Google Assistant voice commands.

The display includes a camera that can recognize faces and switch profiles based on who in the house is using the hub. That camera can also handle video calls and intelligently frame you as you move around in front of the display while having a conversation. The Nest Hub Max also doubles as a security camera wherever you place it in your home, and you can log on with your mobile device and look through the cam whenever you need to (as well as receive certain alerts). The impressive speakers in the back can play music on demand, too.

Read our full Google Nest Hub Max review

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo (4th Gen) on a table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Amazon’s latest Echo speaker is packed with new features to make your Alexa experience that much greater. For starters, a radical redesign ditches the old cylindrical Echo design for a more spherical speaker. Adaptive audio means your Echo will instantly calibrate sound based on the room it’s placed in, so you’ll always get the best sound no matter what.

With Alexa, you can use voice commands or touchscreen prompts to check your smart lights, cameras, and thermostats, or log into Netflix and binge your favorite shows. The Echo even has a built-in Zigbee hub. That means you won’t have to invest in any standalone hardware to control and monitor any Zigbee-enabled devices, like lighting, smart plugs, and cameras. Amazon Sidewalk, a new community networking feature rolling out later this year, is also built into the latest Echo speaker, allowing your Echo to function as a Sidewalk transmitter for the whole street (if you so choose).

Echo Show 15

Echo Show 15 on wall.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Amazon’s Echo Show 15 is built around the idea of community, specifically within the household. Building upon the solid foundation of the multi-generation Echo Show smart display, the Echo Show 15 lets you combine multiple user-profiles for an immersive, all-hands-on-deck experience. Customizable Alexa widgets allow you to view shared calendars, sticky-notes, lists, reminders, and more. We also love that the display is smart enough to recognize who’s standing in front of it, altering its appearance based on the member of the household.

Another big change is that this is the first Echo Show with the ability to be wall-mounted. Table-top options are available, too (stand sold separately).

On top of its household management capabilities, the Echo Show 15 is an impressive smart home controller. Use it to control your smart lights, locks, cameras, and more. Have a Netflix or Apple Music subscription? You’ll be able to use the Echo Show to view your favorite movies and shows in stunning HD, as well as stream all your favorite tunes.

Read our full Echo Show 15 review

Apple HomePod mini

Apple HomePod mini in hand.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Apple’s foray into the world of smart home hubs has produced a number of intuitive smart speakers and A/V devices like the Apple TV 4K. For those looking to break into the world of smart controllers, the Apple HomePod mini is the perfect way to get started the Apple way.

Compact and sleek-looking, the mini is easy to place throughout the home, no matter how little space you have available. And don’t worry about the room’s layout affecting the sound quality, for the mini’s computational audio adjusts the audio output based on the speaker’s environment. While overall sound doesn’t quite match the raw power of the standard HomePod, the mini still kicks.

In terms of smart home control, Siri is the voice assistant steering the ship this time around. While not as advanced as Alexa or Google Assistant, Apple’s AI more than gets the job done. You’ll be able to engage the assistant to do things like control your smart home gear, read out your daily schedule, and more. Apple Music fan? With AirPlay 2, you’ll also be able to instantly share and stream whatever music you’re listening to on your iPhone or iPad directly to the mini, and vice versa. It’s all possible with the Apple HomePod mini.

Read our full review of the Apple HomePod mini

Hubitat Elevation Smart Hub

The Hubitat Smart Home Hub.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Want a little more customization for your smart hub experience? Sure, the Alexa and Google Assistant devices of the hub-space are great controllers for the basics of most smart ecosystems, but what if you want to build specific commands for your smart home devices to follow? Using protocols like Rule Machine, Simple Automation Rules, Mode Manager, and more, the Hubitat will allow you to engage with customizable dashboards to get your devices turning on and off and interacting exactly the way you want them to — with zero hard-coding required.

The Hubitat is also equipped with Zigbee and Z-Wave antennas to control whatever products you own that are compatible with these Wi-Fi-adjacent tools. One bummer though is that the hub lacks Wi-Fi, meaning you’ll need to connect it to a router directly.

What is the purpose of a smart home hub?

A smart home hub performs a number of functions. Chief amongst them, a hub acts as a live command-center for all the various smart home devices in your home, allowing you to control and manage whatever compatible devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your smart hub.

Outside of automations, a smart hub is often a self-contained smart device in and of itself. In the case of smart speakers and displays, you can use them to view daily reminders and shopping lists, listen to music, ask questions, play games, and more.

Do you need multiple smart home hubs?

Typically not. In cases where you have certain smart home devices stored on different Wi-Fi bands though (2.4GHz versus 5GHz), you’ll want to use a dedicated hub for each network band.

Do keep in mind that not all smart home hubs are compatible with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

What’s a SmartThings hub?

SmartThings is Samsung’s version of the smart home hub. Available for a number of years, these web-connected controllers use Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Z-Wave to control the smart home gear in your home, including Nest products. At this time, Samsung is no longer producing the SmartThings hub, but you can still find them used where available.

Editors' Recommendations

Michael Bizzaco

Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from A/V components and smart home devices to encryption software, cloud backup platforms, search engine tools, and more. He has written for Digital Trends for over three years, covering entertainment content, A/V, and smart home devices.

Kim Wetzel
Former Digital Trends Contributor

Before joining Digital Trends as Home Editor, Kim was an adjunct journalism professor at Linfield College and high school journalism and English teacher. She spent several years writing for several publications, including U.S. News and World Report. She enjoys camping, running, and just about anything outdoors.

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