Samsung exited the smart home hub business in spring 2021, blessing third-party maker Aeotec to take over the SmartThings hardware mantle. The Aeotec Smart Home Hub, our current top pick in this category, includes all of the same features as Samsung’s third-generation hub, namely Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Z-Wave radios.
The big new SmartThings coming out of CES is that Samsung’s next-gen TVs and smart devices will be able to function as Software SmartThings hubs that can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. They’ll support the nascent Matter standard, but if you want Zigbee connectivity you’ll need to purchase an optional dongle with a Zigbee radio.
Over the past month, however, the company declined to answer our repeated questions – in a live press forum as well as in emails to multiple contacts – about continued Z-Wave support.
Requiring a dongle for Zigbee support is one thing. Dropping support for another major smart home technology is quite another thing. How can SmartThings continue to be SmartThings when a third of its connectivity requires an additional cost dongle and another third is completely missing? And where exactly are you going to plug a Zigbee dongle? USB ports are a common feature on TVs, but where can you plug a dongle into a refrigerator without worrying about banging and breaking it inside the outlet?
None of this may matter to die-hard smart home enthusiasts, who will reject a disabled software hub in favor of full hardware. But newcomers to the smart home scene who have started building their smart homes around SmartThings will be shocked when they find that a slew of older SmartThings-enabled devices don’t work with their TV’s SmartThings hub. Samsung or their smart Samsung. device.