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Wink's new smart home hub is slimmer and more powerful

Engadget Engadget 27/09/2016 Cherlynn Low
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Every person who's tried to smarten up their home knows the woes of dealing with multiple hubs for each brand's products. Wink tried to solve that problem two years ago with its original Hub, and is now launching a successor that not only looks much better and is 25 percent slimmer, but also offers a simplified setup and pairing process thanks to a new app. The Wink Hub 2, basically a control panel for all your connected devices, will be available for $99 in late October at Amazon, The Home Depot and Walmart.

The new Wink Hub 2.0 packs a more powerful WiFi radio that supports both 2.4 and 5GHz networks. It also sports an Ethernet port for wired Internet connections that are more reliable, and will be compatible with a large number of common smart home protocols such as Zigbee, ZWave, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde and Bluetooth Low Energy. The device also got an improved processor and eight times more memory for better performance, and it's protected by what Wink calls industrial-grade security that checks, every time you run the hub, that all the files onboard are the same as they were out of the box.

One of the Hub 2's coolest new features is its ability to run schedules and robots. The former lets you set actions to happen at specific times of day, such as turning on the lights in the evening and turning them off every night to pretend like you're home. Robots let one connected device trigger a series of actions in other products when activated. These programs can be stored to the hub's local memory so they'll keep running in case of internet outage.

The new app automatically detects your Hub 2 when it's plugged in for the first time, and will walk you through what the company says is a "drastically simplified" setup process. Plus, if you're porting over from an existing Hub, the Wink app saves all your linked products, personal settings and automations to transfer over to the new one easily.

While the previous Wink Hub had some hiccups along the way, the company appears to be focusing on simplifying the user experience to the point where making your home smart could eventually be dummy-proof. Wink's compatibility with Amazon's Echo may also give home automation fans more reason to invest, but if you're not looking to install more than two different connected appliances, Wink's platform agnostic benefits may not appeal to you.

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