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What is the difference between a smart speaker and a smart hub?
This article will help you to understand the difference between a smart hub and a smart speaker.
We will also see some examples of what both can do.
Let’s start defining each one first.
What is a smart speaker?
A smart speaker is an assistant that recognizes your voice and can control smart devices, but also does other useful things.
Things like scheduling and notifying you of your appointments for the day, informing you of the latest news relevant to you, the traffic status on the way to work or even inform the weather forecast for the day.
For example, Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod are all smart speakers, and they all use their own personal assistant, in this case Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri, respectively.
What is a smart hub?
A smart-hub is a centralized “master control” capable of controlling all the smart devices installed in your home.
This piece allows you to directly control them and perform coordinated or linked routines such as turning the kettle on and boiling 15 minutes after your alarm goes off, or automatically turning on the heating when the temperature of the house is very low but only when someone is at home.
And some good examples of smart hubs are Samsung SmartThings, Wink WNKHUB, Hubitat Elevation, Google Home.
What are the main differences that we can find when we compare smart-hubs with smart-speakers?
The main difference is that in smart-speakers the control of smart devices is done through voice commands while smart-hubs provide control of smart devices through an application.
If you want to use your smart-speaker to turn on a light in your home, you activate by voice the assistant saying immediately the command to execute.
For example “Alexa, turn on the lights on living room” when you use the assistant Amazon, or “OK Google, turn on the lights on the corridor” if you’re using the Google assistant.
Smart-speakers usually also provide an application, but in most cases it only allows adding new smart devices or changing the settings of the smart-speaker itself.
To control smart devices through a smart hub, you must access its application, which has dedicated controls for each of the connected devices.
For example, you access the application, and select a smart light, the list will be shown with all the controls available for that device, such as on/off, on/off on schedule or on timer, dimmer functions, color temperature, and also consult energy consumption.
This is the most common way to use a smart hub, but some hubs can be integrated with one of the voice-activated personal assistants mentioned above.
There are also options for some devices that do both the smart-speaker and smart-hub functions simultaneously.
Both allow you to control smart devices, but smart hubs provide more complete home automation a few clicks or touches away
Smart hubs are devices specialized in the translation of different protocols used by the different smart devices they use (such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee or even IR).
It can also serve as a translator so every device can speak the same language.
In this way, it allows your devices to communicate and perform “coordinated routines” such as turning on the TV when the smart lights come on in the living room after dinner.
In addition, when using your application, smart hubs can give more details and offer greater personalization, such as obtaining information about the electrical consumption of the device or allowing the definition of specific standard dim levels for each light.
Smart-speakers, in turn, as they are activated by voice, and also respond by voice, provide a more basic and limited control of the smart devices that are connected, in many cases only the functionality of turning on or off.
Generally, smart hubs are compatible with more smart devices from the most diverse manufacturers since they are more specialized in the various protocols that exist for this communication.
In the case of smart-speakers, it is common to find smart devices with which they cannot communicate. This can happen because the manufacturer of the smart-speaker uses the same communication protocol or if specific controls for a particular type of device are pre-established.
In the case of smart-hubs, they can connect to almost all smart devices.
It is always a good option to obtain a combination of the two, allowing the best of both worlds, on the one hand voice control, but on the other hand also for compatibility between devices and a greater range of available features, even with the possibility of coordinating the various actions to your liking.
Should I buy a smart-speaker or smart-hub?
The answer to this question depends solely on your idea of a smart home, how smart you want your home to be.
If you still have only a few smart devices and want basic control with easy voice commands, a smart speaker fits your needs perfectly.
If you want a fully automated home where you can have a series of linked and synchronized tasks, in some cases also using sensors as a trigger to initiate actions, in this case a smart-hub will certainly be a better investment for the automation of your home.
And, of course, you may want a little bit of both, the experience of a fully automated home with the comfort of being able to command it all with your voice. In this case, the best option is to invest in both a smart-speaker and a smart-hub. Some smart-speakers may already function as smart-hubs, but it is worth checking whether their manufacturers guarantee communication with their devices.
Note that even if your wish is the last of these three options, you may not want to do the entire transformation at once.
By reading this article, we gave you an idea of what you can achieve with both smart-hubs and smart-speakers, what are their features and what are the limitations.
If you’re just starting out, you can start with simpler solutions that will help you formulate your future decisions.
Did you like this article? We would like to know a little more about your adventures with the smart home.