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Insteon Smart Hub Pro review: An old pro turns its attention to HomeKit

Michael Brown | July 14, 2015
The Insteon Smart Hub Pro looks gargantuan compared to the diminutive Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge Pro. That's partly because Insteon's hub has an integrated power supply, and partly because the Insteon has two USB 2.0 ports (reserved for future use; they serve no function for the time being). Lutron's much smaller bridge depends on a wall wart for power.

Insteon Smart Hub Pro

The Insteon Smart Hub Pro looks gargantuan compared to the diminutive Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge Pro. That's partly because Insteon's hub has an integrated power supply, and partly because the Insteon has two USB 2.0 ports (reserved for future use; they serve no function for the time being). Lutron's much smaller bridge depends on a wall wart for power.

If you have limited shelf space next to your router, you can mount the Insteon to the wall. But adopting Insteon's HomeKit implementation means every member of your family will need to use an Apple device if they want to remotely control devices in the home. You can use Lutron's bridge with either an iOS or Android device.

This still being the early days of the connected home, not to mention HomeKit itself, I was pleased to find a bright orange card in the box with an 800 number offering tech support. That's doubly good because the only documentation is a postcard with an illustration labeling the functions of the status LED on the front and the ports on the back; a QR code to help you download the software to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch; and the setup code you'll need to configure the software.

Telephone tech support is available Monday through Friday from 5AM to 7PM, and on Saturday from 6AM to 3PM (Pacific time). Being relatively connected-home savvy, I didn't think I'd need tech support--until I did. When I called on a Wednesday morning at around 10:30AM Pacific, a recording told me the approximate wait time was approximately 65 minutes. Fortunately, Insteon gives you the option of leaving a call-back number so you don't have to sit on hold. I received a call about 45 minutes later.

In addition to the Hub Pro, Insteon sent along one plug-in dimmer module and one plug-in on/off module. The dimmer supports two-prong electrical devices, while the on/off module can also accept devices that require grounding (the outlets are located on the bottom of the modules). Both modules have up and down arrow buttons on the right-hand side for manually controlling whatever is plugged into them. I had a second dimmer module from a collection of products that Insteon had sent me earlier, so I added that to my test suite. Even though the second dimmer was the same model as the first, adding it to the hub is where I ran into trouble with my installation.

The Insteon tech-support rep who called me back delivered excellent customer service, patiently explaining the troubleshooting process and what he hoped to accomplish with each step. I didn't inform him that I was a journalist evaluating the product, but the call lasted a full hour.

 

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