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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.

Schedules are dependent on scenes, so you can't create the former without first establishing at least one of the latter. Schedules do pretty much what you'd expect: You set the time and frequency that you want a lighting scene to occur. But time is limited to clock time (you can't schedule lights to turn on at sunset and off at sunrise, for instance), and frequency is limited to daily, weekly, monthly, or never (for one-time events). Lights going on and off according to such a rigid schedule is a dead giveaway to a burglar casing your house that you're using programmed lighting and that your home is actually unoccupied.

Controlling individual devices

It might seem backward for me to have discussed Rooms, Scenes, and Schedules before getting into individual device control, but you need to understand those concepts first. When you launch Insteon's iOS app, you'll see a single icon representing your home (the app can control devices in more than one home, too, which is great if you own a vacation home or if you want to program your parents' home).

Anyway, click on that icon and you're presented with an icon labeled All Rooms. Click that icon, and you're presented with icons for each of the rooms you've created and yet another icon labeled All Devices. Tap that and you're finally presented with icons for each of the Insteon devices you've installed. Tap a room name, and you'll see only the devices associated with that room.

Insteon wisely provides a second means of navigation that doesn't require so much drilling down to get to individual device control. Tap the Home icon to get to the All Rooms level and you'll see a row of smaller icons at the top of the screen. Tapping the speedometer icon brings up a screen labeled Dashboard that's divided into three sections: At-A-Glance, Favorites, and Scenes. You can control what appears in the At-A-Glance and Favorites sections, but all of the scenes you create will appear in that section. You can also choose which of the three sections will appear.

At-A-Glance shows the status of all your lights and devices, any security devices (locks and what have you), your thermostat, and any schedules that you've programmed. You can designate any devices as Favorites and they'll appear here. This would be useful lights that you turn on and off frequently. Scenes, of course, are self-explanatory.

However you navigate to the level to control an individual device, the appearance of the on-screen controls will vary according to the device type. For a simple on/off controller, you'll see a large circle reporting the state of the device--either the word "Off" inside a gray circle, or "On" inside a green circle. This is bordered by two static circles with the words "On" and "Off." You can control the light by touching any of those three buttons.

 

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