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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.

The user interface for controlling dimmers has a similar design, with the addition of a vertical slider that you can drag with your fingertip to control the bulb's brightness. The two smaller circles bordering the one reporting the light's status have plus and minus symbols and do the same. Here again, you can control the light using any of the icons.

Should you buy Insteon's HomeKit hub?

Insteon has been in the connected-home space for a very long time, and it has one of the deepest product catalogs you'll find. But only a fraction of that inventory currently works with its Smart Hub Pro, so that advantage isn't as strong as it seems. The current lack of support for thermostats, smart locks, and security cameras is particularly disappointing (Lutron is also weak in this area, although it does support thermostats).

The hardware that is supported is not as elegantly designed or precisely manufactured as some other connected-home products that I've seen (Lutron, in the HomeKit space, and Leviton in the Z-Wave market being two examples). Insteon is closer to Jasco in the way its hardware looks and feels.

Telephone tech support would be another Insteon advantage if you didn't have to wait an hour to speak with someone (as knowledgeable and helpful as that person turned out to be). I do like Insteon's software. While not as pretty as Lutron's app, it's more responsive and the dashboard feature provides a quick means of controlling some lights and all of your programmed scenes.

The bottom line is that neither Insteon's nor Lutron's HomeKit systems are great connected-home systems. They aren't bad  products, either, but Lutron's is slightly better. If you're itching to build out a connected home Apple's way, that's the one I recommend for now.

 

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