Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.The RundownBest Overall:Amazon Echo (4th Gen) at Amazon"A powerful, versatile smart speaker and a tremendous value."Best for Home Automation:Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi at Dell"Cover up to 1,500 square feet in your apartment or home."Best Splurge:Google Home Max at Best Buy"Six far-field microphones will pick up your voice from nearly anywhere."Best Display for the Kitchen:Lenovo Smart Display at Walmart"Easily blends into any décor for a sophisticated and smart addition to any room in the house."Best Voice Assistant:Google Nest Hub Max at Best Buy"Hands-free and perfectly complements a busy living environment."Best Budget:Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) at Amazon"Amazing feature set at a very reasonable price."Best Home Theater:Logitech Harmony Hub at Amazon"Compatible with more than 270,000 devices."Best Dual Purpose:Tenda Nova MW6 (3-pack) at Amazon"Doubling as a Wi-Fi router and a home automation system."
The best smart hubs make it easy for you to control your favorite smart home products. Smart hubs use protocols like Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Thread to communicate with smart devices, and they serve as a sort of centralized network for your smart lights and other connected products. This allows you to easily create automation commands. For instance, you can automatically have your lights go off when your smart blinds open, or you can have the doors lock when you set your alarm.
Without a hub, you have to use each device's companion application to control devices individually, but the devices can't seamlessly interact with one another for more advanced home automation. However, smart home products have come a long way in the past few years, and so have smart home assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. Alexa and Google Assistant apps have the ability to create routines and essentially serve as centralized hubs. Therefore, opting for a smart speaker is an alternative way to control your smart home devices from one centralized location.
We've evaluated several smart home hubs, and our pick for the best hub is the 4th Generation Amazon Echo (view on Amazon). In addition to its clever design and exceptional sound, the Echo has Zigbee built in, as well as a temperature sensor for temperature-related commands and routines. We've also included our picks for the best hubs in other categories like the best budget smart home hub and the best hub for compatibility.
Best Overall:Amazon Echo (4th Gen)4.4 Buy on AmazonWhat We Like
Exceptional sound quality
Built-in Zigbee hub and temperature sensorWhat We Don't Like
Less mics for voice recognition than previous model
The latest Amazon Echo (the 4th generation of the flagship smart speaker) comes standard with a seamless protocol that lets it function as a true smart hub: Zigbee. The Echo Plus's Zigbee support allows it to more directly and seamlessly control devices like smart thermostats and smart light bulbs, making it a widely-compatible and user-friendly choice for a smart hub. Combining the functionality of the previous Echo and Echo Plus means you no longer need to buy separate devices; everything you need to start building your integrated smart home is inside this brand new Echo.
The aesthetic design is brand new too, along with a number of performance upgrades. The most striking is that the Echo has ditched the cylindrical look of previous generations and now is a very sleek looking (and kind of adorable) sphere. This is a visual upgrade, but also improves sound quality. Choose between three different neutral colors: charcoal, glacier white, and twilight blue. It looks a bit more premium, blends in with all kinds of decor, and features that signature gradient light ring, which is now on the bottom of the unit to softly illuminate a surface in dim lighting.
The Alexa functionality is also better than ever, meaning you'll be able to ask questions, check the weather, and a whole lot more (Amazon has built an Alexa library that is more than 50,000 skills strong). But the real standout feature here, in our eyes, is the speaker setup. The Echo has a 3-inch neonadium woofer and dual 0.8-inch tweeters, which means it has an additional tweeter compared to its predecessor. In her review, Erika calls out the exceptional Dolby speakers and the Echo's ability to adjust sound output to the shape and contour of a room.Amazon Echo (4th Gen) Review
"A worthwhile investment, the new Echo looks better, sounds better, and it performs better in just about every category."— Erika Rawes, Product Tester
Best for Home Automation:Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi Mesh Router and Smart Home Hub4.4 Buy on DellSamsung SmartThings Wifi Mesh Router and Smart Home Hub ReviewWhat We Like
Adaptive intelligent WiFi network
Expandable coverage can eliminate dead zones
Very easy to set upWhat We Don't Like
No built in speaker or microphone
If you own Samsung devices or some of the many SmartThings-compatible smart devices on the market, a good smart hub router to invest in for your home is the Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi + Hub. This small router/hub is less than five inches in length and width, so it doesn't take up much space. But, it offers a great deal of functionality, letting you connect your compatible smart devices to one place and allowing you to control those devices through the SmartThings app for iOS or Android.
A single Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi + Hub will cover up to 1,500 square feet in your apartment or home, but if you want 4,500 square feet of coverage, you can buy three and connect them together. The SmartThings Wi-Fi + Hub has been praised for covering a large home with wireless signal and for delivering fast speeds to many devices.Samsung SmartThings Wifi Mesh Router and Smart Home Hub Review
Best Splurge:Google Home Max4.6 Buy on Best BuyBuy on Google.comWhat We Like
Great for music
Multilingual Google AssistantWhat We Don't Like
The Google Home Max combines big smarts with big sound. Packed inside its streamlined profile are a pair of 4.5-inch woofers and dual 0.7-inch custom tweeters. Combine the hardware with Smart Sound audio tuning, and you get the optimal sound quality in any room. When you crank up the volume, the Home Max really shines, delivering high, undistorted volume with booming bass.
In addition to its exceptional music playback, the Google Home Max has a simple setup process. Just plug in the speaker, open up the Google Home app, and it will walk you through the steps to get your speaker up and running.
Just say “Hey, Google” to play music, control a variety of smart home devices, or get the answer to any search inquiry. Six far-field microphones will pick up your voice from nearly anywhere in a room, even if you're playing music. The Home Max is also capable of recognizing different voices, synchronizing music between rooms, and playing music from a multitude of streaming services.The 7 Best Smart Doorbell Cameras of 2021
Best Display for the Kitchen:Lenovo Smart Display (10-inch) with the Google Assistant4.9 Buy on WalmartBuy on LenovoWhat We Like
Fantastic audio quality
Beautiful designWhat We Don't Like
Limited adjustments for display angle
Lenovo also introduced a contender to the digital assistant hub market. The 10-inch Smart Display has Google Assistant built-in, ready and available to meet all of your needs. Want to check your meetings for the day, watch a YouTube video, or control a compatible smart thermostat? Lenovo's Smart Display is fully voice-controlled, so you can perform all of these functions hands-free.
Treat it as a hub for your home, commanding it to turn smart lights on or off, adjust thermostats, or display feeds from smart home cameras. While it doesn't have the strongest speakers, the 10-watt driver delivers a crisp, clean sound that pairs well with its 1920x1200 screen resolution for entertainment. Plus, Google Cast allows it to act like a TV, and you can run compatible apps like YouTube, Spotify, or Netflix.
With a white body and bamboo back, the Lenovo Smart Display easily blends into any décor for a sophisticated addition to any room in the house. The 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 624 processor is more than sufficient for daily use, but it should be treated as a device to make your life easier, rather than store apps.Lenovo Smart Display (10-inch) Review
Best Voice Assistant:Google Nest Hub Max4Buy on Best BuyBuy on Bed Bath & BeyondBuy on Google.comWhat We Like
Sleek, attractive design
Large screen and strong sound
Useful camera perksWhat We Don't Like
Incompatible with Ring
The Google Nest Hub Max is interactive and easy to use, with a 10-inch touch display and a front-facing camera. The crisp 1280 x 800 display and far-field microphones make it perfect for video calls with friends and family. Equipped with Google Assistant, the Nest Hub Max allows for hands-free control of your smart devices from a central hub. Google Assistant also makes it easier to personalize the home screen with your calendars, reminders, photos, and traffic reports on your commute. An ambient EQ light sensor adjusts the photos you display on screen based on the color and lighting in the space, so your display looks its best in any room in your home.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity allow the smart hub to seamlessly sync up with the other smart devices in your home such as smart thermostats, lights, and entertainment systems. This smart hub is also fitted with powerful 0.7-inch stereo speakers, complete with a 3-inch woofer for premium sound when you're listening to tunes, watching YouTube videos, or even listening to recipes while you prepare dinner. The attractive Nest Hub Max can sit on just about any flat surface in your home. Wall mounting options are also available from Amazon.Google Nest Hub Max Review
Best Budget:Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)4.1 Buy on AmazonAmazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) Review
If you can't quite shell out the cash for Amazon's new flagship Echo Plus, you can still get the latest tech in a smaller, less expensive package. The newest generation of Echo Dot gives you a pretty solid amount of features without breaking the bank, and it comes in an absolutely adorable new spherical form factor, a first for the Echo line. You do end up sacrificing the Zigbee smart home connectivity and the nearly peerless speaker set of the 4th Gen Echo Plus, but it does seem like Amazon has continued refining the Dot's speaker to give you more oomph and volume.
The Alexa functionality is present here, too, allowing you to stream music, run searches, or teach it up to 50,000 different skills from Amazon's ever-expanding library. There's a line out or Bluetooth connectivity, and that new premium mesh-grill look is present here. The three new colors carry through, as well — charcoal, glacier white, or twilight blue. Our reviewer, Erika Rawes, loved the modern elegance of this new spherical form factor, and how the 4th Gen Dot represents the culmination of years of Amazon's smart home learnings.
"The new Echo Dot is a great speaker at a great price...for first-time buyers, it's a no brainer."— Erika Rawes, product testerThe 9 Best Amazon Devices
Best Home Theater:Logitech Harmony HubBuy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyLogitech Harmony Smart Control ReviewWhat We Like
Works with Alexa and Google Home
Easy to useWhat We Don't Like
Only controls up to eight devices
Logitech's Harmony Hub isn't your typical smart hub, but it's compatible with more than 270,000 entertainment and smart home devices. With a simple setup that can have you online and connected to up to eight devices within minutes, the Harmony Hub works great with your TV, satellite, cable box, Blu-ray player, Apple TV, Roku, game consoles, and more.
Creating customized activities is a breeze through the downloadable Harmony App for both Android and iOS. Tap a pre-programmed button on the app, and immediately turn down your Philips Hue smart lights, turn on your connected speaker and TV, launch Netflix and let date night begin instantaneously with one button click. The Harmony Hub includes Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, so you can incorporate hands-free voice control.
Beyond voice control, the Logitech Harmony Hub truly stands out with closed cabinet control, which allows it to send commands to connected devices through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or infrared commands that don't require a direct line-of-sight.The 10 Best Smart Speakers
Best Dual Purpose:Tenda Nova MW6 (3-pack)Buy on AmazonWhat We Like
Serves as a mesh Wi-Fi system
Easy setupWhat We Don't Like
The Tenda Nova MW6 3-pack ensures powerful, high-speed internet in every inch of your house, with up to 6,000 feet of combined coverage. Don't quite need 6,000 feet of coverage? The Tenda Nova also comes in a two-pack and single pack to fit your home's specific needs. Doubling as a Wi-Fi router and a home automation system, it is compatible with the major internet providers (think AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Spectrum, etc.). The Tenda Nova MW6 supports a stable connection for up to 90 devices simultaneously, linking to your favorite smart devices, like the Amazon Echo and Alexa, as well as your smart TV, security system, and smart appliances.
The set-up process is as simple as plugging in the modem and following the app's instructions. From there, the Tenda's system can be controlled from anywhere, and on any device. You can adjust temperature settings, listen to music from your home entertainment center, or even set timed-restrictions on Wi-Fi use for your children and teens.Start Building Your Smart Home With These 6 Types of ProductsFinal Verdict
With the addition of a Zigbee Hub and temperature sensor, the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) is a full-featured smart hub at a great price, making it an ideal option for anyone looking to control a wide variety of smart home devices. For those who prefer Google Assistant or for those who just want a screen, the Nest Hub Max is the way to go.
About our Trusted Experts
Erika Rawes has been writing professionally for more than a decade, and she's spent the last five years writing about consumer technology. Erika has reviewed roughly 125 gadgets, including computers, peripherals, A/V equipment, mobile devices, and smart home gadgets. Erika currently writes for Digital Trends and Ach5.
David Beren is a tech writer with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. He has written and managed content for tech companies like T-Mobile, Sprint, and TracFone Wireless.
What to Look for in a Smart Hub
Compatibility - There are different standards for communicating with smart home devices including ZigBee and Z-Wave. Before purchasing a smart home hub, ensure that it supports the standards used by your existing smart home devices.
Automation - Some hubs will include automation software for your smartphone or computer. If you're looking to have the lights in your home automatically turn on at a specific time or have the thermostat adjust itself depending on the weather, you'll want to make sure your hub includes the needed software.
Coverage - Depending on the size of your home, you may need to check that the hub you're purchasing will provide sufficient coverage. If it isn't powerful enough to transmit a signal throughout your entire space, you might find that some of your smart devices won't respond.