Best Samsung SmartThings devices | Popular Science





Speaker of the house Amazon Echo 4th generation

Amazon’s affordable smart speaker helps tie all of your SmartThings gadgets together.

Good looker samsung smartthings camera smart home Samsung SmartThings camera

This basic smart home camera has IR illumination and a wide-angle lens.

Screen room samsung qled tv best smart things smart home Samsung Q60A

You can use Samsung smart TVs as a control center for your SmartThings smart home.

By Stan Horaczek

You have probably seen the SmartThings brand if you’ve used basically any Samsung gadget lately. The name refers to the company’s smart home platform and has roped just about anything and everything into it. It’s all done in the name of synergy. That kind of flexibility provides tons of options when building your setup, but also makes building the best Samsung SmartThings smart home tricky. This guide is here to help. 

What is Samsung SmartThings?

Most smart home platforms are simple because they’re tied to digital assistant platforms. Apple has its HomeKit, Amazon has Alexa, and Google has the Google Assistant. Samsung’s situation is a little more complicated. Back in August of 2014, Samsung bought a stand-alone company called SmartThings for $200 million. Since then, Samsung has expanded the platform to include most of its connected gadgets, and tie in with tons of devices from third-party companies. 

Up until recently, Samsung made its own first-party device called the SmartThings hub. It acted as the central station for all of the devices it helped work together. Samsung discontinued that device, however, so you’ll likely want a dedicated smart speaker to act as the heart of your smart home. 

Compatibility is key

You’ll want the SmartThings app if you’re going to use this platform for your smart home. If you already have a Samsung phone, then congratulations! It’s already hiding in there with all that extra Samsung stuff the company crammed onto your device before shipping it. If you’re not a Samsung phone user, it’s available for both iOS and Android

In addition to the phone app, it’s also available on Samsung TVs, which I’ll get more into a little later. Once you have everything set up, you can bark voice commands through Alexa or Google Assistant depending on which device you use and the platform you select.

What advantages does SmartThings offer?

If you’re going to be issuing your voice commands through someone else’s platform, why bother using SmartThings in the first place? The advantages start showing up more clearly when you add more Samsung devices to the mix. When you have a Samsung smartphone, TV, and smartwatch, you get to experience the kind of synergy that giant corporations can offer in exchange for your undying brand loyalty. 

Samsung has also started roping more and more features into the SmartThings umbrella. Last year, the company introduced SmartThings Find, which works like Apple’s Find My feature. It allows Samsung users to find their phone, as well as other connected gadgets like their Galaxy Watch or Galaxy Buds wireless earbuds. Add a Galaxy SmartTag to one of your devices and you’ll be able to find that, too. 

Scenes and automations

As with any good, full-featured smart home platform, SmartThings lets you get more complicated than simply turning the lights on and off. Automations in SmartThings allow you to set up “if this, then that” automation between several devices. So, if you have a connected door sensor, you can have your connected security camera turn on when the door sensor triggers. 

Scenes involve grouping different settings on different devices to create a specific vibe in your smart home. So, you could create a bedtime scene that lowers the temperature, turns off the lights, and locks the doors. It’s complex actions like these that start to make smart home control really interesting. 

The best Samsung SmartThings smart home experience starts with a hub

Once you start digging hard into smart home gadgets, you bump into the more complex aspects of the tech. SmartThings supports some of the most popular smart home connectivity technologies, including Z-Wave and Zigbee. If you hop onto a platform like SmartThings, HomeKit, Alexa, or Google Home, you don’t really have to worry too much about knowing what these day. When Samsung made its own first-party SmartThings Hub, it supported both of those popular technologies as well. Now, things are slightly more complex.

If you want a smart speaker to work with SmartThings, you can pretty much pick whichever one you want. It’ll work with Google’s Nest Audio. It’ll work with the HomePod. It’ll also work with Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo speaker, which is our choice for the best bet here.

Best Samsung SmartThings smart home hub: Amazon Echo 4th generation

Brains of the operation

For $99, you get a capable smart speaker, a SmartThings hub, and all the extra Alexa stuff.  Amazon

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While Amazon would love to rope you into its own smart home platform, the Echo speakers also work as a hub for SmartThings. You can use this speaker to ask your smart home for just about anything, including your SmartThings scenes and automations. You can also use the SmartThings app. Still, having access to always-on voice commands can come in very handy in many situations. 

Look for Samsung SmartThings devices that play nicely

If you’re trying to figure out what gadgets will work with your SmartThings smart home, you can look for the appropriate logo on the device’s website or packaging. It looks like a small white snowflake in a square-ish box. 

Samsung also keeps a tally of gadgets that work with the platform on its site. When you’re looking for compatible tech, you might be surprised to find everything from typical stuff like light bulbs to refrigerators and other connected appliances. 

While support is solid now, I typically prefer devices that will work with multiple platforms in case there’s an outage or I decided to switch systems down the line. Companies make sweeping changes to their platforms all the time, so you never know what’s going to happen. 

Best Samsung SmartThings smart home thermostat: Ecobee Lite smartThermostat

Communications degrees

This affordable connected temperature control installs easy and saves big on utility bills.  ecobee

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You’d be hard-pressed to find a smart home platform this thermostat won’t work with. It installs in less than an hour (as long as your house has the necessary wiring). It can automatically adjust your HVAC system’s performance to save money on utilities. At just $169, it’s also relatively affordable when you consider its competition and the level of features you get. 

Get a smart lock

Usually, when we talk about smart homes, we’re referring to the gadget strewn about its interior. A smart lock can actually improve your house itself. You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a smart lock for your home.

Some options simply cover the latch on your deadbolt, which can grant you (or anyone else) remote access via an app. Some models include a number pad made of touch screens or physical buttons to give you an alternative way to get access to your home. 

If you have a fancy front door, you can actually typically get many smart lock models in a variety of colors to match the rest of the hardware you already have. They can also work as a security device. The lock can alert you if it opens when you wouldn’t expect it to. 

Best Samsung SmartThings smart home lock: Yale Assure Lock

Key player

Teaser Make your phone into your key by replacing your current deadbolt with this connected model.  Yale

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Locking yourself out is embarrassing and annoying, but it’s unlikely to happen with this advanced smart lock. Once your phone is registered with the system, it can tell when you’re home and when you leave so it can adjust accordingly. It installs with a simple screwdriver on most doors. Plus, the touchpad allows you access to the house with a code even if you don’t have your device. You won’t have to live out any Mr. Bean-like wacky scenarios in which you get locked out in your tower while getting the paper.

Watch yourself (and the rest of your house)

Connected cameras offer one of the smart home’s biggest advantages. Set your system up correctly and you can keep tabs on your house while you’re away without encroaching on your own privacy. 

We typically recommend sticking with the same brand cameras so you can seamlessly tie them in together without having to worry about compatibility problems. Some cameras require a hub in order to work. Make sure you don’t go buying a single camera when you need to buy a starter kit first. 

Also, look for something that gives an HD picture, a relatively wide field of view, and can see in low light since the scary stuff tends to happen at night. Who knows, you might catch a ghost. Or more likely, you’ll catch your cat tearing around the house destroying everything for absolutely no reason. 

Best Samsung SmartThings security camera: Samsung SmartThings camera

View masters

These encrypted cameras come with an IR LED to help them see in the dark.  Samsung

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You don’t need a lot of complicated features for the cameras in your house, but these simple models strike a solid balance. They offer a super-wide field of view, 24-hour monitoring, and the option to setup up to four cameras at once. Two-way audio lets you hear what’s going on and talk to the ghost/intruder/unruly pet via the intercom function. 

Throw a TV in the mix

Samsung makes TVs. In fact, Samsung is one of the leading TV brands in the world and it has baked its SmartThings tech into its smart TV platform. You’ll still need to have a hub, but the SmartThings TV app lets you use your giant flatscreen as a command center for your smart home. You can change settings on your devices and even monitor any connected security cams right from your big display. 

If you have a Samsung TV, there’s a good chance it already has the SmartThings app on it unless it’s very old. That app lets you rope your TV into your SmartThings routines, so you can have your TV turn on in the morning as part of your wake-up ritual. 

Best Samsung SmartThings smart home TV: Samsung Q60A

Smart screen

Samsung’s mid-level TVs offer an excellent balance of value and image quality.  Samsung

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You don’t need to sell your mid-sized sedan to afford a really, big, awesome TV anymore. Samsung’s QLED panels start at 32 inches and go all the way up to a massive 85-inches. This TV comes with SmartThings pre-installed so it can work as your smart home’s control center. The QLED backlight tech offers vibrant colors, lots of contrast, and plenty of brightness for any situation. Even if you get sick of your smart home down the road, this TV will still be great. 

FAQs

Q: What is SmartThings?

SmartThings is Samsung’s smart home platform that it acquired back in 2014. The company has been growing the platform since that. The SmartThings app allows you to control your smart home. Gadgets with a SmartThings logo on the site or packaging indicate that they work seamlessly with the software.

Q: What is SmartThings on my phone?

Samsung offers the SmartThings app natively on its smartphones as part of its version of Android. So, if you have a Samsung phone, you won’t have to go out and download an extra app to get your smart home up and running. It’s already there.

Q: What works with SmartThings?

Samsung keeps a handy list of compatible SmartThings gadgets on its website. You can also typically check the box for the SmartThings logo or just Google it.

A final word about Samsung SmartThings smart home gear

If you’re already using lots of Samsung gear, the gateway into a SmartThings smart home should be extremely easy to walk through. It can take some time to research the right products and get everything set up, but it’s worth it in the end when you get your house humming just the way you like it. Seriously, it can literally find humming songs on your favorite streaming service and play them via voice command. Cool, right?

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