- The Good
- Affordable price
- User-friendly setup
- No need to pair smart devices
- IFTTT protocol supported
- The Bad
- iOS/Android only
Wink came about because of a partnership between Quirky and General Electric Co. The goal was to manage and control smart home products made by the two companies. Several expansions later, the Wink platform can control multiple brands and devices, from light bulbs to kitchen appliances.
With a retail price around $50, the Wink Hub is one of the more reasonably priced smart home control brains you’ll find. It does require an Android or iOS smartphone, however. If you don’t have one and still want a physical control hub for your home, you can check out the Wink Relay, a wall-mounted Android-based control hub that includes a touch screen and two physical switches. It retails for around $200.
- Control Integration
Wink sports a high rate of compatibility with common home control technologies. It links with just about any currently available smart home control device, from door locks to window sensors to leak detectors. Wink proudly boasts its ability to integrate with products from most major manufacturers of smart home control devices.
- Compatible Products
- Bali Shades
- Leviton dimmers, switches and outlets
- Nest thermostat
- Rheem HVAC and water heaters
- Kwikset locks
Wink’s hub supports a variety of protocols that allow you to connect supported devices. Wink also has its own line of products for sale directly through its website. Around 45 individual devices are available under the Wink brand, not counting prepackaged kits. Some devices, such as the Nest Learning thermostat and Dropcam, can connect to Wink’s app or connect to the internet without going through the Wink Hub first.
- Additional Features
- No Ethernet required
- Can add non-Wink certified devices to the Hub
If you know what you’re doing, you can add devices, such as Z-Wave sirens and strobe lights, that are not Wink-certified. To get to the option that lets you do this, however, you have to dig pretty deep into the Wink app. The app is a free download and easily installed. Wink is Bluetooth-compatible and needs no tether, such as an Ethernet cable. Some protocols may connect directly through the app without any need for the hub connection. The Wink comes with built-in support that controls devices based on your location, also known as geofencing.
Wink: User Reviews
The Wink Hub gets off to a strong start when you take it out of the box. It offers wide support for various protocols, a free app that walks you through a quick, painless setup, and the price is competitive. This little device is a nice glossy white that blends with any decor. It includes a built-in stand, and the power adapter is detachable.
There is a single LED indicator light to keep you up to date on its status, and that thing is bright. There’s a learning curve on what the various flashing LED messages mean; keep the manual nearby to decode what it’s telling you.
The app for your smartphone that lets you control Wink is a free download. It serves as your user interface for your Wink Hub and any other Wink-compatible products you’ve got. Connecting to the hub via the app is straightforward, and step-by-step instructions display as you go along. This is a plus for those who are not tech-savvy.
With Wink, you must use your iOS- or Android-capable device, such as your smartphone or tablet. There are no interface apps for your PC or Mac. Everything connects and works via your home internet network. If your internet access drops for some reason, the entire Wink system and all the connectivity between the hub and your devices go with it.
Setting up the Wink Hub is a painless process. It can be a bit tedious when first activated because there is usually a lengthy update process. But once that’s done, adding and configuring devices is fairly simple.
When Wink comes online, it doesn’t completely take over like a mini Skynet that’s determined to push every other smart protocol out. Wink works with other protocols without locking you out in the process.
How Does Wink Work?
Wink functions in the same basic manner as any smart home control system. Plug it in, set it up, link all your devices, and you’re good to go. But it isn’t always that simple. Some steps require a bit more finesse. For example, some devices may require more nudging to get them to connect via Wink.
If you get hung up during your setup process, you can contact support via email or by telephone for help. There is a FAQ section on the Wink website that offers good information, and a user manual is also on the website. There is no online live chat feature or discussion forum, however.
What Makes Wink Stand Out?
Wink stands out from its competitors in the potential it presents. Because of its ability to interface with so many protocols, the possibilities are interesting. When it works properly, Wink can hold its own against any of the far more expensive home automation systems. The geofencing feature is something many are not familiar with or prepared to properly maintain.
Common Reviews of Wink
Wink has its stable of fans, and it has about an equal number of detractors. Most of the online forums that allow star ratings show Wink with an average rating of three stars. The main problem mentioned seems to be a lack of reliability in the system’s consistency.
Several reviewers mentioned that they had the best results when they placed their Wink within 20 to 30 feet of their Wi-Fi routers. This seems to decrease problems of signal loss between the hub and the devices in the home.
Wink has some reviews that reveal the same problems their competitors have: Users who don’t understand that plugging in Wink alone will not control the elements in the home. There must be devices to control such things as lights, thermostats, garage doors, door locks and so on. You must then link these devices to the Wink “mastermind,” which is the app on your phone, to control your home devices.
The simplicity of use that is a positive for the Wink app is also a negative. In interacting with some devices, Wink’s control app actually limits the performance of the device. For example, you may have a dimmer switch that can take your lights up and down in a gradual, incremental fade. When controlled through the Wink app, you may only get the option to flip the light on or off.
Is Wink for Me?
Wink is affordable and simple to use. Like any smart home control hub, however, the use you get from it depends solely on how much you’re willing to spend on the devices that allow your home to be “smart.”
Wink is an economical, uncomplicated choice for anyone wanting to investigate the smart home. Learn the ropes and add more devices as your learning curve and budget allow.