Smart hubs that promise to wrangle all of your home devices into one system are nothing new. Still, LG plans to add another one to the mix at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The cylindrical SmartThinQ Hub can communicate with a variety of devices using common smart home protocols, including Bluetooth, Z-Wave and ZigBee. When your smart home is up to something, it’ll tell you all about it on a 3.5-inch LCD display.
With speakers built into its mesh base (available in black or “champagne gold”) the gadget draws a few inevitable comparisons to the Amazon Echo smart speaker. Like Echo, the SmartThinQ Hub can stream music, either from iHeartRadio or from your personal collection, but there’s no cloud-connected, voice-activated AI housed within. The SmartThinQ Hub will announce new notifications as they happen, but it won’t listen the way Amazon Echo will.
LG’s SmartThinQ-branded ovens and washing machines were among the first generation of smart appliances. As the name would suggest, the SmartThinQ Hub promises to work with them, along with other smart appliances and Web-connected televisions. The Hub will also work directly with the SmartThinQ Sensor for washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners that LG unveiled back in September, so you’ll be able to bring non-connected appliances into the mix as well.
Aside from LG’s own hardware, the Hub touts compatibility with the Nest Learning Thermostat, the online automation service IFTTT, and Lifx’ color-changing smart LEDs, among others. There’s no word on whether or not the SmartThinQ Hub will actually help any of those devices work together, or offer its own automation and rule-making functions within the smartphone app. We’ll look into all of that next week, when we get a closer look at the thing.
Also unknown at this time: pricing and availability.
Given those Echo comparisons, I’d be surprised to see the SmartThinQ Hub ring it at more than the $180 (£120/AU$250, converted roughly) that Amazon charges for its smart home cylinder, especially given that Echo houses its own AI and the SmartThinQ Hub does not. We’ll see soon enough, though.