Easy to install. Eliminates the need for a separate smart home hub. Solid Single-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (SU-MIMO) performance. Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) support.
Limited parental controls and Quality of Service (QoS) settings. Lacks malware/virus protection. MU-MIMO throughput could be better.
- Bottom Line
The Samsung Connect Home pulls double duty as a capable multi-node Wi-Fi system and a SmartThings home automation hub, letting you manage your wireless network and smart home devices with a single app.
With the Samsung Connect Home AC1300 Smart Wi-Fi System you can blanket your home in Wi-Fi and automate your smart home devices from a single app. This versatile Wi-Fi system can deliver wireless coverage for areas of up to 4,500 square feet and can be expanded to cover a maximum of 7,500 square feet. It also functions as a SmartThings home automation hub, which means you can control a wide array of compatible smart devices, including door locks, switches, thermostats, and lighting systems. At $379.99 for the 3-Pack, it's a very good deal, considering it pulls double duty as a Wi-Fi router and a home automation hub, but it can't match the throughput performance of our favorite Wi-Fi system, the Linksys Velop.
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Design and Features
We reviewed the Connect Home 3-Pack, which comes with three 2X2 AC1300 routers—one that acts a main router, and two that act as mesh satellites. Each router provides up to 1,500 square feet of coverage, and you can purchase additional routers for $169.99 each if you need to expand your coverage or only need one or two routers to cover a smaller dwelling. There's also a Connect Home Pro 4X4 AC2600 Router that goes for $249.99 and offers a faster processor and higher transmission rates.
The Connect Home AC1300 routers support 802.11ac networking and can achieve maximum throughput speeds of up to 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 866Mbps on the 5GHz band, but you can't separate the bands like you can with the Amped Wireless Ally Plus and Portal Wi-Fi systems. The router is powered by a 710MHz quad-core processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of flash memory. It supports Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) data streaming, which sends data to compatible clients simultaneously, rather than sequentially, and it uses band steering to choose the best available radio band. In addition to dual band Wi-Fi circuitry, each router contains Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth radios and a total of seven antennas.
Appearance-wise the Connect Home routers bear a striking resemblance to the original Eero routers; both have a low, 1.2-inch profile, and they are roughly the same size, although at 4.6 inches, the Connect Home is a tad smaller than the Eero (4.7 inches). Moreover, the Eero has a glossy-white finish, and the Connect Home's finish is matte white. The Connect Home router has a small LED indicator on its front edge, and two Gigabit LAN ports and a reset button around back. The LED indicator glows solid green when everything is working, flashes green while the router is rebooting, flashes green and red while waiting for devices to connect, and glows solid red when there is an error.
In addition to being a mesh Wi-Fi system, the Home Connect uses Samsung's SmartThings platform to control Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth home automation devices. There are over a hundred such devices that support the Works With SmartThings initiative, including dimmer switches, smart outlets, thermostats, locks, cameras, lighting systems, and more. You can control these devices and make them all work together using the Samsung Connect app for iOS and Android. Simply add them to your network to turn things on and off and assign Rules to have devices trigger other devices. You can also create Modes to control multiple devices at the same time.
The app is also used to manage your Wi-Fi network. At the opening screen, tap Devices to launch the system home screen, which displays tabs for the Wi-Fi system and the SmartThings hub, as well as tabs for all connected smart home devices. Tapping the Wi-Fi tab takes you to a screen with a network map with icons for the main router and the two satellites. There's also a Devices On Network tab, a Network Traffic tab that displays a graph showing how much data is being uploaded and downloaded, and a switch for enabling/disabling SmartThings hub functionality. Tap the Devices On Network tab to see a list of clients currently and previously connected to the Wi-Fi network. To set bandwidth priority, tap that device and turn on the Highest Bandwidth Priority switch. Whereas other systems like the Asus Lyra and the Linksys Velop let you set priorities for multiple clients, the Connect Home only lets you give priority to one device at a time, and it doesn't offer application-based Quality of Service (QoS) settings.
Parental controls are also lean; you can restrict internet access during certain times of the day for each client, but you don't get any content or website-blocking settings like you do with systems such as the Netgear Orbi and the Amped Wireless Ally Plus. Moreover, the Connect Home lacks the malware and virus protection that you get with the TP-Link Deco M5 and Asus Lyra systems. However, it does offer guest-networking capabilities and can be used as a standalone network or as a bridge to an existing network.
Installation and Performance
The Connect Home is easy to install. I downloaded the mobile app, created an account, and connected the hub to my router and my host PC. I tapped the + button in the app to add a device and chose Wi-Fi Hub. I waited around one minute for the hub's LED light to begin flashing red and green, hit Next, and the hub was immediately recognized. I named the new network, gave it a password, and selected Add Another Wi-Fi Hub. I placed the node in my living room, plugged it in, and waited around 30 seconds for the LED to begin flashing red and blue. I then hit Next and waited another 30 seconds or so for the node to pair with the hub. I followed the same process when installing the second node in my basement.
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Samsung sent along a multi-purpose door/window sensor and a smart outlet to test out the system's home automation prowess, and pairing them with the system was quick and easy. I plugged the smart outlet into a wall socket, tapped the + option to add a device, and selected Outlet from the extensive list of compatible devices. The outlet was discovered and paired within seconds. I removed the plastic battery tab from the door/window sensor, selected it from the list, and it, too, was instantly recognized and paired to the system. I was also able to pair a Yale Assure SL Z-Wave door lock with relative ease. I had no trouble turning the outlet on and off and locking and unlocking my door using the app. I created a rule to have the outlet turn on when the sensor was opened, and it worked perfectly, as did my rule to have the outlet turn on when the door was unlocked.
Our throughput test results are based on the system's band-steering capabilities, which defaulted to the 5GHz band. Wi-Fi performance was mixed. In our close-proximity (same-room) SU-MIMO throughput test, the Connect Home router's score of 386Mbps was higher than that of the Asus Lyra, but trailed the TP-Link Deco M5, the Eero (2nd Generation), and our current leader, the Linksys Velop. At a distance of 30 feet, the router stumbled, scoring just 84Mbps, but it still managed to beat the Eero. However, it was significantly slower than the Linksys Velop, TP-Link Deco M5, and Asus Lyra routers.
The Connect Home satellites' scores of 145Mbps (living room) and 188Mbps (basement) in the SU-MIMO close-proximity test nearly matched the Eero's satellite scores, but couldn't keep pace with the TP-Link Deco M5 and Asus Lyra satellites. The Linksys Velop satellites led the pack. At 30 feet, the Connect Home satellites garnered 130Mbps and 136Mbps, respectively, beating both Asus Lyra satellites and one of the TP-Link Deco M5 satellites, but not those of the Linksys Velop.
MU-MIMO throughput performance in our tests was spotty at best. The main router's score of 68.6Mbps in the close-proximity test was nearly 200Mbps slower than the Asus Lyra router and trailed the Linksys Velop, TP-Link Deco M5, and Eero scores by a wide margin. At 30 feet, the Connect Home router managed 66Mbps, once again trailing the competition.
In the MU-MIMO close-proximity test, the Connect Home satellites' scores of 42Mbps (living room) and 47.3Mbps (basement) were also the slowest of the bunch, and their scores of 35Mbps and 45Mbps, respectively, in the 30-foot test trailed all but one of the TP-Link Deco M5 satellites' scores.
The Samsung Connect Home AC1300 Smart Wi-Fi System may not be the fastest Wi-Fi system out there, but it is certainly the most versatile, and for that we recommend it. In addition to dual-band Wi-Fi radios, it is equipped with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth circuitry that allows it to communicate with numerous home automation devices, and it uses Samsung's SmartThings platform to control them. The system is easy to install, and pairing home automation devices is effortless. It performed wonderfully as a home automation hub (the standalone SmartThings Hub is our Editors' Choice for home automation hubs), but its Wi-Fi performance in our tests was inconsistent in our testing, particularly when it came to MU-MIMO throughput, and its parental controls and QoS options could use honing.
If throughput performance is key, consider our Editors' Choice Wi-Fi system, the Linksys Velop. It's pricey and won't control your smart devices, but it delivered some of the fastest throughput scores we've seen in testing. It also offers site-blocking parental controls, and provides more coverage than the Connect Home, albeit for $80 more.
By John R. Delaney Contributing Editor
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of the Labs technical staff, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of the Labs testing machines and procedures. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, John spent six years in retail operations for… More »
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