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Alexa works in a way similar to Siri and Google Now - you ask her a question and she'll find the answer for you. She can also do things for you, such as turning on your lights or locking your door or any other commands supported by connected hardware. Alexa is activated purely through voice, and she can understand your voice even while playing music. See More
The Echo also works as a Bluetooth speaker. It provides full 360 degree sound, and is more than loud enough to fill a room with sound. The audio clarity is pretty good as well. In addition, Alexa can play music from one of many supported music streaming services including Amazon Music, Google Play All Access, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more. See More
When all connected devices leave the house, SmartThings automatically goes into 'away mode'. Once a device comes back in range, it will toggle to 'home mode'. You will need to configure what these modes do (whether it be locking the doors, turning the lights on/off, changing the thermostat's temperature...), but it's great that this is done automatically when you arrive home or leave. See More
If you have lights from multiple different manufacturers, performance can take a significant hit. Some lights may turn on much quicker than other lights (Phillips Hue always seemed to be the first to react), but given enough time the changes always made it through to all the lights. Sometimes unpairing and re-pairing lights increased performance. See More
To set it up, all you have to do is plug it in to your router (just initially), add in your Wi-Fi password, and then you're free to move it anywhere you choose. Pairing is just as straightforward. While other systems have trouble connecting new devices even after multiple attempts, the Staples Connect typically worked on the first or second try. See More
HomeKit connects via bluetooth inside the home (to reach out of the home they require an Apple TV), and each connected device will pass along the information to the next device. This creates a 'mesh' network, where all the points relay the message along. This helps to extend the range of the network further than what would be possible if the hub connected to each device individually. See More
HomeKit is Apple's smart home ecosystem and is tightly integrated with Siri. It provides scenes, which you can describe as groups of actions that all take effect with a single command. For example (once configured), sauing "Hey Siri, Goodnight" could turn all your connected lights off, lock your doors, turn your thermostat down a few degrees, and turn on your connected security camera. See More
While there are doezens of other standards available (WeMo, Nest, and SmartThings to name some of the bigger ones), the Insteon Hub Pro only works with their own devices as well as devices which are HomeKit compatible. This reduces your choice when it comes to buying new smart home products, where other hubs support multiple ecosystems allowing for the best selection of smart home gadgets. See More
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