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Mesh tech is as beneficial to smart home devices as it is to home networking, so it makes sense to deploy a single product that can handle both missions—provided that single device offers best-in-class performance in both areas. While the second-generation Samsung SmartThings Wifi mesh router is a great smart home hub, it’s far from being a state-of-the-art router. But if you don’t need a top-shelf router, and not everyone does, the SmartThings Wifi’s price tag and its performance as a smart home hub renders it a good enough value.

SmartThings Wifi as a smart home hub

In some respects, the Samsung SmartThings Wifi three-pack reviewed here is an even better smart home hub than our top pick in that category—the third-generation Samsung SmartThings Hub—simply because it has three nodes to the Hub’s one. That said, we’re sticking with our recommendation of the SmartThings Hub as the best smart home system for most people because the SmartThings Wifi router simply isn’t the best mesh router you can buy. You won’t want to replace a superior router with this one just to get a smart home hub.

Like the SmartThings Hub, the SmartThings Wifi router is outfitted with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth radios, so it can control just about any smart home device on the market (although you’ll still need a Philips Hue Bridge to control that brand of lighting; ditto for Lutron hardware). Adding Wi-Fi expands SmartThings’ reach to smart home devices that don’t rely on Z-Wave, Zigbee, or Bluetooth (e.g., LIFX smart bulbs). If your home or apartment is small and you don’t need the range that this $280 three-pack promises, you can buy a single SmartThings Wifi for $120—that should be enough to cover 1,500 square feet. Likewise, if your home is larger than 4,500 square feet, you can buy more satellites to expand the network’s reach. I tested the three-node system in my own 2,800-square-foot smart home.

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smartthings wifi smart home devices Michael Brown / IDG

SmartThings supports just about every smart home device you could possibly want.

Z-Wave and Zigbee are mesh networks, too, so every smart home device equipped with one of those radios can act as both a client and a repeater. As such, the more compatible devices you deploy around your home, the greater the range of the two networks.

A Z-Wave radio, however, can’t receive and repeat Zigbee traffic, and vice versa. Spread the three SmartThings Wifi nodes around your home, and you’ll effectively blanket it with coverage for all three networks: Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Wi-Fi.

Three downsides you’ll want to be aware of: First, both the SmartThings Wifi and the SmartThings Hub are very much cloud dependent. Many of their smart home features won’t work if you lose your connection to the internet—in the event of a power outage, for instance.

Second, SmartThings isn’t a great home security system because Samsung doesn’t offer a professional monitoring service. If there’s a break-in or a smoke detector goes off in the event of a fire, you’ll need to call the authorities yourself.

Finally, neither SmartThings device includes an LTE module for backup. If an intruder is smart enough to cut your phone or cable line before tripping a sensor, SmartThings won’t be able to alert you.

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