CNET First Look
Staples Connect gets us closer to a unified smart homeWe see potential in this system, and at $99, the price is right.
Hey. I'm CNET's Ry Crist. And today we're talking a look at the Staples Connect Hub. Now, it's a very simple looking device but it's actually pretty powerful. It plugs in to your router and it's got Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Lutron Clear Connect, all this different types of protocols that smart home devices use to talk to each other built into it so it can talk to all of them and it can integrate them all under one app and have them work with each other to help you automate your home. I'm gonna walk you through an example. I've got this lamp here with the Philips color-changing hue bulb inside of it. And then here, I've got a Yale smart deadbolt. Now these products can't work together because they don't speak the same language. But the Staples Connect Hub speaks both languages so it can be the translator. So, what I've done as I set up this deadbolt to turn the light green when I unlock it and red when I lock it. So if I turn the knob here and unlock the lock, the light turns green. But if I turn it back the other way, the light turns red. And you see that happens really fast. What's happening is, a Z-Wave signals going out from the lock into the Staples Hub, the Staples Hub is sending it back over ZigBee to the Philips bulb. That's all happening within the course of just about a second. That's a really quick easy seamless interaction. Now getting up and running a Staples Connect is very quick. It's a very easy installation getting that lamp and that lock setup took me about 10 minutes. It really wasn't difficult at all. So if you are new to home automation or just looking for something pain-free, Staples Connect is a good way to go. The iPhone app is very clear and very easy to use. And if you have an iPad, you wanna use that instead they have a dedicated iPad app. It's not just the scaled-up iPhone app that's very nice. Android users, you've got your app as well. So, the base is probably covered no matter what device you're using. There's also a web interface that works quite well and you get all of that for $99 and that's a really great price compared to another option like Revolv. This cost $299 and does basically the same stuff as Staples Connect. Still, it's not a perfect system. If you look at the products you add to like Philips Hue bulb for instance. You're not always getting full functionality within that Staples app. You can change the color. Turn them on and off and dim them, a lot of the basic functions. But there's more out there-- music sync, all those third-party apps that exist. You're gonna want all those. You're still gonna want the Philips Hue app. So, Staples won't replace all of that and that's sort of a dream. Plus, you're still gonna need to plug in the Philips Hue Bridge to use your lights. So it is not quite there yet in terms of total unification. But I do think Staples Connect make sense if you wanna start automating your home in a more unified way. It doesn't get you all the way to that dreamland but it's a nice step forward. For CNET, I'm Ry Crist.