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Turn your Nvidia Shield into a SmartThings hub for 40 bucks

Plug the $40 SmartThings Link into an Nvidia Shield's USB port and control your smart home with your TV.

Nvidia's recent Shield Experience Upgrade 6.0 brought Google Assistant to the Nvidia Shield. Now, your Shield can double as a SmartThings Hub with the $40 SmartThings Link. If you already have an Nvidia Shield in your home, adding a SmartThings Link is the simplest and cheapest way to get started in home automation.


Control your smart home with a SmartThings Link, a $40 USB that plugs into the Nvidia Shield.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The SmartThings Link looks and feels like any other plastic USB drive, but has ZigBee and Z-Wave radios built in to control SmartThings devices. Plug this USB device into the Nvidia Shield streamer, and you'll be able to control your smart home devices. Once Link is connected, you'll receive an onscreen notification to install the SmartThings app from the Google Play store.

The TV's version of the app doesn't have much to it. You'll find a collection of how-to videos and a few resources on creating routines. To actually add the devices, set up routines or create rooms, you'll need the SmartThings app for Android (4.1 or later) or iPhone (iOS 9.0 or later) on your mobile device, as well as the Google Assistant app. You can download both from your device's app store.

Once your accounts are set up and devices connected, you'll be able to give voice commands by pressing a button on the remote or game controller or by saying, "OK, Google" within hearing distance of these devices. You can also buy a $50 accessory mic for better listening at a distance. Connect SmartThings in your phone's Alexa app, and Amazon's voice assistant can control your SmartThings devices.


The $90 SmartThings Link bundle includes two Sengled smart bulbs, SmartThings Link and motion sensor. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You can purchase the SmartThings Link on its own or choose from two SmartThings bundles. A $60 bundle gets you two Sengled programmable smart bulbs with the Link, while a $90 bundle includes the Link, two Sengled bulbs and a SmartThings motion sensor.

The Nvidia Shield has proven itself a viable, high-end alternative to streamers like the Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. Add in a SmartThings Link, and your TV streaming machine also becomes a SmartThings Hub. This is the first time we've seen a streaming device host a smart home hub, and it feels like we're getting closer every day to a do-it-all device.