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Samsung Connect Home / Samsung Connect Home Pro review: Samsung's midtier mesh Wi-Fi redeems itself as a smart hub

The Samsung Connect Home three-pack is also a SmartThings hub and covers 4,500 square feet. But for the price, the app will leave you wanting more.

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Dan Dziedzic
dan-dziedzic

Dan Dziedzic

Associate editor

Dan has been a professional writer for more than a decade and now specializes in routers and networking devices. Originally from Chicago, IL, Dan studied comedy writing at Second City and worked as a Chicago sports journalist for a number of years. With a background in physics, he spends his spare time learning about the intricacies of the universe.

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The Samsung Connect Home is an AC1300 mesh Wi-Fi system that doubles as a SmartThings hub. A three-pack of units costs $380. (It's not yet available in the UK or Australia, but that converts to £275 or AU$475.) There's also a Pro model, which comes as a single AC2600 unit for $250, that you can add to a system of Samsung Connect Home units.

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6.0

Samsung Connect Home / Samsung Connect Home Pro

The Good

The system works as a midtier router and a SmartThings home automation hub, all controlled by a single app.

The Bad

The app. Setup can be a challenge and you can't customize many of the settings. You may need additional units to get the speed and coverage your want, which can be costly.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung Connect Home will give you adequate Wi-Fi coverage in a large home, and you can connect SmartThings devices to it without having to buy a separate hub. But for the price, you can find better options such as the AC3000 Netgear Orbi.

Having a hub and router in one package is convenient. And you'll save money since you won't need to buy a separate SmartThings hub, which costs $90 or £99 (it's not yet available in Australia). 

Unfortunately, neither the Samsung Connect Home or the Pro lived up to my expectations. The accompanying app and setup process were frustrating. Both systems were only average at best when it came to speed. And even though it will cover as much as 4,500 square feet of your home with Wi-Fi coverage and keep your smart devices connected, you can find something better and cheaper. Unless you're set on a SmartThings hub and router in one, consider the Netgear Orbi or Eero's second-generation Wi-Fi system for your mesh system.

Simple, white, puck-like design

The Samsung Connect Home units are sleek, off-white disks without any antennas or bulkiness that needs to be hidden. Many Wi-Fi mesh systems are going with this minimal, fits-anywhere look, like the Eero and Amped Wireless Ally Plus. The Samsung Connect Pro version looks the same as the regular version, but it has a clear plastic top and is a little heavier. Both have one LED light on the front that you can shut off from the app. The backs of the units have two Ethernet ports -- in and out -- plus a reset button and an AC port for power. 

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The Samsung Connect Home (three-pack on left) and Pro (right) have a very similar sleek, all-white design.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The setup brought me down

Setting up the Samsung Connect Home was inconsistent and frustrating.

First, you need to download and sign into the Samsung Connect app on a device that's connected to a mobile network. Next, enable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your mobile device and make sure its battery is fully charged. Then you can set up each unit individually. You connect the first unit to your modem with an Ethernet cable and plug in its power cord. Then, the Samsung Connect app is supposed to automatically recognize it. With the next two units, you don't need to use an Ethernet cable; just plug a power cord into each one, and it connects to the others wirelessly.

The app didn't always recognize each unit if I had to unplug it and plug it back in, so I'd sometimes have to add the unit to the app manually. Holding down the reset button (you'll need a pin, a small nail or a paperclip as it's recessed) on the unit for about 10 seconds when it was plugged in sped up the process when the app didn't recognize it. And completely closing and reopening the app helped sometimes.

It should only take a few minutes to connect each unit, but I occasionally had problems when I was more than 10 feet away from the unit, so stay relatively close to it during setup.

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The setup process using the app may be a challenge.

Dan Dziedzic/CNET

The app advises that you "place your Wi-Fi hub in an open area within 40 feet of your other Wi-Fi hubs," and "the ideal distance may vary depending on your home's layout and construction materials." I placed the second and third units about 30 feet from the main unit with one wall or floor between them, but the app still had problems. It didn't recognize either device until I reset the unit and stood a few feet away with my phone. I had better luck with an iOS device than with an Android, but both had instances of not recognizing at least one of the units.

Once the Wi-Fi is setup, you can now create your network name and password, as well as set up the Samsung Connect Home as a SmartThings hub for your smart devices. To set up this feature, you check a box, hit "next" in the app and wait a minute. At least Samsung made that simple.

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Setting up the smart hub and adding automations between devices was easy.

Dan Dziedzic/CNET

Once you're setup, the app has enough general options to control your network, but it lacks customization. Here's what you can do from the app:

  • See how many devices are connected, along with network traffic
  • Turn the SmartThings hub on or off
  • Add a guest network
  • Update the network name and password
  • Change the IPV4, DNS and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) settings
  • Choose Standalone or Bridge mode
  • Set port forwarding and turn IP reservation on or off
  • Restrict usage time or turn Highest Bandwidth Priority on or off for each device (basically, a very limited version of network prioritization)

But you can't customize your 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. There aren't any security settings or VPN or network sharing options. And the app is the only way to control your network. Samsung dropped the ball on usability, especially since I couldn't see which band or unit I was connected to, let alone manually switch to find the best connection.

It's a mesh Wi-Fi system and a SmartThings hub

For a mesh Wi-FI system, the Samsung Connect Home offers average coverage of 1,500 square feet per device. You can connect as many as five total devices to create your network, so you can get the coverage you need -- if you have the money for additional units.

Its AC13AC130000 rating is a little on the slow side, offering 400Mbps on 2.4GHz and 867Mbps on 5GHz. The Pro doubles those theoretical speeds with its AC2600 rating, but it won't give you much more speed out of additional regular units. Check out my speed tests below to see how fast each one actually performed.

Both versions of the Samsung Connect Home are dual-band, have one WAN and one LAN port, offer MU-MIMO for fast simultaneous connections and can be added together to create a single system. The Pro has more Wi-Fi antennas for each band and spatial streams (four to two) and has a faster processor (1.7GHz to 710MHz). However, the Pro has only a dual-core processor, while the regular Samsung Connect Home has four cores.

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The Samsung Connect Home only has two Ethernet ports and no USB ports for network storage or printers.

Chris Monroe/CNET

One unfortunate feature is that my devices connected to the closest Samsung Connect Home unit, not the one with the strongest signal. They also always connected to 5GHz. While this is ideal when you're close to a unit in plain sight, it's a problem when you need to connect at a distance with obstacles in the way. This is when it'd be helpful to have the option to manually pick a band.

As a SmartThings hub, the Connect Home has antennas for Zigbee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth 4.1. The Pro uses one of the 2.4 Wi-Fi antennas for Zigbee, which causes its max theoretical speed on 2.4GHz to drop to 500Mbps when the SmartThings hub is enabled. That means you'll have to turn off your SmartThings hub functionality if you really want to get the most out of the Pro router.

Samsung said a majority of SmartThings devices will work with the Samsung Connect Home and app. The hub worked great with the SmartThings outlet and multipurpose sensor. You can easily turn the outlet on or off from the app and see the status of the sensor. You can also set up automations between your connected devices. For instance, you can plug a lamp into the outlet and put the sensor on your front door, so your lights will turn on when you come home. You can set the amount of time the outlet stays on, or pick the time of day when the outlet shuts off or turns on. The app makes it very convenient and simple to set up automations. 

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The Samsung Connect Home redeemed itself by doubling as a hub for smart devices.

Chris Monroe/CNET

But outside of automations, the functionality within the SmartThings hub part of the app is sparse. You can turn on or off firmware updates and see which devices are connected. You can also toggle Secure Mode on or off, which allows or blocks insecure Zigbee devices from rejoining your network. 

(Samsung recently announced that later in 2018 it will be consolidating all its devices, including the Samsung Connect Home, to work from a single app. It said it will give more information soon, during the first half of this year.)

Having a router that doubles as a smart home hub is a good idea that saves space and money. Samsung and SmartThings are perfect candidates for this. While router performance could stand to improve, it's nice to see an effort being made on this front.

Speed tapers off a little too much

I set up three Samsung Connect Home units in a triangular pattern around the CNET Smart Home. Unit 1 was connected to the modem on the first floor (for testing the Pro, I just swapped out unit 1); unit 2 was in the first floor living room (30 feet from unit 1); and unit 3 was in the basement (27 feet from unit 1), which generally gets poor Wi-Fi signals. I connected a laptop wirelessly about 10 feet away from each unit to test throughput from the unit connected to the modem.

The system performed better overall when the Samsung Connect Home Pro was connected to the modem. Unit 2 showed slightly faster speeds with the regular Samsung Connect Home, but it was only about a 3 percent difference (265Mbps to 272Mbps).

Unit 1 showed the largest difference (more than 100Mbps) between the Pro and regular Samsung Connect Home, which performed at 612Mbps and 510Mbps respectively. In the basement, unit 3 slowed to 151Mbps on the Pro and 140Mbps on the regular Samsung Connect Home. This is still impressive when you consider that the Wi-Fi signal down in the basement is usually really bad.

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The Pro model can increase your bandwidth, but won't do much for the rest of your system if it's made up of regular Samsung Connect Home units.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Overall, these speeds are fast enough to outpace most homes' bandwidth needs. A really good router, however, such as the Asus RT-AC86U, covers about the same area with faster speeds. The Samsung Connect Home or Pro both offer adequate speed and coverage, but the price is a little high for what you get as a router.

Should you buy one?

The best thing about this Wi-Fi mesh system is that it's also a SmartThings hub. You're going to save money in that respect (a SmartThings hub costs $90 or £99), but as a router, you can do better. The setup was frustrating, it has few customization options and your devices won't always connect to the unit with the best signal.

If you love Samsung and want this system, go with the Pro. You will have to buy additional units (each regular Samsung Connect Home unit costs $170) since the Pro doesn't come in a three-pack, but you'll have more bandwidth with which to play around. Otherwise, I'd recommend a different mesh system like the Netgear Orbi or wait until D-Link's new COVR system comes out in the second quarter of 2018.

Samsung Connect Home Specs

Brand Samsung Connect HomeModelET-WV520
IEEE 802.11 Standard a/b/g/n/acClassAC1300
Speed (Mbps) 1,266 (400+866)CPU ProcessorQuad-core 710 MHz
Frequency Dual band (2.4GHz+5GHz)RAM Memory (MB)512
Ethernet Ports 1 gigabit WAN; 1 gigabit LAN (each unit)Flash Memory (MB)4,096
USB Ports 0Guest Wi-FiYes
Antennas 2 Wi-Fi 2.4GHz; 2 Wi-Fi 5GHz; 1 Bluetooth 4.1; 1 Zigbee; 1 Z-Wave (All internal)Parental ControlsYes, limited
Spatial Streams 2MU-MIMOYes
Modulation 256-QAM 5/6BeamformingYes
Security WPA, WPA2SetupApp
Size (in) 4.72 by 1.16 by 4.72Weight (lbs)0.46 (each)
Approximate coverage per unit (sq. ft.) 1,500Home Automation HubSmartThings

Samsung Connect Home Pro Specs

Brand Samsung Connect Home ProModelET-WV530
IEEE 802.11 Standard a/b/g/n/acClassAC2600
Speed (Mbps) 2,600 (800+1,733)CPU ProcessorDual-core 1.7GHz
Frequency Dual band (2.4GHz+5GHz)RAM Memory (MB)512
Ethernet Ports 1 gigabit WAN; 1 gigabit LAN (each unit)Flash Memory (MB)4,096
USB Ports 0Guest Wi-FiYes
Antennas 4 Wi-Fi 2.4GHz (1 used for Zigbee); 4 Wi-Fi 5GHz; 1 Bluetooth 4.1; 1 Z-Wave (All internal)Parental ControlsYes
Spatial Streams 4MU-MIMOYes
Modulation 256-QAM 5/6BeamformingYes
Security WPA, WPA2SetupApp
Size (in) 4.72 by 1.16 by 4.72Weight (lbs)0.55
Approximate coverage per unit (sq. ft.) 1,500Home Automation HubSmartThings
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6.0

Samsung Connect Home / Samsung Connect Home Pro

Score Breakdown

Setup 5Features 7Performance 6