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

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 Home Model ET-WV520
IEEE 802.11 Standard a/b/g/n/ac Class AC1300
Speed (Mbps) 1,266 (400+866) CPU Processor Quad-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 0 Guest Wi-Fi Yes
Antennas 2 Wi-Fi 2.4GHz; 2 Wi-Fi 5GHz; 1 Bluetooth 4.1; 1 Zigbee; 1 Z-Wave (All internal) Parental Controls Yes, limited
Spatial Streams 2 MU-MIMO Yes
Modulation 256-QAM 5/6 Beamforming Yes
Security WPA, WPA2 Setup App
Size (in) 4.72 by 1.16 by 4.72 Weight (lbs) 0.46 (each)
Approximate coverage per unit (sq. ft.) 1,500 Home Automation Hub SmartThings

Samsung Connect Home Pro Specs

Brand Samsung Connect Home Pro Model ET-WV530
IEEE 802.11 Standard a/b/g/n/ac Class AC2600
Speed (Mbps) 2,600 (800+1,733) CPU Processor Dual-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 0 Guest Wi-Fi Yes
Antennas 4 Wi-Fi 2.4GHz (1 used for Zigbee); 4 Wi-Fi 5GHz; 1 Bluetooth 4.1; 1 Z-Wave (All internal) Parental Controls Yes
Spatial Streams 4 MU-MIMO Yes
Modulation 256-QAM 5/6 Beamforming Yes
Security WPA, WPA2 Setup App
Size (in) 4.72 by 1.16 by 4.72 Weight (lbs) 0.55
Approximate coverage per unit (sq. ft.) 1,500 Home Automation Hub SmartThings

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