If you have an entire collection of smart home gadgets that work independently of each other or have been looking for a single product that can provide whole home WiFi, home automation, and the ability to pause the internet in one easy kit, Samsung SmartThings WiFi adds smartness and connectivity through a single hub.
SmartThings WiFi uses multiple access points to create fast, secure, and stable WiFi throughout your entire house plus the ability to expand your in-home coverage while serving as the brain of your smart home. As a SmartThings hub, it allows you to connect devices like lights, cameras, and doorbells so they can all work together.
About Samsung SmartThings WiFi
Samsung’s new SmartThings WiFi home kit comes as a 3-pack of WiFi APs ($279.99) to blanket your home in WiFi + SmartThings home automation with Zigbee, ZWave, and Bluetooth to make it easy to connect many smart home devices in one place. Using next-generation cloud WiFi management by Plume, you can take control over the growing number of devices on your home network. Finally! One kit to rule them all.
SmartThings WiFi gives whole-home coverage for WiFi and home automation radios in a single platform, potentially eliminating several different network elements in your home, giving you consistent coverage for a variety of radio protocols.
Samsung SmartThings home automation hub has been my favorite for some time. I installed one of these several years ago to turn on and off lights in the house and even automatically turn on a heater in the chicken coop when the outdoor temperature gets too cold. Home automation products are all over the map with different radio protocols and proprietary hubs. Many companies try to sell a closed system with proprietary hubs, but Samsung’s SmartThings has been the neutral party that accepts devices across multiple vendors and works with just about anything.
Since Samsung acquired SmartThings in 2014, they have been working to expand SmartThings into other Samsung home products including televisions and Smart Fridges. Each of the 3 WiFi APs in the kit is essentially a SmartThings hub and a WiFi AP.
Setting Up Samsung SmartThings WiFi
The box comes with 3 APs and 3 power cords. Each is identical, with 2 ethernet ports labeled “in” and “out.” I opened the little quick start flyer and was instructed to download the SmartThings WiFi app, and create an account. I started from scratch for this review instead of explaining “upgrading” my existing system. After getting into the SmartThings app, I plugged in one of the SmartThings APs and plugged it into power and Ethernet.
The mobile app automatically detected the new AP and asked me if I wanted to set it up.
I clicked through some simple instructions and was prompted to setup my home WiFi’s network name and password. I also gave the hub a name for where it was located in the house. Setup worked perfectly. That never happens…everything worked as expected. I was online and fully working in only a few minutes. The app asked me if I wanted to setup another router. I got the second AP online as a mesh AP (no internet access of its own) within a few minutes, following the instructions in the mobile app and watching the blinking lights on the AP itself.
Samsung SmartThings WiFi Features
You can see basic information about the WiFi network from within the SmartThings app, but to really take control of your home WiFi, you’ll want to also download the Plume app. The SmartThings app will link you directly to the app store to download Plume if you click on the advanced screen. (check this.) One bonus… Plume did not make me create another account, it offered to use my Samsung account, which was extremely nice and simple.
The Plume app lets you see all of the users on the network and manage them efficiently. Depending on the type of device, it may have a descriptive name “Bobs-iPhone” or “Tivo” or “Xbox One”. But many other are named things like “Android-3456789,” or have no names at all. Plume lets you give each device a friendly name “Nest Thermostat” or “Color Printer.”
You can also create people profiles, and then assign the devices into groups for each people. For example, I can put each kids’ smartphone, tablet, and or laptop into a single bucket with their name on it.
This allows you to do things like “pause” Child #1’s internet access while Child #2 can still do their homework on google docs. It freezes all of their devices at once… iPod Touch, Tablet, laptop, smartphone, anything. Parents: Just watch out for 4G LTE data because Plume can’t pause that.
In addition to manual pausing, you can also set automatic time restrictions on people, such as school days, fixed bed times, or “no internet for the rest of the day.“ If you’re in a really bad mood, you can also prohibit a device indefinitely. Ouch.
Plume claims that their WiFi is constantly adjusting parameters and its configuration to get you the fastest possible speeds. One thing I can definitely say is that it monitors your home internet connection and automatically runs speed tests.
The above screenshot shows the results on the speed test that it ran on our cable modem. The Plume app keeps a 30 day history of your internet speeds so that you can see if your home internet speeds are degraded.
About Samsung SmartThings
I am a big fan of the SmartThings system for home automation. You can connect almost anything to it, and it is possible to use their built-in applications or even get super-nerdy and write your own software to run on it. With SmartThings WiFi kits, Samsung has solved both of my complaints about my current SmartThings hub.
Improvement #1: My old SmartThings hub itself needed a wired Ethernet connection. When on-boarding new Z-wave devices, you need the hub to be physically located near the Z-wave device. If the hub is wired into Ethernet on the first floor and the Z-wave device is an in-wall switch, this sometimes has had its challenges. With the SmartThings WiFi kit, this problem is solved two different ways. First, the hub now is the WiFi router, and can run wirelessly in mesh mode. Second, each of the 3 WiFi APs also has the IOT radios inside it, so no device is out of reach of one of the SmartThings hub.
Improvement #2: My old SmartThings hub Zigbee, and ZWave, but it didn’t have Bluetooth. These new hubs do. Perfect.
Samsung SmartThings WiFi Specs
The Samsung SmartThings WiFi APs are dual-band 802.11ac APs, with 2×2 radios. This is equivalent WiFi to Google WiFi, NetGear Orbi, and most of the new home gear on the market. It isn’t the fastest wifi available on the market, but unless you have a house of MacBook pros, you probably won’t notice the difference. According to Samsung, the kit of 3 APs can cover a house of up to 4,500 square feet, which should be big enough for you whether you live in a historic house with rock walls, an inner-city townhouse with lots of interference and plaster, or a brand new suburban McMansion.
Other Plume WiFi Features
The Plume WiFi app also allows you to create guest access credentials for visitors. You can give them access to just the internet (and not your home network), or even selective access to things like your printer or TV.
What’s missing? When you have identified every device on your home network and then named them and assigned them to family members and gotten a big pause button, there next step would be to allow for content filtering (blocking porn, violence, etc). It would also be helpful to set and track overall screen time for each family member. Plume released both of these features for their own WiFi APs back in early October. These feature are not yet available on the Samsung branded WiFi kits that run Plume software, so I was unable to review them. According to Samsung’s PR contact, the software to enable content filtering is coming, but is just not available yet. If executed well, the Samsung SmartThings WiFi home kit could also replace a Disney Circle in your house.
If purchased separately, Plume’s WiFi system normally comes with a $60 annual fee, or a $200 lifetime fee. When you purchase the Samsung SmartThings WiFi kit, there is no monthly fee, and you get access to the Plume WiFi management application, with slightly longer delivery times for some new features.
Samsung SmartThings WiFi Summary
I find the “all-in-one” nature of the Samsung SmartThings WiFi kit extremely helpful to reduce clutter and simplify your home network, getting excellent WiFi management (Plume) and the gold-standard in home automation (SmartThings) combined into a single box… actually a set of 3 combo boxes.
If you are struggling to get better in-home WiFi, eliminate dead spots, track down what devices are connected to your WiFi, and even jump into the Internet of Things and home automation, the Samsung SmartThings WiFi home kit is a great choice. You get whole-home WiFi, including wireless meshing, and whole-home coverage for home-automation at an affordable price.
The Samsung SmartThings WiFi 3-pack retails for $279.99 but is currently available from Samsung for $249.99. An individual SmartThings WiFi unit can be purchased for additional home coverage for $119.99 each.
I received a Samsung SmartThings WiFi kit for review purposes. No compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own. Affiliate links are included in this post.