Suffering from slow WiFi? One likely reason for this is that you are too far from your wireless router. There are many solutions to solve range issue like this, but a popular one that you may have heard of recently is WiFi mesh.
In this article, we will be taking a look at the Samsung Connect Home, a WiFi mesh that doubles as a smart home hub. How does it perform? What else can it do? Should you get one? Without further ado, let’s begin with the review.
Setup – Quick & Easy
The Samsung Connect Home can be purchased at S$198 per piece, but to use it as a WiFi mesh, you will need at least 2 of them. Factoring the cost of a few smart home accessories that work with it, expect to spend over S$500.
In each box you will find the device itself, a power adapter, an Ethernet cable, as well as some paperwork. Before you can begin setting it up, download the Samsung SmartThings app from the Play Store or App Store and login or create an account.
Once done, start by setting up the main hub first. Power it with the power adapter and connect the Ethernet port labeled “IN” to your router with the included Ethernet cable.
In the app, you should receive a prompt telling you that it has detected a device. If you do not receive it, you can add the device manually by tapping on “Add device” and then selecting your Samsung Connect Home’s name from the list.
The app will now connect and setup the device, which takes just a few seconds. At the 70% mark, you will be asked to name the network and set the password. Tap on next and after another few seconds, the setup will be complete.
On a previous version of the app, I kept getting an error at 29% for over an hour. Only after repeating numerous times and calling the customer hotline did it set up successfully, miraculously.
Now, you can move on to the second Connect Home device.
For the second device, you only need to power it with the power adapter. Tap on “ADD ANOTHER WI-FI HUB” and the app will search for the second Samsung Connect Home before setting it up. This takes slightly more than a minute.
Design – Sleek & Modern
The housing of the Connect Home is made out of white matte plastic, with rubber grooves on the bottom to prevent sliding. It has a modern vibe, with a clean design and is relatively small and compact. Blends in with any home easily.
There is a green notification light on the front and on the back, you will find the DC jack, as well as two Ethernet ports, one labeled “IN” and the other labeled “OUT”. There is also a reset button on the back, which you can press with a SIM removal pin.
Overall, I like how simple and unobtrusive the device looks. But one thing I would have like to seen is a hole for a on the bottom of the device, so that we can hang it on a wall.
Performance – Avoid Walls at All Cost!
Your placement of the Samsung Connect Home has to be very strategic. This thing hates walls. One layer of wall in between will still give you pretty good WiFi speeds, but anything more and speeds plunges drastically. Hmm…
Distance is not a problem, at least not with the 8m separation between the Samsung Connect Homes in my current setup. How does the Samsung Connect Home perform? Very well actually, as long as there are no walls between the hubs of course.
Testing the Samsung Connect Home on speedtest.net and speedtest.com.sg results in an error, so I conducted this test with the internet speed test widget on google.
I checked if there was a difference between my router’s WiFi speed and Samsung Connect Home’s WiFi speed when I am right next to the router. Upload and download speeds were similar, as expected. Latency was not far off.
Next, I carried out the same test but beside the second Samsung Connect Home this time. The router’s WiFi speed dropped immensely, but the speed of the Connect Home’s WiFi network was still very good, at over 100 Mbps for download.
Going deeper into the room where the second Samsung Connect Home is located (refer to “3” in the diagram on top), my router’s WiFi was close to unusable, with speeds under 1 Mbps.
Connecting the second Connect Home’s Ethernet “OUT” port to my laptop, I got speeds that were close to what I got sitting next to my router! Latency is higher, but the fact that we are able to get similar speeds from such a distance is incredible.
I had my laptop on my desk, positioned near the second Samsung Connect Home, but with walls blocking. At this spot, I was getting an average of 30 Mbps for download and upload – usable but not great. Samsung Connect Home really hate walls.
From the 4 tests above, we can see that the Samsung Connect Home does a great job in an ideal condition. But when there are walls between the Connect Homes or between the Connect Home and your device, performance really takes a hit.
Smart Home Accessories
The Samsung Connect Home can act as a hub for Samsung’s SmartThings products as well as some third party products. But for this review, I only have two Samsung SmartThings accessories: the motion sensor and the outlet.
To set up the motion detector, remove the “Remove When Connecting” tab and place it at where you want it to detect motion. According to the user manual, it must be within 4.5m of your Connect Home. Then, add it as a new device in the app.
The motion detector comes with a back plate that allows you to mount it firmly in place to a wall, using screws included in the box. There is a slight delay of about 2s, but it works alright, detecting movements up to about 1m away.
Next, the SmartThings Outlet. There are buttons on the sides, which you can press to toggle on/off. The app had difficulties adding the outlet as a new device, and only managed to do so after I left it alone for a few minutes. Frustrating.
You can on/off the outlet from the app and view the amount of power drawn. That is about all there is to this device. The plug is a very tight – I had difficulties removing my iPhone wall adapter from it and had to use a test pen to pry it off.
App – Great for Beginners and Advanced Users
Anyone can use the SmartThings app to setup the Samsung Connect Home. As long as you follow the steps above, and you are good to go. No need to do anything else for it to work.
But if you want more control over your Samsung Connect Home, you also get the option to do so on the SmartThings app. You can check which devices are connected to your network and the amount of data being uploaded and downloaded.
You can give certain device higher bandwidth priority, or restrict their usage time from the app. If your kids spend too much time playing games on their phones instead of studying, you can restrict WiFi on their devices during study time.
If you have guests coming over but do not want them to be on the same network as you, you can create a guest network. You do not have to add a password for the guest network.
Moving on to the SmartThings Hub aspect of the app.
Other than checking the status of the SmartThings devices, you can make them work together with the app. Using the 2 devices I have, I can set it such that a light turns on whenever motion is detected and automatically turn off after 10 minutes.
If you have more devices that are supported by the SmartThings Hub, you can come up with more ways to automate your home electronics and turn your house into a smart home. Cool!
Conclusion – Worth It?
As this is the first WiFi mesh device I am dealing with, I am not able to tell you how it compares to others. But from my experience with it thus far, I am very satisfied with its performance.
You will want to position the Samsung Connect Homes in a way where they are not obstructed by any wall. Speeds plunges significantly when there are walls in the way and that is my biggest issue with the Samsung Connect Home.
Setting up the Samsung Connect Home with the SmartThings app was a pain in the ass a month ago, but thankfully, it became super fast and easy after an app update.
As for the SmartThings hub aspect of the device, I am a little skeptical about it. While it works alright and has a sizable ecosystem, many of the supported devices are a little costly. There are much more affordable ways to make your home smart.