last updated: October 19, 2016
Pros: Wide, variety of products to select, voice-control option through Amazon Echo
Cons: Created by now-bankrupt firm Quirky
Wink offers hundreds of products from three dozen partner companies including those compatible with ZigBee and Z-Wave. But unlike the other two systems, Wink isn't owned by Home Depot; the retailer is merely Wink's primary retail partner. Skip down to Cons to understand the caveats of this relationship. But let's start with Wink's advantages.
Wink offers a wider and more diverse number of compatible gear, chief among these the Aros smart air conditioner made by GE, Nest's Dropcam cameras, Protect Smoke and CO2 detector and thermostat and Philips Hue lighting.
Wink products also are the only ones of the three big brand systems that also can be voice-controlled by the Amazon Echo.
Wink's app looks and feels the most artistic of the three big box brands; the Lowe's Iris and Staples Connect apps are nearly industrial in their look/feel/use. As a result, we found the app and even a bit more fun to navigate than Iris' and Staples Connect's.
Finally, Wink is the only one of the three big box systems with Apple Watch compatibility – you can add device "Shortcuts" to the Watch to perform desired programmed actions. But like Lowe's Iris and Staples Connect, Wink is hedging of full Apple HomeKit compatibility, even if separate compatible products such as the Philips Hue have embraced it.
Wink's biggest drawback is the uncertainty surrounding its continued existence and, therefore, on-going support and device availability.
Wink was originally created by an outfit called Quirky. But in September 2015, Quirky declared bankruptcy and, as of this writing, was looking for a buyer for Wink. A Wink sale was supposed to happen in late November, but so far there's been no news.
On the bright side, Home Depot remains a steadfast partner. Wink products remain available at Home Depot stores and on the Home Depot Web site – but Wink devices have disappeared from Amazon and there's only a limited quantity available on Target.com.
So, while we generally like Wink's overall cool factor, operation and product selection, we have to be honestly cognizant of its potential lack of a future. Our advice: wait until Wink is sold, and the buyer announces its intentions for its future before diving in.
If you want to take a chance, here are a couple of operational issues to be aware of if you go with Home Depot Wink.
Wink is compatible with a wide variety of third-party products, but not all work within the Wink app; even those that do may not allow the full range of operations as the device-specific app. Annoyingly, a number of smart home devices require you to download their own specific app and create an account before the device can then be linked to the Wink app. For instance, the Philips Hue light system requires its own hub before it could be paired with the Wink Hub.
Because of this, Wink's multi-device Robots feature may not fully control all Wink-compatible devices that have their own dedicated apps.
If you need help installing Iris by Lowe's Smart Home System, you can visit HomeAdvisor.com to find a local trusted professional.
It still not sure where to start with building a smart home check out What You Need To Know Before Building A Smart Home.