Wink Relay’s objective is to create a device that is as simple as a light switch but delivers a ‘mesh of controls’ for your smart home. It connects all compatible smart home products (including your air conditioning, TV, lights, door locks and more), to a small mounted screen on your wall for convenient automation.
The innovation is being called as one of the firsts for the new age device dependent smart homes.
The Wink Relay Touchscreen Controller looks like an elegant high-tech device that you can place anywhere in your home. Powered by a very powerful and intuitive app, you get a one-stop screen to monitor all your smart gadgets remotely.
It’s a great alternative to pulling out your smartphone whenever you are leaving or entering your home. It takes the place of your light switch to become a command center.
With the newest updates, you can even use the controller to call a cab (UBER), check your calories (Fitbit) and take advantage of IFTTT recipes. So, rather than handling each smart gadget individually, the Wink Relay makes it easier to control everything centrally!
Wink also integrates an onboard mic and speaker that you can connect to multiple relays across your home and turn your place into an intercom system. It’s both helpful and futuristic.
Be it calling you kid downstairs or ensuring that the smart doors have locked themselves before you go to sleep, there’s a host of functionalities that Wink Relay supports. With more apps being integrated into Wink relay over time, it could soon mature to become a worthwhile investment for a connected home.
Wink Relay Touchscreen Controller Specifications
When the Wink Relay was launched in 2014, the retail price was about $300, making it a bit prohibitive. Today, however, it is bundled with a comfortable $149.00 package with genuinely helpful features.
- Requirement: Wi-Fi Network and Router (2.4 GHz) capable of broadcasting at 20 MHz bandwidth. For the light switch, you need to have either of single or double load gang boxes that don’t have neutral wires attached to AC outlets.
- Runs on a customized version of Android and the Wink App
- Dimensions: The device measures 6.6”x5.9”x1.2”. While the right side of the device has two buttons for control, the left part is the touch screen that looks similar to a smartphone.
- Sensors: Fitted with proximity sensors that react to your approaching. The sensors also act as humidity and temperature control for your smart home.
- Speaker and Mic: For notifications and turning the relays into an intercom.
- Connectivity: Supported via Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and Bluetooth.
Wink Relay Review: Pros & Cons
Now that we have a basic idea of what the Wink relay is about and what it can be put to, let’s take a practical approach to Wink Relay Review.
The Wink Relay aims to become a one-stop control panel that replaces your standard light switch. Using a wide array of sensors, the device works automatically and/or in conjunction with the Wink Hub, adding compatibility with newer protocols.
The Look and Feel:
This gadget features an attractive design, with sleek lines and a sleek finish – just the thing you can add to a modern tech savvy home. The construction is fairly immaculate, especially the glossy plastic.
Another good thing about the design is the way it integrates the proximity sensors. The gadget will give you a frequent reminder of the real-time temperature and time, among other things.
Lastly, the buttons on the right-hand side of the panel are programmable but as simple as turning a light switch on and off.
User Experience and Performance:
The manual for installation comes with a strict set of guidelines that you need to adhere to. Some might find this a tad bit difficult. Here’s what the installation guide suggests:
- Compatible with only copper/copper-clad wires
- You can install it only in a light load gang box
- You can use it only in single/double gang boxes. Doesn’t fit with multi-gang box units
- It should have a neutral wire that does not connect to AC outlet
- Will only connect to WPA and WPA2 encryption. It doesn’t yet support WEP
- Can only connect to a 2.4 GHz router frequency
Once you go through the elimination, most homes will only be left with very few spots!
- Daily use: Apart from the real-time feedback on temperature, humidity and time, the touchscreen control panel has all your devices only a swipe away. On tapping, the weather will expand to a more detailed view and the like. There are advanced settings on the gear icon and you would want to fiddle with it.
- The touch screen allows for the control of lights, locks and other shortcuts just like a smartphone app but if you want to add a new device to the network, you will have to pick up your phone. The response time with each gadget is about 2-3 seconds.
- Further, when you connect the Wink Relay’s physical switches to hard wired lights, the Wink App will show them as ‘newly available lights’ and this can be an opportunity to explore. Instead of adding a Wink Shortcut, you can assign a range of functions to these switches.
Lastly, it needs to be pointed out that the screen of the Wink Relay boasts of a resolution that is similar to an iPad screen. It’s bright with more than acceptable viewing angles. For the best experience (responsiveness), it’s best to have the latest Android version deployed on your devices.
For those who are using the intercom functionality, it adds cool benefits that can make households more connected.
The biggest difficulty you would face with the Wink Relay Touchscreen Controller is the installation.
If you leave that out, the device is pretty cool and there isn’t much that you can say against it. The prices too have dropped since the launch, two years ago, making it a good investment for those looking for a smart home controller.
Still, if you are looking for a critical review of the device, here are some things that can do better with an improvement:
- You might not have a full range of control as you would have got using the original app. Homes with DropCam Security Camera would have provided a real-time feed with the original app. With the Relay, it’s one image every 15 seconds. Quite a loophole, if security is a concern.
- Difficult installation, as already discussed.
- No way to customize the items on display in the relay. You cannot set a limited control over some of your connected apps, in case you want your guest to use the Relay.
- You will always need the Wink Hub for smooth operation. It’s the only way you can connect to Z-Wave compatible devices.
- The mic and speaker have limited use.
Now that we’re done with Wink Relay review, let’s see what it takes to install the Controller.
Wink Relay Installation
As already hinted, you will need a professional to do the installation. The process involves a lot of technicalities – disconnecting lines, loads, neutral wires and reconnecting them with the Relay. You will have to do a bit of cutting and stripping of wires, making it a specialist’s job in most cases.
The moment you complete the wiring, the Relay starts booting up and shows you a list of all available Wi-Fi networks. Choose the one you can connect with, enter the password and tap “Done”, this completes the process of connecting the Relay to your WiFi.
The next steps involve putting in your Wink credentials. Just log in with your registered username and password and the device will update the firmware if needed.
The next step is downloading the Wink mobile app onto your smartphone (if you haven’t already done so) and connecting to the available Wink-compatible devices. For Z-Wave devices, you will need the Wink Hub to be able to connect. You cannot add devices directly from the Relay.
The wall mount screen only gives you control over the devices that are already connected.
That’s pretty much all about installing the Wink Relay in your home for the first time.
Latest Updates on Wink Relay
Since its launch, the Wink Relay has mostly been the same. However, a significant update released back in June 2016 greatly increased the opportunities with the device. With that in place, the device doesn’t just work for home automation but carries the benefits outdoors too.
Now, Wink Relay Touchscreen Controller allows you to monitor your Fitbit progress and also call for an UBER ride. For those who have integrated more than one relay, the microphones and speakers turn into an interesting intercom system.
Further, the Relay now supports IFTTT (If This Then That). Thanks to IFTTT, now your kid can leave a message after he has reached home from school and you will be notified on your smartphone.
The UBER integration is possibly the most significant update since the original app came out. When you open the UBER widget for the first time, it will save your location and credit card details.
A cab will be a one-tap solution thereafter. You certainly would be notified about surge pricing, in case that’s applicable.
The Wink Hub 2 also gets several beneficial updates. The most notable one is the complete range of Lutron Caseta Wireless Switches and dimmers.
They have also begun the support for PJ2-2B remotes. This allows for a wider range of lighting from your Wink App!
Let’s now move on and take a look at some of the best alternatives for Wink Relay that are available in the market today.
Best Alternatives for Wink Relay
1. Samsung SmartThings Hub, 2nd Generation
At $99, Samsung SmartThings 2nd Generation Hub connects to all your ZigBee and Z-Wave enabled Smart devices to bring the control into the single touchscreen. The goal of the gadget is to eliminate the switching between several apps or plug in many single-protocol hubs onto your router.
The Samsung Hub connects an impressive number of devices, either directly or indirectly, thanks to its hyperactive developer community and IFTTT channel. Interesting integrations include a Bluetooth Radio, Belkin WeMo products, Amazon Echo and more.
Consequently, you have sensors like a motion sensor, arrival sensor, door/window sensor, water leak sensor and more. This means an alarm goes off if it detects any activity by your window. These can be useful security features and not just a way of making your home smarter.
The gadget even got a battery backup that would work when you lose power or WiFi.
Samsung SmartThings lets you customize the app fully and also offers an interesting interaction with the user. Several more updates are lined up for this smart hub, but it does make a mark for the price it comes in.
Quite evidently, it emerges as one of the best alternatives for Wink Relay Touchscreen Controller.
2. NuBryte TouchPoint All-in-One Smart Security
Another wall mounted smart home console, NuBryte TouchPoint aims to make your home more efficient and attractive while allowing you peace of mind. It’s just not about feeling safer and more comfortable but also about becoming more organized.
The all in one console integrates video camera, motion sensors, temperature sensors, proximity sensors, humidity sensors, siren, electric current detector and a pair of mic/speakers. Whether it is calling your kids downstairs when the lunch is ready or to get notified about your meetings and appointments for the day, this device can be a perfect smart home assistant.
The device connects via your home WiFi to even integrate lights, fans, and other smart gadgets to give you complete control over your home.
The focus of NuBryte TouchPoint is, however, intrusion detection through motion detector sensors and strategic camera monitoring. It’s well-designed, easy to setup and costs around $259 across the United States.
This is one device you absolutely need if you have been really worried about home security. The additional benefits work out to make your home much more exciting.
However, it is only supported through an iOS interface and yet to be launched for Android users.
3. Securifi Almond+
The Securifi Almond is one of the very few single band routers in the market. Almond’s novelty comes with its compact router that you can completely control using the touchscreen.
The best thing about the Almond consequently is that you don’t need any laptop, smartphone or other devices to set it up and be able to manage the basic settings. The 2.8” touch screen is all you need.
It’s perfect for all those users who are not tech-savvy but will be able to operate on intuitiveness. It looks like a digital alarm clock but converts itself into a powerful AC router.
Integrated with Alexa, you will now be able to have voice control for your smart home gadgets, including lighting and fans! Other features include parental controls (wherein you can set WiFi curfews), receive notification when new devices join the network or block certain users from using your network.
The only limitation is that the Securifi Almond will only work on a 2.4 GHz band and when used as an extender, can fairly limit the responsiveness. The Securifi Almond along with Home Automation Hub and a long range Touchscreen Wireless Dual Band AC Gigabit WiFi Router cost about US$ 120.40.
Is Wink Relay Right for Me?
Just like the Wink Relay Touchscreen Controller, there have been several products that didn’t make much sense when they were first launched. Amazon Echo is probably the best example of this. However, both Echo and Alexa have now integrated voice control to make home automation more fun and engaging. You can also consider them as one of the best alternatives for Wink Relay.The Relay doesn’t yet seem to make much of a promise. Its features are few and average and the most important thing is that you can get better alternatives for the price.
The Samsung SmartThings Hub, 2nd Generation makes more sense in this case.
The only unique feature with Wink relay, as of now, is Uber integration, but again, you can always call a cab using your smartphone. While there are several home automation devices available in the market, Wink offers only a fraction of the features and at a much higher price. You simply won’t get enough return on your investment.
We hope that this Wink Relay Review helps you make a smarter choice!