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Why can not we recommend Wink Hubs anymore?

  Wink Hub 2 with temporarily unavailable sign

We love Wink's smarthome hub and have highly recommended it in the past. But the Wink Hub has been "temporarily unavailable" for over five months, and Wink will not say why. What's happening? Wink for …

A short history of the many owners of Wink

Wink has been around for years and used to be the product of a company called Quirky. Quirky started in 2009 as a startup with several well-made but useful ideas. They announced a mirror that eliminates the steam fog of the shower, a set of wheels that can turn any object into a remote-controlled car, and more. In 201

4, Quirky partnered with GE to start a new company called Wink, which focused on Internet-connected devices.

Unfortunately, Quirky did not do well herself; There was a lot of money for development, and Wink suffered a significant setback. Every Wink owner came home to find a hub "that is so sure he can not connect to the Wink servers" (these were Wink's words). The problem was focused on an expired certificate, and the solution unfortunately required many hubs. Between the cost of the recall and other financial troubles, Quirky went bankrupt in 2015, and the Wink assets were sold to Flextronics (now Flex), the leading provider of Wink's hardware and firmware. In turn, Flextronics sold Wink to i.am + in mid-2017, where the company is still located today. If you are unfamiliar with i.am +, it is a will.i.am company that focuses on wearable technologies. Whimsical came alive again, but remains separated from Wink.

Wink development has slowed to a crawl

 Wink News of September 2017

Smarthome hubs live and die through their product integrations. If a smarthome hub does not work with as many smart devices as possible, it will be abandoned by a competitor that supports its gadgets. It is therefore confusing that Wink last announced new product integrations in September 2017.

In every tech industry, not to mention the smarthome industry, this is a huge time without iteration. To illustrate this, Wink's next announcement was Cortana's support, including pictures of Windows Phones and mentions of the Harmon Invoke Cortana spokesperson. Over the past four months, Wink's blog post updates have described firmware fixes for resolving issues. The last new feature, which is a realistic extension of Lookout, was released over a year ago. But worse than the lack of updates and features, it's almost impossible to buy a Wink Hub now.

Wink's offer does not exist

 The Wink Hub 2 website displays "Temporary Unavailable"

Wink's online store has been out of stock since at least November 2018, which is not a good sign , Any attempt to put a Wink product on its website into the shopping cart led to errors that were "temporarily unavailable". This also applies to many third-party products on the Wink website, such as light bulbs and smart plugs. Even Amazon.com and Home Depot had no or very few Wink products.

We discussed Wink in November 2018. Wink said the problem was only temporary, and it was working to replenish his online store soon:

I apologize for the trouble! We are currently filling up our website, which should be available shortly. The Wink Hub 2 may be available from our other dealers. I would recommend visiting the Home Depot web site and selecting "Check Nearby Stores" and specifying your zip code to see how many Wink Hubs home warehouses are in stock.

At the same time, Wink's official support account told Reddit users that Wink was pointing his inventory at retailers like Home Depot and Walmart instead of at Wink's online store. We asked Wink for clarification and whether the company might be working on a next-generation Wink hub. Unfortunately, Wink said there was no new hub in the works, but it worked hard to stock more hardware:

Unfortunately, we have no concrete work in progress. You are reading correctly, but we are also working on our inventory. Hopefully our retailers as well as our website will soon be fully stocked.

Five months later, Wink has not filled up any retail stores – either their own online stores or retailers. You find the reddit thread after the reddit thread for the reddit thread of other wink users asking similar questions, wondering why wink hubs were not widely available, and if wink is dead. Wink has often advised users to search nearby Home Depot stores using a postal code. However, as of today, Home Depot's website is online and not available in stores. Home Depot does not just have a single listing for the Hub.

 Home Depot's website offers all Wink products online and not commercially available.

Amazon is in a similar state; The hub is no longer directly in stock. Instead, it is sometimes offered by a third party vendor, often with a future shipping date and twice the price of the Wink website. According to CamelCamelCamel, a website that tracks prices and inventories on Amazon.com, Amazon (and no third party vendors) had a Hub Hub 2 inventory last August 2018.

Wink has recommended I tried to buy his product from Walmart in the past, but this store is not in stock. The Walmart website seems even confused as it displays prices for the original Wink Hub, but the images confirm that it is a Wink Hub list.

 The Wall Mart Hume Hub Is Out of Stock [19659006] Wink hardware just does not look like it's for sale right now, and the company would not tell us where to buy it.

The future looks bleak for Wink

 The Wink motion sensor is displayed as temporary unavailable

Wink does not look too healthy and that is disconcerting. The company does not offer a monthly subscription to the service on which its hubs depend. Instead, Wink generates revenue through the sale of hardware. Wink offers a hub, a motion sensor, a door / window sensor and a ringtone that are currently out of stock. You can purchase most of these articles from other companies as a wink. So, if you buy a Wink Hub that does not guarantee that you buy a wink sensor, the biggest question is whether a company depends on hardware sales and there is no hardware. What future can the company have?

Looking at any direction on i.am + does not boost confidence. The company rarely mentions Wink, and the latest impetus is a new language assistant called Omega.

We've reached both Wink and i.am + to comment on this story. None of them had responded at the time of publication. We will update this article when we hear that.

However, as it is incredibly difficult or even impossible to buy the Wink hardware now, we can recommend Wink to our readers for longer. It's hard to see how the company can survive in its current state. Remember, Wink Hub is a cloud-based system. If the company stops operating and shuts down its servers, your SmartHome will break, and you can not help it, except to a new hub.

Here's what we recommend instead

Of course you can do this to find a wink hub on eBay or any other marketplace. However, we do not recommend it because it no longer works if Wink gives up and the business does not look too healthy for us.

If you're looking for an easy-to-use, easy-to-install SmartHome hub, we'd suggest SmartThings. SmartThings is a bit more complicated than Wink's use and setup, but it does offer a home monitoring kit, support for third-party devices, and even routines. SmartThings is owned by Samsung, so you can rest assured that your smarthome is not dependent on a small business that may disappear. Similar to Wink, however, the ease of use for the advanced features is costly.

If you are tech savvy and want advanced automation, you should consider Hubitat. Hubitat is able to perform automations that may eliminate the need for a speech assistant. Instead of telling your home what to do, a Hubitat home can anticipate your needs based on actions, presence, or other signal factors. Instead of asking for light, the lights will know that you are in the room, turn it on, and even turn off when you leave the building. All of this power, however, is associated with complexity; It's harder to set up a Hubitat system than a SmartThings system.

If you have not started building your Smart Home yet, you can skip the Smarthome Hub. Google Home and Amazon Alexa do a great job to eliminate the need for one. Although they are not compatible with Z-Wave devices, Amazon supports ZigBee with Echo Plus and Echo Show. You can bypass Z-Wave and ZigBee and use Wi-Fi-based devices instead. They work directly with your language assistant so that they can act as a hub. You still have access to routines and an app that controls the connected devices, but these routine options may not be as powerful as SmartThings or Hubitat without using another service like IFTTT or Yonomi.

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