Until this morning I didn’t even know that Staples had a branded entry into the smart home field, but these days who doesn’t? Truth be told, I don’t care. My initial reaction to seeing this was similar to this clip of Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. I won’t be buying and reviewing one of these. I barely skimmed the handful of reviews that I could find. If, for some reason you absolutely love this product and want to call me a hater and move on, I understand. However there are numerous reasons, both technical and non-technical, why you should hear me out. I present them below in list form (because I love lists):
- First and foremost, Staples is a floundering company. Literally any day now the company could declare bankruptcy or get bought out. It exists in a retail space that is largely obsolete, and its two biggest competitors had to merge just to stay alive. Despite the fact that the actual product is made by D-Link, you probably don’t want to hitch your wagon to a company that may have a shorter shelf life than its product.
- My disdain for D-Link products grows every day. It makes perfect sense to me that they would be the company to manufacture this second version of Staples Connect because it dovetails perfectly with my view of D-Link. Every D-Link product I’ve ever come across looks fantastic on paper. They tick all of the boxes and always have all of the features I’m looking for, with an almost suspiciously low price compared to their competitors. Without fail, those features turn out to be half baked or supremely lacking. I once bought a D-Link router that touted a USB port that let you connect an external drive to create a networked file server, only to find out that each computer needed D-Link’s software installed to access it, and only one machine could connect at a time. I don’t have to buy this product to know that it is guaranteed to be the same story with Staples Connect.
- This currently supports Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave and Lutron Clear Connect. Many people are complaining that outside of that, the list of products that this works with is short, and development seems to have halted. This product competes directly with the significantly more popular Wink and Smartthings hubs and is likely a distant afterthought when it comes to integration with flagship products like Apple Homekit and Nest devices.
- The price. This is currently $80, priced right between the much more well established Smartthings and Wink. They are representing themselves as being a better value than Smartthings, but more feature rich than Wink. Even if all three were the same price, I would trust Samsung and Wink more than Staples/D-Link.
Home automation is an expensive field to get involved with. While there are areas where I would recommend searching for hidden gems or value products, infrastructure is not one of them. A hub is a backbone product, meaning it is a device around which you will build your entire smart home. As I mentioned in Part 1 of my Getting Started with Home Automation guide, your router and hub are two of the most important devices in your entire smart home. Do yourself a favor and purchase one of the established products from a more reputable name in home automation.