Buy now or wait?


(Stefan Giudici) #1

Hi everyone! I’m quite torn on what to do. I ordered a package on Amazon and I’m anxiously awaiting getting starting with Smartthings, but now I’m seeing that V2.0 is due out roughly soon-ish. I’m hesistent to be the last on line to buy version 1 with what appears to be a worthwhile upgrade around the corner.

I’m particularly happy that they’re moving to cloud-free, or at least not cloud-mandatory option, less so for security concerns and more so because I’ve seen lag being an issue for some people (which I suppose is to be expected when a signal has to travel 5000 miles from my couch to my lamp). I’m not new to home automation, but I have taken a roughly 8 year break from having anything set up, and I’m really excited to tinker with the new technology and see where the industry has gone this decade. I’ve done some coding in my life so I’m not terrified of the platform, but I do wonder if version two will launch with an upgraded app/software, and possibly a native rules editor so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I want a button to turn on my coffee machine. If there is a new software version, I suppose it will apply to V1 owners anyway, or the whole thing will reek of planned obsolescence, unless it is really specific to the local nature and a step far away from cloud based signals.

I did do some lurking before I signed up, but was curious if this vibrant community had any guesses on a release day, and what you would do as an adopter at this point in development. My current plan is toy with it for the 30 days I have, see if any new release date is given, and make the call on returning it when I’m under more pressure to do so. That, or fall in love with it, or possibly send it back this week in a fit of frustration!

Thanks!


(Geko) #2

V2 was announced in January (at CES) and was originally scheduled to release in April. The April came and went and ST did not give a firm new release date. All they said that it’ll be released “when ready”, likely in August. Personally, I don’t hold my breath. And even if it is released in August, I’m not going to rush to upgrade. Given ST track record, every new software release brings a new host of issues and breaks something. V1 has many problems, but it’s the devil we know, while V2 is going to be the one we don’t.


(Stefan Giudici) #3

You don’t suspect that the Samsung buyout would lead to smoother rollouts?


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #4

Hub V2 is still “cloud mandatory” in the sense that the Cloud is required for all smartphone App use and any configuration changes. The Hub V2 is just a cache capable of local device handler and SmartApp execution.

And… No: So far Samsung resources have not had a visible quality impact on the Platform, but perhaps eventually…


(Morgan) #5

I imagine the Samsung buyout will just increase the roll out times, I don’t really see them being smoother, if anything more complicated as Samsung will push to get features into ST that fit with the rest of their platform.

What functions are you planning to use ST for? Are you going to use it for automation or remote control of your house? security?


(Erik Thayer) #6

Ehhhh, I’m not so sure about that. I’m pretty sure that Sammy has pressured ST into less of iOS focus and more on Android and Samsung watch.

Not saying they forced the ST team to leave iOS in the dust or anything, but the following ST app releases from the platform has me thinking that more focus is placed on Android now… which makes a lot of sense. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but goes to show you there’s pressure to change how they operate.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #7

I meant “increased quality” specifically due to Samsung. If you consider greater Android focus to qualify, I concede, but that’s a small part of the platform.


(Geko) #8

I see no evidence of that. IOS app releases still come out roughly every month. What’s not coming out is the “new and improved” UI that was promised long time ago. ST supposedly hired UI experts (or were they given to them by Sammy?). I’m sure the new UI will knock our socks off (or not). :smile:


(Erik Thayer) #9

Maybe I’m biased. There are a few errors in the iOS platform around dynamic pages that don’t occur on Android. The platforms often don’t behave the same. That being said, they’re not doing a too terrible job at it. They just miss things.

Like I said, they’re not leaving iOS in the dust by any means, they just no longer put a heavier weight on dev of the iOS platform, which they did back in the beginning days. Again, this might not be a bad thing.

Without Sammy, I think we would have seen a stronger push on iOS which would have left Android delayed in features. They used to release things on iOS months before Android. I had an Android device. This was annoying to me. They no longer do this.

Sammy has effected quality of the platform. Maybe for the worse if you have iOS. Probably for the better if you have Android. Global scope of things, MAYBE you could say no change… but I feel that’s a oversimplification. Who knows.


#10

We don’t really have any idea of what V2 will have, when it will be delivered, what it will cost, how/if the V1 can still be used after V2 is released, or what the migration path might be.

The one thing we can feel pretty confident of is that zwave and zigbee devices that work with V1 will also work with V2.

So it all comes down to whether you have use cases that would be immediately solved by V1, whether you’re willing to invest the $99 for the V1 hub knowing you might want to replace it after V2 comes out, and the value you put on your own time in making V1 work the way you want it to now.

All very personal decisions.

Some people enjoy having the challenge of setting things up and coding custom versions and so their time spent with V1 is just more of that hobby. In that case, sure, go ahead.

If you’re looking for a low maintenance plug and play option, V1 is not likely to be it. (Can’t say yet how much closer V2 will be.)

As an example, I use a built-in SmartThings feature to do one and only one thing–change the house “status” to “Home” from “Asleep” at 8 a.m. every morning. It does not always work. I’m not talking about anything that’s supposed to happen after the status change. Just the initial step of changing one value for one variable at a fixed time every day.

So you can imagine that once you know something that simple isn’t reliable, it’s hard to invest a lot into complex setups dependent on the current version.

On the other hand, there are people doing much more complex things with SmartThings who are very happy with it and keep adding more. They see any trigger failure as a minor glitch because they can immediately correct it manually. As a quad, just opening the app is a chore for me, so it’s a different benefit/reward calculation for me.

So again, different for everyone. At this point since you’ve already ordered it, I see no harm in trying it out and seeing what you think. As long as you’re aware that we do not as yet have any details on V2, so it’s hard to factor that into the equation.


#11

I too am waiting for the V2 Hub. However, after yesterdays Apple announcement about HomeKit, the game is about to change. Maybe ST knew this was coming and that is why ST held back the release of V2 to make sure it was HomeKit ready?


(Stefan Giudici) #12

I just got my kit in the mail today. I’m going to play with it till day 29 then send it back and wait for version two. Not because I’m encountering hardware difficulty, but I refuse to accept that they would go through the trouble of making a new device and continue to run it on such horrendously designed software. My God is this thing stupid. I could flush my toilet with X10 from across the world with a blackberry almost a decade ago, but THIS is the best we have now? How this thing shipped without a rule system is beyond me. I’m sure as I get more familiar I’ll be able to do some cool things with it, it’s thus far been pretty snappy, so I know it has potential, but I really shouldn’t have to learn a new scripting language to turn my lights on.

While I have your attention, I have some issues that might be either actual problems, or things I may be able to fix, so I will list them and if you can help with any or all of them, feel free to let me know!

  1. If a macro or smartcode or whatever its called turns something on, it’s status isn’t reflected as on in the things menu. e.g. if I say turn on appliance when motion, it turns on the appliance, but the appliance is still reflected as off on things menu.

  2. If I turn on an appliance manually by hitting the button on the smart plug, again the status still reads as off in the app. If I want to make sure everything is actually off and not just running while I’m away I have to turn it on and off from within the app to have some assurance. I assume these two things are linked, and indicative of my devices not communicating back to the app what its status is. Either that or this is a huge design oversight.

  3. The dongle location thing seems to work mostly, but can I adjust the range/signal strength of it. I live in a pretty dense city. Being within a quarter mile or so of home just means I’m either home, or at school, or at most of my friends houses. I originally bought it to make sure my dog is in my apartment. My dog being 15 blocks away is a big big problem, and it appears I wouldn’t know about it!

  4. The cell phone tracking is ridiculous, I was 15 blocks away and it was telling me I’m home! I had wifi off on my device, I assume thats how the phone is tracked, please tell me that if I use wifi all the time that this system will actually know when I’m home and away, otherwise it undercuts the value of having home and away modes.

Thanks in advance!


#13

Some places to start for a quick review of some of the relevant issues:

.

The presence sensor fob is a zigbee fob–it should have a maximum range of 100 feet, usually more like 50. Range is not adjustable for this device.

The phone based presence is different technology–it has a minimum range of 250 feet and may indicate much farther. Range is adjustable outward from the minimum.

As for status…everything should update eventually, but both zigbee and zwave are mesh technologies and on top of that there is a Lutron patent issue specific to lights.

So for checking when you’re on vacation, no problem-- within 15 minutes, statuses should be updated. but it’s not like a star topology like WiFi: you don’t have constant real time monitoring of each device. It’s more of a sampling model, which means individual devices can be cheaper in both energy and money. That’s not a SmartThings issue, it’s true for any zwave or zigbee mesh install.


(Stefan Giudici) #14

I re-added my outlet and issue 2, and I’d imagine (but haven’t tested) 1, have cleared up. That’s a great start!


(Mike S) #15

Way back when Samsung was in the PC business, I was a vendor supplying them with systems level software for their PCs. Their top priority was always revenue and quality was never something that they would let slow down a release date. They wanted to be first to market and were willing to absorb the returns that that resulted in. Watching them now, I don’t see anything to indicate that they have changed their business model. Just my opinion.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #16

Huh?

I seem to observe the opposite, currently, with respect to the SmartThings wholly owned subsidiary.

Hub V2 has been delayed from an original target release date of April, to July, and now to “Q3”. This will be the first “product” released under Samsung’s ownership. They are clearly not rushing this to market, and, instead, spending time on intensive quality assurance.


(Mike S) #17

Stefan,

Like you I am waiting for a package from Amazon to arrive with my Hub. There’s no way to tell when the new version will be released; it could come tomorrow and then again it might not show up for months. But as others have said, when it does come, you can be sure that there will be all sorts of new release issues, both software and hardware to deal with.

I waited until I saw what Apple announced this week and made the decision that HomeKit isn’t going to be real factor in the market this year. So I jumped. All of the devices that I’m buying to connect to ST will be zwave, as I’m just not convinced that there are enough Zigbee platforms out there (other than ST) to insure that platforms long term viability.

So I decided to go with the current technology and then wait to see when V2 stabilizes. I’m betting that all of the work I put into it now will be preserved across to the next Hub and the $99 I spent on this version is something that I can afford to overlook a year or so from now.


#18

Zigbee itself will be around for quite awhile. It’s used in high end home automation systems like Control4, in cable TV set top boxes and smart meters, and in some subscription automation services like Peq and Xfinity Home.

Just as importantly, nest’s Thread Group has a cooperative agreement with zigbee as Thread recognized the value of zigbee ultra low power sensors.

Plus, you know, smart bulbs like Philips Hue, where zigbee dominates the market for some technical reasons (smaller antennas and ability to go past 260 devices in one install).

Zigbee is also widely used in medical monitoring.

I like zwave, but if I had to pick between zwave and zigbee for the one most likely to still be used in home automation 5 years from now, I’d put ten bucks on zigbee. The Thread acknowledgement is a recognition that zigbee has some real advantage for small battery operated sensors and for light bulbs.

That said, I wouldn’t count zwave out, either. It’s one reason I like the ST vision: I do think different protocols suit different purposes.

FWIW.