Looking for advice around google home/fire tv/smartthings hub (Smart Home Starter Pack gift for new parents)

First off sorry if this is not quite the right place to ask this its just the most appropriate I could find.

Short version: I am trying to get my brother/his family a “smart home” starter pack of sorts for christmas. The main point I am worried about is google home not being able to control a fire tv stick. Is this possible? if there were an echo dot in the system? etc etc. I know it cannot control it “directly” but I was hoping that was something that the smartthings hub could do.

Long version: Where do I even start in this… there is so much stuff!!! At this moment the plan is:
2x Google Home
1x Fire tv stick
1x SmartThings Hub
1x ecobee thermo (bit of a budget breaker)
4x Bulbs (what brand for general lighting is best? leaning towards philips just out of name recog)
2x GE smart dimmer z-wave

Goal being to get them started and give them something to tinker with. Am I even going down the right path? Is there anything in that list that is a definite mistake? I would just go with it and iron things out later if I knew that google home could infact control the fire tv stick via smartthings hub.

Also he and his wife are new parents is there anything that you folks ran into that you would have absolutely loved in this area when you were a new parent?

Its very hard to know if you are on the right path looking at this stuff from the outside… Everything I see “works together” but not really if once you start reading.

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Sounds like a great idea for a present!

Unfortunately, SmartThings by itself can’t control the fire TV. It has to have a Logitech Harmony hub in between.

The good news is that the Google Home by itself can work with a Logitech Harmony Hub.

So you could just use Google Home plus Logitech Harmony Home hub plus fire TV for voice control, you don’t have to have smartthings in the picture at all for that.



As far as stuff for new parents, you might take a look at the project reports for “nursery” on the quick browse list in the community – created wiki just to see what some other community members of done. :sunglasses:


Also, for most people smart switches will work better than smart bulbs. The main reasons to get smart bulbs are because you really want the color changing feature, or you are renting and you are not allowed to change out the switches, or you want to create zone Lighting in an area where there is only one wall switch.

Now it may that you want color lighting anyway just for fun. :tada: It’s definitely impressive. But in your situation with your budget, I might consider just one or two of the LIFX mini bulbs. These can work with Google Home with or without SmartThings. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Phillips hue and I use that brand in my own home. But they will be more expensive and if you’re doing switches anyway and you just want color for the “wow, cool!” effect, LIFX Will be a less expensive option with simpler set up. They can always add a hue bridge themselves later if they want to get into that line.

Also, this may not be obvious, but you should not put the smart bulbs under control of the smart switch. You want the bulbs to always remain on power. Not just so they can hear the next “on” come in from the network, but because frequently turning the power on and off to a smart phone with any brand will significantly shorten the life of What are already very expensive bulbs. So it’s usually best to put these in a table lamp sort of out of the way to encourage people to use the voice control for them. There are buttons and switches and stuff that you can get that can work with them without causing any problem, but then that adds more cost.

So one cute nursery lamp with one LIFX mini bulb just for fun and color changing might make the most sense for your starter kit. :bulb:

Why not pairing ecosystems? Why not going Echo and Fire or Google Home and Chromecast?

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Ahh Thank you for the reply. The SmartThings Hub I planned on because on the control side of things google home didn’t really seem to be great. Also I was worried about compatibility which my understanding of it SmartThings basically helps in both those areas in a big way. I had seen things about the logitech harmony but it looks like it mostly just mimics remote button presses. I was hoping for some way to preserve the ability to say “play alpha house episode one” just without the need of the fire tv remote or alexa (replacing them with google home)

Because Amazon does not play nice with others… I wouldn’t have them in any point of the system but I know my brother likes Amazon Video which is completely unavailable (without running a plex server or jumping through other hoops) on chromecast

And as far as new parents, the number one thing they usually want is a baby monitor.

Most people choose either google home plus Chromecast or choose echo plus fire TV. It’s unusual to mix them like that. Is there any particular reason that you’re doing it?

Because otherwise I would suggest getting two echo spots to be a baby monitor setup Plus the fire TV and not get the Google homes at all. Then you don’t need the Logitech Harmony either because an echo device plus fire stick gives you excellent voice control.

So if it was me, I would get:

2 Echo spots $260
1 fire TV stick $39
1 LIFX mini $40

For a baby monitor, a voice assistant, and a fun color changing light. That would cost significantly less than your two google homes, fire stick, 4 bulbs, a Hue bridge, and a Logitech Harmony, and would include the baby monitor function, which I honestly think they’re going to really like.

And then whatever you want to set up for your smart switches.

But different people like different things, and some have a strong preference for Google home, so choice is good. :sunglasses:

SmartThings itself has neither an IR blaster nor an active Bluetooth radio. So it can’t go the last mile to actually send a command to the audiovisual equipment. That’s what the harmony is for. And it does much more than just simple button presses, depending on the device that it’s communicating with.

The Harmony is an excellent device, very popular, and again I use it in my own home. But if all you want is a starter kit for voice control of television, it’s really hard to beat firestick plus an echo device right now, for both features and price.

Google home by itself has great control of Chromecast – – but only for a couple of services, such as Netflix. It doesn’t have Prime Video, as you noted.

So there are just a lot of options. :sunglasses:

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I apparently completely overlooked the Echo Spot that is actually a great idea. SmartThings I thought was more of a translator to make sure your different devices could work together. Also that it made setup easier with a more robust gui for automation. It was so he could expand as time went on without having to worry about compatibility and I had been reading that google home/alexa alone were sometimes glitchy/problematic depending on the smart device they were working with.

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Google home has had a number of different issues regarding home automation, but the echo has been solid all along. Glitches have generally been the fault of the Device they were integrating to, and that includes SmartThings. :wink:

the main reason that they have sold literally tens of millions of devices is that they do work. And keep working. :sunglasses:

For a starter kit, I would keep it simple. They can always add more stuff later.

SmartThings is a very powerful, versatile low cost system, but right now it requires a lot of fiddly maintenance just to keep things going the way they were. That’s worth it to a lot of people who want that power, but new parents probably have other things to do with their time then figure out why a light switch that has been working great for three months suddenly isn’t working. Just sayin’… :wink:


You’re right that Amazon and Google don’t play well with each other.

I would not get a Google Home and Fire stick. Echos/Dots can control Fire TV products, but Google may have issues. Instead look into the Roku. It plays Amazon Prime Instant videos just a Fire stick does and all the services like any other USB type player will. It doesn’t have issues with Google like Amazon does.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I have both Roku and a fire stick because each has different pluses and minuses. But as far as I know there’s no Google Home integration with Roku. So you would still need to buy a harmony home hub to integrate with the Roku.

It’s simpler, and cheaper, to just get a fire TV stick and an echo device.

FWIW, I have chromecasts, fire sticks and rokus on my TV’s. I have found the Harmony to be the best at allowing my Google Home to control various aspects of them. Without it, your really limiting yourself to a single ecosystem. I like being able to “cast” things to the tv when I want. I also like the interfaces of the fire stick and the roku. I haven’t had issues with my Google home and home automation in quite awhile. Granted, in the beginning, it was a struggle but Google seems to be on track now. My kids have the Amazon echos and personally, I think the Google is better at recognizing commands where they echo likes them to be fairly rigid. The Google home also seems better at just general information retrieval. Just my opinion.

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There is a way to control Roku with Amazon or Google. But I think there are some major limitations.

The Google Home is better at answering homework questions. It’s oddly worse at sports news, which really surprised me.

If I say “echo, how did the Warriors do?” It will tell me how they did in the last game played, and then when their next game is.

If I asked the exact same question of Google home, all It tells me is when the next game is, which isn’t what I want to know.

But for a lot of other “look it up on Wikipedia” type questions, the Google definitely does better. And Google Home is way better at traffic information and travel itineraries.

As far as home automation control, both google home and echo are good, with a few differences. If someone is looking for a choice for themselves I usually recommend that they buy both and just return the one they don’t like as well. :wink:

When gifting to someone else, though, unless they already have Chromecast, I would generally go with echo. I also think the Amazon customer support is better for less technical people.