Every system has pluses and minuses. There’s no one market leader yet. It just comes down to what you yourself need.
Systems where the hub cost less than $500 are all considered in the “very inexpensive” range. That includes smartthings, Iris, wink, insteon, etc.
Wink has two big problems at the moment.
First, in terms of daily use, there is significant lag between, say, flipping a switch and having the lights go on. This is probably the number one complaint about it by people who already have it installed.
The second is that their parent company is literally going through bankruptcy right now. The asset auction is scheduled for next month. They are trying to sell the home automation piece, wink, separately, but so far the only better is the company that makes the hardware for it, and they don’t really want it they just want to get someone else to bid higher for it.
So there is a very real danger that if you buy wink, the cloud service part will disappear in a few months. Everyone hopes that isn’t true, but the company is out of money. I would wait on that one.
If you think smart things it’s expensive, you probably will not be interested insteon, although it’s the most mature and has a nice user-friendly app. And a very wide variety of devices.
Staples connect is definitely easier to use than smartthings, and the hub costs a bit less, but has a very limited set of devices. Very reliable. It’s worth looking at.
Iris has a monthly fee if you want to use most of its features, and they’re just putting out a whole new model line now. I think I would wait on that one just to see how the new models work.
So there are a lot of possible candidates, but not necessarily anything that exactly matches what you were looking for. I think you would probably like the feature set from Insteon the best, but it may be out of your price range.
Second to that, I would look at Staples connect before I looked at week just because of the company instability and the lag in daily use.
My personal guess, and it’s just a guess, is that by next summer, 2016, there will be multiple plug-and-play home automation options available in the inexpensive category. But we just aren’t there yet. So I decided to go ahead and just do a phase 1 last year with a limited budget, the doorlock, some lights, and some voice control of my television, and stop there and wait to see what will be available in the market matures.
But there are other people who have gone ahead and automated their entire homes with everything from sound systems to lighting in every room. It’s just a personal decision. There will be a lot of different opinions.