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UPDATE: Poorly Reviewed Wink Home Automation no Longer ‘Under Review’ by Amazon

Reviewers have not been kind to the new Wink home automation system from GE-backed Quirky. Amazon just put the product ‘under review’ but the status could reflect little more than a logistical bump.


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Wink home automation ‘under review’ at Amazon.com

UPDATE: Amazon has dropped “under review” designation from the Wink Hub page.

The brand new Wink home automation system, a spin-off of GE-backed Quirky, looked so promising: a big retail deal with The Home Depot, no monthly fees, an ambitious 24/7 tech support line, and support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, ZigBee and Lutron Caseta.

But so far, no one seems to like the product, especially Amazon, which just put the Wink Hub “under review,” although not necessarily because of reviews. The designation could be due to nothing more than a few misplaced commas.

A notice posted on the Wink Hub page yesterday (apparently) indicates:

Item Under Review
This item is currently unavailable because customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it’s described here. (Thanks for the tip!)

We’re working to fix the problem as quickly as possible

The new status (image below) could very well have nothing to do with the product’s performance – perhaps it is only about “the way we are shipping it” – but the reviews on the site are bad to mediocre, with an average 2.5 rating out of 5.

The titles of the reviews tell all:

I really want this to work
Not ready for primetime at launch … improving
Does not work :(
Not ready for prime time, might be a curious device to hack
Will not work with WEP security - requires degree from MIT to attach to wifi
Good for now. Shows promise.
Wanted to like it so badly
Not ready for reliable use yet
Paired easily with a lock, but limited functionality

One “reviewer” who received a free product in exchange for her review, gave the product five stars – like virtually all the free products she has reviewed for Amazon (not so for the products he/she actually bought).

I somehow doubt that the reviewer really was able to pair and enroll ZigBee, Z-Wave, 6LoWPAN and Lutron Caseta products “simply and easily.”

Even experienced smart-home reviewers can’t seem to enroll anything but Wink’s/Quirky’s own products.

Stacey Higgenbotham of GigaOm, who advised readers to “Wait on Wink” couldn’t enroll Z-Wave, ZigBee and Lutron devices into the system.

That was the same assessment of a highly experienced industry peer who had the same problems.

The consensus seems to be that the system works OK with Wink and Quirky products, but not (yet) with other standards-based devices.

This Amazon reviewer noted:

Now for the Z-Wave, well I’ve tried everything under the sun and have had no luck whatsoever. The switches are GE 45639 or more appropriately Jasco ZW3003. I’ve tried and tried to pair the switches to the Wink Hub, but it is just not working. I’m not sure if these are Z-Wave Plus switches or not, but according to Wink, they should work.

There is hope, however. The reviewer decided to call Wink tech support, which sent detailed instructions on how to pair Z-Wave devices. That did the trick.

My firm belief is that Wink really cares about their customers and that in the long run, support of multiple communications protocols will win out. Now I’m going to see what other trouble I can get into with this hub, LOL.

So Wink had a bad start. Big deal. Every new product in the history of home automation had a bad start.  At least Wink didn’t have to recall 440,000 unsafe smoke detectors.

Surely the platform will improve. If not, there is always that stellar always-available tech support.

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Wink home automation hub “under review” by Amazon
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Article Topics

News · Product News · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Diy · Wink · Home Depot · Quirky · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

9 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Lorenzo Martinez  on  08/13  at  01:50 PM

Hi Julie,
The Wink is available on Amazon as of this moment.  Strange, but true!

Posted by Bradley Elliott  on  08/13  at  01:50 PM

When will these companies learn… you get what you pay for an even then… home automation from a big box.  I am not worried… but what I do worry about is now some clients can be gun shy about doing anything.

Posted by touch33  on  08/13  at  01:58 PM

Just what every home automation client wants – a “Quirky” control system. 

So surprised at all of the negative reviews – I’m sure the product is just as ingenious as the folks that named the company.

Quirky.  Srsly?

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  08/13  at  02:46 PM

Oh come now, Bradley ... when was the last time you saw an expensive home automation system launch without a hitch?

Posted by Bradley Elliott  on  08/13  at  03:02 PM

This is true…  but seems like most of those have a quick turn around to solve the issues.  Your going to see families of apps circle the wagon… e.g. Nest, will loop in other controls within their own app.

Posted by shownuff  on  08/13  at  06:10 PM

Works fine with caseta dimmers for me, but I didn’t use the app.  I hacked it instead using:  http://dc22.gtvhacker.com/index.php/Wink_Hub​​

Now I can interface with compatible products on my terms and the evil cloud won’t track me.  And all for 99c.  Thanks, Quirky!

Posted by Kevin Hiser  on  08/13  at  06:48 PM

I bought one of these the week it came out at Home Depot.  I figured with a deal of $.99 for the hub when you bought two accessories I could not go wrong.  I bought 2 Lutron Caseta switches at that point and got the hub.

I then bought 2 GE switches from Lowe’s that are designed for their Iris system.  Needless to say I was able to pair everything without a problem.  The only problem I have experienced is that the GE switches do not report their status (on/off) back to the Hub when controlled by a scheduled event.  (i.e. I have the two switches on outside lights of my house and a schedule to turn them on / off at designated times.)

Overall I have been very pleased with the system.  It is early and has so much promise and their support team is freaking awesome!  I believe that for a startup on their first version they are doing just fine.  I am convinced that they will make this a great system as they continue to mature.

Worst case, My devices will work with another hub and I could by a hub from another vendor and I am out $.99. 

I am amazed at those the gripe and moan so much about little things.  If they have ever tried to launch a business they would realize it is not easy and will have bumps.  As long as they support their clients, mature the offering, etc they will keep my loyalty.

Just my $.02

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  08/13  at  06:53 PM

I share your confidence, Kevin. Wink knew it wouldn’t be easy, and they back it up with unprecedented tech support. That certainly bodes well.

Posted by dakota  on  08/13  at  08:02 PM

The system only supports 3 Z-Wave classes, so it can’t control much, and it barely supports those classes. I don’t get why people jump on these new systems when there are existing systems that work so much better? I can only assume its the low price. Note that they have a “motion sensor”, but it detects physical motion of the device (like shaking it), not motion in a room, how useful is that? And the docs don’t say that anywhere!

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