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.
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.
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. Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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