HomeTechnologyNewsSwitchBot Hub Mini review: Making infrared devices smart

SwitchBot Hub Mini review: Making infrared devices smart

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Ratings:

8/10

?

  • 1 – Doesn’t work
  • 2 – Barely functional
  • 3 – Very poor in most areas
  • 4 – It works, but has numerous problems
  • 5 – Good but leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great and worth buying
  • 8 – Fantastic, approaching the best of its class
  • 9 – Top of his class
  • 10 – Borderline perfection

Price:
From $39

Bill Loguidice/Instruction Geek

The SwitchBot Hub Mini is an infrared emitter that transmits remote commands to one or more devices that offer infrared control. Although IR technology isn’t found in every new electronic device, there are enough devices out there to make the SwitchBot Hub Mini a useful tool.

If you already own something like SwitchBot Lock or SwitchBot Bot, SwitchBot Hub Mini is the only way to control those devices outside of local Bluetooth range from anywhere with an Internet connection. If you have a use for it, this little box can add connected intelligence to otherwise dumb devices.

How-To Geek’s expert reviewers get right down to business with every product we review. We put each piece of hardware through hours of real-world testing and benchmark it in our lab. We never accept payments to endorse or review a product and we never add other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Introduction to the SwitchBot Hub Mini

The contents of the SwitchBot Hub Mini box spread out on a black table
Bill Loguidice/Instruction Geek
  • Product Size: 2.6 x 2.6 x 0.8 inches (65 x 65 x 20mm)
  • Weight: 1.3oz (36g)
  • Power inputs: DC 5V, 1A

The SwitchBot Hub Mini is a direct replacement for the company’s older SwitchBot Hub Plus At about half the size and weight, and using USB power instead of an AC-to-DC adapter, the SwitchBot kept all the same features in a similar package. to a significantly sleeker drive.

The SwitchBot Hub Plus is housed in a nondescript all-white case and weighs next to nothing at a slim 1.3 ounces (36 grams). It can sit flat on a table with its rubber feet or be hung on a wall with its central mounting hole, also known as a keyhole slot. No mounting hardware is included, other than a 3M adhesive, which is placed over the keyhole slot area following the printed guidelines.

There’s nothing else in the package aside from a 5-foot (1.5-meter) long USB-C cable and an instruction manual. A power brick is not included, but the SwitchBot Hub Mini works with any 5V 1A power supply that has a USB-A input type. Of course, the included cable might be too short for some situations, so replacing it with something longer or a USB-C to USB-C connector would open up additional possibilities.

Configuration and use of the application

SwitchBot Hub Mini on a table next to a TV and sound bar
Bill Loguidice/Instruction Geek
  • Infrared range: Line of sight up to 32.8 yards (30 meters), 360 degree vertical, 180 degree horizontal
  • Wifi: 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz only)
  • Bluetooth: 4.2 or higher, up to 87.5 yards (80 meters)
  • OS Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS 10.0+, watchOS 1.0+
  • Thirdparty services: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTT, Siri

As is typical with SwitchBot products, setup involves turning on the device and installing the SwitchBot app (available for iPhone and Android), which requires creating a SwitchBot account. When positioned horizontally, the SwitchBot Hub Mini’s IR range is about 30 meters (98 feet) in a 180 degree span, which means the signal travels from the top and bottom of the unit, as well as from the front, but not from the sides.

When hung vertically, the SwitchBot Hub Mini’s infrared range is the same, but the signal travels in a full 360-degree pattern, including the left and right sides. Since IR signals always require a line of site between the two communication devices, neither location orientation allows the signal to travel from behind (below) the unit.

Once turned on, the SwitchBot Hub Mini emits a slow white light on the front of the unit. Following the instructions in the app, I pressed the Add/Reset button until the drive’s LED indicator light blinked rapidly.

From there, it took a few seconds before I was prompted to give the device a name, select its room, and enter my Wi-Fi information.

In terms of Wi-Fi, it only works on 2.4GHz networks, but it had no problem connecting with my mixed-mode Eero 6+ mesh network, which isn’t always the case with other devices with that requirement. After updating the firmware I was good to go.

The first step in the app is to add a remote control feature. There are more than a dozen types of devices in the app, from air conditioners to air purifiers and more, including “Others”. For my test, I tested the Hub Mini with our family room TV (LG Super UHD LED TV SJ8570), which can be controlled via IR. I selected the TV category and followed the prompts to match it to the remote. The impressive database of TVs was able to match my TV model on the first try, giving me a full-function remote right on my phone, as well as a device widget in the app. The database of other device types included is equally impressive.

It’s important to note that despite its significant database of product types and branded products, using the “Other” category is still an option. However, remotes created in the Other category and custom buttons don’t work with third-party services like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Perhaps the app’s most powerful feature is the ability to set times and scenes. For example, you can turn on the radio at a certain time in the morning or set the air conditioner to a certain temperature so it’s ready when you get home. For me, the best feature was finally being able to control my SwitchBot Lock from anywhere I have an internet connection. I was also able to add Alexa voice control to lock and unlock my door from almost any room in my house, which is especially nice when I don’t have my phone next to me.

Finally, in the SwitchBot app, you can turn the SwitchBot Hub Mini’s indicator light on or off and decide whether it should stay on in standby mode. You can also pair an NFC tag to create a function shortcut where you simply touch the tag to your phone or tablet to quickly launch the desired preset function.

In short, if there’s something you need to tweak, automate, or have done, with a little imagination you can probably figure out how to do it between the hub and app features.

Should you buy the SwitchBot Hub Mini?

If you’re looking for a good IR blaster, the SwitchBot Hub Mini is a surprisingly solid pick. If you only want to automate one or two IR-based devices, the SwitchBot Hub Mini is priced low enough that it makes sense to incorporate it into your smart home setup. Of course, if you own other SwitchBot devices, such as SwitchBot Lock or SwitchBot Bot, this one is a must. Going from Bluetooth range control to anywhere with an Internet connection makes smart enterprise automation devices even more useful.

Some of the downsides include the relatively short USB-C cable and lack of power supply, but both are minor inconveniences at worst. You may also need to purchase additional Switch Hub Mini units depending on where your IR-based devices are located. Again, though, with its relatively low price and easy setup, if you need additional hubs, there are no significant obstacles to making it happen. Overall, it’s a great option to add to your connected smart home ecosystem.

Ratings:
8/10

?

  • 1 – Doesn’t work
  • 2 – Barely functional
  • 3 – Very poor in most areas
  • 4 – It works, but has numerous problems
  • 5 – Good but leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great and worth buying
  • 8 – Fantastic, approaching the best of its class
  • 9 – Top of his class
  • 10 – Borderline perfection

Price:
From $39

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