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Amazon Echo Hub review: A handy remote control for your smart home

Our Rating :
£169.99 from
Price when reviewed : £170
inc VAT

Amazon’s Echo Hub makes your smart home kit more accessible but it’s no magic bullet


  • Simple to use once set up
  • Neat and unobtrusive
  • Presence sensor is a nice touch


  • Needs more customisability
  • No Z Wave support

The Amazon Echo Hub is here and it’s on a mission to solve one of the knottiest problems in today’s smart home: to bring all your smart devices together in one place and make them easier to access and control.

Anyone who has ever bought anything with the words “smart” and “tech” in the title will appreciate that this is a laudable aim. Who wouldn’t want all the lights, switches, plugs and cameras in their home to be easily controllable from one place without the need for a hundred apps and extra hub hardware?

The question is, can the Amazon Echo Hub deliver? Or should you just embrace the chaos and save yourself £170?

Amazon Echo Hub review: What do you get for the money?

On the face of it, you might want to give the Echo Hub a pass, as it’s more expensive than the Amazon Echo Show 8 and appears to be less capable, too. The Echo Hub has the same 8in, 1,280 x 800 resolution screen and far-field microphones for picking up voice commands, but it lacks a high-quality speaker and it has no camera for video calls. It does have a speaker, but it isn’t intended for listening to music; you’ll get better audio quality from an Echo Pop.

With both devices compatible across a range of smart home wireless protocols – Zigbee, Matter, Thread, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Amazon Sidewalk – the choice seems obvious. Why would you not just go out and buy an Echo Show 8 instead?

There are a couple of key differences, however, which might convince you otherwise. The first focuses on the software the Echo Hub uses and its user interface. Where the Echo Show 8 sits on your countertop and plays music through its speakers, the Echo Hub is designed with the smart home – and only the smart home – in mind.

Its user interface is largely given over to the control of lights, plugs, switches and cameras. And it’s also slimmer and less obtrusive, measuring a mere 15mm thick and weighing 364g. It’s specifically designed to be wall-mounted and comes supplied with a bracket, screws and wall plugs, allowing you to do exactly that, while a small cut out at the rear complete with clips, allows you to keep the mains cable nice and tidy.

You can mount the Echo Hub on a stand if you want, but the official accessory is a rather pricey optional extra at £30 and using this sort of misses the point. The Echo Hub is supposed to be placed somewhere central, where everyone in the house can access it.

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Amazon Echo Hub review: What do we like about it?

That laser focus on smart home automation means the Echo Hub does its job pretty well. The user interface is clean, configurable and very easy to understand. That’s important as it’s a device that will likely sit at the centre of your home – one that every household member will interact with.

The UI is split into three key areas: down the left-hand side is a list of shortcuts to the Home page, your Routines, Echo speakers and any groups and rooms you have previously set up in the Alexa app on your phone. Tap one of these entries and the devices in that group or room pop up in the main central part of the screen, ready to be activated or viewed with another tap. 

Along the bottom of the main screen, all your smart home devices are grouped by type. Simply tap to select all your heating or cooling devices in the Climate section, list all your cameras or list your smart plugs and switches.

The main panel on the Home Screen, meanwhile, is a customisable area you can use to display various widgets – representing rooms or groups, your favourites and so on – alongside informational bits and bobs. It’s possible to add a weather forecast here, your calendar appointments, shopping list and so on, although that seems a bit of a waste of screen space to me.

This being an Echo device, there’s also voice recognition via Alexa, so you can give it the same commands you would any other Echo speaker, from turning on the lights and plug sockets to playing the radio, setting timers and reading the weather forecast. As with Amazon’s other smart screen, you can also use it as a photo frame for your family snaps or get it to display works of art when it goes into standby.

Generally, this all works well. Voice recognition is as effective as it is with Amazon’s other Echo devices, picking up my voice accurately, even while mumbling quietly late at night. The speaker is clear and surprisingly full-bodied, too, and I also like that the Hub’s presence sensor fires up the screen as you approach – a nice touch. You can also mute the microphone by pressing a button on the right side of the device, and adjust the volume manually as well.

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Amazon Echo Hub review: What could it do better?

The Echo Hub does have its limitations, however, some of which are just plain baffling. One of these is that you can’t rename, delete or hide devices on the Hub itself – you have to hop over and do it on your phone instead. This is a relatively simple task, so why not allow users to do it right there on the screen? You can’t even add Routines to groups, only devices.

Indeed, beyond being able to add and rearrange the position of onscreen widgets, there’s frustratingly little you can do to customise the way the home screen looks and functions. I added a “Heating” group for my Hive thermostat and three smart radiator valves, and the Echo Hub would only display the first three items in the home screen widget, hiding the fourth away behind a “See all.. “ button. Let me reduce the size of those buttons and I’d be able to see and use them all directly, without having to drill down.

The biggest issue, however, is that the Echo Hub doesn’t overcome the one big problem it’s designed to solve: the fragmentation of smart home tech. To do that it would have to work perfectly across all standards and with every device it finds, and it’s a long way from doing that. It doesn’t support the Z Wave protocol, for starters, and there are plenty of devices it should work with that it doesn’t.

Now, I can’t really criticise the Echo Hub for this. It’s as much the fault of the market and third-party devices. But unless you own 100% Amazon-branded smart home products, your experience will likely mirror mine, and you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time resetting devices, scanning and reorganising everything the first time you set it up. 

Even then, you’ll probably find not everything will work. A Nanoleaf smart bulb, for instance, simply refused to appear, despite supporting Thread over Matter. I couldn’t detect my Ikea remotes or motion sensors – these are supposed to support the Zigbee wireless protocol, apparently not the version the Echo Hub supports, though. And despite detecting my Nest cameras, and the live stream from each was viewable, they’re not fully functional within Alexa’s ecosystem. You still need the app on hand to adjust settings and view recorded video clips.

Even if everything worked seamlessly, you would still need to keep all the manufacturers’ apps on hand to update the firmware. And you would still have to run to Google every time you have a problem since every device has a different combination of switch or button presses you need to perform to reset it. So how much easier does the Echo Hub make working with smart devices from multiple vendors? Not much, I’d argue.

Amazon Echo Hub review: Verdict

The Amazon Echo Hub sits in a rather awkward place, then. On the one hand, it’s easy to use (once you’ve set it up to your liking) and the UI makes accessing commonly used devices and functions far simpler for anyone in the house, not just the tech nerds. Its motion sensor, speaker and microphones work nicely, and it’s an effective control panel for those devices that are compatible with it.

But there is no Z Wave support – ruling out a whole tranche of smart home devices – and I would say that the front end could do with being a little more configurable. I’d love just a little more control over how devices and controls appear on the home screen and there needs to be a way of adding Routines to Groups to make it easier to organise your favourite actions.

Ultimately, the Amazon Echo Hub is decent, but it isn‘t a magic bullet for all your smart home woes. It’s also a little too expensive for what it is, especially when you can pick up something like the Aeotec Smart Home Hub for nearly half the price, which DOES have Z Wave built-in, in addition to the standards supported by the Echo Hub.

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