Aqara now offers different hubs in US to integrate their own Zigbee devices into HomeKit. All hubs offer advantages and disadvantages and you can not recommend a hub across the board. Therefore, we would like to offer you an overview in this article, so that you can decide for a model.
The bedrock is the Aqara Hub. Initially only available to order via China and to use with an adapter, there is now also a version with a SchuKo plug and with a connection to the European servers. The hub is plugged directly into the socket and consumes quite a lot of space. Directly adjacent sockets can usually no longer be used.
Compared to the other hubs, this model looks a bit outdated due to the lack of Zigbee 3.0 support.
The Aqara Hub M1S is the new generation of the original Aqara Hub. While the devices hardly differ visually, the built-in technology has been brought up to date. With Zigbee 3.0 the new devices of Aqara are also supported.
In addition, the integrated brightness sensor has been improved. If the original Aqara Hub can only distinguish between two states, the Aqara Hub M1S now has a full-fledged brightness sensor.
Arguably the most unusual Aqara hub is the Camera Hub G2H. In addition to its function as a hub, the device can also be used as a HomeKit Secure Video camera.
Since the power is supplied via micro-USB, you are not tied to a power outlet for placement, as is the case with the Aqara Hub. In exchange, however, the model does without the alarm system with the loud siren.
Equipped with Zigbee 3.0, all devices from Aqara available so far can be connected. The Camera Hub G2H supports a maximum of 32 devices. If a signal amplifier is used, such as the Aqara adapter, up to 64 devices can be connected.
The integrated camera has a resolution of 1080p with a viewing angle of 140°. Thanks to HomeKit Secure Video, video footage can be encrypted locally on the Home Hub and then stored in iCloud. However, this requires an iCloud storage plan of at least 200GB.
Local image analysis on the Home Hub also enables notification when people, animals and/or vehicles are detected.
The Camera Hub G3 is by far the most versatile device, combining almost all the benefits of the other hubs into one device. In addition to functioning as a HomeKit hub with modern Zigbee 3.0, the device can also be used as a camera, as the name suggests. Using the manufacturer's own app, the camera can be rotated 360 degrees and panned up and down. In HomeKit, the Aqara Camera Hub G3, assuming a Home Hub and appropriate iCloud storage plan, supports HomeKit Secure Video. With this, recordings can be stored encrypted in the iCloud and a face or animal and car detection can be used.
But it's not just HomeKit Secure Video that offers facial recognition. Aqara itself provides recognition of faces, gestures and pets. Gestures can then also be used as triggers for actions, but only via the manufacturer's own app. The camera recognizes hand gestures as peace sign, four fingers, five fingers, a gun and the OK sign used by divers.
Thanks to the 2K resolution, even areas a little further away are nice and sharp. As always, though, only full HD resolution is supported via HomeKit Secure Video. As an alternative to storing in the iCloud, the recordings can also be stored on a local micro SD card.
Particularly interesting, and otherwise rather rarely encountered, is the Privacy Protection Mode. The camera is covered on the hardware side and even if a stranger gains access to the camera, he cannot see anything.
The latest model from Aqara is amazingly versatile. Power is supplied via a micro USB port, which allows the device to be placed flexibly. Besides WiFi, an Ethernet port is also built in, which ensures a stable connection with the router.
The Aqara Hub M2 integrates Zigbee 3.0, allowing the hub to be used with all of Aqara's devices. In addition, Bluetooth 5.0 has also been integrated. Currently, however, there are no devices that make use of Bluetooth. It remains to be seen whether Aqara will release such devices in the future.
Especially interesting is the built-in 360° infrared control. This allows devices that are controlled via an IR remote control to be integrated into Aqara as well. The manufacturer has stored a large database with numerous devices and the appropriate signals. Compatible devices can thus be easily selected via the Aqara app. If a device is not listed, the signals can also be taught manually. Unfortunately, the devices are not displayed in HomeKit.
Like the Aqara Hub, the Aqara Hub M2 also integrates an alarm system. In HomeKit, a switch can be set to "Home", "Away", "Night" or "Off". This status can also be queried in automations, which makes the implementation of an alarm system possible.
The Aqara Hub E1 is the most compact and affordable model. The hub is powered via USB-A and connected to the home network via Wi-Fi. Thanks to a hinge, the hub can be rotated 210°. This can not only help with the alignment of the antenna, but can also be very useful when space is limited.
Just like its bigger siblings, the Aqara Hub E1 also supports Zigbee 3.0 and thus can connect to even the latest devices from Aqara. Further, the device not only serves as a Zigbee hub, but is also said to be able to be used as a Wi-Fi repeater at the same time.
With the Aqara Hub E1 you can not only integrate numerous devices from the manufacturer into Apple HomeKit, at the same time you also get an alarm system. This will give you a switch in HomeKit with the four states"Home", "Away", "Night" and "Off", with which you can implement a sophisticated alarm system.
The original Aqara Hub is outdated due to the lack of Zigbee 3.0 support and the maximum number of only 32 devices, and the Aqara Camera Hub G2H has also already been replaced by a new model. Therefore, we would advise you to go for the Aqara Camera Hub G3, Aqara Hub M1S, the Aqara Hub M2 or the compact Aqara Hub E1. While the Aqara Camera Hub G3 impresses with the most features, the E1 is particularly compact and affordable. The Aqara Hub M1S and the Aqara Hub M2 are between the two models in terms of price and features.
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