Staples Connect Adds “Modes” & Zigbee Bulbs

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At the end of December, Staples Connect released the much anticipated update for their new D-Link hub which included new features such as Modes, a Migration Assistant, and support for additional devices. Let’s take a brief look at each of these new features:


With the new Modes feature, you have the ability to change the way your house is setup with the touch of a button. The Mode section comes predefined with 4 modes: Home, Away, Sleep, Vacation. You are able to go into each mode to adjust what actions you want to take with the connected devices in your home. Modes can be triggered manually, or you have the ability to have another device automatically active a mode.

For instance, when you push the Home mode button, you can have a living room light turn on. But you are also able to have another device trigger the mode. In that case, opening a front door with a sensor can put the Staples Connect into Home mode without having to go into the app.

Migration Assistant

Along with the 1.6 update  came the migration assistant. As I bought my D-Link hub back in November, I just manually moved all my devices over. But those who waited for this update and have bought the D-Link hub can now use the automatic migration assistant which will bring over the setup from your old Linksys Staples Connect hub (white version) to the new D-Link Staples Connect hub (black cylinder) or any future device.

New Device Support

The more anticipated feature upgrade, to me at least, was the support for additional devices. Customers with the new D-Link Hub now have the ability to add Zigbee light bulbs. Staples Connect officially works with the LG Zigbee LED bulb, which can be found here at BestBuy for now. The bulbs will be sold directly through Staples later this year.

An interesting side note, I was able to manually add the GE Link bulbs to the Staples Connect hub. Once the Link bulbs were added, I was able control them like any other light in my house, such as the Lutron switches. The response was instant when changing a bulb setting.  This is in contrast to the Wink app, which still seems to dilly dally when adjusting a bulb, or a group of bulbs. It amazes me that the Staples Connect hub can have much more responsiveness with the GE Link bulb, even more so than the Wink hub they for which they were designed. But hey, that just goes to show the software side of things for the Staples Connect is that much more reliable.

Outside the changes above, the Staples Connect app works much the same as it did before with the same look and feel.  One feature I would love to see incorporated into the app is location awareness. So that when I come home, it could automatically fire off a Mode. That would be ideal, instead of having to dive into the app and select a button or having to rely on another sensor. Nit picking of course, but I find that having actions kicked off in your home based on your context is valuable as well.

23 thoughts on “Staples Connect Adds “Modes” & Zigbee Bulbs”

  1. Im new to the home automation game. Just recently purchased NEST and Philips Hue starter kit. I love the Nest because esentially it can act as a hub and trigger activities when set to home or away. They call it “works with nest” now. With my families Life360 circle on our smartphones it knows who is home and when the first and last people come and go. Which is perfect for triggering the home and away status to turn off lights ect. The problem with nest as an automation hub is that not every activity in life directly relates to home and away. Also there is not a ton of supported devices yet. If I ditch the Philips Hue for the cheaper GE Link bulbs and the Staples connect hub will it integrate with my NEST&Life360 to trigger home/away/sleep/vacation status and control the rest of its connected devices(GE Link) and others accordingly???

  2. The other problem with Nest “as a Hub” is that it can’t directly communicate with Zigbee or Z-wave items (it’s got some of the hardware inside, but not enabled). Hue actually is Zigbee but requires its own hub, which is how devices like Nest can interact with it. I think the deluxe Dropcam model may have Zigbee in it and was a Google/Nest acquisition, so they should have an interesting year. But the connections are minimal at this point. (I own Nest and Hue, like both, love neither.)

  3. So there would be no way for the Nest to let the Staples Connect Hub know if it set itself to away thus changing the MODE of the Connect?

  4. I don’t believe Nest and Staples Connect are linked yet. I read somewhere they intended to the the developers coallition or whatever, so it seems like a reasonable possibility at some point.

  5. Hey Zach, when I had my Nest (before swapping out for an Ecobee3), I used a program called Skylark for iOS that would work like the Life360. It was specific to Nest though. You would install it on all the phones you want to interact with the Nest, if someone was still home, Nest would remain in home mode. As soon as everyone left a specified area, then Nest would switch to away. Kinda baffled me that Nest never built this into their app.

    Staples Connect only supports a Honeywell Zwave thermostat for now. Hoping that there will be more partner integrating in the future. Being able to connect these different systems together is what provides the most benefit!

  6. As for the Skylark and Life360 functions I would think every smart device from thermostats and hubs to wall plugs that have their own specific app would have location permission access. Like Adam I have no idea why Nest/smartthings/wemo/staples do not function this way? I like the Staples app and multiple protocol hub but I dont think I am ready to ditch nest for a honeywell. If only nest would control the GE links. Hue bulbs at $30-$60 a pop get expensive… I guess I may as well also state here that when I first started researching products I thought that IFTTT services would play a big role in my decisions as I add new smart things. It did not take me long since I bought the nest and hue to realize that IFTTT triggers take too long to activate for my liking. Yes IFTTT may be a good backline system but since Hue Now works directly with Nest it is much much better. Also I am not sure about the security of IFTTT service long term.

  7. Dave,

    Have you tried any other hubs like SmartThings (now Samsung), Revolv (now Nest), etc?

    I want to jump into home automation and everything you have said about the D-link in previous posts sounds very promising. I worry though about buying into one product and then the market going the other way.


  8. I finally have Wink working reliably but am interested with the comments on how the GE bulbs perform better with the Staples hub. Not interested in flipping my whole setup just yet but appreciate the comments posted here, very helpful.

  9. I am new the home automation but want to do it. Right now i only have a wifi radio thermostats. Sounds like i can add a zwave module to it and it will work with this.

    would it work with any zwave even if it is not listed?

    i am really considering the home monitoring kit and just adding bulbs to it

  10. Adam, any secret to get the wink bulbs talking to staples connect? I briefly got one bulb out of two connected but now I can’t even remove that bulb much less control either.

    Mike, my experience with wink has been terrible. When it did work, it had a huge delay, and it almost never knew the actual state of the light. Staples connect has been the opposite: almost 100% reliable, with zero delay, and the few times it hasn’t worked the app has immediately reported the failure and shown the correct state for the device.

  11. Ryan. yeah Adam compared Staples to SmartThings to Wink and prefers Staples.

    We didn’t include Revolv given its steep $300 price point, which touches on your concern of longevity. Related, Revolv was not doing well commercially and looking to pivot into the pro install space when Google bailed them out.

    I doubt we’ll see another Revolv and suspect the acquisition was more about expanding the Nest/Dropbox team with even more folks who have experience in this realm.

    As for me, while Adam may have merely unplugged his Wink, I returned mine. Maybe it’ll be good one day, but right now it’s painful. Just check their Twitter feed for periodic outages and slowdowns that impact your ability to control your home from within your home.

    Beyond Staples Connect, which we obviously favor, Samsung still seems interested in SmartThings as they announced a slight hardware refresh at CES this week, but who knows if they’ll eventually pull another Boxee. I think we’re all anxious to see what Nest does next and Logitech is doing some interesting things – Harmony will now control Hue and Sonos for example, with a Zigbee accessory announced.

  12. “I think we’re all anxious to see what Nest does next and Logitech is doing some interesting things – Harmony will now control Hue and Sonos for example, with a Zigbee accessory announced…”

    I love the idea of using Harmony to control the things I use most such as thermostat/lights/tv and other media. With preset activities it could be useful for one touch scene triggers when grabbing a phone or tablet is not practical. I currently use the Harmony 650 to control everything from TiVo to listening to music on my Bose sound system.

  13. Adam Croswell, no secret. I just made sure I removed them from my Wink hub first, then added them manually as a Zigbee device.

    You can reset the GE Link bulbs by screwing/unscrewing them like 5 times, pausing 3 seconds in between. The light should dim indicating that it’s been reset.

    Mike, when the GE Link bulbs are connected to my Wink hub, there is a noticeable delay when trying to change the status of the light. That’s turning on/off or even dimming. With the Staples Connect, the bulbs react immediately. That’s what I mean by responsiveness.

  14. I also can not wait to see what Nest does next…

    This may be somewhat off topic but is there any news on when or what Amazon is planning in regards to jumping into the home automation market? I have Amazon’s Echo on order and a FireTV with Fire HDX 8.9″. The HDX 8.9 and FireTV work seriously great together and I am hoping for the same integration soon for the Echo. I keep hearing rumors of Amazon wanting to enter the Home Automation game. With these three products I can imagine some potentially incredible functionality when it comes to a smart home hardware and software eco system platform. Anyone got the inside scoop???

  15. I have Wink in the basement and wonder if the recent update this week helped with that delay issue Adam mentions. I’m purposely separating it from the Staples Connect upstairs because I’m curious when (if ever) Wink will get their act together. Any noticeable delay in changing lighting (or any actions for that matter) is not acceptable.

  16. Zach, no inside scoop but Amazon seems like a natural for this space given moves into the living room with Fire TV and Echo and retail focus. Whether their build their own thing via Lab126 or license someone else’s tech, like iControl or the guys behind Staples Connect, they could certainly stick a Zwave or Zigbee chip into some hardware. Like Staples and Lowes are doing, it’d provide an opportunity to highlight all the third party smart home products they sell.

  17. just picked up a staples connect hub and 2 water senors to start. I have a zwave module coming for my thermostat also

    staples still has the deal for a free staples connect hub if you buy 2 items over 30 bucks.

    might pick up a few of the cheaper bulbs and see how they work with it

  18. I see amazon taking The same road Apple is and focusing more on the control hardware and software solution side of things. With a new fire phone surely to come and the echo and fire tablets it could get interesting. And like Dave said Amazon has more to gain because they have a bazillion users and an entire store webpage setup ready and dedicated to selling the “things” which is money in their pocket.

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