Re: Connect directly to the Internet?
I've just installed a Hive heating controller for an elderly relative: only the wireless thermostat was actually required, but it was a drop-in replacement for the existing programmer and cost very little more.
A little-advertised feature (in fact the Hive website completely misrepresents it) is that you don't need the hub or the Internet connection: the wireless thermostat and control unit communicate over Zigbee (I believe) and can be configured not to look for the Hive hub. It works very well and there is a very simple interface on the thermostat for programming the heating and hot water. No accounts to create, no passwords, no dependency on the manufacturer's web service or the network.
This is really how things should operate by default.
However, given the length of time it's taken to get Bluetooth devices to the point where standard profiles will mostly be recognised in most appropriate circumstances, I suspect it's going to be a long time before devices from different manufacturers not only connect with each other but also interoperate correctly.