Lately, I’ve been looking to make my home a little smarter. While topic is pretty hot lately, the number of smart home products and devices that let you control your lighting, thermostat, air conditioner or even your smart cookie oven from your smartphone is rapidly growing. Tons of products and the whole ecosystems want to help you control your home via an iPhone iOS or Android app. You can start with a small project, pick and choose your favorite gadgets to assemble an affordable intelligent smart home or opt for an entire smart home system that does all the work for you. Here are some of our favorite smart home systems and individual gadgets that I liked to be call my Top Ten Must Have.
This year is a busy year for smart home devices, connected appliances, cameras, light bulbs, even robots and trash cans will come out later this year. One common thread, though, is that many of these new devices will be compatible with Amazon Alexa, further integrating this voice assistant into your home. Plus, Amazon itself is launching several new Alexa-enabled devices, including the Echo Show and the Fire TV Edition, so you can get Alexa in even more places.
10. Best Smart Light Bulb
Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit
Philips Hue White starter kit includes two bulbs and a hub to connect them to other smart home devices. While you can’t change these bulbs’ colors, you can adjust their brightness (up to 800 lumens), and add up to 50 to a single hub. Philips’ bulbs also work with a wide range of smart home systems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Google Home, and Nest. If you want to be able to change colors, I would recommend MagicLight Bluetooth Smart LED Light Bulb – Smartphone Controlled Sunrise Wake Up Lights – Multicolored Color Changing Disco Light
9. Best Cookware
ANOVA PRECISION COOKER
We talked about 10 Best Sous Vide Machines 2017 3 months ago. The Anova Precision Cooker is a sous-vide machine, which uses a hot water bath to cook your food to a precise temperature. (The food is sealed in a water-tight bag, so it retains all its juices). The precision cooker has built in Bluetooth functionality to keep you updated at all times. Easy to use interface which is very simple to set the time and temperature. It’s the easiest way to get perfectly medium-rare steaks, juicy chicken, and much more. It’s app can adjust temperatures and also comes with a ton of great recipes from Serious Eats. This device is promised to deliver restaurant quality results to ensure the food is cooked perfectly from all ends. It’s very easy to use, you can attach it to any cooker or pot, add the water and your ingredients in a sealed bag, or even a glass jar. That’s it, and you have perfectly cooked food!
8. Best Smart Switch
IHome ISP5 SmartPlug
SmartPlug lets you control any connected device from home or remotely: turn off the heat, turn on a light–it’s all at your fingertips. HomeKit system from Apple makes control of compliant devices simple and standardized. Control plugs with Siri individually or as a group
A simple, and inexpensive way to make any device “smart,” you can control the power going to the ISP5 plug from your smartphone, wherever you are. We liked that iHome’s app also lets you create a schedule to turn the plug on and off, and it can be linked to other smart home devices, such as Alexa, Wink and the Nest Learning Thermostat.
7. Best Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector
Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Building on the pedigree of the Nest Thermostat, the Nest Protect Smoke + CO2 alarm is great for those who want a 2-in-1 device that connects to several smart home devices. Many states requires you to have a carbon monoxide alarm at home, this is a great combination to have in a single device.
6. Best Smart Home Hub
If you have a wide variety of smart home gadgets, you’ll need a central system to integrate and control them all. While it has its imperfections, we found the Samsung SmartThings hub to be the best of the lot. It works with a wide range of devices and has a battery backup. Plus, Samsung will integrate this technology into its 2016 4K TVs, meaning you won’t need to plug yet another gadget into your router.
5. Best Security Camera
The third generation of the excellent Dropcam, this camera now shoots video in 1080p (up from 720p), and has a magnetic, swiveling base that lets you set it up almost anywhere. It features two-way audio, sharp night vision and a powerful digital zoom, and integrates with other smart home products, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
4. Best Smart Home Lock
KWIKSET SMARTCODE 916 TOUCHSCREEN ELECTRONIC DEADBOLT
The SmartCode 916’s small size makes it less conspicuous than other locks, and allows you to use your old house keys if you want. Kwikset’s SecureScreen feature — which makes you punch in two random digits before entering your code — helps ensure burglars can’t guess your password by fingerprint smudges alone. And it has an alarm if someone tries to break in. The 916 lacks a standalone app, but can be connected to several smart home hubs via Z-wave or ZigBee. Overall, a great all-around lock that allows you to ease into the world of smart locks, “unlocking” its best features as you feel comfortable.
3. Best Smart Speaker
It’s a Bluetooth speaker, the Amazon Echo has a number of voice-activated features that let you control a number of smart home gadgets, as well as connect to other smart home hubs, such as those from Belkin and Samsung. It can also read you audiobooks, check the weather, and even let you purchase things online just by using your voice. And, as a speaker, it sounds great, too.
2. Best Smart Thermostat
The Ecobee4 has everything we liked about a thermostat, a slick touchscreen interface and a remote sensor that helps ensure all the rooms of your house are getting heated or cooled properly. The remote sensor does not come in the Ecobee lite version, if your thermostat is in the corner where air flow isn’t great, this will correct the temperature settings for you. This newest version also has Alexa built in, so you don’t need an Echo or an Echo Dot to control your other smart home devices, ask for the weather, or do anything else you can do with Amazon’s voice assistant.
1. Best New Smart Device
AMAZON ECHO SHOW
It’s Amazon Echo with a screen and so much more. The Echo Show is Amazon’s fifth Alexa-enabled device, but the first with a touch screen and a camera, which imbues it with features not available on Amazon’s other hardware. From making video calls and checking your security and nursery camera as well.