Smart watches are gaining in popularity, self-driving cars may become a common sight in the not too distant future, and the phones in our pockets are several orders of magnitude more powerful than the early NASA computers which helped lead many successful missions into outer space. In many ways, technology has rapidly progressed and helped improve our lives and society as a whole.
Among the influx of modern devices and technology has been the advent of “smart” tech; devices connected to other devices via wireless networks. These devices commonly feature Bluetooth, NFC, and Wi-Fi connectivity, and can sometimes operate autonomously. Besides the aforementioned smartphones and smart watches, smart devices for the home have been more widely adopted in recent years. Smart thermostats, doorbells, locks, and even smart refrigerators are now all available to be utilized in the modern home, all with the same underlying purpose of convenience and making our lives just that little bit easier.
But ultimately, are they worth it? The question is difficult to answer and dependent on your specific needs; only you can make the decision if smart devices are right for your home. If you’re looking to make a change or just in the midst of research, read on and take a look at just some of the ways you can make your home a smart home.
Smart speakers can perform a wide range of tasks aside from merely playing music on command. They can control smart lights, thermostats, locks, and can even answer questions and order food, all with hands-free operation using the power of your voice. Offerings like the Amazon Echo and Google Home series are at the top of our list for the best smart speakers of 2019. They’re unobtrusive, stylish, and feature some of the smartest artificial intelligence programs (using Alexa and Google Assistant, respectively) on the market.
In short, they’re a great addition to any flourishing smart home and are certainly worth the small investment: their low entry price and many years of use you’ll be sure to get out of them make them an excellent value.
While conventional light bulbs simply light up a room—sometimes with a dimmer feature—many smart light bulbs can be dimmed and change color, all through a phone app over a special WiFi network. Our pick for the best smart light is the Philips Hue, which drops the ability to change color in favor of other advantages like easy installation, widespread integration in smart ecosystems, and an excellent phone app which makes controlling your smart lights simple and easy.
As for color-changing smart bulbs, our pick is the LIFX Mini. It’s not only affordable, but gives you all the features you’d expect from the latest and greatest smart bulb system.
If you’re looking for the best of the best when it comes to smart thermostats, look no further than the ecobee4. It features Amazon Alexa integration, automated room sensors, an intuitive app, and easy installation which can be performed in just 30 minutes. While it’s the Cadillac of smart thermostats, some may find the US$200 cost a hard pill to swallow.
On a tighter budget? The Nest Thermostat E provides great value in a similar package and form factor, but with a slightly reduced price. Additional value is attained through Walmart bundling in a free Google Home Mini (check out the link!) with your purchase, valid as of June 2019.
Smart devices can handle security too, with the August Smart Lock Pro being one of the best options on the market. While bulky, this August device offers compatibility with a wide range of smart home ecosystems and features a sturdy, secure design. It works by fitting onto your existing deadbolt which allows you to use your old key while providing the additional benefits of a modern smart lock.
It’s easy to install but comes in at a relatively steep price of US$229, although you may find its security benefits may well be worth the high price of entry.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
These aren’t all the smart devices you can install, however. Smart security cameras, smoke detectors, doorbells, even specialized plugs and robot vacuums are all available to be used in the home.
Ready to take the plunge? Evaluate your budget, practical needs, and convenience features you think you’ll likely use. You don’t necessarily need all these devices to modernize your home, but whichever you end up choosing, they’ll be sure to put the “smart” in smart home!