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To help you find the best smart home devices, we’ve tried out dozens of products, testing them for functionality with popular smart assistant software and wide integration with related smart products. During our testing, we looked for models that were easy to use, with voice-activated connectivity to Alexa, and WiFi and Bluetooth compatibility. Additionally, we favored products with full smart home integration, multiple layers of privacy control and good warranties. For total control of your household, you’ll need to check out our SmartThings Home Automation guide.
Of the seven smart home devices on our list, Amazon’s 3rd gen Echo Dot boasted the highest cost to benefit ratio, with best-of-class integration with Alexa, a light sensor that automatically adjusts the display’s brightness, amazing sound and some truly innovative privacy controls. It also boasts easy integration with thermostats, locks, lightbulbs and other smart home appliances. Keep reading to learn more about the Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) and the other smart speakers on this list.
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: An icon in the industry, offering best-in-class Alexa support, integration with a wide variety of smart home appliances and a nifty sounding speaker that easily streams audio from all major platforms. This is simply the best product for those of you looking for a budget-friendly way to get in on the smart home craze.
Read Full Review: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen) Review
The Amazon Echo Dot is one of the most popular smart home devices for some very good reasons. It is extremely budget-friendly, the cheapest item on this list, while still offering functionalities in line with higher priced devices. The Echo Dot features best-in-class Alexa support, which allows for easy control of connected smart home appliances, and an innovative alert system that lets you know if something is wrong in your house, such as a carbon monoxide leak or glass shattering from a broken window. It’s also a great sounding speaker, with easy music streaming from all major platforms.
The smart speaker does have some small drawbacks, however, as we found that the unit occasionally has trouble picking up a voice from across a large room, but the low price point makes it affordable to purchase multiple units for placement around the house. Additionally, the product does not contain a smart home hub, which could make it difficult if you’re living with different product ecosystems in your home and are looking for a way to unite them all. Which is why I recommend reading our Ecobee CEO on the Future of the Connected Home article. Did you know that best smart light bulbs can save you a ton of money?
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Nest thermostat features an advanced AI that learns what temperatures you prefer and programs itself accordingly, sensors that can be placed throughout the house for detailed room-to-room control and support for Alexa, Google Assistant and smartphones. This is the gold standard product for detailed temperature control.
Read Full Review: Google Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation
The Google Nest Learning Thermostat is the easiest-to-use smart home device for temperature control that we encountered, boasting full support for Alexa, Google Assistant and smartphones, meaning you can use Alexa to make changes while at home and use your phone while away. The product also offers an advanced AI that learns what temperatures you prefer and adjusts accordingly, taking into consideration outside weather conditions, Energy Star compliance and other factors. The stainless steel design is attractive and the whole thing works via WiFi, with no dongles or cables.
The product also works seamlessly with integrated sensors that allow for multiple temperature conditions throughout the home, though these sensors cost a bit extra. While it is supremely easy to use, the installation does require some minor rewiring, which could be confusing for some homeowners. If you have pets, have a look at the VAVA Mobile Pet Cam.
Award: Best for Visuals / Best Value
WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerhouse of a smart display, featuring a compact 5.5” screen that is perfect for Skype and streaming TV, full Alexa support, integration with a wide variety of smart home appliances and some nifty privacy controls. This is the perfect gadget for people who like visual cues as they go about controlling their home.
Read Full Review: Echo Show 5 Review
The Echo Show 5 is a smart display/bedside clock hybrid device, with a high resolution 5.5” screen that is perfect for video calls or streaming television, a decent sounding speaker and full Alexa support. Speaking of TV, read about HELLO 2. It also integrates nicely with a wide variety of smart home appliances, allowing you to use the touchscreen to manually adjust security cameras, light bulbs, thermostats and the like. The company also throws in four free months of their Amazon Music Unlimited service, further increasing the product’s value proposition.
The product does have a camera built-in, but it is only 1MP. If you want a higher resolution you’ll have to purchase the Wyze camera bundle, which costs extra. There is also a kid-friendly FreeTime service, which filters out explicit content and sets bedtime limits, but it requires a monthly payment of $2.99 in order to access. Sure, it doesn’t keep your home safe like the best smart lock, but it does make life easier. If you’re interested in smart locks, check out the August Smart Lock Pro, a simple yet effective smart way to lock your home without having to change the existing deadbolt.
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Award: Best for Controlling Multiple Appliances / Good Value
WHY WE LIKE IT: These outlets excel at transforming any garden variety home appliance into a smart gadget, offering seamless smartphone control via an app, an automated scheduling system and some innovative features to help you save money on your electricity bill. This purchase contains four outlets, making it an ideal product for those of you looking to transform lighting fixtures or other appliances into smart devices.
Read Full Review: Gosund Smart Plug
The Gosund Smart Plug Outlet features a true plug-and-play design, which allows for seamless on/off control to any appliance that uses an electrical outlet. The app is well designed, offering support for 50 outlets at once, and this package comes with four outlets, making it a great value. Any appliance using one of these outlets can be programmed to turn on and off up to a month in advance, helping you save money on electricity bills.
These outlets do integrate nicely with Alexa and Google Assistant, further simplifying use, but does require an additional purchase, such as an Echo or Google Home. Additionally, we wouldn’t recommend plugging them in outdoors, as they are not waterproof and a rainstorm could short them out. For the lightswitch, read about Switchmate: Turn Your Ordinary Light Switch Into A Smart Light Switch.
Award: Best for Lights and Fans / Best for Home Safety
WHY WE LIKE IT: Excels at extending smart controls to appliances that are usually connected to a light switch, like fans and lighting fixtures, offering Alexa and Google Assistant support and an easy-to-use smartphone app that allows for remote scheduling. This is a great product for folks who want easy smart control over their lighting fixtures and fans.
Read Full Review: Kasa Smart Light Switch
The Kasa Smart Light Switch is a great way to control appliances that are normally connected via a light switch, boasting an intuitive app that allows for remote scheduling, so it can turn devices off when you go to work, for instance. This product also features an Away Mode, which makes lights go on and off at random intervals, giving the illusion you are home even when you are not. The price is on the lower side and the company also throws in a two year warranty, which is nice.
Though the app is extremely easy to use, the installation process does require some light electrical work and needs access to a neutral wire. The product is fully compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana, but it does require the additional purchase of an Echo or something similar. To make your home even smarter, read about the best smart outlet too. This device will make it easy to plug in all your entertainment equipment, plus the best LED strip lights.
Award: Best Smart Humidifier
WHY WE LIKE IT: A fully featured humidifier, with the addition of smartphone and some voice controls, boasting a large water tank that can run for 30 hours before needing to be refilled, a motor that produces less than 36dB of working noise and a snazzy LED screen. This is just the best smart humidifier on the market.
Read Full Review: TaoTronics Smart Bedroom Humidifier Home Device Review
The TaoTronics Smart Bedroom Humidifier boasts a number of bells and whistles often found in high end humidifiers, including a fully functional LED screen, ultrasonic technology that makes the unit extremely quiet while in operation and a large capacity water container, which allows it to operate for 30 hours before needing to be refilled. It can also be controlled by your smartphone, allowing for adjustments on the fly, even while not at home. For the lighting in your room, take a look at the best warm white LED strip lights too.
This product does contain a passable filter, but we found it still benefited from using distilled water, instead of coming straight from the tap. Though the humidifier is fully compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, it does require the additional purchase of an Echo or Google Home in order to achieve this functionality. You can read more about outlets on our best wifi outdoor outlet list.
Award: Best for Helping Around the House / Best Robot
WHY WE LIKE IT: This robot boasts full Alexa support right out of the box, voice control, an advanced AI that learns as you use it, a front facing camera and a movement algorithm that easily avoids household obstacles and charges itself on its own. This is a great product for those of you looking for, essentially, an Alexa-enabled device that follows you around.
Read Full Review: Anki Vector Robot Review
The Anki Vector Robot is fully voice controlled and is compatible with Alexa right out of the box, with no need for an additional purchase. It can help you with recipes, take photos on command, play music and, more or less, complete any task that an Alexa-enabled device can do, including the controlling of smart home appliances. It’s also extremely cute, following you around the house, dancing and making conversation. The advanced AI packed inside the robot is neat, allowing it to easily avoid household obstacles and charge all on its own.
Unfortunately, Anki has shuttered their human-led customer service experience, though there is plenty of help available at their self-serve help center. Additionally, some features, such as treads to increase mobility, will cost you extra. If you want the lighting to be perfect for your next party, take a look at the best waterproof LED strip lights too.
To help us get started narrow down to the above list, we set these devices up in our test living area, running them through their paces in order to suss out smart assistant integration and whether or not they completed their dedicated tasks with ease. We were attracted to products that offered support for a variety of smart assistants, including Alexa, Google Assistant and, even, Microsoft Cortana.
We were looking for sturdy build quality and ease-of-life features, such as a dedicated app that was intuitive and gadgets that offered a simple plug-and-play design. If the product boasted control over a variety of appliances, such as is the case with a smart power outlet, we plugged into these devices and tested the on/off functionality and the auto-scheduling technology, among other features.
The above list features a wide array of products, each catering to a different niche of the smart home market. To further narrow down our choices, we really took a good look at what it means to have a smart home, picking products that truly made life easier with voice commands, safer with smartphone control or, in some cases, just offered a good time, as is the case with the robot.
When it comes to smart thermostats, the battle is often...