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It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally reached the point where the best smart home devices can finally connect to one another, synchronize with one another and generally behave in a manner that really feels effortless and automated. And this is true even when these smart home devices come from different brands.
This is thanks to the fact that the tech industry has made an effort to support standardized the main smart home platforms: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and to a lesser extent, Apple HomeKit.
This got us thinking: It’s now possible to easily and (somewhat) affordably build out an ecosystem of the best smart home devices in your home. You don’t have to just settle for a smart thermostat here, and a smart plug there. You can now have it all, and after you have a few of these devices linked up and working in harmony, you won’t ever want to turn back.
This is why we’ve put together this guide for creating the ultimate smart home with all of the best smart home devices around. Room by room, we’ll take you through all the essential devices you should consider, and explain why they’re worthy of your money. The only think left to do is keep scrolling and start the process.
1. The Ultimate Smart Home Essentials
Welcome to the first phase of building the ultimate smart home. These are the devices that are meant to be used throughout your entire home, and not just one part of it. These may be deployed as a single wireless device that can control everything from one location. Or they could be the type of device where you buy multiples and place them throughout your home. Whichever it is, these are the products that will form your core smart home experience.
Google Nest Mini Speaker
For many people, a small smart speaker like the Google Nest Mini is one of the first smart home devices many people purchase. Not only does the Nest Mini serve a purpose as a self-contained product — it can set alarms and reminders, check your calendar and commute, stream music and search Google — but it can link up with the vast majority of smartphone devices in your home and let you control all those devices with your voice. And it’s not an accident that these are priced so affordably: These are absolutely intended to be placed throughout multiple locations in your home. So stick one in your entryway, living room, kitchen, bedroom…wherever you feel the need to interact with your smart devices. And as a bonus, all of these devices can form an intercom system throughout your home, making it easier for you to summon the family for dinner.
TP-Link Archer AX50 Wi-Fi 6 Router
If you really have plans to go all-in on acquiring a whole ecosystem of smart home devices, you might as well upgrade your wi-fi router right now. Sure, you can connect many devices to your current wi-fi router now, but it’s only designed to have 10-20 devices operating on its network at once. Connecting dozens of the best smart bulbs and best smart plugs could bog your network down. And while you could spend money on a smart home bridge, like a ZigBee hub, the future of smart home connectivity is going to be wi-fi and Bluetooth. With that in mind, you might as well plan for the future and get a Wi-Fi 6 router.
The TP-Link AX50 is the best wi-fi router you can pick thanks to its combination of speed, range, affordability and wi-fi 6 capabilities. This is hardware that is well-suited for a variety of scenarios, including gaming, but it’s especially ready to handle all the data flowing to and from your smart home devices.
Google Nest Secure Alarm System Starter Pack
Google’s Nest Secure system is pretty straightforward as far as smart home security systems go. You place the hub in a central area of your home, place sensors throughout the house as needed, and it delivers notifications to your phone anytime something trips one of its sensors. The standard starter kit comes with a few entry/motion sensors, and the home base, which does more than it appears to. It not only functions as the audible alarm and keypad but also has an NFC sensor built-in so that you can arm and disarm the alarm by tapping an RFID tag against it.
C by GE Bluetooth Tunable Smart LED Bulbs
What’s nice about the C by GE bulbs (besides the fact they’re very affordable smart home devices) is that they don’t require a special hub or bridge. Instead, they connect via Bluetooth to your phone or smart speaker (which then relays info to the cloud via wi-fi.)
From there you can not only power your lights on and off, but set schedules for them to turn on, set up profiles with specific lighting scenes or settings that you prefer, or even control your lights when you’re away from home. And because these are tunable white bulbs, you can even tell program your smart assistant to adjust the color temperature to cooler blue hues during the day and warmer yellow hues at night to help you start the day full of energy or fall asleep easier.
Wemo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug
Smart plugs are essential because they can save you money in a variety of ways. They can function as an internet-connected light switch for old lamps and appliances, saving you the trouble of having to buy new products. And you can also use them to cut off power to vampire appliances which leech power even when they’re off, saving you money over time. Furthermore, they can safeguard against the rare chance that an electrical appliance malfunctions while plugged in and potentially sparks a fire. Belkin’s WeMo line of smart plugs is an excellent and easy-to-use option that use your phone or smart speaker turn off and on with a tap of the screen or simple voice command.
Google Nest Protect Smoke and CO Alarm
Is there anything worse than the noise that comes from a smoke alarm? No. But there are also few household objects that can give you a greater sense of security. With the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, Google has tried to find the most pleasant middle ground between not having a smoke detector at all and having one that is hyper-vigilant. This smart home device does that by adjusting the intensity of its alerts based on the severity of the smoke in the room. If you just burned your dinner in a simple mishap, the alarm will only speak to you and send an alert to your phone. But if there’s a carbon monoxide leak or a proper blaze inside your home, it will behave like the most obnoxious smoke alarm on the planet to get your attention.
ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control
When it comes to integrating with your smart home, the ecobee Smart Thermostat can link up with Amazon Alexa and let you program temperature routines, and even add remote sensors so that it can manage multiple temperature zones throughout your home. If you have a two-story house, you already know this struggle. It also has a decent speaker for functioning as a voice-activated hub. This is helpful because not only can you control other smart appliances in your home through the ecobee, but you can also get your daily calendar rundown or the weekly weather report.
2. The Ultimate Smart Living Room
For many, the living room is likely the spot where the most time is spent, and where you’re most likely to interact with your smart home devices. As such, you want to make your you have all the best smart home devices in this room to make the most of your setup.
Sony SRS-RA5000 360 Reality Audio Wi-Fi Speaker
Similar to a movie-focused format, such as Dolby Atmos, Sony’s SRS 360 Reality Audio Wi-Fi speaker is built to create a live music experience in your living room that makes you feel like you’re in an actual concert venue.
With seven separate drivers packed into this speaker, the SRS-RA5000 can also adjust to the acoustics of any room it’s placed in and produce sound that fills a room to create an immersive effect. But if you just want to listen to music in a normal way, you can still connect to your favorite music services thanks to Chromecast, Bluetooth and Spotify Connect support. Plus, this speaker functions as an Alexa or Google assistant hub so you don’t have to have a separate speaker just to access your voice assistant.
Sony Bravia A8H 4K Smart LED TV
Of all the smart TV platforms that can link up with your smart home, we’ve found that Android TV is most capable when it comes to voice search and connectivity. That’s because any screen with Android TV also has Google Assistant and Chromecast. And of the TVs with Google’s software baked in, we like the Sony Bravia A8H OLED TV the best. Why? It’s one of the best OLED TVs, which means the image quality is near unbeatable. And you can use the TV as a hands-free voice assistant in the living room like you would a Nest Mini or Amazon Echo Dot. While the smart TV platforms found on Samsung, TCL and LG TVs all have respectable smart home qualities, none quite reach the same level as the Bravia A8H.
Chromecast with Google TV
If you don’t have an Android-powered TV and you have no intent on buying a new television, that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the action. For much less money, you can get yourself a Chromecast with Google TV, which is not only an excellent 4K HDR streaming device, but the best streaming device you can buy right now. The reason for that is because it runs a customized version of Android TV that is better than the original thing. You see, it pulls in all the services you subscribe to and shows you watch, then makes custom-tailored recommendations on the home screen. But you still get all the benefits of Google Assistant and using Google Cast to push content from your phone.
Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos Soundbar
An amazing TV is nothing without killer sound, and in 2021 a simple soundbar won’t cut it. Not only should you have a soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos, but it should also be smart. And there are few soundbars that are smarter than the Sonos Arc. In addition to being able to link up with every streaming audio, you can imagine via Sonos’ own wireless platform, this soundbar is also Google Assistant and Alexa compatible, which means it’s fully equipped to function as the voice assistant hub of your living room without having to add another piece of smart audio equipment.
Philips Hue LED Smart Bulb
Because each Philips Hue LED bulb costs $50, you might not be inclined to have them in every last light socket of your home. But one place we would recommend the color and ambiance Hue bulbs is in the living room. This is the space where you hang out for fun, to relax, to entertain and to be entertained. If there was ever a room of your house that demanded wirelessly-controlled, color-changing LED bulbs to properly reflect those modes, its the living room. Not to mention, there’s a whole ecosystem of apps and products which can also use these bulbs to enhance the experience of watching TV or listening to music. So treat yourself to a handful of these and see where the possibilities take you.
3. The Ultimate Smart Kitchen
While many of the “smart” devices and appliances to help you cook better are largely gimmicks, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few good products that work well in the kitchen and have been enhanced with the power of Alexa and Google Assistant. We expect better options to roll out in this category over time, but for now, these aren’t bad at all.
If having a smart screen in the kitchen feels like overkill, a smart speaker is also a great option. And in this particular instance, we love the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo It gets loud enough and sounds good enough to provide a pleasurable audio experience, but you also don’t have to break the bank to buy one. It also has an integrated Zigbee hub, it’s equipped to control most smart home devices you own (or plan to own), saving you the trouble of buying additional gear. And if you do your grocery shopping through Amazon or Whole Foods, you can simply do your shopping by rummaging through your fridge and pantry, then telling the Echo what to add to your cart.
Anova Precision Oven
More than just a toaster oven, the Anova Precision Oven is designed to be used like a proper oven, except one that can incorporate steam into the baking process. This lets you get bread that is amazingly chewy on the inside but browned and crispy on the outside. It’s precise enough that you can replicate sous vide cooking without the need for vacuum-sealed bags, while the convection mode can crisp and brown the exterior of that meat without having to sear it. The best part is that it can connect to the internet and download guided recipes that will automatically monitor your food and move through the different cooking phases on its own, delivering a perfect meal.
GE Profile Slide-In Induction Range
Ovens with equipped with an induction cooktop, such as the GE Profile Slide-In Induction Range, have enough power to properly sear a steak, but enough precision to simmer a delicate sauce. But what really makes this the top pick when it comes to induction ranges are the little features. Intuitive touch controls and reconfigurable burners mean that you can create a surface that can heat an entire griddle with minimal fuss.There’s also an included probe thermometer that gives you the accuracy to cook foods sous vide. But this induction range wouldn’t be on the list if it didn’t integrate with your smart home, and the GE Profile Induction Range does not disappoint: You can link this appliance up with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or your smartphone. Once you do, you have full control of this induction range, even when you’re not home. (This is especially helpful for checking if you’ve left the oven on). And don’t forget that this comes from one of the best appliance makers in the business, which means that it will reliably help you cook four-star meals without breaking a sweat.
4. The Ultimate Smart Bedroom
Considering that the bedroom is one of the most private places of anyone’s home (along with the bathroom), we’re generally fans of keeping the smart home tech as minimal as possible in these spaces. As such we’ve selected only the devices we feel are most essential to this space.
Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation)
If a better night’s sleep is what you’re after, the latest version of the Google Nest Hub is the best device to help you get there. While it’s capable of controlling your Google Assistant-powered smart home and keeping you organized with its calendar and commute updates, what makes the Google Nest Hub special is that it has a sleep tracker built in. This means that you don’t need to strap a band onto your wrist, stick a phone next to your pillow or a pad under your mattress to get insights on how to improve your sleep. Instead, you just go to bed, and in the morning, Google Assistant will deliver the full rundown on how well your night of slumber went.
Sonos One Smart Speaker
You may not need a full-on Hi-Fi system in the bedroom, but it’s nice to have a decent speaker for music and podcasts for the times you are in the bedroom. And when it comes to finding the perfect blend of audio quality, small size, price and connectivity, the Sonos One tops all competitors. While it may cost more than similar(ish) speakers from Google and Amazon, this one sounds better, features Sonos’ excellent smart audio platform and can connect to both Google Assistant and Alexa. Plus the design is unobtrusive enough that you can stick this on a shelf and never notice it.
Philips Hue Go LED Lamp
If you want a quick way to add a splash of color to the bedroom without painting your walls or going overboard on LED lighting, the Philips Hue Go lamp is an affordable and easy way to accomplish that. Because it’s battery powered, you can easily recharge and place the Hue Go wherever you want. Whether facing a wall or taking up a spot on a nightstand, it will project a ball of whatever color you’re in the mood for. Even better, you can program the Hue Go to function as a wake up lamp, giving you the right shade of blue in the morning, and the right shade of yellow at the end of the evening.
5. The Ultimate Smart Security System
One of the biggest benefits of having a fully-connected smart home is security. It’s especially great for making sure that you closed all the windows, locked all the outside doors and shut the garage door before you left the house. You can even let someone in if you don’t make it home in time, or verify that your Amazon shipment was delivered. It’s these moments of controlling your smart home while you’re away from home that really makes you feel like you’re living in the future.
August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
The August Door Lock is great for being able to automatically unlock the door when you arrive, keep tabs on who comes and goes, or remotely control the points of entry into your home when you’re not there. But you can also use it to your advantage when you’re at home. Opening up the Google Home app on your phone or yelling at your Nest Mini to unlock the door for a guest might be approaching peak laziness, but it also feels like something straight out of the future. It’s also nice for those moments when you’ve already climbed into bed and can’t remember if you’ve locked everything up.
Tailwind iQ3 Smart Automatic Garage Door Opener
The reasons for buying an internet-connected garage door opener that can link up with other smart home devices are virtually identical to buying a smart lock: peace of mind that you didn’t leave the biggest door in your home open after you left, and the ability to close it from anywhere in the house when you are home. The Tailwind iQ3 lets you do all this, plus it can automatically open or close when you arrive home or leave the house. This may be more of a luxury than some of the other picks on this list, but it doesn’t mean that it’s any less useful in your life.
Arlo Pro 3 Spotlight Camera
It’s pricey, but the features packed into the Arlo Pro 3 Spotlight Camera are fantastic. For starters, it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Smart motion detection can automatically track movement within a 130-degree area. And a spotlight provides color night vision for who or whatever is lurking around your home at night. It has two-way voice capabilities and a siren to scare away would-be intruders. Plus, it integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control. In short, it’s one of the most essential smart home devices you can buy.
Google Nest Hello Doorbell Camera
When it comes to the best doorbell cameras, there are few that have the same breadth of features or advanced technologies as the Nest Hello camera. Once you wire this doorbell cam into the space your old dumb doorbell used to occupy, you’ll be tapped into a feed that captures high-resolution, 1600 x 1200 footage that lets you sneak a peek at who is at the door or get a good look at a package thief in action. If you’re a Google Assistant user, you can even command your Nest to display its live look on your TV (via Chromecast), or on a Nest Hub.
6. The Ultimate Smart Bots
Even before they were wi-fi connected, cleaning bots were some of the very first smart home devices you could buy. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less essential. In fact, they’ve only gotten better to the point where it’s almost foolish not to have these patrolling around your home and keeping your floors pristine.
iRobot Roomba 675
When the Roomba first released in 2002, we’re not sure anybody every expected that it would be as good as it is in 2021. While it doesn’t completely replace a traditional vacuum, it will save you a lot of time that you’d be spending on routine vacuuming. Instead, you only need to break out your vacuum for deep cleaning or mishaps. With smart mapping technology, you can even choose to decide where it cleans and when, ranging from your kitchen to your bathroom to your living room. With the companion app, you can establish a regular cleaning schedule, set it and forget it. Or, thanks to its Google Assistant and Alexa capabilities, you can just activate it with a simple voice command whenever you remember the floors need to be cleaned (even if you aren’t home).
iRobot Braava Jet M6
It’s one thing to have a robot vacuum your floors, but a robot that can do a good job at mopping is a whole other deal that requires loads of ingenuity. And the iRobot Braava Jet M6 clears the bar with room to spare. Utilizing a precision jet spray, the M6 is able to tackle more dust, grime and grease than most other mops within its price range. The iAdapt 3.0 Navigation system lets it map out your home and determine which rooms to clean and which spaces to avoid. And like the Roomba, this thing is fully programmable, internet-connected and compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa.
Anker Eufy RoboVac G30 Hybrid
If you want the functionality of a robot vacuum and mop in a single device, Anker’s Eufy RoboVac G30 Hybrid offers a top-notch vacuum that will keep your floors free of dirt, and a mop that can handle the light cleaning in between a proper scrub. The 2000 Pa motor on this vacuum means that the G30 Hybrid has plenty of suction to pick up anything in its sight. Mean while, the side brush will make sure nothing is left lingering along your floorboards. Even better, this cleaning bot can link up with your Google Assistant or Alexa hub. Putting your vacuum to work is as easy as saying, “start vacuuming.”
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