Smart home devices are becoming more impressive and exhaustive than ever. Using a smart system is no longer limited to asking Alexa to search for the meaning of a word on your behalf. It has also gone farther than asking your smart speaker to play a Taylor Swift song while you’re doing chores.
Now you can use smart devices to turn the lights off, vacuum your floors, or keep an eye out for intruders in your home. Smart home devices now provide unprecedented levels of comfort, convenience, and security. Allow us then to discuss some of the newest and most useful smart devices that are sure to enhance your home life.
What Are Smart Home Devices?
Smart home devices are individual appliances that can connect through a network. The connection is usually done through a local area network (LAN) or the internet. This system of integrated devices is called the Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things follows the concept of home automation. The gist of this concept is an environment where all devices are connected over a single network. Each device can send and receive information without human intervention. These devices can be controlled remotely using one system. To explore the concept of IoT further, you can read this article on the other most popular applications of IoT. You can also read this article about the top IoT examples in today’s world.
Smart home devices are primarily designed to provide essential services. This may include activities such as cleaning, safety monitoring, and entertainment. But unlike normal appliances, they must have the ability to be connected to a smart system. This gives users the freedom to access, control, and monitor their devices. Most smart devices also have added features that normal appliances don’t have. These features provide an unprecedented amount of convenience and utility.
What Are the Types of Smart Home Devices?
The types of smart devices have expanded during the past decade. And the great news is, the number of smart home devices is slowly matching up to regular appliances. Nowadays there are smart speakers, smart thermostats, and smart lighting. There’s also smart security, smart cleaning, and smart cooking!
Together, these devices provide synergistic solutions to our everyday needs. Smart home devices are increasingly able to tackle more serious tasks. And by serious tasks, we mean substantial needs in the home. Not all smart devices are for the home though. Some are designed for work and office spaces. Meanwhile, there are also smart devices that are designed for personal use. An example of a personal, wearable smart device is the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch.
Smart Home Devices vs Smart Systems
People often confuse smart home devices and smart systems. But what is the difference? A smart system acts as a command center of sorts. This controls the individual smart products in your home. You may already be familiar with products such as Alexa or Google Assistant. Smart systems are usually the ones you speak with when you want something to happen.
Smart devices, on the other hand, are the individual components that you can integrate into the system. Each product fulfills a particular function such as cleaning, security, or lighting. When combined with a state-of-the-art smart system, you can control everything. This may include lights, temperature, lock, and security in your home. If your devices work well together, your smart home experience will run more smoothly.
Best Smart Home Devices of 2020
For all their benefits, smart home devices might just be the best investment for your home and family. And thankfully, there are plenty of them out there for you to choose from. For every traditional appliance in your home, you can expect that there is a smart equivalent for it. Given the many options, there is sure to be a smart home device that will capture your attention. Whether you’ve tried smart devices before or not, the possibilities are there for the taking. Here are some of the best devices available to allow you to start building your own smart home:
The Amazon Echo is the premier smart speaker of Amazon. The device functions as a speaker and an interactive device. It can be connected to mobile phones and other handheld devices wirelessly. It’s also equipped with great speakers for playing high-quality music. The device is also integrated with Alexa and can thus be used as a one-stop query device. Alexa takes voice commands to answer basic questions, create schedules, play music. Users can also seek the help of Alexa to make calls and take calls when connected to a phone.
The device also functions as a smart system. This means that the device can act as the control center for other smart devices. This includes smart lights, smart cleaners, and smart security cameras. By instructing Alexa through Amazon Echo, you can turn multiple devices on or off. You can also customize the individual settings of each device. Similar devices in the Echo series include Echo Look, Echo Flex, Echo Show 5, and Echo Studio. All of the devices in the Amazon Echo series features Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Most have voice commands and device control functions. This means they are equally able to accomplish tasks without you having to touch it.
Get the best quality music and hands-free smart assistance with Amazon Echo.
Wyze Cam V2
Wyze Cam V2 is a cost-efficient smart home security camera. The camera can record up to 12 seconds of video when it detects motion or sounds. The device is not battery-powered, so it needs to be plugged at all times using a USB power module and cord. You can plug a memory card into the device for continuous recording and storage. A standard 32 GB memory card might be able to store up to 14 days’ worth of footage. It also collates the footage into a time-lapse.
You can even use your Wyze Cam with Alexa or Google Assistant. Once integrated, you can ask Google or Alexa to show you real-time footage from the device. Thanks to its 3-axis design, that allows the camera to point in any direction. The device also possesses night vision capabilities. In total darkness, the device can catch distances of up to 30 feet away. You can also mount the device on any surface using the metal plate and adhesives that come with the package.
Get high-quality, round-the-clock security footage at any angle with the Wyze Cam V2.
Amazon Echo (3rd Generation)
Amazon Echo (3rd Generation) is a modified version of its predecessor, the Amazon Echo. Many users have commented that this device is very similar to the Amazon Echo Plus. The only difference is that it had to go without the Zigbee Smart Hub. The loss of the smart hub means it can no longer be connected to other devices. Nonetheless, people don’t seem to mind.
The sound quality of the Echo Plus was better than the original. And this device is on par with Echo Plus in terms of sound quality. Alexa is also still integrated with the device. This means you will still have your basic internet queries and auto commands covered. There’s also a plug on the back of the device to help you amplify audio from other devices. For those after great audio quality and smart speaker functions, this device will do the job. It is also great that the device comes in a Twilight Blue color in addition to the usual black and white.
Play high-quality music and get hands-free AI assistance with Amazon Echo (3rd Generation).
iRobot Roomba 675
The iRobot Roomba 675 is a remote-controlled vacuum cleaner for your home. The device will accomplish most of the work when prompted. The device uses an efficient cleaning system that first loosens dirt before suctioning. There’s also an edge-sweeping brush that swipes the dirt off the edges and corners. It can detect areas with high concentrations of dirt. This alerts Roomba to work harder in those areas.
Sensors detect edges inside rooms, which allows the device to change the trajectory. It can go over both carpeted, hard-tile, and wood tile floors for cleaning. The device can run up to 90 minutes of uninterrupted cleaning time. The device automatically docks and recharges after this period. You can prompt the device to start cleaning through the iRobot app or Alexa. Alexa can also help you schedule a cleaning session.
You can read this article on everything you need to know about the iRobot Vacuums for more information.
Logitech Harmony Elite with Harmony Hub
Logitech Harmony Elite Harmony Hub is a universal remote. Unlike normal remote controllers, the Harmony Hub controls much more than just TV. The main hub controls active devices through infrared, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi channels. You can control device activity using the remote control that comes with the device. It’s also possible to control other devices using the Harmony Hub mobile app. This includes your TV, cable/satellite box, gaming consoles, and more.
The main hub needs to be placed in an open area, preferably at the center of the room. This ensures that the IR signals from the device remain unobstructed. The package also comes with a mini blaster cord. This allows you to control more devices from an extended area. The device also functions as a power adapter. That is, users can plug their devices to charge.
Harmony Hub is compatible with smart systems like Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT. The Logitech Harmony Elite Hub is the one device that can rule them all.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat
Ecobee Smart Thermostat is a room temperature reading tool. However, it also comes with plenty of other functions that may be quite surprising. The square-shaped metal device is designed to be mounted on a wall. This means you’ll need to have a wall hook or nail ready even before you can use it. The device also comes with white battery-powered pods or sensors. These are placed in opposite areas of the home to measure temperatures. This allows the device to get an accurate reading of room temperature and even occupancy.
The touch screen on the main device is used as the main control center. Temperature readings from the pods are directed here. This is also where you can access Alexa, Spotify, weather updates, and room readings. You can wake Alexa with a chosen keyword for basic searches, phone calls, and scheduling. You can even get real-time GPS-based weather updates with the Wi-Fi on. The device is equipped with high-quality speakers for music. It also fully supports Spotify and other music channels. This means you can play music in the background while taking care of other things.
Netgear Arlo Pro 2
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 series are a set of heavy-duty security cameras for your home. Each camera lets you live-stream and record live footage of areas in your home. Unlike other security cameras, this one comes with rechargeable batteries. This means that you can bring the device anywhere since it is completely wireless. Essentially, you just need to charge it for a few hours and you can put it anywhere.
The Arlo Pro 2 is adaptable, efficient, and has everything you could want in home security. The device has no trouble adapting to cold, warm, and wet weather. It’s also equipped with a built-in speaker and microphone for open communication. The Arlo base station can store up to seven days’ worth of collective footage from up to five cameras. Users also get to enjoy free cloud storage plus a USB port on the base station for transferring recorded footage on USB devices.
The device is also able to work with smart systems of all kinds. These include Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant. There’s also a smart siren, which is perhaps the most notable feature of the device. You can ring the 90-decibel siren through remote control. You can also configure the device to trigger the siren in case of night-time motion or audio.
Enjoy the most mobile and lightweight home security with the Netgear Arlo Pro 2.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Ring Video Doorbell Pro is a smart doorbell with video and audio capabilities. Like most doorbells, this device is placed on an elevated spot beside your door. The device is equipped with a video cam and motion detectors. It’s also equipped with two-way audio, so you can see, hear, and speak to guests in real-time. In the instance when the motion detector is triggered, you are alerted via the Ring App. You will also receive alerts each time someone rings the doorbell. This way, you always know when someone is at your front door, whether it be an expected or unexpected visitor.
For visitors you do expect, you can converse with them through your phone on your way to the door. You can also customize the conditions for motion detection. This way, you can control the type of movement that triggers alerts. This means you can choose the alerts to get triggered at any motion, or only when people are around. And if you happen to use more than one Ring device, all can be connected to a single network. This is where you can check videos and rings.
Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon Echo Dot is a smaller and cheaper version of the premium Echo. At just an inch and a half in height, the Echo Dot is a lot shorter than the regular Amazon Echo tower. Despite its small size, this device has the same range for voice recognition as its larger sibling. It can still hear and understand your query even when you are in the next room. The device also runs on a smaller micro-USB port, as opposed to a plug.
The audio functions of the device are quite limited though. It’s enough to communicate with Alexa, but not enough to play music for the whole room. You might want to plug earphones to this device instead of using it as a speaker. Amazon also created a new system called Echo Spatial Perception. If you have multiple Echo units, the devices will be able to locate you. Additionally, only the device closest to you will respond.
For having so many features in a small package, the Echo Dot is a completely reliable home assistant. Get the best features of the Amazon Echo series at an affordable price with the Amazon Echo Dot.
Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit
The Philips Hues are a set of color-changing LED lamps and white bulbs. This series of color-changing bulbs is generally considered as the gold standard in smart lighting. And like all smart bulbs, the Philips Hues bulbs can be controlled wirelessly. The Philips Hue bulbs have different color groups: the White, White Ambience, and Color bulbs. For this review, our focus is on the Philips Hues White Ambiance bulbs.
The White Ambiance bulbs are white bulbs, which means they can change hues but only in the color white. The bulbs are dimmable and can change temperatures from a warm soft white to bright daylight. Each starter kit consists of four bulbs with a connectible bridge. The bulbs serve to have the same form factor as standard bulbs and fit in standard bulb sockets. The bridge, on the other hand, must be connected to your router with an Ethernet cable.
You also need to have the Philips Hues app downloaded on your phone. With a complete set-up, you can customize the color settings and brightness of your bulbs. The app has a circular meter than you can simply swipe to change hues. The app also enables you to turn the bulbs on and off from a remote location for as long as you have Wi-Fi. You can turn on your lights from another city to put off potential robbers, for example. You can also create schedules for when the lights go on and off.
Netatmo Welcome is a smart indoor security camera for home use. The device uses innovative facial-recognition technology. This means the device can actively tell which one is the homeowner and the intruder. The device is connected to a mobile app that serves as the command center. The device takes note of all the faces of each person who enters the home. Creating individual profiles for family and friends helps. This enables the robot to recognize family members, which will not trigger an alert. This limit alerts to really unknown individuals and potential intruders. Unidentified individuals or individuals not included in the database will trigger an alert. The notification will also be complete with pictures and videos.
You can also configure the device to send alerts regarding arrivals and departures. The device will send you a notification for when your child arrives from school, among others. You can also control the level of monitoring each profile receives. You can set up monitoring only upon the arrival of the individual to the home, or not at all. The device is also designed elegantly and makes subtle use of the camera functions. This makes it look more like a decorative appliance than a threat detection tool.
August Smart Lock Pro + Connect
August Smart Lock Pro + Connect is a smart lock set for all major entry points in your home. The smart locks are single cylinder deadbolts that have the same form factor as normal locks. The smart locks are to be used as a replacement only for the interior portion of the lock. By placing the smart lock on the interior, outsiders will not be able to tell that it’s there. The locks communicate with a bridge that is attached to your internet router. The bridge acts as the sender and receiver of information to and from the locks and your phone. The secure mobile app is really where you can control and monitor the locks. A two-step verification process ensures that only owners are accessing the app.
With the help of the mobile app, users can lock, unlock, and check the status of the doors with the Smart lock. There’s also an auto-lock function that automatically locks your door given set time. The software has an activity feed that allows you to check three things. That is, whether your door is open or closed, locked or unlocked, and who locked or unlocked them. You can also set up alerts to notify you when children or friends arrive at home. The device can pair easily with other smart systems like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. This allows you to unlock or lock your doors using simple voice commands.
If you are interested in smart locks but are not keen on this brand, you can check out Schlage Smart Locks, which are equally amazing.
ECOVACS Deebot Ozmo 950
ECOVACS Deebot Ozmo 950 is a 2-in-1 vacuuming and mopping robot that has up to three hours of battery life. The device comes with a brush roll for mopping and a suction cup for vacuuming. Attaching either of these prompts the device to switch to vacuum or mop mode. Users can also control the amount of water released during the mopping process. As for the vacuuming process, all dust collected by the vacuum is stored in an internal dust bin. You can simply open the upper compartment and pick up the dust bin when it’s not cleaning.
The device is only around four inches tall. This means it generally slides underneath most tables and couches. It also works on hard-tiled floors, wooden floors, and carpet. The device has a large eye in the middle that helps it find its way around your home while avoiding furniture. If it happens to run out of battery during the cleaning cycle, the device will get itself charged. It will then resume cleaning where it left off. This auto-navigation and dual-function cleaning make this device a must-have. You don’t have to do the hard work when it comes to cleaning with the ECOVACS Deebot Ozmo 950.
Sengled Element bulbs are color-changing smart bulbs that can be controlled remotely. The bulbs are more cost-friendly than the competition. They also offer full compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant. Each basic package consists of two Sengled bulbs, the Element wireless hub, and an adapter. The wireless hub and the bulbs communicate with each other using the Zigbee protocol. Therefore, the hub needs to be plugged into the router port at all times. Impressively, each hub can control as many as 64 Sengled smart bulbs.
You will also need to download the Sengled Home app before you can change the colors of your bulbs. The app needs to connect to your hub through Wi-Fi, at which point you can start customizing the colors and hues. There you can choose from a full range of white light tones, as well as several quick presets. The bulbs exhibit the same brightness or luminosity as other smart bulbs. The exception though is that it draws less power and saves on electricity.
Amazon Echo Show
Amazon Echo Show is the latest offering in the Amazon Echo series. This device benefits from having a great design, screen, and sound experience. It also has plenty of features like its counterparts. There is one major difference though. The device is in the form of a propped-up tablet instead of cylindrical speakers. This latest version has a touchscreen pad for streaming video content.
Alexa, the all-around assistant, is still incorporated into the new design. You can still use voice commands to prompt Alexa to search for and play videos from the internet. You can also use voice commands to execute internet searches. And just like all devices under the series, the new Amazon Echo still functions as a smart system. This means that it can still detect and control other smart devices using the router. The only downside is that the set-up can be a bit tricky. You will need a separate computer or mobile device with Alexa incorporated into it. This is a requirement before you can set-up the Echo Show.
Stream the latest music and videos in HD with the Amazon Echo Show.
Final Thoughts on Smart Home Devices
Smart home devices are the perfect examples of great innovation and design. And as such, they bring plenty of benefits. The largest benefit is that they let you control your smart home from within or when you’re on the go. This is especially true of smart security cameras and smart locks. You can go anywhere and still be able to keep an eye on your precious home. Surely, this is the best that home security can get.
Another key benefit is convenience and flexibility. Most home automation technology performs rote tasks automatically. This translates to devices taking over menial tasks. This saves humans significant time and effort. It also means that you can do more with your devices that you weren’t able to do with traditional appliances. This is the case with smart vacuum cleaners, smart lighting, and smart speakers. It’s great to be able to play music and search the internet through voice commands. It’s also great to have a handy, rechargeable robot helper to clean your house while you take care of other chores. There’s also the color-changing light bulbs that adapt to your moods. For all of their benefits and features, there is little wonder then that home devices made it among the most popular IoT devices of 2020.