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The best smart home appliances you can buy right now (Winter 2018)



Worldwide sales of voice intelligent speakers have seen tremendous growth only last year, and the same can be said of the intelligent domestic sector as a whole. The technology behind the products will continue to improve as prices fall and the new categories continue, but it is worth investing right now.

In view of this, and to ensure that you do not arrive (or you are gifted) in this holiday season, we have compiled a list of the best smart home appliances you can buy. Whether you just want to immerse your fingers in the water with a cheap Google Home Mini or dive into a deep end with smart lights, cameras, thermostats and bells, we have coverage for you.

Voice-operated speakers

Best – Google homepage Max
Budget Selection – Google Mini Home / Amazon Echo Dot

This first category is often a gateway to other intelligent domestic products and depends almost exclusively on your choice of ecosystem. In the US, as in many other countries, there are two different camps – Google Assistant or Amazon Alex. If you choose one of them, there are a number of home-based Google devices at different price points, from the Mini Mini, the aging original Home, all the way to home-made Max, which is good for audio-films and is more than a nice penny. The Home Hub comes as part of a new category of products with many of the same features, but we'll do it later.

If you go down the Amazon route, there is a similar range of Echo speakers to suit every need. Echo Dot is a great entry unit that can run as cheap as $ 29 during the sale, then there's a regular Echo, Echo Plus and even a new Echo Sub, so you can add some bass. Choosing a product here is usually about the price – you get the most expensive one you can realistically afford. If music is a key issue, only Home Max or Echo Plus with Sub really do your tunes of justice, but if you just want to ask special questions and control some other connected devices, Home Mini or Dot will do fine.

If you want something with the Alexa or Google Assistant features but built by a company that knows a little more about the sound, including headphones and headphones, as well as speakers, check out our guide to the best audio products you can buy right now.

Google

  • Home Mini$ 49 $ 29 (until February 2)
  • Home – $ 129
  • Max – $ 399

Amazon

  • Echo Dot – $ 29.99
  • Echo – $ 69.99
  • Echo Plour – $ 149.99
  • Echo Sub – $ 129.99

Intelligent displays

Best – Lenovo Smart Display (10 ")
Budget – Google Home

This category has grown since its past year when Google entered the field. Intelligent displays are basically a smart speaker with a glued screen (almost literally the look of Google's home center). The original Echo Show has been over for over a year, but the first generation has been harmless and expensive. The new model looks better and better, but the Google Assistant Smart Display is more competitive.

Google's own home Hub (above) is the cheapest of them, so it's a good place to start, but Lenovo, JBL, and now LG also have video call capabilities and louder speakers. With the largest screen (10 inches) and probably the prettiest design, Lenovo is probably your best bet.

Google Home Hub – $ 139 from Google, $ 149 else

Amazon Echo Show

  • Gen 2 – $ 229.99
  • Gen 1 – 129.99

Lenovo Smart Display

  • 10-inch – $ 249.99
  • 8-inch – $ 199.99

JBL Link View – $ 249.99

View LG WK9 ThinQ

  • FRYS – $ 296.99
  • B & H – $ 246.99

Media Streamers

Best – Nvidia Shield TV
Budget – Year Express

Another new category for this year, for which we could not find a place on our other lists, are media streaming. Cheap Google Chromecast has been an obvious choice in this area for years, and although it's still fine, there are definitely better options, especially if you prefer physical remote control. At the end of the budget is the excellent Roku Express, which plays comfortably with both Google and Amazon. If you're tied to Amazon Prime, the Fire TV Stick is just as good and they both now have 4K capabilities that can overcome the more expensive Chromecast Ultra in terms of features.

If you want to get the most out of streaming media, you will want Nvidia Shield – it's the best Android TV tray (see Ryan's review if you do not believe me). It can handle 4K HDR video content, but it is also capable of gaming streaming devices. So if you have a somewhat more expensive release with an added gaming driver (already comes with a remote voice), you will have access to the rich entertainment possibilities that the rival ATV boxes simply can not beat.

As a bonus, choose why not live a new life with the old Chromecast Audio old audio system? Connect them with a 3.5mm connector and now you can stream music from a variety of services to faithful old speakers.

Nvidia Shield TV

  • with remote control – $ 179.99
  • with remote control and driver – $ 199.99

Year

  • Express – $ 29.99
  • Streaming Stick +$ 59.99 $ 49.99

Amazon

  • Fire TV Stick – $ 39.99
  • Fire TV Stick + – $ 49.99

Google

  • Chromecast Audio $ 35 $ 15

Smart Hubs

Best – Samsung SmartThings Hub
Extravagant charger – Logitech Harmony Elite

If the Google homepage or Amazon Echo is not enough for you, the answer might be a hub. They can combine various intelligent home protocols such as Z-Wave and Zigbee, giving you more flexibility than standard WiFi settings. Samsung's SmartThings Hub has been our top choice this year and remains the number one leader in the third-generation, cheaper third-generation device that has begun this year and continues to compete.

You may have noticed that there is no budget here, because there is nothing cheaper than the SmartThings Hub that we think is worth buying. If you already have a Nvidia Shield, you can rotate it to a hub using the Samsung SmartThings Link dongle and save some money. If money has no item and you do not need Zigbee or Z-Wave sensors, you may be interested in the Logitech Harmony Elite, which connects the hub with a powerful universal remote control that can be used to control your entire IR entertainment experience, plus some smart home appliances.

Samsung SmartThings

  • Hub – 69.99 USD
  • WiFi router with built-in hub – $ 119.99
  • Link (for Nvidia Shield) – $ 39.99

Logitech Harmony Elite$ 349

Intelligent lights

Best – LifX +
Budget – IKEA Trådfri
Extravagant lining – Nanoleaf Canvas or LifX Tiles

Attached light bulbs are a useful, cheap introduction to an intelligent home with plenty of decent options that work with different protocols. There are often not many brands among the different brands, most of which are controlled by the WiFi home network only. Our favorite is LifX + because it offers more than 16 million colors, but it also improves the night vision of the security camera by providing additional infrared light. If you want something cheaper, the Philips Hue Trigger is a good midrange and additionally uses ZigBee, so it will work even if your internet connection drops. IKEA low cost icons, dimmers and switches now work with a Google assistant, so they are a great budget choice, though you need to spend $ 30 on the gate so it can only be worth it if you want more smart lights and plugs in your house at a cheap price.

We can do better than simply lighting your house efficiently, however, with some more elaborate products designed for creativity. Last year's best, Nanoleaf Aurora (above) is still impressive, but there are also some new attractive options. Nanoleaf now has a canvas, a light square that can be customized and respond to the sound. LifX has similar square squares as well as L-rails and Z-light strips – no nooks or curves in your home may ever be in the dark. For players who are there, Philips Hue Play can create an environment backlight to improve game play.

LifX

  • Mini White Single –
  • + Single – $ 79.99 $ 59.99
  • Tile Kit – $ 249.99
  • Beam – $ 149.99

Philips Hue

  • One bulb – 14,99 USD
  • Starter Pack with a bridge – $ 99.99
  • Play (single) – $ 69.99
  • Game (pair) – 129.99 USD

IKEA Trådfri

Nanoleaf

Plugs and switches

Best Connector – Wemo Insight
Budget plug – IKEA Trådfri
Best Switch – Ecobee Switch +
Budget Switch – Switchbot

If your lights or other gadgets are not smart varieties, you can improve their IQ by plugging into a smart socket. Take this as a fun example of what you can do with an intelligent connector. These range from basic WiFi connectors that can be turned on or off using the Google Assistant Voice command to more sophisticated options, such as the Wemo Insight Plug, which can tell you how much power you use. If you get a smart power strip from TP-Link such as Kasa, you get six smart sockets in one. Just like the lights, IKEA now offers tempting budget options – especially useful if you already have a gate.

Another way to turn on and off the electronics is to use an intelligent switch. Like Philips and IKEA, they also make switches that are equipped with their light collection, but the best is Ecobee Switch +. It may look a bit like an intercom, but this light switch has a basically integrated Amazon Alexa so it can be used to control other things around the house.

At the end of the budget, the ingenious SwitchBot switch is a delightful little robot (above) that can connect to preexisting silly switches to make them smart. It's not the most fashionable solution, but it's pretty clever. There is also a hub that looks like a cloud (below), which should look like all the resorts if you ask me.

Belkin Wemo

  • Plug – $ 29.99
  • Insight Plug – $ 49.99

TP-Link

  • Mini Smart Plug – $ 15.82
  • Kasa Powerstrip – $ 79.99

IKEA Trådfri

Ecobee Switch + – $ 89.95

Switchbot

  • Button – $ 29
  • Hub – $ 49

Thermostats

Best – Ecobee4
Budget – Nest Thermostat E

In the world of intelligent thermostats, much has not changed since Ecobee4 is still the best. It's Alexa as the + switch and comes with multiple sensors that put your home to optimal temperature measurement. If you need something to bind with a Google assistant, Nest Learning Thermostat is the best choice, but Nest Thermostat E is the best choice for those who have a budget.

For those of you who do not live in a house or a flat with thermostats, there are other ways to operate a wireless AC or heat pump. Both Sensibo and Cielo Breez are a good choice with Google Assistant support.

There are also products to help you regulate more than just the temperature in your home. Netatmo has two interesting products in this area – Healthy Home Coach measures humidity, air quality, noise and temperature. The more expensive meteorological station focuses on the same metrics with indoor and outdoor modules, taking into account also internal ventilation and external barometric pressure.

Ecobee4 – $ 239

Nest

  • Thermostat E – 169 USD
  • Teaching thermostat – 249 USD

Netatmo

  • Healthy home trainer – $ 99.99
  • Meteorological station – $ 179.99

Sensibo

Cielo Breez

Security cameras

Best Without Plan – Arlo Pro 2
Best with Plan – Nest Cam IQ
Budget – Amcrest

By using the connected devices so that we do not have to get up from the sofa to turn on the lights, everything is very good and good, but home security is probably the most appropriate case of use. Arlo Pro 2 has several first problems when he jumped, but now he leads in an indefinable field thanks to his battery-operated locks that can be placed anywhere. If you are willing to pay monthly subscription, Nest's Cam IQs are feature rich, with internal modules offering 4K. Logitech's Circle 2 is a good alternative to the mid-range camera, but if you really do not want to break the bank, Amcrest has a number of cheaper cameras to give you peace of mind.

Arlo Pro 2 (2-cam system) – $ 434.99

Nest

  • Cam IQ Indoor – $ 299
  • Cam IQ Outdoor – $ 349

Logi Circle 2 – $ 149.99

Amcrest ProHD– $ 59.98

Bells

Best – Skybell Trim Plus
Budget – Arlo Audio Doorbell

As the ad should believe, the robbers first ring the bell to see if anyone is at home. Then we introduced the solution – intelligent bell. Something about the camera is the safest choice, allowing you to see who's at the door and then a two-way conversation with them. Skybell Trim Plus is one of the best, though the features between the major players are almost the same – it offers free cloud recording, unlike many competitive products in a similar price range. If you already have products from Ring, Nest or August, they have very similar bells to complete the report. If you want some of the smallest money to get less money, you get the first generation of Ring Video Doorbell for just $ 100. Alternatively, why not try a sound bell like this one from Arlo. A phone call will take place on the phone when it rings to answer faster, and if you already have a portable camera, you can use it as a video source for the best of both worlds.

Skybell Trim Plus – $ 199.99

Ring

  • Video Doorbell – $ 99.99
  • Video Doorbell 2 – $ 199.99
  • Video Doorbell Pro (with cloud storage) – $ 249.99

Nest Hello – $ 229

Locks

Best – August Smart Lock Pro + Connect
Budget – August Smart Lock

So you have a smart security camera and a bell, but you still use an old-fashioned metal key that gets into your house like someone in the past – who are you? Clearly, you need a smart lock and there are some good things. Rita last year reviewed Nuki Intelligent Lock and says it's the best choice outside of the US. Since then, they released a new version. Intelligent locks in August are full and I think it looks best, so my Smart Lock Pro + Connect WiFi Bridge with Alex's integration is my best choice. In the same vein, Nest has teamed up with Yale for the Google Assistant help lock, and Schlage also has a chance to work with Google and Alex. The third generation of August Smart Lock without a bridge can be around $ 125 now, so it's a good budget choice.

August

  • Smart Lock Pro + Connect – $ 232.95
  • Smart Lock – 124.87 USD

Nest x Yale Lock – $ 279

Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt – $ 199.99

Nuki

Alarm systems

Best – SmartThings ADT
Budget – ringtone

In the past year, there was not much movement in this category, Samsung's joint efforts with ADT and Nest Secure, two of the best options, while Wink Lookout is an alternative to the budget. The Ring has also launched its own alarm system this year, which you might omit if you are already bound to this ecosystem – it's also much cheaper than its competitors.

Samsung SmartThings ADT Starter Kit– $ 199.99

Nest safe – $ 399

Wink Lookout – $ 199

Ringing alarm – $ 199

For more tips on the best gadgets you can buy during this holiday season, check out our next purchase guides in 2018, including the best phones, the best audio products and the best Chromebooks.


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