Although it may have taken years to become a reality for many of us, the smart home has finally arrived. Once kept at arm’s length and held in serious suspicion, the devices designed to turn your home into a smart hub are now more popular than ever. Using just your voice, you can now control your central heating, lock your doors, and play your music — all thanks to the ever-shrinking gadgets in our living spaces.
Affording users a wide variety of supported apps in a compact cylinder the size of a pint glass, the best at-home smart devices on the market today don’t herald in new technology so much as repackage existing ones. But, as the market becomes saturated with technological choice, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to investing in the best. We’ve done the hard work for you and offer up our curated list of the best home smart devices right now. Read on if you’re looking to make life a whole lot simpler.
Best Value Assistant: Google Nest Mini
By bridging the hardware of the common living room speaker with software advancements in online streaming and artificial intelligence, the smart speaker has deftly positioned itself as an essential home purchase, poised to bring in a wave of connectivity akin to the first home telephones.
With its latest hardware launch, Google has unveiled the latest in its Nest family, which promises the best value for money available in the smart speaker market. The new Google Nest Mini comes in Chalk, Charcoal, Coral and Sky colourways — subtle, muted tones which will look right at home in your living areas. As an added benefit, the Nest Mini has been designed with the environment in mind. The fabric cover is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, while the body is comprised of 35% recycled plastics.
You can build your own sound system by linking your Nest Mini to your other Google Nest speakers and, if you’ve got multiple Home or Nest speakers, you can hook up your Minis to create as many groups as you like across your home. For added convenience, the stream transfer feature also allows you to switch your audio content to your various speakers from your phone using voice commands.
Best Smart Lighting: Philips Hue
Undeniably one of the coolest smart home gadgets you can kit out your living space with, smart lighting offers an environmentally-friendly alternative to the classic lightbulb. The Philips Hue has been leading the charge in this arena for years and continues to get better over time. The recently revamped accompanying app adds even more features and functions, as well as improving usability along the way.
With 16 million colour variations to choose from, you can set the Philips Iris light to the mood that suits you, so you can wash your walls with a blue ocean glow or illuminate a favourite feature. Colours can be saved as ‘Scenes’, so you can revisit your favourites, or you can choose from the available presets. These ‘light recipes’ have been proven to create the perfect atmosphere for your needs. The ‘Reading’ recipe is ideal for curling up with a book, while ‘Relax’ provides a soothing glow. ‘Concentrate’ will help you stay alert when working, while ‘Energise’ bathes you in vibrant lights to revitalise you. With Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, some impressive third-party apps, integration with a lot of other systems, and a wide range of different bulb shapes and styles to pick from, Philips Hue really is the player to beat in the smart lighting space.
Philips Hue LivingColors Iris Colour Changing LED Mood Light, Clear
Best Smart Wifi System: Google Nest Wifi
Google has finally released Nest Wifi — a long-anticipated update on the original Google Wifi system. The Nest Wifi is actually comprised of two separate devices: the Nest Wifi router plugs directly into your modem, forming the basis for a strong and powerful home network, and the Nest Wifi point expands your coverage where you need it most.
Delivering up to twice the speed and 25% better coverage than its predecessor, this two pack can deliver coverage for a 3,800-square-foot home. The system is scalable, so you can add more points later to ensure that you’re covered. And, for the fun part: the Nest Wifi point also has a speaker with the Google Assistant, which means it can do everything that Nest Mini can do. It can even be added to a speaker group, so that your favourite playlist can be heard ringing throughout the house.
Best Sound Quality Speaker: Bose Home Speaker 500
Cries of ‘Hey, Google!’ and ‘Oi, Alexa!’ ring around the country. We’ve all got smart speakers in almost every room of our houses, and we tend to talk to our digital assistants more than our own flatmates. But the humble smart speaker is evolving, and the latest cohort of these helpful housewares feature screens.
Inside the Bose Home Speaker 500, two custom drivers point in opposite directions to bounce sound off the walls. The result? A wider soundstage than any other smart speaker, powerful enough to fill any room with an astonishing stereo performance. And, whilst the screen might be smaller here than on some competitor models, it is big enough to show you what’s playing, and the seamless, anodised aluminium body gives the speaker a refined finish that’s perfect for any room.
Bose Home Speaker 500
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