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5 subtle devices that don’t scream “smart home”

5 subtle devices that don’t scream “smart home”

5 subtle devices that don't scream "smart home"

Dale Smith / CNET

Some smart home products are meant to be brilliant. You should look at 70-inch Roku TV or Echo Show 10rotary display. A porch pirate might show you a look Arlo Video Doorbell and run. These pieces of the smart home work best in plain sight, but others fit better in the background.

WeMo now sells a smaller version of Wemo Wifi Smart Plug and the latest smart lock in August is 45% smaller than previous models. The best examples so far are in the smart outlet category. I recently tried a few smart sockets in the wall and I hope that more categories of smart homes will take over the trend.

Chris Monroe / CNET

The Kasa line of TP-Link smart home products offers plenty of smart power options, including our favorite smart plug and smart power strip. The newest addition is a wall outlet. If you’re eager to give up weird (and obvious) smart plugs, you can replace them with the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Outlet wall option.

At $ 30 (about $ 25 or $ 45), it’s affordable and works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for routines, application control, and voice commands. This is no more expensive than buying two smart plugs and it is definitely more aesthetically pleasing. You won’t get HomeKit compatibility with this product or any other TP-Link Kasa product, so if you want smart Siri, you’ll want to look at other options, such as the ConnectSense socket below.

It doesn’t take too long to install the plug and you don’t have to be an electrician. Of course, you should turn off the power and check the dual outlet with a voltmeter before touching it. The instructions in the Kasa app explain the wiring, but the thing to know before you buy is that a neutral wire is needed. Check the wiring of your home (especially if it is older) just to be sure.

Once you’ve connected everything, you’ll connect to your home’s 2.4 GHz network and name each outlet individually controllable. From there, you can sign in with Google or Alexa to turn on or off your voice jacks or to include them in a routine.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

If you want a wall outlet, but need HomeKit compatibility, ConnectSense Smart In-wall Outlet does the job. This ConnectSense wall socket works with Siri, as well as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice commands.

At $ 80, it’s quite expensive than the Kasa model. You’ll get power monitoring with this model, but that’s not enough to recommend that you pay $ 80 if you don’t care about HomeKit compatibility.

Like the Kasa socket, each socket is individually controllable, and a ConnectSense application and an installation brochure guide you through the introduction and configuration of the socket. There are 20 and 15 amp versions to suit the electrical situation of your home. The ConnectSense model does not offer an optional random mode as Kasa sockets do, but it has scenes and programs.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Like the ConnectSense socket, this $ 90 smart socket from iDevices works with all three major voice assistants, allowing you to turn on and off anything connected to each socket using your voice. You can turn on and off either. its sockets or choose to program them in the iDevices application.

In addition to voice commands and programming, iDevices also monitors the power consumption of each outlet so you can keep track of how much power each connected device uses. It is similar to the ConnectSense product. So much so that the only tiebreaker I see is whether or not you already have iDevices or ConnectSense products in your home. If you do, I would stick with your current brand to minimize your third-party applications.

More smart home under cover

Smart outlets are the only devices that are smart without being ostentatious. The Level lock, a smart lock for HomeKit and Alexa houses, is inside the existing door hardware and intelligently locks it without advertising that you have technology built into the front door.

There are other products that go towards invisibility. These visible products push the smart home towards a more elegant future. I would love to see it expanded to other categories of smart homes.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

The level lock fits inside your existing latch. It’s not much to look at and that’s the whole point. The level lock hides inside your door, replacing only the internal components of the existing lock. It is powered by a small battery in the lock screw.

Level Lock works with Alexa and HomeKit and integrates with Ring. If you’re in the HomeKit camp, this smart lock is a great option if you don’t want to advertise how much technology is in your home by putting a fancy keyboard with a smart lock on the front door. The Level Lock smart screw costs $ 199, but you can pay $ 249 for a package that includes new hardware and $ 330 for a touch-enabled model.

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Mui display

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Mui’s lab

Mui’s $ 1,000 display adopts an unusual approach to displaying digital information. The wooden panel incorporates LEDs and works by touch. While active, the LEDs glow from under the wooden surface. When Mui is not used, all digital technology and information disappears.

Although not as practical as a smart outlet (and not yet technically available), Mui is a striking example of what is possible when a company focuses on combining the smart home with design and decor.

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While the brightness of a high-tech home certainly attracts some (I like the touchscreen keyboard on the front door), there is a case to make for a home that feels smart but looks traditional. These examples show that it is possible to deliver smart devices without filling our homes with touch screens.


GE Kitchen Hub is a screen for Android and hood.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

I doubt we’ll soon see smart Mui-style display integrations. In any case, GE kitchen hub is a good example of a screen that, because it is built into a device, can turn off and disappear in the design of the device (a microwave door).

I can also imagine a day when homes are equipped with built-in surround sound speakers for the whole house, activated with a voice assistant. Until then, we’ll continue to rotate the latest speakers and smart displays on our countertops.