The best smart home devices of 2019

Cupertino, October 10, 2019

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

If you have already started connecting various devices and devices around your home, you will know that there are many ways to solve the problem. You may simply want a device to solve a particular problem, such as a smart plug to automate a lamp. You could also be invested in an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker, or maybe you are one of the rarer breeds of Siri and Apple HomeKit members.

I tend to think that voice assistants are the starting point for building a standard smart home because they provide a convenient way for several family members or co-residents to interact. with the different appliances in your home. Most products on our list of the best products for the smart home, but not all, will work with multiple voice assistants.

Read more: The best 2019 smart garage door controllers

Our list, however, focuses closely on the best product of each sub-category of smart home. If you want to know the best smart thermostat or smart lighting kit, no matter which voice platform it works with, we are here for you. What this list is not, is a roadmap for a single consistent smart home installation (you're not going too far in trying to associate an Amazon smart speaker with a smart Google display) . For this, refer to our lists based on the platforms below.

In each subcategory entry, I also added a link to the best list for that particular type of product. If you are looking for more lighting options or locks, you will find a list of our favorite products if you wish to see a wider selection.

Ry Crist / CNET

The competition for the best smart speaker could not be closer, but Amazon's Echo Dot, entry-level, has an edge over the Google Home Mini. The two speakers will earn you about $ 50 a day, and you can find them both at a reduced price.

The two voice assistants are about equal at this time. Amazon generally boasts more skills and support for more third-party devices, but the numbers for the two voice platforms are in the tens of thousands, which means that the difference is not enough to that you did not miss anything important with Google.

Read more: The best intelligent speakers of 2019

The Google Assistant easily mimics the natural conversation flow, but the difference is that it's not really noticeable in your daily interactions with each interlocutor. Most of the time, you'll ask a smart speaker to determine the weather, set a timer, and possibly play a song or two. Both devices are good at it all.

Amazon Echo Dot is our choice because of a small hardware advantage. It has an audio output jack. This is not the case of Google Home Mini. Both devices can transmit audio to another source via Bluetooth, but only Echo Dot can connect to a standard wired speaker setup. This may not make a difference for everyone, but especially for audiophiles, this gives you a simple and economical way to add Alexa-based smart technologies to your existing speaker hardware.

Read our review Echo Dot

Amazon may have introduced the smart screen with Echo Show, but Google has refined the concept with Nest Hub (formerly Home Hub) both by design and by the way it uses its voice assistant.

You'll have the same Google Assistant features in the Nest Hub as Google Home's speaker line, as well as an on-screen interface that gives you enough visual feedback. It will show you your voice commands so that you know that Google has heard you, will guide you skillfully through a recipe from popular cooking websites, and will work seamlessly with home video cameras and video doorbells supported by Google to display their camera feeds on the screen.

Read more: The best smart screens of 2019

Google cautiously decided not to include a video camera in the hub itself, which resulted in privacy issues and likely prompted Amazon to include a manual video shutter on its new smaller screen, Echo Show 5. If you really want a Google-based smart display that allows video chat, some third-party options can make this possible. Even without it, the Nest Hub is the most affordable and affordable wedding of a voice assistant and a display interface on the market.

Read our review on Google Nest Hub

Chris Monroe / CNET

We often refer to smart plugs as the point of entry for anyone interested in trying a connected home appliance. They are inexpensive, simple to install and offer a function easy enough to understand: turn on and off the remote power.

Read more: The best smart catches of 2019

You can find a lot of smart plugs on the market. The TP-Link Kasa Mini is our favorite. It includes a single plug that connects to your network via WiFi. The application is well designed and allows you to schedule the activation / deactivation of the outlet according to a schedule or even according to your location. It works with Google Assistant and Alexa, and it does not cover the adjacent socket on a standard two-socket wall mount.

Read our exam TP-Link Kasa Smart Mini Plug

The Philips Hue smart bulbs are our best choice for years and rightly so. The company's product line is the broadest in the category and includes standard A19 bulbs, projectors, light strips, fixtures and, most recently, a full range of outdoor lighting options. This type of variety makes it easy to add your home's lighting system to the Hue service.

Read more: The best smart lights of 2019

The Hue range has become famous thanks to its changing color bulbs, but the best way for most people to start is with its standard white light bulbs. For $ 70, you can get a set of two bulbs and the Hue hub to get them online. Already have an Alexa or Google Assistant? $ 30 will get you the new Bluetooth version of the bulbs, no additional concentrator is needed.

Honorable mention: Wyze Bulb. This $ 8 smart bulb works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and does not require a hub. It's not as complete as Philips Hue (it's a standard A19 bulb, no HomeKit support), but it's the best offer in this category.

Read our review of Philips Hue White LED

Chris Monroe / CNET

Like its competitor, the Nest Learning Thermostat in Chief, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is a WIFi thermostat that allows you to control your heating and cooling system with the help of an application or your voice. Some features allow it to stand out.

Ecobee stands out with its earlier products by including a remote temperature sensor in the box with the thermostat. The thermostat itself can read the ambient temperature of the room in which it is located and adjust accordingly. If you want to adjust the temperature according to the conditions prevailing in another room, simply switch to the remote sensor. This is a useful accessory if your thermostat installation point is not in a central location or if you want to make sure that a nursery or your home office is the focal point of Ecobee temperature readings, rather than a distant hallway.

Read more: The best intelligent thermostats of 2019

You can buy the same accessory for a Nest Thermostat, but Ecobee includes one in the box. Ecobee is also more agnostic about working with voice assistants than his competitor owned by Google. Where Nest will work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (perhaps maintained as an inherited feature before Nest bought Nest), Ecobee supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.

Perhaps the most unique, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is himself an Amazon Echo speaker. You will not be impressed by its audio output for music playback, but as a base extension for Alexa around your house, the Ecobee does an admirable job. Maybe you really want Alexa in this far corridor.

Read our review Ecobee SmartThermostat

Chris Monroe / CNET

This is not a small investment to buy in the Arlo Pro 2 security camera kit. The starter kit, which includes two Arlo Pro 2 indoor / outdoor cameras and the base that connects them to the Internet, It will normally cost $ 480 when it is not for sale. Each additional camera will cost $ 150 later. This cost is comparable to the cost per camera for a Nest Cam camera or other popular Wi-Fi security camera, so Arlo's economic situation is at least healthy. Free cloud storage for seven days of video clips also helps. Most other devices will charge you extra.

What's even better is the great flexibility you get with the Arlo Pro 2: its weather-resistant design makes the cameras suitable for indoor or outdoor use. You can power them with a cable or with the included rechargeable battery up to six months. An easy-to-install magnetic base also gives you almost infinite flexibility in positioning each camera. They can also stand alone without base on any horizontal surface. In short, you can install these cameras anywhere or move them with ease.

Read more: The best security cameras for the 2019 smart home

The compatibility of Alexa and Google Assistant seals the agreement. You can view their feed on any compatible video device, from your phone to your smart screens, to a TV with Fire TV technology or Google Chromecast.

Do you just want an affordable indoor camera? The $ 30 Wyze Cam Pan $ 30 camera is our current favorite. No other camera comes close to the Wyze in terms of features for the dollar. But for indoor / outdoor installation throughout the home, the Arlo Pro 2 receives assent.

Read our review Arlo Pro 2

Chris Monroe / CNET

Cameras are one thing, but if you are really concerned about security throughout your home, the best choice is the SimpliSafe 3.0 kit. It starts at $ 229 for the base station, a keyboard, a motion detector and an open / close detector. It's a start, but one of the things we love most about SimpliSafe is the ability to customize your setup from a selection of eight different sensors, from smoke to glassbreaker.

Unlike many home security systems, SimpliSafe does not require a contract to lock you into its service plan. You can choose a professional monitoring fee of $ 15 per month, but it is not mandatory and you can cancel at any time.

Read more: The best home security systems of 2019

The competing systems of Ring, Nest, ADT and Vivint all offer similar combinations of hardware and pay-per-view, but they all offer too few features if you do not accept a set of services, or start at a much higher speed. price points than SimpliSafe without making up the difference in better material. The system we love closest is Abode, which offers a higher starting price, but further integration with other smart home devices. Look in Abode if you do not mind paying a little more in advance and want it to work with other products. As a stand-alone product, SimpliSafe is our first choice.

Read our review SimpliSafe

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

The Nest Hello wired video doorbell connects to your WiFi network so you can see who's at the door in real time. It can also capture and store three hours of free video clips. But the most convincing thing about this is the owner-controlled facial recognition feature.

Read more: The best video ringtones of 2019

Face recognition has its controversy, but the way Google uses it in the Nest Hello doorbell seems like the right way to do it, at least until the next data privacy scandal. Unlike many commercial systems that rely on existing databases to create a match, Nest Hello helps you create your own personal facial recognition database based on the people who come to you. Once you have identified the most common visitors, the app will recognize them and alert you when they will show up at your door.

The normal Nest Hello registration price is $ 230, which is at the top of the scale. A discount from Walmart and other retailers will get you one for $ 180. This is a good deal for the best video doorbell on the market.

Editor's note: Google has made changes to the Works with Nest ecosystem, effectively removing the program and replacing it with a new program called Works with Google Assistant. We are re-evaluating our recommendation for the Nest Hello video doorbell in light of this transition.

Read our review Nest Hello

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Smart locks make people nervous because they insert another point of failure between you and your physical security. With a smart lock, a malicious hacker or even a simple technical or connectivity problem, you could suddenly compromise the point of entry to your home.

There might be some truth to that. A keyless design without physical security could actually block you, but August Smart Lock Pro is not part of these locks.

Read more: The best smart locks of 2019

The August Smart Lock is a bird game to install. It accommodates the internal latch of most existing deadbolt designs and can be configured in 15 minutes. Since it does not replace the locking mechanism, you can still use your original physical key.

The lock itself connects to your phone via Bluetooth and from the August application, you can assign and revoke timed virtual keys to anyone of your choice, from your in-laws to your childcare provider. child, no extra charge. Many other locks will charge extra for virtual keys.

The August Connect accessory included in this offer links the lock to the Internet by connecting it to your wireless network. From there, you can not only control the lock from anywhere, but you can also connect it to Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri (make sure each one needs a PIN for accompany the unlock command) for convenience.

Another accessory with the Pro model is the tiny open / close sensor. This allows the lock not only to tell you whether it is locked or unlocked, but also whether the door itself is open or closed. This is the most complete solution available on the market.

Read our review August Smart Lock Pro

Originally published early this year.

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