If you’re looking to buy smart home technology, you’ll have to decide between purchasing top-end products or cheaper alternatives. Either way, you won’t be short of options.
Everything from Sonos to Philips Hue has a litany of less costly products vying for market share. Often, the cheaper product turns out to be better than the more expensive model. For instance, the ILIFE A6 robot vacuum is a worthy rival to Roomba at a fraction of the cost.
We don’t want you to waste your money, but we know you also want the best smart home products available. So, which gadgets are worth every penny? Which expensive devices are “must-haves” for any smart home fanatic? Keep reading to find out more.
1. Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo is a voice-controlled speaker, but it can do a lot more than just play music. First launched in 2015, the Echo is an amalgamation of three key features: voice control, smart home control, and a personal assistant.
The personal assistant is powered by Amazon Alexa. She can relay live information such as news and traffic reports, but can also be used to add events to your calendar or add notes to your to-do list. You can also install third-party skills. We’ve covered some of the best elsewhere on the site.
Echo speakers are compatible with an ever-growing list of smart home devices. The list includes Samsung SmartThings hubs, Philips Hue lights, August smart locks, Nest thermostats, and many more products you use every day.
Given the second generation of Echo speakers are available on Amazon for less than $120, buying one is a no-brainer.
None of us, however, are divided on the Nanoleaf Light Panels. They were already some of the best smart lights you could buy, but the recent Rhythm Edition upgrade has taken them to a whole new level.
Nanoleaf Light Panels are triangular LED light panels that can change color. You can mount them on your wall in any configuration you want.
The Rhythm Edition turns the LED panels into music visualizers. The integrated sound sensor can detect beats, sounds, and melodies in real-time.
If you already own Nanoleaf Light Panels, don’t despair. The company is selling a plug-in rhythm module separately.
A Nanoleaf Rhythm Edition starter kit typically will set you back a few hundred dollars. It comes with the plug-in module and nine LED panels. The standalone module costs $49.99 from the company’s website.
Sonos has produced the best wireless speakers for many years. The company is still well clear of the chasing pack.
The speakers themselves are renowned for producing high-quality sound with no distortion, even at high volumes. They are perfect for both audiophiles and casual listeners. They’re also gorgeous; they will look great anywhere in your home.
The system allows you to group speakers if you want to play the same audio in multiple rooms. Alternatively, you can play a different output on each speaker.
Furthermore, the latest Sonos One model ships with Amazon Alexa, thus providing you with a ready-to-use smart assistant wherever you place your speaker.
Lastly, if you’re a competent programmer, you can pair your Sonos speakers with a Raspberry Pi and use them to play voice notifications.
There are many different components in the Sonos system. The music range includes the One, Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5. The TV range is made up of the Playbase, Playbar, and Sub. You can even add “dumb” Hi-Fi systems into your setup using the Connect and Amp.
Universal remotes have enjoyed an explosion in popularity over recent years. The selection on offer is diverse; you’ll always be able to find one to suit your needs.
But there’s one universal remote that reigns supreme over all the others, in terms of both price and quality. It’s the Logitech Harmony Elite.
The device doesn’t come cheap. If you buy it through the Logitech website, you’ll need to shell out a few hundred dollars. For the money, you’ll get the remote handset, a hub, and a smartphone app. You can often find better deals on Amazon.
Some of the remote’s best features include:
- Custom Activities: One button can simultaneously perform multiple actions. For example, you could dim the lights, draw the curtains, and open Netflix ready to watch a film. Or lock the doors, turn off the TV, and program the coffee machine before going to bed.
- Alexa Integration: You can make use of Amazon’s personal assistant by talking into your handset.
- Third-Party Support: Most prominent smart devices are compatible with the remote, including Ecobee, Insteon, Nest, Yale, SmartThings, Wink, and Philips Hue.
Remember, if you don’t want to invest in a universal remote, you can use your smartphone to perform many of the same tasks.
Nest thermostats have been at the forefront of the smart home revolution since the manufacturer introduced the first-generation model in 2011.
Now, three generations later, the thermostat is better than ever.
After you install one in your home, the device slowly learns what temperature you like at what time of day. It will automatically adjust itself based on those preferences. You can also control the temperature remotely, and it even knows when you’re away from home.
They’re all significant benefits. But the device really comes into its own when you consider how much money it can save you. Independent studies have shown Nest saves people an average of 11 percent on their heating bills and 15 percent on their cooling bills.
So, even though the device costs a couple hundred dollars for a single unit on the company’s website, it will pay for itself within two years. The company has produced a white paper explaining the financial benefits in more detail.
And remember, purchasing the device on Amazon rather than directly from Nest could save you money. The Nest Learning Thermostat will pay for itself even sooner.
These Smart Home Products Are Worth Every Penny
We’ve reviewed many smart home products on the site and on our YouTube channel, and these five high-end devices offer the best experience. None of the cheaper alternatives come close to replicating their features and usefulness.