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The smart home craze is officially here. And with that hundreds of ordinary products are slapped with the “smart” label, confusing shoppers into thinking they’re purchasing a high-tech piece of equipment capable of doing incredible things.
Sometimes those labels, if you can believe it, are meaningless. They don’t guarantee an intelligent product that can perform various tasks through automation, much like a smart item should. And worse yet, they’re often overpriced.
— MakeUseOf (@MakeUseOf) May 27, 2016
So be careful with your money and buy more confidently after you’ve read this article. And be sure to avoid gimmicks that promise one thing and deliver another, or fail to deliver anything at all.
Smart or a Gimmick?
If you’ve purchased one of these items, don’t worry, we’re sure it serves some value. But we’re not sure the smart label was tagged appropriately.
Overpriced Smart Toaster
This “smart” toaster comes in at over $350 on Amazon. $350 for a toaster!
Why so expensive, you might ask? Well according to the specs, it includes die-cast metal casing, bamboo toasting tongs, and an intelligent one-touch auto lowering function. If that’s not enough, the product also features LED progress lights so you don’t burn your bread. All very important, necessary elements.
Ok. I’ll stop being sarcastic.
This over-priced (in my world) smart toaster does everything a normal, lesser expensive toaster could do – it browns your bread. The added tech features, which aren’t necessary, are included for that smart tech label, which isn’t regulated or approved. It can literally be put on anything.
Though, it’s not all bad. According to reviewers on various online shopping sites, most people are happy with the product, which is great. I just fail to see what makes this a smart product. Surely it can’t be the one-touch auto lowering button or the LEDs?
Anyway, I’ll let you decide.
Smart Tool Case
Up next is a smart tool case brought to you by tool makers in Germany. Please excuse the German in the video below.
This smart case promises to do everything a normal case can do. It holds your tools, keeps them organized, and prevents against exposure from outdoor elements. All very nice.
But the smart label has also been tagged. Why? Because of marketing. The company here is selling a case that is smart in terms of organization and utility, not smart on tech, unintentionally catching the eyes of smart product shoppers. Not their problem. But it is a problem for buyers who want that next piece of high-end tech for their garage.
Speaking of garage, here’s another item that could confuse smart shoppers:
The Smart Light
This light seeks to change the way you use lights by being completely hands-free, which could be handy for many situations. It can be attached to any window or smooth surface, but is meant to be suctioned onto a car window for lockouts in low-light situations.
My beef with it? The labeling. Similar to the tool case, it does what it’s designed to do. But is it smart? Not in the tech sense.
It does, however, excel in its usefulness. It seems to be a decent product that serves a certain niche in helping people access their cars after being locked out.
Just don’t think you’re buying a light capable of completing automated tasks. If you do want a smart light, there are plenty to choose from.
But what we don’t want you to choose is the:
Swiss + Tech Smart Clip
Why? It’s obviously a gimmick.
The marketing on the package suggests that you’re purchasing a somewhat high-end piece of tech, and the price of nearly $12 seems way too high for a flashlight clip that can also hold your keys. Not only is the labeling deceptive, but the product itself is unnecessary, especially at that price point.
Not sold. I hope you’re not either.
This vacuum, the Dyson 360 robot vacuum cleaner, and others like it are products you should avoid.
Why? Because robotic vacuums are a waste of money. They’re overpriced, have less suction, don’t do stairs, and require maintenance.
While the product is intelligent and can perform automated tasks, it’s not able to perform those tasks well enough. And for that reason, it’s labeled more as a gimmick.
How to Find Smart Products that are Actually Smart
So, now that we’ve gone through some gimmicks. Let’s take a look at how to find legitimate smart products.
The very first thing you should do is recognize the brand, of which there are plenty.
Next, consider from where you’re purchasing your smart product. Amazon’s smart home section (CA) is a great first step to finding items online. eBay’s home automation section is ok, though it’s more difficult to navigate. Smarthome.com is also a nice online store. If you want to visit a brick and mortar shop, try visiting a place with a reputable name you recognize. You don’t want to make your first purchase without a return policy.
Lastly, don’t purchase on the premium. A lot of these smart products can be assembled at home, can be purchased for way less, or aren’t appropriately tagged with the smart label. Do your homework and buy with confidence. There are a lot of great smart products out there, if you know where and how to find them.
Down with Gimmicks
I love tech achievements, especially smart home tech. It’s exciting to see products evolve to help people and even save the environment. But I hate gimmicks, especially sold at a premium. And some of these products are no more than hyped goods.
If you’d like to find some great products from reputable brands, check out some more Smart Home articles here. We’ve got you covered to find what you want!
What do you look for when buying smart products? Have you been duped by the smart sticker that promises everything but delivers nothing intelligent? Tell us your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below…