The best portable batteries and chargers you can buy right now (Winter 2018)
The best wireless headphones, USB-C earbuds, and smart speakers you can buy (Early 2020)
The best smart home devices you can buy right now (Spring 2020)
The best smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearables for Android (Spring 2020)
The best cheap true wireless earbuds you can buy (Summer 2020)
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Millions of homes now contain a smart assistant speaker of some variety and sales of IoT products continue to grow as the market matures and prices come down across the sector. With so many options available, it's hard to know what to buy, and that's where we come in — this is a selection of our favorite smart home gadgets. Whether you want to just dip your toes in the water with a cheap Google Nest Mini or dive into the deep end with smart lights, cameras, thermostats, doorbells, and so on — we’ve got you covered.
Spring 2020 update
This post was updated in March 2020 to include the latest products worth spending your cash on. If you have any other suggestions for smart home gadgets you think we should consider, let us know in the comments.
All prices correct at the time of writing.
Best — Google Home Max
Budget — Nest Mini
This first category is often the gateway to other smart home products, and it largely depends on your choice of ecosystem. In the US and many other countries, there are two distinct camps — Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. If you choose the former, there’s a range of Google Home devices at various price points, from the wallet-friendly Nest Mini up to the audiophile-pleasing (but aging) Home Max. What's more, when Google updated its excellent Nest Wifi mesh routers, they included a Nest Mini-esque speaker in each point. The original Home Mini is also still available for an even lower price. If you go down the Amazon route, there’s a similar array of Echo speakers to suit any need. The Echo Dot is a great entry-level unit that can be had for as cheap as $29 during sale periods but there are also more expensive options with better sound if that's important to you. Go with whatever you can afford, on either side, and you probably won't be disappointed.
If you want something with Assistant capabilities from a company that knows a little bit more about audio, including headphones and earbuds as well as speakers, take a look at our guide to the best audio products you can buy right now. At the high-end, the Sonos One and Harman Kardon Citation One are good options, but if you want something you can take with you, the Bose Portable Home Speaker and Sonos Move both sound great but do not come cheap.
- Nest Mini — $49 - Google, Best Buy, B&H, Walmart /
£49£29 (until April 21) - Google
- Nest Wifi & Point — $199 - Google, Best Buy, B&H / £239 - Google
- Home Mini — $39 - Google, Best Buy, B&H
- Home — $99 - Google, Best Buy, B&H, Walmart / £89 - Google
- Home Max — $299 - Google, Best Buy, B&H, Walmart /
£299£249 (until April 21) - Google
- Echo Dot — $49.99 - Amazon, Best Buy / £39.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Echo Dot with clock — $59.99 - Amazon / £89.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Echo — $99.99 - Amazon, Best Buy / £59.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Echo Plus — $149.99 - Amazon, Best Buy, B&H / £139.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Echo Studio — $199.99 - Amazon / £189.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- One — $199 - Sonos, Amazon / £199 - Sonos, Amazon.co.uk
- Move — $399 - Sonos, Amazon / £399 - Sonos, Amazon.co.uk
Best — Nest Hub Max
Budget — Nest Hub
Smart displays are essentially a smart speaker with a screen glued on. The original Echo Show was the first product of this kind, and there are now multiple different models from Amazon to choose from, but there’s still more competition in the Google Assistant Smart Display space. Google’s own Nest Hub (previously known as the Home Hub before Google Nest became a thing) is the cheapest among them, so that’s a good place to start, but Lenovo, JBL, and LG also have options with cameras for video calls and louder speakers. With the largest screen and arguably the nicest design, the 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display is a good buy, but Google's similarly-sized Nest Hub Max is the current cream of the crop thanks to advanced features like facial recognition and gesture control.
- Nest Hub — $129 - Google, Best Buy, B&H, Walmart /
£99£59 (until April 21) - Google
- Nest Hub Max — $199 - Google, Best Buy, B&H /
£219£199 (until April 21) - Google
- Echo Show 2nd gen — $199 - Amazon / £219.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Echo Show 5 — $89.99 - Amazon / £79.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Echo Show 8 — $129.99 - Amazon / £99.99 - Amazon.co.uk
Lenovo Smart Display
- 10-inch— $149.99 - Lenovo, B&H
- 8-inch — $129.99 - Lenovo / £179.99 - Lenovo
- 7-inch — $99.99 -Lenovo / £99.99 - Lenovo
- Alarm Clock — $59.99.99 - Lenovo / £74.99 - Lenovo
JBL Link View — $276.99 - B&H
LG WK9 ThinQ View — $219.99 - B&H
Best — Nvidia Shield TV
Budget — Roku Express
The Google Chromecast is still a decent streaming device, but many of us prefer something with a little more to the user experience. On the budget end, there are excellent options from Roku and the Amazon Fire TV range continues to be popular. If you want the best Android TV experience, the refreshed 2019 Nvidia Shield TV is what you want — although, there is talk of an upcoming Google product (with a remote!) that could offer some competition at a lower price. If you want to play Stadia on your TV, the Chromecast Ultra is currently the only compatible option right now. For a more comprehensive (and pricier) TV viewing experience, we recommend a Caavo control center.
- Shield TV — $149.99 - Nvidia, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Walmart / £149.99 - Nvidia
- Shield TV Pro — $199.99 - Nvidia, Amazon / £199 - Nvidia
- New Shield TV Remote — $29.99 - Nvidia
- Express — $29.99 - Roku, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H / £29.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Streaming Stick+ — $49.99 - Roku, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Walmart / £49.99 - Argos
- Fire TV Stick — $39.99 - Amazon, Best Buy, B&H / £39.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Fire TV Stick 4K — $49.99 - Amazon, Best Buy, B&H / £49.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Chromecast — $35 - Google, Best Buy, B&H /
£30£25 (until April 21) - Google
- Chromecast Ultra — $69 - Google, Best Buy, B&H /
£69£59 (until April 21) - Google
Caavo — $159.99 - Caavo
Best — Hubitat
Budget — Samsung SmartThings
When a Google Home or Amazon Echo isn’t quite enough for you, a hub could be the answer. They can combine various smart home protocols such as Z-Wave and Zigbee, giving you more flexibility than a standard WiFi-only setup. Samsung’s SmartThings Hub was our top pick last year, and it remains a good budget option with a wide range of first-party sensors. It's also even cheaper if you own an Nvidia Shield TV as you can simply plug in a SmartThings dongle for the same functionality as the standalone hub. If you want a more robust solution, however, we'd recommend Hubitat. It's not for the faint of heart since it's not the most user-friendly system around, but if you can get past that it has an unrivaled feature set and is great value for money, with Zigbee and Z-Wave support plus local logic storage.
Budget — C by GE
Best — Philips Hue
Extravagant pick — Nanoleaf Canvas
Connected light bulbs are an inexpensive introduction to smart home tech that can add a lot of character to your environment. There’s often not much between different brands, with many of them controllable with just a Nest Mini thanks to WiFi connectivity. In part due to the added versatility and reliability of the Zigbee protocol that underpins it, but also because its range of different lighting options is now so vast, the Philips Hue range is our number one pick. LifX is also a decent choice for those wanting simple WiFi-controlled lights without the need for a separate bridge.
Rita's LifX lighting in action.
IKEA’s cut-price bulbs, dimmers, and switches are great budget picks that work with Google Assistant, although you do need to shell out $35 for the Gateway. Our favorite budget bulbs come from C by GE, though, with both white and color bulbs that are sync easily with Google Home over Bluetooth without the need for WiFi. Anker's smart home brand Eufy also has some nice affordable smart bulbs that I've been using for a little while now, while budget smart home disruptor Wyze also sells a cheap and cheerful lighting solution.
If you're looking for some more creative or artistic lighting installations, the Nanoleaf Canvas and Aurora Light Panels are among Rita's favorites. Then there's the LifX Beam, which lights the way in my living room. And Corbin recently tried out TP-Link's Kasa Smart Light Strip and was impressed with the ambient backlighting it created for his desk. Twinkly's LED fairy lights offer up something a little more festive.
- Single bulb white — $9.99 - Philips / £14.99 - Philips
- Single bulb filament — $24.99 - Philips, Amazon / £17.99 - Philips
- Single bulb color — $49.99 - Philips, Amazon / £49.99 - Philips
- Bridge — $59.99 - Philips / £49.99 - Philips
- Mini white single — $19.99 - Lifx, Amazon / £19.99 - Lifx, Amazon.co.uk
- Mini color single — $44.99 - Lifx, Amazon / £44.99 - Lifx, Amazon.co.uk
- Beam — $149.99 - Amazon / £179.99 - Lifx, Amazon.co.uk
C by GE
Wyze bulb — $7.99 - Wyze
- Aurora Light panels (Rhythm Edition) — $199.99 - Nanoleaf, Amazon / £179.99 - Nanoleaf, Amazon.co.uk
- Canvas — $199.99 - Nanoleaf, Amazon / £179.99 - Nanoleaf, Amazon.co.uk
Twinkly LED String Lights — $129.99 - Amazon
Plugs and switches
Best — Eufy Energy Monitoring Smart Plug
Budget — Wyze Plug
If your lights or other gadgets aren’t of the smart variety, you could improve their IQ by plugging them into a smart outlet. Take this as a fun example of what you can do with a smart plug. They range from basic WiFi-connected plugs that can be turned on or off with a Google Assistant Voice command to more sophisticated products like the Eufy monitoring plug that can tell you how much energy you’re using. Other good affordable options come from trusted brands like Wyze and Aukey. With a power strip like this Kasa one from TP-Link, you get six smart outlets in one. As with its lights, IKEA also offers enticing budget alternatives, especially useful if you already have the Gateway.
The likes of Philips Hue and IKEA also do switches that go with their light collections, but TP-Link and C by GE both do Google Assistant compatible ones that turn dumb lights smart, too. On the budget end, the ingenious SwitchBot is an adorable little robot (above) that can be attached to pre-existing switches.
Wyze plug 2-pack — $14.99 - Wyze
- Smart Plug — $14.96 - Amazon / £14.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Kasa Powerstrip 6-outlet — $79.99 - Amazon / 3-plug UK — £26.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- Kasa switch — $19.99 - Amazon
C by GE
Switchbot — $29 - Amazon
Thermostats and AC
Best — Ecobee SmartThermostat
Budget — Nest Thermostat E
Ecobee already ruled the roost when it came to smart energy solutions, and then it launched the new SmartThermostat last year which proved to be even better. It supports Alexa and the Google Assistant and comes with multiple sensors to place around your home for optimal temperature measurements. The Nest Thermostat E is a good choice for those on a tight budget, especially if you're tied into the Google Nest ecosystem. If you don't live in a home with ducted thermostats, there are alternatives for controlling your ductless AC or heat pump, such as Sensibo Sky and Cielo Breez Eco, both of which come with Google Assistant support. Netatmo has some interesting products that regulate more than just the temperature in your home, such as the Healthy Home Coach that measures humidity, air quality, noise, and temperature. The more expensive Weather Station looks at the same metrics with indoor and outdoor modules, also taking internal ventilation and external barometric pressure into account.
- Healthy Home Coach — $99.99 - Netatmo , Amazon/ £89.99 - Netatmo, Amazon.co.uk
- Weather Station — $179.99 - Netatmo / £149.99 - Netatmo
Cielo Breez Eco — Amazon — $79
Best without plan — Arlo Pro 3
Best with plan — Nest Cam IQ
Budget — Wyze Cam
Using connected devices so we don’t have to get off the sofa to turn the lights on is all very well and good, but home security is probably a more worthy use case. The Arlo Pro 3 is like its predecessors in that it's not perfect, but it's still the best of the bunch in the no-plan field. If you’re willing to pay a monthly subscription, the indoor Nest Cam IQ is rich in features such as 4K recording while the outdoor version is similarly fantastic but expensive. Anker's Eufy Cam E makes for a serviceable cheaper option.
Wyze is now the dominant player in the budget price range, with its camera offering HD video and night vision for a miraculous $20. The Pan model adds 360-degree horizontal mobility and 93-degree tilt into the mix for only 10 bucks more — how they can sell them for so cheap is beyond us, but we’re not complaining.
Arlo Pro 3
- 2-cam system — $469.99 - Amazon / £549.99 - Amazon.co.uk
- 3-cam system — $616.80 - Amazon / £749.99 - Amazon.co.uk
Eufy Cam E 2-cam kit — $298.99 - Amazon
Best — Simplisafe
Budget — Wyze Sense
After spending some time using Simplisafe for my smart home security needs, I can easily recommend it as the best system I’ve tried. As the name suggests, it’s incredibly simple to set up and the different package options help you kit out your home with exactly the right hardware. My starter kit came with a base station, keypad, camera, motion sensor, and entry sensor, but the custom build tool allows you to add only what you need without adding too much to the cost — there are a ton of other sensors to choose from. The extra peace of mind that 24/7 external monitoring brings can be had for just $14.99, and there are no contracts so you can cancel whenever you like — perfect for when you go on vacation. If you're tied into the Google Nest ecosystem, Nest Secure is solid but it does not come cheap.
One again, Wyze has delivered an incredible value proposition with its Wyze Sense security pack. For just $20, you get two contact sensors, a motion sensor, and a bridge to add to your Wyze Cam, all of which are adorably tiny (see above). As Ryan explains in his full review, the Wyze kit absolutely gets the job done if you’re just looking for basic security and monitoring for the lowest possible price.
Best — Arlo Video Doorbell
As the commercials would have us believe, burglars always ring the doorbell first to see if anyone’s home. We’re then presented with the solution — a smart doorbell. Something with a camera is the most secure option, allowing you to see who’s at the door and then have a two-way conversation with them. The Arlo Video Doorbell is probably the best around, although if you already have products from Nest, they have a very similar doorbell to complete your lineup (albeit for a bit more money).
Best — August Smart Lock Pro + Connect
Budget — Wyze Lock
So you've got a smart security camera and a doorbell but you're still using an old-fashioned metal key to get into your house like some person from the past. Clearly, you need a smart lock, and there are some good ones out there. Rita is a big fan of Nuki smart locks, which among the best for those who live outside the US. August smart locks are fully-featured, and the best looking in my opinion, and so the Smart Lock Pro + Connect WiFi Bridge with Alexa integration is my top pick. In a similar vein, Nest has teamed up with Yale for a lock with Google Assistant smarts and Schlage also has an option that works with Google and Alexa setups, which Stephen gave an 8.5 in his review. Yet again, Wyze makes it into this category with its budget lock — they just can't be beaten on price.
It may once have been a pipe dream to have a robot do the hoovering for you, but prices have come down so much that it’s now an easily achievable reality for many people. Unfortunately, they aren't all able to shout and swear like this one. I’ve tested a few robot vacuums in recent months, starting with the Eufy RoboVac 30C. I was pleasantly surprised by its ability to pick up even heavier debris thanks to 1500Pa of suction power, and there’s nothing cuter than watching it saunter back to the charging station for a well-earned rest. The included boundary strips allow you to cordon off areas you don’t want it to go, good for avoiding cable tangles and the like. Soon after, I got my hands on the Eufy RobooVac 15C Max, which is practically the same except that it's 500Pa more powerful. It doesn't come with the boundary strips, but it has all the same smarts.
Taking things to the next level is the Roborock S6, recently reviewed by Ryne. It’s a fair bit more expensive at $650 but it’s certainly powerful with 2000Pa suction power. As you’d expect, it will get the job done faster and with fewer passes by the same area, but another plus is that it’s also quieter — setting it to work as I get down to my own work is much less distracting than with the Eufy model. It also goes longer between charges, so I’m able to clean the entirety of my apartment in just one go. Oh, I almost forgot, this one also has a mop function for spillages, too.
Smart fragrance diffusers, obviously
The smart home sector is obviously much larger than just those categories above, which means we sometimes get to test various random and more eclectic devices. The strangest of those in recent memory is probably the Moodo smart fragrance diffuser, but Rita was rather enamored with it.