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Smart Home Reviews

22

Arlo Video Doorbell review: Nest and Ring should be worried about this nicely equipped, solid value

How are you going to call yourself a smart-home company, one with a huge focus on video, and not have a video doorbell? That's a question Arlo had no doubt been asking itself for some time, and while it launched its Audio Doorbell with matching wireless Chime back in 2018, that one was largely meant to be used with the company's existing video cameras. It took another year for the follow-up effort to arrive, but in late 2019 we finally got a proper Arlo Video Doorbell.

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32

Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt review: A lock this good is 'key' to smartening up your home

Some smart home gadgets seem like solutions in search of a problem, shoehorning IoT connectivity into something that was working just fine without it — unless you're that one guy who really needs to talk to Alexa while playing the keyboard. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, you've got the smart lock, an early leader into the world of the connected home that managed to reinvent a "dumb" product with some genuinely useful new functionality.

There's no shortage of smart lock options out there, running the gamut from fully integrated replacements to add-ons that quickly attach to existing locks.

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16

Lenovo Smart Display 7 review: Not dethroning the Nest Hub any time soon

If you haven't already bought a smart display and you aren't skipping out over privacy concerns, you really should pick one up. They're a lot more than just a "digital photo frame," providing all the same utility as a smart speaker, plus piles of extra interaction from a touchscreen. But you might want to be careful about which smart display you buy. Lenovo's newest Smart Display 7 might have an attractive design, but it's got piles of little problems that might make the identically-priced (and often discounted) Nest Hub a better choice. Sadly, it doesn't quite live up to the high standards set by Lenovo's previous models, either.

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32

Firewalla review: A powerful all-in-one solution to monitor and protect your home network

Security and privacy are at the heart of our concerns with technology now. With every breach, hack, and vulnerability, we discover how frail this digital footprint we've created is. To protect ourselves, we make sure our devices are always updated with the latest security patches, we try to avoid suspicious sites and apps, we keep our eyes open for phishing attempts in our inbox, but that still isn't enough. If you have smart home gadgets or if you don't control every device in your household, you need network-level protection. Some Wi-Fi routers offer this, but the feature is usually tied in a monthly subscription.

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5

TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip review: Voice-controlled RGB lights for your furniture

Light strips are pretty great. They can brighten up dark corners of your home, like under kitchen cabinets or inside closets, or they can bring ambiance to your furniture. What could be better than a light strip, you might ask? How about a smart light strip?

TP-Link announced the Kasa Smart Multicolor Light Strip (KL430) all the way back at CES 2019, and it was finally released last month. It packs 16 individual color zones and 10 preset animated lighting effects. I've been not-so-patiently waiting for the Smart Light Strip to arrive, and I'm not disappointed — even if some of the promised functionality isn't live yet.

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63

Google Nest Wifi review: Effortless whole-home networking made even better

Modern-day networking has taken a lot of the sting out of getting your devices up and connected, but there can still be a lot of hoops to jump though, and the idea of running cables, placing antennas, and drowning in a sea of DHCP leases and DNS lookups is enough to give even seasoned techies a mild panic attack. Google's hoping to further reduce many of those headaches while still giving users a powerful home network with the introduction of its new Nest Wifi mesh system.

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6

Arlo Pro 3 review: Two steps forward, one step back

Wireless cameras have had a huge impact on how we're able to keep a watchful eye over our homes, possessions, and loved ones. Modern systems are as feature packed as they are easy to install, and the field is still new enough that we're seeing real improvements generation-to-generation. Earlier this year, Arlo launched a 4K option in the form of its Ultra cam, and now we're getting a fresh entry in its Pro series with the release of the Arlo Pro 3.

The Pro 2 was already a fantastic wireless camera, with a solid 1080p resolution, battery life extending into weeks, and free 7-day cloud storage for recorded clips.

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14

Wyze Plug review: Turning you on to quick and easy home automation

No one wants to go broke while upgrading their house to become a smart home, and that's a big part of what's made Wyze hardware so appealing: straightforward functionality at a just-can't-be-beat price. Following the launch of Wyze Sense security sensors and the Wyze Bulb earlier this year, the company's smart home offerings are now joined by a solution for controlling existing appliances: the Wyze Plug.

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23

Nuki Opener review: A smarter intercom to complement your smart lock

With smart locks becoming more readily available and more reliable, many customers have made the switch and streamlined entrance to their homes. If you're a house owner, that and a garage opener are likely all you need, but if you live in an apartment building, things become more complicated. What good is a smart lock if you can't get into the building or gate in the first place? Intercoms are the next obstacle to overcome.

Nuki, a smart lock brand aimed at the European market, recently released the Opener, an intercom add-on to control entrance to your building from your phone.

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54

[Update: Two weeks later] The Nest Hub Max is the best smart display, but not the best security camera

No product is more emblematic of the fusion of Google and Nest into a single brand than the new Google Nest Hub Max. This is the bigger brother to the Google Home Hub, later renamed the Google Nest Hub. The two devices share many of the same features like Ambient EQ and smart home controls, but the Hub Max steps up with a camera, better audio, and a much larger screen for $229. If you're looking to pick up a big smart display with Assistant, the Nest Hub Max is absolutely your best bet. However, don't count on the "Nest" part of the Nest Hub Max to impress—it's not a very good security camera.

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