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Smart Home Reviews

52

[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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25

JBL Link Bar review: Android TV in a soundbar is a fantastic idea that JBL very nearly nails

Adding a soundbar is one of the quickest, easiest, and potentially most impressive upgrades you can make to your television, supercharging your entertainment experience with rich, room-filling sound. And while there's no shortage of options out there, supporting tons of extra audio channels or external subwoofers, we’re only now starting to see really smart, connected solutions emerge.

The JBL Link Bar is just such a marriage, wedding Android TV smarts with a 100W soundbar. So instead of just upgrading your TV to sound a whole lot better, it offers a shot in the arm for aging legacy sets that lack built-in streaming or smart-home features of their own.

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24

Review: Budget-friendly Blink XT2 smart camera reminds us you get what you pay for

Smart home shoppers have dozens of options when it comes to internet-connected cameras, with solutions available from Nest, Arlo, Eufy, and more. Those run the gamut in terms of hardware features, cloud connectivity, and ultimate cost — initial and ongoing. Can the cheaper systems hold their own against the big boys? Today we're looking at one of the more affordable indoor/outdoor wireless cams, the new XT2 from Amazon-owned Blink.

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35

Wyze Bulb review: Smart lighting this affordable is clearly a bright idea

Wyze is on a mission to convert your house into a full-blown smart home, even if it has to do so piece by piece. The company started out selling very affordable surveillance cameras, which have only become more powerful as they pick up new functionality.

But the big move for Wyze happened just a couple months back, with the expansion beyond cameras into the security-focused Wyze Sense. Now we've got a smart scale and connected outlets just over the horizon, but today we're taking a look at Wyze's first foray into lighting, as we go hands-on with the recently released Wyze Bulb.

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16

Review: Logitech Harmony Express is a universal remote for people with more money than time

The ultimate and original automation convenience is the universal remote: a simple gadget that replaces all your similar devices, turning elaborate multi-step operations into a one-button convenience. Logitech's Harmony series of remotes and hubs have offered one of the best experiences out there, but at the cost of a complex setup and maintenance process. The new Harmony Express streamlines almost everything about the experience, but I don't think that convenience is worth the sky-high price tag.

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98

The best smart home devices you can buy right now (Summer 2019)

Worldwide sales of voice assistant smart speakers from Google, Amazon, and others continue to grow, and the same can be said of the smart home sector as a whole. The technology underpinning these products is always improving and it’s becoming increasingly affordable to bring smart gadgets into your house.

There's already such a vast number of different products from various companies out there that it's hard to know which ones are the best, so we've put together this list with some of our favorites.

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29

GE C-Life Multicolor review: A smart bulb perfect for your Google Home, no Wi-Fi necessary

Earlier this year, we reviewed the C by GE Smart Bulb the first light bulb that connects directly to your Google Home using a mesh Bluetooth network. It's great to have a smart home device that doesn't require yet another app or account, and not only did the bulb work flawlessly for its intended purpose, but it's still a great value (you can currently get a two-pack for $17).

GE announced at CES 2019 that it would release color versions of the Smart Bulb, and now it has done just that. The confusingly named "C by GE A19 Bluetooth Smart LED Light Bulb Multicolor" is just as good as its predecessor, making it one of the best smart lights you can get.

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13

Arlo Ultra review: A good security camera with a bad price

You've got numerous choices in connected some security cameras these days, but almost all of them require wires. Running a camera solely on batteries introduces a lot of uncertainty. Will it last long enough? Will it wake up reliably? Arlo, a former Netgear subsidiary, has released several battery-powered cameras that bested the competition, but the new Arlo Ultra is a tougher sell.

This 4K camera has a high upfront cost and higher monthly fees than other devices, but the performance is admittedly impressive. The video is incredible, and the addition of a spotlight is genuinely helpful. After some software updates, the Arlo Ultra is a good product with similar reliability to Arlo's past cameras.

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40

Lenovo Smart Clock review: A decent Assistant speaker at the wrong price

The first 'smart displays' running Google Assistant were released last year, including Google's own Home Nest Hub. They're all 7-10 inches across, with enhanced functionality over audio-only speakers. They can display video news briefings, place video Duo calls, show video news briefings, bring up security camera feeds, play YouTube videos, and more.

But what if you want something smaller? Amazon's Echo Spot was released in late 2017, and a five-inch Echo Show was just announced, but not everyone likes to use Alexa. Lenovo introduced an Assistant-powered smart clock at CES earlier this year, and now you can actually buy one...

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15

Synology LiveCam review: Turns old phones into security cameras, but I wish it worked better

Last year when Synology revealed its new LiveCam app, we knew we had to check it out. The potential convenience of turning an old phone into a remote, battery-augmented security camera was appealing, especially considering the existing power and flexibility of the company's Surveillance Station security camera management system. After months of testing, though, LiveCam makes a better stop-gap than a solution.

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