Wyze has made its name in the US by offering competent smart home hardware for startlingly little money—$20 for a camera, $50 for a smart thermostat, and so on. The $250 Wyze Robot Vacuum is by far its most expensive product, but it's still cheap compared to the competition. This device sports full 3D mapping, scheduling, and it's got an app that isn't terrible. Most importantly, it does a very good job cleaning, assuming you don't mind a little noise. Unfortunately, you can't control this device with Google Assistant, but that's one of the few drawbacks.
Google released the original Nest Hub (née Home Hub) in 2018, and we liked it even at $150. That price came down substantially, giving more people a chance to try out what was arguably the best Assistant smart display. Google says one in five people put that device in their bedrooms, thanks largely to the lack of a camera. The second-gen Hub still doesn't have a camera, but it does watch you. Hiding inside the almost identical chassis is a Soli radar module, which monitors your movement and breathing to track sleep. Any technology product that watches you sleep is bound to come off a little creepy, but there's more to the Hub than sleep tracking.
Lenovo is one of a few companies to ever launch dedicated smart alarm clocks with Google Assistant, so there's never been loads of competition in the market. Xiaomi is looking to change that with its new Mi Smart Clock, a cute little gadget that should fit well with almost any bedroom design.
Unfortunately, the device is held back by the same issues that made the Lenovo clocks hard to recommend. Smart clocks are much more limited than smart displays, but they don't cost much less. They're not compatible with most video streaming apps, and they don't display some of the useful visual elements full-fledged smart displays offer.
Nest kicked off the era of smart thermostats in 2011, and since then, there have been improved thermostats, new products, and a Google acquisition. Through all that, Nest's thermostats have remained at the premium end of the market. The company's previous "budget" thermostat was still $180 at launch. The new Nest Thermostat, however, is undeniably a budget device. There's the price, of course, at a mere $130. The hardware also looks much cheaper in real life, but that's not totally unsurprising given the price.
At this point, Nanoleaf is pretty well known — if not by name, at least from the geometric shapes in the background of countless YouTube videos and Twitch streams. We've all seen them, curiously Googled them up, and been shocked at the price tag. But these aren't some cheap Assistant-compatible smart bulb; they're wall-mounted art pieces with smart home functionality. So, are they worth it? If you can stomach the cost and the bad app, we think so.
With movie theaters still closed in most places, the home theater experience is more important than ever. A spiffy Atmos surround sound system can take your viewing experience to the next level, but maybe you don't want to run wires or have speakers permanently installed around your room. Well, that happens to be the niche JBL is targeting with the JBL Bar 9.1. It's an Atmos-enabled soundbar with a whopping 820W of power and detachable satellite speakers that you can place around the room when you need them. It also has full integration with Google's Chromecast platform, so you can manage it from the Home app.
Yeelight's M2 smart light came out of nowhere at the end of last year, with a low price (for RGB smart lighting) and the convenience of Google's seamless setup. That means no third-party apps or services, no external hubs, and no long tedious process to get things working. In fact, this is almost the perfect Assistant-connected smart bulb. The only bummer is how dim it is in warm white lighting modes.
Millions of people transitioning to working from home this year has led to more than a few problems. Products like webcams and laptops have been in short supply, and home Wi-Fi networks are pushed to their breaking point with dozens of connected devices, Zoom calls, Netflix sessions, and email threads. In most cases, a mesh router is the best way to build a home network that deals with these new demands.
Xiaomi has a reputation of offering great value across its vast product verticals, often without compromising on features (or quality, for that matter) — something you can also say about its first smart vacuum cleaner launched in India. The Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop P, as its name implies, is a versatile device that can do both sweeping and mopping, and spoiler alert: It’s pretty good at both. It’s got plenty of smart features to make your life a bit easier, but it goes without saying that you’ll have to make do with a few of its limitations as well, which may even turn out to be trivial based on how you plan on using the robot.
This story was originally published and last updated .
The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is not a massive leap in technology—it's a clock radio. A glorified clock radio. A more sensible, smart clock radio. But it's still a clock with a speaker. It tells the time and weather, and it's got Google Assistant. It's missing a few features, and the audio is about what you'd expect for $50, but I found it to be a great addition to my home. Whether or not you agree depends on what you want out of your Assistant devices, but there's a lot to like about the Smart Clock Essential.