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Smart Home Reviews

10

Roborock S7 long-term review: Wiping away the mess... and your money

Roborock S7 long-term review: Wiping away the mess... and your money

Robot vacuums have been exploding in popularity over the last few years, and there are plenty of inexpensive units that get the job done. For some, a better vacuum that saves more time is worth a premium price, and Roborock is happy to offer very expensive vacuums like the new Roborock S7 to those folks. The Roborock S7 has all the bells and whistles you could ever want in a robot vacuum, like mopping, zone cleaning, and smart assistant integration. It nails the basics, has plenty of smarts, and rolls right over the competition with its innovative sonic mop… but it costs $650.

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17

Google Nest Cam Battery review: When a third-gen product feels like first-gen

Google Nest Cam Battery review: When a third-gen product feels like first-gen

Google's line of Nest cameras have always offered impressive hardware, but they're expensive and the current lineup is getting a bit long in the tooth. Enter, the new Nest Cam, which features a battery so you can mount it anyplace, even if that location is far away from power. If you're looking for long battery life, this camera has it. The rest of it, not so much.

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17

Nest Doorbell (battery) review: Ding dong ditch

Nest Doorbell (battery) review: Ding dong ditch

Most of us have a doorbell, but most of us probably don't have a smart doorbell, even if our house is otherwise loaded with ostensibly "smart" gadgets. It's actually a pretty useful thing, too, letting you keep an eye on packages, speak to folks that drop by while you're away, or just see who is at the door. Along with the release of Google's new security cameras, it's trying to make them a little more accessible for customers, reducing the cost of the optional subscription and opening up which features are available without one. The new battery-powered $180 Nest Doorbell joins the existing wired option, and it is probably worth a look if you're heavy into the Assistant ecosystem but can't plug in, though there are some notable issues.

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28

Lenovo Smart Frame long-term review: Better at a discount

Lenovo Smart Frame long-term review: Better at a discount

If you haven't been following digital picture frames (I don't blame you), it may not be immediately obvious why they still exist — when every screen you own is connected to the internet, after all, every screen you own is a potential picture frame. But modern digital frames aren't the Sharper Image novelties you're probably imagining. The Lenovo Smart Frame, for example, is a big, 21-inch screen that connects to Google Photos to seamlessly source pictures from any of your albums, and while it's got some rough edges, this thing has become one of my favorite gadgets.

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25

Wyze Plug Outdoor review, one month later: $17 for a smarter smart home

Wyze Plug Outdoor review, one month later: $17 for a smarter smart home

If you want cheap smart home gadgets, Wyze is increasingly at the top of the list. It has cameras, vacuums, other cameras, wearables, a smart lock, and still more cameras. They're all a bit cheaper than the competition, but that doesn't automatically make them a good deal. In the case of the new outdoor plug, though, it definitely is a good deal. For a mere $16.98 (shipping included), you can get a capable outdoor plug that integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant.

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26

This luxury smart alarm clock banished my phone from the bedroom

This luxury smart alarm clock banished my phone from the bedroom

When you read the words alarm clock, what comes to mind? I bet it's either one of those vintage numbers with the bells on top or the red-numbered clock radio your dad bought at Radio Shack in 1983 and still hasn't replaced. More likely than not, though, you don't own one. Why would you? Your phone works fine.

They may seem like an anachronism, but even as our phones have assumed more responsibility in our day-to-day lives, discrete bedside clocks have continued to evolve. Enter Loftie, which hopes to "retake slumberland" with its chic and designerly internet-connected clock. Those ambitions might be a little grand, but it sure is a nice way to wake up.

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22

Google Nest Hub and Sleep Sensing long-term review: I remain unconvinced

Google Nest Hub and Sleep Sensing long-term review: I remain unconvinced

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.

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37

Xiaomi Mi Smart Clock review, one month later: The same bugs, time and time again

Xiaomi Mi Smart Clock review, one month later: The same bugs, time and time again

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.

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35

JBL Bar 9.1 long-term review: A lazy audiophile's best friend

JBL Bar 9.1 long-term review: A lazy audiophile's best friend

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.

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39

Wyze Robot Vacuum review, one month later: Better than it has to be at this price

Wyze Robot Vacuum review, one month later: Better than it has to be at this price

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.

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