Ding-dong; the future's here! With smart-home technology making it more affordable than ever to outfit your domicile with everything from high-resolution, subject-identifying security cameras to wireless, effortlessly hooked up door and window sensors, who's really thinking about installing something as seemingly archaic as a doorbell and chime? We've already spent some time getting to to know Arlo's wireless camera systems, and I recently set out to see how that setup might be enhanced by the addition of the $80 Arlo Audio Doorbell and the $50 Arlo Chime. Read More
As well as offering simple light bulbs and accessories for your home, Philips has been pushing its Hue lights for entertainment purposes more and more. The Zigbee-toting Hue lights can now be used as accent lighting for music, film, and even gaming, which may seem gimmicky or cool, depending on your outlook. I would say it’s a bit of both, or at least that’s how I view the latest addition to the lineup, the Hue Play. Read More
Over the past couple of years, Nanoleaf has made a name for itself as the brand for cool, funky, unusual, and colorful smart lights. I dubbed its Aurora panels "the coolest and most extravagant smart lights you can own" when I reviewed them, and they're still just as awesome as they were back in 2017. But you can't sit still while the world moves on, so Nanoleaf is back again with the Canvas.
Square tiles with multiple connection points replace the triangle ones, but the real advantage is in the touch reactivity and built-in Rhythm mode that follows your music. Read More
Google Assistant-powered smart displays all do pretty much the same things, and, except for the Google Home Hub, run identical software on similar internal hardware. That uniformity leaves device-specific critiques to nuances in external hardware, and while LG's ThinQ View display doesn't outright fail in any respect, for $250, its functional similarity to cheaper, prettier devices makes it a bad buy. Read More
Internet-connected outlets are among the most common smart home devices, partially because they are typically cheap (~$30-50), and partially because they are so versatile. Do you constantly leave the TV or computer on after you leave home? Do you hate using Hue bulbs? Use a smart outlet.
The vast majority of smart plugs only have one outlet. If you need multiple internet-connected plugs in the same place, TP-Link has just the product for you. The new Kasa Power Strip has six individually-addressable smart outlets, complete with energy monitoring and scheduling features. Each plug can be controlled using the Kasa app, Google Assistant, or Alexa. Read More
Google started talking about Assistant-powered smart displays earlier this year, but it let Lenovo and JBL roll out the first products. Google unveiled its Assistant display alongside the new Pixel phones, and it's not just the same guts in a new shell. Google has added some unique features and also omitted one that all other devices have. Read More
If you live in a house with no central climate control, or if you're making an expansion to your house and it's impossible to get a ducted system in place, a ductless setup may be your only hope. Nest, Ecobee, and the dozen other smart thermostats we often talk about aren't compatible with ductless systems, so you have to start thinking creatively if you want connected climate control. The solution comes in the form of small units that can send the same infrared signals as an air conditioner's (AC) remote, but that are themselves WiFi-enabled for remote access. Read More
Polk had the interesting idea of putting an Echo Dot into a soundbar, not only offering something that sounds better than your TV's speakers, but also adding Alexa to your living room. This all-in-one solution was dubbed the Command Bar, an unassuming soundbar that also happens to have what looks like an actual Echo Dot shoved in the middle. Read More
Smart displays aren't for everyone. They're not exactly tablets, but they look like ones and are both less and more useful, depending on how you look at them. With far superior sound and always listening mics, they act as a smart speaker for your home; but without real apps or a fully functional browser, you hit some roadblocks while using them and wish they could do just a little bit more.
Over the past few months, every time I've read someone compare Smart Displays to crippled tablets, I've had the same reply: I want one because it would work for me. Read More
So-called smart speakers became the darling of every big tech company in the last three years, with Amazon, Google, and Apple all trying to push their digital assistants as a complementary and indispensable part of their locked-in ecosystems. Incremental advancement continues, and the Assistant-powered responses to Amazon's trailblazing, screen-equipped Echo Show have started to land, the first one being this: Lenovo's Smart Display. And far from just being an interesting first try, Google's Assistant on a screen has already become an indispensable part of my home, especially in the kitchen. Read More