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Smart Home Reviews

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Sensibo Sky review: A pricey but near-perfect smart controller for your air conditioner (Update: Discount coupon)

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.

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Polk Command Bar review: A decent, inexpensive soundbar with Alexa

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.

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JBL Link View review: Great sound from JBL, but Smart Displays still have a long way to go

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.

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Lenovo Smart Display review: The best new kitchen appliance since the dishwasher

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. 

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Nest Hello review: The security camera I've always wanted

As any introvert will tell you, the doorbell can be a source of great anxiety. If I'm not expecting someone, there are only so many reasons for the doorbell to ring. I don't want anything to do with most of those reasons, so it's highly desirable to know what's going on out there before I open the door. I've used various security cameras for this task, including most recently the Arlo Pro 2. None of them have come close to the speed and ease of use you get with the Nest Hello.

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Arlo Pro 2 review: The best wireless camera still has some drawbacks

It's getting easier to set up your own internet-connected home surveillance system, but that usually still means running cables to power all your fancy HD cameras. Arlo, which recently spun off from Netgear, offers an alternative. Its Arlo Pro line of cameras can keep tabs on your home without wires, and they last for months on a charge.

After wowing us with the original Arlo Pro, the Arlo Pro 2 ups the resolution and adds new features. At the same time, Arlo has finally rolled out its AI-enabled Arlo Smart system to compete with systems like Nest Aware. Can a wireless camera ever compete with wired, though?

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Cielo Breez review: Smartening up your air conditioner, the easy way

Depending on where you live, most houses could be built with central heating and thermostats in mind or not. Even in houses that have a fully ducted system, getting a small expansion done like a bigger garage, an additional room, or a guest house could require you start looking at other options for heating and cooling. Ductless systems, whether they're split air conditioner units, window ACs, portable or floor standing units, or heat pumps, are the go-to solution then. But in a world that's more connected than ever, they present one main disadvantage compared to thermostats: they can't be easily retrofitted for automation and smartphone control.

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Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review: A must-have for Nest fans but too expensive for everyone else

Nest started by making thermostats, but following a Google acquisition and some reshuffling, it makes plenty of other smart home products. Having devoured Dropcam, Nest is one of the leaders in home security cameras with products like the Nest Cam and smarter Cam IQ. It had a "regular" outdoor camera previously, but now you can get an outdoor version of the IQ. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor packs a 4K image sensor, a wide field-of-view, facial recognition, and incredibly sharp video. It's also one of the most robust outdoor cameras when it comes to tolerating cold weather.

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SwitchBot review: Simple automation for any switch or button in your home

Getting into home automation can be very daunting. Different protocols, different compatibilities, and different requirements for every product don't make things easy. Add into the mix the price tag of changing an existing product into a smart one, or the electrical requirements and installation processes of not-so-standard items like smart switches, and you have all the ingredients for deterring people from venturing into this whole ordeal. But what if there was a product that didn't cost much, didn't have any weird requirements, was super easy to install and use, and could retrofit any existing thing to make it smarter? That's the SwitchBot.

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Logitech Circle 2 wired camera review: A feature-packed premium camera

Logitech has been making webcams for many years, and a while back it turned its attention to the burgeoning home security market with the Logitech Circle camera. I thought that device was a surprisingly good value that competed well with established players like Netgear and Nest. There's a second generation camera now, and it improves on that first camera in almost every way. If you don't mind a few minor foibles, this could be the right camera to keep an eye on your humble abode.

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