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Smart Home Reviews

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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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JBL Link smart speakers review: Offering several great alternatives to the Google Home

After the Google Home was announced, it was only a matter of time before Google, like Amazon, made it possible for other brands to create their own Assistant-enabled speakers. We've already reviewed the TicHome Mini, a small portable alternative to the Home Mini, and today we're taking a look at JBL's line-up of Google Homesque speakers: the Link series. In this review, I will focus on the portable IPX7-rated cylindrical Link 20 and the larger stationary Link 300. However, my Android Police colleague Jeff has also had the Link 10, 20, and 300 for a while so I'll add his thoughts on the Link 10 and mention his personal comments on the other two as well.

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Amazon Cloud Cam review: A good value but missing some features

Amazon offers various cloud services to consumers as well as businesses. In fact, some makers of home security cameras use Amazon's web services to store video. It only makes sense for Amazon to get into this market as it increasingly pushes home automation with Alexa. The Cloud Cam is a 1080p indoor security camera with a competitive price point of $120 when it's not on sale. This camera has a lot going for it, but it's clear Amazon is still just getting started with home security—the Cloud Cam is missing just enough that other cameras might be better options, even if they're more expensive.

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Anker Roav Viva review: It's a car charger with Alexa

Many things come to mind when I think of smart home accessories: speakers, locks, displays, TVs, or maybe wall plugs. The list continues to grow each day it seems, but here comes Anker with a car charger that, while itself not unique for the company, features Alexa as a defining feature. Don't want to fork over the money to get Assistant in your car? Here's the next best thing... kinda.

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