The Smart Home Gets Smarter

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spaceWhen we first tackled outfitting the various parts of the home with connected technology, it was admittedly difficult to find devices for some rooms. That was certainly not the case this time around, with so many gadgets to sort through that coming up with a definitive list took a good deal of time and debate. It shows how much the connected home field has grown over the last 12 months. Although many of these devices are still firmly entrenched in the enthusiast realm, they’re becoming increasingly more useful and geared toward a mainstream audience. After all, who wants to spend thousands of dollars on a professionally installed alarm system when you can outfit your home to your exact specifications for just a fraction of the cost with a connected system? And why keep track of your weight in a daily diary when your scale can just send that information to the cloud and plot it out on a graph? These are just a couple of instances in which connected devices can make your everyday home life more convenient. Chances are you already own one of the devices on this list, or at the very least have considered purchasing one. After all, every room inside (and outside) the house benefits from the addition of a little connectivity.

Smart Home living room

It’s always fun to have people over for a board game night, but it’s also pretty cool to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones on the biggest, highest-definition screen in the neighborhood. Still, a fully equipped living room doesn’t mean stuffing a huge TV into a small space. Instead, it’s about finding the devices that work for you, and making the time you spend at home more relaxing and fulfilling. Just remember to get up off the couch and stretch every now and then.

LG 65EG9600

Price – $6,999.99

We’ve maintained for a while now that organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology is the next big step in HDTVs. LG is the only major brand that has consistently released OLED televisions, and it continues to do so with the ultra-high-definition, curved EG9600 series. The 65-inch 65EG9600 model we tested is extremely expensive, but it has the best picture you can currently buy, and comes with loads of useful features and a beautiful design. If you’re looking to assemble the ultimate living room setup and money is no object, it should stand as one of your top options.


Price – $99

Another fun connected lighting solution is the Philips Hue Go. Unlike, say, the Hue connected bulb, the Hue Go is a wireless smart light that runs on a built-in, rechargeable battery and doesn’t need to be connected to a hub to work. It offers a wide range of colors with an intuitive, simple-to-use control scheme (one button), and it’s easy to carry around. And if you do connect it to a hub, you gain the ability to create customized lighting scenes and access personal alarms, as well as link it up with any of your other Hue lights.


Price – $1,299

If you have the best picture you can buy, don’t you also want the best sound? Definitive Technology makes some very impressive speakers that also tend to be relatively expensive. Both qualifiers certainly apply to the company’s W Studio, a soundbar and wireless subwoofer combination that sounds excellent and offers high-end features like HDMI switching and multiroom Wi-Fi audio with Play-Fi. The W Studio also looks stylish and is built rock-solid, making it one of the best soundbars you can buy.


Price – $399.99

Microsoft took a huge step forward with the Xbox One, offering the same hardware upgrade Sony gave the PlayStation 4 along with many new features that range from handy to completely gamechanging. Kinect’s voice controls, along with Xbox One TV integration and OneGuide turn a game system with some media features into an all-inone media hub. From playing Halo to watching Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp on Netflix, you won’t find yourself running out of content options anytime soon.


Price – $399.99

Microsoft took a huge step forward with the Xbox One, offering the same hardware upgrade Sony gave the PlayStation 4 along with many new features that range from handy to completely gamechanging. Kinect’s voice controls, along with Xbox One TV integration and OneGuide turn a game system with some media features into an all-inone media hub. From playing Halo to watching Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp on Netflix, you won’t find yourself running out of content options anytime soon.


Price – $99.

Don’t want to spend your entire living room budget on just the TV, but want to add connectivity to the one you already own? All you need is a free HDMI port in order to connect the Amazon Fire TV. Amazon’s first foray into the crowded media hub arena is still our favorite. It has more features than the Apple TV and more raw power and potential than the Roku alternatives, not to mention extremely accurate and responsive voice search, right from the remote.


Price – $349.99

With the myriad gadgets that reside in your living room, you’ll probably want a universal remote so you don’t have sort through ten different ones every time you want to change the channel. True to its name, the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home is the ultimate universal remote control. In addition to controlling your HDTV, cable box, and Blu-ray player, the Harmony Ultimate Home supports a wide array of connected home devices including popular lights, locks, and thermostats letting you control just about every digital device you own right from your smartphone or the remote itself.


Price – $229

Two years before Nest released its Learning Thermostat, Canadian-based ecobee had already introduced a smart thermostat. Its ecobee3 is our top pick for this category: an attractive Wi-Fi thermostat that you can control from your iOS or Android phone and from your PC via the Web. The ecobee3 is easy to install and program, and it’s loaded with features including a remote sensor for heating and cooling rooms outside of the thermostat zone, numerous reminders and alerts, a capacitive touch display, and a system monitor that tracks heating and cooling usage.


Price – $50

The Wink Connected Home Hub works with more devices than any other hub we’ve tested. Credit that to its support for an impressive number of connectivity protocols; it works with Bluetooth LE, Lutron Clear Connect, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and ZigBee, which covers most of the major players in the connected home market. So if you own a number of connected devices and want to control them all from one place, chances are they’ll work with the Wink.


Price – $49.99

If you’re just dipping your toe into the home automation waters, Belkin’s WeMo line is a good place to start. The WeMo Light Switch connects to your Wi-Fi network and can be controlled using a smartphone or tablet and an accompanying app. Installation is quick and relatively easy if you’ve ever changed a light switch, and setting everything up is a breeze. You can program the switch to turn the lights on or off according to the sunrise, connect it with other WeMo devices, and even use IFTTT (If This Then That) recipes to trigger the switch with certain events.


Price – $449

If you’ve been searching for a powerful robotic vacuum that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, check out the Neato XV Signature Pro. It does an outstanding job of picking up all sorts of household debris, and is particularly tough on pet hair and backyard soil. Its laser-guided mapping feature works remarkably well regardless of how your furniture is laid out or how may walls you have, and its scheduling feature lets you set up cleaning times that precisely fit your lifestyle.


Price – $249.95

With the LockState LS-500I RemoteLock Wi-Fi Door Lock, you’ll never have to worry about whether you remembered to lock up before you left for the day. It’s an electronic pushbutton dead bolt lock that connects to your Wi-Fi network and can be controlled from a remote PC as well as Android and iOS-based devices. Not only can you lock and unlock your door remotely, you can monitor the lock’s activity, create individual user codes with specific entry rights, and receive alerts when the door is locked and unlocked.


Price – $199

If using your phone to unlock your door isn’t enough for you, you should check out Ring Video Doorbell. With the Ring, you can see who is at your door from the safety and comfort of your couch. It lets you accept or deny visitor calls, and uses motion detection to alert you of activity on your doorstep even when the bell hasn’t been rung. The 720p camera delivers sharp video with good color, and it automatically records events and stores video of them in the cloud, so you can see who showed up even when you weren’t there.

Smart Home Bath Room

Although the bathroom may not seem like the likeliest place to find a wealth of connected gadgets, it can actually be home to some of the most important devices you own. And considering that it’s the room you’ll probably visit more regularly than any other, it makes sense to keep it clean and comfortable at all times. Believe it or not, there are plenty of devices to help you do just that. So the next time you’ve got an itch to buy a cool new gadget, make sure to think outside the scope of the living room.


Price – $99

Bathing by candlelight may look nice in movies, it’s not nearly as easy (or safe) as the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight. The Leeo is a connected nightlight with soothing, customizable colors to light your way or your baths at night. And when you’re not at home, it listens for potential smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, ready to send you a notification if one happens to go off. So not only can you relax better in the bath, but the Leeo also provides you with a greater peace of mind when you leave the house, which is truly relaxing.


Price – $85

Being assaulted by water that’s too hot (or, more frequently, too cold) is one of the worst parts about taking a shower, especially early in the morning. The Delta Temp2O Showerhead takes the guesswork out of getting into the shower by using three color LEDs to let you know when the temperature is just right. Better yet, a battery-free, water-powered display shows an exact numerical readout, so you can be assured that the temperature is also safe for children or pets. And with six different spray patterns, you can customize more than just the temperature.


Price – $40

Above all else, the bathroom should be a place that feels clean. But how clean can you really feel when you’re rubbing your hands over everything? The Simplehuman Sensor Pump is a good-looking soap dispenser that’s equipped with a motion sensor for touch-free, high-speed soap dispensing. A silicone valve prevents it from making a mess, but the real benefit is that you don’t have to worry about leaving any germs behind, either.


Price – $6,000

Hands-free soap dispensers are nice, but toilet handles are the primary source of germs in most bathrooms. You won’t need to worry about that with the Kohler Numi toilet, which doesn’t even have a physical handle. The Numi flushes automatically, and features a motion-activated, hands-free toilet seat and cover that also opens and closes. But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to a striking, modern design, the Numi has built-in ambient lighting with a number of colors and programming options. It has built-in speakers as well, which can connect to your mobile device via Bluetooth.


Price – $99

If you can’t imagine spending $6,000 on a connected toilet, you can still add motion control to your existing bowl for less than $100 using the Kohler Touchless Toilet Flush Kit. This is an easy-to-install retrofit kit that brings a touchless flush to most canister and flapper toilets. The flush is activated by a no-touch sensor mounted inside the tank, so all you have to do is hold your hand over the tank sensor to activate the flush. Installation is quick and easy, and because it uses standard AA batteries, you won’t have to reach into your tank often for a recharge.


Price – $199

Kohler is well known for making quality showerheads, so it’s to be expected that the Moxie Showerhead + Wireless Speaker is well designed and attractive. What is surprising, however, is the design: A 1.5- watt detachable Bluetooth speaker is magnetically housed in the middle of the sprayface. The showerhead itself works well, and the speaker sounds excellent while you’re soaping up. It pops in and out for easy recharging, and it’s small enough to carry around with you for portable tunes outside the shower, too.


Price – $499.99

If a warm, relaxing bath is more your speed, wouldn’t it be even better with a wealth of multimedia content at your fingertips? You wouldn’t want to get most tablets anywhere near a large tub of water, but you won’t have to worry about splashing the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. The Z3 is a beautiful 8.1-inch Android tablet with a stunningly thin and light design. Better yet, it’s rated IP68, which makes it waterproof and dust-resistant. You can submerge the tablet in up to 4.9 feet of water, which should cover even the biggest stress-reducing soaks.


Price – $299.99

Cleaning is usually no one’s favorite chore at home, but scrubbing the bathroom (understandably)inspires particular revulsion. The iRobot Braava 380t floor cleaning robot can help. The Braava dry and wet mops using reusable microfiber cleaning cloths. Its smaller profile makes it a good fit for rooms like the bathroom that aren’t huge (this also simplifies storage). It’s far less expensive than many robotic vacuums on the market (though the Braava doesn’t actually have any suction), and better still, it’s far less noisy.


Price- $149.95

Your bathroom’s medicine cabinet doesn’t have to be the only thing in there that can help keep you in good health. The Withings Smart Body Analyzer, for instance, looks like your average bathroom scale, but it does a whole lot more. It tracks weight, body composition, heart rate, and even air quality for up to eight people. The combination of weight and body composition is a great way to make sure you stay on top of your health, and knowing your resting heart rate is a useful indicator for overall fitness. This sure beats the old analog scales.


Price – $99

A bit more specialized than a scale, but no less important for many people, is a blood pressure monitor. The QardioArm is an at-home blood pressure monitor and app that is dead-simple to use, read, and understand over time. In just 30 seconds the device will take your systolic and diastolic readings, as well as your pulse (heart rate), and your results will appear instantly in the app. If those numbers don’t mean much to you, the app also plots out results on an easily comprehensible, color-coded chart that shows exactly where your blood pressure stands.


Price – $159.99

And don’t forget about proper dental care, which is also essential for good health. Unfortunately, brushing your teeth for the recommended 2 minutes is never any fun. The Oral-B Pro 5000 Smart-Series With Bluetooth toothbrush reduces the tedium by connecting to a smartphone app and giving you real-time feedback on your brushing habits. Not only that, but the brush itself removes twice the amount of plaque as a traditional manual toothbrush, and pressure sensors alert you when you’re brushing too hard.


Price – $299

If you’re already happy with your current toothbrush, how about giving it something of an upgrade with the Mother? Acting as a hub, Mother connects to Motion Cookies, which are small sensors that can be programmed using a simple app to measure or track a whole variety of things around your home, such as how much activity you get to whether and when your kids brushed their teeth. Mother sends alerts, too, by email, text message, voice calls, or even just by making a noise herself, to let you and your family members know about the different activities being tracked.

Smart Home Bed Room

With too many stimulating gadgets in the bedroom, you run the risk of not being able to actually fall asleep. Thankfully, most of the devices mentioned here are focused on making the bedroom a more useful and tranquil space. So who knows? The more bedroom-centric gadgets you have, the better you might be able to sleep.


Price – $9,399-$13,999

Without a doubt, the most important piece of furniture in a bedroom is the bed. And beds don’t get much more innovative than the Kingsdown Sleep Smart Intuitive. It’s a connected mattress that automatically adjusts to your movement, position, and sleep habits, thanks to the 21 air chambers on each side of the mattress that are controlled in six zones. The mattress connects to a box underneath that controls the amount of air needed in these chambers automatically. The Sleep Smart Intuitive also tracks how well you sleep and delivers that information via Bluetooth to an app on your mobile device.


Price – $299.95

Plenty of activity trackers and sleep systems track how quickly you fall asleep, when you roll over in the night, and how many hours you sleep, but they leave it to you to make changes that will help you get to sleep quicker and wake up feeling more refreshed. The Withings Aura changes this setup. Instead of simply monitoring your sleep, it helps you fall asleep with white noise and a narrow red light spectrum that’s emitted at you while you’re dozing off. When it’s time to wake up, the Aura looks for the ideal time in a window that you set for your alarm, and slowly projects different light and sounds to ease you out of slumber.


Price – $179.99

Plenty of people still rely on alarm clocks to wake up, but it’s time for a high-tech upgrade. Perhaps the coolest replacement for the bedside clock radio is the Amazon Echo. Part Bluetooth speaker and part personal assistant, the Echo can tell you the time, set an alarm, make your grocery list, play your favorite song, and even turn on the lights, all via voice control. And because it hooks into your home Wi-Fi network, you don’t even need your phone on hand after the initial setup. After adding an Echo to your room, it won’t take long before you start to wonder how you ever got along without it.


Price – $19.99 (single bulb)

One of the lights you can control with the Amazon Echo is the Philips Hue Lux, a bulb that connects wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet. The Hue Lux offers almost the same exact functionality as the original hue bulb we recommended last year, but sells for half the price. What’s the difference? Color. Lux bulbs are white-only, as opposed to the Hue’s virtually limitless color palette. Because both bulbs work on the same bridge, you can mix and match them throughout your home, and the Lux bulbs are a good way to save some money where you don’t need colorchanging lighting.


Price – $249.99

How do you keep your fancy connected mattress clean? The Dyson V6 Mattress is a battery-powered handheld vacuum cleaner with a specialty: beds. Dyson claims that all of our mattresses are covered in dust mites and dust mite feces, as well as our own skin cells, hair, and other microscopic refuse. Unfortunately, Dyson is right. But the V6 Mattress can combat the micron-sized horrors with powerful suction, an assortment of attachments, and a hygienic-if-tiny dust receptacle. If you suffer from allergies, or you just appreciate Dyson’s design aesthetics, consider the V6 Mattress.


Price – $399.99

If you find yourself breaking out a fan in the summer and a heater in the winter (or just leaving them both connected in the spring and fall), the Dyson Hot + Cool AM05 is the device for you. It’s a gorgeous appliance that brings you the best of both worlds: It’s a powerful fan when you’re hot, and provides fast, even heat distribution when you’re cold (an internal thermostat maintains the temperature between 33° and 99° F). It’s safer and easier to clean than traditional options, costs approximately 30 percent less to heat a whole room than conventional fan heaters, and con lower energy bills by 20 percent if used in conjuction with air conditioning.


Price- $199.99

It’s also nice to wake up in a room that isn’t so dry that your throat is scratchy and your lips are chapped. The Holmes Smart Humidifier is a whole house humidifier that connects to the WeMo app via Wi-Fi. This means you can turn it on and off even when you’re not home, set schedules, and receive push notifications with status updates about the machine, like when water is running low or when the wick filters need to be replaced. The Smart Humidifier can cover up to 2,500 square feet of space.


Price- $99.99

Instead of reusing that bargain bin power strip yet again, breathe new life into old electronics using the Quirky Pivot Power Genius. The four outlet power strip has a hinged design that lets you pivot each outlet, and it offers two Wi-Fi connected outlets that you can control from an iOS or Android device. It offers an inexpensive way to control a couple of devices remotely, and its flexible design lets you place it in areas that won’t accommodate a traditional power strip.


Price – $299.95

Who can fall asleep in a room that’s hot and sticky? The home air conditioner has long been due for a makeover. Considering it lives in many windows for nearly half a year (or more, depending on where you live), there’s really no good explanation for the unattractive, inefficient boxes that define our summers. The Quirky Aros combines a beautiful design with a companion app that lets you control the window-mounted, 8,000 BTU air conditioner from anywhere. It’s undoubtedly the best-looking unit on the market, and the app adds genuine utility.

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

Price – $59.99

One of the simplest ways to tap into the benefits of home automation with regards to your home’s lighting is by using the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch. It connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can turn your devices on and off remotely using an iOS or Android device. It lets you create schedules for every day of the week, and it supports IFTTT recipes. Belkin has even added power monitoring capabilities that tell you how long the outlet has been on each day, how much power you’re using, and what it’s costing you.


Price – $99

Every home should have a smoke detector. The Nest Protect is a combination smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector that uses a colored light ring and audible alerts to warn you of dangerous smoke and CO levels. Like the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Protect is artfully designed and connects to your home’s Wi-Fi, so you can keep a virtual eye on things while you’re away. The new, second-generation Nest Protect is smaller than the original, with a longer lifetime of up to ten years. It also features a brighter light ring, as well as the ability to test sensors and hush false alarms from your phone or tablet using the new Nest app.


Price – $179.99

Want to keep tabs on what’s happening while you’re away? Use the Icontrol Networks Piper nv. This is more than just a surveillance camera it’s a security system and a Z-Wave home automation hub all rolled into one slick-looking device. Its 180-degree fish-eye lens and pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities provide a wide field of view, and integrated sensors let you know when somebody (or something) has entered your home or workplace and will trigger the camera to record video of the event. Moreover, the Piper’s deafening siren will likely scare off even the boldest of intruders.

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