Whether it’s a fancy new smart display or another smart bulb, CNN Underscored is always testing the latest and greatest in the smart home world.
And those tests go on for many weeks to always evaluate each device with the latest updates and against the newest competition. This year, we tackled smart displays, smart plugs and made time for bulbs and speakers in between. Here’s the hardware that stood above the rest, regardless of your smart home ecosystem.
Not only does the 4th Gen Echo have a unique cylindrical design, but it has great sound and tons of Alexa smarts – making it our smart speaker of choice. The spherical shape allows for more powerful sound to be pushed out and its sound quality is unmatched for its price point. Even better, it has plenty of connectivity to power your smart home and set up other devices with ease.
As our second choice for a smart speaker, the HomePod Mini fares well – but its Achilles heel is that it only works for those in the Apple ecosystem. You really can’t set it up without an iPhone. But if you live in the Apple ecosystem, it produces excellent sound with surprisingly strong quality as well. Siri is smarter than ever, and this little smart speaker can power your smart home.
If you want bold, clear sound and an auxiliary-agnostic smart speaker, the Sonos One is your best bet. You will find your choice of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for easy control and answers to questions, but the real star is the sound quality, which. it beats every other smart speaker we’ve tested.
If you’re on a tighter budget, the Echo Dot is the best value at under $35. It has a circular design that mimics the full-size Echo but lacks some of the sound capability. It still gives you easy access to Alexa – which lets you get an answer to almost anything – and offers pretty good sound quality for the size.
• Read more from our smart speaker test here.
If you’re looking for a smart display, the Echo Show 8 is your best bet. It’s the best smart display we’ve tested and it hits a home run with a versatile, easy-to-read 8-inch screen baked into a design to match. any place. It can do everything you’d expect from a smart display like play videos, show recipes and provide insights with all Alexa responses.
Best smart display for a nightstand: Google Nest Hub ($59.99, originally $99.99; bhphotovideo.com)
If you want a smart display for your nightstand, we recommend one that makes the most of the space and doesn’t have a camera. That’s the $99 Nest Hub, which can also work as a full-featured alarm clock with the ability to track your sleep. It also gets loud to wake you up.
• Read more from our smart display test here.
The Wyze Plug is a near-perfect smart plug—it’s small enough that it doesn’t block multiple outlets when plugged in and responds quickly to any command. These can be sent from the Wyze app or with a smart assistant (Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant). It is also very affordable.
While the Wyze plug doesn’t support Apple HomeKit, the Wemo Smart Plug does and is our choice to work within the Apple ecosystem. It’s very compact, and setup is as easy as scanning a code with your iPhone. Even better, it can work simultaneously with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
• Read more from our smart plug test here.
While the Google Nest Learning Thermostat isn’t the most affordable, it’s the best thermostat we’ve tested. It studies your habits and automatically controls the temperature in your home. These smartphones are also paired with some of the best controls we’ve ever used.
If you’re on a tighter budget, Google’s Nest Thermostat offers great functionality. It has the same simple, straightforward interface as the flagship model, and offers remote control in the Google Home app.
• Read more from our smart thermostat test here.
Not only did Ring Alarm Pro set up and customize all the security systems we tested, it also offers features that no other system can match. Yes, the Alarm Pro will – via sensors – monitor your home and offer you an easy way to expand the system as needed, but it can also keep your internet running when the electricity goes out.
• Read more from our test of home security systems here.
The Wyze Bulb Color has affordability and functionality like no other bulb we’ve tested, with instant and simple controls. Even better, those can be managed through the Wyze app or smart assistants. You can set the bulb to thousands of different color options and light temperatures when casting white light.
• Read more from our smart bulb test here.
The Chamberlain myQ makes controlling your garage door – from almost anywhere – an effortless experience done in a snap.
Genie is a mainstay in the garage door industry, and it shows with the Aladdin Connect. This smart controller includes all the tools you need in the box and one unit can control up to three garage doors.
The iSmartGate Pro isn’t cheap, but it’s easy to establish and extend the compatibility list to a wide range of smart home ecosystems.
• Read more from our test of smart garage door controllers here.
Ring’s Video Doorbell 2 Pro uses radar to give you highly accurate motion alerts, has great-looking video with a wide field of view and crisp sound, and can even show you the route someone took on a map while they were making their way to yours. door
The Arlo Wired Video Doorbell has a sleek design and is easy to set up, while giving you clear video, multiple settings to fine-tune video quality, and an affordable price.
The wireless Nest Doorbell can be installed anywhere thanks to an integrated battery, it gives you smart alerts without signing up for a subscription, and it produces clear, crisp video so you can stay informed about your visitors and your deliveries.