The five best smart home devices right now | Jobs Reply

David Pullara keeps two smart home devices. ‘The more these devices are around and the more you use them, the more you feel them,’ he says.

David Pullara bought his first smart home device, an Amazon Echo smart home speaker, two years before they were available in Canada with the help of a friend who lived across the border.

Seven years later, the marketing consultant says there is a smart speaker in every room in his house – except for bathrooms, which his wife considers off-limits. “The more these devices are around and the more you use them, the more you feel them,” he says.

Asking his smart home assistant to play a song, provide a weather forecast, find a recipe, settle an argument or help with his child’s homework has become second nature over the years, explains Pullara.

While it has added more smart home devices over the years – including smart TVs, light bulbs, a thermostat, doorbell, home security system and more – its favorite feature is still the one that lured it to smart home technology first, Amazon. echo “I can respond immediately to any question,” he says.

Today there is an internet-enabled “smart” version of almost every home appliance, from stoves and washing machines to vacuums and kitchen faucets. Although the list of smart home products seems endless, some innovations are much more practical than others.

“Just because something can be ‘smart’ doesn’t mean it has to be,” says Marc Saltzman, consumer technology journalist and host of the Tech It Out podcast. Instead, Saltzman says he judges smart home technology based on what he calls the “four Cs”: cost, convenience, connectivity and control.

With many smart home products to choose from, here are five affordable smart home devices that can make a big impact.

1. Smart speakers

Smart home devices enable users to take the leap from tapping a button to asking for what they want. In the world of smart home assistants, speakers are the new screens, offering their own functionality while acting as a control center for other smart devices.

Saltzman also says that as far as smart home devices go, speakers fall on the lower end of the price spectrum, with some even dipping below $35 during sales events. “It’s a relatively low price of entry for a lot of these devices, and the value proposition is huge.”

2. Smart thermostats

A smart thermostat is a “no-brainer,” Saltzman says, because the devices often pay for themselves by reducing heating and cooling costs. Smart thermostats can be programmed to use less energy at peak times and turn off heating and cooling functions when no one is home, while ensuring the temperature is just right by the time you walk through the door. door

“A smart thermostat can control temperature and save you money,” he says. “It can recognize when you’re home or not and make adjustments on the fly.”

3. Smart plugs

Smart plugs act as an intermediary between wall outlets and anything that can be plugged into one, effectively turning everyday electronics into smart devices.

“You can plug in an old reading lamp passed down from your beloved Grandma and turn it into a smart light, using your voice to turn it on or off or dim it, ” says Saltzman.

4. Smart light bulbs

Smart bulbs were once considered an expensive gimmick, but as competition has increased, prices have fallen – and now there’s often real value in making a simple upgrade. Not only can they be turned on and off, dimmed and changed color by smartphone or voice command, but LEDs also have a longer shelf life and consume less energy than traditional light bulbs.

In addition, smart lights can be programmed to work in conjunction with each other, as well as other smart home devices, to execute more complex commands.

“Almost every light in my condo is connected to WiFi, and then I can control that with my voice, and I can set different themes,” says Brian Jackson, a research consultant for the Info-Tech Research Group. “Whether you’re waking up in the morning or trying to watch TV or putting the baby to bed, you can tell your smart assistant a command and it sets all the lights just the way you want them.”

5. Media streams

With Smart TVs often sold at a premium, Canadians can turn most existing TVs into an internet-enabled smart device by connecting a media streaming stick or box. Devices such as Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV not only provide access to streaming platforms such as Netflix, but also provide additional capabilities when combined with other smart devices, such as a smart doorbell, home security or show baby monitor feeds. .

“I can even say something like, ‘show me all my photos of me canoeing in 2018’ and it will do that,” says Jackson. “Or I can say, ‘show me my photos from San Francisco,’ and if I took them with my smartphone and they’re geotagged, he can do that too.”

There’s no shortage of “smart” devices to choose from these days, but the value of each product can be very specific based on individual habits. These five serve as low-cost starting points for bringing a home into the digital age. As Canadians grow their smart home ecosystem, however, they are encouraged to do their research, read reviews, and really consider whether they will get enough added value to justify any cost.

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