It has taken us a long time to get to this point, but smart home setups are now affordable enough and capable enough that they are no longer only appealing to hardcore tech-heads. Setting up a smart home is easier than ever, especially now that many people are using the same voice-controlled AIs – namely Siri, Alexa, and Google’s voice assistant – in their smartphones.
Spoiled for Choice
A deluge of new smart home devices over the last couple of years has saturated the market and made things just a little bit daunting, even for those of us who have been paying attention.
Whether you are a new convert to the smart home revolution, or you are looking to upgrade an existing setup, we have compiled a list of the best smart home devices for 2020.
Best Smart Doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell 2
Amazon-owned Ring has developed what is by far the best smart doorbell on the market today. The latest products in the Ring range, including the Ring Video Doorbell 2, don’t even need to be hardwired as they can function completely wirelessly. This makes setting the doorbell up as easy as could be.
The Ring 2 is quite large for a doorbell, but it isn’t an ugly device by any means. Users have the option of two included faceplates – dark gray and silver – both of which look great. However, if you only have limited space to work with, the size can get a little awkward. The device is too big to be mounted on a regular doorframe.
That extra size means more space for a bigger battery and users have the option of wiring the device into their existing doorbell or installing it separately. Once it is in place, the app makes it simple to manage. If the device’s size isn’t an issue for you then the security, it offers through its video capture and impressive motion tracking capabilities make this a clear winner.
Best Smart Speaker: Amazon Echo Studio
The Amazon Echo range has come a long way since the release of the first Echo model. The Echo Studio represents the pinnacle of that development, bundling one of the best voice assistants on the market with a genuinely impressive high-quality speaker sporting Dolby Atmos sound.
Until recently, smart speakers left a lot to be desired in the audio department. Alexa has been integrated into high-quality speakers before, but those always came with a hefty price tag. The Echo Studio is the first device we’ve seen that can deftly balance price and quality.
Audiophiles still might not be satisfied, but for the average user, this is by far the best-sounding smart speaker in its price range.
Best Thermostat: Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest has consistently been one of the most impressive and innovative smart device manufacturers. They were also one of the first companies to introduce machine learning capabilities to their product range, making their smart devices even smarter than the competition.
The Learning Thermostat is impressive on both the outside and the inside. It is an elegant device that will look good on any wall and the built-in display is bright and crisp. The Learning Thermostat is easily managed through the smartphone app, but Nest’s machine learning technology means that the device can learn and adjust itself automatically. Nest claims that this will enable users to save money on their energy bills, a claim that is borne out by real-world testing.
Best Security Camera: Arlo Pro 3
Arlo is another smart device manufacturer that has earned its reputation for quality products. The Arlo Pro 3 is not the most capable device that they offer – the Arlo Ultra is the all-bells-and-whistles version – but for most users, it represents the best value. Unless you need 4K resolution, for example, you won’t be missing out on anything by opting for the Pro 3 over the Ultra.
The Pro 3 offers an impressive 160-degree field of view that enables it to capture just about everything that happens in front of it. It also has night vision capabilities and two-way audio capabilities.
Its smart features include automatic zooming and motion tracking, both of which perform admirably in real-world situations.
The one drawback to the Arlo Pro 3 is that you need a subscription to unlock all its features. The camera comes with a three-month trial, and only costs $3 a month thereafter. If you are serious about security for your smart home, this is a small price to pay, especially for a device of this caliber.
The smart home revolution is now well underway and more and more people are waking up to the benefits of smart devices in the home. The devices on this list represent the best options in their respective categories for most users, but they are just a small selection of the myriad smart home devices on the market today.