Best Smart Home Devices in 2021 (March Reviews)

Jason Loomis
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Now everyone is getting in on the action and there is so much of it the market that the choice can be bewildering. So where do you start? Well, for smart home devices I break it down to three main categories which are:

  • Lighting
  • Thermostats
  • Security

And I also add in a bonus fourth category of access control which covers devices like the Volt, which will let you control your entire smart home with the touch of a button.

NameCategoryProduct
Echo DotBest OverallEcho Dot
Kasa Smart Light Switch by TP-LinkBudget PickKasa Smart Light Switch by TP-Link
Google Nest Learning ThermostatUpgrade PickGoogle Nest Learning Thermostat

1. Echo Dot

Our rating: 9 / 10

Echo Dot

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Pros:

  • * Decent sound * Good smart speaker * Can support larger hands

This Amazon’s Echo Dot smart speaker has great sound (for a speaker), and good connectivity. It comes in two colors – black and white – but unfortunately, the white one doesn’t have the alleged a cloth-wrapped speaker-grill, as described on the Amazon product page.

There are some major improvements over the 2nd generation Echo, including better sound, a more compact design, and better Bluetooth. However, in the same way that the 2nd generation Echo wasn’t compatible with some smart home devices, this one doesn’t work that well either.

Also, the Echo Dot is quite sensitive to voice commands. So you’ve really got to speak at the right volume. And if you do that properly, it will work most of the time. Although, there are times when it fails to hear me. Faulty microphones can be a drag when you want to make something voice-activated.

2. Echo Show 5 –

Our rating: 9 / 10

Echo Show 5 -

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The Show is Amazon’s latest and arguably, greatest smart display. It might be an updated version to the 2nd gen Echo Show, but this is certainly a step up, and is well, a showstopper!

This newest Echo Show comes with two 5W integrated speakers and a big 10’” display. It also comes with a built-in camera with a 9° field-of-view – perfect for video calls.

The Echo Show 5 runs on the latest Firepeak 4.3 operating system, which is the same as the 2nd gen version. It offers tons of helpful features including a built-in music player, weather and calendar updates, video calls, and so much more. You can ask Alexa to show you trending videos on YouTube, watch the news, control your smart devices and much more.

3. Google Nest Learning Thermostat

Our rating: 8 / 10

Google Nest Learning Thermostat

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Pros:

  • Can be controlled away from home with Apple Watch app.
  • Has an Auto-Away Mode.
  • Users can create up to 12 different temperature settings that can be associated with various times of day, each day of the week.
  • Self-learning technology allows Nest to work out what temperatures are best for you and change as needed.
  • The Nest app can be used to control the temperature from a distance.
  • Can be controlled using Nest mobile app with your phone or a tablet.
  • The Nest app can be used to oversee home energy use.
  • With Nest you can set temperatures according to your schedule as you can set a temporary schedule or a recurring schedule.
  • Has a Fan Mode that can be used during an emergency or when the temperature is below 50 degrees, or when you are away on vacation.
  • Has the ability to test the AC (this will make your Nest temporarily warmer than normal, but it won’t take long) sets a heat or cooling schedule in advance and sends a small increase in temperature.

Our rating: 8 / 10

Kasa Smart Light Switch by TP-Link

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Pros:

  • Works with Alexa (Echo,Tap), Google Assistant, IFTTT, and nest
  • Easy to install (With Alexa, you can easily pair and control your lights using voice commands)
  • Automatically turns on and off lights
  • LIFX

Cons:

  • Battery life drains too quickly
  • Screen is too dim (can be an issue in a lot of settings)
  • While it remembers scenes you created, it doesn’t automatically flip between them, so it’s pretty useless.
  • The button to control scenes is located on the bottom of the controller instead of on the top- that means you have to take your lights apart whenever you want to store them to avoid accidental pressing of the button.

5. Smart Plug

Our rating: 8 / 10

Smart Plug

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6. Vector Robot by Anki

Our rating: 7 / 10

Vector Robot by Anki

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The Anki Vector robot offers a unique, customizable experience for every member of a household. From hanging out as a sidekick like I-R0k from Star Wars, to cleaning up after itself around the home, Anki is the first robot to integrate trustworthy Amazon Alexa voice service.

And with the company’s modular expansion approach – new functionality and games will be added regularly.

This charming robot is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a cloud-based system that’s constantly learning about itself and its environment.

7. TaoTronics 4L Wi-Fi Smart Cool Mist Humidifiers

Our rating: 5 / 10

TaoTronics 4L Wi-Fi Smart Cool Mist Humidifiers

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Pros:

  • Quiet operation
  • IOS and Android app compatible
  • Backlit LED display
  • App control
  • Tank is detachable
  • Alternative mist nozzle included
  • Fully adjustable water vapor, mist height, mist amount
  • 20 settings for humidity schedules
  • Water level sensor
  • Auto shut-off function

Cons:

  • No free shipping
  • No personal cloud capabilities
  • Only 2 LED colors
  • No colored lights
  • Slightly smaller tank than average

TaoTronics, an emerging brand in smart home devices, has come out with a smart humidifier that is bound to get more people excited about using them. As is typical with its other products, it comes with a smartphone app to control everything. You can also set the light color, schedule, timer and humidity output – all from your phone or any other device with Android or iOS.

Besides the aforementioned, the TaoTronics offers an alternative mist nozzle for the ultrasonic disc, which is great for those who want to experience both warm and cool mist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which is the best smart home device?

Smart home devices are pretty much the best way to make your home more automated and intelligent, but choosing the best used to be the hard part. Thing is, the selection just keeps growing, which can make things difficult.

Is there an app to control all smart home devices?

The only way to centrally control all of your smart home devices (other than a universal remote control) is through either a hub or an app. There are pros and cons to each. A hub is a separate device that connects to your WiFi router. You connect each of your devices to the hub using the app, then you control all of them using the app. One thing to be aware of when choosing a smart hub is that some require you to use the manufacturer’s app. Alternately, you can choose a more generic hub and then you choose an app such as SmartThings and then connect all your devices to that.

What is the best home control system?

Well, if you are looking for just control for your lights and switches and locks, then perhaps the best thing to do is buy those things individually. You can find very good smart plugs for your light bulbs as well as smart locks and a number of other devices. There are even some devices that can automate your doors and turn them off and on at certain times of the day. These are both for your temporary and permanent doors.

Then, there is another route you can take. You can buy smart home components over time to create your own system. You can control it with a central panel that will control your lights, thermostat, security and other things that might be appropriate in your home.

If you go with this route, then picking a smart home system that includes all of this stuff might make sense. After all, you can buy the other stuff later on and spend less money.

Conclusion

The smart home movement has come a long way over the past several years. It’s driven largely in part due to technological advancement and minimalism becoming more attractive in the minds of consumers. But there is also something else going on – those who choose to live a more simple and minimalist lifestyle. Here’s where the smart home comes in.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Echo DotBest OverallEcho Dot
Kasa Smart Light Switch by TP-LinkBudget PickKasa Smart Light Switch by TP-Link
Google Nest Learning ThermostatUpgrade PickGoogle Nest Learning Thermostat