Best Smart Home Devices 2018

POSTED 8 months ago

The past few weeks were about choosing Smart Home Assistants, Smart Home Hardware and Smart Home Hubs to link all Smart Home Devices. With the technical stuff out of the way, we can then dive into discovering the cool devices out there to make your home, the Smart Home of your dreams!

 

1. Smart Plugs

Smart Plugs are those things that sit between the electrical outlet and the smart device you’re plugging in, come in a variety of shapes, sizes and specifications. However, they all possess a shared quality: control, usually in the shape of a timer.

This enables you to set a plug to switch on or off at a pre-determined time.

Before you excitedly check out the Smart Plugs on Lazada or wherever you plan to purchase them, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the power plug same as the type used in your country?
  • Is the power supply close to the power range in your country?

Take note that US smart plugs are suitable for Japan and Taiwan, while UK smart plugs are suitable for Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Hong Kong and Macau. The recommended smart plugs below are not suitable for other Asian countries.

Source: techhive.com

BELKIN WEMO MINI

What we liked:

  •  It works with a lot of smart home systems
  • It doesn’t need a smartphone to switch it on and off as it has its own on/off physical button
  •  It is slim, measuring 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches
  •  It has an away function so you can will randomly turn the plug on and off during the time you specify, to lend the appearance that you're home

What’s not so great:

  • It doesn’t monitor energy consumption
  • Its app is a little confusing as it has deeper functions which you will discover as you dig deeper

 

2. Smart Speaker

Chances are high that the first smart home device you would buy is a smart speaker. Besides playing music, this speaker will respond to your commands from searching for Thai food in your area to checking out the latest movies to turning on your TV.

Source: amazon.com

AMAZON ECHO

The second-generation Echo is smaller and more attractive than the original. Also, you can change its skins to match your décor

What we liked:

  • It’s cheaper than the original
  • It has changeable fabric, wood or metallic skins to match the mood you’re in
  • It has a button to activate Alexa and one to mute the microphone
  • You can use Echo to interact with Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa to control smart home devices

What’s not so great:

  • When music is playing, you might find yourself having to raise your voice (just like you do when your kids are upstairs and you’re downstairs) for the speaker to hear your command.
  • It’s music output quality is better than the original but still not that great

 

3. Smart Lights / Smart Bulbs

Who needs boring bulbs that just sits in its socket when you can have a smart bulb that can dim itself or change colours by using an app?

Two factors to take note of:

  • Is the power rating of the bulb within the range of the power range in your country?
  • Is the bulb connector type same or compatible in your country?

If the power rating of the bulb is not universal, then you must select the model from either US or UK online stores. In Asia, countries like China, India, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and many other Asian countries require 220-240VAC from UK. Japan and Taiwan are among the very few Asian countries that accept 120VAC from US

Source: techhive.com

LIFX MINI SMART BULBS

These bulbs can work without a Smart Hub using Wi-Fi making them affordable for set up. It works well with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home.

The LIFX Mini range consists of three models, available in screw and bayonet fittings.

  • Basic Mini White is a 9W 2700K warm white bulb, with a maximum output of 800 lumens
  • Mini Day & Dusk, a temperature-changing bulb. I love warm lights while my husband likes white lights especially for work so this bulb works well. The Mini Day & Dusk is a 9W bulb with a maximum brightness of 800 lumens and a colour temperature range between 1500K and 4000K
  • Mini Colour, a 9W bulb with a max brightness of 800 lumens, and is also temperature adjustable (2500K to 9000K) and colour adjustable (16 million colours!). Great for impressing your guests and confusing your pets!

What we liked:

  • High-quality white, temperature changing and colour lightbulbs
  • Saves you money as you don’t need a Smart Hub
  • Each bulb can replace a 60W traditional bulb, providing an even cast of light
  • You can choose how long the bulbs will take to go off, with the lights slowly dimming. That could be a great way to get kids (and yourself) to sleep
  • You can set themed colours and have light effects from a fire-like flicker to a Music Visualizer, which flashes your lights in time to music, as picked up by your phone’s speaker

What’s not so great:

  • You’ll need to the app to set up the bulbs and join each bulb to your Wi-Fi network. This can be quite time consuming
  • There are no dedicated wireless remotes making it a little harder to control. If you’re happy with app and voice control, then these are a great choice. If you’d like the option for remote control with dedicated switches, the Philips Hue system makes a lot more sense
  • It depends on the strength of Wi-Fi in your home. If it’s poor, you’ll be better with Philips Hue, which uses the low-power Zigbee system

 

4. Smart Home Outdoor Padlocks

Features include not needing to add another physical key to your bunch of keys, tamper alert, low battery notification, weather resistant for outdoor use and others.

Source: amazon.com

MASTER LOCK SMART OUTDOOR PADLOCK

This is a padlock that can be unlocked via Bluetooth from an app on your phone.

What we liked:

  • ·Tamper alerts
  • The app logs access history, so you’ll know who’s been unlocking it and when
  • ·Easy Bluetooth unlocking. Without a smartphone, it can be unlocked via directional code on the lock
  • With the Master Lock Vault eLocks app downloaded, setting the Smart Outdoor Padlock up is fairly straightforward. You do need to register an account, though, and you’ll need the code from the instruction sheet. It would be a good idea to keep the code somewhere safe
  • The battery lifespan is up to 5 years of normal use. There’s also a battery jump built into the bottom, so a 9V battery can be attached to give temporary access if the CR2 dies

What’s not so great:

  • Directional backup code is tricky to remember
  • It’s pricey at USD54.99 from Amazon Prime

 

5. Robot Butler

Unless you love cleaning your house because it gives you pleasure (or if you have a hired housekeeper), I’m sure you would love to have a robot do the cleaning without having to worry about it falling sick or running away with your man or the neighbour.

Source: geek.com

AEOLUS

What we liked:

  • It works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home so communication breakdowns are avoided with your electronic servant maid, which recognises “thousands” of terms 
  • It can identify faces, remembers where it last saw items (you no longer have to show your hubby where his pair of shorts that happen to be under his nose are), and adapts to home layouts and routines

What’s not so great:

  • Probably the price tag – it’s estimated to cost less than USD20,000 when it launches end 2018
  • You’ll get flabby and lazy

 

6. Security Camera

Purchasing a smart security camera shouldn’t just be about it remotely monitor your home from the app on your phone or having a cool design to it. Some features to consider include night vision, face detection, location-based alerts and weatherproofing.

Source: arlo.com

NETGEAR ARLO Q

What we liked:

  • It has a 2-way audio system. You press the Push-to-Talk icon on your mobile device to speak, and release it to listen, the way you would with any intercom
  • You can set the camera to automatically record for a specified length of time on each trigger – the default being 30 seconds – and you can choose whether to have it triggered by sound or motion
  • It has 1080 HD recording making images detailed and clear
  • Fast text and email trigger alerts
  • Easy to set up
  • Free cloud storage

What’s not so great:

  • Single user app so you’ve decide who has the control over it
  • It isn’t waterproof or completely wireless
  • It can’t differentiate between animal and human movements sending some false alarms due to this
  • The audio quality is uneven

 

7. Smart Thermostat

Do you get a shock each time your electricity bills especially with the heat we’ve been experiencing lately? Investing in a smart thermostat might be a good idea. Besides monitoring and controlling your home’s temperature, it helps you control your electricity bill too.

Source: ecobee.com

Ecobee 4

The first smart thermostat has Alexa built in so you don’t need an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot for it to work.

What we liked:

  • Simple Design
  • ·Alexa is built in so now you can get weird looks from your guests when you use the thermostat to order pizza, play music or anything else Alexa can do
  • A small microphone icon in the lower right lets you activate Alexa manually
  • Easy installation
  • It pairs well with remote sensors to ensure that every room in your house is cooled or heated to the proper temperature without worrying too much that it will reduce or increase the temperature drastically when there’s no motion detected when you sleep or sit like a stone working on your laptop

What’s not so great:

  • It’s not meant to be a speaker to the sound quality is weak, as expected
  • Like your pet, it can sense when you're within a certain radius of your house and turn the thermostat on or off automatically (which your pet can’t do). That way, when you arrive home, it’s at the temperature that you want. However, this feature is only available for Android users; iOS users will have to use HomeKit or IFTTT to get the same functionality

 

8. Smart Cookware

Smart cookware has the ability to automatically tracks calories and records your delicious recipes, and knows when the meal is cooked just right. I’m a lousy cook so most cookware would be amazing but I’ve picked something that lets me regulate how well my meat is cooked.

Source: crateandbarrel.com

Anova Precision Cooker

This is more of a sous vide machine where you cook meat at a low temperature for an extended period of time by immersing your meat in a sealed air-less plastic bag in heated water until it’s cooked. My usual problem is I don’t know exactly when my steak is cooked on the inside. I hardly have steak but when I do, I’d like it perfect instead of having it bloody on the inside, and rubber-like on the outside.

What we like:

  • The Anova is made out of polycarbonate and stainless steel which prevents rust and ensures durability for years of kitchen use
  • The high resolution temperature and timer display is very minimal and modern
  • It has a fully adjustable clamp to attach to your own pot
  • Super easy set up- As soon as you launch the Google or Apple Store app, a notification pops up and automatically searches for a nearby Anova device. It instantly connects, so there really is no “setup” involved
  • Tons of recipes from Serious Eats, its partner, and exclusive recipes for Anova from Chef Ming Tsai available in the app

What’s not so great:

  • You will need a deep pot or else you won't be able to clamp the Anova to the side of the pot
  • You have to keep the app running in the background othewise it won't remember your settings and reset

So that rounds up some of the smart home devices to check out when building your smart home!

 

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