The new year brings resolutions of all kinds, including smart home ones. If it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded the technology in your home, or you are looking for a quick way to dramatically add modern touch – smart home tech might just be the way. It’s undeniable over the last year, we’ve been spending more time at home than usual. That extra time we spend at home will give you the opportunity to put our top 5 tech upgrades to use and make the time you spend at home that much more enjoyable. From a smart doorbell, smart lock, home security camera, robot vacuum and even a home hub we’ve got the upgrades you need with our top 5 smart home technology must-haves for your smart home automation needs.
Keep your smart home connected with a Home Hub
The centrepiece of any smart home technology setup is the Home Hub. The Home Hub acts sort of a focal point for all of your technology and acts as the physical controller (when your voice just doesn’t do it.) You can use these devices to control smart lights, smart locks, make video calls and get almost endless answers to life’s most pressing conundrums. In covering all sorts of home controllers from the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon, choosing one comes down to deciding on what matters more: shopping or features. We didn’t much care for the Facebook portal systems as they were primarily targeted towards video calling, and the Amazon Alexa hubs tended to be focused less on interoperability with other devices. Google’s Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max became the favourite as they were priced well (always seem to be on sale) and have a plethora of features that grows daily. The Nest Hub (below), starts at $99.99USD and the Nest Hub Max at $229USD.
Eliminate mundane, get yourself a Robot Vacuum cleaner
The task of cleaning one’s home is a chore that almost no one loves to partake. With a robot vacuum, one task which forms part of that cleaning regiment is lifted. Robot vacuums have quietly come a long way the last couple of years and the number of devices that feature wifi or connected home technology has quickly increased. Our pick for this category largely has been fixated on value along with a few smarts – the iRobot® Roomba® i3 (3150) robot vacuum. This robot vacuum is from one of the most established brands, performs well and is priced at the lower end of the spectrum. It connects easily with the Google Assistant to start, stop or resume cleaning and is easy to set up. We think having a robot vacuum is a must as it keeps everything clean without effort.
Bring on the smart doorbell
Smart doorbells come in all shapes, sizes and most importantly prices. With the rise of online shopping during the pandemic and our increased reliance on home delivery services, the smart doorbell is becoming a quintessential must-have. Smart doorbells are much more than just doorbells, as they combined the power of modern security cameras with the power of artificial intelligence. While there are lots to choose from our two favourites are the Google Nest Doorbell (wired) and the Ring Video Doorbell (2020). Both of these devices offer plenty in terms of smarts and while we generally preferred the Nest Doorbell, both offer great value and a good eco-system.
Kick it up a notch with a smart lock
Protecting your home with smart tech can sometimes focus solely on security and do little in terms of convenience. This upgrade will actually do both, provide a meaningful improvement to the security of your home and make it a whole lot easier to manage access to your home. Our pick is the Yale (Nest x Yale) Lock which is on the pricier end of the spectrum at $279USD. Smart locks while there is a variety to choose from (even from Yale), getting a reliable and easy-to-use device isn’t as common. In our review, we found that spending the extra money on this lock meant that you get the added convenience of a keyless lock with the power of everything Google. The smart lock lets you share user codes for one time or multiple uses and makes it easy to lock/unlock from anywhere. Combining the features of this lock with the power of the Google eco-system (Google Assistant) make this a great buy.
Protect with a Home Security Camera (or two)
While home security cameras aren’t something new the technology that stands behind them has definitely evolved. The most important factor to consider when deciding between camera systems is finding one that integrates well with the technology you’ve already invested in (i.e. Nest, Ring, HomeKit). If you’re not heavily invested in one yet, you should check out the Arlo Ultra 2 Wireless Security Camera or our favourite pick for home security cameras the Google Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery).
With the Arlo, you get a powerful camera that sports a large battery and 4k HDR. With the Google Nest Cam, you get the flexibility of battery or wired installation and get top-performing video quality with AI smarts. The Arlo is available for $299.99USD and the Google Nest Cam for $179.99USD.