Smart technology for homes isn’t new. Big brands like Amazon and Google continue to release new devices, pushing the boundaries of the Internet of Things. But smaller names are also putting out innovative smart home gadgets, all of which offer benefits in the form of increased energy efficiency, convenience, or security.
This year, the smart home tech market saw several additions with features you wouldn’t want to miss. Here are the five best smart home devices that came out this 2020.
- Best Smart Speaker: Sonos One (Gen 2)
The Sonos One Gen 2 improves upon its predecessor with its increased memory, Bluetooth Low Energy, and a more powerful processor. Although the speaker has no additional features, Sonos says the upgrades will support new product features that may come in the future.
Just like the Gen 1, the Sonos One Gen 2 supports both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. It’s the perfect smart speaker for those who can’t decide between the two, letting you enjoy the unique features of both voice assistants.
Audio-wise, Sonos One is on par with other smart speakers in its price range. The sound quality is rich and full-bodied and supports multi-room audio, with flexible stereo and surround configurations.
The company also launched the accompanying Sonos One app, which brings the “room groups” feature. This allows the system to remember your frequently grouped speakers, like your kitchen and dining room speakers, so you can play music more quickly.
The Sonos One Gen 2 is available for $199.
- Best Smart Plug: Connect Sense Smart Outlet 2
For $60, the Connect Sense Smart Outlet 2 provides everything you want in a smart plug. Apart from giving smart functions to your regular appliances, this feature-rich plug offers energy usage reporting and supports Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.
The Connect Sense Smart Outlet 2 is easy to install and use. It has two outlets that function independently of each other. You can control both outlets using the Smart Outlet 2 app on Android or iOS.
Although it lacks IFTTT support, you can use HomeKit Scenes and Automations to link the smart plug with HomeKit devices like doorbells and motion sensors.
3. Best Home Security Camera: Arlo Ultra
The Arlo Ultra is the first security camera to record and stream videos in Ultra High Definition (UHD) or true 4K. The $399.99 price tag may seem overwhelming, but this buys you a wealth of useful features:
- 180-degree field of view
- Color night vision
- Automatic zooming
- Integrated spotlight and siren
- AI-based motion tracking
- One-click 911 connectivity
Note that some of these features require a subscription.
The Arlo Ultra works with Google Assistant, Apple Watch, and Amazon Alexa. It’s also wireless, weatherproof, and easy to install. You only need to attach the camera to the magnetic mount.
4. Best Smart Thermostat: Ecobee Smart Thermostat With Voice Control
The Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control is perfect for those who want to use Alexa without having to buy an Amazon Echo. This smart thermostat has a built-in Alexa speaker, but it also works with Google Assistant and Siri.
On top of its advanced Alexa functionalities, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat offers enhanced multimedia support, more powerful audio components, echo-cancelling microphones, and lots of third-party integrations.
The smart thermostat can interact with other IFTTT-enabled smart home devices and can work with Apple’s HomeKit platform.
You can control the Ecobee Smart Thermostat through the iOS or Android app, which is easy to use and navigate.
5. Best Smart Lighting: Yeelight Smart LED Bulb
The Yeelight Smart LED Bulb is rich with features but still relatively affordable. Although it doesn’t support as many smart home platforms as Philips Hue, it has most of the functions you want in a smart bulb, including the following:
- Dimmable, with a 1700K to 6500K white color temperature range
- Supports Apple HomeKit, Alexa, Google, and Siri
- Scheduling and timer options
- 16-million color palette
You can configure the lighting effects and create schedules through the user-friendly app. The app also offers preset color scenes to help you set the mood.
Another advantage of the Yeelight Smart LED Bulb is it doesn’t need a hub or bridge.
These are only a few of the best smart home devices that came out this year. There are also pet cameras, smart remotes, robot vacuums, and even robot lawn mowers that aim to increase the convenience of your day-to-day life.
Keep in mind that the value of a smart home device depends on your lifestyle. Look at your daily routine and see where you need help in terms of efficiency, then look for the smart device that can give you what you’re looking for.
Hassan is a Technician in mobile software programming, Internet technology and Electrical Installations. He also specialises in renewable and green energy solutions like Solar and Wind Power Systems.