Note: As of January 21, 2020, the Wyze Cam V2 doesn’t have person detection temporarily, but Wyze is adding it back in as soon as possible.
In 1962, the television show “The Jetsons” debuted. It was about a family living in a home equipped with unbelievable devices like video phones, robotic vacuums and automated tools for personal care and hygiene. Fast forward to the year 2020 and many of those smart home technologies featured in the show are available at our fingertips. In fact, there are so many smart home options, choosing what’s best for our homes was daunting. So how did we decide what smart home devices to buy? By the time you finish reading this, you’ll know why these made our list of favorites!
Our Best Smart Home Products Criteria
Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri
Why These Are Our Top Picks For Smart Home Devices
The popularity of smart home devices is rapidly increasing, with the market expected to grow to $53.45 billion by 2022, with close to 75 billion devices1 smart home devices connected to the Internet. With so many people using so many different smart devices, how do you know what’s worthwhile and what’s a bit overrated? Let’s take a closer look at all our top picks.
· White and color ambiance
· Voice and app control
· Integrates with Alexa, Google Assistant
· 16 million colors of light for better ambiance
· Siri enabled
· Sleek design
· Recognizes six different voices
· Spatial awareness to provide optimal sound
· High-quality speakers
Amazon Smart Plug
· Makes basic devices smart ones
· Voice and app control
· Integrates with Alexa
· Space-saving design
Wyze Cam V2
· 1080p HD video
· Integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant
· Time-lapse video
· Night vision
· Two-way audio
Eufy Smart Scale
· Integrates with EufyLife, Apple Health and Google Fit
· Tracks 12 health measurements like weight, body mass index and water weigh
· Up to 20 accounts on one scale
Amazon Echo Show 5
· Powered by Alexa
· Step-by-step recipes, to-do list updates, weather/traffic updates
· Streaming movies and TV
· Smart home control
· Video calling and messaging
· Carbon monoxide and smoke monitoring
· Integrates with Google Assistant
· Remote monitoring
Vivint Home Security System
· Video Security Bundle: $1,379.95
· Smart Complete Bundle: $1,789.92
· Numerous home security devices including outdoor camera, doorbell camera and entry sensors
· Integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant
· Remote arming and disarming capabilities
· 24/7 professional monitoring available
Turns non-Internet-connected devices into smart devices
Compact design won’t blog other plugs
Integrates with Alexa
Our Least Favorite Features
Doesn’t work with Google Assistant
Doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit
Only works with appliances that have mechanical on and off switches
Glitchy when it comes to usage
Turns Basic Devices Into Smart Ones
We were owners of a regular coffee maker; plugging it into the Amazon Smart Plug made it a smart one. We also had an old-school lamp, which Amazon Smart Plug made smart too. The Amazon Smart Plug took any ordinary appliance with an on and off switch and made it a smart device we could voice control through Alexa. It’s important to note that this plug is compatible with any Amazon device, like the Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Sonos, the Alexa App or the Echo show, which we tested in our Echo Show review.
Money-Saving Tip: For $24.99 you can buy a plug to make any regular device and smart device. This will cost you less than buying a smart coffee maker or smart vacuum and is a way to create a smart home without shelling out a ton of money.
Integrates with Alexa Guard Away Lighting
We plugged the lights in our family room into our Amazon Smart Plug so we could use Alexa Guard Away, a free, remote, self-monitored security skill that comes with the Echo. By connecting our smart plug to our Echo, we could have our lights randomly turn on and off to simulate a person being home. Because home invasions increase during the summer months when most people are on vacation or out of town, we were happy we pulled the trigger and purchased our smart plugs in the spring.2 Before we headed out of town, told Alexa when we left and set it up to automatically turn lights on and off at random times. By setting our lights to intermittently turn on and off, we felt confident people who didn’t know we were gone would think we were home. In fact, it was so believable, when we were on a trip to Philadelphia, a friend popped over on his way home from work to say hi. Because he saw the lights on, he thought we were home.
The Nest Wi-Fi router connected us to the fastest Wi-Fi Point in our home. Even with 200 devices connected to just one of our Points, our Internet connection remained strong. Before we installed our router and Point, we constantly got the thinking symbol whenever we tried to stream Netflix. But, thanks to our Nest Wifi, those days are gone. Once installed, we were able to watch whatever we wanted without worrying about a slow Internet connection.
Nest Wi-Fi Doubles as a Smart Speaker
Not only did the Nest Wi-Fi Point, which you can learn more about in our Nest Wifi video review,4 act as a Wi-Fi extender, it also served as a smart speaker. With Google Assistant embedded in it, we could play music and control our Wi-Fi network with our voices wherever we had a Point in our home. Because we had a Point in our bedroom, we used the speakers to listen to calming music before bed and to turn off our smart lights when we wanted to go to sleep.
Outdoor camera sends a notification if someone is lurking outside the home for longer than normal
Our Least Favorite Features
Professional installation required
Long customer service wait times
Integrates with Multiple Smart Home Devices
The Vivint Home Security System integrates with a handful of different smart home platforms, like Google Home, Amazon Echo and Philips Hue smart lighting. We integrated it with our Amazon Echo Show and used our voices to ask Alexa to record video.
Wide Range of High-End Equipment
Vivint offers a wide variety of equipment including outdoor cameras, one of which you can learn more about in our Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro review, a Vivint Doorbell Camera, which we tested for our Vivint Doorbell Camera review and smart locks like the August Smart Lock Pro, which we tested when looking for the best smart locks of 2022. We used the doorbell camera to keep eyes on what took place outside our home. With the doorbell camera, we could talk to the person on the other side of the door without having to open it. We also were notified if someone was lurking or spending more time outside our door than usual. Most of the time it was just the mail person taking a break during his route, but it was comforting to know we always had eyes on the outside.
You Should Know: By purchasing a Vivint Home Security System package, you’ll save money in the long run as opposed to buying individual Vivint products. The system comes with a lot of different equipment that is even pricier when purchased on its own.
The Amazon Echo Show 5 is the less expensive version of the Amazon Echo Show, coming in at $89.99 compared to $229.99. The Amazon Echo Show 5 gave us many of the same features as pricier versions, such as the ability to control our smart home, to watch movies or television shows, to update to-do lists or calendars and to try out new recipes. And the best part; we got all of this for two and half times less than what paid for the Amazon Echo Show.
We’ve always loved to cook, so having a smart device to enhance those skills is a plus. We set up our Amazon Echo Show 5 in the kitchen and mostly used it on weekends when experimenting with new dishes. We used the voice-activated step-by-step recipe guide to make some of our favorite things like chicken parmesan with homemade tomato sauce and chocolate cake. Thanks to our Amazon Echo Show 5, cooking for us has become a more interactive process than ever before.
When we’re out of town, we want to clear our minds and relax. The Nest Protect helps us do just that. The smart home fire and carbon monoxide alarm gave us the ability to monitor our home from anywhere. Once, when sitting on the beach, we got an alert about smoke and called a friend to check in on our home. Turns out, there was smoke coming from our toaster oven in the kitchen that we forgot to unplug. Our friend was able to unplug it, but we don’t want to think what could have happened had we not gotten a remote alert. Because more than half of residential fires start in the kitchen,3 we recommend having a Nest protect in that room of your house.
Heat and Humidity Sensors
With the heat sensor, Nest Protect could notify us if there was a sudden rise in temperature in our home. When our toaster oven was smoking we got notified about the alarm going off, but the heat sensor didn’t go off. That gave us confidence there was full-blown fire in our home and we took care of the problem before disaster struck. As for the humidity sensor, this was great for when we got home from our trip and wanted to take a nice hot shower. The humidity sensor could tell the difference between steam from a shower and smoke, so we didn’t have to worry about overheating our bathroom area and causing a false alarm.
FYI: The Nest Protect locate feature directs us to the exact room and location in our home where it’s picking up smoke or carbon monoxide. This allows us to find the problem faster than if we had to wander around looking for the smoke.
Integrates with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT
Customizable zone detection
Our Least Favorite Features
No artificial intelligence
Sometimes loses Wi-Fi connection
Only works indoors
No wireless capabilities
Affordable Without Lacking in Features
At just $19.99, the Wyze Cam V2 is one of the most affordable cameras on the market, which you can see from our Wyze camera pricing guide. But even with the cheaper sticker price, the Wyze offers all the features we expected from a security camera. The camera meets the industry standard of 1080p HD video, meaning we always got a clear, crisp video from our cameras. The clear video made it easy for us to keep eyes on our puppy while we were at work. We mounted the camera in the kitchen, where we kept the puppy when we were out. With personalized motion detection zones we set it up to only get alerts when the camera detected motion around his food and water bowl. We saw how much food and water he was getting when we weren’t home, without getting constant notifications when he was just playing.
Integrates with Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT
Wyze Cam V2 integrates with most voice assistant devices making it a great choice for anyone who uses Alexa, Google Assistant or even IFTTT, which helps us connect devices of disparate brands to one another. Because we are tech junkies, we used Wyze with both Alexa and Google Assistant and found the voice activation worked well with both Alexa and Google Assistant. It was easy to record video as we headed out the door; all we had to say was “Alexa, start recording in the kitchen,” and we were good to go. If we forget to ask Alexa or Google to record we could use the app to start recording remotely.
Collects personal data provided by the user during sign-up as well as from third parties and shares user information with third-parties
Integrates with Apple Health App
While scales aren’t for everyone, the eufy Smart Scale made tracking our health easy. With the option to use either the EufyLife app, Google Fit or the Apple Health app that came with our iPhones, we had our body weight and body fat measurements handy at any given time. Other metrics the scale provided us included body mass index, visceral fat, lean body mass, bone mass and muscle mass. While we didn’t focus on these measurements during our day to day lives, it was useful to have easy access to them when we went to our primary care doctors for physicals.
Tracks Health For Up To 20 Users
Because the scale tracked the health of up to 20 users and supported multiple device pairings, we didn’t have to worry about connecting and disconnecting before and after our use. Instead, the scale recognized which one of our devices was paired when we stepped on. This made it a product that everyone in our household could use and we only needed to invest in one scale.
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance light bulb gave us the option to have white lighting or colored lighting. With regular white lighting, we changed the coloring from warm white to cool white depending on our moods. And with more than 16 million colors to choose from, we could set any scene we wanted. When we had friends over to watch movies, we would use a dimmer light that made our living room feel like a theater. And once, for our best friend’s birthday party, we used purple lighting to make the room read purple because that’s her favorite color.
Voice Assistant Integration
When we paired these lights to our Amazon Echo or Google Nest devices, which you can learn more about in our Echo Show 8 review or Google Nest Hub Max review, they seamlessly integrated with Alexa and Google Assistant. With voice integration features, gone are the days of having to manually turn off lights, since we could just ask Alexa to do so. One of our favorite times to use the voice assistant integration was at night when we were already tucked into bed. Instead of having to get up to turn the lights off, we could just tell our voice assistant to “turn off the lights.” The room automatically got dark, so we rolled over and fell asleep in a matter of minutes.
Recognizes up to six different users voices and offers a personalized listening experience for each user
Our Least Favorite Features
Only works with Apple devices
Doesn’t work with standard Bluetooth devices
The Apple HomePod is Siri-enabled, so we could ask for anything through the Apple HomePod smart speaker. We asked Siri to tell us the weather while we were getting dressed for work in the morning and update us on the news of the day when we got home in the evening. Additionally, Siri and our Apple HomePod recognized up to six different voices, allowing us to personalize our listening experiences. When we asked Siri to play music, we got a variety of songs based on our past music selections. And with access to more than 60 million songs and 700,000 shows and podcasts, our choices were near endless. Long gone are the days of fishing through the same five CDs in our car!
The Apple HomePod had one of the best speakers we’ve used. We mainly wanted the Apple HomePod for music, so we wanted a great speaker. With refined, crisp sound and a woofer at the top of the speaker that faces upwards, the Apple HomePod didn’t disappoint. Whether we were listening to jazz or classical music, we always had something on in the background when we were making breakfast or dinner, so having a smart device with high-end speakers was a non-negotiable for us.
One of our biggest pet peeves is when there’s only a drop of milk left, but instead of throwing away the carton, someone puts it back in the refrigerator. With our Kangaroo Motion and Entry sensor we now have a way to catch the culprit. We put the entry sensor on our fridge door and got alerts to the free mobile app on our phone anytime the door was opened. We also used the sensors on our front and back doors and received notifications when someone came or left.
We didn’t get excess notification thanks to Kangaroo’s flexible monitoring options, once we set it to monitor doors open and closing. At first, we had it set up to monitor all motion happening in the area as well as the opening and closing of doors. But, with a puppy walking around the house, we got constant movement notifications, so after about a month of owning the sensors, we opted to change our settings from complete motion and opening and closing of doors and windows to just opening and closing doors and windows.. The change was simple and if we wanted to change our preferences back, all we had to do was go to the app and make the switch.
A Video Review Featuring our Top Smart Home Devices
Would you rather see our top devices? No problem, here’s our video featuring these top picks.
The Methodology of Picking The Top Smart Home Devices
When looking for smart home devices, we wanted to make sure they were compatible with our already existing digital ecosystems. Therefore, we looked for devices that worked with some of the more popular voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. Because all of our smart home devices need to be connected with the Internet, in order to get started, we needed to have our Wi-Fi password on hand so we could be ready to connect it to our network when the time came during our setup process.
We also looked for devices that were user-friendly and easy to set up. Most of the devices on our list, like the Amazon Smart Plug, the Philips Hue Lighting and the Apple HomePod are plug and play. That meant that installation consisted of plugging them in, downloading an app to our phones, pushing the on button, and getting started. Once we had power to the devices, we connected them to our Wi-Fi network and set them up with our voice assistants. We made sure to test out the voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant as the final step in our setup. These easy to install devices allowed us to get our smart home up and running in record time!
Using smart home devices provides homeowners with convenient, remote access to devices in the home such as lights, security cameras or smoke detectors. Having access to devices remotely provides homeowners who are out of town or out for the day an added layer of protection and peace of mind that the homes are safe.
Some smart home devices can help save money on energy bills. For example, a homeowner with smart lights can set it up so the lights sense motion and turn on or off depending on whether or not someone is in the room. Smart lights are one way so save money on electricity bills, since the lights turn off automatically when a person leaves the room.
Yes, the Internet is required for smart home devices to be considered smart and if a user wants to receive notifications from the device or be able to check the device remotely. That being said, smart smoke alarms, smart locks and smart light bulbs will work like the basic versions of those same products in the event your Internet goes down.