SMART HOME

IN­NO­VA­TIVE TECH FOR EVERY ROOM IN THE HOUSE

iPhone Life Magazine - - 2018 Best Tech Guide - BY DAVID AVERBACH

HomePod Smart Speaker ($349) I've owned Ap­ple's smart speaker since its re­lease in Fe­bru­ary of 2018. For most of that time, I've pri­mar­ily used the HomePod in the same way I would any other wire­less speaker. While it has ex­cel­lent sound qual­ity, it has a limited fea­ture set com­pared to the Ama­zon Echo ($99.99), and I hadn't found it use­ful in my dayto-day life. Once I set up my smart home though, that com­pletely changed. The HomePod is now the com­mand cen­ter for con­trol­ling every HomeKit-com­pat­i­ble de­vice in my house. I also own an Ama­zon Echo, and I was sur­prised to find HomeKit to be much eas­ier to set up and use than Ama­zon's smart home in­te­gra­tions. The Echo was dif­fi­cult to set up and fails to ex­e­cute my smart home com­mands at least half of the time.

Eero Home Wi-Fi Sys­tem ($399) The vast ma­jor­ity of smart home de­vices com­mu­ni­cate with each other and with you via Wi-Fi. This makes your router kind of like the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem of your smart home. Hav­ing a strong sig­nal in every cor­ner of the house is es­sen­tial for set­ting up a smart home. Eero is what's called a mesh router. Rather than hav­ing one cen­tral lo­ca­tion, Eero comes with a router and two WiFi ex­ten­ders called bea­cons that you can plug in any­where in your home. Eero uses ma­chine learn­ing to man­age which de­vices in your home are con­nected to which bea­cons. I have plaster walls and have strug­gled to get cov­er­age in my home, es­pe­cially with a 5-gi­ga­hertz con­nec­tion. The Eero al­lows me to have ex­cel­lent cov­er­age through­out my home. It was also ab­surdly sim­ple to set up. If $400 sounds too ex­pen­sive and you have a smaller home or aren't that con­cerned with cov­er­age, Eero of­fers the router with­out the bea­cons for $200.

Nest Pro­tect Smoke De­tec­tor ($119) The Nest Pro­tect smart smoke + CO2 de­tec­tor is prob­a­bly the least ex­cit­ing prod­uct on this list but the most likely to save my life. The smoke de­tec­tor works with Nest's app and sends a no­ti­fi­ca­tion any time it de­tects smoke or CO2. I can't tell you how much peace of mind that cre­ates, know­ing that I'll be no­ti­fied of a fire in my home even if I'm not there. It also al­lows me to turn off the smoke de­tec­tor from the app when it's a false alarm rather than hav­ing to climb a chair and take out the bat­tery the old-fash­ioned way. Fi­nally, when the Pro­tect is run­ning low on bat­ter­ies, I get a push no­ti­fi­ca­tion on my phone rather than an an­noy­ing beep­ing noise at 3 a.m.

Philips Hue White & Color Am­biance Starter Kit ($149) Philips makes a wide range of ex­cel­lent smart lights. The lights come with a com­pan­ion app and are HomeKit com­pat­i­ble, al­low­ing you to con­trol the lights from your phone or from Siri. The app is very in­tu­itive, and in­stalling the lights was rel­a­tively easy. Not only can you turn on and off the lights from your phone, but you can also ad­just the color and bright­ness. It's re­ally nice to be able to have a softer light in the evenings, and I've found that adding a lit­tle bit of pink to the light can give the room a re­ally nice feel. While I've en­joyed be­ing able to con­trol the lights us­ing Siri, the lights only re­spond to my dig­i­tal as­sis­tant when the switch is turned on, mean­ing that to make the lights use­ful, you have to com­mit to only con­trol­ling them with your phone or Siri and never us­ing the light switches.

Ecobee4 Ther­mo­stat ($249)

I've used a Nest ther­mo­stat in my house for years and have loved it, but I've re­cently made the switch to Ecobee. Just like the Nest, the Ecobee uses al­go­rithms to cre­ate smart sched­ules for my heat­ing and cool­ing, and also al­lows me to con­trol my ther­mo­stat re­motely via a com­pan­ion app. But the Ecobee has sev­eral other fea­tures that make it my smart ther­mo­stat of choice. First of all, it's com­pat­i­ble with HomeKit, which means I can con­trol the tem­per­a­ture us­ing Siri and cre­ate au­to­mated rules in the Home app. Sec­ond, it comes with a sen­sor that in­te­grates with the ther­mo­stat. The sec­ond story of my house isn't well ven­ti­lated, and my ther­mo­stat is lo­cated down­stairs. So when it thinks it has hit the cor­rect tem­per­a­ture, it's still un­com­fort­able on the sec­ond story. With the Ecobee, I can place the sen­sor up­stairs and have my ther­mo­stat rely on that read­ing in­stead. The fi­nal perk of the Ecobee is that it comes with Ama­zon Alexa in­te­gra­tion. While I use Siri pri­mar­ily, it's still nice to be able to talk di­rectly to the ther­mo­stat us­ing Ama­zon's ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence when I don't have my phone handy.

Au­gust Smart Lock Pro + Con­nect ($279)

The Au­gust Smart Lock might be my fa­vorite of all of my smart home ac­ces­sories. It au­to­mat­i­cally locks the door when I leave the house and un­locks the door when I ar­rive home. The lock comes with a com­pan­ion app, which al­lows me to un­lock the door re­motely (even when I'm not in the house) and cre­ate a “tem­po­rary key” for guests by equip­ping their smart­phones with ac­cess for a limited time. You can in­stall this smart lock with any sin­gle-cylin­der dead­bolt. Hav­ing a door that locks au­to­mat­i­cally is great for my peace of mind, but I've found I keep ac­ci­den­tally lock­ing peo­ple out. I rec­om­mend get­ting the Au­gust Door­bell Cam Pro ($199) along with the lock so that you know when some­one ar­rives at your home (even when you aren't there).

Nanoleaf Light Pan­els – Just the Ba­sics ($229)

The Nanoleaf light pan­els are the least prac­ti­cal item on this list, but the most fun. The Just the Ba­sics bun­dle comes with nine mod­u­lar tri­an­gu­lar lights. You can ar­range the lights into any pat­tern you like and mount them on your wall us­ing the in­cluded dou­ble-sided mount­ing tape. You can con­trol them with your phone from the com­pan­ion app or by us­ing HomeKit. The lights change col­ors based on var­i­ous pat­terns that you can se­lect in the com­pan­ion app. They also come with the Nanoleaf Rhythm, which al­lows the lights to re­spond to mu­sic. I have my lights set up above my record player, and they are a unique ad­di­tion to the home. This was a fun de­vice to show off! I give the Nanoleaf 10 out of 10 stars for the wow fac­tor.

Eight Jupiter + Mat­tress ($999–$1,299)

Eight's smart mat­tresses have sen­sors built into them in or­der to al­low you to mon­i­tor your sleep pat­terns. The app gives you a sleep re­port each morn­ing that tracks when you fell asleep and how of­ten you were in deep sleep. The sen­sors are also com­pat­i­ble with HomeKit, which means you can build cus­tom rules, such as turn­ing off the lights and lock­ing the doors when you get in bed. $999 is very ex­pen­sive for a smart home ac­ces­sory but ac­tu­ally very af­ford­able for a mat­tress. Not only does Eight come packed with smart fea­tures, it's also a very com­fort­able mem­ory foam mat­tress.

iRobot Roomba 960 ($529–$699)

iRobot is mak­ing the dream of hav­ing ro­bots clean my house a re­al­ity. Smart vac­u­ums have been around for a while now but have come a long way since their ini­tial in­tro­duc­tion. The Roomba 960 sup­ports mul­ti­room and multi-sur­face clean­ing. You can con­trol it via a com­pan­ion app that lets you sched­ule clean­ings and view a re­port af­ter each, in­clud­ing a map of where it has cleaned. The app no­ti­fies you if the Roomba gets stuck or if the bin needs to be emp­tied. Ro­botic clean­ing is not yet per­fect—it can't handle stairs and oc­ca­sion­ally gets stuck (I had to res­cue my Roomba a time or two)—but it's still amaz­ingly con­ve­nient and well worth the ex­pense.

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