Smart Home Essentials: The Stuff That’s Actually Useful – Review Geek
If we’ve learned one thing from reviewing smart home products, it’s that most of them are useless. Only a handful of smart devices can truly automate or improve your home. So, it’s time to focus on the stuff that actually matters—the essential products that every smart home needs.
You won’t find smart showers, egg minders, or connected rat traps in here. Instead, we’re highlighting useful items that don’t require gobs of money or a visit from the electrician. (And in case you’re wondering, the answer is “yes,” smart rat traps are a thing.)
The Crux: A Smart Speaker or Display
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a voice assistant like Alexa to run a smart home. All connected devices have dedicated apps, which you can use to dole out commands or schedule routines for your home.
But running everything from an app sucks; it makes owning a smart home an inconvenience. Voice assistants aren’t just for asking “what’s the weather” or “how do you boil rice.” They allow you to issue smart home commands at the drop of a dime, they can tell you when a guest is near your smart doorbell, and you can even use them like a home intercom system.
That’s why your home needs a smart speaker or smart display. These products are fairly affordable and often go on sale—heck, Google has a habit of giving away its smart speakers for free.
Smart speakers are the more economical option, and they’re usually a better starting point for entry-level smart homes. Still, smart displays are a bit more intuitive, as they let you control smart home devices, stream video, or look up recipes from a screen.
The only challenge here is choosing which smart assistant to use. Certain products don’t work with certain assistants, so I suggest sticking with whichever brand you’re most familiar with. Those who love their Fire TV may want an Amazon Echo speaker, for example, while Apple fans might want the exclusive features offered by a HomePod.
I should note that if you’re tight on cash, you can always control smart home devices from your phone’s smart assistant. And hey, if you don’t want to use voice commands, that’s fine. The Google Home, Alexa, and Apple Home apps are free and put all of your smart home controls in one place. Set them up so you don’t need to juggle a different app for every brand in your smart home.
Bright Minds: Smart Bulbs and Lighting
Smart lights are fairly affordable, yet they make an incredible and immediate impact on your home. You can dim all of a room’s smart bulbs with a simple voice command, for example, or set up a schedule where your bulbs automatically change from a warm hue to a cool blue throughout the day.
Color smart bulbs unlock even more excitement, as they’re endlessly customizable and can add some serious flair to your home. And don’t get me started on larger smart lighting products, like wall panels or TV backlights—they’re expensive and less “essential” than regular smart bulbs, but they’re genuinely amazing.
If you’re just …….