The best smart home devices we tested in 2021 – CNN Underscored

Whether it be a fancy new smart display or yet another smart bulb, CNN Underscored is constantly testing the latest and greatest in the smart home world.

And those tests go on for many weeks to constantly evaluate each device with the latest updates and against the newest competition. This year, we tackled smart displays, smart plugs and made time for bulbs and speakers in between. Here’s the hardware that stood above the rest, regardless of your smart home ecosystem.

Smart speakers

Best smart speaker overall: Amazon Echo 4th Gen ($59.99, originally $99.99;

Not only does the 4th Gen Echo have a unique cylindrical design, but it houses terrific sound and a myriad of Alexa smarts — all of which makes it our top pick for a smart speaker. The spherical shape allows for stronger sound to be pushed out and its sound quality is unmatched at its price point. Better yet, it has plenty of connectivity to power your smart home and make setting up other devices effortlessly.

Runner-up: Apple HomePod Mini ($99.99;

As our runner-up pick for a smart speaker, the HomePod Mini gets a lot right — but its Achilles heel is that it only works for those in the Apple ecosystem. You actually can’t set it up without an iPhone. But if you live in the Apple ecosystem, it produces excellent sound with surprisingly strong quality as well. Siri is smarter than ever, and this tiny smart speaker can power your smart home.

Best sound under $200: Sonos One ($219;

If you want bold, clear audio and an assistant-agnostic smart speaker, the Sonos One is your best bet. You get your pick of Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant for easy control and answers to queries, but the real star is the audio quality, which. beats out every other smart speaker we tested.

Best budget smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen ($29.99, originally $49.99;

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