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Get Help. Access Documents. Data protection that counts. You might also be invested in an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant-powered smart speaker, or maybe you're one of the rarer breeds of Siri and Apple HomeKit adherents. I tend to think of the voice assistants as the starting point for building an off-the-shelf smart home since they offer a convenient way for multiple family members or co-residents to interact with the various devices in your home. Many, but not all of the products on our list of the best smart home products will work with multiple voice assistants.
Our list focuses narrowly, though, on the best product in each smart home sub-category. If you want to know the best smart thermostat or the best smart lighting kit, regardless of which voice platforms it works with, we have you covered.
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What this list is not, is a roadmap for a single, coherent smart home installation you won't get far trying to pair an Amazon smart speaker with a Google smart display. For that, please refer to our platform-based lists linked below. In each sub-category entry, I've also added a link to the best list for that particular product type. If you're looking for more options for lighting or locks, you'll find a list of our favorite products if you'd like to see a broader selection. The competition for the best smart speaker couldn't be closer, but Amazon's entry-level Echo Dot has the edge over the Google Home Mini.
The two voice assistants are pretty much at parity right now. Amazon usually boasts about more skills and support for more third-party devices, but the numbers for both voice platforms are in the tens of thousands, meaning the difference isn't enough that you'll really miss out on anything significant with Google. The best smart speakers of Google Assistant does a better job at mimicking natural conversation flow, but the difference is that it isn't really that noticeable in your day-to-day interaction with each speaker.
Most of the time you'll ask a smart speaker for the weather, to set a timer, and maybe have it play a song or two. Both devices are good at all of that. The Amazon Echo Dot is our pick due to one small hardware advantage. It has an audio-out jack. The Google Home Mini doesn't. Both devices can transmit audio to another source over Bluetooth, but only the Echo Dot can connect to a standard wired speaker set-up. That might not make a difference to everyone, but especially for audiophiles, it gives you an easy, cheap way to add Alexa-based smarts to your existing speaker hardware.
Amazon may have introduced the smart display with the Echo Show , but Google refined the concept with the Nest Hub formerly the Home Hub both in terms of its design, and in the way it leverages its voice assistant. You get the same Google Assistant features in the Nest Hub that you get with the Google Home speaker line, along with a screen interface that gives you just the right amount of visual feedback. It will show you your spoken commands so you know Google heard you correctly, it can deftly walk you through a recipe from popular cooking websites, and it works seamlessly with Google-supported smart home cameras and video doorbells to display their camera feeds onscreen.
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The best smart displays of Google prudently opted out of including a video camera on the Hub itself, getting ahead of some privacy concerns, and likely prompting Amazon to include a manual video shutter on its new, smaller Echo Show 5 display. If you really want a Google-based smart display that allows for video chatting, a few third party options can make that happen. Even without it, the Nest Hub is the best, most affordable marriage of a voice assistant and a display interface on the market. We often point to smart plugs as the entry point for anyone interested in trying out a connected home device.
They're cheap, they're simple to install, and they perform a function that's pretty easy to grasp, toggling power on and off remotely.
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The best smart plugs of You can find a lot of smart plugs out there. TP-Link's Kasa Mini is our favorite. It includes a single outlet that connects to your network via WiFi.
The app is well-designed and lets you program the plug to turn on or off on a schedule or even based on your location. It works with Google Assistant and Alexa, and it doesn't cover up the adjacent outlet on a standard two-outlet wall fixture. Philips Hue smart light bulbs have been our top pick for years, and with good reason.
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The company's range of products is the broadest in the category, encompassing standard A19 bulbs, flood lights , light strips , fixtures and most recently an entire range of outdoor lighting options. That kind of variety makes it easy to bring the lighting scheme for your entire home onto the Hue service. The best smart lights of The Hue line came to prominence with its color-changing bulbs, but the best way for most people to get started is with its standard white light bulbs. Already own an Alexa or Google Assistant device?
Honorable mention: Wyze Bulb. It's not quite as fully featured as Philips Hue it only comes as a standard A19 bulb, no HomeKit support , but it's the best deal in this category. Like its competitor, the Nest Learning Thermostat chief among them, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is a WIFi-based thermostat that lets you control your home heating and air conditioning system with an app or with your voice.
A few features help it stand out. Ecobee set itself apart with its earlier products by including a remote temperature sensor in the box with the thermostat. The thermostat itself can read the ambient temperature of whatever room it's in and adjust accordingly. If you want it to adjust the temp based on the conditions in another room, just switch it over to the remote sensor. This is a useful accessory if your thermostat install point isn't in a central location, or if you want to make sure a nursery or your home office is the focal point for the Ecobee's temperature readings, rather than a far-flung hallway.
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The best smart thermostats of You can buy the same accessory for a Nest thermostat, but Ecobee includes one in the box. Ecobee is also more agnostic about working with voice assistants than its Google-owned competitor. You won't be impressed by its audio output for playing music, but as a basic extender for Alexa around your home, the Ecobee does an admirable job.
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Maybe you actually want Alexa in that far-flung hallway. It's not a small investment to buy into the Arlo Pro 2 security camera kit. That's comparable to the per-camera cost for a Nest Cam or another well-regarded WiFi security camera, so at least Arlo's economics are sound.
Free cloud storage for seven days worth of video clips helps, too. Most other cameras will charge you extra for that. What's better is the sheer flexibility you get with the Arlo Pro 2, its weatherproof design makes the cameras suited for indoor or outdoor use.
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You can power them with a cable, or with the included, rechargeable battery for up to six months. An easy-to-install magnetic base also gives you almost infinite flexibility in terms of how you want to position each camera. They can also stand by themselves without a base on any horizontal surface.