We are now living in the future! As technology is on the rise and smart home living is the next big thing, setting up your smart home is now as simple as putting a smart speaker in your living room or—if you want to go all-in—as complex as creating an intricate network of connected devices.
Smart homes rely on components being able to communicate with one another, so you have to make sure that the gadgets you are stocking up in your shopping cart are compatible with the other devices you have or are planning to use. Here are our recommendations for the best smart home devices of 2019 to bring your home into the future and give it a much-needed upgrade.
1. Smart lock: August Smart Lock Pro
The smart home is getting smarter, but not everyone is comfortable with completely doing away with their old systems. A way to ease yourself into smart home living is by integrating technology into your door locks. We’re not saying that you should install a completely new electronic door lock and throw away your keys, but there’s a quick and beautiful solution that incorporates the new and old. August Smart Lock Pro fits onto your existing deadbolt and allows you to keep using your old key, which is perfect if there are other family members who are not ready to say bye-bye to keyholes.
How much: $1,869
2. Smart light bulb: Philips Hue
A simple way to ease your home into smart home living is by switching out the light bulbs, and the Phillips Hue range of smart bulbs is one of the best. Phillips has an app, Phillips Hue Sync, that allows you to change the light intensity and colour, as well as time your lights to switch on and off. The coolest part of the app is that you can synchronise the smart bulbs with multimedia content on your Mac or Windows PC, meaning you can make your lights pulse or change colour according to the beat of a song or a video! You can also get the Philips Bridge, which is like a hub for your lights, and make the smart bulbs compatible for other home control systems, such as Apple HomeKit, Nest app, and Samsung SmartThings.
How much: $1,080
3. Smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon Echo was one of the first smart speakers to hit the market, and despite the competition within the market, we still feel that the new Amazon Echo Dot is the best. The new Echo still does everything Alexa does: control smart home gadgets, connect to other smart home hubs, read your audiobooks, check the weather, and even lets you purchase things online by using just your voice. It even looks better than its past version, with a modern, fabric-swathed exterior and an LED clock embedded around its edge, perfect for anywhere in the house.
How much: $295
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4. Smart display: Google Nest Hub Max
The Google Nest Hub Max is a larger version of the Google Home Hub, a smart speaker with a screen that brings Google Home into the Nest family. It has a front-facing camera and can plug into the Google-owned Nest platform to act as a smart home camera. The screen interface gives you just the right amount of visual feedback, showing your spoken commands to let you know that Google heard you right. Google Assistant also feels responsive and it can function as a speaker as well. Additionally, the large screen lets you watch YouTube while you cook. Google Nest Hub Max works seamlessly with Google-supported smart home cameras and video doorbells to display their camera feeds onscreen.
How much: $2,899
5. Smart thermostat: Ecobee (5th Gen)
A smart thermometer is surprisingly useful, and Ecobee is our personal favourite. With Alexa built-in, it has a slick touchscreen interface and a remote sensor that helps you make sure all the rooms in your apartment are getting heated or cooled properly. This new version has Spotify integration and a better speaker for you to play music, as well as make full use of Alexa’s features, such as drop-in and messaging!
How much: $2,136
6. Smart plug: Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug
The Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug is more than just a way to control devices plugged into it—it’s also a way to monitor your energy usage and get estimates on how much powering certain devices in your home is going to cost. If you are trying to save some money and help the environment by being more energy conscious, then this is the thing for you! The plug also connects to other smart home platforms, such as IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant and Nest.
How much: $605
7. Smart air purifier: Mi Air Purifier 2
If we are conscious of what we put in our body in terms of diet, shouldn’t we also be conscious about the air we breathe? Mi Air Purifier 2 is a simple elegant design that will give your lungs a treat. Offering 310m3/h Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), it takes the machine only 10 minutes to circulate purified air in a 21m2 room. It can also easily link up with your smartphone so that you can switch the machine on and off, or even set schedules for when you are no home to make sure to get back to clean air in your apartment.
How much: $1,999
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8. Smart vacuum cleaner: iRobot Roomba i7+
Robot vacuum cleaners are famous for their part in viral videos of owners putting their pets on top of them and sending them off for a ride, but let’s not forget that they are one of the OGs of smart living too! iRobot’s Roomba is still the leader of the industry, with their newest model Roomba i7+ representing the best of the best. It can slide under cabinets and sofas and copes well with different surfaces such as carpets.
In addition to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, military mapping, and adaptive camera-based navigation, it is the only robot vacuum that can empty its own dustbin. Roomba i7+ actually gets more efficient as it goes round, and from the app, you get to name each room individually (and block off rooms you don’t want the Roomba i7 to touch). This is what the best smart gadgets of 2019 should aspire to.
How much: $9,499
9. Smart mop: iRobot Braava Jet 240
A vacuuming robot isn’t enough these days. Wouldn’t you want your floors mopped clean as well? iRobot’s relatively inexpensive Braava Jet 240 will do exactly that. It’s small, quiet, and perfect for people in Hong Kong without a lot of floor space or time to clean it when they get home. It sprays a jet of water and rolls over it to dry it and clean deep, making damp sweeping possible just like a Swiffer.
How much: $2,190
10. Smart fridge: Samsung Family Hub Fridge
Few devices ooze smart home vibes as much as the Family Hub Refrigerator from Samsung. Marking the true arrival of the future, the fridge comes in several different models but share similar characteristics, one being the gigantic touch screen embedded in one of the doors. You can use that large front panel to leave notes for other people in the family, jot down items for a shopping list, watch YouTube videos, and so on. Get a weather report, play some music, and even find out what everyone in the household is supposed to be doing by calling up a calendar!
There’s technology inside the fridge too, like a camera that sits behind the doors and can be accessed remotely. No longer do you have to find yourself wandering around the aisles of your favourite supermarket with no idea of what food you’ve got at home and what you need to buy, because a quick check on your phone will tell you everything you need to know!
How much: US$3,099
11. Smart slow cooker: Anova Culinary Precision Cooker
If you’re interested in sous-vide cooking—where food sealed in plastic is immersed in a hot bath to cook to perfection—you need an immersion circulator to get started. The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker uses Wi-Fi connectivity so you control it from anywhere, even when you’re not home. A big dial lets you set the desired temperature to within a tenth of a degree, the display shows the set and current water temperature, and an app keeps you notified of the cooking process every step of the way. It makes sous-vide cooking as simple as ABC.
How much: $779