But if you’re a beginner, where do you start? Here’s our guide to smart devices for your home in 2020.
Google vs. Alexa Home System
When it comes to smart home devices, Google and Amazon are the top contenders. As they update their devices, one will sometimes squeeze ahead of the other for user-friendliness or advanced technology, but its reign doesn’t last long. Both systems also tend to be similarly priced (and usually discounted), which can make choosing between one or the other difficult for beginners.
One of the biggest differences between Google and Alexa was third-party technology compatibility. But today’s devices are largely compatible with each other and third-party products. Some of the industry’s biggest smart home technology providers are actually teaming up to create an “open-source smart home standard,” which would ensure that all smart home devices can work together.
Breaking Down Alexa and Google Smart Home Devices
Alexa-based hardware is made to be easy to use for anyone. Amazon’s primary smart home products are the Fire TV, and various different Echo hub displays and speakers.
Google offers similar products to everything Amazon offers. Google’s Nest series of speakers of display hubs are comparable to the Echo. Some reviewers claim the most recently updated Echo Show, Amazon’s display hub, has a better resolution than Google’s Nest Hub. But, the newest version of Google’s Nest Mini, which is like Amazon’s Echo Dot, has wall mounting capabilities, which Amazon products do not.
Google’s Chromecast, a device like the Fire TV that turns any TV into a smart TV, has more personalization options than the Fire TV. With Chromecast, a user can stream their computer screen onto their TV like a second monitor. Google also offers its own branded (and highly rated) mesh router system and its own Nest Learning Thermostat. It’s also the only smart home device to offer its own smart gas leak detector.
If you would like the ability to be able to connect your computer to your TV, a Google-based home system is the better option. It’s also better for people looking to build out a smart home that runs mostly on the same system. But if you’re just looking to stream media and connect to your smartphone to get more organized, or communicate with other smart home systems, really either product is a good choice.
Should You Get an Apple HomeKit?
To make the process more indecisive, Apple has its own smart home system. The Apple home system is perfect for enthusiasts of Apple products, who want to be able to seamlessly transition between all of their personal technology devices.
Apple has a HomePod, which works like an Echo or Nest speaker. However, where it’s different is that with Apple, your iOS devices can also work as a hub through Siri. This allows a user to control their home even when they aren’t home.
One of the biggest perks for iOS users about the Apple home system is the AirPlay feature. AirPlay allows you to connect any iOS device to your TV, and display whatever you’re doing on your phone or Macbook onto your television’s display screen. This feature turns your TV into a second monitor, much like Chromecast does. AirPlay also allows you to broadcast a separate screen on your TV so that you can use your computer while you stream media on your TV.
Apple also has plans to make gas leak detection a standard feature in its phones and watches. However, there is currently no smart vacuum system that is compatible with HomeKit.
This YouTube video explains how the Apple HomeKit works really well!
Some of the Best Rated Smart Home Accessories
There’s no shortage of options for additional smart home devices to connect your home. Some of the top-rated are listed below.
- Mesh Routers: Eeero and NETGEAR Orbi
- Smart Thermostat: Ecobee and Eve
- Robot Cleaner: Ecovacs
- Smart Lighting: LIFX
- Smart Lock: August Smart Lock Pro
- Printer: HP
- WiFi Plug: TP-Link’s Kasa Mini
- Television: LG OLED, LG NanoCell, TCL QLED, Samsung UHD TV
- Remote: Harmony Elite
- Mirror: QAIO
- Security: ring and SimpliSafe
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