Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024


Adding smart home devices gives you more control over your environment. They make your home safer and more secure. They’re just fun to use, too.


UPDATE: 11/27/2023

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and these are still the best smart home devices you can buy.

What to Look For in a Smart Device in 2023

With so many smart home gadgets available, how do you choose the right ones? Well, you need to start by thinking about your needs. Are you looking to secure your home? Do you want to turn off lights or conveniently play music with your voice? Are you unsure yet and looking to try something out?

Regardless of what you’re looking for, there will be a smart device that can do it. Check out smart video doorbells, security cameras, and locks for home security. For convenience, browse through smart displays, robot vacuums, speakers, and lights. To save money on your utilities, look at smart thermostats, sprinklers, and plugs. Always check out the device’s features before making a purchase.

Most smart devices are capable of more than you might expect. For example, any device with built-in Alexa gives you access to the voice assistant. As such, you’ll be able to use Alexa as you would with any other Alexa device. So you can use a smart plug to check the weather, read the news, review your shopping list, and perform other Alexa tasks.

Now that you know how to shop for smart devices, check out our list of the best ones available.

How-To Geek’s product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product. Read More »

Controlling the lights with the Nest Hub
Jason Fitzpatrick / How-To GeekJason Fitzpatrick / Review GeekJason Fitzpatrick / LifeSavvy

Pros

Cons

✓ Affordable

✗ No camera

✓ Uses Sensing Technology, Soli, and Quick Gestures

✓ Great sounding speakers

✓ Comes with built-in voice control

Looking for an affordable smart display with built-in voice control? Get your hands on Google’s second-generation Nest Hub, a $100 smart display that’s a huge improvement over the original.

The second-generation hub doesn’t have a camera, so you can’t use it to Facetime or Skype with others. But it has a larger screen and improved sound quality, which is great for watching your favorite Netflix shows and YouTube videos. The enhanced speakers are great for listening to your favorite songs on Spotify, as well.

One of the Nest’s most interesting features is Soli, a radar sensor chip that lets you control the smart display using hand gestures. This lets you play with Quick Gestures to control the Hub using hand gestures and voice commands. The Nest Hub also uses Sleep Sensing technology which helps monitor your sleep using motion and sound.

With the smart display, it almost feels like a Google Nest and an Echo Show combined. It’s fun, convenient, and keeps you connected to friends and family. For more generic uses, you can use the display as a digital photo frame, or as a display to control your compatible smart devices—it’s versatile!

google nest hub

Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen)

Best Smart Display

The Google Nest Hub comes with countless apps and enhanced speakers. Watch shows, movies, or listen to music on this powerful smart display.

White Sonos Era 100 sitting on a shelf
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

✓ Excellent Alexa integration

✗ No Google Assistant support

✓ TruePlay tuning makes for excellent sound

✗ Limited integration with other smart home systems

✓ Features Bluetooth 5.0 and line-in

✓ Minimalist design

Plenty of smart speakers offer a voice assistant to help you control your lights or the temperature in your home, but there are far fewer that make music a joy to listen to. The Sonos Era 100 offers the smarts of an Amazon device with sound quality that many other smart speakers couldn’t hope to match.

One of the main factors Sonos speakers have in sounding so good is TruePlay, a feature that uses an iPhone or iPad’s built-in microphone to measure the room’s acoustics and tune your speaker accordingly. With the Sonos Era 100, this feature is also available to Android users, as there is now a Quick Tune feature that uses the built-in microphones on the speaker itself.

You have two options when it comes to controlling the speaker and other devices. Sonos Control mainly controls music and other speaker-related functions. For smart home controls, the Era 100 supports Amazon Alexa, but unlike the earlier Sonos One, it doesn’t support Google Assistant, at least not at launch.

Another new feature of the Sonos Era 100 is Bluetooth 5.0. While portable speakers like the Sonos Roam and Move have included Bluetooth, the Era 100 and Era 300 are the first home speakers from Sonos to add Bluetooth.

Unlike the wild design of the Era 300, the Sonos Era 100 keeps a minimalist, understated look. The speaker is available in black and white color options.

Sonos Era 100

Best Smart Speaker

If you’re looking to control your devices via Amazon Alexa but you’re looking for better sound quality, the Sonos Era 100 is a fantastic option. It has plenty of connectivity including Bluetooth.

Best Smart Light Bulb: Philips Hue

Person holding a Philips Hue bulb
Hannah Stryker / How-To GeekHannah Stryker / Review GeekHannah Stryker / LifeSavvy

Pros

Cons

✓ Over 16 million colors

✗ Requires hub to link more than 10 lights

✓ Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit

✗ Expensive

✓ Bluetooth accessible

When installing a smart light bulb, you want something that’s easy to set up and has bright white and vivid colors for any setting. We recommend the Philips Hue, a smart bulb that can fit into any environment.

Although the price tag is expensive for a smart bulb, it’s quite an upgrade from previous Hue bulbs. You used to need a special hub to use them, but now, Philips Hues smart bulbs work independently. You can still install the hub if you’d like, as it allows you to link up to 50 lights instead of only 10 on the app.

The hub also gives you additional features to control the lights. You can group lights by rooms or zones and sync them when playing movies, games, or music. A security feature can randomly turn the lights on and off around your home to make it seem like you’re there. This is handy when you’re away from home to deter people from breaking in. So even though you may not need the hub, it can be pretty useful.

Philips Hue bulbs are Bluetooth accessible, so you can control them from the Philips Hue app. Regarding smart home integration, the bulbs are compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. You can control them using voice commands, which is great as you no longer need to flip a switch. It also pairs with Nest and Samsung SmartThings, giving you more options to add lights to your home automation.

philips hue

Philips Hue

Best Smart Light Bulb

$80 $130 Save $50

Choose between 16 million colors with bright white and vivid colors. Control your lights by voice and integrate them into your smart ecosystem.

Person turning light on with Lutron Caseta switch
Lutron

Pros

Cons

✓ High value kit

✗ Remote not included

✓ Works with many leading smart home devices

✗ Bridge must be connect using Ethernet

✓ Voice control with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri

✓ Easy and fast installation

Connecting your lights can be simple and easy with the Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit. For $95, the kit includes a smart switch, smart bridge, and wallplate. You’ll have everything you need to control your appliances more conveniently.

Lutron’s Start Kit integrates seamlessly with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Ring, Serena Shades, and Sonos. You can use voice commands with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri to control your devices. However, to use Siri, you need to set up the included smart bridge.

On top of using voice commands, you can control your devices from on Android or iPhone devices, a Pico remote that’s sold separately, or by using the physical light switch.

You’re given many convenient options, and we still haven’t gotten to the other features. Geofencing checks if your lights are on when you’re out, so you can turn them off. Smart Away turns your lights on randomly around the home to make it look like you’re there. The Sunset Tracker sets your outdoor lights to turn on when the sun goes down.

You can create schedules for your devices to turn on and off and change lighting scenes for any event. It only takes 15 minutes to install everything, and there are detailed guides to help you.

diva-smart-switch-kit-desk_0

Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit

Best Smart Switch

$76 $95 Save $19

Looking for a smart plug that can do it all? The Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit gives you voice control, remote control, security features, and more.

An ecobee smart thermostat displaying weather
Josh Hendrickson / How-To GeekJosh Hendrickson / Review GeekJosh Hendrickson / LifeSavvy

Pros

Cons

✓ Easy integration with smart home ecosystems

✗ Slightly expensive

✓ Built-in air quality sensor

✓ AI-generated comfort and energy-saving suggestions

✓ High-quality build materials and display

The best smart thermostats will not only make your life easier but should also help you to save money on your energy bills. The ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium does both of those things and then some. It isn’t cheap at $250, but it does come bundled with a SmartSensor for monitoring any cold/hot spots in your home.

This smart thermostat is just on the right side of the smart scale. It uses AI like Google Nest Thermostat to learn your heating preferences. But unlike its competitors, it doesn’t assume it knows better than you. It will make suggestions for comfort and energy-saving but doesn’t automatically apply the heating changes.

Our sister site Review Geek tested the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium, and found it to be a great alternative to the competition and worthy of an Editor’s Choice badge:

Unless you prefer a thermostat that learns (and that makes you wrong), ecobee is one of the best smart thermostats you can buy today. But only at the software level. Until now, the hardware left a lot to be desired. The new ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium changes that in every way possible.

The thermostat is compatible with the most popular smart home ecosystems and has Alexa built into the device. It can also work with Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT, and Apple HomeKit. Once it is set up you can control almost everything with voice commands or the Ecobee app for iOS and Android, without ever having to touch the unit itself.

Not that using the wall unit is difficult. The touch display is bright, clear, and much improved on previous models. All settings are easy to locate, and there’s a simple plus/minus menu for changing the temperature. It doesn’t have quite the same easy usability level as Nest’s twist dial, but that’s only a minor point.

ecobee premium

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium

Best Premium

$220 $250 Save $30

Brilliant compatibility with smart home ecosystems, clever software and useful extra sensors make this a perfect choice for taking smart control of your energy usage.

August Smart lock on door
August

Pros

Cons

✓ Has built-in Wi-Fi

✗ Doesn’t come with keypad

✓ Works with several voice assistants

✗ Has a relatively short battery life

✓ Easy installation

✓ Can automatically lock and unlock

Upgrading the lock on your door doesn’t have to be hard. The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock costs $230 and is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for an easy-to-install smart lock that works with Alexa.

Installing the lock is fast and easy as you won’t need to replace your deadbolt. The lock uses your existing key, so you can still use it even if the power goes out. You’ll be able to control who has access to your home and when through the August app, which is available on Android and iPhone devices.

The lock includes August’s DoorSense technology, which lets you know if your door is locked or closed. You’ll get an alert on your phone if the door isn’t shut properly. And with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and other voice assistants, you can view the status of the door and control it by voice.

For even more convenience, you can control the lock from anywhere as long as your phone and the lock are connected to Wi-Fi.

Another keyless option is to install an August Keypad that allows you to enter a code to unlock the door. You can assign codes for multiple people to tighten your home security. You can go keyless as the lock can automatically open when you’re home and lock when you close the door. It may be wise to store a key somewhere just in case, though.

august smart light

August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

Best Smart Lock

$149 $230 Save $81

Keep your home safe by upgrading to this August Smart Lock. It’s convenient, affordable, and reliable.

Pros

Cons

✓ Works with Alexa

✗ Subscription required to access all features

✓ 1080p HD video quality

✓ Full color video 24/7

The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is one of Ring’s newest releases, and it takes the throne as it offers a wide range of features you’ll love. You won’t need an upgrade from this $200 wireless smart doorbell for many years to come.

Starting with the best features, the Doorbell 4 captures video in 1080p HD, giving you a clear picture of anyone at your front door. It records in full color during the day and at night. Being able to clearly see who’s there at night is a nice safety bonus.

There’s also a four-second pre-roll that records when the camera detects motion. With this, you can quickly pull out your phone to see who’s there and monitor them remotely. You can also open the Ring app to speak through the camera’s camera, available on Android and iPhone devices.

On the app, you can set privacy zones to keep the camera from recording in certain areas, like a neighbor’s bedroom window. You can also schedule when you want to receive motion and live view alerts, among other settings. If you’re away from home, there’s a setting you can turn on that allows visitors to leave a message—perfect for delivery people or anyone else who stops by.

For those who own an Alexa device such as the Echo Show, you can pair the Video Doorbell 4 with Alexa for more convenience. You’ll be able to see who’s at your door and view recordings using voice commands. For extra security features such as video saving and sharing, you can subscribe to a Ring Protect Plan starting at $5/month.

The Ring 4 uses a rechargeable battery, so you won’t need to do any wiring. It’ll last for months, depending on activity, and you’ll be notified when the battery’s low. If you don’t want to worry about recharging the camera, you can even hardwire it with your existing doorbell.

ring doorbell

Ring Doorbell 4

Best Video Doorbell

The popular Ring Doorbell 4 will never miss when someone’s at your door, so you can rest assured when you’re home or out.

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight camera
Arlo

Pros

Cons

✓ Records in 2K HDR video

✗ Subscription required to access some features

✓ Night vision with color

✓ Built-in siren

✓ Compatible with most smart home ecosystems

If you’re looking for a reliable security camera that works with all major smart home ecosystems, the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera is a terrific option. The camera is affordable at $200 and compatible with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, SmartThings, and Google Assistant.

Arlo’s Pro 4 is wireless, so you won’t have to worry about managing any cables. You can have it up and running within a few minutes, but you’ll need to connect it to your Wi-Fi. It’s also weather-resistant, so it won’t break down when it starts to rain or snow. Once installed, you can look through the camera with 2K HDR quality, the same quality as high-end cameras.

It also has night vision with color, so you’ll be able to identify anyone or anything clearly. If something’s difficult to see, you can zoom in for a closer look. A bright light even shines from the camera when it detects motion, which helps to scare off intruders.

The Pro 4 can tell the difference between people, vehicles, and animals. And when there’s motion detected, you’ll get notified on your phone of who or what’s there. You can set the camera to only let you know when someone is around your home. You’ll be able to communicate with whoever’s there as there’s two-way audio. And in case of an emergency, you can activate the loud built-in siren.

If you want unlimited cloud storage that lasts 30 days, you can upgrade to the Arlo Secure plan. The plan starts at $3/month but gives you full access to all the camera’s features, so it’s worth getting. When you’re on the plan, you can access all stored videos and audio recordings anytime.

arlo pro 4

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera

Best Indoor Security Camera

$140 $200 Save $60

Sleek, minimalistic, and with a powerful 2K camera, the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera is an excellent security camera regardless of where you place it.



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By John P.

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