The tech you need to build your very own smart home
The once-thought futuristic idea of a connected home is now much more attainable. Prices are coming down all the time, and there’s more variety on the shelves than ever. So, lets check out the best gadgets to get started with…
Nest’s learning thermostat has been the poster boy for smart homes for a while, and seeing as it’s owned by Google, it’s now even more attractive. This is mainly because Google is slowly building its smart home division, with the most recent announcements of Google Assistant and Google Home.
Google is quickly becoming renowned for its innovative hardware that works well and doesn’t break the bank, making it an attractive place to start if you’re planning on buying your first smart home gadget.
The smart thermostat itself can be controlled through your phone, letting you alter your home’s heating system even when you’re not there. And it learns from your habits, so over time it’ll know when you like the heating on, and when you don’t.
Nest Protect offers another dimension of smart home security, a cut above your standard smoke alarm or CO2 detector. It tests its batteries 400 times a day, can talk to you so you know exactly what’s going on, and can tell the difference between some slightly overdone toast and an actual fire.
It also has a security light built in to guide your way if the power’s out, and it can be silenced from your phone, meaning no more sleepless nights caused by an incessant low battery chirp.
Hue’s smart lighting systems lets you do much more than wirelessly turn the lights on and off at home. You can choose from over 16 million colours, and have those colours match the film you’re watching or change in time to the music you’re listening to.
The track lighting is sold in 2m sections, but you can add extra pieces to make a 10m continuous strip. And if you find one bit is too long, you can quite literally chop them up to suit the size of the room.
Echo is Amazon’s first step into the smart home world, and so far it’s paying off. The hub, a tall, sleek cylinder, houses a 360-degree speaker and a long-range microphone, to listen out for your commands. This is where Alexa comes in. It’s Amazon Echo’s virtual assistant, letting you control music and pretty much everything above, with just your voice.
Simply say “Alexa” and then ask whatever you want – for example you can ask about: the weather forecast, sports fixtures and results, news updates, traffic information, local businesses… the list goes on.
Chromecast plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, letting you beam content from your phone, tablet or laptop. And unlike previous Chromecast models, the Ultra gives you 4K UHD resolution.
And just because you’re sending the picture from your device, it doesn’t mean you can’t do other things at the same time. Simply minimise the Google Home app and the stream will continue on the big screen, while you check IMDb for where you’ve seen that actor before.
Are you thinking of making your home smart this Christmas? Drop us a comment below if you have anything to add or any questions.