Smart Devices: What You Need To Know When Buying One

Carl Lambert

Why does everything have to be so, oh we don’t know, ‘smart’ these days? Can’t a phone just be a phone, or a thermostat just a thermostat?

Well, we think you already know the answer to those questions – “no”. But no worries, because the ‘smart home’ revolution is also something that could have real positive implications for your life, once you get past the apparent dweebiness of it all.

First Of All… What Makes These Devices ‘Smart’?

You might think that your lights, door locks, thermostats and other technological elements in your humble abode are already sort-of ‘smart’, so what do people really mean when they talk about ‘smart home electronics’?

There are different interpretations, but it seems that a home device is generally considered ‘smart’ when it can be controlled with your phone or a hub – such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home – via an Internet connection.

Already in 2017, there is no shortage of smart house electronics that can do stuff like dimming your lights at home on your command, even when you’re still stuck at work, or turn on Netflix on your TV when you simply tell it do so from your sofa.

But with such an abundance of hyped-up ‘smart’ tech around right now, how can you be sure of purchasing the best smart home technology for your needs, so that you end up with a fully-functioning and sophisticated abode, rather than just a load of fancy devices you’ll never use?

First Of All… What Makes These Devices ‘Smart’?

The Basics That Should Guide Your Buying Choices

Let’s be realistic here: if you’ve only recently purchased your first-ever smartphone and are still marveling at the fact that you can play Angry Birds on the toilet, there’s not much point in going all-out buying all of the smart home products that just happen to have received good reviews.

That’s a sure recipe for wasting money, not least as there can be a lot of overlap in terms of what various ‘smart’ devices do. So, we advise you to first map out the devices that you will realistically use – would you like your entire house to be automated, or would you prefer to automate just a small number of your home’s core functions for now?

It’s also worth bearing in mind what existing tech brands’ ecosystems you may already be plugged into. If you have an Android phone, for instance, Google Home may be more reassuringly familiar and intuitive for you to use than the Amazon Echo or Apple’s HomePod.

But then again, if you always order things online, the Echo may be the best choice of hub regardless of what ecosystem you’re using right now. It means that your lifestyle and how you intend to use the given device are important factors, too.

The Basics That Should Guide Your Buying Choices

Then, You’ll Need To Research The Category Leaders

Once you’ve also set out exactly what types of smart devices are and aren’t relevant to your needs (yes, you may fancy a hub like the Echo and a thermostat, but do you really desperately need smart switches or sockets right now?), it’ll be time for you to investigate specific products.

If you’re in the market for a thermostat, for example, is the popular Nest thermostat the best option, or could something like the Ecobee3, with its use of standalone remote sensors to detect the temperature in different parts of your house, be the best choice? Or if you would like the ability to control your home lighting with your smartphone, is it Philips or GE that produces the most suitable smart bulbs?

Everything from security systems to smoke detectors can be ‘smart’ these days, so your task of pinpointing the best smart home devices for your specific requirements can be more difficult and time-consuming than you think.

Nonetheless, with the right smart home audio and video set up in the right way, you can be amazed by just how advanced your home can be made to feel in 2017, and as a consequence, just how much more work you can get done and how much more enjoyment you can get out of your life.

Then, You’ll Need To Research The Category Leaders

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