1. Amazon Echo (2nd Gen)
Now in its second generation, Amazon’s flagship smart speaker delivers great sound in an attractive package for less than $100.
Size: 5.8 x 3.4 inches (dia) | Speakers: 2.5-inch woofer, 0.6-inch tweeter | Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4 & 5GHz), Bluetooth
The second-generation Echo is smaller and more attractive than the original. Plus, you can change its skins to match your decor. Inside, the new Echo does all the same things the original does: control smart home gadgets, connect to other smart home hubs, read you audiobooks, check the weather, and even let you purchase things online just by using your voice. And, as a speaker, it sounds pretty good, too.
2. Arlo Q
Excellent video coupled with a generous free storage plan, and lots of features.
Size: 6 x 4.9 x 4.5 inches | Resolution: 1080p | Field of View: 130 degrees | Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT | Cloud storage: 7 days free; longer plans start at $10/month.
The Arlo Q’s 1080p camera boasts excellent quality video, both day and night, has great motion detection, and a flexible scheduling feature. Best of all, though, is that you get a week’s worth of video storage for free.
3. Ecobee (5th Gen)
Our favorite smart thermostat has Alexa built in, but its real power lies in its remote sensors.
Size: 4.3 x 4.3 x 1 inch | Wireless: 802.11 Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth | Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, SmartThings, IFTTT
The Fifth-generation Ecobee smart thermostat has everything we liked about its predecessor, the Ecobee4, such as Alexa built in, a slick touchscreen interface and a remote sensor that helps ensure all the rooms of your house are getting heated or cooled properly. But the newest version has a better speaker so you can actually use it to play music, all of Alexa’s features (including Drop-In and messaging), and Spotify integration. The remote sensor has a longer battery life and better range, too.
4. Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit
These lights work with just about every other smart home system out there.
Bulb type: A19 | Wireless: Zigbee | Works with: Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, SmartThings, Google Home, Nest
Philips Hue White starter kit includes two bulbs and a hub to connect them to other smart home devices. While you can’t change these bulbs’ colors, you can adjust their brightness (up to 800 lumens), and add up to 50 to a single hub. Philips’ bulbs also work with a wide range of smart home systems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Google Home, and Nest.
Philips also has an app, Philips Hue Sync, which lets users synchronize their smart bulbs with multimedia content on their Mac or Windows PC. For example, you can set your lights to flash and change color in time with music, video and movies being played on your computer. Users can also modify the color schemes and themes to suit their tastes.