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Smart Home Tech Upgrades: Some Top Picks

A roundup of some of the most innovative categories and products to make your life better

The challenge of setting up a Smart Home system can be daunting. There are so many interesting products today and new ones are announced seemingly daily. There is no practical way of getting ahead of the curve, or even keeping up with it, unless you have an unlimited supply of money to throw at the project.

Ultimately, a little research regarding new or improved products that meet your needs and desires is necessary. We urge anyone considering any smart home purchase to consider carefully to ensure that the product will do what you really want it to do and if it is compatible with products you already own.

Fortunately, most manufacturers are dedicated to creating new and improved products that will fit consumers’ needs. For the most part also, they are making great strides into making products that are more universally compatible.

New and Improved Smart Home Gadgets

In our recent article, Home Tech Upgrades: Creating A Smart Home Framework, we discussed some of the best Smart Home hubs that tie your devices together into a user friendly ecosystem. We’d now like to share some of our favorite applications. Some are brand new products and some of them are tried and true gadgets that have made great strides towards being more useful to you.

The Most Popular Smart Devices: Wearables

The term wearables includes any smart device that you wear. Though the range covers a wide assortment of products, for most people today, we’re generally referring to smart watches and fitness trackers. Our colleagues at Tom’s Guide have evaluated the best smart watches and their findings include most of the traditional brands in the category.

For iPhone users, the Apple Watch Series 7 can’t be beaten. It’s upgrades from its predecessor Series 6 aren’t earth shaking but they do improve on some of its shortfalls. The Series 7 charges faster and has a larger display than the previous version. If you use an Android phone, consider the Garmin Vivoactive 4 or the less expensive Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. Both offer health tracker benefits and a way to interact with your smart home hub.

Advanced Thermostats

Among the first smart home devices I encountered in the real world was the Nest learning thermostat. I well remember sitting around the dining room table with friends and my buddy’s wife saying that she was going to raise the temperature a bit. With some fanfare, he pulled his phone from his pocket and changed the temperature from the app. It seemed kind of cool, but I also found myself thinking that walking the ten feet to the thermostat on the wall would have been just as easy.

Some years have now passed and smart thermostats are becoming ubiquitous, but the Nest remains a top choice with good reason. Today though, the most innovative has to be the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control. As the name suggests, you don’t have to rely on your smartphone to control it. Rather you can speak directly to the thermostat, which is compatible with both Alexa and Siri.

The game changer though is the remote sensor, one of which is included with the purchase of the thermostat – though you can add more sensors if you choose. The sensors can transmit the temperature and room occupancy to the base unit so that you don’t waste energy where it isn’t needed. Very handy, provided your HVAC system supports room or zone heating and cooling.

But Wait, There’s More

(image credit: Philips Hue)

A lot more, actually. Smart lighting is becoming more popular as its capabilities become more interesting. Setting up lamps or wall switches to remotely control lighting is easy to do. It’s especially valuable regarding home security when you’re away.

But more and more companies are offering lighting systems that turn lights on or off, dim the lights and even change the color of lighting. The Philips Hue smart lighting system is one of the easiest and most comprehensive systems and comes in handy starter kits that let you get you on your way. You can later expand the system as you get more creative.

Home security systems are advancing rapidly with smart technology and there are several offerings worthy of consideration. If your pockets are deep and you want one of the coolest Smart Home devices ever, check out the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator. It now includes Alexa and just about every smart home function you can think of. We’ll be exploring more smart home devices and options in the near future, so stay tuned to TWICE for more coverage!

See also: Another View: Smart Home Tech Support For Appliance Retailers And Builders