9 best smart devices for modernising any home in 2018

From security devices to home entertainment systems; go digital and have everything you need to run your home at the touch of a button with our picks of the best devices to turn your house into a smart home

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In 2018, companies such as Amazon and Sonos are leading the way in the field of smart home technology, bringing us gadgets that can turn our houses into smart homes. 

Amazon Alexa can switch on your lights in conjunction with Philips Hue bulbs, Sonos will allow you to have on demand personal playlists blasted throughout the home via voice recognition, and you can even get a robot to do your household chores for you now. The possibilities are endless, and going forward, there’s no fighting it as more and more brands begin to build technology designed to help you live your life the smarter way. 

How can smart home tech benefit you?

If you’re not sure if a smarter way of living is for you, then we’re here to help you figure it out. Technophobes need not be scared, as many smart home devices are incredibly intuitive, and they can have a real benefit on your way of living. Firstly, consider what type of smart home device you’d be interested in. Do you want to add security features to your home? Or perhaps make life a little easier if you have mobility issues or a super busy schedule? Or you might just want to keep up with the latest trends to impress your mates when they come over. 

We’ve rounded up some of the best smart home devices 2018 has to offer, and given you the lowdown on how these devices work and why you need them for your home. Take inspiration from our list and look forward to a smarter future. 

1. Nest Cam Indoor

Keep an eye on your home with this indoor security camera

Specifications
Best for: Keeping an eye on your home
Works with: Wi-Fi
Voice Recognition: No
Type: Security device
Reasons to buy
+Controlled by smartphone app+Monitors air quality, temperature and humidity
Reasons to avoid
-Quite chunky 

If you are considering implementing some new security features in your home so that you have peace of mind when you’re away, then Nest Cam’s Canary is a reliable system that aims to keep you informed of any unusual activity on your property 24/7. This is a security camera that is linked up to your smartphone, and you’ll receive immediate alerts should it detect something suspicious. Customers love how quick and easy it is to set up, and how reliable it is. The device itself is a little chunky, and you’re encouraged to sign up to a monthly plan with Canary in order to reap extra benefits, but overall this smart home device is said to be of high-quality when recording footage and monitoring the air, temperature and humidity in your home. 

See our review of the Amazon Blink home security camera and find out which are the best pet surveillance cameras.

2. Amazon Echo (2017)

Your very own personal assistant

Specifications
Best for: Home assistant
Works with: Alexa
Voice Recognition: Yes
Type: home hub
Reasons to buy
+Seven microphones for faster recognition+Ask Alexa anything
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best quality speaker  

Artificial intelligence has come a long way in recent years, with Alexa leading the way as a helpful personal assistant for your smart home. You can give Alexa commands via voice control which could be anything from ordering a pizza to calling a cab or checking the weather. You can also use Alexa in conjunction with other smart home devices such as Philips Hue bulbs in order to control the lighting and get her to connect to other devices for total hands-free living. Many customers use the Amazon Echo to play music, but have said that it doesn’t have the best quality speaker on the market. So if you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker, this may not be the best smart home device for you, but the Echo is a great hub that can help you start turning your house into a smart home.  

Find the best home technology for your living room.

3. Yale Conexis

A keyless entry system to your home so you can control the security

Specifications
Best for: Keyless entry
Works with: Smart phone app, key card and tags
Voice Recognition: No
Type: Security
Reasons to buy
+Built in alarm+Allows for keyless entry
Reasons to avoid
-A few teething issues 

Even Yale is proving to be forward-thinking when it comes to the rise of the smart home. This smart door lock allows you to have keyless entry to your home, and instead use your smartphone to lock and unlock your front door. Some of you may be thinking this sounds a little sketchy, and we don’t blame you. However, customers who have bought this lock praise it for its ease of installation and pairing. The pack includes one smart card and one tag, so you can pair these with the device to also use as a keyless entry method. User tip: If you want to have more than one tag, purchase these at the same time and make sure you pair them together, otherwise the process will not work. Other than a few teething issues, this looks to be one of the best smart home devices currently available, and it works with Alexa, too.  

Find the rest of the best keyless door locks.

4. Nest 3.0

Control your heating more efficiently with this smart thermostat

Specifications
Best for: Central heating
Works with: Smartphone app/Alexa
Voice Recognition: Yes
Type: Thermostat
Reasons to buy
+Track hot water usage+Control heating when not at home
Reasons to avoid
- A little tricky to set up

Becoming a smarter home also means becoming more energy efficient, and that’s exactly what the Nest thermostat can offer you. This is a sleek looking device that allows you to control your heating and hot water from wherever you are via a smartphone app, and unlike some other smart home devices, the app is pleasantly simple to navigate. The Nest thermostat is designed to ‘learn’ your schedule to help you cut down on your energy costs and only use it when you need it. Not only does is it designed to think smart, but it looks pretty smart too, and you can choose from copper, black, white or silver to suit your home’s interior décor.  

Find more smart thermostats for your home.

5. Smarter Coffee Machine

Your very own personal barista for when you really need that morning pick me up

Specifications
Best for: Coffee on demand
Works with: App, Alexa
Voice Recognition: Yes
Type: Kitchen appliance
Reasons to buy
+Brew coffee remotely+Schedule coffee breaks 
Reasons to avoid
-Instructions aren’t the best 

Always rushing out the door in the morning? Find you’re spending a small fortune on Starbucks each week? Then you may want to consider investing in your very own coffee machine. And if you’re thinking you can’t be bothered or don’t have the time to make your morning coffee, that’s where the Smarter Coffee machine comes in. This coffee machine actually lets you schedule your coffee breaks with the corresponding smartphone app, or you can ask Alexa to brew you a coffee if you have the Amazon Echo. Users say it brews up to four cups worth, which can be too much if you’re only drinking coffee to yourself, but for families that want to jump on the smart home bandwagon, you may find this coffee machine to be just what you need for those early starts mid-week. You can also program it to make the perfect blend just the way you like it, so even coffee aficionados will be impressed by this machine.  

Smart or not, we've picked the best coffee makers for you.

6. Sonos Speakers

The best sound system for music throughout your house

Specifications
Best for: Playing music
Works with: Alexa
Voice Recognition: Yes
Type: Speakers
Reasons to buy
+Rich sound+Compact size
Reasons to avoid
-Connectivity is a bit ropey 

If you were considering getting an Echo but want better sounds quality over other functions, then we recommend opting for a Sonos system instead. Currently at the forefront of wireless surround sound, this speaker is compact without compromising on sound quality, which customers cannot fault them for. You’ll need to ensure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection though, especially if you want to take full advantage of the multi-room set up, as some customers have noted issues with intermittent Wi-Fi connectivity when using them. You can also use Sonos in conjunction with Alexa to control your playlists by voice recognition, which aims to allow you ease of access to your music anywhere in the home.  

Find six of the best wireless, portable and Bluetooth speakers.

7. Neato Robotics Botvac D3

Take the stress out of the housework with this robot vacuum cleaner

Specifications
Best for: Easy cleaning
Works with: App, Manual or Alexa
Voice Recognition: Yes
Type: Cleaning device
Reasons to buy
+Reaches tricky areas+Maps your flooring
Reasons to avoid
-Needs emptying frequently 

Robot vacuum cleaners have been around for a while now, but many customers have expressed how they think the Neato Botvac may be even better than the original Roomba in terms of cleaning technology. If you struggle with the household chores due to mobility, or you’re simply way too busy to find the time to vacuum, then a robot vacuum cleaner could be just what you need to help you with your daily chores. The Botvac is designed to intelligently map the floors in your home and go about its business as and when requested. You can control this vacuum from an app on your phone, through Alexa or press a manual button which will set this little guy off to do his duty. It’s quite small so does need emptying frequently, but that’s a small price to pay when you have your own personal cleaner to do most of the dirty work for you.  

Find the best vacuum cleaners in our guide, robot or not.

8. Colour bulb Philips HUE

Control the lighting in your home with voice recognition

Specifications
Best for: Hands-free control
Works with: Apple home kit, Alexa
Voice Recognition: Yes
Type: Lighting
Reasons to buy
+Different colours available+Control up to 50 light bulbs
Reasons to avoid
-Requires additional purchases 

Philips Hue bulbs allow you to control the lighting in your home either by voice recognition or through an app. The bulbs come in a range of different colours and can be automatically adjusted to set the mood in a room. It does help if you have an Amazon Echo, and it is likely to be more satisfying to have all of the lights in your home set up to Philips Hue, which would require buying additional bulbs, but customers love how easy they are to set up and feel they are one of the must-have smart home devices if you’re looking to take the next step in building your home hub.  

9. Hive Active Plug

Control your appliance from home and away with this smart plug

Specifications
Best for: Controlling appliances
Works with: Hive app, Alexa
Voice Recognition: Yes
Type: Plug
Reasons to buy
+Check if devices are switched off+Switch lights on and off
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey for a timer switch 

If you’re constantly worrying if you switched the iron off, or worrying about leaving your house unattended while on holiday, you can keep track of your home from the Hive app, which gives you peace of mind your appliances are doing what you want them to. Customers found this smart home device very useful for turning lights on and off remotely while they were away, or to check they hadn’t left something switched on. If you have, you can command the app to switch it off, or you can ask Alexa to command Hive to do so. Users have found this particularly good for helping those less able to have more independence around the house.  

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