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Smart home appliances: use your phone to rule your home
Product: Hardware Group Test | Publisher: Steel Media Ltd | Format: Android, iPhone
Updated 11th January: We've added some new smart home appliances to bring in the New Year.

If you think your smartphone is just for playing games and taking selfies, you're not getting the best out of it. You could be using it to run your entire home.

You may have heard of the term 'smart home'. It essentially means a home with key functions that are connected to the internet - and thus can be controlled and monitored from your phone. Think door locks, thermostats, lights and security cameras.

It's an exciting field, but it can be daunting taking your first smarthome steps. This is a varied and slightly fractured field filled with competing standards. Still, there are a whole bunch of devices that you can count on to make your home life easier - not to mention way cooler.

Amazon Echo Show

New to the immensely successful Echo range is the Echo Show, which adds a 7-inch display and a 5MP front-camera to proceedings. This means you can ask Alexa to show you videos and images, interact with smart security cameras, and conduct video calls.

Suggested price: £200
Buy from Amazon

Neato Botvac

A vacuum cleaner? Really? You'd better believe it. The smart home of the future needs to be kept clean, and with the Neato Botvac (bonus point for the name) you can bark orders at it using Alexa or Google Assistant, or just whip out your phone and control it from there.

Suggested price: £680
Buy from Amazon

Amazon Echo (2nd generation)

The second generation Echo smarthome speaker has a crisp new look and improved sound. It's the original and arguably best home assistant on the market right now.

Suggested price: £90
Buy from Amazon

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd generation)

Amazon also offers a more compact smarthome speaker at a lower price. The Dot is just as smart as the Echo, but it doesn't come with the same meaty speaker. You'll ideally hook it up to a stereo or some other separate speaker to make them Alexa-smart.

Suggested price: £50
Buy from Amazon

Google Home

Of course, the Amazon Echo now has a hot rival in the Google Home. Amazon's greater experience in the market gives it the slight edge right now, but Google's machine learning prowess means it's only going to get better.

Suggested price: £129
Buy from Google

Google Home Mini

What do you know? Like Amazon, Google too sells a smaller version of its smart speaker. The Google Home Mini is a cute pebble-shaped device with a less punchy speaker.

Suggested price: £49
Buy from Google

Hive Active smart thermostat with installation

This gadget lets you control your home's heating remotely from your smartphone, as well as set up schedules. This price also includes a professional installation, which is neat.

Suggested price: £190
Buy from Amazon

Hive Active Light Starter Kit

Here's another nifty bit of Hive gear - this time the company's smart light solution. The good thing is that this smartphone-operated lighting hub also works with Amazon Alexa, so you can talk to your Echo to dim the lights.

Suggested price: £45
Buy from Amazon

Samsung SmartThings Hub

Samsung has really gone for it with SmartThings, and the result is one of the best smarthome setups around. The SmartThings Hub is well priced, well supported, and extremely flexible. It's had a big price cut since our last update in July, too.

Suggested price: £70
Buy from Amazon

Logitech Harmony Elite

You know those universal remote controls you can buy that control your TV AND your stereo? The Logitech Harmony Elite is like that on steroids, as it also controls all your smart home gear (well, most of it) via a 2.4-inch touchscreen and dozens of buttons.

Suggested price: £205
Buy from Amazon

Nest Protect smoke alarm

Nest isn't just about smarts thermostats - it also provides this excellent smart smoke alarm. With one of these fitted, you'll be alerted of any smoke in your house wherever you are in the world. As a bonus, this second generation model will also detect carbon monoxide.

Suggested price: £100
Buy from Amazon

Skybell HD

This discrete, compact doorbell actually houses a sophisticated security set-up, involving a 1080p video camera that beams live footage to your smartphone. You can also hear and speak to your caller over your phone - even when you're not at home. It also includes a motion sensor, a photo function, and night vision for late night callers.

Suggested price: £275
Buy from Amazon

Nest Learning Thermostat

The undisputed king of smart thermostats, the Google-owned Nest Learning Thermostat lets you exert fine control of your home's temperature, both locally and remotely via your phone. It'll even smartly detect what the optimal temperature will be at any given time and adjust for you.

Suggested price: £189
Buy from Amazon

Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock

Everyone knows how much of a pain physical keys can be, but the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock will unlock your door when you touch it. Essentially, your phone becomes a wireless key, and you can even lock and unlock the door remotely.

Suggested price: £526
Buy from Amazon

Philips Hue lighting

If you thought that domestic lighting reached its pinnacle years ago, you haven't used the Philips Hue range. It's not just that you can turn these lights on and off from your phone - it's that you can set the specific colour, temperature, and brightness from the associated app.

Suggested price: £146
Buy from Amazon

Logitech Circle camera

People have been installing home security cameras for decades, but the Logitech Circle camera shows how far we've come. It's got motion-detection activation, remote movement notifications, 24-hour free cloud video storage, and a great smartphone-driven UI.

Suggested price: £159
Buy from Amazon

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Ever get that awful feeling you haven't switched something off after you've left the house? With the TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug you can switch your stuff on and off remotely using your smartphone, or even schedule it to power on at certain times.

Suggested price: £30
Buy from Amazon

Hive Plug & Sensor Pack

Hive's sensors will send an alert to your phone if the window or door they're attached to opens, or even if motion is detected. This pack also includes two Active Plugs so you can remotely activate appliances.

Suggested price: £100
Buy from Maplin

Honeywell EvoHome

Honeywell is a well-established name in home heating, and it's determined not to be left behind in the smarthome era. The EvoHome system lets you set heating schedules for individual radiators, either using the bundled tablet controller or your own smartphone.

Suggested price: £259
Buy from Amazon


Reviewer photo
Chris James 11 January 2018
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