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 IPHONE FEATURE
The big Pocket Gamer accessory guide 2017
Smart home appliances: use your phone to rule your home
Product: Hardware Group Test | Publisher: Steel Media Ltd | Format: Android, iPhone
 
Updated 20th November: It's Black Friday week, so we've added some timely deals on smart home gear.


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 (2nd generation)

The second generation Echo smarthome speaker has a crisp new look and improved sound. It's the original and best home assistant on the market right now, and Amazon's flogging them cheap for Black Friday.

Black Friday price: £69.99 (£20 off)
Buy from Amazon





Amazon Echo Dot (2nd generation)

Amazon is also selling its compact smarthome speaker at a knock-down price for Black Friday. 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.

Black Friday price: £34.99 (£15 off)
Buy from Amazon





Google Home

Of course, the Amazon Echo now has a hot new 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.

Black Friday price: £79.99 (£40 off)
Buy from Google





Google Home Mini

What do you know? Google also sells a smaller version of its smart speaker. The Google Home Mini is a cute pebble-shaped device with a less punchy speaker, and it too is on sale right now.

Black Friday price: £34 (£15 off)
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. The best thing about this deal, though, is that it includes a professional installation.

Black Friday price: £159.99 (£90 off)
Buy from Amazon





Hive Active Light Starter Kit

Another deal on Hive gear - this time for 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.

Black Friday price: £54.99 (£45 off)
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: £49.99
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: £224
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: £99
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: £192
Buy from Amazon






Amazon Echo

The Echo isn't just a bluetooth speaker - though it does act as such. It's also home to Alexa, the retail giant's smart assistant, which lets you ask it questions and even control the rest of your smarthome devices using your voice.

Suggested price: £150
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: £345
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: £148
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: £118
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: £27
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: £150
Buy from Screwfix





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: £257
Buy from Amazon



 

Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 20 November 2017
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