This article is by Andrew Allemann.
Those who live and breathe the Internet of Things can get a little too close to it. We lose sight of what it’s like for the typical person to live with connected technologies. So I asked my husband to think about which smart home devices around our home he appreciates the most. Here’s what he had to say:
June Oven – This is my favorite connected device in our home. I’m not understating when I say this device changed the way I eat when we bought it several years ago. June enables you to make healthy and good meals with little effort. That’s important for someone like me, who tends to overcook meats and undercook eggs (or so Stacey tells me). Before getting the June, there was no chance I’d toss a salmon filet on the stove for lunch. With June, I just insert the thermometer, tell June how I want it cooked, and it comes out perfectly every time. Oh, and the June makes reheated pizza taste better than when it was initially cooked.
Roomba – Stacey will tell you I have a bit of a thing for vacuums. There’s the main house vacuum, the hardwood floor vacuum, the spa vacuum, and the Roomba. The first Roomba we had many years ago was effective but dumb; watching it zigzag around the floor was frustrating. The newer versions are much more efficient. I like being able to ask Google Home to send Roomba to a particular room to clean up a mess. And if you haven’t invested in the Clean Base, it’s a game-changer. It empties the Roomba for you, making multiroom cleaning much easier, especially if you have a dog.
Nanoleaf – Back in college, I was the guy with all sorts of cool lights in my room. Lighting effects have come a long way since then. The Nanoleaf adds cool colors to any room, and I love the setting that gets them to respond to music and other sounds. Our Nanoleaf lights spark a conversation with everyone who comes into our house.
Smart doorbells – We’ve tried a lot of smart doorbells over the years (Stacey even reviewed a bunch of them for Wirecutter many years ago), and I don’t necessarily have a favorite. But smart doorbells are definitely one of my favorite smart home devices. We currently use a Eufy doorbell. It works fairly well, although every time our car pulls into the garage, it identifies a wheel as a human face. But it’s nice to see who is at the door before answering it, and recording activity outside our house gives me peace of mind from a security standpoint.
Connected lights – This is another category that doesn’t need a specific brand mention. Or I guess I just let Stacey pick the devices that work for us. Controlling lights with your voice (either through Alexa or Google Home) is one of the easiest and best features of living in a smart home. Sitting on the couch reading while the sun sets? Just ask Google to turn on the reading lamp. We also use smart lights to alert our teen when she’s in her room — that we need her to come to the kitchen or to do a chore — by turning them on and off. In addition to controlling lights with voice, Stacey bought Flic buttons for those times when pressing a button might be more convenient.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Amazon Echo devices or Google Home. To be sure, these devices are critical to controlling a smart home. But I’m unhappy with both. Alexa is too chatty, and I curse every time she says, “By the way…”. And Google Home doesn’t have the “brief mode” that Alexa has, so it seems like Google keeps talking and talking when I just want it to turn off the lights.
Stacey has brought well over a hundred smart devices into our home over the years, but these are my favorites.
JD Roberts says
Great idea for an article, and an interesting result! Also, I hope Stacey feels better soon.
One small thought on the article: a possible option to consider instead of turning the regular lights on and off to get someone’s attention, consider using a color-changing smart light instead. These come as bulbs or strips, large or small. They have several advantages over flashing the main lights:
1) colored lights are persistent. If the person you’re trying to reach is in the bathroom or the closet, they may miss the regular light flash. But the colored light stays on so it’s there when they return.
2) colored lights can give more information. At our house, we are 3 housemates. The person in the back bedroom doesn’t always hear the doorbell. We have an LED strip in front of their TV that we turn blue if there is a delivery or a person at the front door for them. It’s persistent, but not annoying, so if he’s in the middle of a critical game point or something he can just keep playing. But he knows what the notification is for and it’s there to remind him until he takes care of it. You could use a different color for when the laundry is done or for emergencies.
3) flashing lights on/off unexpectedly can be a safety hazard, even if the person is doing something simple like looking for a lost contact lens or removing a sliver. The odds of this being a problem are small, but not zero.
Of course the negative is that you have to buy yet another device, and you may not think it worth it. So it’s not for every household, but it is worth considering.
Enable “brief mode” on Alexa to limit the amount she talks. It’s a must have setting
A Anders says
I’ll have to look up the June oven, sounds interesting. Regarding the lack of brief mode on Google Home, it does have some similar settings, at least for lights. This describes it more detail: https://www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/google-home-secretly-had-my-favorite-alexa-feature-all-along-heres-how-to-find-it/
Mohammed Abdullah Ali Al-Obaidi says
Andrew، can you please make the article better by adding photos and manufacturer link of each item?