Our most recent podcast featured a voicemail question from Scott. He’s a dad with two daughters; one has an apartment and one has a condo. Being a great dad, Scott wants to get both girls started with smart homes with simple solutions and wonders what to buy.
That’s a great question for a few reasons. First, many non-technical people don’t know how to get started or how to set up smart home gear. And second, there are plenty of folks with either an apartment or condo that aren’t sure what devices will add value while being easy to take along when it’s time to move out.
With those thoughts in mind, we first suggested the Canary All-in-one security device. I have one of these and it’s great. You get HD video monitoring of your home, sensors to measure both temperature and air quality, plus a 90-decibel siren in case the camera sees someone when the alarm is active. I also like how easy the Canary is to set up. There is an optional monthly fee to keep saved video for up to 30 days and to add two-way chat between a phone and the Canary. I happily pay for this to get the added services, but again, it’s optional.
Now that the living space is secure, connected lights are our next recommendation. Rather than go with bulbs requiring a hub, our pick is the Kasa line from TP-Link. These are Wi-Fi bulbs and can be found in both dimmable and tunable options. Prices range from $20 to $30, depending on the model. They also work with both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Speaking of those digital assistants, you can go with either without breaking the bank. For the Google ecosystem, our thought is the new Google Home Hub for $150, although it’s on sale for $99 at the moment. Even less expensive is a $50 3rd-gen Echo Dot (also on sale right now for around half price) which brings Alexa into the mix, although if music playback is important, the $100 2nd Generation Amazon Echo might be the better option. I’ve seen recent holiday sales bringing the price down to $70 for that smart speaker.
Although it’s not really needed, it would be nice to bring some smarts to a TV. That’s easy to accomplish with a $35 Google Chromecast or the $40 Amazon FireTV Stick and Alexa Remote, with each of these devices currently discounted $10 and $25 respectively. Aside from bringing voice control to the television with either, both digital assistants support simple scenes that can dim lights and fire up your favorite program on the TV.
All of these devices are easy to pack up whenever Scott’s daughters decide to find a new place and they’re also all easy to use, providing a lot of smarts without breaking the bank.
To hear our answer as part of the podcast, just click below. Enjoy!