The Best Smart Home Devices for Your New Abode — Part 1

The future is upon us — finally, we’re starting to see the gadgets of our favorite sci-fi movies come to life! Moving is a perfect time to upgrade your home-living experience to the next level. Here are four smart home devices that will help you do just that:

Amazon Echo ($179.99)

The Echo serves as the all-around centerpiece of smart home devices. It can basically control your whole house! The Echo is a high-quality speaker, housed in a water-bottle sized black cylinder. It works like this: you say its “wake” word (“Alexa”, “Amazon”, or “Echo”), and then tell it what to do. It can do quite a lot, and the list is growing. It can play music for you, or podcasts or audiobooks, read you the news, give you weather/traffic reports, give you facts, do calculations, set timers, hail a ride from Uber, stream music from Spotify or order pizza from Domino’s.

Depending on what “skills” Alexa has (basically apps synced with the device), “she” can also walk you through cocktail recipes, tune your guitar, or help you with Minecraft. Echo also syncs and integrates with other smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, garage-door openers, security systems, etc.

Amazon Echo Dot ($90)

The Echo Dot is half the price of the full-sized Echo, and much smaller: about the size of a hockey puck. It does everything the Echo does, with smaller speakers. You can sync it with your own sound system however, making this possibly the best smart home device deal on the market right now.

Belkin WeMo Switch ($49) + Motion (+ $30)

This device is small and simple. Plug it into any electrical socket, then whatever you plug into it you’ll be able to control from your smartphone, with the free WeMo app. Using the app, you can turn devices off and on remotely, schedule them to turn off/on at certain times, or program them to turn off/on when the motion sensor is triggered.

The WeMo switch also features full IFTTT integration. IFTTT (If This, Then That) is free online tool that allows you to link apps, Web services and smart devices together. The sky’s the limit here. Using IFTTT integration, you could set it up so that you get a text alert every time someone walks by the motion sensor, or when the kids turn on the Xbox.

Nest Learning Thermostat ($249)

At its most basic, the Nest is a smart thermostat that syncs to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to control the temperature remotely. You can set maximum and minimum temperature ranges while you’re out of the house and program temperature changes at specific times of the day. Nest helps you save energy and money by monitoring your daily energy usage, air humidity, and informing you (with a small green leaf in its beautifully designed display) when you’re in a temperature range that will save you money. The Nest will also learn your habits over time, eventually making temperature changes for you.

For more of the best smart home devices, make sure to check out part 2 of this series!

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