If you love smart tech as much as we do, then then you’ll love these essentials every smart home should have.
1. Smart Security Cameras
It’s a sad but unavoidable fact of life that if you have something nice someone else may want to take that away from you.
With traditional security cameras, the first time you realise your house has been broken into is when you’re getting home and can see the damage for yourself, they only provide some evidence as to what’s gone on in your home.
With smart security cameras you’re getting real time information right at your fingertips which gives you more power and control, the minute someone’s skulking about you’re made aware, how you want to handle the situation is down to you; you could speak over the microphone to ask them what they’re doing, you could set an ear busting alarm off or you can contact the police or your neighbours to ask them to go take a look.
But let’s imagine a scenario where you missed all the alerts from the security system, you’re still in a much better position than you would be by using traditional cameras as smart cameras have sharper high quality images and usually have a better angle of the thief’s face, this is more useful to the police than some grainy silhouette of a person.
There’s 1000’s of success stories, YouTube has plenty of good examples;
The cameras don’t just provide security, they can be used to check in on loved ones, perhaps some elderly relatives or your pets.
Our weapon of choice is the NETGEAR Arlo Pro. It come’s fully loaded and provides the best coverage. The cameras have a 130° HD wide angle lens giving crystal clear footage. The system is completely wireless, can be used indoors or out, comes with a quick charging rechargeable battery, 2-way audio and an inbuilt alarm.
2. Smart Lighting
Having the ability to control your lights from your phone is a must for any techie.
Compared to traditional bulbs smart lighting uses less energy, gives off less heat, has a longer lifespan and offers more of a variety of hues and brightness’s. Smart lights set the mood right, be it a chilled-out Friday night on the sofa watching TV, a last minute late night frantic report writing session or a gentle wake up in the winter by imitating the light of the sun whilst it’s still dark outside. Lighting makes all the difference.
Our champion in this domain is Phillips Hue. You can set timing, brightness and up to 16 million different colours in a matter of seconds. It’s really easy, with a well-established brand like Phillips you know what you’re getting.
3. Smart Heating
The old “saving money on heating” battle has been around for a long time, from putting radiator reflectors in to wall insulation. So many different methods to try and save a few quid but never has there been a better solution than this. The complete control and power a smart thermostat can give you puts all the other methods to bed.
Your typical home thermostat can be turned off/on and set on a schedule for it to come on which is rigid and not very adaptive.
A smart thermostat can do all that and then some. The thermostats look at factors like external weather, if the user is home or not, what your favourite temperature is and what it has learned about you and your schedule to decide if it should turn the heating up/down or off completely. It can even recognise when you are coming home so it can warm up the room to ensure you’re greeted with a warm house.
There’s plenty of good products available here but we recommend Nest Learning Thermostat, it has a solid design and is intelligent right the way through. Every morsel of it’s design has a function and purpose, it’s efficient, stylish and best of all integrates well with other products too.
4. Smart TV
Pretty much every home has a TV these days, it’s a main focal point in most living rooms so it’s no surprise to say that you can now buy a “smart” TV.
For those who aren’t aware, a smart TV is a TV that can be connected to the internet to access content online like videos, music, games etc. It’s as if they’ve taken your Sky box, your Chromecast and your Kodi box smashed them together and merged them into the back of the TV itself.
You no longer need have multiple remotes and media boxes, the smart TV can do all that work and then some which means you can say goodbye to a whole load of unnecessary cabling.
Our pick of the crop would be the LG OLED65B6V. The TV is a cool 65″, 4K Ultra HD with OLED (that means it gives the best colours, contrast and clarity). It’s picture perfect from near enough any angle. With Ultra Surround sound and all that online content this makes for one heck of a focal point.
5. Smart Assistant
Essentially all this device is, is a wireless speaker. But in reality, it’s so much more, it’s like having a virtual assistant who’s on hand 24/7, anytime there’s something you want to check you’ve no need to scramble for your phone. Using nothing more than your voice you can ask away and get a reply straight back.
Smart assistants are the next big thing.
Of all the ones we’ve seen, our favourite has to be Amazon Echo, Google Home isn’t far behind but at the moment it’s just not as refined as Amazon’s device.
You can ask it questions, ask it to buy some stuff, hear the news from it, play music, have it read audio books, tell you what your schedule for the day is like, tell you how the weather is going to be, talk about the current traffic, the list goes on.
It can pick out what you’re asking it even if the environment is loud or you’re not nearby. Amazon have really crossed their t’s and dotted their i’s here. It has a great design and is well engineered.
The major plus for us is it works so well with other smart devices which is what we want. We want the devices working together with no dramas to give an easier way of living.
How did we do? Did we miss anything off? Anything we could improve on? Let us know, your feedback is invaluable.