The 12 Best Smart Home Products to Buy in 2018

Make your home more efficient with these smart products

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The smart home is an increasingly diverse category of products that still has a lot of room for growth. While we are inching ever closer to that future depicted by the Jetsons and other sci-fi classics, the market is still fragmented by narrow categories, proprietary gadgets, and competing standards. Accordingly, the best smart home gadgets are those that can adapt to innovations in the marketplace.

Whether you’re looking for a simple smart lighting solution for an upcoming party, or trying to build an entire technological ecosystem for your home, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of the best smart home products to get you started.

Our Top Picks

Best Smart Home Assistant: Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Generation)

The latest generation of the Amazon Echo is a proper follow-up to the original, full-sized Echo, and does most everything that the rest of Amazon's Echo devices do: You can access Alexa voice assistance to run web searches, ask questions, and access close to 50,000 other programmable skills. You can also use the Digby-hub-ready features to control things like smart thermostats and smart light bulbs.

Where you really see the upgrade is in the speaker driver size and the sound quality. The three-inch neodymium woofer and 0.8-inch tweeter give you what Amazon is calling “premium, room-filling sound.” It’s this part that seems to compete directly with Apple's Homepod, and by specs alone, it does decently for a fraction of the price. It has a new, premium mesh grill on the outside and you can order it in either a nice charcoal gray, off-white or black, and the whole thing comes in just under $150. It sits in a package that is just under six inches tall and just under 4 inches wide, and with that new premium look, it’ll fit nicely into your setup.

Best Smart Display with Alexa: Echo Show (2nd Generation)

The second generation of Amazon’s smart display appears, in form at least, to be a big step up from the first generation. For starters, the device is basically all screen with a 10-inch display front and center (and no more speaker-situated bottom bezel). That’s great for folks looking to leave the display in plain view, get plenty of screen real estate, and not sacrifice style. The Dolby-tuned speakers give you solid stereo imaging and nice, detailed sound thanks to the powerful two-inch drivers.

Because it's an Alexa-centric device, you can load up a bunch of apps to make this smart display work for you. Listen to music with Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, stream video from all your favorite services, and even watch live sports and TV via Hulu. The voice-control capabilities make it an invaluable addition to your kitchen or living room as you can teach Alexa up to 50,000 skills from cooking advice to weather forecasts. Plus, because it works well with smart home devices including Zigbee, so you won’t need a separate hub to fold it into your smart home system. Finally, the two-calling features mean that you can conduct video calls with ease, and the great-looking screen ensures meetings and catchup time are crisp and clear.

Best Smart Display with Google Assistant: Google Home Hub

Google Home Hub

 Courtesy of Best Buy

The Google Home Hub doesn’t quite measure up to the Amazon Echo, but only due to a few minor shortcomings. The speakers sound a little thin and the display lacks a front-facing camera, so you can’t video chat with loved ones. But if those don’t sound like deal-breakers to you, then the Google Home Hub is a less-expensive alternative to the Echo that does everything else just as well.

The Hub is compatible with over 5,000 smart devices and over 400 trusted brands, allowing you to control house lights, adjust the thermostat, or set up home security cameras. Additionally, it features the voice-activated Google Assistant: just say, “Hey Google,” and make a request. You can play music, set reminders, check traffic conditions, and much more. The screen itself is a bit small at only seven inches across, but still offers crisp resolution that shows off your photos.

In short, if you’re looking for all the perks of an Amazon Echo at a reasonable price, and won’t be bothered by subpar audio quality, then the Google Home Hub is a great compromise. You’re still getting the best features of any Digital Assistant device, without breaking the bank.

Best Smart Display for the Kitchen: Lenovo 10” Smart Display

Lenovo 10
Courtesy of Best Buy 

The Lenovo 10” Smart Display lets you use your voice to monitor traffic, make a call, or pull up an article thanks to its built-in Google Assistant. Sporting a full HD IPS touch screen and an aesthetic bamboo back, it streams Spotify and YouTube, and its 5-megapixel front-facing camera ensures your video calls through Google Duo are crisp.

How best to utilize the Lenovo Smart Display? Integrate it into your kitchen, where you can have it help build your shopping list, set timers, stream helpful cooking videos, or display recipes while walking you through them step by step. It can also control any smart device that is compatible with Google Assistant and help monitor your home, displaying smart home cameras and adjusting the temperature if paired with compatible thermostats. Weighing just 2.6 pounds, the portable device runs on a 1.8 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 624 processor. A white speaker grille is situated next to the screen, both framed by white bezels. 

Best Smart Display for Music: JBL Link View

JBL Link View with Google Assistant
Courtesy of

If it's made by JBL, you know the sound is going to be good. The famed speaker brand has teamed up with Google to create a smart hub that's both a cutting-edge digital assistant and a high-quality speaker. Surrounding its eight-inch HD touchscreen display is a pair of 10-watt speakers and a passive radiator, delivering thumping bass and crisp audio to make all your favorite music streaming services sound even better. For its size, the JBL Link View all but makes you forget this smart display is not a dedicated soundbar.

The integration of Google Assistant also makes this an extremely versatile smart hub and digital assistant. Ask Google to search the web, queue up a playlist, video-call other Google Duo users using the built-in 5MP camera, or control the other smart devices in your home like lights and thermostats. And unlike many other smart hubs, the JBL Link View can play your media through its speakers without the need for another audio device. The smart display even has built-in Chromecast, so you can play videos and TV shows directly on the HD screen.

As a final bonus, the JBL Link View is splashproof, making it the perfect companion (and recipe assistant) in the kitchen.

Best Smart Home Security Camera: Ring Stick-Up Cam

Ring has made a name for itself in the smart home security world, focused mostly on smart doorbells with video surveillance functionality built right. The newest offering, their stick-up security camera, branches out a bit from that core business model by offering a versatile, place-anywhere video security solution. And because it is a new release, you can expect some solid, modern features. First, it records 1080p HD video and offers a two-way talk function to communicate with whoever is near the camera. There’s an accompanying app that works pretty well (it’s the same one you’ll find with the older smart doorbell systems), and you can set up motion-activated notifications. What’s cool here is that not only will this work via the app on your phone, but it will also work on a desktop computer — something that is surprisingly rare.

As mentioned, the mounting functionality is pretty versatile because it works via a stick-on base. That means you can place it pretty much anywhere you have a flat surface, indoors or out. You can also choose from a variety of power options, wired through standard outlets or through Ethernet, or battery-powered for placement out of reach of your outlets. Beyond these core features, some cool extra functions are the connectivity via Alexa, custom motion zones (smaller areas of the field of view that trigger motion notifications), and the ability to view, save and even share your videos.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best smart home security cameras can help you find what you're looking for.

Best Smart Home Security System: Abode Essentials Starter Kit

Picking the right smart home security system depends a lot on personal preference. If you’re in the market for a DIY system that doesn’t involve professional installation, you still have to consider factors like paid cloud storage subscriptions, independent versus professional monitoring, and whether you want a camera-based or sensor-based system in your home (or a combination of the two).

The Abode Essentials Starter Kit is our pick for the best smart home security system because it is an easy-to-install DIY system that allows for a lot of flexibility at a reasonable price. It’s compatible with the major smart home systems (Alexa, Google Home, and Nest) so it can easily integrate if you already have some smart devices. This kit comes with a central hub, a motion detector, a door/window sensor, and a remote keychain fob.

The hardware is easy to install and is designed to work with third-party devices like Nest cameras, Philips Hue smart lighting systems and much more. It also lets you customize your own IFTTT scenes — for example, you can program the Abode system to flash lights or record a video whenever the alarm is triggered. You can also add 24/7 professional monitoring for just $10 per month, or you can set up monitoring for a few days or weeks at a time if you only want coverage when you’re away.

In short, Abode has the same high-end functionality of the more expensive smart home security systems at a more accessible price.

Best Smart Thermostat: Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Learning Thermostat
Courtesy of

Nest exploded onto the scene in 2013 with the launch of its self-learning smart thermostat. Less than a year later the company was acquired by Google, suggesting the powers in Silicon Valley are eyeing a huge market for home automation, with thermostats as the hub.

The WiFi-enabled Nest Learning Thermostat is designed to optimize the heating and cooling of your home. But instead of merely adjusting to whatever temperature you input, the Nest learns and adapts to your own personal habits and preferences. After a week of use, for example, Nest will read that you like to turn the heat down at night and will begin to do so automatically. It may also turn the heat back up in the morning, or engage the efficient “Away” mode while you’re at work. And best of all, everything can be monitored and controlled from your smartphone, including usage reports that show you when and how you’re consuming energy.

Nest is a well designed, intuitive little gadget, and since it launched in 2013, a number of competing learning thermostats have hit the market, but it's still the best one out there.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best smart thermostats can help you find what you're looking for.

Runner-Up, Best Smart Thermostat: Ecobee3

Courtesy of

The newly released Ecobee3 smart thermostat is our second best pick for a smart thermostat, and it costs nearly half as much as the Nest. Ecobee expects owners to be able to save an average 23 percent on monthly heating and cooling costs. Adjusting temperature from the unit is a snap and can be done from any iPhone or Android device. The 3.5-inch QVGA touch screen display unit features the current temperature and a vertical slider for manual adjustments. A snowflake icon appears when the system is in cooling mode with a flame icon appearing when heating. Additionally, there are icons for the main menu, live weather (local weather outdoors) and quick changes, the latter of which lets you override your current settings without changing any pre-programmed schedule.

The Ecobee3 is compatible with most 1 and 2-stage HVAC systems and can control the dehumidifier, humidifier and ventilation devices. The main unit will offer alerts when it detects that maintenance is required, a filter needs replacement or when the temperatures are excessively high or low. The single remote temperature and motion sensor is placed in a separate room and calls “home” to ensure the room is heated or cooled to the main house temperature setting. This is perfect for a child or master bedroom.

Installation is fairly simple with the easy-to-follow guide. It requires a C (common) wire, which supplies power to the Ecobee3, but, in the event you don’t have one, there’s a power kit that can run the main unit. After setting up your temperature settings, schedule and connecting to WiFi, you’re off to the smart home races. Setup from start to finish should take around 30 minutes.

Ecobee takes integration to another level with the ability to connect with Apple’s HomeKit, which allows temperature control from any iOS device using Siri. The same type of integration also works with Amazon’s Echo, where you can ask Alexa to adjust thermostat settings. If you’re ready to move into a more technological future for your home, the Ecobee3 is a modern-looking, easy-to-use thermostat that will keep you warm at night.

Best Smart Light System: Philips Hue

Philips Hue
Courtesy of

Like most smart home solutions, the Philips Hue requires a somewhat expensive hub, or “bridge,” to set up. But for what it offers, the Philips Hue is the best smart lighting system around. For a reasonable price, you get the hub and three smart bulbs, but you can connect up to 50 bulbs to a single hub.

Between the app, single bulbs, tap switches and light strips, the lighting possibilities are really only limited by your imagination. You can string them up for parties and adjust the brightness, change the colors, set timers and create “scenes.” And all this can be controlled from the Philips Hue app on your phone (iOS/Android). Hue also boasts a highly intuitive user experience with a simple app and easy-to-install component parts. If you’re looking for an all-in-one smart lighting solution, Hue is the way to go.

Best Smart Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector: Nest Protect

Nest Protect
Courtesy of

To continue with the trend of home safety and security, Nest also offers the best Smart Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector: Nest Protect. Protect will vocally tell you exactly where a smoke or CO leak is detected. It also sends a message to your phone if the alarm sounds or the batteries are low, allowing you to turn the alarm off directly from your phone. Nest Protect performs routine self-tests, but you can also perform tests from the app and share access to any member of the household.

As expected, Protect works with other Nest products, including both the Cam and Learning Thermostat. This is especially critical with the Thermostat, because leaky heating systems are a common source of carbon monoxide, and the Thermostat can be set to automatically turn off the heat in the event the Protect detects a CO leak. It can also shut off fan-based environmental systems to prevent smoke from circulating, and the Cam can be set to capture video in the event of an emergency. While each of Nest’s smart home products can stand alone, they seem to work best as a team.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best smart smoke detectors

Best Smart Plug: Amazon Smart Plug

Part of Amazon’s most recent batch of new smart home products, this Smart Plug brings some of the brand's smart home capabilities to your ordinary devices. The jury is still out a bit on the user reviews, but with Alexa becoming increasingly ubiquitous — and "smart" devices replacing the regular light bulbs, doorbells, and thermostats in many of our homes — this plug brings that convenience to the lamps, appliances, or other small electronics you already own.

The Smart Plug is Alexa-compatible, ostensibly adding voice- and smart control to anything you plug into it. That means you can set automatic turn-on and turn-off times for things like table lamps, fans, or even small appliances. What’s extra cool here is that Amazon has built a lot of scheduling functionality right into your Alexa app, so all you have to do is plug in the outlet, then plug a device into the outlet, and you’ll be able to control the device. You won’t need to set up any third-party smart hubs (although it's convenient for those who already have them), and it’s extra easy to set up provided your Wi-Fi is reliable. Another great feature is that the plug itself is so slim — it only takes up one single outlet, which is a rare design feature for many smart outlets.