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The 20 best smart home devices to make life easier

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According to philosophy and science, the best way to boost productivity may be to protect your time the way you'd protect your money; after all, we can get more of the latter, but not more of the former. If you're not sure where to start, the best smart home devices can help automate everything from your calendar to your Sunday morning chores. That way, you can speed up the activities you don't love to make time for the ones you do.

When it comes to upgrading your home's electronics, there's good news and bad news — and they're the two sides of the same coin. The good news is that there are tons of products, brands, and categories to choose from. The bad news: That makes it much more difficult to narrow down the devices that are actually worth your time and money. The saving grace in this situation? Reviews. When real buyers (sometimes tens of thousands of them) can't stop raving about a product, it's usually a good indication that it'll improve your daily routine. In some cases, said reviewers highlight the brands you already know and love — but other times, they draw some much-deserved attention to lesser-known, more affordable alternatives.

Whether you're looking for a virtual assistant, a robotic cleaner, an upgraded security system, or a hands-free way to control your lights and heat, these are the most raved-about smart home devices on the market, and you can grab them all on Amazon.

1. The overall best smart home speaker

With a mind-bending 375,000-plus reviews, Amazon's Alexa Echo Dot remains one of the most popular virtual assistants — and many reviewers argue that it's still the best. This small speaker helps you set reminders, play your music, listen to audiobooks, do quick math, and automate your compatible smart devices, all using your voice. In fact, it has tens of thousands of skills, and it's always undergoing updates so it can do more. Get it in charcoal, heather gray, plum, and sandstone, too. At an affordable price and with wide-ranging compatibility, it's a great cornerstone to a smarter home.

2. The best smart display

Much like the Echo Dot, the Alexa Echo Show acts as your voice-activated portal to all of your compatible devices — but unlike the Dot, the Show 5 has a 5.5-inch display screen. As a result, you can make video calls, glance at the traffic, watch trailers and shows, and peek at your security cameras, all without having to lift a finger. Reviewers note that it makes for a great smart alarm clock or kitchen assistant, and wrote that it is the "best new smart device on the market." Choose between charcoal and sandstone.

3. The best smart bulb set

There are plenty of more expensive smart bulbs, but are they really better? Reviewers suggest no — the Saudio smart bulb pack is "better than Philips Hue and 4x cheaper," according to one customer. Plus, it's compatible with Siri, Alexa, and Google Home for voice-activated control. Each set comes with four bulbs that can turn virtually any color (including a wide range of adjustable whites). The app is intuitive and reliable so you can control your lights from anywhere, and the hub-free design means no hassle, all you need is Wi-Fi.

4. These popular strip lights

For mood lighting, it doesn't get much better than the Govee LED light strip, which lets you choose between 16 million different colors and can be controlled via your phone, Alexa, or Google Home assistant. It looks sleek underneath your TV or kitchen cabinets, but it can also serve as practical, eye-friendly illumination when placed underneath your bed, in closets, or up the staircase. It even has a built-in microphone that syncs with your music when it's time to party.

5. The best way to control standard lights

The Kasa smart switch has an easy guided installation that requires only a neutral wire and a standard wall-plate-size hole; after that, you can turn on your lights via Alexa, Google Home, or your phone, and you can schedule timers, countdowns, or away-from-home settings. Pre-programmed scenes help you set the mood, while group settings allow you to control multiple devices at once. You can even track runtime and energy usage to save some money on your electric bill.

6. The overall best streaming stick

Simply plug the Fire stick into your television's HDMI port, and it'll transform it into a smart TV. From there, you can run your favorite streaming apps, access the internet, and play games — and the remote is Alexa-enabled for voice control. No wonder this device has more than 20,000 reviews.

7. A mini smart speaker that extends Alexa throughout your home

With this mini speaker, you can bring Alexa into any room. While it may not be the best speaker for listening to music, you do still get all the other Alexa functionality, like turning off lights, setting alarms, or checking the weather. There is even a USB port so you can charge your phone or add a nightlight.

8. The best smart plugs

Plug virtually any gadget, lamp, or appliance into these Kasa smart plugs, and it'll become a smart device instantly. The app acts as a remote so you can control it from afar, and it works with your favorite virtual assistants so you can say things like, "Alexa, turn on the living room lamp" or "Okay, Google, turn on the humidifier." You can even set schedules and timers to automate your home — so you can be sure your curling iron is turned off by 9 a.m. every morning.

9. The best smart power strip

For more outlets (and some USB charging ports), there's the T TECKIN smart power strip. It's unlike some others because it's Wi-Fi enabled and compatible with Alexa and Google Home. That way, you can control your electronics remotely, give voice commands, set schedules, and put your devices on a timer. It also has multiple safeguards in place to protect against surges and overheating.

10. This Alexa-enabled, cult-classic appliance

The Instant Pot is considered a must-have appliance for beginners and masters alike. It's "fast," "easy to use," and "versatile" — some Amazon reviewers have written. One even called it the "best invention ever" because it can pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, steam, bake, sterilize, and make yogurt and rice, all in a single 6-quart pot. That said, this version is also Wi-Fi enabled, compatible with Alexa, and comes with an app that gives you access to more than 1,000 pre-programmed recipes. (In other words, you can start dinner before you even leave work.)

11. A sous vide that works with Wi-Fi

The Breville Joule sous vide can connect to Wi-Fi for recipes and interactive cooking — or you can use Bluetooth, if you prefer. Even though it's smaller and sleeker than many other sous-vide cookers, it heats up quickly and attaches magnetically to virtually any pot to create tender, restaurant-quality meals in a minimal amount of time. "I love cooking sous-vide and this device works extremely well," one reviewer wrote. "I love the fact it connects to my wi-fi and I can monitor the [meal] even when I'm not at home."

12. A highly-rated video doorbell

See who's at the door, get notified when someone buzzes, and even chat with them via your phone or computer with the Ring video doorbell. This model comes with customizable motion settings and privacy controls, and it's backed by a 4.6-star overall rating after more than 18,000 customers have weighed in. The Ring Video Doorbell doesn't require a subscription to work, but buying a Ring Protection Plan does come with added benefits, like the ability to share and save videos.

13. The best indoor smart cam

For indoor surveillance, you've got the Blink smart cam. This Amazon-bestseller provides you with a 1080p HD video stream as well as night vision, motion detection, and two-way recording. Use it to keep an eye on pets, get a little peace of mind, and more.

14. The best smart security system

Most smart security systems come with a mandatory contract, but Ring lets you monitor your home your way — right down to the five-, eight-, nine-, and 14-piece bundles. The five-piece kit covers one door or window, adds motion detection to one room, and covers 1,000 square feet and you can buy additional sensors and motion detectors as needed — you can even get flood sensors and smoke detectors. The Ring security system allows you to monitor your home right from your phone and for $10 a month you can also get around the clock professional monitoring and enable cellular backup for your Ring Alarm.

15. The best smart lock

Not sure if you locked the door this morning? No problem. This August Home smart lock set lets you control (and monitor) your front door from anywhere. Lock it from your phone while at the office, unlock it when a friend or relative needs to get in, and keep track of who comes and goes. It's even Alexa-enabled. Finally, it's designed to install quickly in place of your deadbolt and withstand up to 600 pounds of force.

16. The genius device that helps you find your keys

I will never again be without a Tile Mate, and thousands of other reviewers agree. This tiny plate attaches to your keys (or your wallet, dog, or child's favorite stuffed animal) so you can track its location on a map and make it ring from up to 200 feet away. If you happen to lose your phone instead, the Tile works backwards, causing your phone to ring even if it's on silent. This updated version comes with a replaceable battery and a long Bluetooth range.

17. This reliable smart smoke detector

Monitor your home's smoke and carbon monoxide levels at the same time thanks to the Google Nest Protect. It has a sensor that's constantly scanning your air quality, and it not only sounds an alarm when there's potentially trouble — it also sends an alert directly to your phone. Unlike most competitors, this detector even has a built-in night-light that turns on when you walk beneath it.

18. An easy way to control your fans, fireplace, or shades

Rather than replacing your fans, fireplace, and shades with smarter alternatives, there's the Bond, which works alongside a wide range of remote-controlled brands to give you voice- and app-enabled access. A single hub has the ability to control up to 30 ceiling fans and any Somfy shades. Plus, it has a range of 2,500 square feet. It works with Alexa, Google Assistant, iPhones, and Android devices. Reviewers report that the setup is easy, and that it's a great way to update your existing electronics "without breaking the bank."

19. The most affordable smart robotic vacuum

With up to 100 minutes of quiet cleaning, automatic docking for recharging, boundary strips to keep it within certain rooms, smart infrared sensors so it can avoid walls and stairs, BoostIQ technology to switch from hard floors to rugs effortlessly, and a slim profile to fit under furniture, it's hard to believe that this is less than $300. Last but definitely not least, this RoboVac from Eufy also has a smart app and is compatible with Alexa and Google Home so you can start vacuuming without ever having to leave the couch.

20. The best learning thermostat

If you choose to personalize your home's temperature on a minute-to-minute basis, you can do it with your voice or from your phone, tablet, or laptop. Plus, the Google Nest actually learns which temperatures you prefer at which times of the day, so your home feels comfortable all the time with less effort. It even turns itself down when you're away to avoid heating or cooling an empty home (read: serious energy savings). After a few weeks, one reviewer wrote that they "could never go back to a regular thermostat."

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