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12 Smart Home Devices to Help You Live Your Best (and Laziest) Life

Mental Floss logo Mental Floss 2 days ago Smart Shopping Team
a screenshot of a cell phone © Amazon/Best Buy

The days of having to get off the couch to change the channel or turn off the lights are long over, thanks to the seemingly never-ending flood of smart devices to hit the market. But setting up your smart home isn’t something you should jump right in to. First, you need to find the right hub for your needs, and then you'll need the correct devices that work with it. But once your setup is complete, your thermostat, slow cooker, refrigerator, vacuum, and pretty much anything else you can think of can be controlled by the push of a button or the sound of your voice. Here are some of the devices you may want to consider when making your home a bit smarter this year.

1. Google Home Smart Hub; $100

a close up of a white background: A Google assistant © Provided by Mental Floss A Google assistant

If you're ready to commit to Google's smart ecosystem, the Google Home is your starting point. This central hub includes a voice-activated helper (the aptly named Google Assistant) that acts as the central nervous system to your smart home. Once you pair it with your Wi-Fi, the Google Home can answer your questions, tell you the weather, set alarms, and, most importantly, control many of the different smart devices on the market through voice commands. Having all of your most important devices—like smart lights, TVs, and security systems—all going through one hub that you control with your voice is what living lazy is all about. As with any hub, though, do your research and make sure all of your desired smart devices are compatible with it.

Buy it: Best Buy

2. Amazon Echo Show 8; $90

a close up of a computer screen: Amazon Echo Show. © Provided by Mental Floss Amazon Echo Show.

If you’re looking to go the Amazon route for your hub, start with the Echo Show. It has the Alexa-enabled capabilities of the Dot, but its built-in screen is a great catch-all for displaying photos, watching recipe tutorials in the kitchen, making video calls, and going through the news. Like the Google Home, you can control other smart devices through the Show, so you’ll always be connected to the gadgets around your home. Oh, and while those Show speakers certainly won’t replace a Bose setup anytime soon, they’re more than capable of filling the room with your favorite music.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Sengled Smart Lights; $40

Sengled Lights on Amazon. © Provided by Mental Floss Sengled Lights on Amazon.

Smart lights are the necessity you never knew you needed. They’re energy-efficient, simple to set up, and even easier to use. And this offering from Sengled, complete with two bulbs and the smart hub, is as good a place to start as any. These lights screw into most sockets around your house, and once in, it’s all a matter of pairing them with the Sengled hub, downloading the app, and learning the ropes. You can control brightness either from your phone or through Alexa or Google voice controls, and there’s even an option to set a schedule, so your lights will turn off and on depending on your personalized timetable. The company also offers colored bulbs capable of millions of different shades and tones.

Buy it: Amazon

4. LG Smart Refrigerator; $1800

a white microwave oven sitting on top of a refrigerator: A smart refrigerator © Provided by Mental Floss A smart refrigerator

This refrigerator from LG is designed to keep your food fresh for longer. It all starts with its InstaView panel, which allows you to get a peek at what's inside without having to open the door over and over again, wasting energy and messing with the temperature in the process. This model also has a smart cooling system (controlled through Alexa or Google Assistant) that continually monitors its temperature and adjusts accordingly, along with two humidity-controlled drawers ideal for storing fruits and vegetables.

Buy it: Best Buy

5. Nest Thermostat; $213

a close up of a logo: A smart thermostat © Provided by Mental Floss A smart thermostat

This Nest thermostat learns your preferred temperatures and adjusts itself to fit your needs. You can set a schedule to have your home at the exact temperature you want, whenever you want it. And if you're at work and temperatures suddenly drop, you can hop on the app and adjust right from the office. To streamline the process, the thermostat comes with all the setup equipment in the box, and there's even a YouTube tutorial online to make installation even easier.

Buy it: Google

6. Pet Food Dispenser; $180

a hand holding a cup: PetSafe food dispenser © Provided by Mental Floss PetSafe food dispenser

If you have a dog or cat that insists on being fed the moment you sit down, then this food dispenser is for you. Without getting up, you can schedule feedings right on your phone, whether you're on an iPhone or Android device. Have an animal that eats too quickly? This machine even has a slow-feeder option, which will dispense food over a 15-minute period.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Samsung Smart Outlet; $18

a close up of electronics: Samsung Smart Outlet. © Provided by Mental Floss Samsung Smart Outlet.

If you don't want to invest too much money in smart devices, a smart outlet is a low-cost alternative. This option from Samsung allows you to control power to a non-smart device using the Samsung SmartThings app or through voice commands, via Alexa and Google Assistant. So instead of pulling a plug out of a hard-to-reach outlet every day, you can simply use this smart outlet to control the power from anywhere in the house (or out of the house). It works without needing a pricey hub, so there's far less setup than most smart gadgets. And Samsung's app also offers scheduling capabilities for more personalization. If you're dipping your toe into smarter water or are wary of throwing out your favorite non-smart devices, this is a great starting point.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Smart Instant Pot; $79

a bowl of food on a table: An Instant Pot you can use from your smartphone © Provided by Mental Floss An Instant Pot you can use from your smartphone

This Instant Pot does everything a standard model can do—it's a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and sauté pan all in one—but because it's, well, smarter, you can schedule and control cooking times from an app or through your Alexa device. This means you can start and monitor your BBQ pulled chicken from work, so it's perfectly timed when you get back home at night.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Ring Smart Doorbell; $170

a close up of a white wall: Amazon Ring Device. © Provided by Mental Floss Amazon Ring Device.

For Amazon customers in the market for a smart doorbell with a built-in security camera, there’s the Ring. This device lets you see, hear, and talk to anyone at your front door from your smartphone, Amazon Show, PC, and plenty of other devices, even if you’re not home. Other similar options include the Google Nest Hello if you’re a Google Home user—this one boasts similar features as the Ring, with some reviewers touting the Nest’s video quality as superior. And for those not looking to commit to either tech giant, there’s the Arlo smart doorbell, which currently sits at a four-star rating on Amazon.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Smart TV Sticks; Various

a screen shot of a video game remote control: A Roku device as sold on Amazon. © Provided by Mental Floss A Roku device as sold on Amazon.

When it comes to smart TVs, you don't necessarily need to spend big on the latest set. Instead, a streaming stick, like Roku ($46), Amazon's Fire Stick ($50), or Google's Chromecast ($34), is about as high-tech as you'll need to go. These low-cost options plug right into your non-smart TV's HDMI port and come equipped with streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more. And depending on the device you get, most can be paired with Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands or an app, so you can control your binge-watching from your phone.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Eufy Robot Vacuum; $259

Eufy vacuum cleaner © Provided by Mental Floss Eufy vacuum cleaner

It's 2020—if you don't want to spend your free time pushing a vacuum around the house, make a robot do it for you. Alongside having an app, the eufy robot vacuum is also compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to start and stop the cleaning process with a simple voice command. The eufy can also run on its own according to whatever schedule you program, so you can have your vacuum working for you while you enjoy a well-deserved weekend off.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Sensibo Smart Air Conditioner Control; $119

a close up of a box: Sensibo Smart Air Conditioner Control on Amazon. © Provided by Mental Floss Sensibo Smart Air Conditioner Control on Amazon.

Control your air conditioner from anywhere with this handy device from Sensibo. You can set a seven-day schedule, so your A/C will turn on and off at the right times on work days and weekends. And on days when temperatures rise quickly, your Sensibo will react on its own and cool things off for you. It's perfect for keeping a cool home for your pets while you're on vacation, and it can pair with your Google Home and Alexa devices to make your ideal temperature just a voice command away.

Buy it: Amazon

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