You’ve probably owned an Amazon Echo for a while now. Maybe you have something a little fancier, like a Sonos One or a C by GE Sol smart lamp. Either way, you and Alexa are on speaking terms, so you’re more than comfortable asking the voice assistant about the weather, what time the Yankees are playing and to play Bruce Springsteen’s top hits. Now it’s time to take your relationship to the next level. The smart home level.
That means controlling the lights, temperature and television with your voice. These aren’t hugely complicated commands that require hugely complicated gadgets. And you’re not breaking up with the Echo device you’ve been using for years. Instead, you’re merely taking the next step towards a more efficient and intelligent home. There might be a struggle or two in the beginning, as you’ll have to use the Alexa app to enable some skills, but once you do — nirvana… or something I assume is close to it.
The Ecobee Switch+ requires a little bit of installation, but, amongst the vast array of Alexa-enabled light switches, sets itself apart. It has Alexa built-in, so you control the lights, news and music (if you have connected speakers) with “Alexa” commands; it’s convenient because you can talk to Alexa even if there’s not an Echo device within hearing distance. It also has motion sensors built in, so you can set the lights to turn on when it senses movement. It also can act like a nightlight.
WeMo Mini Smart Plug
WeMo has several smart outlets, but this one is the smallest and most practical. It turns any device into a “smart” device that’s plugged into it, whether that’s a lamp or home applicance. Since it only takes up one plug in a standard two-plug outlet, it won’t limit your other electronics. And, with the integrated button, it’s easy to factory reset the plug in case you decide to move it or use a different device with it.
Amazon Fire TV with 4K HDR
If you don’t have a smart TV or a smart TV with built-in Alexa, this is a great way to control your TV with your voice, whether that’s with an Echo speaker or just by pressing the Alexa button the Fire TV remote. If you have an Alexa-enabled home security camera, you can view its camera feed on your TV, too. Also, this streaming stick supports HDR10 video and Dolby Atmos audio; if your TV and sound system don’t support these technologies, I recommend getting the more affordable Fire TV Stick ($30).
Amazon Echo Show
The Echo Show is effectively an Amazon Echo with a screen that you can play videos. It can display things like music lyrics, weather reports or shows on Prime Video. It can also show video feeds from your Alexa-enabled security cameras, just like you would do on an Amazon Fire TV or Fire Tablet. It’s a robust device that do everything than Amazon Echo (2nd-gen) can do, expect for playing omni-directional music.
Amazon Cloud Cam
This is simple and affordable indoor security camera. It captures 1080p videos, shows you live video feeds, sees in the dark and can send you push notifications if something is up. Also, since it works with Alexa, you can instantly access its video feed by asking Alexa to show it on any Amazon device with a screen: Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show or Echo Spot.
Nest Cam Outdoor
Nest’s security cameras now work with Alexa, which is great. The Nest Cam Outdoor can do everything that the Amazon Cloud Cam can do — 24/7 video feeds in 1080p, two-way audio, alert notifications — but it’s also weatherproof. If you want a camera outside, looking down on your front porch, garage or back yard, this is the one to get.
Nest Learning Thermostat
Each new generation of Nest’s Learning Thermostat has basically been the best smart thermostat you could buy. Now that it works with Alexa, as long as you have an Echo speaker within shouting distance you can change the temperature of the specific room in your house. Since it has a pretty big display, it also can be set to display the time, weather and other news.
Roomba 690 by iRobot
Just like any other Roomba, you can schedule this vacuum to clean certain areas at certain hours through its smart app. What’s unique about this model is, now that it works with Alexa, if you have an Alexa-enabled smart speaker, you can simply command the speaker to start or stop cleaning with your voice.
Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit
Smart lights like these are simple and convenient. After installing them in a lamp or overhead light, and then pairing them with your Hue bridge, you can turn a light on by asking Alexa, or turn on multiple lights at a time by creating a scene. Also, since Phillips Hue and Amazon have partnered for years, there are a number of other dimming switches and motion sensors that work with these lights in case you want to build out your system.
Nest Hello Video Doorbell
Just like you can with the Amazon Cloud Cam, you can ask Alexa on your Echo Show (or Fire TV or Fire Tablet) to show you the video feed from the doorbell at any time. It can also recognize a familiar face from a stranger, so you don’t get notifications every time somebody is at the door. It has two-way audio so you can talk remotely to whoever is at your door, or it can play a prerecorded response if you’re not home. The Hello Video Doorbell does require a little bit of installation, but it’s by far the most intelligent doorbell you can buy right now.
Audio sounds better than before, but the price ($99) sounds even better.