Best Smart Home Toys (Even If You Aren’t A Techie)

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Are you someone who has no idea what a “smart home” is? Hey, we get it. Some of these new devices are complicated. But EG Home Theater is here to help. Our designers love finding the perfect home theater experience to bring your living room to life with full surround sound. But what’s even more exciting is when we get to show homeowners how easy it actually is to turn your home theater into an cool smart home for simpler, more energy efficient days.

Our friends at The Seattle Times know a thing or two about which devices are perfect to introduce any homeowner to smart technology without a user manual. With many of these items available online, speak with an EG Home Theater designer to learn which is best for your home and how to integrate them into other devices found in our comprehensive EG Home Theater catalogue (download by clicking here). Read on to learn more, let us know what you think in the comments, and share this article with your family and friends on social media to help spread the word about energy efficiency.

The following is an excerpt from “Best Smart Home Tech For Newbies” originally published by The Seattle Times. For the complete article, visit www.seattletimes.com.

Small “smart” home devices are great gifts — whether for a recent grad who wants some cool tech, or as a way to introduce an older parent to the trend.

Here are four smart home gadgets to consider at a range of prices.

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation)

CNET rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 (outstanding)

The good: The second-gen, mini-size Echo Dot speaker is just as smart as the full-size Echo at half the cost. It boasts more skills and third-party integrations than its rival, the Google Home Mini, and it also includes an aux-out jack for quick, direct connections with external audio setups, which the Home Mini lacks.

The bad: The Home Mini offers noticeably better sound quality out of the box, and Google Assistant is better at pulling from the internet to answer a wide variety of questions.

The bottom line: The Echo Dot takes Amazon’s popular smart home speaker and wraps it in an ultra-affordable package — but the Google Home Mini is a very worthy competitor. A third-generation Echo Dot is also now available with better looks.

Apple HomePod

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (very good)

The good: The HomePod has excellent bass and consistently superior sound quality across a wide variety of music genres. The speaker is easy to set up and Siri can hear you from across a room.

The bad: You’re stuck with Apple-only audio services when using voice commands and the HomePod only works on iOS. Siri and HomeKit lack the polish and device compatibility of Alexa and Google Assistant.

The bottom line: Apple’s HomePod doesn’t match the features offered on Alexa and Google Assistant speakers. But if you’re an iPhone user who prizes sound quality above all, you should seriously consider this speaker.

Eufy Smart Plug Mini

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (very good)

The good: The Smart Plug Mini is a smart, affordable space-saver with a solid mix of in-app features. It works with both Alexa and the Google Assistant.

The bad: It doesn’t work with HomeKit and it doesn’t include a side USB charging port.

The bottom line: With plenty of options for scheduling and energy monitoring, Eufy’s Smart Plug Mini is a great addition to any Google or Alexa smart home.

Sengled Element Color Plus Starter Kit

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (very good)

The good: Sengled’s newest color-changing smart bulbs are more budget-friendly than the competition, and they offer full compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant. The app tracks the real-time power draw of each bulb at each setting, which is a nice touch.

The bad: Though accurate, the colors aren’t as bright as you’ll get with Lifx or Hue, and the app is a bit clunkier to use, too. You can’t use the bulbs with IFTTT or Apple HomeKit, either.

The bottom line: These aren’t the best color-changing bulbs that we’ve tested, but they offer very decent value, making them a good budget pick.

Source: Seattle Times

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