Smart home technology exists to make our lives easier, safer, and more fun. However, some devices are a little more complex or expensive than others. But don’t worry if you’re not super confident with navigating in-depth configuration settings or unfamiliar protocols because there are a host of great smart home devices designed with the novice smart homeowner in mind.
The best starting points for a newly smart home include some of the most versatile and convenient devices, like smart plugs and light bulbs, as well as security-minded devices, like smart alarm systems and standalone security cameras. We also highly recommend investing in products such as smart smoke and leak detectors, which can prevent costly and dangerous scenarios whether you’re at home or away.
The easiest and most helpful smart home devices
The huge variety of smart home technology makes it impossible to say what products are the absolute best for every person, so we’ve covered a range of the most cost-effective, convenient, and money-saving devices we’ve found. For pure safety’s sake, you can’t beat the possibly lifesaving Google Nest Protect carbon dioxide and smoke detector. The Govee Water Sensor comes in a close second there, as it can literally keep your ceiling from saturating after a leak and crashing into the floor beneath it.
But not all smart technology is quite so serious. For example, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock makes it easy for everybody to get in and out of the house securely, even if guests are due or keys are lost. Similarly, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is the perfect way to let you know when visitors or packages get to your doorstep. But if you do want to have some fun, fire up the Yamaha ATS-2090 smart soundbar, pair it with some colorful Wyze Smart Bulbs, and have yourself a dance party. Or, better yet, an investment in the Philips Hue lighting starter kit ensures you’ll have the most comprehensive fancy lighting system for years.
For pure versatility, you can’t beat the Kasa KP125M smart plug. It can turn a huge selection of “dumb” electronics smart, and its recent release means it’s even more streamlined, bug-free, and capable than ever. Finally, if you’re looking for a new router capable of managing your smart home, look no further than the Google Nest Wi-Fi Mesh System. It has a long enough range for all but the biggest houses, and there’s a Google Assistant module built into the extension access point for instant voice control.
Do you need Matter support?
The Matter upstart protocol aims to change the smart home landscape by ensuring all devices can communicate with each other without mistranslating commands or breaking features. We’ve heard this story before with technologies like XKCD, and while we aren’t sure what happened to Z-Wave, the new open-source venture, co-developed by some of the industry’s biggest names in engineering, shows some promise. Although there’s not a lot to choose from at the moment, there are a few worthwhile Matter-supporting devices if you want to stay on the field’s cutting edge.
So what does that mean regarding the pros and cons of matter devices? Well, there’s no distinct Matter drawback — it’s almost exclusively a positive feature — but demanding smart devices with Matter support will severely limit your choices. You also might pay a little more for Matter-certified electronics. Still, if you want to ensure cross-compatibility among future smart home devices, no matter what family they came from, it’s worth giving Matter-compatible devices a second look. But, for the time being, it’s not exactly critical, and there’s a great selection of smart devices with reliable, streamlined interoperability.