Smart Home Devices: Hubs and Compatible Devices

by William Gray

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Smart Home Devices

Smart Home Devices are the rising stars of the tech world, bringing us one step closer to being able to control our lives with the help of a wifi connection and a smart home hub. With the ability to control our lights, door locks, appliances, blinds, and more, these devices bring a new level of convenience to our lives. The companies that are making these devices are continuously devising new tools to make our daily lives more convenient, here are a few of the tools they have come up with.

Home Hubs

There are a few major players in the market of Smart Home devices with the big three being (unsurprisingly) Google, Amazon, and Apple. Each of these companies has a line of smart hubs that keep all of your home automation in one, easy to use, place.

Google Home

Google’s contribution is in the form of Google Home. Featuring the Google Assistant this device is the hub for the Google-based home automation system. Featuring three different hub options to seamlessly integrate it into any room in your house. The Google Home Mini is perfect for rooms that you want integration in, but that you don’t plan on doing too much with, like your bedroom to control the lights and check your schedule in the morning. The Google Home, the base model, is a larger device that includes a better speaker for listening to music and/or projecting into larger rooms, perfect for a living room or entertainment room. The third, and newest, is the Google Home Max which functions as a large speaker making it the best sound of the three, great for an entertainment room, den, or backyard.

Image of Google Home

Amazon Echo

Amazon is currently the front-runner in terms of options for your hub. Currently boasting six different options for your hub, all featuring their assistant Alexa. The Echo Dot is the small out of the way device, comparable to the Home Mini, and the Echo is their flagship hub, comparable to the Home, but that is where the similarities end. The third in the Echo line is the Echo plus, a slightly larger version of the Echo that includes a built-in hub to connect to many other products that typically require a bridge, most notably the Philips Hue lights. The next additions Amazon brought along included a video screen to increase functionality. The Echo Spot includes a small screen, boasting the ability to view to-do lists, show lyrics as you listen to music, and make video calls, among other options with the screen. The larger alternative, the Echo Show, has all the same features as the Spot but boasts a larger screen and more powerful speakers.  The last, and newest, addition to the Echo family is the Echo Look. The Look is designed specifically with style in mind, using a handsfree camera built into the Look it can take pictures of your outfit and even give you a second opinion. The Look is currently available “exclusively by invitation”.

Image of the Echo Show

Amazon Echo Show

Apple HomeKit

Apple HomeKit seems to have gone in a different direction. With only one hub, the HomePod, which is marketed as a speaker that just happens to also have a connection to Siri, Apple has gone with the idea that your smartphone is your hub. The HomePod boasts great speakers and spatial awareness so it can direct the sound for best effect in any room. The speakers are able to connect to each other in order to play the same music in every room or be used independently to play different music.

image of Apple HomPod

Apple HomePod

Smart Lighting

One of the best-known functions of the Smart Home devices is their ability to control your lights. This feature extends past the basic on and off functions, the smart lights also allow you to control brightness, intensity, and even color depending on which lights you purchase. These lights are all LED so they typically last for longer than traditional lights and boast a low energy usage.  All of the companies that make smart lights have similar types of lights but each has a few differences, the two most popular are discussed below.

Philips Hue

Philips is a huge name in lighting and they did not miss a beat introducing the Philips Hue line of smart lights. Covering all of the basic lights they also introduced a portable light as well as string lights that can be attached to the wall. Using their app you can create premade light settings that can be activated by saying whatever you named the setting. For instance, one of the premade light settings sets your colored lights to imitate the sunrise. This line needs a bridge in order to connect to your home hub unless you’re using the Amazon Echo Plus, but this comes with any of their multiple starter kits.

LifX

LifX is a slightly more expensive alternative than the Philips Hue but does not need a bridge to connect to your home hub. It seamlessly connects to any of the hubs without any additional hardware. The standout product here is the LifX Tile, which is exactly what it sounds like, a tile-shaped light that can be stuck on any wall to create lighted designs. The kit for the Tile includes 5 tiles and the power supply, so you can plug it in and get started as soon as you open the box.

Other Gadgets

Many home security devices are available to link to your home hub allowing you to feel just a little more secure. The biggest products here are smart locks, that let you lock and unlock your doors using your home hub, video doorbells, which are able to display on the Amazon Echo devices that have a screen, and even smart baby monitors. There are also alarm systems that can be activated and deactivated using the hub and garage door openers. The Nest Thermostat is the big name that comes to mind when you talk about temperature control. The device will learn your habits and adjust but can also be linked to a home hub in order to verbally set your home to whatever temperature you want. Nest also puts out a smoke and carbon monoxide detector that will save you the headache of trying to figure out which one is going off by telling you the specific device. You can also prevent issues before they happen by monitoring the battery life on your phone, and even feel secure while away by checking the status from anywhere.

by William Gray

by William Gray

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

William Gray is a freelance writer with a vast array of experiences to pull from. Having worked in a variety of fields over the years and never quite managing to put his degree in English to work for him, he has decided the time is ripe to begin putting this to work.

Read more at wordforawhile.com

Buy Smart Home Devices & Accessories

Universal Devices Home Automation Controller Smart Hub ISY994i/IR PRO INSTEON + X10 - Compatible with Alexa

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

by Universal Devices
Have you outgrown your toyish, unreliable, or cloud based automation controller? ISY is not just another command/control hub. ISY provides you with complete and flexible point/click environment wherein you can create programs/triggers based on such things as states of devices, user defined variables, time/day/schedules, localized sunrise/sunset times with before/after offsets, timers, and randomized repeat/wait constructs, and SMS/email using customized contents/substitution variables just to name a few. Extending ISY functionality is as easy as installing ISY Optional Modules (Fees apply) and immediately use their events and actions in programs. For instance, you could have a program for irrigation and pool pump based on forecast rain/snow/temperature/humidity/wind for today or tomorrow. Or, you tell Echo to turn on/off and dim/brighten your devices and scenes or even to start and stop your custom ISY programs. Or send IFTTT Maker Channel events based on your desired conditions or have ISY automatically act upon IFTTT Maker channel events such as Ring Door Bell, Nest Cameras, or even Geo Fencing. More importantly, unlike other solutions that use the cloud for everything, ISY is fully autonomous with its own built in event based logic engine, secure web server, and real-time clock and thus it's impervious to Internet outages and server loads for proper operations. The only exceptions are third party cloud based services such as Amazon Echo and IFTTT. To top it all off, you get the golden standard for customer service, a thriving user community, and a company that fully stands behind all its products with 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. *OpenADR 2.0(a)/2.0(b) Certified - Requires OpenADR Production Certificates*

$169.94 on Amazon.com

Wireless Smart Plug,Mini WiFi Remote Control Outlet Socket Power Switch Plug with Timer Schedule/APP Control, Compatible with Alexa Google Home (Pack of 2)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

by Dianmi Smart
Smart outlet aims to make your smart home even smarter! If you're the type of person who is constantly paranoid about if you left the electronics on, smart plugs can ease your anxiety. These are one of the easiest ways to get started in home automation. Smart Outlets essentially allow you to make almost any device a "SMART" device by taking control of your electrical outlets with App and voice commands.  1.Work with Amazon Alexa & Google Assistance for voice control,it gives you hands-free voice control. No hub required. 2.Turn electronics on or off from anywhere with your smartphone using App.Such as household fans, speakers, coffeemaker, air conditioners, and more. 3.Create your own schedules for each device any day of the week, or customize it by a special time of day. 4.Smart home device helps you keep energy bills low with a built-in feature that helps you effectively manage devices that use the most power,allow you to prevent power-hungry devices from being left on longer than needed. 5.An easy to install smart outlet, download the Smart Life App, Plug in your smart plug, control it with the App   How to connect the wifi smart plug ?  1.Power on the smart plug. 2.Login in Smart Life App and click " ALL DEVICES". 3.Long press ON/OFF button for 5~10 seconds and confirm the notify-light rapidly blink,enter the WIFI password and connect successfully.   Attention: The smart device only work with 2.4 GHz network. Please try to make the smart plug and router as close as possible when first connection,you can change the place after connecting successfully.

$33.99 on Amazon.com

SIIG 90W Smart 10-Port USB Charging Station with Non-Slip Padded Deck and LED Ambient Light for Smartphones, Tablets, and Many Other Compatible USB Powered Devices (Black)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

by SIIG
SIIG’s 10-Port Charging Station with Ambient Light Deck allows you to power, charge and organize up to 10 USB-powered devices simultaneously using only one wall outlet. It provides 10 smart IC integrated charging ports to auto detect and adjust power output, rapid charging your devices to maximize charging efficiency. Creative open slot cradle design fits and holds most tablets or smartphones and keeps the area tidy and organized while charging. Unique non-slip padded deck, illuminated by soft glow elegant LED ambient light, serves as an extra platform to charge or accommodate additional devices and further minimizes desktop clutter. This intelligent and space-saving charging station comes with an UL-certified 90W high performance power adapter with multiple safety features to protect all the devices. It is an excellent charging accessory to safely charge your devices and keep them organized on your desktop, workstation or counter. Compatible with: - iPhone 7 Plus, 7, 6S Plus, 6S, 6 Plus, 6, 5S, 5C, 5, 4S, 4, 3, iPad Mini, iPad, iPod; - Samsung Galaxy series; - LG Optimus, Ludic; - Google Nexus; - HTC One, SV, Flyer, Inspire 4G, Sensation, First, Desire; - Sony; - Kindle; - Motorola: Droid, Razr; - Nokia Lumia - and many other USB-compatible items Specifications: - AC Input: 100V-240V AC - Total power output (Max): 90W - Total Charging Output: 5V DC/18A (Max.) - Per Port Output: 5V DC/2.4A (Max.) - Certifications/Standards: FCC, RoHS - Safety protection:Over-current,Over-voltage,Over-charge,Short-circuit - Product Dimensions: 12.6"" (W) x 7.09"" (D) x 3.54"" (H) - Product Weight: 1.5 LBS Package Contents: - SIIG 10-Port USB Charging Station with Ambient Light Deck - AC Power Cord - User Reference Guide

$48.88 on Amazon.com

BESTEK USB Power Strip 8-Outlet Surge Protector 1500 Joules with 40W/8A 6 USB Charging Station,ETL Listed,Dorm Room Accessories

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

by BESTEK
BESTEK outlet power strip and 6 USB charging ports with 1500 joules surge protection, a space saver! - unique desktop tower design, a perfect solution for your messy desk! - 6 smart USB charging ports with 40W/8a total output, provides plenty power for charging your multiple devices simultaneously. - 8 surge protected outlets with socket safety door, protecting kids from unexpected electricity shock. - two independent switches to make it easy to turn off the appliances when not in use, energy saving! - USB LED indicator with photosensitive induction function, do not worry about the bright light will affect your sleep at night. BESTEK USB power strip, protecting your valuable devices from damage - 1500 joules of surge protection. - heavy-duty six-foot power cord (14 AWG) ensures Optimal power flow to your valuable devices. - built-in short circuit, overload, over temperature and over current protection, Fireproof v0-grade PC and ABS material. Specification - input voltage: 100-125v - AC rated power: 1875w(125v 15a) - surge protection: 1500J - USB output: 40W 8a(total), 5V/2.4a max(each port) - size/weight: 4.84.85.7 in/ 2.14 lb. - cord length: 6 feet (14Awg) - color: black white package contents - BESTEK outlet USB surge protector - user's manual worry-free warranty - 18 months worry-free product guarantee for every purchase

$41.99 on Amazon.com

Tech WTF is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.