The Internet of Things is upon us, and things that were never considered ‘smart’ before are beginning to connect to the internet to potentially enable a whole new way of living. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an influx of new gadgets that can help you make your home smart, from thermostats and light bulbs to kettles and door locks.
We’ve rounded up our favourite smart home devices across each of the main categories of smart stuff, but in each case you can also click through to read our detailed round-ups of each type of product.
Best smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot
£49.99 – View on Amazon
There are a few different smart speakers out right now – and more on the way – but they all do about the same thing. They use an in-built microphone to listen to your voice commands for both music playing and a virtual assistant – letting you know about the weather or what’s on your to-do list – and also serving as a voice-controlled hub for your other smart gear.
The two biggest smart speakers right now are the Amazon Echo and Google Home, while Apple has its rival HomePod on the way later in the year. If you’re just dipping your toe into the world of smart speakers though, we’d recommend the Echo Dot.
At just £50/$50 the Dot is much cheaper than most of its rivals, but includes all the same smart power and voice recognition tech – it just has a lower quality speaker included. And since you can pair it with your choice of sound system over Bluetooth anyway, that need not be a dealbreaker.
Find out more in our smart speaker comparison.
Best smart light: Philips Hue
£149.99/$179.99 – View on Amazon
Smart lighting is one of the first things many people think of when they think of smart homes, and it’s easy to see why. Most modern smart lights let you set brightness, tone, and colour, control your bulbs with voice commands, and schedule them to turn on and off at certain times of day or when you enter or leave the house.
Philips Hue is one of the biggest names in smart lighting, and its starter kit is a great place to, well, start – it includes three colour-changing bulbs along with the hub you need to control them. There are a variety of pre-set scenes, support for Google Home and Amazon Echo, and the ability to expand functionality even further with IFTTT. You can also buy individual bulbs to expand your set.
Check out some of the other options in our guide to the best smart lights.
Best smart thermostat: Nest
£219.99/$249.99 – View on Amazon
Smart heating may not be especially sexy or exciting, but if you’re looking for a great use of tech to help the environment and save you money in the longterm, you can’t do much better. By giving you precise control of how and when you heat your house – and data on your energy usage – you can potentially make a serious dent in your monthly bills.
Nest is one of our top picks when it comes to smart heating, thanks to simple installation, a relatively low price, and integration with loads of other smart home systems.
Best smart kettle: iKettle
£99.99/$99.99 – View on Firebox
If there’s a more beautiful vision of our connected future than being able to pop the kettle on from bed, then we haven’t thought of it yet. And thanks to IFTTT and Alexa integration, you don’t even need to get your phone out to boil the new 3rd-gen iKettle – you just tell Alexa to turn it on.
Set-up is a bit of a pain and took us a few attempts – and IFTTT integration took a few more – but once you’re there you can set the iKettle to heat to whatever temperature you like, to stay warm once it gets there, and even to trigger to boil at set times or when you come home from work.
Smart kettles are a small but growing field – the only alternative we know of is the slightly more expensive Appkettle – but expect to see a lot more of these over the next few years as the standard appliance manufacturers get in on the act.
Best smart coffee machine: Nespresso Expert
£299.99 – View on Amazon
If boiling the kettle from the bed is one half of the English dream, then surely brewing a coffee is the other half. Enter Nespresso’s app-connected Expert range.
This is essentially a standard Nespresso machine (admittedly a very fully-featured one) with the added benefit of being able to set a coffee to brew remotely, or on a schedule – so long as you’ve left a pod in the machine and a cup at the ready.
It’ll also let you know how many pods you have left, remind you to restock (and let you buy more within the app), and give you alerts when it’s time to clean or descale the machine. Handy.
If that’s a bit steep for you, you should check out the simpler Nespresso Prodigio, which is also app-enabled, or the filter-style Smarter Coffee Machine – from the same manufacturers as the iKettle, above.
Best smart plug: TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug
£24.99/$24.99 – View on Amazon
Smart plugs are basically an easy way to take non-smart things and give them a bit of an intellect boost, letting you remotely switch on or off their mains power, set it to a schedule, or trigger it to turn on or off based on your location.
TP-Link’s plug is a great, simple one that doesn’t require any extra hub device to function – and for just a little more you can get a version with energy monitoring so you can track how much power a device is drawing.
Best robot vacuum: Dyson 360 Eye
£799.99/$999.99 – View on Amazon
Cleaning robots like the Roomba are nothing new, but the Internet of Things has made them better than ever.
The Dyson 360 Eye is a great example, using the dedicated Dyson Link app to control the cleaning robot and let you know where it’s cleaned and where it hasn’t. Throw in the advanced suction and filtration you’d expect from a Dyson device – not to mention tank-style treads – and you have a very impressive robotic vacuum.
Best smart security camera: Y-Cam Evo
£129.99/$149.99 – View on Amazon
Security is one of the most obvious areas where smart tech offers a real benefit, giving you access to live feeds from cameras, cloud storage of footage, and even the potential for smart locks to govern who gets in and out (as long as you trust your chosen company’s cyber-security, of course…).
We’re fans of the Y-Cam Evo, which is the best all-round indoor home security camera you can buy thanks to a combination of hardware, software and free seven-day cloud recording.
Best smart scale: Nokia Body Cardio
£149.95/$179.95 – View on Amazon
Smart scales might seem dubious at first – how smart can they get!? – but it makes sense when you begin to think of them in terms of data. A good smart scale will not only track more than just weight – it’ll include bodyfat percentage, BMI, lean mass, water weight, and more – but it’ll track all that data for you and make it easy to understand.
The Body Cardio from Nokia (formerly Withings) is our favourite right now thanks to support for up to eight users, syncing with Nokia’s other health devices, and the fact that it measures pulse wave velocity – a first for the smart scale market.
Best smart toothbrush: Oral-B Genius 9000
£279.99/$299.99 – View on Amazon
First up, don’t wince too much at that price tag – you don’t have to look hard to find the Genius 9000 on sale for about half its RRP, so there’s no need to pay full price. What you’ll get is a brush that combines all the features of a high-end electric toothbrush with an app to show where you’re brushing in real-time, track your brushing habit, and keep your dental health on track.
Sure, this is definitely one of those examples where smart functionality is entirely unnecessary, but it could help you get a sense of your brushing weak spots and help you stick to doing it twice a day.