Make your home a little smarter
Sandra Hermiston and Ross McLaughlin , CTV Vancouver
Published Thursday, December 20, 2018 6:00AM PST
Last Updated Thursday, December 20, 2018 7:25PM PST
Smart doorbells, smart locks, smart thermostats, smart security cameras… there are a number of high-tech devices on the market designed to make your life easier. But if you’re confused by all of the new gadgets, Consumer Reports has put together a crash course on how to buy and connect these devices.
Smart speakers make it very easy to connect different products and have them talk to each other. To use a smart speaker as a control center of sorts you’ll find three main options: Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri, available on the Apple HomePod.
Consumer Reports found the HomePod to be the easiest smart speaker to connect devices to, but it’s not compatible with as many other smart devices as Amazon and Google speakers.
Consumer Reports puts a number of different smart products through rigorous testing. And when it comes to smart locks, they still have to pass the same break-in tests as traditional door locks.
“A lot of smart locks don’t hold up in forced-entry tests, so you’ll want to get one that’s smart but also strong,” said Dan Wroclawski with Consumer Reports.
The recommended $290 Schlage Sense Smart Lock stood up to kick-in, picking, and drilling tests, and connects with any of the three smart speaker assistants.
Video doorbells allow you to see who is at your door, and some models even work with smart locks to remotely open the door through an app.
Smart security cameras
Need even more smarts? You might want to add smart cameras inside and out. Security cameras are a great way to keep a virtual eye on your home no matter where you are.
One thing to keep in mind: You’ll need to pay a fee for video storage for most smart security cameras that can be as much as $200 a year.
“When these cameras take video they store it on their company’s server, somewhere far off instead of on the camera itself. Doing this makes it really easy for you to access that footage, but it can also cost you over the long term,” explained Wroclawski.
The Amazon Cloud Cam is a Consumer Reports Best Buy.
And if you want surveillance both inside and outside your home, consider the Netgear Arlo Pro 2 Smart Camera for about $280.
One smart home product Consumer Reports says could be smarter: smoke detectors. That’s because the smart smoke detectors currently available detect only one type of fire. Instead, Consume Reports recommends dual sensor smoke alarms, which can detect both smoldering and flash fires.