The 10 Best Smart Home Devices

Best Smart Home Accessories

by Willow Green |
Published on

Gone are the days when a house was simply four doors and a roof. Here in 2019 there are a host of ingenious devices to not only make your life significantly easier, but allow your lowly domicile to reach its full potential. Here is our pick of eight essential objects that will turn your lowly house into a fully-functional smart home.

Synology DS418play Home Server


With physical media of all stripes rapidly following VHS into obsolescence, reliable home data storage should be top of your shopping list and, for movie lovers, The DS418Play is the home server to beat. Offering a four-bay enclosure in which to house your drives, this NAS is overseen by Synology's excellent operating system, which makes setup and access a breeze as well as offering a host of apps from the vibrant user community. The real selling point here, though, is power. The DS418Play comes with enough grunt to transcode 4K video on-the-fly (two streams simultaneously, in fact), allowing you to perfectly tailor your media to whatever display you need to play it on, be that a 65" TV or a 4" phone.

Of course, a NAS enclosure is of little use without drives to fill it and you'll want purpose-built, high-performance hard drives to house your precious data. Seagate's IronWolf drives are an ideal choice for this task, boasting 7200 RPM for speedy access and designed for the 24/7 demands of always-on NAS devices. Available in sizes ranging from 1TB to an eye-watering 14TB, combining IronWolfs with this four-bay NAS gives you the option of a colossal 56TB of storage — more than any sane human could possibly require.

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Buy Seagate IronWolf Drives Now

Apple HomePod


While Siri might not boast the nuances of Alexa or Google when it comes to voice recognition, the HomePod blows either Google or Amazon’s offerings out of the water when it comes to audio fidelity. As far as sheer power and sound quality goes, HomePod is in a league of its own, outclassing even the Sonos One with both punch and depth. Requiring an iPhone for setup and working via wifi, not Bluetooth (with no aux input) the HomePod is strictly for those who have bought into the Apple ecosystem and you’ll also want an Apple Music subscription to get the most out of it. These caveats aside, this surprisingly hefty little speaker can fill even large rooms with rich, thick sound, easily accessible via the app or through voice commands to Siri. If you’re feeling really flush, you can link two together for full, discrete stereo as well.

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Hive View Outdoor

Hive’s View Outdoor gets points for being one of the sexiest security cameras on the market. Produced in collaboration with designer Yves Béhar, this tidy little cube sits unobtrusively on the side of your house (within wifi range, naturally) and produces full 1080p HD coverage when triggered by movement, uploading both video and audio to the cloud (24hrs free, a nominal fee for 30 days’ storage). Sending push notifications to your phone whenever anyone approaches, you can cue up the footage in real time and talk to visitors remotely via the built-in speaker. The camera is held in place by a (powerful) magnet for easy positioning but as it’s not screwed in to the bracket, you’d be well advised to keep the camera out of arm’s reach.

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Harmony Elite Universal Remote

No one wants a table full of remote controls but until voice assistants become a whole lot smarter they remain essential. Logitech’s Harmony Elite remains the best way to minimise your remote clutter, being the most elegant and user-friendly all-in-one option available. Like all Harmonys, it breaks controls down by either device or activity (eg ‘Watch Netflix’) and comes with a wi-fi enabled Hub, that also allows you to sub in the Harmony app on your phone. With a sleek design and solid feel in the hand, as well as customisable touch screen and support for almost any device you can think of, this is one remote to rule them all.

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Philips Hue


There’s no shortage of smart bulbs on the market (even IKEA has a range) but among all connected illuminators, Philips’ shine the brightest — metaphorically, at least. Available in simple, dimmable white and Colour Ambience, which can adopt any hue imaginable, the bulbs communicate via a Hue Bridge and from there to the app on your phone. Assignable to groups and different rooms, they can then be activated at will or set to a specific schedule with little difficulty — and if you have one of Philips’ Ambilight televisions, they can be used to extend the ‘atmosphere’ lighting to cover the entire living room. Even the vanilla white lights have an array of settings, including a bright ‘Energize’ to blast away the morning cobwebs and a more muted ‘relax’ to help wind down at the end of the day.

Buy The Philips Hue Starter Kit Here

Nest Thermostat


Hive and Nest both make excellent smart thermostats but the Nest just edges ahead in our view. With its super-slick circular design, the Nest is as much a feature as it is functional but there’s more to this device than good looks. Taking all the hassle out of heating, it can run schedules for both heat and hot water (as of the 3rd gen model) and adjust temperature on the fly with a flick of the app, a brush of the device or a polite word to whichever Home Assistant you happen to have connected. The ‘smart’ here comes in the form of its learning capacity, though. Not only does the Nest learn your routines and predict when you’ll need to heat your home, but its motion detection works out when you’re about as well, allowing it to predict your needs without you even needing to ask.

Buy The Nest Thermostat now

Ring doorbell


Part doorbell, part security system, Ring is, at its most basic level, the best way to know if someone’s come a-knocking. Not only does the camera engage when the bell is pressed, sending you a notification and allowing you to talk to your visitor remotely via the app, but the device activates on proximity as well, keeping an eye on anyone who wanders up to your door, whether they press the buzzer or not. It isn’t the smallest device and a subscription is needed for cloud storage but if you’re looking for something more sophisticated than the standard knocker, this is just the ticket.

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Google Home Hub

There are numerous digital assistants that can form the backbone of your smart home (Amazon alone has five different Echos models on offer) but of all of them, the Google Home Hub is the all-round best performer. Google’s digital assistant is a step up from either Siri or Alexa in terms of accuracy and functionality, and the hub itself is a solid balance of features and practicality. Featuring a full colour screen that works as an effective digital photo frame paired with Google Photos, the Hub deliberately lacks any kind of camera, allaying privacy concerns when placing the device in a bedroom, for example. Google integrates seamlessly with almost any smart device you can think of (except Sonos at the time of writing) and is a capable foundation upon which to build the rest of your smart home tech. Our only slight gripe is that the integrated speaker, while a capable mouthpiece for the assistant’s feedback, is too treble-heavy to work as your main music speaker.

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