How Smart Should Your Home Be?
The Jetsons-style homecoming starts before you even hit the welcome mat. Whether you're coming in the front door or through the garage, a few smart gadgets can make your life easier—as long as your Wi-Fi signal is strong enough.
People tend to huddle around the television, so there's a lot of opportunity for smart gadgets here. Smart TVs are now widely available, and you can augment their features with a few other gizmos to create the perfect movie night.
No Time for Wimpy Wi-Fi
Gadgets are only as good as your Wi-Fi signal: The more smart devices you have, the more robust your Wi-Fi needs to be. "Keep your router out in the open, away from any obstructions," says Joel Crane, a certified wireless network expert. "If you still experience connection issues, then a home mesh Wi-Fi solution, like Eero, Google Wifi ($99; amazon.com), or Orbi, can fill in the dead spots fairly effortlessly." In a power outage, some battery-operated devices may still function, though smart features won't work if your Wi-Fi is down. When the power comes back on, most devices will reconnect automatically (if not, a quick reset should do it).
With the exception of water-saving options, the cost of smart kitchen appliances makes them harder to recommend than gadgets in other areas of the home.
Please Say a Command
When your hands are full or your phone is out of reach, voice control really brings smart homes to life. Voice assistants, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, are must-haves for any smart home—and with smaller units available for $50 or less, you can position a few throughout your space.
This hardworking space may be small, but it's ripe for smarter tech and Wi-Fi-enabled shortcuts.
Good sleep is practically a status symbol—and a few little splurges can help you rest and restore.
Your Phone, Command Central
If a TV that requires two remotes can bring you to your knees, you don't want that frustration multiplied in every room of the house. Apple's HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Amazon's Alexa will unify control of third-party products so you can manage dozens of smart devices with your phone, tablet, or voice. Look for your hub's icon on the packaging (to date, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are compatible with thousands of products, while HomeKit connects with over 100 vetted items).
Your bathroom may not be the first place you'd think to bring Alexa, but the right tech can make your morning routine more streamlined—and luxurious.
This story originally appeared in the July 2020 issue of Real Simple.