Skip to main content

Best smart home devices 2020: get comfy with smart lighting, heating and more

Philips Hue
Image Credit: Philips Hue (Image credit: Philips)

The best smart home devices are an essential part of a 21st century home. With them installed you can now turn your thermostat up, lock your doors, and play your music with a simple voice command – creating a seamless, smart environment that promotes functionality and, dare we say, digital zen.

Setting up your smart home is now as simple as putting a Bluetooth speaker or smart speaker like the Amazon Echo Dot in your living room. Or, if you want to go all-in, as complex as creating an intricate network of connected devices.

The Ring Stick-Up Cam. Image Credit: Ring

The Ring Stick-Up Cam. Image Credit: Ring (Image credit: Ring)

To what extent you invest in your smart home is really down to you, and you can personalize it to your level of comfort. The great thing about smaller, cheaper smart devices (we're looking at you Amazon Echo Dot) is that there's zero hassle or commitment to a more connected home. 

But with all of that choice, comes a lot of options, new product categories launching ever week and one daunting shopping experience. And, because smart homes rely on components being able to communicate with one another, before you stock up your shopping cart with all the latest and greatest smart home gadgets, you'll need to make sure they’re compatible with any other smart devices you already own including your phone, tablet and smart speaker.

To help you begin on your smart home journey, or complete the technology-laden home of your dreams, we've curated a list of devices that we believe are the best smart home products you can buy right.

Here are our recommendations for the best smart home devices to bring your home into the future and give it a much-needed upgrade. 

Best smart home devices 2020 at a glance

Choosing the best smart home ecosystem

Before you start assembling your smart home, it pays to think about which smart home ecosystem you'll want to start with. There are quite a few out there, including Apple HomeKit, Google Home/Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, the Amazon Alexa platform, IFTTT, ZigBee, Z-Wave, and more. 

Lots to chose from, right? We’ve put together a guide to help you consider what you need to when putting together your smart home, which you can check out here.

You’ll also want to consider the ecosystem that you’re already plugged into. For example, avid Android owners might have more luck with Google Home than with the Amazon Echo or Apple’s HomePod. On the contrary, those that need quick and easy ways to order things online might prefer the Amazon Echo.

Want to see even more smart home recommendations? Check out our comprehensive guides to different product categories below:

Best smart home devices 2020

Best Smart Devices 2020

Image Credit: Eufy (Image credit: Eufy)

Best smart doorbell: Eufy Video Doorbell 2K

For renters, the Eufy Video Doorbell is the best smart doorbell you can buy

No monthly subscription needed
Battery operated option
4:3 ratio at 2K resolution
Delay in voice chat and video
Some downtime to recharge

The Eufy Video Doorbell is likely the best wireless smart doorbell camera on the market in terms of price, reliability and performance. Compared to a first-gen Ring or even the more recent August View, Eufy blows them both away.

This is especially true if you’re renting a place and can’t take out the old doorbell that’s already installed. Because the Eufy works wirelessly with the help of a hub that connects to your router, you can simply throw it on any outdoor surface and get it to work for up to six months at a time. 

We really liked the layout of the app, and the fact that the system can be integrated with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant only makes things even better for smart home enthusiasts.

But should you buy it? If you want a system that doesn’t cost anything to maintain and love being in charge of how/where the video is stored, the Eufy Video Doorbell is great. It gives you complete control with no overhead cost.

Read the full review here: Eufy Video Doorbell 2K

(Image credit: Amazon)

Best smart speaker: Amazon Echo Studio

An affordable smart speaker that offers some seriously good-sounding audio

Gigantic, Dolby Atmos sound
Cheaper than Apple/Google speakers
Great new Alexa features
Larger than your average Echo

For years, we gave smart speakers a pass in the audio department because we figured there was just no way for a speaker to both be smart and sound good. That was, until we found the Amazon Echo Studio. 

In the Echo Studio, Amazon has made its best speaker yet. It's ambitious, flexible, serves multiple purposes and comes at a low price point that only a company with the scale of Amazon could competitively achieve.

It’s a bombastic speaker, packed full of not just smart home and assistant tech, but smart audio considerations too. At its best, its 3D audio effects breathe new life into your favorite songs, and that's saying nothing of its ability to connect to your Amazon Fire TV devices to offer more immersive sound.

The audiophile community is an eternally picky one, and again the Echo Studio is unlikely to fully win them over, but at this price point, it's fair to say that Amazon isn't just courting audiophile ears – it wants everyone's ears, and is looking to romance them with a tantalizing balance between audio quality and affordability. If you've yet to nab an Amazon Echo speaker, the Amazon Echo Studio is the one to buy.

Read the full review: Amazon Echo Studio

Google Nest Hub Max. Image Credit: Google

Image Credit: Google (Image credit: Future)

Best smart display: Google Nest Hub Max

A great new entry into the world of display-led speakers.

Excellent screen
Good, music-friendly speaker
Neat design
No Netflix support

The Google Nest Hub Max is a larger version of the Google Home Hub, a smart speaker with a screen

So why isn’t it called the Home Hub Max? The Nest Hub Max also has a front-facing camera, and can plug into the Google-owned Nest platform to act as a smart home camera. Google has also renamed the original Home Hub to bring it into the Nest family. 

This part of the Google Nest Hub Max needs a little work judging by our experience. But this is otherwise a great smart speaker. It sounds good enough to act as a mini Hi-Fi, Google Assistant feels responsive and the large screen lets you watch YouTube while you cook. 

Although the Google Nest Hub Max had some slight issues at launch, it's still not just a great smart display but a great smart speaker and a way to stay entertained while you wait for your onions to sauté. 

Read the full review: Google Next Hub Max Review

Philips Hue lighting. Image Credit: Philips Hue

Image Credit: Philips Hue (Image credit: Philips)

Best smart light bulb: Philips Hue

iPhone-controlled lightbulbs, anyone?

Widely supported
Easy to install
Excellent app
Somewhat expensive

One thing that you might want to do as soon as you decide to make your home a smart home is switch out the light bulbs – something easier said than done considering how many different options out there. Of them all, however, we think the best smart light bulbs are Philips Hue range of smart bulbs.

If you opt for Philips Hue bulbs, you will need to get the Philips Bridge, which is kind of like a hub for your lights. The advantage, however, is reliability, and the fact that the system is compatible with a range of different standards and home control systems including Apple HomeKit, Nest and Samsung SmartThings.

UPDATE: One of the things we like the most about Philips Hue is the range is constantly being updated. For example, you can now get your hands on the Philips Hue Play Light Bar, which creates special lighting effects as you watch movies and play games, as well as a new selection of Edison-style smart bulbs.

Read the full review: Philips Hue

Image Credit: Nest

Image Credit: Nest

Best smart thermostat: Nest Thermostat E

Cheaper than the Nest Learning Thermostat, but just as smart

Elegant design
Easy to use
Helps save money
Frosted display can be hard to read

When you think of the “smart thermostat,” what comes to mind? For most people, it would probably be the Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest was among the first companies to inject machine learning into heating and cooling your home, and since then has been hailed as the best smart thermostat manufacturer. Now, it’s back with a new, more affordable take on the smart thermostat in the Nest Thermostat E.

The Nest Thermostat E proves that you don’t have to shell out for a smart thermostat. It does away with a few, unnecessary features, but it keeps the majority of the smarts and saves you a whole lot of money.

There are few situations in which the Thermostat E isn’t the best choice for you. For example, if you have a high-end multi-stage heating or cooling system, the Learning Thermostat may be a better choice. Still, if the Nest Thermostat E is compatible with your setup and you don’t care about the lack of Farsight or slightly lower quality display, then it’s an excellent option.

Read the full review: Nest Thermostat E

(Image credit: Arlo)

Best smart security camera: Arlo Pro 3

The best security camera on the market, with one major flaw

Stylish design
Easy to use and setup
Lots of features
Limited usefulness without subscription

It’s easy to see why Arlo  is a popular choice with those who take home security seriously. There’s no doubt this is one of the most advanced systems we’ve tested with a wealth of useful features including a built in siren and control via the web.

Sure, the Arlo Pro 3 does not have a 4K resolution like the more expensive Arlo Ultra - but the quality is still a pretty impressive 2K. You’ll get a 160-degree field-of-view, and as expected in 2020, the cameras have night vision and two-way audio. There are other smart features too, like automatic zooming and motion tracking, which should help ensure the camera picks things up when it needs to. The camera can zoom up to 12x, and offers HDR support as well.

The Arlo Pro 3 integrates with the rest of your smart home too. It supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, plus you can use it with HomeKit. Which is great, but unfortunately,  some features are trapped behind a paywall. 

You do get a three-month trial, and the subscription is only $3 per camera per month, for the basic Arlo Smart subscription, but if you don’t pay it you’ll lose access to things like object detection, cloud recording, and more. Arlo used to offer a seven-day free event-based cloud storage option, but unfortunately that option isn’t available for the Arlo Pro 3.  

Overall, the Arlo Pro 3 is a worthy successor to the Arlo Pro 2 - and a great option for those who want an outdoor security system that offers good, reliable image quality without overpaying for the Arlo Ultra.

Read the full review: Arlo Pro 3

Image Credit: Future

Image Credit: Future

Best smart plug: Belkin WeMo Insight

An excellent smart plug that monitors energy usage

Good energy monitoring
Solid smart home integration
App is poorly designed

The Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug is more than just a way to control devices plugged into it. It's also a way to monitor your energy usage, and get estimates on how much powering certain devices in your home is going to cost. 

This is great if you're trying to save some money and be a bit more energy conscious. While the plug is a bit on the bulky side, you may be able to live with it for all the dollars/pounds you save on your monthly energy bill. 

The app could use some work, but all-in-all we have been thoroughly impressed with the Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug. It also connects to wide range of smart home platforms, from IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant, Works with Nest and (unofficially) Samsung SmartThings.

Read the full review: Belkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug

Image Credit: August

Image Credit: August

Best smart lock: August Smart Lock Pro

Bulky and expensive, but ultimately well worth the cash

Good compatibility
Nice and strong
Automatic features

The smart home is getting smarter, but not everyone wants to completely do away with their old systems. For example, while there are plenty of smart locks out there designed to completely replace your old lock in favor of a keypad or new keyhole, some people want to keep the ability to use their older keys. 

That, however, is where August comes in with the August Smart Lock Pro, which fits onto your existing deadbolt and allows you to keep using your old key when you (or your landlord) wants to, while still adding the benefits of a smarter lock.

But while August is hailed by many as the best manufacturer of these retrofit smart locks, the August Smart Lock Pro still isn’t cheap: At $229 (around £179, AU$300) for just the lock, and $279 (around £219, AU$380) for the lock with the “Connect” Wi-Fi adapter, the August Smart Lock Pro is an investment. 

Still, for people who are renting, live with someone who prefer using a key, or who simply want a super easy-to-install and relatively well-designed device, the August Smart Lock Pro is a great option, and one that’s easy to recommend.

Read the full review: August Smart Lock Pro

Best smart smoke detector: Nest Protect

Get emergency alerts on your phone, anywhere in the world

Very subtle design
Easy installation
Works well with other Nest products
Basically a regular smoke detector

Nest doesn’t just make great smart thermostats: it also offers smoke alarms that can connect to the rest of your smart home. The Nest Protect looks great, and offers great connectivity through Wi-Fi and IFTTT. 

The Nest Protect will alert you if there’s a fire, even if you’re on the other side of the world. The accompanying app is well designed and easy to use, too - though hopefully you'll never need it.