Smart home devices are a diverse category. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the key component of home automation. It enables all the devices in your home to be connected to the Internet so that you can communicate with them and issue commands.
Every manufacturer is looking towards India and its huge consumer base. The issue is, especially with digital assistants, that they're not tailored for the Indian users.
Some of the products in the market may make sense for India, but a lot of them don’t. Issues range from accessibility to awareness. These products can also be expensive so users prefer to go for cheaper alternatives that are easily available in the market. The internet connectivity not always being consistent is another reason for the adoption ratio being skewed.
Either way, the products listed below do make viable sense to employ. They address concerns that pertain to the Indian ecosystem in particular.
Smart air purifiers
Air pollution in India is a burning issue on everyone's mind, especially since Delhi has been labeled one of the most polluted cities in the world. The dependence on fossil fuels and ever increasing congestion is the leading cause of this epidemic.
Exposure to particulate matter over long periods of time can lead to cardiovascular problems, which is why a lot of people believe that investing in a smart air purifier isn't a bad idea.
Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 2
Cleaning method: Mechanical filtration and adsorption | Filter types: PET primary filter, HEPA filter, activated carbon adsorption filter | PUrification capacity: 330m³/h | Recommended effective area: 23m²~39m² | Noise level: 21bB | Dimensions: 240 x 240 x 520 mm | Weight: Approx 4.8kgs with filter
One of the most affordable and smart air purifiers in India right now, the Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 2 covers an area of 400 square feet and comes with a real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) monitor. This will, approximately, cover the size of a master bedroom or a large hall.
Its triple layer filter can block upto PM2.5 (particulate matter). PM2.5 are about thirty times smaller than the size of a human hair. They’re so small that one period at the end of a sentence could fit several thousand of them.
Read the full review: Mi Air Purifier 2
Honeywell Air Touch S8
Cleaning method: Mechanical filtration and adsorption | Filter types: Pre-filter, HEPA, HiSiv | Recommended effective area: Upto 450 sq. feet | Noise level: 23-53bB | Weight: Approx 9.5kgs with filter
The Honeywell Air Touch S8 covers 450 square feet and comes equipped with a bunch of smart features and a high-end air filtering mechanism.
There are seven speeds that the user can shift between depending on what noise level is ideal and the intensity of the air quality. The High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter claims to remove all pollutants and allergens above 0.3 microns, which includes PM2.5 and pollen.
It’s definitely one of the better air purifiers in the market right now, albeit, a little expensive.
Smart streaming devices
Most users prefer to stream their shows and movies online. The issue is that you either have to connect your laptop to the TV with an HDMI cord if you want to watch your shows on big screen, else suffice without it.
Alternatively, smart TVs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. They’re big and they’re expensive. Some people just love the TV they have right now and don't want to change it.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Dimensions: 85.9 mm x 30.0 mm x 12.6 mm | Weight: 32g | Processor: MediaTek Quad-Core ARM 1.3 GHz | GPU: Mali450 MP4 | Storage: 8 GB internal | Memory: 1GB | Cloud storage: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content | Wi-Fi connectivity: Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi supports 2x2 MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac | Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1 | Ports: HDMI output, Micro-USB for power only
It looks like an over-sized thumb drive but has a lot more power than it lets on. It has an HDMI port one end to connect to the TV and a micro USB port on the other end for charging.
The device does need more power than a Chromecast to run but that’s due to its quad core processor and 1GB of memory. That is, it has enough processing power to play H.365 (HEVC) files, which, as of now, only the Chromecast Ultra can manage.
Video quality isn’t affected by the heavy compression and shouldn’t hamper the net speed for other users in the house when you’re streaming full-HD videos. The default connection speed obviously plays a part in this, but overall, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Read full review: Amazon Fire TV Stick
Dimensions: 51.9mm x 13.49mm | Weight: 39.1g | Processor: Marvell Armada 1500 Mini Plus 88DE3006 SoC, 1.2GHz dual ARM Cortex-A7 | GPU: Mali450 MP4 | Storage: 256MB flash | Memory: 512MB | Connectivity: 802.11 ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) | Bluetooth: N/A | Ports: HDMI output, Micro-USB for power only
The successor to the original Chromecast, it enables users to stream content directly from their smartphones on to their TV screens.
When you aren’t mirroring your smartphone screen and casting using any compatible app, the smartphone can be used as a remote for the app. It will stream whatever you’re watching as well as leave your phone free to receive calls, text, or whatever else you want to do on your smartphone. This is one of the more compelling arguments of how casting beats mirroring.
Did you know that smart TVs were originally called “connected TVs” by companies such as Samsung and LG? A smart TV is essentially any TV that has access to the internet so that it can connect to streaming services and run entertainment apps, such as Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Netflix. A smart TV can either use Ethernet or built-in Wi-Fi capabilities to connect to the home network to access the internet. Most models, nowadays, rely on Wi-Fi.
Operating systems and interfaces differ from smart TV to smart TV. Every manufacturer uses a different software and distinct graphical presentation. Even within a certain brand, operating systems and interfaces can vary depending on the model.
Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4
Display: 55-inch (3480×2160) | Resolution: 4K | Processor: 64-bit quad-core, up to 1.8GHz | GPU: Mali-T830 MP2, up to 750MHz | Memory: 2GB RAM | Storage: 8GB internal memory | Audio: Dolby Audio/DTS-HD | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, 3 HDMI ports (one with Audio Return Channel), 2 USB ports, AVout | Interface: PatchWall UI (based on Android Open Source Platform)
Having won the Red Dot award, the Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4 is the slimmest TV in the market right now. It’s a television set that definitely gives you value for your money considering that most 4K HDR TVs are usually sold for over Rs 1 lakh. TCL’s Android TV may offer picture quality, but without content support that feature can’t be appreciated to its full extent.
Read the full review: Xiaomi Mi TV 4
Sony Bravia KDL 50 W950D
Display: 50-inch | Resolution: 1080p Full HD 3D | Audio: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pulse | Connectivity: Wifi and Internet, 2 USB Ports, 4 HDMI Ports
The Sony Bravia is a thin television, though not as slim at the Mi TV 4, with super narrow bezels at the side. It has a minimalist look due to its matte finish. The Bravia has detailed picture quality that shows detailed and vivid colors.
There is support for 3D content, but you’ll have to buy your own set of 3D glasses.
TCL L55P2MUS Android M 4K UHD LED Smart TV
The TCL L55P2MUS is another TV that offers value for money. It runs on Marshmallow 6.0 and has access to the Google Play Store.
It may not score points in performance but it’s got a lot of features that make the device worth while. If you can’t afford a premium brand and the Mi TV 4 isn’t to your taste, the TCL’s Android TV is the perfect option.
It’s easy to set up and comes equipped with a bunch of connectivity options.
If speaker does anything more than play your music, then it can be labelled as a ‘smart speaker’. That’s to say that wireless speakers that feature Bluetooth, NFC and speakerphone capabilities while also having the ability to be controlled by apps make them the bare minimum of what a smart speaker can be.
But technology has come very far in recent years. Smart speakers are now wireless speakers that come with voice control. Using the artificial intelligence on these devices you can ask them to do anything from playing a song to setting a timer for your cake or even dim the lights if your house already equipped with smart bulbs.
Dimensions: 32 x 84 x 84 mm: | Weight: 163g | Speaker size: 0.6" tweeter | Smart home compatible: YES | Alexa calling: YES
The Echo Dot, the successor to the original Amazon Echo, has carried forward most of the features while also reducing the price. The audio output of this device might actually be a tad bit better. The Echo Dot runs of Alexa, the Amazon artificial intelligence (AI). Alexa has been integrated with skills that are unique to India, which unlike what most other smart products have been able to do.
The main boon of the Echo Dot is that it can be connected to an external speaker without compromising on its ability to get songs to play quickly or to just let the FM play.
Harman Kardon Allure with Alexa
Dimensions: 21.5 x 21.5 x 27.4 cm: | Weight: 3.15 Kg | Speaker size: N/A | Smart home compatible: YES | Alexa calling: YES
The reason that the Harman Kardon Allure’s is not to everyone’s taste is because they’re so different. From far away, they may look more like a funky humidifier or mini blender rather than an actual speaker. It’s not even that small, being 8 inches tall and over 6 inches in diameter. The only hint of it being a speaker is in the bottom half, where the body is metal and lots of notches are carved out to aid sound travel.
What makes the Allure stand out even further are its LED lights. The top half of the speaker is a circular 360 degree LED light cylinder that fluctuates between red, white and blue.
Read the full review: Harman Kardon Allure
If there isn't enough Google in your life already
Dimensions: 96.4 x 142.8 mm: | Weight: 477 g | Speaker size: N/A | Smart home compatible: YES | Digital assistant: Google Assistant
The Google Home might not match up to the Echo in India but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have potential. At the end of the day, the foundation of the device is better. It's a speaker and it has superior audio quality.
That being said, the fact that it doesn't catch what you're saying sometimes and hasn't yet fully integrated itself into the Indian ecosystem, does impair its functionality.
If you're choosing between the two, then you should go for whichever ecosystem you want to be a part of in the long run. Neither Alexa or Holly (Google Assistant's name) are perfect and the choice, honestly, depends on your own preference.
Real the full review: Google Home
Smart bulbs can connect to your phone wirelessly and have capabilities that open up a whole range of options for the user. Most people prefer smart bulbs because they have the ability to dim, change colors, and can be controlled from anywhere. That means, in case you’ve left your lights on at home you can always switch them off while you’re on the move. Instead, if you’re on a vacation, you can switch the smart bulbs on at night to keep thieves away.
Syska Smartlight Rainbow LED
Most smart bulbs can change colors but what makes the Syska Smartlight special is that the user can pick a photo off their photos and the bulb will project colors as per the visual perception of the image. The colors are aimed to help elevate the users mood or defining the right kind of ambience.
The bulb is Bluetooth enabled with a clean interface on the smartphone. You can control the bulbs individually or if you have more than one, the Syska app with allow you program entire rooms/zones with a custom lighting.
Another feature that stands out is that you can set your bulbs to a timer. That is, you can set your bulbs to turn on and off according to your requirement. The option to set your bulbs to an alarm is also possible, in which your bulbs will be able to simulate the sun rising and circadian rhythm.
The Philips Hue may be a little expensive but it can seamless integrate itself with Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Home Kit, and the Google Assistant. Third party synthesis is a real boon if you're using this smart bulb.
If you're working towards a complete smart home, then the Philips Hue is the right option. It has a multitude of features that can optimize the users ecosystem.
But if you're just looking to start off with a few bulbs to see what the experience feels like, then the Philips Hue may feel like too much of an investment.
Read the full review: Philips Hue
Smart plugs are the simplest of smart devices. Ordinarily they're only capable of being turned on and off, but integrate smart technology, and they're capable of so much more. Depending on which device you've plugged in, you can schedule those gadgets to turn on and off.
Oakter Smart Plugs
Slightly larger than conventional plugs, they're a good way to ease yourself in to smart home ecosystem. Each plug has its own built-in power supply, electronic switch and circuit. The RF radio-controller connects to the hub that's sold with the plus and the trigger switches the power on and off.
The smart plug can basically be fitted into any ordinary power socket. They come in two variants, 6A and 16A, depending on the power rating of the appliance that you'll be using.
TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug
This plug works off of the Kasa application and can be synchronised with Amazon Echo's Alexa so that you can control it using your voice alone.
It's one of the more affordable options in the market. You can even carry it around when you're travelling. The main boon of a smart plug being that you can switch it off even when you're away from your home to rake in some energy savings.
This smart plug works especially well in India because it has tolerance for extreme temperatures as well as humidity.