Best Household Gadgets Of 2019
If you're in the market for the best smart home gadgets that money can buy in 2019 – kit from the likes of Nest, Philips, Samsung and many more – then we're here to help with our indispensable guide to what's hot and what's not right now.
You've got a lot of choice now, when it comes to picking the best smart home devices, and that's why we're here: whether you're after a smart thermostat or a smart bulb, we've got the pick of the smart home devices and the common sense buying advice you need.
It's worth noting that if you are looking for the best smart home devices to invest in, you should spend some time shopping around – we're seeing some fantastic price reductions happen throughout the year, so hunt down the best deal you can.
AMAZON ECHO PLUS
You could argue Amazon helped kickstart the smart home revolution with its Echo, an unassuming talking speaker that has since inspired rival products from Apple, Google, Samsung and just about everyone else. Now the 2nd-gen Plus is here, representing the best Echo yet.
Of course you get those tens of thousands of voice commands to play with, so you can bring up everything from your favourite tunes to the weather forecast, but the Echo Plus also comes with a Zigbee-compatible hub: that means not every smart home gadget needs its own hub to work with the Echo.
On top of that, most smart home gadgets obey Alexa voice commands as well, so this really does deserve a place at the centre of your smart home operations. As an added bonus, you get the best audio quality possible from an Echo.
SAMSUNG SMARTTHINGS STARTER KIT
If you want to go all-in on the best complete smart home kit, you can do a lot worse than SmartThings from Samsung: it covers a host of sensors and devices, works with plenty of third-party kit, and is intuitive and simple to use across the board.
The starter kit comes with a Hub to connect everything together, a smart plug and three sensors of varying descriptions, and it's easy to add other gear as well – this kit can help control your Philips Hue or Lifx lights, for example, and you can also control everything using Amazon's smart assistant Alexa if needed.
We're impressed with how many devices tie into the Samsung SmartThings system as well as the regular improvements that Samsung pushes out to its software. As far as all-in-one, all-encompassing solutions go, SmartThings is difficult to beat as the best smart home starter kit in 2019.
NEST LEARNING THERMOSTAT
The smart thermostat market continues to get more competitive, but the Nest Thermostat E manages to stand out. It features all the smarts of the original Nest, but just cuts back with a few cheaper materials and a less vivid display – and that makes it excellent value for money.
As you would expect, it works seamlessly with other Nest devices like the Nest Protect and the Nest security cameras, and you can connect smart home gadgets from a host of other manufacturers too. It works with a wide range of heating systems, and is simple to use (though get a professional to install it).
The key selling point is the intelligence built into the thermostat though, which will gradually learn about you and your family's activities and your preferred heating schedule, saving you as much money as you can on your energy bills while keeping you warm. Undoubtedly one of the best smart home devices of 2019.
The best smart lights have to be one of the best smart home gadgets you kit out your living space with, and Philips Hue has been leading the charge for years (since 2012), getting better over time. The recently revamped app adds even more features and functions as well as improving usability along the way too.
With Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, some impressive third-party apps, integration with a lot of other systems (like HomeKit and SmartThings), and a wide range of different bulb shapes and styles to pick from, Philips Hue really is the player to beat in the smart lighting space – as far as colour bulbs go, anyway.
An honourable mention for Lifx, which also puts out some very nice bulbs too. The Lifx devices are also great to look at, easy to control, and compatible with a wide range of other smart home kit, so they're a decent alternative. What's more, they interact directly with your Wi-Fi, without the need for a hub.
Like Amazon and Philips, Sonos was pushing out smart home kit before it was fashionable, and the company has slowly built up a solid reputation for high-quality, reliable, and rather expensive wireless audio products. If you can afford them, they're fantastic.
To be fair to Sonos, its range now covers a whole lot of price points, so you can start small and save up from there (adding new speakers to an existing system is very straightforward). Whichever speaker(s) you end up getting, you're guaranteed a rich, deep audio experience that'll really help your music sound its best, and the latest models even come with Alexa, Google Assistant and AirPlay 2 on board.
Two other features make Sonos a clear winner here: the number of supported music services, from iTunes to Spotify to Deezer, and the ease with which you can have your music follow you around the house as you move. With the Google and Alexa assistants now integrated into the newer speakers, they're hard to beat.