Enjoy a Smarter Home with These 7 Smart Home Devices

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Smart home products continued to sell at a blistering pace in 2020, surpassing last year’s gross revenue by more than 16 percent and driving household penetration up to 10 percent. Which products helped fuel those skyrocketing sales figures? Here’s a list of some of the most popular smart home products of the year.

Facebook Portal

Of all the smart home products on our list, the Facebook Portal is arguably the best for video conferencing. It supports social networking apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, as well as services popular among remote workers, including Zoom, Webex, and more. When you’re not teleconferencing, the Portal serves as a 10" digital picture frame, allowing users to display their photos from Facebook or Instagram. What makes the Portal extra “smart” is that it comes with two digital assistants: Alexa and “Hey Portal.” Users will primarily use Alexa, which, in terms of answering questions or managing your smart home, performs very well. The one thing Alexa can’t help you with is making WhatsApp or Messenger calls—that’s where the “Hey Portal” assistant comes in. All told, the Portal is a good smart-home manager, a great-looking digital frame, and an outstanding communication tool, especially for those working from home.

Facebook Portal
Facebook Portal

Google Nest Hub Max

Unlike the Facebook Portal, which is probably the best device for one or two applications (video calls and accessing Facebook-owned properties), the Nest Hub Max, from Google, is great for just about everything. Its 10" touchscreen display is great for streaming video content from sites like Netflix and Hulu. It features a solid front-facing camera that works well for video conferencing—especially now that it supports Zoom—and even better as a home security monitor when you’re away. True to its name, the Nest Hub Max integrates perfectly with the entire Google Home ecosystem, literally making it the hub where you manage all other smart home activity. Perhaps best of all, the Nest Hub Max is backed by Google Assistant, which is still the best and most capable digital assistant on the market.

Google Nest Hub Max
Google Nest Hub Max

Google Nest Thermostat

Speaking of Google: Its new Nest Thermostat is another popular smart home product, albeit it one with more specific functionality. Announced earlier this year, the Nest Thermostat is the first smart thermostat from Nest since Google took over the company. Compared to its predecessor, the Nest Thermostat is sleeker, less costly, and easier to use. The new model abandons the rotating dial of the past and replaces it with an interactive touch strip that’s simple to manage. In terms of performance, the Nest Thermostat doesn’t offer as many options as other, more expensive models, but you get the features that arguably matter most: easy installation and use, remote access, and energy-saving modes that will save you cash on your heating and cooling bills.

Google Nest Thermostat
Google Nest Thermostat

Apple HomePod & HomePod mini

Although it was released in 2018, the Apple HomePod remains a popular choice for managing your smart home. When used with HomeKit (Apple’s smart home management software), the HomePod enables users to control and configure a variety of smart home devices, including compatible lights, thermostats, and other utilities. The HomePod can also function as an intercom system, allowing users to relay messages back and forth between compatible Apple devices. In addition to its smart home capabilities, the HomePod is also a top-tier speaker. Using a sophisticated array of sensors, microphones, and advanced processing technology, the HomePod automatically tunes itself to the surrounding environment, allowing it to output big, room-filling sound that cannot be beat.

Apple HomePod
Apple HomePod

Apple also recently released the HomePod mini, a smaller—but equally handy—follow-up to the full-sized HomePod. The HomePod mini can’t quite match the sound quality of its predecessor, but it’s arguably still the best sounding smart speaker at its price point and it looks adorable.

Apple HomePod mini
Apple HomePod mini

Lenovo 10.1" Smart Display

The Lenovo 10.1" Smart Display remains one of the best smart home devices you can buy, thanks in part to its Google-backed functionality and gorgeous, hi-res display. With the Lenovo 10.1" Smart Display, you can stream video content from sites like YouTube and Hulu, get answers to almost all your questions, make video calls, and manage other smart home devices. The overall design, too, is pretty sharp, making the Lenovo Smart Display one of those rare devices that is both beauty and brains.

Lenovo 10.1" Smart Display
Lenovo 10.1" Smart Display

Amazon Echo Show

Considering how integral Amazon has become to so many people’s lives, it is no wonder its Amazon Echo Show is so popular. It’s not quite as sleek or aesthetically pleasing as the Lenovo 10.1" Smart Display, but its added girth comes with a ton of useful smart home features. You can access those features through the Echo Show’s touchscreen controls, or with your voice, using Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa. In addition to managing other smart devices, Alexa can play music from supported services such as Spotify and Amazon Music, stream content from Prime Video, answer trivia questions, and perform tens of thousands of various skills. Services that don’t recognize Alexa voice commands—for example, YouTube—can be accessed through the Echo Show’s built-in web browser. Like the HomePod, the Echo Show also doubles as a high-quality speaker. Its dual-driver setup produces powerful, clean audio that can easily fill a room, making it especially great for music lovers.

Amazon Echo Show
Amazon Echo Show

Questions about which smart home device is right for your household? Ask them in the Comments section, below.

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