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The best smart home devices in 2021

 best smart home devices
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The best smart home devices can make your home more automated, safer and cleaner. In some cases, these connected products can even help you save money.

Whether you're looking to turn your lights on from your smartphone, stream music to a speaker using Alexa (or Google Assistant or Siri,) lock your doors remotely or vacuum your floors without lifting a finger, the best smart home devices provide complete convenience. 

The number of smart home brands is constantly growing. That said, not all smart home devices are as reliable as they claim. We've tested dozens of offerings across all different categories, from the best home security cameras to the best smart light bulbs. If a device can be controlled by an app or a voice, we’re here to help you decide if it fits your needs.

And if you're loyal to a single smart assistant platform, here are the best Alexa compatible devices, best Google Home compatible devices and best HomeKit devices

See all of the best smart home devices below. And be sure to check out all the 2021 Tom's Guide Awards for Smart Home winners.

Best smart home devices at a glance

  • Best smart home device overall: Amazon Echo Dot with Clock
  • Best home security camera: Arlo Q
  • Best smart thermostat: Ecobee SmartThermostat
  • Best smart light bulbs: Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit
  • Best smart lock: August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
  • Best video doorbell: Nest Hello
  • Best smart plug: Wemo WiFi Smart Plug
  • Best smart smoke detector: Nest Protect
  • Best smart home hub: Samsung SmartThings
  • Best smart garage opener: Chamberlain MyQ

What are the best smart home devices?

Of all the best smart home devices we’ve reviewed, our top pick is usually of the best smart speakers because all have a voice assistant built in, which lets you look up the news and weather, get recipes, and control the rest of your smart home devices. 

Our favorite smart home device is the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock. The spherical, $60 speaker features an attractive cloth-covered exterior, built-in LED system and lets you use all of the best Alexa skills. It's like a bedroom alarm clock, but better.

We also recommend the Arlo Q security camera, which is one of the best smart home devices designed for giving you peace of mind. The $149 cam records in 1080p high-definition, plus its software and app are easy to use. Motion detection notifications can be used to initiate your smart home routines, or let you know when something (or someone) is moving around your house when you’re not there. 

The $25 Wemo WiFi Smart Plug is another top pick because of its low price and wide range of uses. Check out the best cheap smart home devices for more affordable picks.

The best smart home devices you can buy today

best smart home devices: Echo Dot with Clock

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Amazon Echo Dot with Clock

The fourth-generation Echo Dot — with a clever enhancement

Specifications
Size: 3.9 x 3.9 x 3.5 inches
Speakers: 1.6 inch speaker
Ports: 3.5mm line in/out
Wireless: 2.4/5 GHz, Bluetooth
Smart assistants: Alexa
Reasons to buy
+Affordable +Useful LED display+Sounds good for the price+Seamless Alexa integration
Reasons to avoid
-Microphones could be better

The name says it all: This is an Echo Dot with a clever LED clock built in its face. However, this seemingly simple addition adds a ton of functionality to the Echo Dot, making an even better smart home companion. In fact, we wish more smart home companies took Amazon's cue and make minor —yet effective — enhancements to already excellent devices.

More than just the time, though, the Echo Dot with Clock's display can also show you the current temperature, and also functions as a timer. It also has an ambient sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness of the display based on the lightning of its surrounding environment. The Echo Dot with Clock costs $10 more than the Echo Dot, but is a worthwhile upgrade for those who want to know the time without having to ask Alexa. 

Read our full Amazon Echo Dot with Clock review.

best smart home devices: Arlo Q

(Image credit: Arlo)

2. Arlo Q

Excellent video coupled with a generous free storage plan, and lots of features.

Specifications
Size: 6 x 4.9 x 4.5 inches
Resolution: 1080p
Field of View: 130 degrees
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT
Cloud storage: 7 days free; longer plans start at $10/month.
Reasons to buy
+Intuitive, flexible scheduling+Excellent video quality+Generous free cloud plan
Reasons to avoid
-Single-user mobile app-Difficult Custom Mode setup

The Arlo Q's 1080p camera boasts excellent quality video, both day and night, has accurate motion detection sensors, and a flexible scheduling feature. Best of all, though, is that you get a week's worth of video storage for free, so you can review your footage several days out in case you’ve misplaced something or need to check back for some other reason. As such, the Arlo Q is our leading contender among the best home security cameras.

The square-shaped Arlo Q needs to be plugged into a power outlet and isn't waterproof, but it's the best camera for monitoring the interior of your house or apartment. Although if you want to store videos over a longer period, you'll want to consider subscribing to one of the Arlo cloud storage plans. They start at $3 per month for a single camera.

Read our full Arlo Q review.

best smart home devices: Ecobee (5th Gen)

(Image credit: Ecobee)

3. Ecobee SmartThermostat

Our favorite smart thermostat has Alexa built in, but its real power lies in its remote sensors.

Specifications
Size: 4.3 x 4.3 x 1 inch
Wireless: 802.11 Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, SmartThings, IFTTT
Reasons to buy
+Better speaker+Full Alexa support+Works with Spotify
Reasons to avoid
-Large-Big bezel

The fifth-generation Ecobee SmartThermostat has everything we liked about its predecessor, the Ecobee4, such as Alexa built in, a slick touchscreen interface and a remote sensor that helps ensure all the rooms of your house are getting heated or cooled properly. But the newest version has a better speaker so you can actually use it to play music, all of Alexa's features (including Drop-In and messaging), and Spotify integration. The remote sensor has a longer battery life and better range, too. 

Its audio can’t compete with the Echo Dot in terms of quality, but the Ecobee is a  clever means of equipping a room with Alexa without plugging in another smart speaker. Not only is the Ecobee one of the best smart home devices you can buy, it’s our leading choice of all the best smart thermostats, too.

Read our full Ecobee SmartThermostat review.

best smart home devices: Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit

(Image credit: Philips)

4. Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit

These lights work with just about every other smart home system out there.

Specifications
Bulb type: A19
Wireless: Zigbee
Works with: Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, SmartThings, Google Home, Nest
Reasons to buy
+Comprehensive app+Works with a ton of smart-home systems+Dimmable
Reasons to avoid
-Requires hub-Light color not tunable

Philips Hue White starter kit includes two bulbs and a hub to connect them to other smart home devices. While you can't change these bulbs' colors, you can adjust their brightness (up to 800 lumens), and add up to 50 to a single hub. Philips' bulbs also work with a wide range of smart home systems, including Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Google Home, and Nest. 

Philips Hue lights also have an app, Philips Hue Sync, which lets users synchronize their smart bulbs with multimedia content on their Mac or Windows PC. For example, you can set your lights to flash and change color in time with music, video and movies being played on your computer.  Users can also modify the color schemes and themes to suit their tastes. For $30 more, you can upgrade your starter kit to include 4 bulbs instead of 2.

Read our full Philips Hue White Starter Kit review.

August Wi-Fi Smart Lock review

(Image credit: August)

5. August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

Works with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant, and seamlessly integrates with security systems

Specifications
Lock type: Deadbolt
Size: 3 inches x 1.7 inches
Works with: HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant, Z-Wave, Nest, IFTTT
Wireless: 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
Reasons to buy
+Smaller size+Wi-Fi built in+Easy to use+Works with lots of smart home devices
Reasons to avoid
-Keypad sold separately

There wasn't much to improve on in our August Smart Lock Pro review, but the company went ahead and tweaked its original to make it smaller and easier to use. As our new top pick among the best smart locks, the the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is 45 percent more compact than its predecessor, so it looks less obvious on your door. It also has Wi-Fi built in, so you can skip the August Connect bridge for linking your lock to your home network.

Everything we enjoyed about the August Pro is still here: An easy installation process, features such as DoorSense (which lets you know if your door has been left open), and compatibility all the leading smart home systems, from Alexa to Google Assistant to Xfinity. And, the August Wi-Fi lets you keep the keys from your existing deadbolt.

Read our full August Wi-Fi Smart Lock review.

best smart home devices: Nest Hello

(Image credit: Nest)

6. Nest Hello

Excellent video quality and facial recognition make this our favorite video doorbell.

Specifications
Video Resolution: 1600 x 1200
Field of View: 160 degrees
Works with: Google Assistant
Size: 4.6 x 1.7 x 1 inch
Wired/Battery: wired
Starting Storage Fee: $50/year for 5 days video
Reasons to buy
+Great video quality+Google Assistant integration+Flexible scheduling+Facial recognition
Reasons to avoid
-Uses a lot of bandwidth to upload video

The Nest Hello has the highest recording quality of any of the best video doorbells, making it one of the best smart home devices overall. Its microphone and speaker are exceptional, too. Nest's camera can recognize faces, and even announce them when they come to your door. When you have a smart lock, too, this feature also works for letting people you trust into your home, even when you’re not around to let them in. 

While it needs a hardwired connection, it continuously records video, so you'll never miss an event. You can also set up specific zones, so you'll only be notified when a person or object appears in that area of the frame. While you'll need to subscribe to the Nest Aware service (starting at $5/month) to get all of its features, they're worth it. Checking in on your door is also one of the best Google Assistant commands right now.

Read our full Nest Hello review.

best smart home devices: Wemo WiFi Smart Plug review

(Image credit: Wemo)

7. Wemo WiFi Smart Plug

This smart plug is simple to use and works with all of the major smart assistants.

Specifications
Size: 1.3 x 2.0 x 1.8 inches
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, IFTTT
Electrical rating: 120V~/15A/60Hz/1800W
Reasons to buy
+Improved footprint+Physical control button+Works with Alexa, Google Home and HomeKit
Reasons to avoid
-Not compatible with 5Ghz Wi-Fi

The $25 Wemo WiFi Smart Plug is one of the best smart home devices and our top choice among the best smart plugs. It's more compact than competing options out there, even its predecessor the Wemo Mini. And while it doesn't have energy monitoring like some other smart plugs, the Wemo WiFi Smart Plug does work with all the major smart assistants.

This smart plug has a physical switch, so if you don’t want to use your voice or an app to turn your appliance on or off, you can click the switch on the Wemo. It also has a clever Away mode. which can make it seem like you’re home even when you’re not by turning a lamp on intermittently. 

Read our full Wemo WiFi Smart Plug review.

best smart home devices: Nest Protect

(Image credit: Nest)

8. Nest Protect

This smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector lets you know where the danger is, and can turn on your lights to help you get out.

Specifications
Size: : 5.3 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches
Detects: Smoke, carbon monoxide
Works with: Nest, Google Home, Philips Hue, IFTTT, Alexa, Wink, Lutron
Hardwired/battery: Yes/Yes
Reasons to buy
+Detects smoke, carbon monoxide+Spoken alerts+Links to other smart-home devices
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

The Nest Protect is the top choice among the best smart smoke detectors. When it picks up on something in the air, it sounds an alarm and lets you know what room in your home triggered the alert. Plus an LED ring on the bottom of the alarm changes color in case of an emergency, giving you and the people you live with a visual cue.

What we like most about the Nest Protect is how well it integrates with some of the best smart home devices. When you use smart home routines, your smart smoke alarm can automatically turn on your lights, making it easier for you to get out of your house. However, these routines only work for those who have converted their Nest account to a Google Assistant account. It also does not natively work with Alexa.

Read our full Nest Protect review.

best smart home devices: Samsung SmartThings

(Image credit: Future)

9. Samsung SmartThings

Makes connecting and automating smart home devices very easy.

Specifications
Size: 5.5 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
Wireless: Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi
Reasons to buy
+Wi-Fi makes installing this hub easier+Allows for more automation than other hubs+Works with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices
Reasons to avoid
-Still missing Nest integration-Difficult to upgrade from older hub

If you have a wide variety of smart home gadgets, you'll need a central system to integrate and control them all. While it has its imperfections, we found the Samsung SmartThings hub to be the best of the lot. It works with a wide range of devices and now has Wi-Fi built in, so you don't need to plug it into your router; this makes it easier to place in your house for the best connection to all your smart home devices.

Because the SmartThings hub has both Zigbee and Z-Wave antennas, you can pair it with several of the best smart home devices. Using the companion app, you can arrange dozens of scenes and automations. It also has a comprehensive home monitoring component, which can send you an alarm, record video, turn on lights, play sounds, and unlock your doors in the event of an emergency.

Read our full Samsung SmartThings review.

smart home devices: Chamberlain MyQ

(Image credit: Chamberlain)

10. Chamberlain MyQ

An easy interface makes this a low-stress garage door opener.

Specifications
Works With: Nest, SmartThings, Xfinity Home, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT
Wireless: 802.11 Wi-Fi
Reasons to buy
+Simple physical setup requirements+Simple app interface+Works with Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't work with Alexa-Requires subscription to use Google Assistant

If you're looking for the best smart garage door opener, look no further than the Chamberlain MyQ. It includes a sensor for your garage door as well as a hub that connects to your Wi-Fi network. When you send a command using your smartphone, it is relayed to the hub, which then goes to the sensor that activates your garage door. The MyQ app, available for Android and iOS devices, lets you check to see if your door is open, and then close — or open — it remotely. 

MyQ will work with most brands of garage door openers made after 1993 that have standard safety sensors, according to Chamberlain. Currently, MyQ works with Nest, SmartThings and Xfinity Home smart home systems. The one thing it doesn't do, though, is work with Alexa.

Read our full Chamberlain MyQ review.

best smart home devices: Shark Ion R85

(Image credit: Future)

11. Shark Ion R85

Best Robot vacuum for keeping your floors clean with limited effort

Specifications
Cleaning Performance: 94%
Pet Hair Score (Out of 100): 88
Avg. Cleaning Time (H:M:S): 1:01:57
Loudness (Decibels): 59.2
Bin Size: 625 ml
Smart Home Connectivity: Alexa, Google Assistant
Size: 12.8 x 12.5 x 3.4 inches
Weight: 5.1 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Great pet-hair performance+Dustbin is super easy to clean+Easy app setup and notifications
Reasons to avoid
-Can get stuck on thick carpet

The Shark Ion R85 is one of the best robot vacuums because of how well it picks up pet hair, dirt and other random debris around the home with a minimum of fuss. While it took about an hour on average to finish a run while testing, it was much more thorough than all other robot vacuums. Our advice? Start it up, then leave the house to do some chores.The R85's dustbin was also very easy to empty — not a given with many robot vacuums — and you can purchase its charging base with an optional stick vacuum.

We liked the notifications we received from the Shark Ion 85, as well as the ability to control it from our smartphone. It works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, too, meaning you can incorporate into your smart home routines or use your voice to initiate cleaning. 

Read our full Shark Ion R85 robot vacuum review.

How to choose the best smart home devices for you

Choosing the best smart home devices is different for every shopper. Most of the decision comes down which smart home platform you prefer - you’ll want to buy devices that are compatible with your voice assistant so you can create routines or control your gadgets hands-free.

You have three main choices: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant/Home, and Apple HomeKit/Siri. To help you get started, we have guides on how to use Alexa and how to use Google Assistant, as well as an Alexa vs Google Assistant vs Siri face off. 

Alexa generally comes out on top, as it works with the most smart home devices, and has the most third-party skills. However, Google Assistant can do some things that Alexa can't—such as control Chromecast TVs—and it's rapidly being built into a number of third-party devices in conjunction with its Works With Nest program. HomeKit’s availability is also growing, and could be the right platform for you if you use Siri often on your iPhone or iPad.

How we test the best smart home devices

All of the best smart home devices above are top picks within respective categories. We compare and contrast each gadget to similar options, taking variables like price, ease-of-setup, voice assistant compatibility and appearance into account. For example, the third-generation Amazon Echo is our favorite smart speaker overall because it has the best sound for the value, and represents its category on this list. The same goes for the Arlo Q and fifth-generation Ecobee. 

That said, there are a number of excellent options within each category that are not featured on this list. If you’re looking for more buying choices, we have individual pages that detail all the best smart lights, smart doorbells, smart security cameras and more we’d consider reliable purchases for your growing smart home. 

Check each of them out for more in-depth testing information for every category of smart home devices you should consider for boosting your home’s IQ.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.


  • mprospero
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomsguide.com/forum/id-2918656/amazing-smart-home-gadgets.html
    Reply
  • deepashvini8491
    Can We have Video Demonstration of full Smart Home System ??
    Reply
  • SteveReeves
    The Tp-link lights are also very good and don't require a hub.
    Reply
  • jpishgar
    And here I would have thought the Instant Pot was a shoe-in for Best Cookware!
    Well darn, now I'll have to grab one of those fancy Anova's. A friend of mine posted pictures of a London Broil he made with it and said that it turned out as tender as the best filet mignon he's ever had.

    -JP
    Reply
  • hitesh16umar
    Excellent Article
    Reply
  • markus808
    Can you do a comparison of Soma Smart Shades vs, Move, motorized shades seem really interesting at that price point, also HomeKit and Alexa support is nice addition!
    Reply