Amazon's voice-controlled assistant can do a lot, from playing your favorite music to answering trivia questions. Yes, Alexa has lots of skills. But it can also be used to control a wide range of smart-home devices. Here are some of the top smart-home gadgets that the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Tap can control.
The best part of waking up … is the smell of freshly-brewed coffee without having to get up and brew it yourself. With this WeMo-enabled Mr. Coffee machine (forget those wasteful Keurig appliances), just ask Alexa to brew you a pot and you'll get a notification when it's ready.
Philips sells several different types of LED lights, but the company's basic package includes two bulbs (extras cost $15 each) as well as a small hub that links the lights to your Wi-Fi. From there, you can command Alexa to dim the lights, and the bulbs will respond. The bulbs in this kit don't change color, though; for that, you'll want the hue white and color ambiance A19 bulb starter kit.
For those who don't have central air, in-window air conditioners are de rigeur. You can monitor and control GE's connected air conditioners via a smartphone app, create cooling schedules, and get reminders to clean the filters. The units start at $299 for an 8000 BTU cooling capacity, to a $439 model with a 21,100 BTU capacity. As with other GE connected appliances, its WiFi Connect air conditioners work with Alexa, as well as Nest and IFTTT. Now that's cool.
While Ecobee's earlier thermostats could be controlled by Alexa, the Ecobee4 has Alexa built right in. So, in addition to telling it, via voice, to raise or lower your temperature, you can issue commands to the Ecobee4 as you would any other Echo-style speaker. Still, like its older thermostats, the Ecobee4's best attribute is its remote sensors, which lets you make sure the temperature is perfect in every room.
This little device makes anything you plug into it "smart," allowing you to control it via your smartphone, even when you're not at home. The Insight Switch also lets you set schedules for when the switch should turn on or off, and even tells you how much power the connected appliance is drawing. You can also integrate the Insight switch with other smart-home products through IFTTT.
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HTC's U11 smartphone is pretty sharp in its own right: It has a bright 5.5-inch QHD display, great speakers, and it's water resistant. You can even squeeze it! However, it also has a special feature, in that you can simply say "Alexa..." and bring up Amazon's assistant, without having to first press a button.