This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. If you want to see who's on the other side of your door without having to get up and look yourself, then the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the best choice for most everyone. It lets you screen (and record) visitors and keep an eye out for package deliveries. Motion and ring alerts to a smartphone are typically fast, audio and 1080p video are clear, and the Ring 2 can be powered by either standard doorbell wiring or a removable rechargeable battery. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 performs like a cross between a modestly aggressive guard dog and a trusty digital butler. In addition to notifying you--audibly and via smartphone--of activity, it records all motion events to the cloud, letting you view those recordings (as well as live video) on your phone or computer any time. It's also compatible with a good number of smart-home devices, platforms, and monitored security systems. Though video recording and storage require a subscription, the $30 annual fee (a mere 8¢ per day) for 60 days of unlimited video storage is downright cheap compared with the competition. We like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro for all the reasons we like the Ring 2. Additionally, it has a much slimmer and sleeker design that will fit in more doorframes and includes the option for customized motion-detection zones.
Your reporting on the use of facial recognition in China for "minority identification" is a stark reminder that the battle over the future of artificial intelligence will not simply be about who gathers the top scientists or who is first to innovate. It will also be about who is able to preserve fundamental rights during a period of rapidly changing technology. The White House has already made some progress on this front, highlighting American values, including privacy and civil liberties, in an executive order earlier this year, and backing an important international framework at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But there is much more to be done. The United States must work with other democratic countries to establish red lines for certain A.I. applications and ensure fairness, accountability and transparency as A.I. systems are deployed.
With tons of useful accessories designed to pair with Apple HomeKit, it's easier than ever to put together a smart home. The HomeKit smart home system is unique because all of the hardware accessories that function with the system are made by third parties, but HomeKit allows you to control them seamlessly. HomeKit is Apple's smart home interface that communicates with all compatible gadgets and appliances in one app ("Home"). HomeKit-compatible devices are easy to set up--a quick scan of a QR code--and can respond to "Hey Siri" commands. Smart home companies have been a bit slow to embrace the HomeKit platform, but it's becoming more likely as the industry changes that your new smart bulb, switch, plug, etc. will play well with Apple's software, and therefore Siri.
There are lots of options when it comes to smart lighting, but if you want to do it right, you've got to go with a smart dimmer switch. Even the best smart bulbs become dumb with the accidental flick of a light switch, but these dimmers always stay powered since they have a direct power line. After all of our testing, it's clear that Lutron's Caséta Wireless system (available at Amazon for $99.95) is the best dimmer around. While dimmers, and even smart dimmers, have existed for decades, these new models are taking off thanks to smart assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google Home, which allow for voice control and remote usage from cell phones and tablets. Even though pretty much all dimmers work the same, there can be big differences in the quality of their app-connected smarts.
Vivint Smart Home has announced the Outdoor Camera Pro, a new security camera that it says can detect a potential intruder and warn them they are being watched, encouraging them to leave the area. If the camera detects someone hanging around a monitored area, it sounds a warning tone, turns on a red LED encircling the camera's lens, and sends a push notification to your smartphone. You can customize the schedule when lurker monitoring is active, so you're not overwhelmed with alerts. Like the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, Vivint's new outdoor camera is outfitted with a 4K HDR image sensor, but both cameras have lower bandwidth requirements than the new Arlo Ultra 4K camera because they stream video in 1080p resolution. The advantage of using a higher-resolution image sensor comes into play when you zoom the recorded footage to examine details, such as facial features or to read a car's license plate.
TP-Link has given its Kasa Smart Wi-Fi light bulb line a significant upgrade. The old LB series has given way to the new KL series, which dramatically upgrades the design of the bulb (for better or for worse) while leaving the core operational features intact. The Kasa KL series is available in three versions: a color-tunable bulb (KL130), a white-tunable bulb (KL120), and a white dimmable/non-tunable bulb (KL110). All three share the same physical design (with minor cosmetic exceptions), work via the same Kasa Smart app (available for Android and iOS), and offer the same luminosity of 800 lumens (a 60-watt incandescent equivalent). The KL130 draws 10.5 watts, while the two white bulbs each pull 10 watts.
Smart bulbs help you automate and fine-tune your lighting situation, and today you can get a four-pack of our favorite white LED bulb, the Philips Hue White Ambiance A19, for $40 on Amazon. That's down from a list price of $50 and the lowest we've ever seen it. These LED bulbs provide detailed control options, allowing you to personalize the dim, set schedules, turn lights off and on from anywhere, and more using the Philips Hue app. You can also control the bulbs using your voice when you connect them with an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit. And you won't have to replace them often--each bulb lasts over 25,000 hours, or 20 years.
There are hundreds of smart home devices available today, but some of them are more popular than others. In fact, there's a select group of smart gadgets that have near cult followings--we're talking thousands of users who swear by these devices. Here's why people are obsessed with them and whether they're worth the investment. The second-gen Echo is the best in its class. It should come as no surprise that the Amazon Echo makes this list.
As we've worked with clients on Internet of Things (IoT) projects over the past year, we've noticed ten trends shaping the industry that we expect to continue in 2019. In the past, IoT has often been viewed as mostly a technology challenge, and we've found that a company's CIO is most frequently the leader of its IoT efforts. But we see time and again that maximizing the economic impact of an IoT effort requires a broad set of changes to business practices as well. Connecting a wind turbine to the Internet, for example, means that it can send data to managers about when it needs to be serviced or that an optimization opportunity exists. But if the necessary management and maintenance business processes are not in place--for example, the supply chain isn't able to deliver a replacement part--then the benefits can't be realized.
Smart deadbolts eat batteries for breakfast. I know, because I have five of them installed on various entry doors in my own smart home, and I replace the batteries in each one two to three times a year. So when I learned that the Array by Hampton was not only powered by a rechargeable battery, but that its battery is continuously topped off by an integrated solar panel, I thought "Brilliant!" After thorough testing, I can say Hampton has solved the battery problem, but as good as it is, this lock won't be the right addition for every smart home. The Array's biggest drawback (for people who live in smart homes, at least) is one that Hampton touts as a feature: It connects to Wi-Fi, with no additional hub needed.