In its marketing material, newcomer Currant says, "You've never seen a smart outlet like this before," and the claim isn't wrong. Smart outlets are rapidly becoming a commodity, but Currant's new Smart Outlet is shaping up as one of the best. To see why, let's start with the hardware. Currant's outlet is on the large side, but that's because it offers two receptacles which can be independently controlled. The Currant outlet doesn't even obscure both wall sockets.
Home appliances waste more energy than you might think. Incandescent light bulbs consume 20 percent to 80 percent more electricity than energy-efficient alternatives, like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A single dishwasher, meanwhile, can draw over 1,800 watts per cycle. That's why Hasty Granbery, former director of software engineering at PayPal, in 2015 founded Currant, a Palo Alto startup devoted to creating smart home devices that reduce energy consumption. In November 2018, fresh off a $7 million funding round, Currant debuted its first AI-powered product -- the Currant Smart Outlet.
The Echo Show 5 fits into small spaces while still bringing all Alexa has to offer. The Amazon Echo Show 5 offers Alexa's visual cues and video functionality without taking up much room, which makes it perfect for apartments where space is at a premium. The combination of the small but super useful screen with a sleek, modern design makes this little smart speaker look just as at home on a bedside table as it does on a home office desk, a living room shelf, or a kitchen counter. The screen displays a customizable clock but also cycles through useful information to give you insights at a glance. It also gives you the ability to make video calls, which are surprisingly perfect even on the 5-inch screen.
There's no way to know just how low smart plug prices will go, as manufacturers continue to trim their costs--and retail prices--down to nearly nothing, but iClever's $14 device is pointing the way. You'll find even cheaper models, of course, but those devices are probably not something you should feel comfortable trusting your lamps and appliances to. Upscale smart outlets such as Currant and ConnectSense also have their place, of course, but it's understandable that not everyone wants to spend 60 bucks on a device that lets them turn a power outlet on or off with their cell phone. But to be fair, some of those higher-end devices offer features you won't find at the low end, such as energy-consumption monitoring, support for Apple's HomeKit smart-home ecosystem, and USB charging ports. At $14 per unit, this is a decidedly affordable smart outlet without a lot of frills, but it does get the job done and doesn't look too terribly industrial along the way.
If you're looking for a smart plug that hits all the right notes and never puts a foot wrong, the iDevices Switch is still the way to go. On top of Android and iOS compatibility, the Switch offers in-depth energy monitoring and seamless integration with the two most popular smart home ecosystems: Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit. Looks aren't everything, but the iDevices Switch is easily the most attractive smart plug we tested. Along with its sleek, minimalist casing, it offers a unique "night light" LED strip that can be set to any color of the rainbow. Mercifully, the Switch only occupies a single outlet on your wall panel, and its own outlet is positioned on the right-hand side--a real advantage if you want to place it snugly behind a couch or bookcase. It could also be a disadvantage if you want to plug something in on the left side, but for most users the side placement will be a plus rather than a minus. The slickly designed iDevices app is more attractive than most, and very easy to use.