If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. However, our picks and opinions are independent from USA TODAY's newsroom and any business incentives. There's no doubt that technology advances faster than we can even keep up these days, and the smart home sector is one of the fastest-growing. At CES 2018, hundreds of companies showed off new smart home solutions and gadgets, from the useful and innovative to the repetitive and uneventful. As we toured the showrooms, we noticed a few different trends coming to the table for smart home enthusiasts this year.
One way to build out a smart home is to buy lots of components--sensors, smart bulbs, security cameras, speakers, and whatnot--and connect them all to a hub that helps them communicate with each other and with you, via your smartphone. But let's be real: That can involve spending a lot of money and investing a lot of time. If your wants and needs are simpler, just a few relatively inexpensive products will deliver most of the conveniences a high-end smart home can deliver, and on a much more modest budget. And if you make sure those smart home products are compatible with each other, you'll build a solid foundation that you can expand over time. The key is knowing which smart home products don't depend on a smart home hub to operate.
Not too long ago, maybe you remember, most at-home tasks were done by hand. From vacuuming the carpet and cooking dinner to turning on the lights and adjusting the temperature in the room, all the day-to-day domestic drudgery required some degree of manual labor. Those days are fleeting as the rapidly evolving tech industry continues to unveil new convenience contraptions that are triggered by sensors, computers, timers and the sound of our voices. "Smart" this and "connected" that. Society has grown accustomed to using simplified tech lingo to describe the latest nifty devices, but have you ever stopped to think about what it all means?
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. Whether you're already one of the 20 percent of American adults who own a voice-controlled smart speaker or you're still on the fence about investing in an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device or an Apple HomePod, you might be wondering just how many of these intelligently attentive devices you'll need. A smart speaker can offer voice-controlled convenience throughout your home--but only if it can hear you. The number of speakers you should buy depends on what kind of home you live in, and where and when you'll need your voice assistant to hear you.