This week brought a return of some holiday sale prices, plus a few deals that are even better than those we saw late last year. Google's Pixel 4a 5G fell to a new record-low price, while the 8th-generation iPad remains on sale for $299. If you want to up your smart-home game, August's WiFi smart lock is more than $65 off and some Beats headphones are 50 percent off, too. Here are the best deals from this week that you can still get today. One of Google's newest smartphones, the Pixel 4a 5G is down to $459, or $40 off its normal price.
About a year ago, I decided I was tired of all the different smart home devices and hubs in my house. Managing all the apps and platforms had become somewhat of a nightmare, especially if I wanted to give control of a device to my wife. I planned to take a few weeks and then pick a platform and stick with it. Then 2020 happened, and figuring out how to automate my lights or streamline viewing camera feeds just wasn't a priority. Toward the end of the year, however, I decided it was time to begin my smart home conversion.
If you've ever used an iPod, the Nest Thermostat will be familiar to you--in fact, it was designed by Tony Fadell, the designer of the original iPod hardware. Changing the temperature is as simple as rotating the thermostat's dial. You can use the app to set a traditional time-of-day schedule--far simpler than most non-smart thermostats--or let the Nest learn your daily habits and adjust the temperature automatically. This feature is great for those who don't want to put in any effort, but might be a bit too confusing for people who like to fine-tune their schedules, so you can turn it off if you wish. Like many other smart thermostats, the Nest can save you energy by adjusting the temperature when you aren't home, as determined by your phone's location and the Nest's built-in motion sensors, and it's also compatible with the energy-saving plans and rebates offered by many utility companies.
The latest version of the Iris, a smart mood lamp from Signify-owned Philips Hue, cannily improves on the elegant original, upping its brightness, improving its translucent light diffuser and spiffing up the power cable, while adding a Bluetooth radio in the bargain. Capable of working both with or without a hub, the $100 Iris can cast a soothing shaft of color or tunable white light on a nearby wall, while its translucent diffuser glows inside the lamp's clear shell. A cinch to set up and compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and (if used with a hub) HomeKit, the Iris makes for an easy and inexpensive way to warm up a room. While the Iris has a list price of $100 (or $99.99 if you want to get technical about it), the recently released lamp is only now finding its way into retail channels, so don't be surprised if you see inflated prices from third-party resellers. While it's rated for up to 570 lumens, or twice as bright as its predecessor, the Iris isn't really meant to light a room or illuminate a workspace.
Light strips are a fun and easy way to add smart lighting to just about anywhere in your home, like under kitchen cabinets, around TVs, along baseboards, and more. To get the job done right, you need a light strip that's fast and simple to set up, stays securely in place, and comes loaded with fun and useful features to light up any room. For these reasons, the Lifx Z LED Strip 6.6' Kit is the best smart light strip you can buy. In what felt like a blink of an eye, we had these dimmable lights connected to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. They also work with IFTTT, SmartThings, Nest, Arlo, Flic, and more.
Google Assistant is available on a slew of platforms from cars to TVs and wearables. However, the place where it has really taken off is inside the home on Smart Displays and speakers to control household fixtures. Google now wants to bring Assistant's ubiquity to Android apps. Many of the third-party interactions you have with Assistant today are to command smart home devices, like lights and security cameras. It's starting by highlighting how 30 of the top Google Play apps have voice commands: The company's big pitch is that using Assistant means you don't "need to swipe to use your apps when your hands are full."
We fell in love with the LIFX Z LED strip lights for their incredibly simple set up, ease of use, and variety of awesome features. The Lifx Z LED Strip Kit impressed us from the very beginning. In what felt like a blink of an eye, we had these dimmable lights connected to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. It also works with IFTTT, SmartThings, Nest, Arlo, Flic, and more. The strip is very responsive when controlled using the Lifx app on iOS and Android devices (keep in mind that HomeKit is only available on Apple smartphones and tablets). Although these weren't the brightest lights we tested, they put off a vivid glow that easily illuminates a dark room. These smart lights have a noticeably thicker strip than the set from Govee, but less chunky than the C by GE set we tested.
A lot of news hit the industry last month at CES 2020. Amid new product and service announcements were some partnership announcements too. One that's worth picking back up and discussing is the new working group formed by Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance called Project Connected Home over IP, which aims to develop a new, open standard for smart-home device connectivity. According to MarketsandMarkets, the smart-home sector will be worth 151.4 billion by 2024. Growth will be driven in part by factors like increased awareness and adoption of smart devices, a growing desire for saving energy and reducing carbon footprints, the ubiquitous adoption of smartphones, and increasingly accessible solutions in terms of pricepoint and ease of use.
Something very interesting is happening within the tech world: the biggest tech giants in Silicon Valley are racing to make your home a vast new playground for all of their new tech devices and platforms. But whatever you do – don't call it the "smart home." According to Google executives, the term "smart home" has fallen out of favor at the company, presumably because it conjures up all kinds of images of surveillance cameras and smart home devices that are constantly monitoring, tracking and listening to you. A better term, according to top Google executives, is the "helpful home." A "helpful home" respects consumer privacy and comes with all sorts of features and benefits to make your life easier.
A home full of smart gadgets is something that everyone wants. But the smart home appliances should settle with the ecosystem too. Every gadget in this sector has a different smartphone app. For these apps, it gets easy for a person to control the device from a remote place. Least of the gadgets do not have any smartphone app.