Technology has transformed the way we communicate, travel and even drink our coffee. Why not take it a step farther and upgrade your humble abode?
Check out this list of gadgets that will help you transform your villa into the smart house you’ve always wanted.
Smart TVs and Connected Devices
A smart TV is basically a TV with your phone and computer built into it. It allows you to browse the internet, view apps, stream media and play games right on the screen. Depending on the smart TV you choose, you can control it via remote, app or touchscreen.
Do you love the TV you have now? You don’t have to replace it to make it smart! You can buy a set-top box, which allows your TV to talk to the internet, enabling it to access all of those smart features. Here are a few of the top options for 2016:
Roku 3 for $100
The Roku 3 includes voice search, making it the best video streamer in its price class. It has a ton of channels available, and works with 1,000s of services like Netflix, Pandora, and Amazon Prime Video. If someone in your household enjoys video games, the Roku 3’s remote can double as a gaming controller, too!
Google Chromecast for $35
This pint-sized, USB-powered stick, known as Chromecast, plugs directly into your TV. It inconspicuously hides behind your entertainment center while letting you stream media to the biggest screen in your house via phone, tablet or laptop.
Apple TV for $149
If you already own a Mac, iPhone or iPad, the Apple TV is probably the best way to go. Unsurprisingly, it works seamlessly with Apple brand products. Apple TV enables you to wirelessly connect to any Apple device to stream and store media. It has apps available for Netflix, Hulu and many other services as well. It’s like having the entire app store in your living room.
Light bulbs are great, but did you know that they account for up to 30% of a home’s energy consumption? If you installed smart lighting, you could have infinite control your lights with a single control panel, not the type you have to walk across the room to access, but from an app on your phone.
Motion sensor lighting is great in terms of efficiency. You can program your smart lights to turn on when you come home at night and it’s dark outside, turn on when you walk into a room and slowly brighten to wake you up in the morning.
Smart lighting can be programmed to notify you of events, too, like when your teenager pulls into the driveway at 2am or when your toddler gets up in the middle of the night.
Philips Hue for $200
The Philips Hue wireless system not only allows you to control your lighting; it helps you set the mood for every room in your home. From waking everyone up a 6am during the week with bright, morning lights to adding some character to your next party with with flashing colors. You’ll be able to control all of your lights from an app on your phone or tablet.
Belkin WeMo Smart LED Lighting for $50
Belkin offers the WeMo Smart LED Starter Set which contains WeMo light bulbs (which last for up to 23 years) and a WeMo Link, to control, automate or dim your lights from anywhere with your app, which gives you the ability to work your lighting as a group or individually.
If relaxing with family and entertaining friends is on your high-priority list, you could benefit from installing a home speaker system. It’s a great way to keep music comfortably streaming through your house, or to make sure no one misses a single line of the movie you’re watching in the theater room, even if they’re taking a bathroom break.
Built-in speakers for $250-$300
Built-in speakers are inconspicuously mounted on your ceiling to keep volume at a consistent level throughout the house. Check out Polk Audio 265-RT ($300), Bose Virtually Invisible ($300) and Polk Audio RC60i In-Wall ($250) speakers.
Wireless Speakers for $25-$250
If you prefer portable speakers, there are a variety of small, yet powerful, wireless options that can easily become another décor element on your living room bookshelf or office desk. Some options to consider are Beats Pill ($230), HDMX Stream ($60) and Sonos Play ($199).
Remote Home Connection Hub
All of these tech gadgets are great, but having an app for each one could get messy. Enter the remote home connection hub. The beauty of the hub is that not only does it communicate with your gadgets, but it enables them to communicate with one another.
Thanks to hub systems like SmartThings ($99), Staples Connection Hub ($80) and Wink Hub ($89), you can connect and control technology, like the above mentioned gadgets and devices, in your home with one single app. And you don’t even have to be at home to do it!