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Eight High-Tech Gadgets for the Home

Nest Labs Thermostat
Nest Labs’ WiFi- and sensor-enabled thermostat is poised to become a household name after being acquired by Google in January. The unit, compatible with most HVAC systems, is built around an operating system that remembers the temperatures you prefer. It takes that data, programs itself, and automatically turns the temperature down when you’re away. Nest can be remotely managed using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Priced at $250, it’s a good place to start for the smart appliance newbie. (Source:
Robot Vacuum Cleaners
Vacuuming and sweeping should be outsourced to a robot. Ecovacs, which grabbed headlines recently with its Winbot robot window cleaner, also has a line of Deebot floor cleaning bots. The newest model, the D77, uses sensors to avoid obstacles, automatically empties its dust bin, and recharges when power is low. It has four cleaning modes for different surfaces, and it offers intelligent time scheduling for cleaning when you’re not home. It boasts a detachable canister vacuum and attachments you can use to clean curtains and walls. Some Deebot models can be controlled from a smartphone, but the D77 cannot. Roomba and iRobot make similar models. The Deebot D77 is listed at $699 on Amazon. (Source: Ecovacs)
Philips Hue Wireless LED Light Bulbs
You’re not still using an on/off wall switch, are you? The Philips Hue package combines LED bulbs, a WiFi bridge, and a mobile app to give homeowners lighting control via a smartphone or tablet. From the Hue app, you can turn lights on or off remotely, schedule lights to turn on/off, or change the tone or even the color of the light (white to red or blue) to fit your mood. A pack of three bulbs with a WiFi bridge is priced at $200 on Amazon. (Source:
Smart Alarm Systems
Internet-connected home alarm systems are fighting for attention as expensive old-guard systems like ADT reinvent themselves. Piper (pictured here) is an all-in-one WiFi-enabled system with integrated 1080p camera, a siren, built-in motion sensors, and other home automation features. Users can access Piper remotely via an iOS or Android app.

Other smart alarm systems include iSmartAlarm, Canary, Oplink Security TripleShield, Viper Home, and SimpliSafe. All these systems cost $200-250. Some are all-in-one devices; others have components. Some have a camera integrated; some do not. Some charge monthly fees. Pick the best smart alarm system based on your security needs and the size of your house. (Source:

Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt
Schlage is bringing door locks into the digital age with its Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt, featuring Internet connectivity and a touchscreen for PINs. The Camelot includes alarms of different volume levels to suit your security needs. Internet connectivity is done through the Z-Wave wireless protocol (not WiFi) and requires an $8.99 monthly subscription fee, which is a bit pricey. But features such as the ability to unlock from your smartphone, set the deadbolt to lock automatically after 30 seconds, and receive texts if the alarm is triggered give users more control and flexibility than any lock and key. The unit is listed at $199 on Amazon. (Source:
WiFi Speakers
Sonos is currently the king of standalone WiFi home speakers. One Sonos speaker can fill a house with music teed up from a smartphone using the Sonos app. The app gives you access to your iTunes library or streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify.

But Sonos won’t be on top of the WiFi speaker mountain forever. Bose launched a line of SoundTouch WiFi speakers that offer the same services as Sonos. Also, Samsung has added music streaming and a mobile app to its Shape wireless speakers. The three Sonos speakers are priced at $199, $299, and $399. (Source:

Smart Washer/Dryer
If you have a washer and/or dryer running on fumes, maybe it’s time to get smart. Whirlpool sells smart home appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, and dryer) that use the company’s 6th Sense Live technology to connect to an online database of energy prices, so you can automatically run appliances when power is cheapest. From the Whirlpool mobile app, you can check when a wash will be done, receive alerts when it’s time for more laundry detergent, or start or stop a laundry load remotely. LG and Samsung offer similar smart washers, dryers, and other home appliances.

For now, the Whirlpool Smart Front Load Washer and Dryer are for affluent early adopters, with each unit priced at $1,699. (Source:

Withings Smart Body Analyzer
It looks like a typical scale, but the Withings Smart Body Analyzer is a health data machine. Setup is done completely with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. When you step on, the LCD screen shows your weight, body fat percentage, heart rate, and room air quality, and the device syncs data to your Withings mobile app (free on iOS or Android). There the data is plotted along colorful graphs to show progress. You can also set up goals using the app.

The scale is listed at $149.95, but it’s a good investment considering its smarts and mobile connectivity.(Source:

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