X
Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

The best smart home devices, tested and reviewed

We've tested the best smart home devices that can help make your life easier. Here are our top picks.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) | Best smart home device overall
Echo Show 8 (2023) at Amazon's Devices and Services event in 2023
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
Best smart home device overall
View now View at Amazon
Philips Hue Starter Kit | Best smart lighting device
Philips Hue Starter Kit
Philips Hue Starter Kit
Best smart lighting device
View now View at Amazon
Nest Thermostat | Best smart thermostat
Google Nest Thermostat
Nest Thermostat
Best smart thermostat
View now View at Amazon
Aqara U100 smart lock | Best smart lock
Aqara U100 smart lock
Aqara U100 smart lock
Best smart lock
View now View at Walmart
Eufy Security EufyCam 3 and HomeBase 3 bundle | Best smart home security camera
EufyCam 3 (2-cam) + HomeBase 3
Eufy Security EufyCam 3 and HomeBase 3 bundle
Best smart home security camera
View now View at Amazon

Creating a smart home is easier than ever, with thousands of devices selling the convenience of automation, voice control, and routine. Smart home devices have become more affordable and easier to install than in years past when having a smart home meant getting a professional installation team to your home and paying a hefty monthly membership.

Also: The 25 best early Amazon Prime Day 2024 deals

However, while the number of smart home devices on the market has driven their prices down, it's also made it more difficult for customers to choose the right one. A simple 'smart light bulb' search will yield hundreds of brands at very low prices, especially on Amazon Prime Day. ZDNET is here to help you choose the right one. 


What is the best smart home device right now?

ZDNET's pick for the current best smart home device is the Echo Show 8, a smart display with Amazon Alexa that lets iOS and Android users get started with a smart home. It's a comprehensive device for experienced and entry-level smart home enthusiasts that delivers the convenience of voice control via a virtual assistant and features a powerful speaker and touch display. The Echo Show 8 also functions as a smart home hub with Zigbee, Matter, and Thread support. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Spatial audio
  • Tailors content to different people
  • Fast response time
Cons
  • Few customization options
  • Alexa is great, but could always improve
More Details

The 3rd generation Amazon Echo Show is a great smart display and speaker combination for most smart home users, whether experienced or just getting started. Amazon's newest Echo Show 8 boasts a sleeker design with edge-to-edge glass, a centrally placed camera for video calls, and spatial audio from the smaller speaker enclosure.

I've been using the Echo Show 8 daily for about nine months, and this generation's improved processor delivers faster performance than older models. It's become my kitchen companion for running smart home routines, interacting with Alexa, and streaming music and video content on the 8-inch HD screen while cooking.

Also: Prime Day may be a few days away, but the Echo Show 8 already hit an all-time low price

This is the first Echo Show 8 to feature the camera in a central location rather than off to one side, which aids in better visual experiences during video calls. The camera also works for Visual ID personalization and Adaptive Content. Visual ID lets the Echo Show 8 recognize the household member approaching it to personalize content, while Adaptive Content adjusts the screen's content based on a person's proximity.

It's a highly rated smart speaker, with one buyer saying, "I purchased this a few months ago, and it has exceeded my expectations in every way. The Spatial Audio feature provides a rich and immersive sound experience, perfect for listening to music, podcasts, and even video calls. The smart home hub integration is seamless, allowing me to control all my smart devices with ease. Alexa's responsiveness and the sharp display make this device a pleasure to use daily. "

Amazon Echo Show 8 features: Price: $85 (limited time deal) | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa | Connectivity: Wi-fi, Bluetooth, and is a hub for Matter, Thread, Zigbee | Specs: 8-inch HD touchscreen, 13MP video call camera, Alexa voice assistant 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Millions of colors
  • Dimming lights
  • Instant-on option
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Users report some issues with scheduling
More Details

This starter kit has everything you need to make your lights smarter with Philips Hue. With two white and color smart bulbs and one Hue Bridge, you can begin switching out old light bulbs for new ones and later expand, as the Bridge can handle up to 50 Philips Hue lights. 

These Philips Hue smart lights are compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google for voice control and integration. They're easy to set up using the Bridge, allowing users to control the lights wherever they use the app, set routines and automations, and expand their Philips Hue ecosystem with more products. 

Without a Hue Bridge, customers can only connect their lights to their mobile app via Bluetooth, so they can't change settings remotely.

Though not cheap, Philips Hue lights are some of the best in the market. One buyer said, "Love these smart bulbs and the ease to set up. Love that we can change the colors of the room from an app on the phone. Like how I can turn on lights when I need to when I'm away. Although I got the Hue bridge and two bulbs at a good price the cost of the color bulbs are expensive. "

Philips Hue Starter Kit features: Price: $110 | Wattage: 9.5 watts | Bulb size: A19 | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Turns HVAC system down while away from home
  • Ability to set up schedules
Cons
  • Doesn't learn automatically
More Details

The Nest Thermostat has proven to be one of Google Nest's best products ever. With reliable performance and smart home integrations through Matter, this device remains relevant, even if it was launched four years ago.

Switching from a dumb thermostat to a Google Nest Thermostat greatly impacted our home's climate control and energy efficiency. You can control your home's temperature from your phone, no matter where you are, and program it to enter Eco Mode when you leave the house. 

One buyer remarked, "One of its standout features is its ability to learn your preferences and automatically adjust settings to keep you comfortable while optimizing energy usage. This can lead to significant savings on your energy bills. The Nest Thermostat also offers compatibility with various HVAC systems and supports voice control through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, adding an extra layer of convenience."

Nest Thermostat features: Price: $123 | Installation: Works without C wire | Finish: Available in four colors with mirrored display | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit through Matter

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High interoperability
  • A lot of unlocking features
  • Inexpensive compared to others
Cons
  • App is slow to respond
More Details

Don't you wish you could unlock your front door with your iPhone as easily as you can check out with Apple Pay?

The Aqara U100 is a smart lock that offers users the option to unlock by entering a predetermined passcode on the keypad, using their fingerprint, a physical key, a mobile app, NFC tags, or through Apple Home Key by simply holding their iPhone or Apple Watch up to their lock.

Review: This is the most versatile smart lock I've seen so far - and Apple users will love it

These versatile options have come in handy during our testing, especially when arriving home with bags full of groceries after a long day.

This lock is also highly compatible. It works with Apple HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT. 

Aqara U100 smart lock features: Price: $150 | Unlock options: Fingerprint, passcodes, Apple Home Key mechanical key, and NFC | Compatibility: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Packed with features
  • No monthly fees
  • Excellent ecosystem
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No integrations with HomeKit
More Details

If you want to beef up your home security with a smart option, I can't recommend the EufyCam 3 and HomeBase 3 bundle enough. The three cameras are easy to install inside or outdoors, with a solar panel along the top that recharges the battery to use forever power. 

I've had the two camera system set up outside my home for almost two years and have only had to recharge one of them, installed facing north, a handful of times -- that's how effective their solar panels are at keeping the batteries charged. 

Aside from the Eufy Security system being a great ecosystem for home security, expandable with many different camera types, it also offers users with more than one camera in their homes the ability to see the same event captured in a single clip, by stitching different camera feeds together. 

"I wanted to be sure I had coverage on each side of my house (older neighborhood / long driveways). The set up was relatively easy, probably 30 minutes or less," one buyer commented. "I have them on 4k all the time and no issues with battery life even on a string of cloudy or rainy days. The 4k is very clear -- even at night."

The cameras are wireless, so they can be installed almost anywhere. The HomeBase 3 is the local storage hub inside your home, where all the clips are saved.

EufyCam 3 and HomeBase 3 Features: Price: $530 | Power source: Solar-powered cameras, plug-in HomeBase | Resolution: 4K |  Compatibility: Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa

What is the best smart home device?

The Echo Show 8 is the best smart home device most people getting into smart home can buy. This smart hub has the capability of hosting multiple devices with fantastic connectivity options and reliable voice assistance through Alexa. 

To see how the smart display compares to other smart home devices, here is a look at our picks:

Best smart home deviceZDNET's takePriceCompatibilityConnectivity
Amazon Echo Show 8Best overall$85AlexaMatter, Thread, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Philips Hue Starter KitBest smart light$110Alexa, Google, HomeKitBluetooth, Wi-Fi through Bridge
Nest ThermostatBest smart thermostat$123Alexa, Google, HomeKitWi-Fi, Matter
Aqara U100Best smart lock$150Alexa, Google, HomeKitWi-Fi, Aqara Hub
EufyCam 3 and HomeBase 3Best security camera$530Alexa, GoogleWi-Fi, Local storage

Which is the best smart home device for you?

This list highlights the best smart home devices covering various areas of your home. From multi-device hubs to individual devices, there are many ways to make your home  smart. 

Consider these recommendations if you are unsure which smart home device is best for you:

Choose this smart home device...If you want...
Amazon Echo Show 8A smart home display with Alexa built-in. Use it to keep an eye on your whole home and smart home devices.
Philips Hue Starter KitTo bring the power of smart lighting to your home. Install mood lighting, uplighting, or simply save money in energy bills with these LED lights.
Nest ThermostatAn energy-efficient and smart way to control your home's HVAC system, no matter which home automation system you use, thanks to Matter.
Aqara U100The most versatile smart lock available. Bring convenience to your front door with the touch of an app.
EufyCam 3 and HomeBase 3An all-in-one smart home security system complete with expandable local storage, so you never have to worry about monthly fees.

Other top smart home devices of 2024

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at AmazonView at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon

Factors to consider when choosing smart home devices

Choosing the right smart home devices for your circumstances can feel overwhelming with as many available options.

Here's what you should consider when choosing a smart home device:

  • Compatibility: Whether you're choosing a smart light, a smart lock, or a video doorbell, compatibility is a key factor in determining how much convenience your new devices will give you. Ensure your chosen devices are compatible with your existing smart home system, like Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, etc.
  • Installation: Many smart home devices serve a purpose that requires installation of some kind. Make sure your new device fits your installation capabilities or that you have someone to install it if not.
  • Ease of use: User-friendly interfaces are typically the ones that endure. If a device is too hard or cumbersome to use, you probably won't use it. Read up on other reviewers' experiences with user interfaces for managing the devices.
  • Price: Always compare prices, looking for value for money, but don't focus on the lowest price. If you compromise on essential features and quality, you'll pay for it in the long run.
  • Reliability: This is a big deal in the smart home community and is part of the ease of use of devices. If a device constantly gets disconnected or unresponsive, it's not worth your time or money.

How we test smart home devices

ZDNET reviews a wide range of devices to ensure we feature the ones that perform the best for our readers. As a smart home and robot vacuum reviewer, I evaluate each device's performance, starting with the unboxing experience.

To do this, I ensure the device meets all the manufacturer's claims for features and capabilities, verify it works smoothly with different smart home ecosystems (I test with Google, Alexa, HomeKit, and SmartThings), and monitor its performance over a period of time ranging from two weeks to months. 

Are there alternative best smart home devices worth considering?

That is far from all that is available. These are some of the other smart home devices I feature that can fit your home.

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon
Editorial standards