Real ones will remember the iconic Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House (which, if you haven't seen it yet, get thee to Disney+ stat), where a teenager wins a fully tricked-out dream house with a built-in virtual assistant—that ends up becoming slightly less virtual as the film progresses. In 1999, DCOM producers couldn't have predicted that decades later, smart home technology would be ubiquitous, and not something reserved for incredibly lucky prize winners.
Although technology can sometimes feel like both a blessing and a curse — nothing triggers my internal rage quite like Bluetooth connectivity problms — we can't deny the convenience of voice-controlled thermostats or lightbulbs you can dim with your phone. But since outfitting your space with high-tech everything is an investment, I've whittled it down the genuinely life-changing upgrades that are actually worth the money. Ahead, scope out some personal faves that have taken my apartment to new, smart heights.
Philips Hue White LED Smart Button Starter Kit, $99.99
Real talk: The Clapper walked so Philips Hue could run. In addition to being able to use voice control (either through Google or Amazon Alexa), I can use my phone to control the brightness of my bulbs to help set a ~mood~ or wind down before bed.
Google Nest Hub Max,
I got one of these for the holidays, and, TBH, I was initially skeptical about how much use I'd get out of it. Now, however, I can't imagine my place without my Nest. I play music or podcasts on it while I cook. You can also program it to show a custom photo album, art gallery, weather, or (what I do) a full-screen clock. Since getting mine, I don't think I've been late once.
Google Nest Smart Thermostat,
The first time I was at a friend's apartment who had this smart thermostat, I audibly gasped when she calmly asked Google to lower the temperature in her apartment from the couch. (What year is it?!) I'm convinced that this is the height of luxury.
Amazon Echo Studio, $199.99
Amazon's endless array of Alexa-enabled devices is almost too vast to even keep track of, so allow me to hype up my personal favorite one of the bunch: The Echo Studio. The sound quality is on point, it doubles as an alarm clock, and it alerts me when an Amazon order is out for delivery.
Google Mesh WiFi System - 1 pack,
So, real talk: I don't actually own this WiFi extender since I'm in a one-bedroom apartment. That said, these are absolutely essential in the age of WFH, especially if you're working with a larger space and want a reliable connection every square inch.
GE Simple Set Smart Plug, $14.99
Smart plugs are an easy, energy-efficient way to upgrade your home that allow you to use apps (or your voice) to power devices on and off. You can also use these adapters to automatically schedule when lamps turn on and off (genius for Christmas lights, right?) or instantly double-check if you left your curling iron on from the palm of your hand. (Think of it as peace of mind, for all the forgetful folks.)
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