We’re all obsessed with having the latest iPhone, the shiniest computer, and the car with the most apps. However, when it comes to our home tech, we seem to overlook the ways a sprinkling of technology could drastically change our morning (and evening) routine.
Whether you are moving into a new space, are looking for a housewarming gift, or just looking for a refresh, here are a few suggestions to bring your home into the 21st century.
1. Philips Hue ($130+)
The Hue system is probably one of the most well-known and yet overlooked pieces of home tech one could buy. These bulbs come in an array of shapes and sizes (yes, there’s even the LED strip for you party animals), and connect to an internet-connected in-home base. The base connects to your Philips Hue account, easily accessible via website or app. Here, you can define custom ‘scenes’, as well as program a few smart features. Want your lights to turn on when you pull in the driveway? Say no more! With Apple HomeKit integration, hue even makes it easy to fulfill your boyhood dream of being Tony Stark, asking Jarvis (in this case Siri) to turn on the lights for you.
A starter kit (with base and 4 bulbs) costs somewhere around $130 CAD, and is available from most major retailers wherever home automation products are sold.
2. Google Chromecast ($45)
With a record-high amount of “Cord Cutters” in Toronto (and around the world), streaming content to your TV is a MUST. An increasing number of TV’s come with smart-features, like wifi connectivity and streaming from various services. However, maybe you don’t want to drop stacks on a new TV JUST for these features. Also, what if you travel frequently? Wouldn’t it be nice to not be locked in to the $14 movie rentals in your hotel room without bringing your 47″ flatscreen from home?
Luckily, manufacturers have developed a solution. Streaming Sticks are small devices that only require USB power and an HDMI port to use (available on pretty much every HDTV).
While many offer different features, Chromecast is still king. At $45 CAD, it can be found at most major electronics retailers (except Amazon…chuckle) and is dead-simple to set up and use. Controlled via app, or Google Home (‘Hey google, start playing Brooklyn Nine-Nine’), this device gets out of the way and lets you enjoy media quickly and easily.
But why does the Chromecast beat out its competitors? The answer is simple, versatility. Google, who (as of yet) has barely any stake in the media streaming industry, does not try to lock you into using their service for their fees. Want to watch Netflix? No Prob. Want to listen to your favourite album on Spotify? Yep. Still enjoy some live TV using Crave? Google’s got your back. Want to continue to cry as your Jays continue their parade of disappointment? Sportsnet NOW is on there too. (Some apps and features are android-only, check with manufacturer before making a decision)
But wait, theres more! Google’s new streaming protocol not only allows you to stream ANY chrome tab, it also supports direct streaming of many in-browser video players (e.g HTML5 players). Chrome also allows you to play any local video file in its browser, which can also be streamed!
3. Nest Cam ($240)
Unfortunately, as with most new great tech, Canadians are probably still a ways off from being able to allow Amazon employees to open our front door and drop off packages. That new feature does require an Amazon-branded camera. Regardless, we still want to make sure our homes are secure, right?
Nest Cam (indoor and outdoor models) is a super simple IP Camera that can record and allow you to monitor your home while you’re away. The camera can be programmed to instantly stream to the web, so in the event that an intruder does make off with your camera, there’s nothing they can do about the footage. The camera starts at $240CAD and works for free. However, nest does offer a subscription service (called Nest Aware) with up to 30 days of continuous video history and more. Nest also offers a variety of other smart products like doorbells, smoke detectors, and thermostats.
In addition to keeping your home secure, you might be able to catch some furry bandits making off with your packages, like The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman.
4. WeMo Bridge ($45++)
Maybe you aren’t ready to jump ship just yet on your traditional bulbs, or maybe there’s way more devices you’d like to be able to control at the touch of a button or voice, from anywhere. Luckily, WeMo has you covered. Belkin, soon to be owned by Chinese manufacturer giant FoxConn, has developed the perfect solution for your needs. Belkin’s products range from switches to smart-plugs, allowing any device to become smart. However the product we love the most, is the WeMo Bridge. This little device takes all your Belkin devices and brings it to the next level, allowing integration with services like Apple HomeKit. You no longer need to replace your devices for their smart counterparts…Belkin does it for you!
This list is by no-means extensive. Hopefully these few tech items will help spark your imagination towards refreshing your own home tech!
What are some of your favourite home-tech items? Looking for a home to fill these tech items in? Contact Us