The Smart Home Buyer's Guides

Echo Plus

Published October 18, 2018

If you're looking to create a Smart Home, we have the guides for you! To help you create a Smart Home that actually works, we've sorted through a huge range of gear to make sure that you're not just getting something that's been overhyped and under-reviewed, but something that will actually make your real home a safer, more comfortable place to be! We know these products not only work, but work well and work consistently. And that's a challenge in the Smart Home space, as a lot of start-ups have arrived with great new ideas, but their first-gen products don't always pass with flying colors in real-world testing.

The big news for Fall 2018 is that we've set out to create not just one buyer's guide, but many, as every home is different, and each homeowner's or renter's goals will be different too. Our most basic guide focuses on getting you up and running with smart lighting in the simplest, easiest way possible. We mean "plug in and play"! Our more advanced guide builds this out to include smart switches, smart cameras, sensors, and thermostats to take your home to the next level of smarts, while still being very easy to set up.

We've actually tested dozens of Smart Home devices over the past few years, from lights to locks to alarms to cameras. Alas, a lot of these products didn't make it into the Smart Home review section of The Tech Buyer's Guru because, frankly, they just weren't good enough. That includes some big products from some very big names that were clearly still unfinished. Right now, we're recommending the new Amazon Echo Plus Zigbee Hub and the proven Lutron Caseta Hub as our two hubs of choice, despite there being a number of other higher-profile models available. We've decide to pull our previous recommendations for universal hubs, as the market is again in a major state of flux, with some hubs potentially disappearing from the market.

As it happens, we're in the process of testing several next-generation models, and depending on the outcome of our work, we may be able to recommend a universal hub again soon, but we really need to be confident that the providers of these hubs will be around for the long haul. We've tested a handful of products over the years for which manufacturers have since pulled cloud support, leaving them essentially "brain dead" when it comes to Smart Home use. Lesson learned: we're not going to jump on the bandwagon for every "hot" new product that comes our way, and we recommend you don't either!

Our goal is to make sure that whatever path you take to turn your home into a Smart Home is as easy and fulfilling as possible!