The Best Smart Home Devices

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With the advent of Smart Home technology, it’s hard not to compare society to shows like The Jetsons, even if they aired in the 1960s. It’s pretty cool to think that science fiction leads where our technology goes — you only have to look at the tablet being prophesied on Star Trek to understand — and while being able to control things around your home with your voice sounds like something out of a sci-fi flick, Smart Home devices can do that and more.

All of the major tech companies have their version of a Smart Home device, but the capabilities tend to be similar across the board: you can ask to play music, podcasts, new, etc; make and receive calls without needing your phone; control your smart lights; lock your doors; the list goes on and on.

While this kind of tech sounds like it would cost a fortune to invest in and install, the reality is that many are inexpensive and only require a power source and Bluetooth and/or internet. It could not be easier to feel like you’re living in the future.

We’ve found five models of Smart Home devices, from two leaders in this kind of tech, for your consideration, that start at your basic call and response kind of device to a solid home entertainment system speaker that also can also control virtually anything else in your home.

If you have any lingering questions about what you’ll need for your home, stick around after the list and we’ll give some tips and advice to keep in mind when you’re looking to buy.

1. Editor's Pick: Echo Dot with Clock

1. Editor's Pick: Echo Dot with Clock
  • Available in Glacier White or Twilight Blue to better match your space
  • Newest generation, released September 2020
  • Comes with one-year warranty with possibilities to upgrade to up to three-year coverage
  • LED display is quite bright in a dark bedroom, even at the dimmest setting
  • The idle mode is occasionally too sensitive and will turn off when not wanted

Key Specs

Hub/Hubless: Hubless
Privacy Protections: Wake word technology, streaming indicators, microphone off button, the ability to view and delete your voice recordings, etc.
Product Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 8.9 cm; 351 g
This affordable little Echo Dot is the perfect addition to your nightstand. It comes with everything Alexa is known for: she’ll play your favourite music, let you know the weather, turn on your lights directly from bed, but with a subtle LED time display, you can use it as the ultimate alarm clock — when you don’t want to wake up yet, you don’t even have to hit snooze, simply ask Alexa to do it for you.

2. Runner Up: Echo w/ Premium Sound

2. Runner Up: Echo w/ Premium Sound
  • Available in Red, Charcoal, Glacier White, and Twilight Blue
  • Pair with your Fire TV to have a great home entertainment speaker
  • Has built in Dolby audio for exceptional playback sound
  • The higher the volume, the less Alexa can hear you — some buyers report having to really shout to be heard
  • Bass is weaker than previous generations

Key Specs

Hub/Hubless: Hub
Privacy Protections: Wake word technology, streaming indicators, microphone off button, the ability to view and delete your voice recordings, etc.
Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 14.4 x 13.3 cm; 970 g
This Echo is a much more powerful little speaker than the previous model, offering solid performance through the full range of sound from crisp and clear highs to deep and rich bass. This model is also a great Zigbee smart home hub, meaning you can easily connect it to your Zigbee and Ring Smart Lighting devices so not only do you get the full Alexa arsenal, but you get more usability through your whole house.

3. Best Sound: Echo Studio

3. Best Sound: Echo Studio
  • It analyzes the space you place it in and automatically fine tunes itself to best suit the acoustics
  • Smart home hub lets you control any and all Zigbee and Ring Smart Lighting
  • Buyers report the bass is shockingly impressive
  • Amazon’s 3D music library isn’t available in Canada
  • Some buyers report the bass can overpower the mids

Key Specs

Hub/Hubless: Hub
Privacy Protections: Wake word technology, streaming indicators, microphone off button, the ability to view and delete your voice recordings, etc.
Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 17.5 m; 3.5 kg
If you’re looking for a smart home hub, full access to everything Alexa has to offer, and you want to have a fantastic speaker for your home entertainment system, the Echo Studio is the ultimate solution. With five speakers packed perfectly into the Echo and Dolby Atmos sound engineering, you can get impressive immersive sound from this one mighty Smart Home Device. Plus, this is one of the only speakers that can play 3D and UHD music formats.

4. Best Visual: Echo Spot

4. Best Visual: Echo Spot
  • It uses additional far-field voice recognition with noise cancellation so Alexa can hear you even with music playing
  • Connect your Echo Spot to an external speaker via Bluetooth or 3.5mm jack
  • Pop In allows you to send messages between Echos around your house
  • Even in idle mode the screen still glows
  • Some buyers report the “Things To Try” screen is hard to remove from your home screen

Key Specs

Hub/Hubless: Hub
Privacy Protections: Wake word technology, streaming indicators, microphone/camera off button, the ability to view and delete your voice/video recordings, etc.
Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 9.7 x 8.1 cm; 419 g
The Echo Spot is a totally different take on the Echo line of Smart Home Devices, but still delivers everything you’ve come to love and expect from Alexa. The major difference is the Spot comes with a beautiful little display screen (and front facing camera) which means you can take and make video calls without needing your smartphone, plus you can see your front doorbell camera or baby monitor. Overall, you’ll get better visual displays whether that’s the album cover of your music, your Uber alerts, or the weather forecast.

5. Honourable Mention: iHome Google Assistant

5. Honourable Mention: iHome Google Assistant
  • Buyers report Google Assistant is much more knowledgeable and helpful than Alexa
  • There’s a USB port so you can charge your phone directly through your speaker — don’t worry about needing an out-of-reach outlet
  • Brightness adjustments to dim LED display
  • Larger and clunkier than competitors

Key Specs

Hub/Hubless Hubless
Stepping away from the Echo line, we switch gears to the iHome Google Assistant (iHome not to be confused with Apple products). Another model designed to be used as an alarm clock — though it doesn’t have to be limited to that role — you get the full Google Assistant package, but with Chromecast built in, you’ll be able to throw anything from your phone onto any or all iHomes around your house.

Smart Home Devices: Hub or Hubless?

There are many uses to having a Smart Home device, but deciding whether you want a smart home hub or not is the secret decision you have to make. Despite having two of the same key words, not all Smart Home devices also double as hubs.


Let’s start with the hubless Smart Home devices: these are essentially smart speakers. Whether it’s Alexa or Google Assistant, a hubless model allows you to stream audio media on one or multiple speakers around your house in unison, but you can also ask the AI questions that they can answer via an internet connection.

A hubless Smart Home device is a great option for those looking to be able to play music around your home and let Alexa or Google answer your basic questions (or tell you a joke, as Alexa is well regarded for).


The hub variety of Smart Home devices is then the truly more futuristic device. They have all the same abilities as the hubless, but these are the kinds that allow you to program things such as: “Alexa/Google Assistant, go to sleep” and your doors lock and your lights turn off. These are the things that will let you adjust your thermostat, check who’s at your front door, look in at your baby, all from voice commands.

Hub Compatibility

If you go with the hub option, just make sure the other things you end up buying will work with the option you choose. We mentioned, in the cases of the Echo hubs, brands like Zigbee and Ring Smart Lighting, because they’re certified to work with the Echo line (same goes for Phillips bulbs). Because you’ll need to buy smart outlets and gear in order to get the most out of your Smart Home device, just make sure that whichever model you buy will work with everything else!

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You can feel like you’re stepping into the future with a Smart Home device (or a series of them), by using nothing but your voice to control everything from the music playing through your house, to making sure your doors are locked when you head to bed. With the selection we’ve pulled together for you, you’ll find options for all your Smart Home needs.

Do you have one of these smart home devices? Let us know what you think of them in the comments below! is reader-supported. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other similar affiliate advertising programs. These programs are designed to provide a way for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to them. This means that will sometimes get a small commission if you make a purchase through our links.