Smart Home Unsung Heroes: The Connected Kit You Need In Your House

The smart home has well and truly jumped out of the novelty and/or fad stage (it did so quite some time ago, in fact) – with the likes of Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings and Philips Hue becoming not only household names, but household staples in the past few years. Those systems and platforms are all brilliant, and there a plethora of successful smart home brands that have also hit the mainstream in recent times, riding on their coattails – the likes of Arlo, Ring, Ecobee, August and iRobot. Below this, there are hundreds of companies vying for your attention and looking to get connected in your home.

Here are my pick of the top 5 unsung smart home heroes; brands that you may not have heard of but who you should be using…

Flic

Flic button

The Ambient

Flic is the simplest to use and best performing of an ever-growing area in the smart home world: smart buttons. Now in its 2nd-generation, Flic buttons sync up with pretty much all of the major smart home players; Hue, Lifx, Sonos, Ecobee, Tradfri and Chromecast all supported (and there’s always IFTTT for when they are not). Flic buttons are designed to be stuck on side tables, light switches, walls… anywhere you want really – it’s a simple one, two or long tap control method, so each Flic can have three actions added to it from the simple-to-use smartphone app.

I have them all over my house and use them for anything as simple as switching on a lamp, to running a routine that activates a security system, closes all the blinds and turns off every light in the house. Check out more at Flic.io

Roborock

The Roborock S6

The Ambient

Already going toe-to-toe with the tech powerhouses in smartphones, PCs and wearables, Chinese behemoth Xiaomi is making serious inroads in the smart home too. Front and center of this is Roborock – a brand in its own right (Xiaomi is the major shareholder and the official word is it is a “member enterprise of the Xiaomi ecological chain”).

Roborock is, for me, without doubt the no.1 robot vacuum cleaner brand on the planet right now. Whether you opt for the top end S6 MaxV at nearly £800, or the S4, which comes in just under £400, you’re getting a super hi-tech robo cleaner which navigates using lasers (seriously) and is pretty much unrivalled in terms of cleaning ability and features. Read more at roborock.com

Innr

Smart Home Unsung Heroes: The Connected Kit You Need In Your House

The Innr smart bulb range

The Ambient

Philips Hue is the champion of smart lighting.

There’s no disputing that. But, with the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa able to add smart bulbs together in groups, independent of their brands, there has never been a better time to be a smart light shopper. The beauty of Innr (set up in 2012 by a bunch of ex-Hue and Ikea employees) is that it’s smart lights are both multi-functional and ecosystem agnostic.

You just need a Zigbee hub to control the bulbs. The good news there is Innr isn’t fussy about which one you use. There is a dedicated Innr Bridge but my advice would be to ignore that and pair the bulbs with a more mainstream Zigbee controller, such as the Philips Hue Bridge.

Yes, you read that correctly – you can add Innr bulbs to your Hue Bridge and they’ll simply show up as Hue-branded ones do. I’ve got a few bulb masquerading as Hue bulbs within the Hue app, and also set up on my SmartThings system as well. From there, it’s obviously super simple to add them to an Alexa / Google Home setup too.

The bottom line is that Innr bulbs – which are cheaper then their bigger named rivals’ – are perfect for complimenting your existing smart home and smart lighting setup. Find out more on innr.com

Abode

Smart Home Unsung Heroes: The Connected Kit You Need In Your House

Abode sk© Security SAVER SALE System

The Ambient

Nest and Ring have taken home security systems mainstream and, while there’s a bunch of great options out there now, Abode remains a favorite over on my smart home website, The Ambient. Set up in 2014 by a former ADT exec, Abode has the usual array of smart sensors, cameras, alarms, fobs and so on – but its the integration with the smart home as a whole that really impresses me.

Abode’s hub is jam-packed with smart home protocols including both Z-Wave Plus and Zigbee. This means that it’s not only the main driver of a comprehensive smart security system, it also gives plenty of freedom for users to expand their setups beyond simple home protection. It integrates with Nest, Philips Hue, Ecobee and Lifx and you can connect up to 160 Zigbee and Z-Wave devices to it.

From there, you can create automations and routines that complement activating or deactivating the security system; think lights on/off, doors locking/unlocking, cameras to start recording and so on. More info at goabode.com

Eufy (Anker)

Smart Home Unsung Heroes: The Connected Kit You Need In Your House

Eufy’s smart home devices

Anker

Chinese brand Eufy – along with other brand under the Anker umbrella such as Nebula and Roav – guarantees you two things with its connected kit; it’ll be cheap and it’ll be pretty good. Eufy has a rapidly expanding range of robot vacuum cleaners, video doorbells, smart lights, security systems, smart locks and more.

While none of these devices are best-in-class or boast features that you won’t find elsewhere, it’s the prices that make this a brand to look out for. Over on The Ambient we’ve reviewed a bunch of Eufy kit over the past couple of years and it’s fast becoming our favorite entry-level brand. China is an absolute hot-bed of innovation when it comes to the smart home and the beauty of Anker is that it’s all extremely accessible for the western market.

It probably helps that a former Google senior software engineer setup the company back in 2011.

Find out more at eufylife.com

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