Smart home devices have become super popular over recent years and for a good reason: they make life easy. They are fun to control and customize, and they can really amp up your home theater. There's nothing more impressive than being able to dim your lights, turn on Netflix, and turn on your speakers with the click of a button.
As smart home devices become more affordable, there is hardly any upfront investment to get all of the great features that each type has to offer. However, the market is filled with so many options – it can be hard to figure out where to even begin.
To get you started, check out our recommendations for a smart home speaker, a smart home hub, and smart home lighting.
The Amazon Echo (link to Amazon) is in its 2nd generation, and it has proven itself as one of the best, if not the best, all-around smart home speaker on the market. If you're looking for a trustworthy smart home speaker that does everything you need it to and more, the Amazon Echo is your pick. Enjoy hands-free assistance at any time of day with Alexa and the Echo making your life easy.
The Echo uses advanced far-field voice recognition with seven microphones to hear your voice at a distance and in the midst of loud noises. The Echo does everything from control your other smart home devices to take voice commands for playing music from all of your favorite music apps, answering questions, and even setting alarms. Find your favorite TV shows, adjust your thermostat, and beyond – all with your voice.
The speaker itself is even impressive. The Echo is built with a 2.5" downward-firing woofer and 0.6" tweeter, which utilizes Dolby technology to deliver great bass and crystal clear vocals. Plus, Amazon Echo is always updating to become better and smarter. To match your decor, you can purchase an Echo Decorative Shell for different colors and finishes.
If you're a Google fanatic, you might fall in love with Google Home (link to Google), and it is a great alternative to the Amazon Echo. More and more devices have become compatible with Google Home/Assistant, so it is becoming a much stronger competitor to Amazon Alexa.
While the Amazon Echo and Google Home are very similar in features, there are a few differences that make the Google Home unique. Google Home has created specific family-friendly features, and you can even add your child's Google Account to give them their very own personalized experience. The Google Home app for smartphones is also a nice feature, allowing your smartphone to bridge the gap between you and the Home when you're outside of the room.
Just like the Amazon Echo, the Google Home base comes in multiple colors to match your home design for an additional cost.
When you are wanting a step up from a smart home speaker, look no further than the Logitech Harmony Hub (link to Amazon). Like we talked about in our Logitech Harmony Hub Guide, this device allows you to control your entertainment and smart home devices using a smartphone or tablet. You can easily add all of your devices to the Harmony Hub: your TV, projector, receiver, cable box, DVD/Blu-ray players, game consoles, any smart home devices, and more. You can use the Harmony app of iOS or Android, as well as the MyHarmony desktop application for your controls.
With the Harmony Hub, you can create activities for your Harmony Hub to do for you, such as power on multiple devices and set inputs, and you can change the channels, volume, navigate, and more. For example, you can make an activity for "Date Night" or "Family Movie Night" to turn on your smart TV, dim your smart lights, turn on your speakers, and launch Netflix. The Harmony Hub will even recommend activities, based on your added devices and apps. It's like a universal remote on steroids.
Interested in learning more? Check out our setup guide on YouTube!
If you want to explore other options for using a smart home remote control, Tim Brennan from OneSmartCrib has an amazing post detailing the different smart home remotes you can use in your home entertainment system. I've known Tim for a little while now, and he always posts great content on his website!
The Philips Hue Starter Kit is easily the top choice on the market for smart home lighting, but they are not the cheapest. This Starter Kit comes with 4 A19 Bulbs and 1 Hue hub, which makes it compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.
The Philips Hue Smart Bulbs are controlled remotely, and you can choose from 16 million colors and shades of whites to make an extravagant home theater lighting experience. Use voice control with the help of Alexa, Google Assistance, or Apple HomeKit or add it to your home automation hub.
Each bulb has 25,000 hours of life. The setup is easy – simply screw in your light bulbs, download the Hue mobile app, and pair it with the Hue hub. Within the Hue lighting line, you will also find a Hue Dimmer Switch, Hue Tap, and Hue Motion Sensor.
If you're looking for a more affordable alternative to the Philips Hue Smart Bulbs, the Sengled Smart LED Bulbs are a great choice. The starter kit, which includes a Sengled Smart Hub to connect with your smart home devices, is a fraction of the cost of the Philips Hue Starter Kit. If you'd like multicolored or white bulbs, they are sold separately and are compatible with the same Sengled Smart Hub.
If you already have an Amazon Alexa device in your home, the LOHAS Smart Lighting LED Bulbs are a great choice. With these, you'll have no need to purchase an additional hub, as long as you have an Amazon Alexa device. You can enjoy a wide array of colors, using the Tuya app or LOHAS Smart app. There are eight modes to enjoy and 16 million color options. From warm daylight to plain white and colors of all kinds, you will have endless options with these great bulbs.
Want to learn more about great smart home lighting choices for your home theater? Find out everything you need to know in our Home Theater Lighting Guide.