You probably think smart home tech has to cost the earth, and well, some does. But unless you’re dead set on completely refitting your lovely abode from top to bottom, there’s no need to spend a fortune.
In fact, some of the most useful smart home tech can be grabbed for very cheap prices, enabling you to add a bit of automated luxury to your life without taking out a second mortgage. From smart speakers and security cameras to virtual assistants and digital dongles, there are plenty of options out there, you just need to know where to look.
Google Nest Mini
Perhaps the definition of affordable smart home tech, the Google Nest Mini is a cheap-as-chips smart speaker that bundles together a capable voice assistant with a surprisingly punchy speaker. An upgraded and rebranded version of the Google Home Mini, the Nest Mini features improved voice recognition and is capable of pumping out twice as much bass as its predecessor, making it ideal for controlling your smart tech or blasting out tunes in the kitchen. The design remains untouched, but that’s because the matte fabric aesthetic is pretty damn gorgeous, and should look the part in most homes. Although it retails for £49, the Nest Mini can usually be found on sale somewhere, so make sure you shop around before taking the plunge.
Read more › Google Nest Mini review
Echo Dot with Clock
As the name suggests, the timekeeping smart speaker is essentially your standard Echo Dot, complete with Alexa voice assistant, but with a built-in LED display that can show everything from the time and temperature to countdown timers. Ideal for use as an alarm clock (largely because it can be snoozed with a quick tap) the bite-sized smart speaker can also be used to control other smart tech, play music, read the news, check the weather, and just generally do your dark bidding.
Read more › Amazon Echo Dot with Clock review
“Make your TV smart for £30.” That’s the pitch behind the Google Chromecast, and honestly, it’s pretty much bang on the money. The little dongle can be used to turn any google box into a smart TV, letting you stream content from hundreds of apps, mirror your laptop screen on your TV, or issue commands using your voice (when linked with a Google Nest) or tablet. Setup is preposterously straightforward, too. Just plug the Chromecast into your HDMI port, connect it to your Wi-FI network, and start casting.
Read more › Google Chromecast review
A Full HD home security camera with live streaming capabilities, digital zoom, and Alexa voice assistant support for a cheap price? It might sound farfetched, but that’s precisely what the Neos SmartCam offers. The tiny camera (which measures in at just 4.5cm wide and 5cm tall) can be used to keep tabs on whatever’s most precious to you, all without breaking the bank. It even features an 8x digital zoom, motion tagging technology that detects and outlines motion in livestream and playback modes, night vision tech, and free cloud storage. No wonder you thought it was too good to be true.
KL60 Kasa Smart Filament Bulb by TP Link
There are a lot of smart bulbs on the market, but the Kasa Filament Smart Bulb has our vote for three reasons: it’s affordable, looks stunning, and couldn’t be easier to setup. The Edison-style bulb emits a warm amber glow (you know, like the one in your favourite coffee shop), can be dimmed using your smartphone or Alexa/Google voice assistant, and doesn’t need to be paired with a hub or any extra equipment – just plug it in, connect it to your WiFi network, and use the Kasa Smart mobile app to start dishing out commands. Multiple bulbs can also be grouped together for ease-of-use, while a useful energy monitoring feature means you can see how much precious energy your fancy smart lighting is consuming. Lovely.
HS110 Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug by TP Link
What makes a smart plug special? Well it helps if they don’t look butt ugly, can be set up in mere seconds, and don’t cost the earth. The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi plug ticks all of those boxes and more, and just like the company’s smart bulb can setup and controlled by quickly connecting it to your WiFi network and installing the Kasa Smart mobile app. Once you’ve got the sleek plug switched on, you can use it to control all manner of home devices – kettles, fans, lighting – by issuing voice commands or using the smartphone app. Those of you who run a particularly tight ship will also be able to use the plug to create schedules and set times, or use away-mode to make it look like you’re home when you’re actually off galavanting. Meanwhile, a built-in energy monitor will track all of that usage and serve up weekly and monthly summaries.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote
Basically the Pep Guardiola of streaming sticks, the Fire TV Stick 4K is Amazon’s most powerful streaming stick and is capable of beaming 4K Ultra HD media to your telebox in an instant. Thanks to a lighting-fast processor and support for 802.11 ac Wi-Fi, and a new antenna design, the premium dongle can deliver a “more complete” 4K streaming experience when used with services like Prime Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, All 4, and YouTube. It even supports Dolby Vision, HDR and HDR10+, and immersive Dolby Atmos audio, meaning your favourite flicks should look and sound as God himself intended. Oh, and did we mention it also comes bundled with an Alexa Voice Remote so you can whisper sweet nothings to your gogglebox. Damn.
Read more › Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K review
Tapo P100 Mini Smart Wi-Fi Socket
This doozy of a smart plug comes from TP-Link’s newly launched sub-brand, Tapo, and is surprisingly versatile considering its price tag. The Tapo P100 Mini Smart Wi-Fi Socket supports remote control, scheduling, and voice control via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. It even features an ‘away mode’ that automatically flicks lamps and lights on when you want to convince fiendish sorts your still at home, and a timer that can create lists for connected devices. It doesn’t require a hub, either. Just slide it into a socket, connect it to the Tapo smartphone app, and start tinkering.
Tapo C200 Home Security Wi-Fi Camera
The Tapo C200 is another cheap and cheerful security camera that stands out from the crowd. Just like the Neos SmartCam, the Tapo supports 1080p Full-HD video, advanced night vision that can capture footage up to 30ft in the dark, voice control, motion detection, live view with two-way audio, and Wi-Fi support which means there’s no need for a separate hub. What sets the C200 apart, however, and justifies a slightly steeper outlay, is the fact it can pan and tilt 360-degrees rotationally and 114-degrees vertically. It’s a feature that lets the C200 monitor every angle of any room, giving you more flexibility when it comes to placement and coverage.