Smart Home

10 smart home gadgets that make living in quarantine easier

Take a load off with these connected devices

The Currant WiFi Smart Outlet, a two-outlet smart plug, is pictured on the left. The Facebook Portal Mini, a smart display screen for video calling, is pictured on the right. Credit: Currant / Facebook

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Life is anything but normal right now—and staying at home day after day with no end in sight can be a struggle. However, there are some products that make living in quarantine easier, including a few of our favorite smart home gadgets.

From turning on the lights from your phone to asking Alexa to make you a pot of coffee, here are the 10 smart home devices you need during quarantine.

1. A set of Tile trackers so you don’t lose your stuff

Tile Essentials
Credit: Tile

The Tile Essentials Kit includes four different tracking devices to find your lost stuff.

Spending more time at home doesn’t make you less prone to misplacing your stuff, which is why you need an easy way to keep track of it all. Tile trackers come in all shapes and sizes, connect via Bluetooth, and can be stuck to remotes, hung on a set of keys, tucked inside of your wallet, and more.

When an item goes missing, open the Tile app on your smartphone or tablet to play a loud tone on the Tile that’s attached to your missing time. Follow the sound and voilà—in a matter of seconds you’ve located your remote that’s been lodged in the couch for days. Tile also syncs with Amazon Alexa, so you can say "Alexa, ask Tile to find my keys."

You can also use Tile to find your lost phone. For example, if you misplace your phone inside of your home (hey, it happens to the best of us), you can click any of your Tile trackers to play a tone on your phone.

We recommend the Tile Essentials Kit to keep track of a variety of knick-knacks in your home. The Essentials Kit comes with one slim wallet insert, two Tile Stickers that adhere well to remotes, and one Tile Mate that can be attached to a set of keys.

Get the Tile Essentials Kit on Amazon for $68.95

2. The best Amazon Echo speaker to help you at home

Echo 3
Credit: Amazon

The third-generation Echo is the perfect blend of affordability and versatility.

From setting reminders to turning on the lights, there’s not much an Amazon Echo speaker can’t do. It's ideal for living in quarantine since you can use it to control your home, make calls to friends and family, entertain your kids, catch up on podcasts, and more.

Get the Echo (third-generation) on Amazon for $99.99

3. The best smart plug to control your home with

Smart plug
Credit: Currant

This smart outlet has two outlets that can be controlled independently.

Now that you're likely spending more time at home, you can make your days run easier with the help of a smart plug. A smart plug turns your everyday electronics (think TVs, lamps, and speakers) into devices that can be controlled from your phone, or with the help of Alexa and Google Assistant.

While there are a lot of smart plugs on the market, the Currant Smart Outlet is the best smart plug we've tested. It’s easy to set up and use, it controls and monitors two devices independently (more bang for your buck), and comes with energy monitoring capabilities.

Get the Currant Smart WiFi Outlet on Amazon for $39.99

4. A Facebook Portal Mini so you can make interactive video calls

Facebook portal mini
Credit: Facebook

The Facebook Portal Mini is a smart display screen that can make video calls using fun features like augmented reality.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, you’ve probably spent a lot of time video chatting with friends and family. However, a dedicated video-chatting device like the 8-inch Facebook Portal Mini makes quarantine makes video calls so much better with augmented reality effects, good sound, and even better video quality. The person you're calling will need to have WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger installed on their smartphone or tablet, or use Facebook Portal to answer your call.

Get the Facebook Portal Mini on Amazon for $107

5. Our favorite affordable smart robot vacuum to help you clean less

Eufy robot vacuum
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

The Eufy Robovac 30C works with Google Assistant and Alexa for hands-free cleaning.

As you spend more time indoors, you’ve probably noticed that you’re cleaning more than you were pre-pandemic (especially if you’ve got kids around). If the constant cleaning is bringing you down, let a smart robot vacuum do the work for you.

The Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C is an affordable, easy-to-use smart robot vacuum that includes two magnetic boundary strips that can be used to keep it from wandering off into sensitive areas. From the app, you can dictate cleaning schedules, initial cleanings, and check on the battery status. If you don’t have your phone on you, the 30C can also be controlled via Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant by saying, "OK Google, ask RoboVac (robot name) to start cleaning" or "Alexa, ask RoboVac (robot name) to stop cleaning."

Get the Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C on Amazon for $279.99

6. The best streaming device for watching shows during quarantine

Roku Ultra
Credit: Reviewed / TJ Donegan

The Roku Ultra is the only device you need to stream shows and more during quarantine.

One way to pass the time during quarantine is to get lost in a good show or movie using a media streaming device like the Roku Ultra. We think it's the best streaming device for most people because it's fast and easy to use. Not only does the Roku Ultra work with Alexa and Google Assistant, but you can ask either assistant to help you find something to watch when you’re at a loss for what to put on.

Get the Roku Ultra on Amazon for $91.62

7. An Alexa-enabled smart coffee maker so you can wake up to a hot pot of java

Hamilton Beach
Credit: Hamilton Beach

Hamilton Beach's 12-cup smart coffee maker makes the mornings so much easier thanks to its Alexa integration.

You may be missing your usual coffee spot during quarantine, but why not let Alexa brew you up a cup of caffeinated goodness? We’ve been testing Hamilton Beach’s Smart Coffee Maker since mid-March and it’s been a simple and convenient experience thus far. It’s easy to use, works well with Alexa, and most importantly, it makes a good cup of coffee (you can even control the brew strength in the Alexa app).

When using Routines in the Amazon Alexa app, you can wake up to a fresh pot of java every morning (just remember to put the coffee grounds, filter, and water in the night before). Or, whenever you wake up, you can call out to your Echo speaker and say, "Alexa, turn on my coffee maker." You can use the Alexa app to give this command if there’s not an Echo speaker nearby.

Get the Hamilton Beach Smart Coffee Maker on Amazon for $89.99

8. A smart sprinkler controller that waters your plants based on the forecast

Rachio 3
Credit: Reviewed / Flo Ion

Serious gardening hobbyists will like the Rachio 3 for its fine-tuned smart scheduling and robust automation abilities.

If you’ve been growing a garden during quarantine, you know how essential it is to give your plants a drink. With a smart sprinkler controller like our favorite, the Rachio 3, you can water your plants right from your couch using the companion app on your smartphone. Or, you can ask Alexa or Google Assistant to get the job done for you with commands like, “Alexa, tell Rachio to water the front yard for three minutes” or “OK Google, stop watering.”

Get the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller (8-zone) on Amazon for $229

9. The best smart thermostat so you can turn down the air from the couch

The great thing about smart thermostats is that you can adjust the temperature of your home from your bed or during a Zoom call. Our favorite smart thermostat, the Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi Thermostat, comes with scheduling features and integrates well with Alexa or Google Assistant routines for easy control during quarantine.

Get the Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi Thermostat on Amazon for $138.99

10. Our favorite smart bulbs you can turn on and off from your home office

Philips Hue
Credit: Philips Hue

Smart bulbs make it easy to control the lights with your voice or from your phone.

Improving your lighting during a video call is easier said than done—and sometimes all you need to do is turn on the lights. Since getting up during the middle of a video call probably isn’t an option, smart bulbs can be used to control the lights in your house when you need more brightness but can't get up to flip the switch.

For easy installation and use, we recommend the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit for your smart bulb needs. The Philips Hue app offers a robust suite of features that allow you to set lighting schedules and routines to help gradually wake you up. There's even a sunset and sunrise routine so your lights will fade in and out depending on the time of day.

Get the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit on Amazon for $179.99

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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