10 smart home gadgets that make living in quarantine easier
Take a load off with these connected devices
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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
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.
2. The best Amazon Echo speaker to help you at home
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.
3. The best smart plug to control your home with
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.
4. A Facebook Portal Mini so you can make interactive video calls
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.
5. Our favorite affordable smart robot vacuum to help you clean less
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."
6. The best streaming device for watching shows 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.
7. An Alexa-enabled smart coffee maker so you can wake up to a hot pot of java
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.
8. A smart sprinkler controller that waters your plants based on the forecast
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.”
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.
10. Our favorite smart bulbs you can turn on and off from your home office
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.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.