The first 5 things to get for your home after you buy an Amazon Echo
Because Alexa needs some friends!
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For many people, purchasing an Amazon Echo is the first step in turning your house into a smart home. Once you’ve set up your Echo and gotten acquainted with Alexa, you might be wondering what’s next, and our answer to you would be: expand your arsenal of smart home products!
Some of Alexa’s coolest capabilities spawn from integrations with other smart gadgets. Your Echo can work with dozens of smart products from a variety of brands, giving you near-endless possibilities for a customized smart home.
However, if you’re looking for recommendations on which smart gadgets to pair with your Echo first, we have a few suggestions. Here are five of the best connected devices to integrate with Alexa for a truly impressive smart home.
1. Smart light bulbs for high-traffic areas
Once you’ve gotten familiar with Alexa, you should definitely invest in some smart light bulbs, like the Philips Hue line, which is the best available. They can save you time and money—and voice-controlled lights are really fun too!
One of the reasons smart light bulbs are a great investment for your budding smart home is because they’re a breeze to install—no wiring or power tools necessary. Once the bulbs are set up and synced with your Echo, you can use voice commands to control them, either all together or individually. A few sample commands are:
- Alexa, turn on/off all lights.
- Alexa, turn on/off the living room light.
- Alexa, make the bedroom light warmer/cooler.
You can also set up “Routines” with Alexa that involve your smart bulbs. For instance, your bedtime routine, triggered by saying something like “Alexa, I’m going to bed,” could involve turning off all lights in the house except for those in your bedroom.
2. A versatile smart plug—or two
Smart plugs are another essential investment for smart home newbies, as they’re incredibly easy to install and deliver big on functionality. Products like the iDevices Switch—which crushed our tests to take the title of Best Overall Smart Plug—give you the ability to remotely control any electronic device in your house simply by plugging it in!
For example, if you’re always forgetting to turn off your hair straightener before you leave for work (guilty), connect it to a smart plug. Then, as you’re running out the door, you can simply say, “Alexa, turn off my hair straightener,” and boom, you can continue on with your life worry-free. And even if you forget to tell Alexa, you can use the app to control the plug while you're away.
3. An energy-saving thermostat
Not every smart home product is as easy to set up as a smart plug, but the extra effort is usually worth it. If you’re serious about creating a highly efficient smart home, you should look into a smart thermostat, such as the popular ecobee4 thermostat, which is one of our favorites and can be installed easily. It will help save you money and keep your home at the perfect temperature.
Devices like the ecobee4 are great because they learn your habits, such as when you leave the house and go to bed, and automatically make temperature adjustments to save money on energy. When paired with your Echo, you’ll be able to control your ecobee with voice commands, such as:
- Alexa, what’s the temperature in the bedroom?
- Alexa, change the bedroom to 70 degrees.
- Alexa, turn the temperature up/down by 2 degrees.
It’s that easy! No more finagling with complicated wall units, and you’ll save money, to boot.
4. A smart lock for security and peace of mind
You’re in for a treat when your pair your Amazon Echo with an August Smart Lock. This smart lock, which took home our Editors' Choice Award for its impressive performance, is the only brand that you can lock and unlock using voice commands, making it a must-have integration in our book.
With an August Smart Lock, you’ll be able to ask Alexa things like:
- Alexa, is the front door locked?
- Alexa, lock/unlock the back door.
As an added safety precaution, Alexa requires a PIN to unlock doors—this is so people can’t just yell to Alexa through your window and gain entry to your home. Overall, this lock boasts impressive functionality and compatibility with Alexa that will make your home feel truly next-gen.
5. An all-in-one entertainment hub
Last, but certainly not least, is an essential smart gadget for all the entertainment lovers out there. If your idea of a perfect weekend involves Netflix marathons or sports tournaments, you’ve got to get the Harmony Home Hub from Logitech.
This cool smart hub lets you streamline use of all your entertainment devices, from the TV and speakers to gaming systems, streaming devices, and more. You can set up pre-programmed “Activities” with the Harmony Hub, grouping together actions on various devices—for example, you could set up a sports activity that automatically powers on the TV and cable box, enables surround sound, dims the lights and turns on ESPN. Cool, right?
To make things even more high-tech, you can pair the Harmony Hub with your Echo to enable voice commands. All you have to say is something like “Alexa, turn on sports” to launch a preset activity. Other options include:
- Alexa, turn on Netflix.
- Alexa, turn up the volume on the TV.
- Alexa, turn to channel 10.
- Alexa, turn off the entertainment center.
These commands are especially handy if you have a habit of misplacing remotes, like I do.
While these five smart products are great to pair with Alexa, there are many, many more gadgets that work with Amazon Echo. Pick and choose which technology will be most useful for you, then start creating your smart home!
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