Best Products of 2015: Home

Amazon's Echo finally makes it easy to have a smarter home

alexa on raspberry pi best home product 2015 amazon echo

best of 2015 homeWinner
Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo started off as a Bluetooth speaker and voice-control assistant with a few smart-home tricks up her sleeve. The cylindrical device appeared most useful for finding out fast facts (“Hey Alexa, what’s the weather like in Portland today?”) and putting on your dance-party playlist. But then Amazon started adding more and more capabilities, and now Alexa can dim your lights, tell you sports scores, and help you shop online, in addition to playing your holiday tunes.

The best part is, all you have to do is ask. A lot of people keep the Echo in their kitchens. That’s because if there’s one place you need hands-free information the most (besides maybe the bathroom), it’s the kitchen. If you’re in the middle of making Moroccan chicken and find you’re out of paprika, you can say, “Alexa, what’s a substitute for paprika?”

Amazon has added all sorts of third-party compatibility – including Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, and Wink devices – and this is only the start.

Amazon wants to live inside your home, and it’s found the perfect way to invite itself in.

In June, Amazon opened up an SDK to developers, in the hopes that they’ll bring Alexa to all manner of devices. Right now, you need the Pringles-can-like speaker to find out the weather, but eventually you could ask your alarm clock.

While the Echo is a great hands-free assistant, it’s also designed to sell you more goods (via Amazon, of course). Its Dash technology — which lets you reorder goods at the push of a button or automatically does that for you when your coffee machine senses your running low on beans — isn’t incorporated into the speaker yet. If you want to order your pet’s favorite food, you can ask Alexa, but you’ll still need to take a few more steps to get it from your Amazon cart to your doorstep. But give Alexa the power of the Dash button (without having to stick plastic, branded buttons all over the house), and you’ll never be in short supply of paper towels or water pitchers filters again. Amazon wants to live inside your home, and it’s found the perfect way to invite itself in.

Runners up

Roost Smart Battery for Smoke Alarms

roost

The Roost Smart Battery is pricier than a typical 9-volt, but it may make your home safer. The Wi-Fi-connected battery sends you an alert if your existing smoke detector starts sounding. That means you can snooze it if you’ve simply burned your dinner or call the fire department if you’re not home. Anyone with a smartphone and a stepstool should be able to set it up, too.

LG SideKick Pedestal Washer

LG-SideKick-Pedestal-Washer

Look out below! The LG Twin Wash is a pedestal you put below your regular washing machine with a built-in washer. That means you can do two loads at once — one for your delicates and heavy-duty one for your sheets, for example — or just use the Twin Wash to take care of a small load of gym clothes or baby-goo-covered onesies.

Smart Home

Booth babes, banned sex toys, and other mishaps at CES 2019

From female sex toys bans, to fake Tesla/robot collision stories, there was some weird stuff going on at CES 2019 this year. Here are some of the biggest mishaps and flubs at the world's biggest tech show.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Deals

Need a robot vacuum? Amazon is slashing prices on iRobot Roomba alternatives

A robot vacuum is a great smart home device that helps keep your home tidy and avoid some housework. Amazon is discounting the Eufy Robovac 11S and Eufy Robovac 11+. A self-cleaning home is the future and now you can be a part of it. 
Smart Home

Here’s everything Amazon and its partners announced for Alexa at CES

Amazon Alexa is rocking CES 2019. After selling millions of Echo and Dot smart speakers during the 2018 holiday season, extending its reach everywhere, Amazon has announced a ton of new partnerships with device manufacturers.
Smart Home

Temi the personal robot butler is now getting Alexa support

It was announced at CES 2019 that Temi, a personal robot butler that follows you around the house, now offers support for Alexa so you can ask questions of the voice assistant no matter where you are in your home.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

LaMetric teased Sky, an upcoming app-controlled mosaic light panel, at CES 2019

Smart home startup LaMetric put a light in the eyes of guests at this year's CES 2019 with a prototype of a coming product called LaMetric Sky which uses multi-colored LED panels to form app-controlled artwork.
Smart Home

Military-grade baby monitor called Miku was a hit with parents at CES 2019

Who knew the world needed a smarter baby monitor? Apparently it's the startup Miku, which brought a new high-tech baby monitor to CES 2019 that uses A.I., machine learning, and high quality cameras to keep an eye on kids.
Smart Home

PicoBrew launches professional-grade brewing appliances, new distiller at CES

PicoBrew has been a leader in the home brewing industry for years, but at CES 2019 the company went pro with the Z Series, a new line of professional-grade brewing appliances aimed at craft breweries and restaurants.
Smart Home

IKEA’s new blinds for the smart home arrive April 1 in the U.S.

The Swedish furniture giant IKEA is adding a new product called FYRTUR, which turns out to be a new set of blackout blinds for the smart home that can be controlled by remote or programmed through the company's app.
Smart Home

Haier’s shoe washer cleans sneakers without all the clanging and banging

At CES 2019, Haier brought a bunch of shoe-centric appliances, including its sneaker washer. The appliance douses shoes with water and detergent and scrubs them, and then you can put them in the accompanying dryer.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Smart Home

A.I.’s humorous side: Here are the funniest things to ask Alexa

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant has a wide repertoire of funny responses, jokes, and hidden replies that you can have fun with. Here are the best funny things to ask Alexa and examples of what her responses are.