Best smart home product of 2017

Look out, Alexa. There's a new boss in town

Best Smart Home Google Home Mini

Best Smart Home Products 2017 AwardEvery year, Digital Trends editors hand pick the most exciting products we’ve had the privilege of handling this year. Make sure to check out award winners in categories from cars to computers, plus the overall best product of 2017! Read on for the smart home products that floored us this year. 

Winner

Google Home Mini

What’s not to love about the Google Home Mini? The small, round smart speaker literally sits in the palm of your hand like a cute cloth pebble. Google’s answer to the iconic Amazon Echo Dot, the smart speaker is equipped with Google Assistant, which is getting smarter every day.

We chose the Google Home Mini because of the thoughtfulness and attention to detail on design of the compact device, as well as the smart features and capabilities Google Assistant brings to the table. Seamless integration with the Google platform also makes the Mini extremely easy to use. If you already use Google Maps or YouTube, for example, you can use Google Assistant via the Mini to access both seamlessly.

You can buy the Mini in three colors – coral, chalk, or charcoal. The fabric coating makes the device feel warm, and it can sit unobtrusively on just about any surface without looking like a cold piece of hardware.

The app is easy to use, and the “voice match” feature allows you to receive customized responses based on voice recognition – a wonderful thing if you have multiple users for the device. In fact, this feature was such a good idea that Amazon quickly incorporated a similar system after Google announced it. This makes things like getting traffic information for your commute — not your partner’s — as easy as pie.

Seamless integration with the Google platform also makes the Mini extremely easy to use.

Google obviously did its research, and realizing that kids are using smart speakers just as often as adults are (sometimes to do things like sneak cookies on grocery lists), implemented the Family Link feature, which includes interactive children’s games, storytelling, beatboxing, and more.

As for sound quality, Digital Trends’ Google Home Mini reviewer Caleb Denison noted that “The Google Home Mini blows the Amazon Echo Dot’s on-board sound quality right out of the water. The Mini is louder, clearer, and generally higher in fidelity. If decent sound from a compact speaker is a priority, the Google Home Mini is the clear choice.”

Its cute, warm, button-like look, quality sound, and ever-improving Google Assistant features made the Google Home Mini an easy choice for the product of the year.

Read our full Google Home Mini review

See it

Runners up

The Samsung FlexWash washing machine (our 2017 Home Awards winner in the Home Care category) gives you the flexibility you need. It’s both large capacity and small capacity with a dual chamber for big and small loads.

This appliance impresses us for a couple of reasons. First, its huge and beautiful. Second, it has two washing zones — a larger one on the bottom for typical loads, and a smaller compartment on top for things you don’t want to get lost in the main compartment, such as delicates. Use that smaller compartment to wash your favorite sweater before heading out for the night.

Read more about the Samsung FlexWash

See it

Samsung FlexWash

The all-new second generation Echo is smaller and cuter than its predecessor, and with interchangeable shells that come in cloth or wood-like textures, you can change up the look of the smart speaker whenever you want.

It’s not just about the device, though: The Echo lands on our list for outstanding software as well. Queen Alexa continues to grow and get smarter – at last count, Alexa had more than 20,000 “skills.” And with more and more devices adding Alexa capabilities, Alexa and the Echo are still the ones to beat for sheer compatibility.

Read our full Amazon Echo review

See it

Second-generation Amazon Echo
Smart Home

Power on and off: Kasa Outdoor Smart Plug by TP-Link brings weatherproof smarts

The Kasa Outdoor Wi-Fi Smart Plug grants remote control of two outlets in an IP-64 weather resistant housing. Simple and straightforward, this smart plug is a great fit for summer lighting.
Smart Home

Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub get huge price cuts

If you act today you can get an amazing deal on the first-gen Amazon Echo Show on Woot or the current generation Google Home Hub on Rakuten. The Echo Show works with Alexa and the Google Home Hub with Google Assistant.
Smart Home

Best Buy zaps price on Nest Secure alarm, Nest Cam, and Google Home Mini bundle

Best Buy zapped the price of Nest smart home security Nest Secure Alarm and Nest Cam Outdoor bundle and added a Google Home Mini. Nest Detect sensors watch your home inside and out. Stream Nest Cam video in real-time or view clips later.
Smart Home

These are the 13 best games to play on your new Google Home

Google Home is a handy device, but did you know you can play games with it? There are a ton to play, and we tested them all. Here are some of favorites that you can play on your Google Home device.
Home Theater

Google brings ad-supported YouTube Music to its Google Home speakers

Hot on the heels of Amazon's announcement that it's adding a free version of its Amazon Music service to Alexa-powered speakers, Google is adding a free, ad-supported version of YouTube Music to Google Home smart speakers.
Smart Home

Alexa, how much do you weigh? Questions unlock voice assistant's Easter eggs

Sometimes all we really need is someone to talk to, which is why we've rounded up the best (read: funniest) Easter eggs currently embedded within Amazon's virtual assistant. Apparently, Alexa knows more than you might think.
Smart Home

Virtually walk through dream homes with Zillow’s new A.I.-powered 3D home tours

Home sellers and real estate agents listing properties on Zillow's home marketplace now can add 3D tours for free to their listings. Zillow 3D Home uses artificial intelligence to create tours with 360-degree panoramic photos.
Cars

Where to go when your EV is low: Rich neighborhoods have most charging stations

If you're running low on juice in your electric vehicle, head for the rich part of town. A survey by Realtor.com found median home list prices in the 20 U.S. ZIP codes with the most EV charging stations were 2.6 times the national average.
Smart Home

Google has tips for making your smart home more eco-friendly

Google is announcing new integrations for Google Assistant with energy and water-saving devices for Earth Day. The company is also offering tips on how to cut down on your energy bill.
Smart Home

Video doorbell alert leads homeowner to confront suspected porch pirate

Video doorbells are doing their bit to help homeowners fight back against porch pirates, as this recent incident in California shows. The motion-activated device alerted the owner, who challenged the suspect right on the doorstep.
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

Fast and efficient: LG’s new washer rocks the laundry in half an hour

Laundry is almost always a drag but for those with the means, LG's new high-end, Wi-Fi-enabled washing machines can deliver clean clothes in under 30 minutes using the company's new patented technology.
Smart Home

Grocery shopping wreaks greater havoc on the environment than meal kits

A study by the University of Michigan showed meal kits cause less environmental damage than meals from grocery store ingredients. According to the U-M researchers, grocery store meals produced more greenhouse gas emissions than meal kits.
Smart Home

You can now have your Amazon packages delivered in your garage

Amazon is expanding its Amazon Key service with Key for Garage. Eligible Amazon Prime subscribers in 50 U.S. cities will be able to sign up, assuming they have a myQ-enabled smart garage door opener.