JUN 13, 2024

Get your home up to speed with these very smart gadgets 

You have a wide and highly varied choice of smart home gadgets — everything from simple smart plugs to full on smart fridges to choose from when transforming your home from an ordinary dwelling place to a smart home. 

But which gadgets should you buy?  

While there’s no definitive list, because everyone’s needs will vary a lot, here’s what I’d pick if I was equipping a home with smart home accessories and why you might want them. 

Philips Hue Lightbulbs

What is it?

Smart lightbulbs 

Why we pick it:

Philips has long form in the smart lighting space, with a huge array of smart lights to choose from. No matter whether you’ve got Edison or Bayonet type regular bulbs, need downlight bulbs or smart lighting strips, there’s a Hue product to match your needs. 

The Hue system is also amazingly configurable, not just in bulb colour and intensity, but also in how it can interact with other systems, including smart assistants from Google, Apple and Amazon.  

Smart lights are often seen as the foundation of most smart home systems, and Hue is a great place to build that foundation.  

Want to know more about smart lights? Read our handy guide here.

Google Nest Smart Display OR Amazon Echo Show

What is it?

Smart display for smart home control, video calls and more 

Why we pick it:  

It’s 100% feasible to control most aspects of your smart home straight from your smartphone. If you live alone, that’s a fair approach, but it does mean that nobody else can easily adjust smart home features if you’re not there — and you’re also plumb out of luck if you lose your phone or it goes flat. 

That’s where a smart home display can make a huge difference, connecting up either Google’s Assistant (on Nest displays) or Amazon’s Alexa (on Echo Show displays) to your smart home gear. You can also use those screens for entertainment, music, simple web searches and video calls as well; I’m rather fond of calling up recipes on the Nest in my kitchen for example. 

Tado Smart AC Control V3+

What is it?

An easy way to make any remote controlled air conditioner into a smart AC unit.

Why we pick it:  

Lots of higher-end home air conditioners include Wi-Fi and app access these days, but what if you’ve got an older or lower cost unit that still relies on a simpler remote control?

That’s where Tado’s very smart AC Control V3+ unit comes into play. It sits as a smart relay between your other smart home devices, including smart voice assistants and your home’s AC unit, replicating the same infrared remote control codes that your remote throws out – if you haven’t lost that remote somewhere in the sofa cushions, that is!

The beauty here is that you can quite literally walk into a room and ask your AC nicely to set the temperature, or pump up the fans, or anything else it can do, and the Tado takes care of actually making it happen.

Google Nest Wi-Fi  

What is it?

A smarter router to get Wi-Fi all through your home 

Why we pick it:

While you can directly wire some smart home gear up through ethernet connections — especially if you’re building a new home — for most of us, Wi-Fi is the way that our smart home devices communicate. Which is great if you’re in a tiny home and everything is clustered together. It’s significantly less useful if your Wi-Fi peters out before it reaches all your smart home gadgets, leading to slow responses or sometimes missed connections entirely. 

That’s where a Mesh Networking system like the Google Nest Wifi can really sing, taking your home broadband connection and sharing it smartly through even the largest of homes. Installation is simple, and if your needs expand, it’s easy to add additional nodes to spread your Wi-Fi coverage even further. 

Want to know more about mesh networking? Read our handy guide here.

Google Chromecast with Google TV

What is it?

A smart TV dongle for any HDMI-ready TV.

Why we pick it:

Smart TVs can make it easy to connect up to a huge array of smart home streaming services, whether your passion runs to Netflix, ABC iView, Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video.  

However they do age rapidly, and many TV makers are pretty poor at keeping them updated, which means over time they miss out on new services, and even existing ones may stop working. 

And what if your TV isn’t one with Smart TV features?  

That’s why I favour adding smart TV features on in an inexpensive and flexible way via devices like the Google Chromecast with Google TV.  Available either as a 4K compatible model or slightly cheaper as a Full HD model, it gives you full access to streaming services and consistently updated apps across a range of needs. Its included remote control can even handle power and volume for most popular TV brands as well! 

Ring Video Doorbell 

What is it?

A smart, video ready doorbell that can alert you no matter where you are.

Why we pick it:

The purpose of the humble doorbell hasn’t changed since… well, since they were actual bells that you hung near your door for visitors to ring in order to announce their arrival. 

So how do you make that smart? You add a camera and an internet connection, tied to a smart app that can then do double duty as a classic doorbell as well as a security camera.  

Instantly you can watch your front door whether you’re at home watching TV from the sofa, or if you’re at work – or even halfway across the planet on holidays.  

Ring’s setup accommodates a range of doorbell options at different prices to allow you to monitor your home, manage two-way calls with visitors, and even additional extra cameras and chimes to make home security a cinch.  

Upgrade your living space with seamless smart home installation – experience the convenience, comfort, and control of a connected home today.

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Photo of Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman
A multi-award winning journalist, Alex has written about consumer technology for over 20 years. He has written and edited for virtually every Australian tech publication including Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and more.