Smarten Up Your Home With a Smart Assistant

Staff Writer By Staff Writer - updated February 26th, 2024
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Imagine having a personal assistant right in your own home, teaming up with cutting-edge technology to streamline your life. That's the magic of a Smart Assistant, especially when complemented with the latest and greatest smart home technology! With just a trusty Smart Assistant and an ensemble of clever Smart Home gadgets, you can transform mundane everyday tasks into convenient, effortless moments. It's all about enhancing your lifestyle with a touch of technological elegance. But first, you need to decide on the right smart assistant for you. In this article, we take a look at the top smart assistants that are on the market today, along with some popular smart home tech to pair them with.

Choosing a Smart Assistant

Barking orders to my house is now one of my favourite past times. While you can use your smartphone for this in some instances, if you want a true smart home experience and to have the control available to all members of your household, a Smart Speaker or Smart Hub is the way forward. The three main smart assistants that are available are: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Siri.

Google Assistant

Google is your best bet if you’re looking for the most dynamic and intelligent smart assistant. Google Assistant shines in its ability to understand complex queries, provide relevant search results, and interact seamlessly with Google services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Maps. It is perfect for those heavily invested in the Google ecosystem and it brings the power of Google search to your demand. While there are third-party speakers that support Google Assistant, these are our options from Google:

  • Google Nest Hub - This is Google's premier smart display. It's best suited for individuals who want visual repsonses along with audio from their smart speaker. The 7-inch touch screen display allows you to watch YouTube, browse photos, check the weather, and more. It also serves as a control panel for your connected smart home devices such as lights, cams, or thermostats.
  • Google Nest Mini - The Nest Mini is a compact, more affordable smart speaker, and it's best for those who want to enter the realm of smart devices without a big investment. It doesn't have the visual capabilities as the Nest Hub but offers a surprisingly robust sound. 

Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa is a trailblazer in the smart assistant market. Lauded for its wide range of compatibility with various smart devices, Alexa is an excellent fit for people who want to control a diverse smart home setup. Where Alexa has an advantage over the other assistants is its broad compatibility with apps and services, extending its functionality. On the downside, Alexa's speech recognition is not as fluid as Google's. While there are third-party speakers that support Google Assistant, these are our options from Amazon:

  • Amazon Echo Hub - The Amazon Echo Hub leads the way as a top-tier smart home control panel. Featuring an 8" touch screen, it makes connecting, viewing, and managing your smart devices super simple and streamlined. 
  • Amazon Echo Show 15 - With its huge 15.6-inch HD screen, the Echo Show 15 is perfect for a modern smart home setup. Ideal for those who want a 'command center' for their home that offers both audio and visual aide. 
  • Amazon Echo Show 10 - A step down from the Show 15, this features a 10.1" HD screen, and a unique design that allows the screen to move with you, keeping you in frame during video calls or when following recipes. Ideal for those after more interactive experiences.
  • Amazon Echo Show 8 - This one offers the same functionality but with an 8" HD screen. It's great for someone who wants a video-enabled Echo device with a bit fewer frills at a more competitive price.
  • Amazon Echo Show 5 - The smallest and most affordable of the Echo Show options, with a 5.5" display. Ideal for someone who wants the core features at an entry-level cost, or for small spaces like a bedside table.
  • Amazon Echo Dot - The Echo Dot is affordable and compact, fitting anywhere in your home. Ideal for those just starting their smart home journey or want to add Alexa to more rooms at a low cost.
  • Amazon Echo Studio - The Echo Studio prioritises audio quality, designed for music enthusiasts. It's Amazon's most advanced speaker with five directional speakers capable of immersive Dolby Atmos and 3D sound playback.
  • Amazon Echo Pop - The Echo Pop is Amazon's most compact Echo speaker yet. Its primary focus is to bring your favourite tunes and Alexa to life, in the smallest package possible. Ideal for those who want to dip their toes into the smart realm without spending much or for those who want to add a smart speaker to a small space or bedroom.
  • Amazon Echo Auto - The Echo Auto is designed to add Alexa to your car for hands-free assistance on the road. It's ideal for frequent drivers who want to do tasks like playing music, making calls, or asking Alexa without distractions. 

Siri

Siri is best suited for individuals who are ingrained in the Apple ecosystem, allowing for seamless integration across devices – from iPhones to Macs to HomePods. Siri can also perform tasks offline, a unique feature in the smart assistant realm. However, Siri's third-party compatibility pales in comparison to its rivals, and its speech recognition and ability to handle more complex queries can sometimes lag behind Google Assistant and Alexa. While there are third-party speakers that may support Siri, these are the options you'll find from Apple:

  • Apple HomePod - This is Apple's full-sized smart speaker and is designed for audio enthusiasts who want room-filling, high-fidelity sound and have a higher budget. 
  • Apple HomePod Mini - This one is a more compact and budget-friendly version of the HomePod. While it doesn't deliver the same audio quality as its bigger sibling, it still produces crisp, clear audio.

Intro to Smart Home Tech

If you're new to the world of smart home technology, let's start you off with some basics! Once you're ready to go all in, our Smart Home Buying Guide will be super helpful. 

Smart Plug

A Wi-Fi Smart Plug provides wireless control of your power sockets. With one of these, you can turn all of your regular electronics and appliances into smart ones! You can do this by scheduling the smart plug to automatically turn on/off at set times (such as when you go  to work each day) or randomly turn things on/off to simulate someone being at home (when you go on holiday). You can also enjoy premium convenience by scheduling things such as heaters to turn on right before you wake up in the morning or turn off as you fall asleep at night. Some smart plugs offer features such as energy monitoring - this gathers information on which electronics draw the most power, providing you the knowledge to help you budget power use more effectively.

Smart Entertainment

Smart TVs enhance your viewing experience significantly, opening up a world of advanced features and options to refine your home entertainment. Many modern TVs come with built-in smart features, so you might already own some smart tech in your home. If your TV isn't equipped with these features, you can add to its capabilities by integrating a media player such as Apple TV, Mi Box, DishTV, or Chromecast, saving you the cost of a new TV. On the other hand, if you're in the market for a fresh purchase, there are plenty of options fit for a wide range of budgets. 

Smart Light

Smart Lights are another great addition to your smart home - in fact, they're often one of the first things many people try before deciding they want even more of that convenience. Smart light bulbs are super easy to install. Simply screw in the light bulb as you normally would, fire up the APP, and follow along with the set up instructions. Keep in mind, often, you'll need to have a 2.4GHz frequency band available on your WiFi network. Once installed, you have easy, convenient control of your lights with a simple tap of a screen or a voice demand. You can ask your smart assistant to dim the lights, change the lights to a different colour, and so much more! There are even settings that will gradually wake you up in the morning or turn the lights on/off when you're away so it looks like someone is home. 

Thinking about making your home a little bit smarter? Shop all latest Smart Home gear today! Having all of the best smart home tech is nothing without Wi-Fi that can manage it so we highly recommend you consider buying an appropriate router too. We cover this and more over on our Smart Home Buying Guide!


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