Amazon's entry-level smart speaker delivers
Amazon effectively kicked off the smart speaker market with the launch of the original Amazon Echo in 2015. The product line has gone through several evolutions and expansions since then, but for many customers, the Echo Dot has been a key entry point into the ecosystem thanks to a budget-friendly price and support for the full range of Amazon’s services. Now in its fourth generation, it adopts the new look of the larger Echo while retaining all of the qualities that made the original Dot popular.
Alexa finds a home on your wall
Amazon makes Echo Show smart displays in a bunch of different form factors. Opposite the itty-bitty Echo Show 5 on the screen-size spectrum sits the Echo Show 15, a giant, 15.6-inch Alexa display styled like a framed picture and designed to be hung on the wall. It's spendy at an MSRP of $250, but if you can stomach the price tag, you're getting one of the most unique and versatile smart displays out there.
Subscription costs and a lack of purpose keep Ring's portable camera from shining
Ring might be best known for its Video Doorbell lineup, but the company has also expanded into all sorts of other security cameras. For as low as $60, you can throw up security cameras around your house, capturing any movement both inside and out. You’ll have to pay a little more if running a power cable is a no-go.
Get an incredible sounding speaker for nearly the price of its smaller, spherical sibling
Amazon is slowly transitioning its smart home speakers from hockey pucks and cylinders to big, bulbous spheres—or that's how it feels, at least, with the fourth-generation Amazon Echo. This smart speaker looks exactly the same as Amazon's third-generation Echo Dot, just bigger. In fact, the design and naming similarities are getting a bit confusing at this point, so we'll make it easy: The $100 Amazon Echo (fourth-generation "sphere version") is a big, booming smart speaker-turned-smart-hub that's worth it for those attributes alone, especially if you can grab it during one of the many sales that makes it almost as expensive its smaller sibling, the fourth-generation Echo Dot.
Easy to set up and affordable, the Eero 6+ is a perfect replacement for your ISP's router
In this day and age, a reliable internet connection is pretty much a necessity, which is why mesh networks have grown in popularity over the last few years. Blanketing your house with coverage from multiple access points ensures there are no dead zones. Just about every company has jumped onto the mesh network bandwagon, including Amazon’s Eero subsidiary. There are a host of options to choose from within this line, but if you're looking for an affordable choice that also offers the newest tech for Wi-Fi 6, the new Eero 6+ routers fit the bill.
Better than the Show 5 and cheaper than the Show 10, this smart display is just right
Alexa does a fine job with audio alone, but the addition of a screen opens so many doors. Of Amazon's various Echo Show smart displays, I think the Show 8 is the easiest to recommend to the most people: it's big enough to have a useful screen and fulsome sound, and at $130, it's just over half the price of the larger Echo Show 10. If you're an Alexa user (or open to becoming one), the Echo Show 8 is easy to like.
The Show 10 is an impressive piece of hardware, but the value isn't there
There's no shame in wanting the best of the best when it comes to smart home tech, especially if money is no object. As you'll often find, you get what you pay for in this realm, and dropping those few extra bucks can undeniably improve your overall experience. That's definitely the case with the Echo Show 10, which is a flashy, perhaps extravagant, smart display that costs a pretty penny.
These deserve to sell for more than the $39 price tag
OnePlus has proven it's a force to be reckoned with in wireless earbuds. It offers capable audio products from the budget-friendly Buds Z through to the high-end Buds Pro. The company recently launched its first set of earbuds under the even more budget-oriented Nord brand, previously known only for phones. Like the Nord phones, these earbuds offer more value than the rest of OP's lineup, but there are some compromises. No surprise with the very approachable $39 price tag, but these buds strike a great balance between quality and cost.
What Amazon lacks in design, it more than makes up for in speed
More than ever, the device you choose to stream Netflix, Hulu, and dozens of other subscription services is as important as the TV itself. Sure, you can rely on built-in software — after all, most televisions these days partner with the likes of Roku, Amazon, or Google to make additional accessories redundant. But that software is often much slower than what you'll find on standalone boxes, which means picking up dedicated devices can actually present a much-needed upgrade.
Your smartphone probably beats this budget tablet's sluggish performance, but not its price
If you're looking for an Android tablet that can do it all for under $100, you should prepare for disappointment—especially if you're eyeballing Amazon's Fire 7 (2022 edition). We're not going to dunk on this tablet, because there are certainly some people out there who might want a cheap, lightweight device for reading books and watching YouTube, Netflix, or whatever other streaming service you love. To that, this $60 tablet (with ads; $75 without) isn't the worst buy. But if you already have a decently sized smartphone, even a hand-me-down from the past few years, you're better off sticking with that and saving up for a higher-performing tablet (or a Paperwhite, if you're a voracious reader).
This bargain-priced smart display is a great way to get started with Alexa
Amazon launched its Alexa virtual assistant with the original Echo smart speaker in 2015, and just two years later it was pioneering the use of smart displays with the original Echo Show. Today, there are several versions of Amazon's Alexa-powered display, including the budget-friendly Echo Show 5. This device gives you hands-free access to Alexa, and the addition of a display makes it easier to control smart home devices, track packages, and more. The 2nd gen Show 5 costs just $85 when it's not on sale, but given the approach of Prime Day, it's almost half-off right now. If you prefer Alexa to Google Assistant or Siri, the Show 5 is easy to justify when it costs almost nothing.
Keep your deliveries safe — but for a high price
Diving into the world of smart home accessories — beyond your usual lineup of smart speakers or displays — is an exciting, costly proposition that can involve modifying your home to accommodate your new gadgets. It's not enough to just buy a bunch of hubs, bulbs, and cameras from your local Best Buy. They have to work together with whatever ecosystem you've found yourself in, especially as we're still months out from the launch of Matter.
The best way you can spend $300 on a smartphone in 2022
The OnePlus Nord N20 5G surprised me when it first became available through T-Mobile. Long battery life, great performance, a big OLED display, and a long update commitment all deliver a value I'm surprised OnePlus could squeeze into a sub-$300 phone. Now that it's available unlocked, It's an even better phone for more people. This is the $300 smartphone to buy, period.
This cheap 4K TV offers all of the smart features you'll ever need, especially if you can grab one on sale
The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series sits somewhere at the low end of smart TVs, but this doesn't mean Amazon's Omni TV sets aren't worthwhile. As a matter of fact, what you get for your money is going to be hard to beat, as these smart TVs are running Amazon's Fire OS, which means Alexa is built-in, offering a wide selection of voice commands to keep you hands-free as you watch your favorite shows and movies.
Now with 100 percent more Google Assistant
Released in Summer 2021, the Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic are the first watches to run the revamped Wear OS 3. After a slightly shaky release window, Samsung’s made good on its promises to add once-missing features like the Google Assistant through updates. Nearly a year after launch, I’m still regularly using the thing — and thanks in part to Samsung keeping its word, I still love it.
Ring offers good performance and great Alexa integration for just $60
Amazon has been a driving force behind the proliferation of smart home technology in recent years. While we’ve found that Google Assistant is largely the better virtual assistant, Alexa provides similar functionality when it comes to smart home integrations. It’s not all about Alexa, though. Other companies under the Amazon umbrella like Ring have built out the ecosystem into a serious powerhouse for smart home technology.
You get less power than the Spin 713 but the same awesome touchscreen
Chromebooks have traditionally fallen into one of two extremes: affordable Chromebooks with meager processors and even more meager screens or premium, ultra-powerful Chromebooks with shorter battery life. The best Chromebook around, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, falls in the latter category with a gorgeous 400-nit touchscreen, a beefy i5 processor, and just enough battery to maybe get through a short workday without needing a charger. But what if you wanted that premium screen and build quality with a little less horsepower and a little more longevity?
With a bundled auto-emptying dock, you can ignore the Q5+ for weeks at a time
Smart home technology is supposed to save you time and energy, but that's not always the case. Some inexpensive robotic vacuums end up being more trouble than they are worth as you constantly rescue them and check for areas they missed. The Roborock Q5+ is different—this bot can accurately map your space, suck up almost all the grime, connects to Google Assistant, and it even empties its own dust bin. That makes it an excellent way to beef up your smart home. With automated scheduling, you can leave this robot to do the dirty work for weeks at a time. You'll have to pay for the privilege of keeping your hands clean, though. Roborock wants $700 for the Q5+, which is hundreds more than robots that are almost as good, but you can spend hundreds more if you want something that requires even less of your attention.
Even with the best specs, these routers don't offer a meaningful upgrade over cheaper models
If you're anything like me, you live your life swimming in a sea of wireless signals, linking myriad gadgets together in the name of convenience. So many routers and mesh systems end up unreliable on busy networks or just can't provide enough range, but Eero has a reputation for offering a premium experience without the hassle. Eero (a part of Amazon's web-spanning operations) offers several mesh Wi-Fi systems, and the Eero Pro 6E is the most expensive at $700 for a three-pack. You probably don't need three of these new 6GHz nodes, but even the cheaper kits still cost a pretty penny.
Sure, you'll save a dollar or two, but at what cost?
When it comes to smart plugs, the division between good and garbage can be razor-thin. There are only a few important aspects to consider, the most important being whether or not it actually turns on and off when you want it to. Most iterations in the industry can handle the basics, while bonuses like sleek design and simple interfaces are few and far between.