Master your domain like never before

5 Essentials for the Well-Connected Home


October 10, 2014 Tech : Apps By
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We’ve grown used to our smartphones serving as the gatekeepers to the digital world, but the next frontier for mobile devices and connected technology is all about the physical domain. Phrases like “smart home” and “the internet of things” are creeping into our collective vocabulary. But can those lofty ideas really change your life? Considering the advanced features offered by the smart home essentials below, and the answer should be obvious.

Schlage Alarm Touchscreen Deadbolt

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Keyless entry features have been in cars for years; it’s about time our homes got with the program. Schlage’s alarm touchscreen deadbolt gives buyers the option of unlocking and locking their doors through an app or by inputting a security code (don’t worry, there’s a special coating that hides fingerprints). Temporary unlock codes that expire based on a regular schedule or timeframe can also be issued for guests. Paired with integrated alarm technology and customizable text alerts that notify users when the door is opened or compromised, it takes home security and convenience to an entirely new level. Best of all, it’s compatible with the Wink App system, meaning it can work with a host of other smart home products — including every other item on this list — making controlling your entire home easier than ever.

Honeywell Lyric Thermostat

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The Nest learning thermostat (now owned by Google) is the first device that probably comes to mind in the field of smart thermostats, but it’s not the only company pushing innovation in the field. Honeywell is a long-standing juggernaut in the HVAC business, and their new thermostat has plenty of advanced features: the ability to access weather information based on your home’s zip code, predict your heating and cooling needs, and even integrate current humidity info to asses how it “really feels” inside. The Lyric’s true advantage, though, revolves around geofencing. Unlike the Nest, which “learns” your habits over time based on input, the Lyric Thermostat leverages your smartphone’s location services to know when you’re home (or close) and when you’re not. This smart approach to heating and cooling helps save money and the environment. It also saves you the trouble of getting off the couch to fiddle with the thermostat.

Chamberlain MYQ Garage Opener

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Did I close the garage? Chamberlain’s MYQ Garage Opener stops that nagging question from ruining your day. The advanced remote control accessory allows owners to close or open their garage door via a handy smartphone app. The system consists of a sensor attached to your garage door and a wireless controller box that can be placed anywhere in the vicinity of a power outlet. Once everything’s setup, Chamberlain’s cloud service will log when the door was opened or closed and how long it stayed that way, and send alerts via email or text if desired. It seems trivial, but it’s also hard to put a price on things like peace of mind, or the occasional convenience of letting others into your garage without having to be there. Ditto tracking what time your teen came home, for the psycho concerned parents among us.

Dropcam Pro

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There’s a reason Nest/Google (Noogle?) acquired upstart Dropcam faster than Tom Brady acquires Uggs. Their high-res, wide-angle connected security camera makes it dead simple to get video surveillance up and running in your home: Power it with the included USB cord and punch your wi-fi network credentials into the free Dropcam app. Then use it to check in on your home at any time in full HD quality, through both the app or any flash-compatible web browser. The company’s Cloud Video Recording platform also gives you the option of accessing footage up to 30 days in the past for a monthly fee. Features like night vision mode, motion detection and the ability to both hear and speak through the nifty device are just icing on the security cake.

Philips Hue Lux

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New options in the connected lightbulb space seem to crop up every minute. The original Philips Hue Lighting system was one of the first players in the space, offering cutting-edge features like the ability to select from a full spectrum of light colors, or even match the lighting mood based on the color palette of a photo. The company’s new line of Hue Lux bulbs ditches the chameleon gimmicks for a cheaper price, while offering the same powerful connectivity features: geofencing, remote brightness controls and the ability to set timers. They’re also fully compatible with a growing ecosystem of Hue apps created by Philips and third-party developers that can vastly expand the capabilities of your smart lighting system.

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