Once you’ve joined the ranks of smart speaker households, either by purchasing a Google Home or Amazon Echo, the next question you’ll ask is likely: “What can I do with it?”
On their own, Google Home and Amazon Echo can play music, set timers, tell you the weather, and conduct search queries for everything from dinner recipes to who won the 1986 Super Bowl. But their capabilities go far, far beyond that. Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant, now has over 50,000 skills worldwide and works with 20,000 devices. Google Assistant meanwhile connects to over 10,000 smart home devices, meaning your speaker can do a heck of a lot more than tell you what your morning commute looks like (though it can definitely do that, too).
While turning your house into a smart home requires significant investment over time, there are many entry-level products available starting at just $20. They’re also relatively easy to set up — no need to mess with your house’s wiring or electrical just yet. From automating your lights to streaming content to your TV, here are the best things to buy after you’ve purchased a smart speaker.
Google Chromecast – $35
While a Google product, Chromecast works with both Google Home and Amazon Echo. It effectively turns your smart speaker into a remote, letting you turn on your TV and play shows using voice commands. It also lets you stream content from your phone and laptop directly onto your TV, which is handy if you have to use a service like Netflix or Hulu but don’t have a media player. Just like a remote, you can ask your smart speaker to pause, mute, fast-forward and rewind, though it still lacks some more complex functions.
Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit – $179
It’s hard to talk about smart products without discussing the Philips Hue. These smart bulbs have become a staple in smart homes thanks to their easy installation and hands-free activation. Unlike other products on this list, Philips requires you to invest in the Hue Bridge, a hub by which you can control your lights. It supports up to 50 bulbs, though the starter kit comes with three inside. These standard-size bulbs fit most table lamps and can be adjusted to display millions of colors and shades of white light. The entire system can be controlled via the Philips Hue App or your smart speaker. If you like what you see, you can always enhance your set-up with one of Philips many accessories, such as the Hue Tap or Hue Motion Sensor.
Wemo Mini Smart Plug – $25
While simple in design, a smart plug brings with its limitless possibilities. Craving a cup of coffee when you wake up, but not ready to get out of bed? No problem. Just turn on your kitchen smart plug remotely and your kettle will be boiling by the time you get up. The Wemo Mini Smart Plug works on WiFi, no hub required, and you can control it using an app or your voice through your smart speaker. You can also schedule the smart plug to turn on at certain times of the day. For example, turn on a fan to cool your house before you get home, or sync outdoor lights to turn on after sunset. This is also a handy way to make it look like someone’s home while you’re away on vacation.
Gosund Smart Light Switch – $20
Ever found yourself settling in with a blanket and a big bowl of popcorn, ready to watch a movie, only to find that the kitchen light is creating massive glare on your TV’s screen? By installing a Gosund Smart Light Switch, you won’t have to unbundle yourself to make the adjustment — this handy device lets you turn your light off with your voice. Like a smart plug, this light switch can be controlled remotely via an app or set up using a timer to turn on automatically throughout the day. While the set-up is a little more intensive than just plugging in an outlet, the Gosund Smart Light Switch is designed to blend in seamlessly with your other finishings, making it a worthwhile investment.
Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit – $157
Smart home security systems can be expensive, but they’re one of the most important products for smart homeowners. If you’re interested in protecting your home but looking for a budget-friendly option, the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit is here for you. The kit provides you with the SmartThings Hub, an outlet, one motion sensor and two multipurpose sensors that you can install around your house or apartment. The Hub connects with your smartphone, sending you notifications if there’s unexpected motion or entry while you’re away. As a bonus, having the hub may encourage you to invest in other SmartThings products that need the full kit to function.