Smart appliances, connected homes at CES 2014

What we saw -- and loved -- in Vegas this week.

Megan Wollerton/CNET

Things are winding down for the appliances team here at CES 2014. We've looked at a lot of stuff and we hope you've enjoyed our coverage. Now, all that's left is to find out how close our predictions came to what we actually saw in Vegas this week.

Connected large appliances get smarter

A lot of the large appliances we saw last year boasted "smart" features, but ultimately, many of them were too novel to add much value. As a result, we have maintained a healthy skepticism in this category. But at this year's CES we're happy to say that we saw some of that shifting -- a little.

LG debuted something called HomeChat that lets you text with your appliances. That seems like a big improvement on the disjointed LG Smart ThinQ apps we reviewed last year . GE announced that it was updating its Brillion app so folks can preheat their oven, monitor its progress, etc., without needing to be on their home Wi-Fi.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Bosch unveiled a new range that will join the Discovery IQ line. The company also updated the related app to offer remote access à la GE Brillion. Whirlpool took a slightly different approach by showcasing several smart concepts , some of which will actually be making it to stores in 2014.

The growing smart home

The whole "Internet of Things" was definitely a theme in Vegas this year. But more than individual stand-out products, 2014 was all about partnerships -- growing existing smart home lines and announcing new collaborations. This ushers in a new era for the smart home, made up of home automation hubs and the third-party products they support.

Staples and its smart home partner, Zonoff, announced that Staples Connect will begin to support Bluetooth, ZigBee and Insteon products shortly , in addition to individual devices like the Goji smart lock. Revolv announced that it's $299 hub will be available for purchase at Home Depot and that it's working on integration with ZigBee devices. Lowe's Iris will be compatible with select sprinkler systems and valves that detect leaks in the near future, and the hub will offer a new voice-control feature soon. SmartThings unveiled "SmartThings Labs," which expands its home automation offerings to include Belkin, Sonos, and Philips, with Jawbone and August locks on the way.

While partnerships took center stage at CES 2014, there were some intriguing individual products in the smart home category, too. Samsung's new SmartCam HD and SmartCam HD Outdoor should create some competition for the Dropcam Pro. We also liked Intel's charging bowl , the iPot pressure cooker, the Lumen Mini, and that the Belkin WeMo line is expanding to lighting.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Decidedly unsmart, but still cool

There's other stuff we liked at CES, too. The Scooba 450 is a new and exciting product from iRobot. No, it doesn't have an app or any sort of connected feature, but it will scrub your bare floors for you. That's gotta count for something.

Samsung unveiled the most comprehensive suite of new appliances that we saw in Vegas. We previewed new refrigerators, a range, a microwave, a dishwasher, a washer and dryer pair, vacuum cleaners -- all kinds of new kitchen and home stuff. But, none of them offer smart functionality. Instead, the focus seemed to be on thoughtful design and increasing its large appliance presence in the United States.

That's a wrap

We're glad we got to bring you the latest coverage from CES 2014. Large appliances impressed us with some connected features that might actually help with chore time. The smart home is expanding -- new home automation ecosystems keep popping up and the existing ones are continuing to grow. We saw some new lighting products, although none were particularly innovative. Design was a high priority and we also saw several promising "dumb" appliances. We can't wait to get our hands on these devices for review back at the appliance testing lab. But for now, we're going to take a moment to celebrate the appliance team's first ever CES.
 

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