CNET Top 5: Simple smart home upgrades
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CNET Top 5: Simple smart home upgrades

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Five simple pieces of technology that will make your home smarter.

Now that everybody has a smartphone, the next big wave in tech is the connected home -- getting everything from your doorbell to your toaster connected to the Internet, working together to cut down your energy bill, make your breakfast and watch your cats. I'm Donald Bell and If this sounds like the life for you, here are my personal recommendations for the top 5 simple home upgrades that will jump start your smart home. Starting off at #5: smart lights. The Philips Hue is still the king of this category. $200 gets you three bulbs and a wireless hub, with extra bulbs setting you back $60 each. Not cheap, but these LED bulbs last up to 15 years. Plus, they pack more showoff factor than anything else on this list. Just invite the neighbors over, cue up Dark Side of the Moon, and play with your lightbulbs for 20 minutes. Heck, in Colorado this could be a full weekend of fun. At #4: smart outlets. A lot of options in this space, but Belkin?s $50 WeMo Switch is arguably the most well known. Just plug it in, download the app, and within minutes you?ve got an outlet that you can control and schedule with your phone. For $30, you can add on a motion sensor that will activate the outlet when you walk in the room, or freak out your pets while you?re at work. Coming in at #3: smart smoke detector. Pretty much talking about the Nest Protect here, unless you?re buying a more comprehensive security system. As someone who sets off my smoke detector almost every time I cook, I would gladly fork over $130 for a smoke detector that will talk to me a little before going to red alert. It?s also room aware, so it can politely wake my sleeping wife to let her know I?m burning a grilled cheese downstairs. Staring at lightbulbs makes me hungry. At #2: a smart thermostat. Now here, I?m not just talking about Nest. They have the prettiest one, but there are some good connected thermostats out there for half the price. Bottom line: here?s an upgrade that can translate into a smaller energy bill almost immediately. A thermostat that adapts to you, sends you feedback on your energy use, and can even tell you when it?s time to change the air filter -- that?s progress. Now before we get to #1, let?s take a moment to call out one of the silliest smart home appliances we?ve seen: the Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker. Now don?t get me wrong, I rely on my slow cooker for dinners that won?t set off my smoke alarm. But why does the most basic kitchen appliance ever invented need an app? I suspect we?re going to see a ridiculous wave of unnecessarily ?smart? appliances over the next few years until we collectively figure out what really makes sense. A $99 connected Crock Pot does not meet that threshold. 1. Smart locks Alright, and finally, my #1 pick for a simple smart home upgrade: a smart lock. We?re seeing a bunch of these coming out this year: Goji, August, Lockitron, Kevo. Some replace your entire lock, some fit over your existing deadbolt, but all of them promise they can be installed under 20 minutes. A great range of prices and features. Some have NFC and unlock your door with a wave of your phone. Some will notify you when you get a knock at the door. Some will even send you a picture the person stealing your Amazon packages. If nothing else, as the first thing people see when they come to your house, it sends a message -- a proud geek lives here. Out. So there you go, five products you can buy right now to make your home a little smarter and impress your friends. Be sure to check out CNET's appliance reviews for all the latest home tech. And for more top 5s for me, top5.cnet.com http://top5.cnet.com I'm -Donald bell, thanks for watching.
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