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Best Nest and Google Assistant devices for 2021

Building a smart home with Nest and Google Assistant devices means plenty of hardware options. Here's what we recommend.

8 min read
$100 at Google Store
Best overall and best smart display: Google Nest Hub (2nd gen)
$100 at Google Store
$50 at Google
Best smart speaker: Google Nest Mini
$150 at Ecobee
Best smart thermostat: Ecobee3 Lite
See at Amazon
Best smart camera: Wyze Cam (2020)
$200 at Arlo
Best outdoor smart camera: Arlo Pro 4
See at Simplisafe
Best home security: SimpliSafe Home Security
$229 at Best Buy
The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock installed in a white door.
Best smart lock: August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
$150 at Google
Best video doorbell: Nest Doorbell (battery)
See at Best Buy
Best smart light: C by GE
Update: Unavailable
$25 at Amazon
Best smart plug: TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini
Update: Unavailable

With a simple voice command,  Google Assistant , which launched alongside the original  Google Home  smart speaker in 2016, can adjust your thermostat, turn off your lights, lock your door, show you the weather forecast and more. When it first came out, it was only compatible with four  smart home brands -- today, that number is over 1,000.

Picking between Google Assistant and Amazon's  virtual assistant Alexa is a matter of splitting hairs and comes down to personal preference. If you'd prefer an Amazon-centered smart home, there are plenty of devices that work well with Alexa, including Android phones. Apple's HomeKit platform isn't compatible with as many products, but if you love your iPhone and its built-in assistant Siri , check out our favorite Apple HomeKit gadgets

If you're ready to jump in with a Google-powered smart home, here are the best Google Home devices and Google Assistant devices for a variety of smart home products. Get started with a smart display or smart speaker, then branch out with our picks for compatible lights, door locks, smart switches, smart thermostats and other useful gadgets.

Read moreGoogle's Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro made their debut during Google's fall 2021 Pixel event 

Chris Monroe/CNET

The Google Nest Hub (formerly the Home Hub) is a great way to kick off a Google-centric smart home. It uses Google Assistant to respond to all of the same voice commands as a Google Home smart speaker. The touchscreen will show you extra info when you ask about the weather, search for restaurants and so on. Plus, you can use this smart home hub to watch videos or scroll through family pictures.

In fact, unique adaptive brightness sensors make the Nest Hub a great digital photo frame, as it adapts to both light levels and color temperature so it always looks like a physical photo in a frame. You can set it to play a scrolling slideshow of family pics as your screensaver. Google's Soli is also onboard this second-gen model for Sleep Sensing and Quick Gestures like pausing media with an air tap in front of the display. 

The Nest Hub is also a great kitchen helper, as it can walk you through recipes step by step and you can multitask while you cook. Set a timer, play music, add an ingredient to your shopping list -- the Nest Hub will even keep your place in the recipe when you need to check it next. You can plug it in and set it up on your Wi-Fi network using the Google Home app and ask the Google Nest Hub any question you'd ask the original Google Home. 

All of these voice control features make the Nest Hub useful in a lot of ways, but a simple control panel makes it the best choice for your central connected home device. Swipe down from the top for shortcuts that turn off the lights or let you check your smart home security cameras. You can then tap to see a room-by-room (living room, kitchen, etc.) overview of all of your devices. The control panel is well organized and helpful, particularly if you have family members who struggle to remember how to phrase voice commands. Now, they can just tap. 

The Nest Hub is our favorite smart display overall and boasts a reasonable $100 price. It's useful even if you don't have a lot of smart home gadgets, but it's indispensable if you want a smart home that works with Google Assistant.

Read our Google Nest Hub review.

James Martin/CNET

If having an extra screen in your house would annoy you, the Google Nest Mini makes another good smart home starting point. Google's small smart speaker is now in its second generation and offers all of the same Google Assistant-enabled voice commands as the rest, plus helpful extras like intercom functionality and stereo pairing with multiple Minis. Control compatible gadgets, search the web, play music and use its other features just by asking. The audio quality of the Nest Mini is surprisingly good, especially in this second-gen model. 

The Nest Mini is also cute and comes in four colors. At $50, it's the least expensive way to try smart home features without any sacrifices in voice control. The Nest Mini also makes for a good secondary device. If you put a Google Nest Hub in your kitchen, you can put a Nest Mini in a different room, and both will be able to control any compatible smart devices you set up. Even if they both hear you, only the closest one will respond.

Read our Google Nest Mini review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Changing the temperature of your thermostat with a voice command is a cool trick that never really gets old. Lots of smart thermostats work with Google Assistant. Check out our smart thermostat best list for options. Since Google owns Nest, the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is the obvious choice here, but I'll give the nod to the Ecobee3 Lite. 

Ecobee's budget model and its companion app (for iOS and Android) offer most of the same smarts as more expensive competing models, including the $250 Nest thermostat. It responds to all of the same voice commands and the intuitive controls make manual scheduling easy.

Read our Ecobee3 Lite review.

Setup Moveable, outdoor/indoorResolution 1080pStorage Cloud, local storageGoogle/Alexa Compatibility BothField of View 130 degrees

The Wyze Cam is easy to recommend. It's affordable, it works well, cloud storage is free for 14 days -- and you have the option to use a microSD card for local storage if you want. 

In a side-by-side comparison between the previous-gen Wyze Cam and the recent model, you can clearly see improved performance. Not only does it have a larger field of view, but the new camera also has a brighter, crisper live feed, which helps it out in low-light conditions as well as in regular daylight.

If you pay for the new Cam Plus subscription service, you get access to person alerts and longer stored video clips, starting at $2 per month. Sure, there are more sophisticated cameras out there, but Wyze continues to impress us with its high-value, low-cost smart home products, and this Wyze Cam for under $40 is no exception.

Read our Wyze Cam (2020) review.

David Priest/CNET

The Arlo Pro 4 is an excellent outdoor security camera with solid performance and versatility. With a slew of strong features, dependable design and a competitive subscription service, the Pro 4 is our favorite outdoor camera of 2021. At just about $200, it isn't the most affordable device on the market, but it's well worth the price tag. 

The Pro 4 is both fancy and practical. Some of its best features include 2K resolution, a 160-degree field of view, full-color night vision (though it shifts to black and white in truly low-light settings), two-way talk, a built-in siren and motion-sensitive spotlight -- the works. It's easy to set up and use, and unlike the Arlo Pro 3, the Pro 4 connects directly to your Wi-Fi. Its only downfall to note is the lack of subscription-free features, but at $3 per month, it's reasonable and in-line with competitors. 

Read our Arlo Pro 4 review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

SimpliSafe's wide variety of accessories rival professional options from companies like ADT. The starter kit is a reasonable $230. Unfortunately, you have to pay for remote app access, but $25 a month nets you that and professional monitoring. 

With the $25 monthly subscription, you also can control your system with Google Assistant, and SimpliSafe's devices will respond quickly to your voice commands. 

Again, Nest has an option here that poses a viable alternative. The Nest Guard costs more up front, but you can do much more without a subscription. But thanks to all of the reliable accessories, SimpliSafe's kit edges out the Nest Guard, especially if you want monitoring.

Read our SimpliSafe Home Security review.

The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock installed in a white door.
Chris Monroe/CNET

Speaking of locking down your home, the easy-to-install August Wi-Fi Smart Lock fits over your existing deadbolt. Built-in Wi-Fi lets you control it remotely and with voice recognition, so you can tell Google Assistant to lock your door. 

The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock has lots of features, including open-close sensors so you can check to make sure you pulled the door shut on your way out. August is responsive and reliable as well, making the Wi-Fi Smart Lock a good choice if you want to put Google Assistant in charge of your smart lock, door and entryway.

Read our August Wi-Fi Smart Lock review.


Wrapping this up with another one from Nest, but to be fair, the Nest Doorbell with battery isn't just the newest video doorbell from Google, it's also a top-notch wireless device with different specs and unique perks. While its predecessor Nest Hello (now called the Nest Doorbell (wired)) is still available for purchase, the battery-powered option has a more impressive design and better performance, making it an upgrade on almost every level. 

The Nest Doorbell with battery is an affordable $180 and offers a slew of neat features: two-way talk, high-def resolution, a 145-degree field of view with a 3:4 aspect ratio, smart alerts, facial recognition and a few other cool perks. And for icing on the cake, many of these best features come right out of the box -- no monthly subscription to Nest Aware necessary. 

While there are some video doorbells I like more (namely the Arlo Wire-Free), the Nest Doorbell (battery) is a solid device. If you're a Google loyalist or shopping for a wireless device with smart features without the monthly fees, then this video doorbell might be for you. 

Read our Nest Doorbell (battery) Review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Once you set up control points with a smart display or a smart speaker, it's time to figure out what smart devices you want. A smart light bulb is a good first step, and the C by GE bulbs work particularly well with Google. 

These affordable Bluetooth smart bulbs can use a Google Home device (both the Home Mini and the Nest Hub will work) as a bridge. You can set up the bulbs from the Google Home app, then control them from anywhere as long as the bulb is close to your Google gadget. Even better, because the bulb is communicating directly with your Google device, the response time is incredibly quick. (If you're looking to smarten things up at the light switch, read more about the Lutron Caseta In-Wall Dimmer Switch.)

Read more about C by GE lights.

Chris Monroe/CNET

A smart plug is a great way to efficiently add connectivity to dumb devices. Plug in a lamp or fan, and you'll be able to control it with an app. The TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug offers smartphone app controls and Google Assistant compatibility. Plus, the design is attractive and doesn't block adjacent outlets. 

It won't monitor energy, but the smart plug lets you control an old-fashioned floor fan with your voice for a reasonable price. Like most smart plugs, it works with a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network connection.

Read our TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug review.

More Google-centric recommendations for your smart home