essential smart home devices

Maybe you’re a complete beginner when it comes to home automation. If not, it's easy to overlook the basics of essential smart home devices.

Perhaps, on the other hand, your pretty tech-savvy and already enjoying the benefits of a connected home.

Either way, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of smart home devices and find analysis paralysis sets in.

Which appliances and devices are any good?

Where should you start?

What’s most important, convenience or security? Or both?

Questions are everywhere, and we've got another simple question for you right now.

Why don't you have these five essential smart home devices?

  1. Amazon Echo Plus
  2. Ring Smart Lighting
  3. Insteon Hub Central Controller
  4. Ultraloq Smart Lock
  5. Arlo Go LTE Camera

It's impossible to cover all bases with a duration of just five devices.

So, we’ve tried to combine a couple of old classics with a pioneering new range of smart lighting while also throwing in something you might not have heard of,

Whether you're a novice or pro, see how these robust intelligent home solutions can improve your life making it both safer and more relaxed.

5 Essential Smart Home Devices for 2019

We’ll dive straight in with something familiar to warm up.

With Echo Plus, though, you'll get far more than a primary voice assistant vehicle but what makes it so good?

1) Amazon Echo Plus with Integrated Hub

If you're unsure about digital assistants, smart home hubs and the seemingly endless expense of even starting to automate your home, read on,

Echo Plus addresses these concerns head-on in a single unit.

Most smart speakers have distressingly weak audio, instantly failing to live up to half of their name. Echo Plus in this second iteration boasts uprated drivers, a magnetic 3-inch sub, and Dolby Play for fully immersive audio through 360 degrees. You can also hook up a pair of Echo Plus speakers for authentic stereo sound. Voice-controlled adjustment of equalizer settings completes an impressive audio package.

Most smart devices require a central hub as an intermediary if you want them to play nicely together. One of the key selling points of Echo Plus is the Zigbee hub baked in and allows you to control a broad spread of devices without needing to budget more for a new hub.

The core purpose of a smart speaker for most consumers is the integrated voice assistants that power them. Enjoy all of Alexa’s considerable smarts with Echo Plus from hands-free control of your connected kit to organizing your day, from media streaming to intelligent search.

Sure, you can get tinier speakers, but they'll stiff you on the soundscape front. Undeniably, bigger beasts like Google Home Max kick like a mule, but you'll pay for the privilege.


If you want the ideal sweet spot of affordability, Alexa, thumping audio and that all-important home hub, we really can’t recommend Echo Plus strongly enough.

What are you waiting for? Mother's Day is looming, it would make an ideal gift for that special woman in your life, too.


  • Onboard Zigbee hub giving you full control of smart devices without needing a third-party gateway
  • Uprated speakers amp up the audio experience
  • The new, softened design makes a subtle but striking statement
  • Diminutive form factor means Echo Plus blends in rather than dominating
  • Reap the full benefit of your favorite digital assistant for hands-free control, entertainment, and convenience

2) Ring Smart Lighting: Extend That Ring of Security

Maybe you see the name Ring and instinctively think of video doorbells or full alarm security kits.

Since Amazon’s $1 billion acquisition, Ring has gone from strength to strength while still retaining its core focus of making your home and your whole neighborhood safer places to be.

Thanks to Ring’s purchase of LED specialist Mr. Beams, there's some exciting new smart lighting range ready to hit the shelves in just over three weeks, all now available for pre-order.

The Smart Lighting Bridge comes in very keenly priced and forms the foundation of this all-encompassing smart lighting solution. Build in your doorbell and cameras alongside your lighting and get all those Ring products fully interlinked and automated. Alexa capability allows you to embrace voice control, too.

What else is up for grabs once you’ve got that underpinning hub?

With a transformer capable of breathing some smarts into older landscape lighting rounding out a broad and deep range, we can’t wait for May 15.

If you’re interested in a more robust and infinitely smarter outdoor lighting set-up from a security legend, take your pick and get ready to roll next month. Given the pushed-back release date, these are the only devices on our list you can be excused for not owning right this minute!

Pre-order any time from now.


  • The bridge allows you to knit your ecosystem of up to 50 Ring devices together neatly
  • Choose from hardwired or wireless lighting so suitable for homeowners and renters alike
  • Expand your outdoor lighting from floodlights to accent lighting
  • Revamp older landscape lighting with a nifty transformer
  • From mood lighting for your outdoor BBQs to weather-resistant floodlights to keep your home protected, benefit from a full Ring of Security

3) Insteon Hub Central Controller: Robust, Dependable Powerhouse

If you’re slightly more smart home savvy, you’ll be well aware of the OG, Insteon.

Unlike many newcomers, Insteon has been in business for approaching two decades, starting life when smart homes were more hopeful predictions than current reality.

The bedrock of the ecosystem is the affordable, agile and all-improved Hub Central Controller.

You can take charge remotely using the responsive Insteon app on your smartphone while the hub also allows you to use your digital assistant of choice. The regular model accommodates both Google Assistant and Alexa while there’s a dedicated HomeKit-enabled hub if you prefer the services of Siri.

But if you're really looking for a starter kit, check here!

Scheduling and automation with creative scenes are straightforward even if you're an absolute beginner.

Some added benefits with this tweaked version are improved notifications and alerts along with enhanced security and even better range than ever before.

Insteon is still a stellar presence in the smart home space with just cause. Whether you’re an experienced practitioner or a complete novice, the broad ecosystem offers something for everyone with a premium placed on ease of use.


  • Fully enabled for use with both Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Control by voice, in-app on a smartphone or using physical controls
  • The rebooted model boasts increased range and improved security with absolutely no monthly fees
  • Fantastic compatibility with Insteon ecosystem and Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Build scenes and schedules for a fully automated home the easy way

4) Ultraloq Smart Lock: Bluetooth, Fingerprint and Touchscreen for Keyless Convenience Any Way You Want

We usually say smart locks are more a question of convenience than security. The Ultraloq Smart Lock manages to hit both these pillars of home automation head-on, though.

There are a couple of common bugbears when you're looking for a smart lock.

Firstly, this is a crowded vertical with almost too much choice. Which locks are any good? Which ones might let you down?

Maybe you don’t have the time or inclination to wade through scores of samey options.

Beyond that, choosing between methods of opening can leave you confused.

Ultraloq’s hard-hitting 4 access methods without needing to compromise:

  • Fingerprint access
  • Touchscreen code entry
  • Smartphone by knocking or shaking to open
  • A regular, old fashioned key

The ability to use a key or code makes this an excellent option for any families where older members are perhaps reluctant to embrace smart tech, or your kids don't yet have cell phones. The code or key access allows them easy access while you can use what works best for you.

You'll be able to store up to 95 fingerprints if you choose to enter by that method and this keeps security uppermost and is another solid method of entry for anyone baffled by smartphones or prone to losing keys.

If you live somewhere where you’re concerned about passers-by with ill intent watching you punch in your code, Ultraloq provides a sterling security touch. Simply type in a string of random numbers including your password among them. As long as your system is among the names, you’ll gain access while nobody else can steal your password.

There are no concerns about your lock letting you down in the event of a power outage thanks to Bluetooth LE connectivity. Battery life is an outstanding one year, too.

While we’re never going to shout from the rooftops that any smart device is perfect, Ultraloq Smart Lock is certainly nudging toward that territory. Check one out right now in aged bronze or satin nickel depending on which meshes best with your entryway décor.


  • Four ways to unlock your door giving you complete freedom
  • Highly advanced fingerprint recognition and anti-peep password functionality ramps up the security a treat
  • Enjoy up to 1 year of battery life translating to 8000 door accesses
  • Low-energy Bluetooth LE allows your lock to keep working even if the power goes down
  • Keypad automatically activates when you extend your hand with a neat, sci-fi flourish

5) Arlo Go LTE Camera: Unique, Mobile Security

We could write a book on smart camera solutions, and the choice is truly staggering. More products join a glutted marketplace regularly so which should you choose?

Well, there's no right or wrong answer, and today we've gone for a stealth option you might not even be aware of.

Go LTE Camera

Arlo’s Go LTE Camera is a remarkable and portable wireless camera that works equally well inside your connected home or outside when you need it.

Rather than depending on WiFi, benefit from Arlo’s LTE network and simple plans giving you robust and reliable coverage wherever you are, home or away.

As with all the best security cameras, you’ll get 2-way audio along with HD-quality video. With free weekly cloud storage and an onboard SD-slot, you’ll never lose your footage even if there’s a power issue. Piercing night vision keeps you connected around the clock.

Completely wire-free, you can shift this camera around. Whether you want to keep an eye on your kids, watch who’s coming toward your house or take the camera away with you on the road, it's all super-simple with this small device that punches dramatically above its weight.

You can stream live from your cell phone, tablet or computer and the Arlo app is a pleasure to use even if you're not the most significant tech fan.

If you’re interested in embarking on the smart home security route without the hassle and expense of rewiring or professional monitoring, the Arlo Go LTE is well worth checking out at your earliest convenience.


  • Works wirelessly without being reliant on a WiFi connection
  • Onboard storage keeps your data safe even if there’s an Internet outage
  • Fully weatherproofed allowing for both outdoor and indoor use
  • Completely portable security solution with a tiny footprint but vast functionality
  • 720p HD quality video footage is more than fit for purpose

Final Word

With this small but mighty list up your sleeve, there's no reason not to get started automating and streamlining your home right now.

Bookmark our blog if you want the 411 on all things smart home. We update items daily Monday through Friday with a handy weekend round-up, so you never miss out on the latest smart home news.

We’ve got some exciting news up our sleeve, too. We’re still keeping it a secret for now, though. All we can say is watch this space for the big reveal! We’ve been working very hard behind the scenes to make something happen so come back soon. Until then, why not sign up for our email newsletter? If you’re a new Smart Home convert and looking to buy one of the above devices, stay informed while benefiting from a full 20% of your first order.

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