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Are you looking for the best Alexa devices? We’ve got you covered.
Smart home technology is more popular than ever before.
Since the beginning there has been one smart home product that stands out among the rest — Alexa.
But what is Amazon Alexa, and how can it help you live a better life?
Read on to find out more about this game changing smart home device…
- 1 What Is Amazon Alexa?
- 2 The Best Alexa Devices
What Is Amazon Alexa?
Have you ever wished that you had your very own personal assistant who helps make your day to day life easier? You’re not alone.
Well, while it may not be a real person, Amazon Alexa is exactly that.
Alexa is an artificial intelligence with a female voice that responds to your questions and commands in a conversational manner.
This artificial intelligence is housed within a choice of numerous different Amazon Alexa smart speaker devices.
A built in microphone picks up your voice when you speak using sentences starting with the Alexa wake word (this lets Alexa know that you are talking to it and not someone else).
Alexa then uses its artificial brain to search the internet and find answers to your questions, or follow your commands – an ability also called Alexa ‘skills’.
These commands could be anything from asking Alexa to control other smart devices in the home such as locks, thermostats, and lighting, or an almost endless list of other tasks such as placing online orders and tracking packages, finding and reading recipes, ordering pizza or Uber, reading stories to your kids, streaming music, paying bills, or sending you reminders so you don’t miss important events.
Alexa can also be set up to follow customized routines where it will organize multiple actions within the home simultaneously.
Take bedtime for example — provided that you have the right smart devices installed within your home you can schedule Alexa to turn down the heating and lock the door and windows, turn off the lights, and set an alarm for the next morning all at the same time without having to lift a finger, using just one simple voice command.
How Does It Work With Connected Devices?
Amazon Alexa connects to the internet using your home Wi-Fi network.
When you speak it collects your voice commands and sends them up to the Alexa Voice Service in the cloud where the commands are analyzed and an appropriate response is created to be sent back down to the Amazon Alexa smart device which will answer you or carry out your command.
Alexa can also be connected to other compatible devices in order to act as a smart home hub.
Multiple Amazon Alexa smart speakers for example, can be placed in various rooms and either be combined to play the same music throughout the home, or used individually to play different music in each room.
But Alexa can also connect to and control thousands of other smart home devices too, from security systems to lightbulbs.
Depending on the Alexa smart device that you have, it can connect to compatible devices in a variety of different ways.
Direct connection is possible with certain devices via dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz) networks or Bluetooth.
The Echo Plus also has Zigbee built in which works with even more devices. Once a smart device is connected to your Alexa speaker you can control it with voice commands.
There are many more Alexa compatible smart home devices however that require a separate smart home hub in order to connect.
These smart home hubs act as a kind of translator between smart devices which use other communication protocols such as Zigbee or Z-wave, and your Amazon Alexa smart speaker, so they can also be on the same home network and controlled using the voice activated Alexa artificial intelligence.
The Best Alexa Devices
For most of us, Facebook plays some sort of role in our everyday lives, keeping us up to date with the latest news from family and friends, sending messages, and having real time video conversations.
Facebook Portal Plus is an Alexa enabled hands free camera and screen which makes video chats even better.
The 15.6 inch 720p HD video screen can be rotated from landscape to portrait. Portal’s smart camera tracks your movements, so wherever you are in the room and whatever you are doing, the person with whom you are chatting won’t miss a thing.
You can even add cute video effects while you are talking to animate your conversations — a really cute feature if you’re reading stories to kids.
This Facebook smart home device can be voice activated using its own AI, but it can also use Alexa voice controlled technology, so you can also ask questions and use Alexa skills as well.
You can also use Facebook Portal Plus to listen to the latest tunes or watch YouTube videos, news channels, and more.
- Calls are encrypted for added security
- Intelligent camera tracking allows for complete freedom of movement
- Comes with Alexa already built in
- Wide field of view
- High quality display
- Fun features
- Feels like the other person is in the room with you when chatting
- Supports group calls
- Large size can take up a lot of room on a counter
- Having two voice assistants in one device can be confusing
For exceptional quality sound, you won’t find much better than the Sonos wireless subwoofer.
This classy, cutting edge sub looks super stylish, and measures approximately 16 by 15 by 6.3 inches.
Combine it with other speakers to create crystal clear bass noise, perfect for listening to music or to provide immersive sound for your home entertainment system.
To control it simply use the provided Sonos app, or better still combine it with an Amazon Alexa device for convenient voice control.
- Can be used upright or on its side without compromising sound quality
- Has voice control when paired with Alexa
- Delivers fantastic quality base sound
- Easy to set up
- Totally wireless so no untidy cables
- Elegant design
- Expensive compared to other speakers
- Can only be combined with other Sonos speakers for integrated sound
Top notch home security is one of the biggest advantages of having a smart home.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 features a camera that activates as soon as the doorbell is pressed or if any movement is detected outside your door.
The video feed is then sent in real time to your smartphone, or to your Alexa Echo Spot or Echo Show device, allowing you to clearly see who is there and speak to them without having to get up and answer your door.
You can also check up on your home at any time using live video.
This smart doorbell can be powered either by using the rechargeable battery, or hard wired into you home. Measuring 5 inches high, 2.5 inches wide, and 1.08 inches deep, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 boasts a 1080HD quality camera and infrared vision for night time, and has a 160° horizontal field of view.
- Can be either wireless or hard wired
- Easy to install
- Attractive design
- 2 way communication and 1 way video
- Very convenient
- Useful night vision and good quality video
- Works with Amazon Alexa for hassle free voice control
- Includes two interchangeable faceplates to match your decor
- Motion detection can be too sensitive in some situations
- Requires a subscription to view or share recorded video
This smart thermostat comes with the Amazon Alexa AI already built in, so not only does it do a great job of keeping your home at the correct temperature, you can benefit from useful Alexa skills including calling and messaging, plus connect to other smart devices in the home, too.
Simple to install, the ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control works with a wide range of smart home systems, including major brands such as Apple, Samsung, and Google.
It uses smart sensors to monitor the temperature and humidity levels in your home, and adjust it automatically according to your preferences and how many people are in the room — which is a great energy saving feature.
This smart thermostat can be controlled from anywhere using the ecobee app, or with your voice within the home. Measuring 4.3 inches square, the neat, compact design features a clear LCD touchscreen display.
- Decent quality speaker with far field voice recognition
- Can control heating, humidifiers, ventilators, dehumidifiers and other HVAC devices
- Good Wi-Fi speed
- Excellent range of Alexa features
- Relatively easy to install
- Great smart home functionality
- Extra sensors need to be purchases for this smart thermostat to work correctly in more than one room
Known for their innovative, quality audio products, Bose have yet again come up with the goods with these Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones.
Not only do these top of the range headphones possess powerful audio performance with deep, clear bass, and incredible, adjustable noise canceling technology which ensures that you only hear what you want to hear and not the noise around you, they are also Amazon Alexa enabled.
Ask Alexa for the latest news or weather updates, set timers, or to stream music for you or tell you what your schedule is for the day, and she will deliver the response directly to your ear.
Alternatively you can use the Bose Connect app to pair the headphones with your smartphone.
These headphones are extremely light and comfortable to wear, and they can be used either wirelessly, or wired for longer battery life.
They also come with a hard carrying case to keep them protected as you travel.
- Possibly the best noise canceling headphones on the market
- Very comfortable and extremely portable
- Excellent audio quality
- On ear access to Amazon Alexa assistance
- Good microphone for handling calls
- Long battery life
- Well made and durable
- Sound quality may not impress true audiophiles
- Rechargeable battery can’t be easily replaced
We’ve already mentioned Philips Hue a few times in this article, and with good reason.
Philips Hue are one of the best smart lighting brands out there, and offer a huge range of different products.
The Philips Hue White and Color A19 Light Bulb uses Bluetooth and Zigbee communication protocols, and can be voice operated using Amazon Alexa via a separate smart hub, as well as other voice assistants including Apple Homekit’s Siri, and Google Assistant.
Provided you are using the Philips Hue Bridge as a smart hub, just ask Alexa and she can dim the light to your desired level, set timers, finely tune the light color to one of an almost never ending choice of 16 million shades, or create custom ambient color zones in different areas of your home.
Alternatively, control your smartbulb manually by using the Philips Hue app.
- Can be voice controlled using Amazon Alexa
- Massive range of rich color options
- Versatile, programmable settings
- Expandable lighting system when combined with other products from the Philips Hue range
- Fits standard light fittings
- Easy to use
- Requires the Philips Hue Bridge in order to benefit from all the features
- Bulbs are a little dimmer than some other smart lighting brands
Give yourself extra peace of mind with the award winning August Smart Lock Pro + Connect, 3rd gen technology.
This smart lock can be attached to your existing front door locking system and uses secure z-wave communication protocols as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Easy to install, the August Smart Lock Pro allows you to monitor and track exactly who is coming in and out of your property, and when.
It works by using your smartphone as a key, allowing you to enter and exit your home hands free as soon as you approach your door, eliminating the need to fumble around for keys or struggle with heavy bags.
It will automatically unlock when you approach, and automatically lock behind you when you leave or on a timer. It also sends a 24 hour activity feed directly to your phone so you can know as soon as someone enters or leaves.
Profiles can be set up for different family members or friends, for whatever duration of time you require.
This smart lock can also be used with Amazon Alexa for additional voice control.
- Stylish design
- Simple to install and set up
- Existing keys and locks can continue to be used
- Integrates with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, and Google Assistant for voice commands
- Very versatile
- Allows you to control and monitor your door from any location
- Battery life could be longer
- App can sometimes be glitchy
Not many people I know enjoy vacuuming, so what better than a robot to do it for you?
The iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum is a 13.8 inch diameter wide circular machine which uses innovative technology to map your home to ensure it never misses a spot, plus cameras and sensors to detect walls, furniture, and other obstacles.
This smart home vacuum will also detect whether it is on a hard or carpeted surface and adjust its brushes accordingly.
It uses power suction that lifts dirt, pet hair, and other debris right off of the floor, and high quality filters to trap allergens and other microscopic nasties.
When it’s running out of energy, the iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum simply recharges itself at the docking station until it’s ready to finish the job.
You can tell this smart vacuum to get to work at any time, review cleaning reports, or schedule a cleaning session in advance using the iRobot Home app, or alternatively combine it with an Amazon Alexa device to simply tell it what to do directly.
- Practical for homes with pets
- Can be voice controlled when paired with Alexa
- Cleans both hard floors and carpeted areas well
- Low enough to slide under most furniture easily
- Automatically recharges until the job is finished
- Effective filters and powerful suction
- Cleans thoroughly without missing certain areas
- Cleaning can be scheduled for when you’re not present
- Can only map one level of your home at a time
- Doesn’t work so well on long pile carpet
- Takes a relatively long time to recharge
What do you think is the best device that works with Alexa?