Smart Living Room Guide

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For most of us, the living room is the hub of the home and the center of family life.

It’s the perfect place to start creating your smart home.

From smart entertainment to virtual assistants to robot vacuum cleaners and everything in between, there are a wealth of products out there ready to elevate your living room to the next level.

We’ve chosen some of our favorite smart living room products, which range from the crazy cheap to the eye-wateringly expensive. Thankfully most products settle somewhere in between!

Let’s take it away…

Smart Hubs

For many people, a ‘smart hub’ is their first foray into the smart home industry.

These hubs control the other smart devices around your home and some even provide such services as voice assistance and app integration. For instance, you can call across the room to your Amazon Echo that you’d like to listen to Rumours by Fleetwood Mac on Spotify, and the integrated Alexa voice assistant will start playing it for you.

Pretty sweet.

There are a number of smart hubs on the market — some better than others — and chances are that you’ll keep it in your living room, as the hub of the home.

Amazon Echo

amazon echo
The Amazon Echo is one of the most famous smart home devices in the world and it’s no wonder: it’s a truly amazing product.

At its bare bones, the Echo is a wireless, voice activated speaker with a smart, interactive voice control program known as Alexa.

The Echo has 360° speakers that can hear you wherever you are in the room — all you need to do is to command Alexa with your voice. Whether you want to adjust your smart thermostat, play a song on Spotify, ask Alexa to read you the news, turn off your smart lighting system, call your parents, whatever you can think of, you can do with the Amazon Echo.

>>> Read our in-depth review of the Amazon Echo

There are three versions of the Amazon Echo:

  1. The original Echo
  2. The Echo Dot — a smaller and cheaper version
  3. The Echo Show — the same capabilities as the Echo, yet with a screen so Alexa can show you things

smart home devices

Google Home

best smart hub

Google Home is very similar to the Amazon Echo — it’s another smart, wireless speaker that’s powered by the intelligent Google Assistant.

Let’s take a look at its features:

  • Can distinguish your voice from others in the home for a personalized experience
  • Can call numbers in the US or Canada for free with no separate app download
  • Connects to all your apps and smart home devices
  • Far-field voice recognition and natural language processing
  • Can work in multiple rooms
  • Also has touch control
  • 7 different base colors available

And, while we love the Amazon Echo, we have to say that the Google Home wins hands down as far as beautiful design goes.

It’s priced at $129 on the Google Store.

Samsung SmartThings Home Hub

best smart hub
Samsung SmartThings is the major budget competitor to the Amazon Echo and the Google Home, that again can control the life of your smart home.

It can connect to a wide array of smart home devices, which you can then control using either the SmartThings app or by voice control with Amazon Alexa. You’ll need to plug SmartThings directly into your router.

The SmartThings app is free to download for iPhone and Android and it allows you to control and monitor all the devices in your home.

It is significantly cheaper than the Amazon Echo and Google Home, although bear in mind that you will need to buy an Alexa-enabled device (like the Echo or Echo Dot) if you want to control it with your voice.

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Wink Hub 2

wink hub 2 review

The Wink Hub 2 is very similar to the Smart SmartThings hub above, although it is more expensive.

Just like the Samsung, Amazon and Google hubs, it connects to all your smart home devices and allows you to control them via your smartphone on the sophisticated Wink app.

One of the benefits of the Wink over the Samsung SmartThings is the fact that the WiFi connection is very strong, while the product itself has a strong processor with plenty of memory — you’ll be able to control your home smoothly and very quickly. A whopping total of 530 devices can be paired to the hub.

It can be controlled either through the app, Apple Watch, Android Wear and it also works with Amazon Alexa.

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Logitech Harmony Home Hub

logitech harmony hub vs samsung smart things

The Logitech Harmony is one of the most popular hubs for the smart living room as it pairs so well with entertainment devices.

It works with over 270,000 devices and can be paired with up to 8 home entertainment devices at one time. It’s super easy to customize your living room environment using the Harmony app — or you can control the Harmony using an Amazon Alexa device — and you can create your own ‘one touch experiences’ with it.

It takes a date night to the next level.

The connection with the Harmony is also strong enough to control devices stored within closed cabinets — ideal if your entertainment system is kept behind closed doors. It can also control game consoles.

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Smart TVs

OK, now it’s time to move into slightly more expensive territory… smart TVs.

If you want to buy the best TV of 2017, that automatically means that it’s going to come equipped with some degree of smart functionality.

Whether that’s being able to integrate with your other devices and apps or creating a cinema-quality experience in your own living room is up for debate.

We’ve picked out three of our absolute favorite smart TVs, all of which are on our smart home device wish list.

Let’s get right into it…

Sony XBR65X850E 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

best smart tv

Sony is an industry leader when it comes to home entertainment, and they’re beginning to make waves within the smart home market as well.

This Ultra HD Smart LED TV is their flagship model of 2017 and, considering its wide capabilities, is very reasonably priced.

Here are its standout features:

  • Available in 65 and 75 inches
  • Can be controlled with Amazon Alexa
  • Also works with Google Assistant
  • Smart functionality connects the TV to your other apps and content
  • Equipped with Android TV and voice search for all the entertainment you can dream of
  • Live TV streaming with no annual contract
  • 4K Ultra HD picture clarity with HDR detail
  • Edge lit LEDs
  • No motion blur thanks to 120 Hz native refresh rate

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Samsung Flat LED 4K UHD THe Frame Smart TV

samsung frame tv

A quirky offering now from Samsung with The Frame — a TV that transforms into a work of art when you’re not watching TV.

Take a look at these features:

  • Curated gallery of 100 works of art in 10 different genres
  • You can also display your own photos on it
  • The frame itself is customizable to fit your interior design
  • No Gap Wall Mount ensures it hangs flush to the wall
  • Available in 55 or 65 inches
  • 4K Ultra HD resolution and 4K HDR
  • Comes with OneRemote which controls all your favorite shows, artwork and any connected devices with no set-up
  • Has Ambient Light Sensor to adapt to your environment
  • Can be controlled through the SmartView app

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Vizio SmartCast P-Series 4K Ultra HD

smart tvs

For many aficionados, the Vizio SmartCast P-Series is the smart TV of 2017.

Not only is the picture quality incredible thanks to the XLED Pro Picture and XHDR Pro features, but it’s also equipped with built-in Chromecast.

Chromecast contains thousands of apps, allowing you to enhance your viewing experience, controlling it via your smartphone.

It’s available in 55, 65 and 75-inch screens, with prices starting from $969.99.

LG 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV

best smart tv

But hands down, the best smart TV on the market right now is the Smart OLED TV from LG.

This bad boy definitely isn’t cheap — but it does have some killer features:

  • Available in 55 and 65 inches
  • Smart functionality for pairing with your favorite apps and devices with webOS 3.5 and the Magic Remote
  • 4K Ultra HD picture clarity and HDR detail
  • Individually lit OLED pixels for ultimate contrast
  • No backlight required for rich coloration
  • Perfect for streaming shows
  • Equipped with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for cinema style quality
  • Blu-ray playback will be available soon with 2017 software update
  • Comes with SLING TV live TV service

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Smart Entertainment Accessories

Of course, not all of us have the cash lying about to splash out on a smart TV.

But there are definitely products on the market that can jazz up your living room and give you more opportunities for entertainment and media content.

Here are a few accessories that have caught our eye of late:

Sony BDP-S3700 Streaming Blu-Ray Disc Player with WiFi

sony blu-ray disc player

Yes, it’s just a box, but this box has got it going on.

The Sony Streaming Blu-Ray Disc Player allows you to stream content from over 300 different entertainment services, as well as play PlayStation Now games and Blu-ray movies.

Essentially, it massively upgrades your TV experience.

And not only does it increase the amount of content you can watch, it also makes it better: improving quality to near HD standards, premium sound, and a strong, fast WiFi connection with MIMO capability.

You can also use it to stream content from your mobile phone directly to your TV as well — whether photos, music or videos — thanks to the front USB port.

If you can’t afford a smart TV, this could be the next best thing.

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Fire TV Streaming Media Player

amazon fire review
Fire TV is Amazon’s product to compete with the Sony Streaming Player above. If anything, it actually goes further than the Sony as it’s equipped with the brilliant Fire Stick, which enables you to remote control it with your voice.

Here are its best features:

  • Watch HD 1080p streams from Amazon Video, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and more
  • Integration with over 15,000 apps, games, and Alexa skills
  • Can control content with the accompanying Alexa voice remote
  • Includes 2GB memory, 8GB storage and expandable storage of 200GB
  • Prime members will get free access to Prime Video

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Dashbon Flicks Mobile Cordless Boombox Projector

smart projector
To tell the truth, we weren’t entirely sure how to categorize this cool product from Dashbon.

While you certainly can install it into your smart living room, as a projector, you can actually use it wherever you’ve got a projection screen handy — even outdoors! This baby is cordless.

Here’s what it’s got going on:

  • Rechargeable battery for 4 hours movie playtime and 28 hours Bluetooth music playback
  • Ultra bright and portable LED projector in 720p HD
  • Bluetooth HiFi speaker with subwoofer and dual full-range drivers
  • Works with streaming devices via HDMI, including Amazon FireTV Stick, Roku, and Google Chromecast

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Smart Audio

One of the best ways to upgrade to a smart living room is to invest in some smart audio kits.

Not only do these allow integration of all your music, radio and music streaming services but they’re much easier to maintain and control than old school audio units.

And while some smart audio systems are expensive, many of them are surprisingly affordable.

Let’s take a look…

Denon HEOS 1 HS2 Wireless Speaker

best smart speakers

The Denon HEOS is many audiophiles’ favorite smart speaker system as not only does it look great, but it’s very intuitive and easy to use.

Here are its best features:

  • Bluetooth integrated
  • You can stream from apps like Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, TIDAL, Rhapsody and Amazon Prime Music via the free HEOS app
  • Compact and portable
  • High-resolution audio support
  • Custom dual drivers with wide range mid-woofer and precision dome tweeter
  • Sealed for humidity resistance

There are many other amazing speakers in the Denon HEOS range, but this is perhaps the most affordable and popular.

We’d also recommend buying the Denon HEOS 1 GO Pack alongside it: this includes a lithium ion rechargeable battery that delivers 6 hours of playback time.

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Sonos Playbar

sonus playbar review

If you have got the money to invest in an impeccable sound system for your living room, then it doesn’t get much better than the Sonos Playbar — a TV soundbar that can wirelessly stream TV and music.

It’s the perfect accompaniment to HD TV screens thanks to its 9 amplified speaker drivers.

If you want to mix it up and create a true surround sound experience, then you can upgrade to the 5.1 home theater — which includes this Playbar, two PLAY:1s and a SUB.

For music lovers, the Playbar can stream all your other music services and apps, and it can sync wirelessly to any other Sonos speakers you may have.

It also comes with ‘night sound’ — enhances quieter sounds and reduces the intensity of loud noises.

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Audio Geek R400 Wireless Speaker

audio geek speakers

For those on a budget, the AudioGeek R400 should be the first smart speaker system on your list.

The audio quality itself is exceptional and distortion free, while it offers great smart functionality considering its very low price point.

It’s compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 and is equipped with a built-in mic and speakerphone for you to even take calls with as well. Unfortunately, it’s not wireless so you will need to keep your smartphone nearby in order to keep Spotify playing.

The battery provides a respectable 6 hours of playback.

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Victrola Modern 3-Speed Bluetooth Turntable

bluetooth turntable

Now, this one’s for all you vinyl lovers out there!

This beautiful piece of kit can stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth, up to 33 feet away from the device. It’s available in 6 different colors and sports a glossy piano finish.

Sound quality is also excellent, thanks to the dual 50-watt stereo speakers and the 3-speed capability of the machine.

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DEvialet Gold Phantom

best smart audio

When we say these speakers are expensive, we really mean it. But there’s no doubt that they’re sporting some serious technology here.

The Phantom promises world class sound: ultra dense with absolutely no distortion or saturation. This is really one for audiophiles.

It’s also miles ahead of other Bluetooth sound systems, as it’s able to connect to your devices by wireless WiFi and Bluetooth. Plus it can be connected to your TV and Blu-ray player for some truly incredible cinematic sound.

Unfortunately, it’s not compatible with Amazon Alexa, so can’t be voice controlled, although it can be monitored and controlled via the smartphone app.

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Libratone ZIPP Speaker

best wifi speakers

For feature-rich, smart speakers that are a lot kinder to the wallet than the Phantom above, you can’t go wrong with this Libratone ZIPP Speaker.

It can be connected via WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplay and Spotify Connect, and sports amazing 360° multi-room speakers for an incredible audio experience.

All apps can be streamed natively on the smartphone app and you can pair 6 of these ZIPPs together throughout your home for truly immersive sound.

It also has a super impressive 10+ hours of rechargeable battery life.

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ICE Orb Levitating Wireless Portable Bluetooth Speaker

levitating speaker

This is only a wireless Bluetooth speaker but we can’t get enough of its crazy, levitating design.

It’s the perfect addition to any smart living room worth its salt!

The Bluetooth capability means that the speaker can be paired with any smartphone or tablet that has NFC function or Bluetooth, so you can stream your music direct from your smartphone.

It’s been designed not only to look cool but to sound great too. A special sound guide cone gives the impression of a 3D surround sound effect with the 360° vent alignment ensuring that no sound is lost during play.

ICE also comes with a smartphone charging dock that can be used even when the speaker ball is in levitation mode.

But, let’s be honest, you’ll be buying it because of how it looks.

smart home devices

Universal Remotes

Universal smart remotes are a must-buy for a smart living room.

We all know how annoying it is trying to control all your different entertainment devices with a slew of different remotes and never knowing which one is which.

Thankfully, the smart home revolution has seen a lot of energy poured into this niche, with technologists working out the secret to powering all your devices with just one control system.

Here are a few of the best on offer in 2017…

Logitech Harmony Companion Remote

best smart universal remote

Earlier, we reviewed the Logitech Harmony Home as a smart hub for your living room, and now this is the companion remote to it.

This remote gives you one-touch control over all of the smart home devices connected to the Harmony Home Hub — everything from your entertainment system to your Nest Thermostat and Philips Hue lighting.

You can set up the remote either on desktop or via the smartphone app, and will be able to set home automation controls on the remote as you do so.

It will also let you control devices behind closed cabinet doors, like game consoles.

smart home devices

Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control

best universal remote
If you want a universal remote that can go further than the Logitech Harmony above, then you should take a look at this elite version instead.While t

While the price is higher, it also includes the cost of the Harmony hub so bear that in mind while you’re comparison shopping.

Here’s a look at its best features:

  • Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control
  • Can control up to 15 connected devices
  • Has a full-color touch screen that’s easy to navigate with a swipe and tap
  • One-touch automation for activities like ‘date night’ and ‘movie time’ to adjust all your devices to your prearranged settings
  • Closed cabinet control over game consoles
  • Works with over 270,000 devices

smart home devices

Sideclick REmotes Universal Remote Attachment for Amazon Fire TV Streaming Player

cheap universal remote

If you’re looking for a universal remote on a budget and you happen to already have the Amazon Fire TV Streaming Player, then this Sideclick universal remote will be right up your street.

It’s basic, for sure, but it’s very hard to argue with its low price tag.

You can control your TV, receiver, sound bar, Blu-ray and Amazon Fire TV with it — even if it can’t connect to all your other smart home devices like the Logitech model above. It’s restricted to entertainment only.

The Slideclick came into being via Kickstarter and is already proving to be very popular. If anything, it’s a cheap and easy foray into smart home devices.

smart home devices

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

We know, we know… we could have put robot vacuum cleaners in any of the smart room guides we have on this site.

But, for us at least, the space we see our little robot shooting around and working is the living room. Probably because it’s where we spend the most time together as a family.

It’s well known that the Roomba is the industry standard for robot vacuums, but truthfully there are plenty of other brands out there that are just as good — and often cheaper!

Let’s take a look at the best on the market.

Eufy RoboVac 11

best robot vacuum
The Eufy RoboVac 11 is one of the bestselling robot vacuums, and with good reason: it sports excellent suction, is great on pet hair, will self-charge and even has drop-sensing technology!

It’s most effective on hard floors and thinner carpets, and it even has a HEPA filter to ensure the removal of allergens like pet hair and dander.

As well as being able to avoid falls, and so preserve itself for longer, it also has an infrared sensor to evade any obstacles. It’s ultra low profile means that it can scoot under and around tables and chairs with minimal difficulty too.

Cleaning wise, its powerful suction is boosted by a 3-point cleaning system that ensures thoroughness and precision on the floor. Its high capacity Li-ion battery keeps power fade free for over 1.5 hours.

>>> Read our indepth review of the Eufy RoboVac 11

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iRobot Roomba 690 Robot Vacuum

roomba 690
And here’s the Big Daddy itself — the Roomba 690!

Just like the Eufy above, it sports a 3 stage cleaning system: agitation, brushing, and suction for a thorough clean. It’s more versatile though, as it can adapt to a variety of different floor types, and has WiFi connectivity.

Here are its other features:

  • Can be scheduled up to 7x a week from anywhere with the dedicated app
  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Automatically docks and recharges when needed
  • Automatically adjusts to all floor types
  • iAdapt Navigation system to successfully navigate your home
  • You can manage where it cleans with the 1 Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier

It’s probably the best robot vacuum on the market right now.

And just in case you’re still on the fence, check it out in action in this video:

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ILIFE A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner

cheap robot vacuum

If you’re on a budget, you might consider the ILIFE A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner.

It may not have the same smart and WiFi enabled functionality of the Roomba, but it’s a good budget alternative.

Firstly, it cleans incredibly well thanks to its strong suction and HEPA air filter purification system. It’s also very quiet when used on hardwood and thin carpets: ideal for student accommodation and small apartments.

It has multiple smart sensors that allow it to navigate your home, and it can be scheduled in advance. It will also return to its dock when the battery is low for recharging.

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ECOVACS DEEBOT M80 Pro Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

roomba 690 vs ecovacs deebot m80

This is another super advanced, WiFi connected, robot vacuum that’s around the same level as the iRobot Roomba 690.

Take a look at its stand-out features:

  • 5 stage cleaning system
  • Optional mopping and drying stages
  • Large capacity dustbin
  • High-efficiency filters for dust and allergens
  • WiFi connectivity enables scheduling from anywhere
  • Adapts to household environment thanks to sensors, object detection, and stair safety technology
  • Powerful wheels that can climb inclines and cross door sills
  • Automatic charging
  • 3 cleaning modes: intensive cleaning, edge cleaning, and spot cleaning

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Smart Lighting

Smart lighting is another group of products that we could write about in any smart room guide, but it feels particularly relevant in the living room.

After all, this is the room where you spend a lot of quality time. Whether that’s a weekday movie night with the kids, or a Saturday date night with your love — lighting is everything when it comes to ambiance and mood.

There are lots of smart lighting products out there — some better than others — and we’ve chosen a few of our favorites for you to check out.

Philips Hue

best smart lighting
Philips Hue is undoubtedly the most famous and popular of all the smart lighting systems in 2017, and there are plenty of different products available within the brand:

  • White light bulbs
  • Color light bulbs
  • Lightstrip
  • Lamps
  • Table lamps
  • Dimmer switches
  • Ambiance candle
  • Portable dimmable LED smart lamp
  • Motion sensor
  • Switch light

This product we’re linking to is the Philips Hue starter pack, which — as the name suggests — is a good place to start when it comes to smart lighting.

It comes with three color A19 LED smart light bulbs that can be set to every conceivable color in the spectrum, and the Philips Hue Bridge — the hub from which you can control up to 50 different bulbs.

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LIFX WiFi Smart LED Light Bulb

led smart bulb

The next most popular smart light bulb is the one from LIFX.

Some people prefer this to the Philips Hue, as there’s no need to buy a hub (in Philips’ case, the Bridge) and all bulbs can be easily controlled via the phone app.

It works with Amazon Alexa, Nest, and Samsung SmartThings, if you have other smart home devices you would like to integrate, and the bulbs themselves are able to turn to a whopping 16 million different colors — as well as warm to cool whites.

Whatever strikes your fancy!

They’re also tested to last for up to 22 years, with research based on 3 hours of use per day.

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LUTRON Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Deluxe Starter Kit

best smart lighting system

Not quite as well known as Philips Hue or LIFX but still with plenty to offer, the Lutron Caseta smart lighting system is steadily becoming more popular.

Just like with Philips, a bridge hub is needed to control the different lighting components, and there are plenty of different light types on offer.

This particular set is the starter kit — equipped with 1 Smart Bridge, 2 in-wall Smart Dimmers, and 2 Pico Remotes.

Here’s what’s on offer:

  • Can be voice controlled with Amazon Alexa
  • Free Lutron app allows you to monitor and control system remotely
  • Lighting can be scheduled according to time or seasonally at sunrise and sunset
  • You can create personalized lighting scenes on the app
  • Works with a variety of other smart home devices including Nest, Apple HomeKit, EcoBee, Google ASsistant, Logitech, Samsung SmartThings, Sonos and many more
  • Up to 50 Lutron lights can be connected to the bridge
  • Install in 15 minutes

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Phew — now that’s everything you need for a world-class smart living room!

Have any smart home devices caught your eye?

 

Featured photo is by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

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