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So you missed out on the best Black Friday deals. No big deal. Just sit back and tap away at these Cyber Week deals on smart home products from Amazon we have tested, purchased, and continue to use each and every day. You can’t go wrong with any of these as you build out your connected home.
Here are 7 well-proven items worth taking a look at, ideal for gift giving or simply treating yourself to a feel-good deal.
Philips Hue White and Color Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit with Amazon Echo Dot
The Philips Hue smart lighting system is proven and one of the best out there. With this package deal, Amazon is bundling the Echo Dot smart speaker (3rd Gen, their latest version of this compact speaker) with the Philips Hue White and Color Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit.
This is a low-cost express route to getting voice-activated smart lighting with the Alexa assistant in your home, and a setup you can continue to build upon with a high degree of confidence it will continue integrating well with your smart home.
Ring started the video doorbell genre, and they continue to offer well-built products in this space. With this package deal, the latest version of their most popular doorbell, the Ring Video Doorbell 2, is bundled with the latest version of the Amazon Echo Dot voice-activated speaker.
In a time when package-stealing is so prevalent, the Ring offers a compelling deterrent and you can easily warn off potential thieves with your voice. And the Echo Dot enriches the experience, by enabling voice control for more Ring features and deep voice access to the growing library of Alexa skills.
See more on Ring and the related Ring Stick Up Cams here.
Furbo Dog Cam and Treat Dispenser
So what is your dog up to after all the humans leave the house? With the Furbo Dog Camera and Treat Dispenser, you can not only see what Fido is doing from a remote location, but also talk to him and dispense treats through the treat launcher.
A built-in bark sensor can be set to deliver alerts to your smartphone when your dog reacts to activity, so you can check out what’s going on.
Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera with 16-50mm Zoom Lens
We use high-end (and heavy) Canon DSLRs in our studio and in the field when producing original images for the pages of Digitized House, but when we are traveling for pleasure the compact Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless is our immediate go-to camera.
Sony brought mirrorless technology to the masses with their respected Alpha series of cameras, and the a6000 delivers on all levels. The camera features a more-than-adequate 24 megapixel (4000 x 6000) APC-C CMOS sensor, 3-in. flip-up and rotatable LCD, rapid auto-focus, pop-up flash, and image quality that will put the camera in your $1,000+ smartphone to shame on every level. And it will do all of that while delivering a maximum 11 frames per second.
We also found the lightweight Sony 16-50mm E-mount zoom lens to be the perfect solution for travel, as adept at snapping available-light images of artwork at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris as it is at capturing sweeping panoramas of the Swiss Alps through a window on the Glacier Express excursion train. The lens comes off with a twist, making it easy to separately tuck the camera body and lens into a corner of your bag when space is at a premium.
The a6000 also has an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot, so you can connect to other devices in your home for transferring photos by using the Sony Play Memories app on iOS and Android.
If you are willing to spend more, Sony offers an updated version of this camera, the Alpha a6300, that offers 4K video capability, a magnesium chassis, and more features in the same small form factor. But you will pay almost twice as much.
We also travel with a tiny Mannfrotto Pixi Evo folding tripod, a sturdy platform that’s stable enough to solidly support the a6000 when hand-holding is out of the question. It’s so small you will forget you have it in your backpack, and it easily slips into a pocket for ready access.
Samsung QLED Q6FN Smart 4K UHD TV 55-inch (2018)
If you are looking to upgrade to a 4K UHD TV, the 2018 Samsung line of QLED sets have much to commend them. And at plummeting costs, there may no longer be a legitimate reason to hold off on getting a reasonably-sized QLED for your media space.
For our home, we purchased the bigger brother of this TV, the Samsung 65-inch QLED Q6FN, and it is a stunning display. This is our third Samsung flat panel purchase, and all have been rock-solid reliable and thoroughly capable performers.
In the 55-inch QLED, you get all of the attributes that make these TVs such a pleasure to use, including the 4K Ultra UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution, a barely-there thin bezel, Q High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, and (yes) a quad-core processor. They also have Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant.
This 6 Series QLED, like all Samsung 2018 QLEDs, features Samsung Ambient Mode, a special screen mode that can make the TV appear to blend into the wall it is mounted on. Not a marketing gimmick, we found Ambient Mode works as advertised. After snapping a photo of the TV and the surrounding wall surface from the Samsung smartphone app, special software overlays the on-screen wall image with artwork, photos, clocks, or other special effects, making the bezel of the TV appear to, well, disappear on the wall.
Another plus for the smart home: These QLEDs include the Samsung SmartThings app, so all of your devices and automation appear on-screen and become controllable from the TV remote, in the same manner as they work in the SmartThings smartphone app. While some Samsung TVs have an integral SmartThings smart home hub, the 6 Series TVs do not so you,will need to have a separate SmartThing Hub.
As for the 4K programming, we found the best way to experience it is through Netflix, though you will need to upgrade to the Netflix Premium plan in order to get it. On our QLED, we successfully stream 4K shows on Netflix by using the built-in Netflix app on the Samsung Q Smart interface, or through an Apple TV 4K box with the free Netflix app from the tvOS version of the App Store. Just be sure you have sufficient network bandwidth before trying this at home: Netflix recommends 25 MBPS or higher for 4K streaming.
iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum
Particularly in homes with cats or dogs, a robotic vacuum can be just the ticket to always-clean floor surfaces and a healthy home environment. The iRobot Roomba 675 is great for automated pet hair removal.
In addition to the 3-stage cleaning system, special dirt-detecting sensors make the vacuum work harder on areas with concentrated dirt and an array of guidance sensors maneuver the device under and around furniture and other obstacles.
This Roomba robot vac has on-board Wi-Fi networking, and works with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant—so a simple voice command can be used on demand to send the vac on its merry way to cleaning your home. Or, you can simply set a schedule through the iRobot Home app.
August Smart Lock
August Home was at the forefront of the smart door lock movement, and their line of August smart locks have proven to be solid, reliable, and well-connected. And when you combine the third generation of the August Smart Lock with a good deal, you have an appealing option for making your front door a smart door.
These locks are designed for doors with conventional deadbolts, and are designed to easily retrofit to the interior side of deadbolt. The exterior of the deadbolt remains unchanged, so key access is retained after the upgrade.
However, soon after installing the August, you will probably stop carrying your keys altogether. This lock becomes entirely keyless when using the August app and secure two-factor authentication (2FA). Digital guest keys can also be shared with others as needed through the app, and guests gain access through the August app on their phones.
The August Smart Lock can work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but you will need to purchase the accessory August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge and have a compatible smart speaker in order to gain voice control.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.