High-tech gadgets are making your home smarter than ever.
By Florence Connally
The rise of the “Internet of Things”—a buzz phrase describing connectivity between gadgets—means your home’s appliances and electronics can do more for you with less fuss.
“Everything has a connection now,” says Evan Stinson, manager of ListenUp’s Boulder store. Here are his picks for the most innovative home technologies, from televisions that double as artwork to a Wi-Fi system that accommodates all the streaming, gaming and surfing that connected families enjoy.
When shopping for high-tech, don’t just go for the entertainment or “wow” factor, but also the speed and connections that will keep your home humming efficiently. Best of all, user-friendly interfaces mean you don’t need to be an engineer to operate these new systems!
LG’s newest offering is the OLED W8—a television as thin as a credit card that can be hung on a wall with magnets. The main display attaches to a soundbar, which houses the unit’s electronics and connections. It packs LG’s new Alpha 9 processor that boasts superior black levels. Each pixel is its own LED that completely shuts off when not in use to enhance the viewing experience. Google Assistant comes preloaded, so you can tell your TV to order pizza or preheat your smart stove. A 65-inch model retails for around $7,000, and a 77-inch one is in the works.
For those who’d rather have artwork than a television on their wall, Samsung’s Frame TV hangs like a picture and looks like a matted canvas when not in television mode. The 4K-resolution TV, which has four times the resolution of a high-definition TV, has customizable frames and can display more than 100 pieces of artwork or personal photos. Built-in sensors detect when someone is in the room, which cues the TV to turn on and display artwork. It comes in a 55- or 65-inch size; prices start at around $2,000.
3One Remote Rules All
Make remote controls stress-free by corralling all your remotes with a true universal remote. Control 4’s new EA-1 Entertainment and Automation Controller offers an entry-level control system that starts at $600, but could cost more for the whole bundle and installation. Tired of misplacing your remote? Crestron’s TSW-1060 is a wall-mounted touch screen with a wide range of customizable options to control all your home technology, including the television, lighting, audio, video, shades, security and other systems, simply by touching the screen’s icons. Prices start at around $2,400.
4Lock It Up
Security is one of the biggest trends in home technology right now and automated door locks use apps to let you know if your door is locked or not. The August Smart Lock connects to your phone via Bluetooth and will unlock your door when you are nearby. You can lend friends an electronic “key” by texting it to them. Other smart locks have keypads that allow you to program in different codes for different users and you can keep track of when the code is used. The August Smart Lock retails for $149. The more advanced August Smart Lock Pro, at nearly twice the price, tells you if your door is open and even integrates with a doorbell cam, so you know who’s been at your door and you have the photos to prove it.
5Wi-Fi All Bases
Many newer high-tech gadgets must rely on an in-home Wi-Fi system that’s designed for older, less-demanding gadgetry. “When you have a whole family streaming and playing games, bandwidth becomes an issue,” Stinson says. Eero offers a whole-home Wi-Fi system that broadcasts on three different wireless radio bands simultaneously, providing better coverage and bandwidth. A three-set Eero system costs around $299 and covers 3,000 square feet, or you can purchase a single Eero for $125 that’ll cover 1,000 square feet.
6Peace & Quiet
Sometimes you just need a little peace and quiet. Bowers and Wilkins’ new PX headphones cancel out background noise so you only hear what you want to hear. The headphones’ technology senses when you’re actually listening, so if you lift a headphone to hear someone, your music will pause so you don’t miss a beat. The level of noise cancellation can also be adjusted through its app. The headphones retail for $399.
7Sustainable Sight & Sound
Focal’s new Kanta 2 high-fidelity speakers contain unique materials—beryllium and flax—that reduce sound distortion and deliver optimum acoustics. The flax is sustainably grown near Focal’s French manufacturing facility. The speaker’s molded shell in black or walnut veneer pairs with striking baffle colors, including Carrara white, Gauloise blue, solar yellow, warm taupe and black lacquer, among others. Three years of research went into engineering the speakers, priced at $10,000 a pair.
A hands-free speaker doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice sound quality. The Sonos One delivers the superior sound it’s already known for, along with a built-in Amazon Alexa. Later in 2018, it’ll also be compatible with Google Assistant and Siri. Prices start around $200.