CNET's smart home | Photo by CNET
CNET’s smart home | Photo by CNET

It’s not exactly the Jetsons’ sky-high space pad, but the 5,800-square-foot CNET “smart home” is as future forward as a consumer can get.

For eight months, editors have been testing out smart home products in a house in the Louisville suburbs for the online consumer technology news and reviews site CNET. Now, they’ve released their recommendations for small home devices like thermostats and garage door openers.

CNET also has partnered with sponsor and real estate giant Coldwell Banker to create a definition of the buzz term “smart home.” According to the news release, Coldwell Banker’s agents have been struggling to explain the term to buyers and explain how valuable having a smart home would be to sellers.

According to Coldwell Banker Real Estate and CNET, a smart home is “a house that is equipped with network-connected products (aka ‘smart products,’ connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or separate system with the home itself.”

The products CNET’s editors recommend are:

  • Voice control: Amazon Echo
  • Thermostat: Ecobee 3 and Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Lights: Philips Hue
  • Light switch: Belkin WeMo
  • Security camera: Nest Cam
  • Garage door opener: Garageio
  • Smoke alarm: Nest Protect
  • Vacuum: Neato Botvac Connected
  • Smart battery: Roost
  • Smart lock: August Smart Lock Homekit Edition
  • Smart doorbell: Skybell HD WiFi Video Doorbell

The Nest Learning Thermostat has been the gateway drug for me when it comes to smart home products. I had one installed this winter, and I am a little obsessed with it. I appreciate being able to turn up the heat in my house as I’m taking the elevator to the garage at my office. I love the “attaboy” emails Nest sends when you’ve been particularly conservative about your energy use. It was expensive, but it will definitely pay for itself by saving money on my energy bill.

Nest thermostat | Photo by CNET
Nest Thermostat | Photo by CNET

According to the folks at CNET, there’s nothing but growth on the horizon for smart home products.

“The smart home is where the PC industry was 30 years ago — it’s still in its early days with a lot of potential for growth,” said editor-in-chief Lindsey Turrentine. “From security to lighting to entertainment, we put every major category of the smart home to the test. We did the intense research so consumers don’t have to and help them make more informed decisions about how to incorporate technology in their own homes.”

CNET’s editors installed 34 smart bulbs and 12 smart switches to control all of the house’s lights. They also used Amazon’s Echo and the website IFTTT to create voice-activated “recipes” for controlling various devices in the house.

The editors also have been testing smart home appliances like ovens and dishwashers, including FirstBuild’s Paragon Induction Cooktop, which got rave reviews.

The total cost of everything CNET installed in the home was approximately $26,450. About half of that was paid for by CNET, and the rest was in products loaned to them by the manufacturers for review.

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