Now in their fourth generation, the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers are fun, useful and entertaining devices in their own right. They play music, answer questions, read the news, play games, tell jokes, set timers and more.
But before long, the ‘Smart Home’ section of the Alexa app is going to pull you in – and it should, because that’s where the true potential of your Echo smart speaker is unlocked. And while taking the first steps in building a smart home can seem daunting, there are plenty of devices that are easy to set up and use with your Alexa speaker, whether it’s the Echo, the ‘Echo Dot or the Echo Show.
Media Streamer – Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K – $ 49.99 ($ 39.99 on offer)
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4KAmazon
Before we get to the lights, cameras, and door locks, we should start with the Echo speaker’s stable companion, the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Plug it into a free HDMI port on your TV and you can control it by talking to your Echo speaker or built-in Alexa in the included remote.
Say, “Alexa, play Got an Amazon Echo? Now make a smart home with these devices”in your Echo or in the remote and that movie or TV show will start playing on your TV (as long as it’s available on Amazon Prime or other Fire TV supported services, like Netflix). You can also ask Alexa to pause, stop, resume, rewind, go forward, or skip to the next episode – all without lifting a finger. This particular stick is the latest 4K model and was released in 2018. A newer 2021 version of the standard HD Fire Stick can be had for just $ 40, but since it doesn’t support 4K content, we don’t think the $ 10 saving is worth it. that you don’t intend to hook it up to a 4K TV or monitor, of course.
Smart plug – TP-Link Kasa Mini – $ 24.99
A great way to make almost any device smarter is to use a smart plug. Many are available for a range of prices, but here we opted for the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini from TP-Link. Smart plugs connect to your Wi-Fi network, then can be controlled with their own smartphone app (in this case called Kasa), or with Alexa.
You can plug a lamp into the outlet and have Alexa turn it on and off whenever you ask, or plug in a fan to cool the room whenever you want. As long as the device turns on and starts working when it is turned on at the wall outlet, a smart plug and Alexa have simply given it voice control.
Smart sockets and switches, a complete guide
Lights – Philips Hue – from around $ 30
If you own an Amazon Echo Plus, you might already have a Hue bulb that came with it. Otherwise, white bulbs start at around $ 30 and colored bulbs start at around $ 50. However, while the Echo Plus can offer basic control of these bulbs with Alexa, all other Echo speakers require the Philips Hue Smart Bridge to control the bulbs.
We recommend the $ 170 Hue Color Starter Kit, which contains four colored bulbs and the all-important bridge. Once configured, you can ask Alexa to turn any light (or group of lights) on and off, change its color and brightness, and choose from a wide range of designed “ scenes ” by Philips. To learn more about what the Philips Hue line of smart lighting has to offer for your home, read our full guide here.
Wireless Smart Doorbell – Ring Video Doorbell 4 – $ 199
Ring Video Doorbell 4
Video doorbells like the Ring stream live video to your smartphone, but with an Echo smart speaker you can send it to your TV as well. You’ll need to have a Fire TV or TV Stick on your TV (as mentioned above), and once the Ring Skill has been installed on your Echo, you can say, “Alexa, show me the front door. “and a live video the doorbell stream will appear on the TV.
If you have a member of the Echo Show smart display family, like the latest Echo Show 10, you can view the video feed instead. This is useful if you hear noise outside at night and need to check it through Echo Show on your bedside table.
Being wireless, the rechargeable ring is very easy to install – just attach it to your door frame. You can also power it from the wiring used by your existing doorbell. The latest Video Doorbell 4 has HD video with night vision, motion alerts, two-way audio communication, and a quick-release rechargeable battery.
Camera – Nest Cam Indoor – $ 199
Nest Cam Indoor Security CameraNest
Security cameras are a good early buy for anyone looking to make their home smarter. Nest Cam Indoor records in Full HD and at 30 frames per second. With her Alexa skill, you can request to see the video stream on your TV (if a Fire TV is connected) or on your Echo Show smart display. This makes all indoor cameras with Alexa ideal for baby monitoring or for checking that the dog is sleeping and not eating your shoes. Again.
The only catch here is Nest Protect, which is the monthly subscription required to view the footage the camera recorded the last time it detected motion. Nest Protect starts at $ 5 per month or $ 50 per year and lets you view images for up to 24 hours after they are saved.
For a budgeted alternative, try the Wyze Cam 3.0, which currently costs around $ 30 and offers HD video recording, two-way audio and more for much less than almost any competition.
The best security cameras for the smart home
Door Lock – Yale Assure Lock Touchscreen – $ 279
The Yale Assure touchscreen smart door lockYale
We appreciate that changing your front door lock might not be high on your to-do list (and you might not be able to do it if you’re a tenant), but it’s there. that Alexa and voice control can really help.
The leading lock company, Yale, has an Alexa skill that includes the ability to unlock with your voice, as well as lock and check the status of the lock.
Asking Alexa to check if the door is locked might seem lazy, but what if a friend shows up and your hands are full? Just shout at Alexa to unlock the door (then enter your security PIN), and your visitor can enter directly.
Be sure to check out The GearBrain, our compatibility checker for smart home devices. this will help you find all smart devices that work with Amazon Echo.