Home automation is becoming more and more popular these days. Amazon has also become the global leader in e-commerce as the world’s largest online retailer. That said, here are 5 best Amazon Alexa compatible devices for 2018 that you can add to your home.
To start this new year, I thought of blogging about what would make our lives better and smarter. Prepare for some cool smart home gadgets or automation that will definitely amaze you.
Homes becoming smarter
Before I get to our list of smart home gadgets, let me give a bit of a precursor.
With the advancements in technology, a lot of things that we use in our everyday lives are becoming smarter. I believe you’ll agree with me that the first one that would come to mind is our “smartphones”.
I would bet that majority of us living in the 21st century have a smartphone. And that is likely very true otherwise Apple and Samsung won’t have such positive results with their sales. They won’t become the billion dollar companies they are now if we did not purchase their products.
Thereafter, Apple introduced their intelligent personal assistant “Siri” into their iPhones. Obviously others follow suit as the trend showed an increase in usability of having such a smart personal assistant.
- Apple iPhones = is to Siri
- Google Home and Phones and Samsung Android phones = is to Google assistant
- Amazon Echo and Fire tablets = is to Alexa
Then dawns the idea of IoT or also known as Internet of Things. The goal was to get most if not everything connected to the online world.
This was the beginning of a new era. All the elements needed were in place, thus technology gave birth to smart homes. And personally I think we are still in its infancy. I won’t be surprised if we see more advancements in the not so distant future.
Why Amazon Alexa
Now, you may ask why Amazon Alexa?
Amazon has truly become a trend setter. It is now the global leader in e-commerce that have built the world’s largest online retail store.
It has also redefined the standards for online shopping and shipment with their introduction of Amazon Prime. With Prime, subscribers can get their orders delivered within two days as standard. This fast delivery service was unheard-of just a few years back.
Third party companies have obviously recognized Amazon’s rise to popularity and prowess. More and more products have been manufactured and made compatible with Amazon’s Alexa.
Some companies who have joined the Amazon Alexa bandwagons are:
- Philips Hue
- Samsung SmartThings
So without further ado, let’s go on to our list of 5 best Amazon Alexa compatible devices for 2018!
You need to get Alexa first
Now, now before I forget, all these smart home automation products won’t converge obviously without Amazon’s Alexa. To get to know how to use Alexa read my post here.
So first and foremost you need to get your own Alexa personal smart assistant. There are several Alexa assistant devices available in the market. They are also known or called as “Echo“. And as you may have figured out, they are all available in Amazon.
Here’s a list of them in order of size (smallest to largest).
This is the smallest among all the options of Amazon’s Echo products.
The speaker that comes with this gadget is not loud but decent enough for a small to medium-sized room.
The main advantage of its small form is that you can literally place this anywhere you can imagine. This gives you the flexibility to put this in a spot that is closest to the center of the room. That would essentially give you a scope radius that has maximum coverage. So you can talk to your Echo Dot from virtually anywhere in your room.
This Echo is Amazon’s 2nd generation that they have recently introduced in their array of Echoes.
Sound quality for this device is more powerful as it comes with a 2.5″ woofer and 0.6″ tweeter speakers. It has dual speakers that can fill a room and is powered by Dolby.
Playing music with this gadget would give you more clarity and better sound quality. This is a very nice to have for music enthusiasts as they will enjoy the sound that this produces.
Amazon also offers several different fabrics and/or finishes so you’ve got plenty to choose from.
- There are charcoal (black), heather (gray) and sandstone (lighter gray) fabrics are available
- Then there are oak wood and walnut wood finishes that are also available
The Plus version is obviously the big brother of Echo.
Now being the big brother, it just expected that it comes with a bit more. Yes it comes with the same sound features as it’s younger brother but slightly louder. The tweeter speakers were improved to a louder 0.8″ tweeter speakers.
Now the main difference for this beast is that it includes a built-in smart home hub. This is a feature that will make setup of compatible devices easier to connect. I guess the idea is with a more expensive product comes less stress to set up with other devices. That’s the extra price we’ll have to pay for the premium functionality and features.
Nevertheless, this is definitely one that is worth considering among them all.
The Spot is not necessarily bigger than Echo Plus. It is actually smaller and compact but it is stylish and it comes with a 2.5″ screen real estate.
Sound quality is also decent for this gadget in a small to regular sized room. It comes with a bigger 1.5″ speaker.
It is stated that it you can play videos from Amazon Video and more with this device. Although with that screen space I for one wouldn’t really be after watching videos on this thing.
This version is also a big brother. You’ve guessed it right, this is a big brother of the Echo Spot.
It comes with a 7″ screen with dual speakers that are also powered by Dolby. We can even dare compare that this is also like the Echo Plus but with a screen.
This means more screen real estate and better and louder sound quality.
Common features of them all are the following:
- Capable of streaming music via WiFi
- Amazon Music
- And more
- Has 3.5mm line out audio jack with Bluetooth
- All has the same except Echo Show that only has Bluetooth but no line out audio jack
- Capable of making voice calls for FREE
- Make calls to US, Canadian and Mexican phone numbers
- It is not, however, able to receive calls unless you add Amazon’s Connect box
- You can read more of this functionality on TheVerge website blogged by Chris Welch
- And last but definitely not the least is capability to control smart home compatible devices
And that last feature is what we are here for aren’t we?
Below is a comparison table for Amazon’s Echoes.
(Prices shown in the image may not reflect the current price at Amazon’s website)
You can pick your choice and purchase them here.
For Canada click here.
5 best Amazon Alexa compatible devices
There you go with some background and how to begin with your journey on setting up your smart home. Now let’s get the party started.
First on our list is Amazon’s own product.
Gone are the days of being tied to cable TV subscriptions. We are no longer limited to the pre-selected channels that your local cable provider gives you.
Amazon is one of the key trend setters in this arena where they have introduced and launched their Fire TV.
There are several different options available for you.
- Fire TV Stick
- Fire TV with 4k Ultra HD
- Fire TV with 4k Ultra HD + HD Antenna
- Fire TV Edition Smart TV
The Fire TV comes with its own Alexa Voice Remote so you don’t necessarily need to have the Amazon Echo to make this work. You can, however, pair this with your Echo so you can use either the remote or your Echo. The nice thing about having Echo is that you don’t have to look for your remote when you want to control your TV.
Fire TV Stick
This is the basic edition among all the Fire TV versions. You can stream online media through the stick as it connects to the Internet via your home WiFi.
You can watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and so much more. You can even subscribe to various channels online so you can watch live TV shows or news. This gives you the flexibility to only get the channels you want and are not pre-selected for you.
Are you a Prime member? Then this unlocks hundreds to thousands more online content for you. That means more movies and TV shows available at your fingertips.
Lastly, the cool thing about the Stick is that it is only a “stick”. Think of it like your USB drive that is very handy and mobile. What I mean is that you can carry this along with you wherever you go. That gives you the flexibility and freedom to bring your movies and channels with you. All you need is Internet access and whala!
You can visit your friend or relatives and watch movies with them. Are you in college or university staying in a dorm? No problem, bring your Fire TV Stick in your dorm. Going out on a vacation? Have your Stick with you to entertain you. No need to pay your hotels to avail of channels you wish to watch.
I hope you’re seeing the vast flexible application of the Fire TV Stick. No wonder this is Amazon’s bestseller.
By the way, you’re also not just limited to watching videos as this device can also stream online music from Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and Vevo.
Fire TV with 4k Ultra HD
4k Ultra HD is the main difference of this option. All that comes with the Stick but with a way more powerful 4k Ultra HD quality is available at your fingertips.
The gadget still is not that big so it is still also movable and mobile. Bring it with you wherever you may go.
Memory wise, this got doubled so I would imagine faster response times and loading of your entertainment. That’s a more than welcome upgrade I would say.
Also, this gadget goes beyond streaming. It can also control your other Alexa compatible devices. For example, “Alexa please dim the lights.” Or “Alexa, kindly set the thermostat to 70 degrees.” You get the drift.
One thing to point out though is that in order to maximize this you’ll need a 4k UHD TV. I guess that was obvious wasn’t it.
Fire TV with 4k Ultra HD + HD Antenna
You would have guessed by now that the only difference here is the “+ HD Antenna”.
This addition basically lets you capture local HD channels available in your area. That is it plain and simple. No further explanation needed.
Fire TV Edition Smart TV
This one is Amazon’s own version of their Smart TV with a built in or integrated Fire TV functionality.
There are no more stick or devices to plug in to your HDMI. All you have is your Smart TV and the Alexa Voice Remote Controller.
This TV comes in four different sizes:
- 43 inches
- 50 inches
- 55 inches
- 65 inches
As of time of this writing all but one are available, which is the 65-inch edition. Amazon states that they do not know when they’re going to have the other sizes available. So you’ve got a limited option here but the largest one.
Additional accessories offered with the TV includes:
- TV with
- Echo Dot
- Digital Antenna
- Sound Bar
- Digital Antenna and Sound Bar
That’s it to round up the Fire TV gadget. Have you decided what you want to get for yourself?
On to our next cool gadget on our list. Our number two smart home automation is none other than:
TP-Link Smart Plug
There is no need for a hub that would control the smart plugs. This is easy to install and start using. Simply plug this Smart Plug into your wall outlet then connect it to your WiFi. You can then plug a devices to it and your done.
Now since this is compatible with Alexa, that means you will need one of the Amazon Echo devices. That will allow you to control this via voice commands to your Alexa Echo gadget.
Let’s say for example you have your lamp plugged in to this. You will then say, “Alexa, turn on/off the lamp.”
Take note that you will also have to name each plug so Alexa will know which one you are referring to.
You may also set a schedule on when this plug turns on and off automatically. It also has “Away-Mode” that turns everything off. That functionality actually does make your home a lot smarter.
Also, just noting here that this is also compatible with Google Assistant.
There are numerous applications I can think of that you can use this.
Here are some examples.
- Clothes Iron
- Bathroom outlets where a blow-dryer, curling iron or shaver is plugged in
- Space heaters
- Mobile phone chargers
- Kitchen crock pots
- Microwave ovens
- Deep chest freezers (you can set a schedule so that it helps reduce electricity consumption)
- Gaming consoles (i.e. PlayStation, Nintendo or Xbox)
- Radio or CD players
- DVD players
- Media players (like our first on the list, the Fire TV)
- Battery chargers
Let me know in the comments section below if there’s any more you can think of.
The most obvious benefit of this is with your electrical consumption. You’ll save money over the long haul.
When your TP-Link Smart Plugs makes your home smart enough then you’ll definitely save some here and there. Not to mention that your home also becomes earth friendly as you consume less energy.
So what are you waiting for. Head on to Amazon via the link below and get your hands with one of these.
Third on our list helps control our cooling and heating system in our homes.
Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat is another way to make your home truly become a smart home. As the name implies, it learns your cooling and heating needs over time.
Nest claims that it can learn within a week’s time the temperature you like for your home. By using its Auto-Schedule feature it will learn and eventually programs itself within a week.
This gadget also automatically turns itself down when you are away from home. You know what that means, more energy savings.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is also the first ever to earn the Energy Star rating.
Other features available
Here are the features available for you with this gadget:
- Home/Away assist – turns itself down when you’re away and back up when you get back home
- Remote control – as it is compatible with Alexa then it can be voice controlled (also can be controlled through your mobile phone, tablet or laptop)
- Farsight – it can detect your proximity to itself and automatically lights up and shows you time and temperature information
- Nest Leaf – it helps and guides you in saving energy by showing a leaf icon when temperature that is set saves energy
- Energy history – you can check from your phone the energy usage and you can see how much and why
In comparison to others
There are now several other smart thermostat you can find in the market. The Nest Learning Thermostat is by far the number one (#1) best-selling smart thermostat that is available out there.
At time of this writing there are nearly ~17,000 customers who bought this from Amazon. Customers has also rated this 4.5 stars out 5. That is roughly 94% of the 17k customers gave this either a 4 or a 5 star rating.
I think its a no brainer. You’ll never go wrong with this cool smart home gadget.
Now our second to the last smart home automation gadget will complement your Amazon Echo.
Sonos Play:1 Wireless Speaker
Connect it to your Amazon Echo or any other Alexa compatible or enabled device and ask to play for the music you wish. This is the reason why I said it will complement your Amazon Echo. When you ask Alexa to play a music, not only does Echo plays but also your Sonos Play:1 speaker.
If you also opt to purchase more than one, you can either play one song or different songs for each. For example, if you have two speakers, you can play two different songs at the same time. Or you can have both play one song both at the same time. The song will play in perfect sync with each other.
- Quick and easy setup (within 5 minutes)
- Expandable – you can add more speakers to your home audio system all around your home
- Wireless streaming with Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music
- Wall mountable
This is definitely a nice addition to your home audio system.
Finally, to round up our 5 best Amazon Alexa compatible devices, is a gadget related to home security.
Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera
A smart home is not complete if it is not secure. I also think that this is the most important one. After all what’s the point in making your home smart if it will get broken into.
The Nest Cam indoor security camera gives you the peace of mind when you’re away from home. You will receive alert in your mobile phones when it detects motion activity.
It also gives you the ability to hear what’s happening in your home. There is also a built in speaker so you can speak from your phone and the sound comes out of your camera in your home. This is a deterrent for bad guys who breaks in your home.
- 24/7 live video
- 130 degrees wide angle view
- 1080p HD quality
- Quick and easy setup – plug in, download the app, no hub needed
- Talk & listen
- Night vision
Nest Aware subscription
There is a monthly subscription that comes with this gadget though. With the subscription you get video storage in a cloud.
- Basic: 10-day video history for $10/month or $100/year
- Extended: 30-day video history for $30/month or $300/year
If you opt not to subscribe to Nest Aware, you basically won’t have any video recording saved in a cloud. Your only option is to record the video manually while viewing from your phone.
Nonetheless, this is still one critical smart home gadget that you would need to truly secure your home.
Now as a side-note related to smart home security. If you are not fond of monthly or yearly subscription. There is a DIY smart home security camera that I would also suggest. This one is also compatible with Amazon Alexa.
iSmartAlarm iCamera KEEP Pro
This one I have personally bought for my own home. So I’m speaking / writing from personal experience.
It also comes with a cloud storage for video recording but only for a few seconds. If I recall correctly about 10 seconds video recording.
Another thing I like about this security cam is it pans and tilts. That means that when it is armed it can follow the motion that it detects. All of that while it is also recording.
Add a micro SD card to it and it can record videos longer up to 30 seconds each.
I personally like this one better though it doesn’t rank at the top in Amazon. It seems there are misrepresentations of the product that misleads buyers or customers. Thus, the not so stellar rating.
But to be fair, one not so good comment I have is that it is slow to arm or disarm it. Nonetheless, I don’t really find that as a big issue.
If you are interested with this one as well you can grab one here from Amazon.
Live Smart with Smart Home Gadgets
There you have it folks. My 5 (+1) best Amazon Alexa compatible devices for this year 2018. I myself am looking forward to getting my hands with some if not all of these.
I encourage you to get one or some for yourself as well. Let’s start living smart and automate our homes. We can save some energy. Save some extra money. Become more earth friendly. And have a safer and more secure homes.
Have a wonderful and blessed day everyone.
Let me know your thoughts and feedback in the comment section below.
P.S. Also if you’re looking for Smart Locks, check out my recommendation here.