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The best smart home devices for creative professionals

smart home devices
(Image credit: Philips)

Smart home devices are becoming the norm. A lot of homes have 'smartened up', whether it’s with something as basic as a smart speaker or with a host of smart devices that includes a smart fridge or smart washer and dryer. After all, the best smart home devices do make doing things faster, and therefore make life easier.

At best, smart home devices on the market can make creative professionals’ daily routines and workflow much e more seamless. By taking over the simplest and perhaps more tedious quotidian tasks at hand, the best smart home devices for creatives allow photographers, videographers, artists and designers to focus more on their artistic endeavours.

If you're looking for more devices to make your life easier, you might also want to check out our guides to the best laptops for graphic design or the best ereaders money can buy.

Benefits of smart home devices for creative professionals

As creative professionals and self-professed smart home fanatics ourselves, we know this first-hand. There’s nothing better than to have our lights automatically fade in slowly like sunrise to wake us up and help us start our day right, or to have our smart assistant adjust the temperature in the room when it gets too hot or too cold. Well, at least, besides getting notifications from our phone so we can see who’s at the door without having to get up. 

When we’re in the middle of editing a video or a batch of photos (see our best video editing software), it’s nice to just tell Alexa to turn the music down when it becomes too distracting or have a smart switch start brewing a fresh pot of coffee. At the beginning of our day, it’s great to simply ask Alexa to start running the robot vacuum so we have some time to meditate or do yoga before hunkering down at our desk for 12 straight hours.

So, you too can enjoy the benefits of having smart home devices installed in your home or home office, we gathered the best of them, all of which we tried and tested ourselves.

best smart home: Amazon EchoPlus

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Echo Plus

The best smart speaker has solid audio quality

Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth, ZigBee smart home hub | Audio: 0.8" tweeter and 3" woofer | Ports: 3.5 mm line in/out | Size: 5.8” x 3.9” x 3.9” (148 x 99 x 99 mm) | Weight: 27.5 oz (780 grams)

Solid audio quality
Reliable voice control
Need hub or Philips Hue
Pricier than other smart speakers

Among the other smart speakers out there, including Google Home and Sonos Smart Speaker, the Amazon Echo Plus certainly comes out the winner in our book. It not only offers support and connectivity for most smart devices out there, but also boasts excellent range, and utilises Amazon Alexa, which is a pretty great voice assistant. As a plus, its speakers, though not audiophile level, deliver a surprisingly solid audio quality.

Consider it the gateway device to other smart devices, as it lets you control everything from your smart lights and thermostats to your smart plugs and robot vacuums. For creative professionals, that means having access to practically everything without having to take your eyes off the laptop display or drawing monitor. That includes menial tasks like calling someone on their mobile, creating lists and reminders, going through the day’s headlines, and even calculating conversions.

Sure, there are other cheaper smart home devices out there, such as. Google Home or Amazon’s own Echo Dot. However, with a better speaker and more capabilities, the Amazon Echo Plus is certainly worth the extra cash.

best smart home: Amazon Echo

(Image credit: Philips)

Philips Hue Colour Ambiance Smart Bulb

The best smart bulbs are handier than you might think

Connectivity: Hue Bridge, Bluetooth App Control | Voice assistant compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Microsoft Cortana | Input voltage: 110V-130V | Lumen output: 650 lm at 4000K | Size: 3.7 inches (94 mm) | Weight: 3.46 oz (0.098 kg)

Has 16 million colours
Feature-rich and expandable
Bridge required 
Pricier than other smart bulbs

Considering they’re just light bulbs, it’s astounding how many things Philips’ very popular Hue smart bulbs can do. We’re talking more than just turning on and off with voice commands, adjusting light intensity without a dimmer, and setting timers and schedules here. Having a set of the Philips Hue Colour Ambiance Smart Bulbs in your home gives you seemingly endless applications.

Want your living room lights on just before you get home? You can set up a routine so that the app tracks your location and automatically turns on the lights in that room a few minutes before you get to your front door. Need brighter lights to make you feel energised and more productive while working in your home office? The Hue app has the perfect scene for you. These lights can even be set up to follow the rhythm of the music you’re currently playing, reflect the weather conditions outside or notify you if the space station is overhead.

Boasting 16 million colours, the Philips Hue Colour Ambiance Smart Bulbs are pretty nifty, and it's well worth paying the premium price for all the immersive benefits they offer. If you’re looking to fill your home with the best smart home devices for creative professionals, these bulbs are a great start.

best smart home: Amazon Echo

(Image credit: ecobee)

ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

The best smart thermostat is voice activated

Connectivity: 2.4GHz and 5GHz support, Bluetooth 5.0, | Integrations: Google Assistant, Apple Home Kit, Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, most HVAC systems | Features: Smart Sensor, Energy saver, Alexa built-in | Desired temperature range: 44° to 92°F (7° to 33°C) | Size: 4.29 x 4.29 inches (109 x 109 mm)

Has Alexa features built-in
Easy installation
App could be better
Can be buggy at times

Whether you like it or not, how comfortable your workspace is has a huge impact on your productivity and workflow. The temperature in that space, for one, is vital, and simply by installing a smart thermostat makes a difference.

There are many reasons why we love the ecobee4 Smart Thermostat for this. That, of course, includes the fact that it includes a room sensor, which manages hot or cold spots for you, as well as reads the temperature and detects occupancy in a room, adjusting accordingly to reduce energy consumption.

Unlike other smart thermostats on the market, however, this one gets our vote because it has built-in Alexa features. That means that it can perform some Alexa voice commands like playing music, setting up timers, creating shopping lists and utilising Drop In, Alexa’s intercom feature. Even better, it’s so easy to install that you can forgo the exuberant expert installation fee and do it yourself.

It’s one of the priciest smart home devices on this list, but it more than gives you your money’s worth.

best smart home: Amazon Echo

(Image credit: Kasa)

Kasa Smart Plug HS100

The best smart plug is great for small electronics

Connectivity: 2.4GHz support, IEEE 802.11b/g/n | Integrations: Alexa, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana | Maximum load: 15A | Input Voltage: 100 - 120VAC | Size: 14.4 x 9 x 8.8cm

No hub required
Remote access and scheduling available
Connectivity issues
Only for small electronics

While there are already a lot of smart home devices out there, including smart refrigerators that can organise your family schedule and even order your groceries for you, there are a large number of appliances out there that are still very much stuck in the 20th century.

Though worry not; there’s still a way to ‘smarten up’ such appliances and electronics. Thanks to a plethora of smart plugs, smart power strips and smart switches out there, you can – to a degree – control them remotely through your voice assistant and/or a phone app.

The Kasa Smart Plug is one such smart device, compatible with small electronics that run at up to 12 AMPs. This means that you can plug your fans, coffee makers, lamps and radios into it, then control them with voice commands, turn them on/off remotely and even set them on schedules. It even offers a feature called Away Mode, which allows you to set your appliances to on and off at random intervals to make it look like you’re home even when you’re not.

best smart home: Arlo

(Image credit: Arlo)

Arlo Pro 2

Stay safe with the best wireless home security camera

Connectivity: 2.4GHz support, IEEE 802.11b/g/n | Resolution: 1080p HD | Video format: H.264 | Features: 2-Way Audio, night vision, Arlo Basic 7-Day Cloud Recording, Smart Security Siren, 3-second Look Back, Sound and Advanced Motion Detection | Size: 3.1 x 1.9 x 2.8 in (79.3 x 48.6 x 70.5 mm) | Weight: 4.8 oz (136 g)

Wireless
Rechargeable and weather-proof
No 4K
Battery life could be better

Home security camera systems are not just for keeping your home and office safe from intruders anymore. With smart home security cameras taking home security by storm, they’re now also a great way to check package deliveries, talk directly with visitors when you’re not home and even see who’s at the door without having to get up from your desk.

And with Arlo Pro 2, you’re getting even more bang for your buck with features like weatherproofing, wireless connectivity, 300 plus feet line of sight, and a rechargeable battery. Of course, all the essential features are there too: sound and motion detection, night vision and local backup storage. There’s two-way audio and instant notifications as well, so you can chase off intruders, if you want to.

For even more coverage, you can even expand the system to include up to five cameras for free and up to 20 cameras by upgrading. Like most security cameras, this only has up to 1080p video capabilities – though, it’s not like you need 4K video quality for this purpose.

best smart home: iRobot

(Image credit: iRobot)

iRobot Roomba 690

Best Robot Vacuum

Connectivity: WiFi | Integrations: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant | Features: iRobot HOME App, 3 Stage Cleaning System, Patented Dirt Detect sensors, 1 Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier | Size: 3.1 x 1.9 x 2.8 in (79.3 x 48.6 x 70.5 mm) | Weight: 4.8 oz (136 g)

Effective cleaning
Long run time
Noisy
Misses spots

When you’re a busy creative professional clocking in 12 to 16 hours of work a day, you’ll hardly find time doing menial tasks like washing dishes and cleaning your home. This is why we find robot vacuums so practical – they may not offer that deep cleaning regular vacuum cleaners offer, but they’re good enough in keeping your floors debris-, dust- and dander-free on a daily basis. If you can't concentrate on work when your workspace is a mess, that’s already plenty helpful.

With the iRobot Roomba 690, you’re basically taking that further with app and voice assistant control. You can now easily customise its cleaning process, start cleaning anytime remotely, set up cleaning schedules and even tell it to go back to its home unit for charging, all without having to physically get up. 

It’s still plenty noisy, but all that hands-free control should give you more time to focus on other things – like doing morning yoga or making lunch. Should the noise prove a little too loud and distracting, that’s what the best noise-cancelling headphones are for.

best smart home: Amazon Echo

(Image credit: Amazon)

Fire TV Cube

The best hands-free streaming comes courtesy of Amazon

Connectivity: WiFi | Integrations: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant | Features: iRobot HOME App, 3 Stage Cleaning System, Patented Dirt Detect sensors, 1 Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier | Size: 3.1 x 1.9 x 2.8 in (79.3 x 48.6 x 70.5 mm)

Access to 4K content
Hands-free TV content
Has to be close to TV
Pricey for a streaming device

If you work from home most of the time and like to put on a show or a movie in the background or watch videos online for inspiration and tutorials, then the Fire TV Cube could be for you. Sure, our smart TVs do plenty already and offer a world of convenience when it comes to streaming content or Netflix. But, we also love the idea of not having to get up to scour the living room for the remote or simply controlling the TV without it.

Touted by Amazon as its most powerful Fire TV device ever, the Fire TV Cube makes our best smart home devices for creative professionals list because it lets us do just that. Whether it’s to turn on the TV or put on your favourite shows using voice commands through Alexa, the Fire TV simply delivers a level of convenience that no other streaming device could.

Great extras include built-in speakers, Bluetooth headphones compatibility and music streaming.

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