The T3 Awards, or the Oscars of Tech, as many call them – are now in their 11th year, and bigger than ever. Literally, in fact, as we have added a number of new categories this year to reflect the changing face of tech.
This year, in the T3 Awards Together With Three, we also have Awards for specific categories of connected home gear but this is the award for the Best of the Best in smart home, across all categories. It’s the kit that most improves your home life, or at least leaves visiting friends and relatives greenest with envy.
From Wi-Fi connected cameras which keep your home safe, to virtual assistant speakers that you can ask to dim your lights, play music and tell you jokes – you really can’t say you live in a smart home until you’ve been disappointed by one of Alexa’s jokes – these aren’t just smart home gadgets, they’re smartest home gadgets.
Perhaps the biggest name in the smart home right now, meet the Amazon Echo and digital assistant Alexa. Alexa allows simplistic but reliable voice control, for everything from checking the weather to controlling your smart lighting.
What’s more useful, however, is that it works across previously disparate gizmos. You see, the worst element of the supposedly ‘connected’ home is that products from rival brands all required their own apps. No longer: Alexa is uniting them.
It also makes a wonderful DJ and kitchen timer, and don’t forget its cheap baby bro, Echo Dot – perhaps the best bargain in the connected home field.
Bosch Smart Home and Home Connect
Homeware mega brand Bosch is looking to smarten up your home and turn it into an intelligently networked fortress with its sleek range of smart home products.
The German behemoth certainly hasn’t entered the segment half-arsed, offering everything from window and door sensors, and interior and exterior security cameras to smart smoke alarms, and air quality sensors.
The Smart Home Controller and Home Connect app tie everything neatly together; for instance, as well as alerting you by phone when a camera detects movement, it also lets you trigger the smoke alarm (or multiple smoke alarms) as a burglar alarm. Now that is smart.
Google Home is the OTHER smart home assistant in town, arriving a little later Alexa but none the worse for that.
Aimed perhaps slightly more as a learning tool than Echo, Home is on hand to answer just about any question, via Google search.
You can also have it play music, access news headlines and calendars, but unlike Echo, Home can recognise not one but two users by their voices, replying with user-specific information.
Hive Home (starter pack)
Perhaps the easiest way into a smart home is buying a starter kit, and one of the best out there is from Hive Home. This little bundle of tech comes with a window/door sensor, a motion sensor, smart plug and smart bulb. It’ll get you up and running in no time.
They’re really quite attractive as these things go, and, obviously, all compatible with each other, as well as Alexa, allowing you to set up automatic recipes.
Interestingly, Hive will also lease the products to you on a cheap, monthly basis, adding help with setup and provide 24/7 customer service. That’s a handy innovation for the less tech savvy, even if it’s probably not required by a clued-up punter such as yourself, sir/madam.
This may not yet be the most widespread smart home product (though it is certainly the hardest to spell) but Trådfri will surely be the smart home gateway drug for millions
Taking its usual approach to pricing, Swedish purveyor of flat-pack meatballs Ikea has undercut the competition with this Smart Lighting collection, which includes energy-efficient LED bulbs, lighting panels and doors, all managed through an old-fashioned remote control.
An app is also available to help you design and personalise your home lighting setup.
Netgear Arlo Pro
Netgear Arlo is one of the first and only completely wireless smart home security camera systems. As there are no wires you can position the cameras anywhere you’d like, including outdoors, as they’re also waterproof.
Night vision and motion detection capabilities are included. This year’s upgrades include a new, rechargeable battery, two-way audio communication, and a 100-decibel siren for discouraging potential intruders.
How the winners are chosen
Most of the winners – including this category – are decided by the T3.com and T3 magazine teams, aided by a panel of expert judges from the tech biz.
Our Awards for the people who have shaped tech this year and throughout its history, are awarded by the T3.com and T3 magazine teams.
On the following key categories YOU get to vote: Gadget Of The Year, Brand Of The Year, Retailer Of The Year and Phone of the Year.