The ever-expanding list of smart home products — security systems and smart locks and lightbulbs and ovens and smoke alarms and baby monitors – presented us with a unique problem when we set about choosing winners for the 2017 Home Awards: How do we compare the newest appliances to products like Wi-Fi connected vacuums or BBQ grills? Does a better dryer beat a connected egg timer? What if it’s a really great timer?
In the end, we opted to focus on the one thing that makes all the products on this list award-worthy: innovation.
Our 2017 Home Awards recipients are game-changers in their respective fields. They don’t just improve on their predecessors, they change our expectations entirely.
Digital Trends writers put oodles of products to the test, ranging from pet vacuums to washing machines, slowly whittling a long list to one winner and two runners-up in six categories – Cooking, Entertaining, Home Care, Sleeping, Grooming, and Home Security. In some cases, making the winning choice was difficult. Other times it was easy. After all, who can argue with the fact that the Monolith Guru BBQ has completely changed the way we cook food outdoors forever?
These are the home devices that used technology to rewrite the rules in 2017. And a few of them might even belong in your home.
LG InstaView Refrigerator
This refrigerator isn’t just another pretty face. There’s so much to like about this product, from its slim profile (for a fridge) to its peek-a-boo tinted window that you can knock on to see what’s inside.
The LG InstaView fridge spent months inside our test kitchen, where it withstood a lot, and we do mean a lot. The smudge-proof stainless steel worked well, with minimal annoying fingerprints to mar the silk finish. Those permanently left-over leftovers didn’t stink up the fridge, thanks to a high-powered and efficient air filter.
We loved having the ability to push a button on the right door handle to open the sub-compartment for quick beer grabs, and the crisper drawers were sturdy and rolled out smoothly, even after months of use. While the fridge in our testing kitchen measured counter-deep, we didn’t feel like we were pinched for real estate. Having an ice maker that we could kick into turbo came in handy. And finally, someone got wise about the water dispenser, creating space large enough for a pitcher to catch water underneath.
The InstaView is in a new class of refrigerators that have upped the game in terms of smart technology, with corresponding apps to help you plan meals and track what’s in the fridge without opening a single door.
Monolith BBQ Guru Edition Classic
The Monolith BBQ Guru doesn’t look like your typical charcoal BBQ. That’s because it’s not.
This device is both beauty and beast, with a sleek, heavy-duty black ceramic base and steel legs. From afar, it could pass for a tiny version of the mechanical spider from Wild Wild West. It’s a BBQ for the serious chef – one who wants the ability to grill, smoke, bake, sear, or roast any food the imagination can create. And to feed a crowd, the reason we picked the Monolith as our winner for Entertaining.
The Guru comes with various tools, including a pizza stone for that wood-fire taste at home. A wood-chip feeder system on the base lets you add a touch of hickory or apple smoke to your meal – even last-minute, if you desire. The Cyber Q Cloud Temperature Controller with Wi-Fi lets you track and control the heat of your meat by adjusting the temperature level inside the base via vents.
We tested it out by slapping some rib-eyes on the grill, adding some cherry wood pellets in for good measure, and using the Cyber Q to monitor progress. The result was impressive: evenly cooked, juicy, melt-in-your mouth tastiness. The Monolith has truly upped the game in the BBQ world and is a must-have for anyone serious about outdoor cooking.
Nebia Shower System
When a crowdfunding campaign catches the attention of Tim Cook, you know someone’s on to something. Nebia is an easy-to-install shower head that atomizes water into a mist instead of the streams you’re probably used to. It’s a bit like those sprays of water that occasionally turn on in your grocer’s vegetable section. The nozzles break up the water droplets, increasing the surface area covered but reducing the amount of H2O used by up to 70 percent.
A typical shower uses 20 gallons of water; the Nebia uses only six, according to the company. You can easily slide the shower head up and down, which is especially nice for couples with a significant height difference. The system also includes a handheld sprayer that you can turn on and off, and the shower head itself has two settings. If you get too close to the nozzles, the spray can feel a little pokey, but otherwise it’s like walking through an immersive fog. It does a fine job rinsing out shampoo and getting rid of soap, but it can be hard to remove wet hair stuck to slippery skin without the typical shower stream. It might take some getting used to what feels like a spa feature in your own bathroom, but the water savings and radical design are incredibly impressive.
Samsung FlexWash + FlexDry Laundry System
For years, appliance companies have been making washing machines and dryers with larger and larger capacities. What they weren’t considering all that time was our favorite sweater or our child’s stuffed animal. What to do with those?
Both the Samsung FlexWash and FlexDry give us the answer in the form of flexibility we need. They’re simultaneously both large capacity and small capacity: The appliances have dual chambers for big and small loads.
When these things arrived in our test laundry room, we were impressed for a couple of reasons. First, they’re huge and beautiful in an impressive way. Second, they gave us flexibility in washing and drying our clothes with all kinds of impressive settings, including a steam feature. The FlexWash has two washing zones — a larger one on the bottom for typical loads, and a smaller compartment on top for things you don’t want to get lost in the main compartment, such as delicates. Just use that smaller compartment to wash your favorite sweater before heading out for the night.
The FlexDry brings the same concept as the FlexWash. That sweater you just washed? Now you can put it directly into the “delicate” dryer compartment located on the top of the machine for a quick dry, while your towels tumble in the big drum below.
Kuna Smart Security Light
The Kuna is such a remarkable idea that we’re surprised no one thought of it sooner. A front porch light that looks like a simple floodlight, but with a camera, siren, two-way intercom, alarm, and motion sensor? Sign us up.
During testing, we were surprised with how quickly we received notifications on our app regarding movement on our porch and in our yard. The motion sensors detected everything, including the neighbor’s pesky cat, which gave us comfort while we were not at home. We loved that we were able to communicate with solicitors without having to answer the door. The barking dog feature was incredibly clear but did not sound like a recording, which is good. The siren was loud, and you never know when you’ll need to use it.
The security device includes HD live and recorded video, a wide-angle camera, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. And the camera/floodlight combo can be controlled via Amazon’s Alexa.
The floodlight is attractive as well, with several different looks to choose from. No one would recognize that the device is a high-powered camera from afar. By the time a would-be thief gets close enough to notice, they’re already being recorded. The company is continuously improving the app and the product, announcing this year that its AI will allow the device to determine whose car – a stranger’s or your teenager’s — is pulling into the driveway.
C by GE Sol Alexa-powered lamp
Among the first Alexa devices not from Amazon, the C by GE Sol lamp looks futuristic and is a bit more functional than the average Echo. For $20 more, it can do almost everything the smart speaker can do, plus it’s a functional LED light. With a halo sticking out of what looks like a taller Amazon Dot, the Sol can be your Alexa assistant, answering trivia questions, giving you weather updates, and sharing the news with you. That kind of functionality makes it a good fit for the bedroom, since Alexa can work as a backup alarm. The ring is also a clock, with the red light in the hour position and the blue at the minute mark.
But the real reason we put the Sol in the sleep category is the lamp’s ability to go from bright white to mellow yellow. You can use the light’s app to set scenes like “wake up” and “bedtime,” and the LED will adjust to the appropriate shade. In addition, the Sol has access to Alexa’s 20,000 skills, and she can help control your smart home. Asking your voice assistant to lock your door and turn off all the lights from bed is the smart-home owner’s dream.
Published at Tue, 17 Oct 2017 07:14:47 +0000