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Connected homes: favourite devices of 2015

Connected Home Graphic

Many of us are hoping that new technology will make our homes smarter in future. It’s an industry that’s blossoming right now with new devices being released every month. Next year’s CES show in Las Vegas will no doubt be rife with smart little gadgets that let you control your lighting, thermostat, or even your coffee pot via a smartphone. There are lots of products that help you control just about everything from an iOS or Android app, connecting your various gadgets wirelessly, as well as complete smart home systems.

I’ve been thinking about smart home tech of late, as there are so many affordable and fun products that are readily available and don’t need a re-wire of the whole house. So here’s my pick of devices that I’d like to try soon – they’ve not necessarily been released this year, but they’re the ones at the top of my wish list.

Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Smart Home Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat


One of the most well known and popular smart home devices is the undoubtedly the Nest. The idea is simple – since most people don’t bother to program their thermostats (it’s a little like programming the VCR recorder used to be), the Nest learns your patterns and programmes itself.

The latest Nest is a pretty slick device that looks great too, especially when pared with one of the Smart Finish Nest mounts that we covered in a previous article.

The Nest isn’t the only smart thermostat out there however: check out Ecobee, as well as various Hive products by British Gas.

Philips Hue Starter Pack

Philips Hue Bulbs
Philips Hue Bulbs


The Wi-Fi enabled Philips Hue lights are one of the most popular DIY connected home products on the shelf. What’s not to like about colour-changing LED lights that you can control from an app?

The Hue Connected Bulb Starter Kit includes the basics required to get up and running: 3 LED bulbs as well as the Hue Bridge, which connects to an existing wireless router and handles communication between your smartphone and the bulbs (which use the ZigBee wireless standard).

RELATED: Critical Kit: Philips Hue

Philips also offers a suite of related products such as LightStrips, a wireless dimming kit/remote, and physical light switches called Hue Tap.

But if the Hue range doesn’t take your fancy, check out Stack‘s Alba bulbs as one of the best alternatives.

Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion

Belkin WeMo Switch and Motion
Plug and play at its finest


Belkin’s WeMo Switch + Motion package is one of the easiest ways to smarten up your existing dumb devices and appliances. Sold as a pair, the set includes the app-controlled power outlet, as well as a separate motion detector which can turn on/off devices when movement is detected (this device can be located up to 10 feet away from the plug socket part).

The WeMo combo is one of the simplest ways to control pretty much anything that can be plugged into the wall, and is certainly more versatile than a traditional timer switch. It’s also half price at the moment: just £39.99 with free delivery too.

Nest Cam

Nest Cam Front Back Side
If you’re not worried about “Big Brother”, the Nest Cam is for you


The Nest Cam records video in full HD (1080p, though the previous version supported only 720p) complete with two-way audio, night vision and a fairly decent zoom.

When the camera detects “unusual sounds” it will send you a smartphone notification too.

Best of all, the camera works with other Nest products such as the Nest thermostat. And if you subscribe to the Nest Aware service you’ll also get the benefit of cloud-based storage to store your video history remotely.

RELATED: Critical Kit: Nest Cam

If any of our readers are wondering what I’d like for Christmas and are feeling particularly generous, don’t hesitate to send any of the above items to the team via Santa.

Merry Christmas!


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