Everybody likes to get something for free, right? And when that something is an entire house, tricked out for maximum smart home effect? Well, it’s definitely a dream come true.
HGTV recently held a contest where one lucky winner gets the keys to a beautiful home in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the clincher to winning the home is that it’s supposedly tricked out with some of the smartest tech available. They even shared the Top 10 Clever Gadgets they brought into the space.
When we looked at the list, we found we didn’t agree with all of HGTV’s smart home picks; some of the selections seem kind of trendy or cool versus actually useful and may not be the best way to create a smart home. So, we decided to put together our own list of smart, useful and helpful smart home gadgets that you can add to your own home: No sweepstakes win required!
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: Instaglow Smart Toaster
This smart toaster has a large digital screen and a bread type selector to help your start your mornings right. But who was complaining about how difficult toast was to make before this device came along?
Digital Trend’s Alternate Pick: Breville Joule Sous Vide Cooker
We think the novelty of a smart toaster will wear off pretty quickly. Something that won’t? The Joule sous vide cooker. This compact immersion device can be used inside any pot or vessel to create an instant sous vide bath. Sous vide cooking lets you cook food to a precise temperature and then hold it there for hours, meaning your food will never be overcooked. Plus, with the ability to cook meat, vegetables, egg bites, and even desserts or infused vodka, this kitchen wizard is way more useful.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: Vestaboard Message Board
Sure, this changeable message board is charming, hearkening back to the railroad era of the early 1900s — only with digital technology and color. With a limited character count and a price tag in the thousands of dollars, this is just not a practical smart home gadget for the masses.
Digital Trends’ Alternate Pick: Amazon Echo Show 15
For a fraction of the cost of the Vestaboard, you can not only get the ability to leave virtual sticky notes for your family, but you can also carry out video calls, watch TV, listen to music, and get answers to questions and more. The Amazon Echo Show 15 will even control your smart home devices and keep your family’s schedule, all in a nice looking framed configuration that you can hang horizontally or vertically.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: WaterPik Sonic Fusion
Water Piks have been around forever. While they have their fans, the concept feels a little bit dated, if we’re being honest.
Digital Trends’ Alternate Pick: Oral B Genius 8000 smart toothbrush
Toothbrush technology today has gone bonkers. Not only do we have built-in pressure sensors, “quad pacer” timers to ensure even brushing distribution across each quarter of your mouth, and different modes and settings for every preference, the super-smart Oral B Genius 8000 toothbrushing concept can also utilize your smart phone’s camera to watch your brushing technique and ensure you’re doing it right.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: ScoopFree Self Cleaning Litter Box
Nobody likes cleaning out the litter box, so we’re not denying the usefulness of this gadget, but we prefer something that can be way more useful in way more areas of your home.
Digital Trend’s Alternate Pick: ECOVACS Deebot X1 Omni self-cleaning vacuum and mop
When it comes to smart cleaning options, the ECOVACS Deebot X1 Omni is my number one floor cleaning pick for 2022. This robot vacuum not only sweeps up your floor (either on command or on a schedule), but it also has dual scrubbing mops that can power off dried stains. When it’s done, it will head back to its base station to dump the dirt, refill the water tank, and then wash and dry the mop.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: Keurig Coffee Maker with Wi-Fi
Having reviewed a lot of coffee machines, makers, and appliances, I have to say Keurig is probably the most basic of them all. While it makes decent coffee (and that’s it, just coffee), we like something with a bit more variety and versatility.
Digital Trend’s Alternate Pick: Philips 4300 Automatic Espresso Machine
Once you’ve tried an automatic espresso machine like the Philips 4300 automatic espresso machine, life will never be the same. Waking up to your favorite barista-style coffees every morning is an absolute treat — even more so when you don’t have to do any of the work. The Phillips 4300 automatic espresso machine can make eight espresso-based drinks from espresso shots to lattes and more. Its special milk container even heats and froths for you.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: Filtrete Air Purifier
Air purifiers are useful year-round; whether you’re freshening stale winter air or keeping summer’s heat, smog, and wildfire smoke at bay, an air purifier is a great idea. But why stop there?
Digital Trend’s Alternate Pick: Dyson Pure Hot Cool Humidify
When it comes to adding an air purifier to your home, we think it’s more than worth it to add major versatility. Sure, you’ll spend a lot more on this Dyson Pure Heat Plus Cool humidifying device, but when you think about what you’re getting, it’s worth it. This all-in-one unit is a heater, fan, purifier, and humidifier, so you will be using it 24/7/365. Having everything in one beautifully designed device also means less worry about storing gadgets in the off-season.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: SleepIQ bed by sleep number
A smart bed is a big investment in space and price. Getting a better night’s sleep doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Digital Trend’s Alternate Pick: Philips Hue Smart Lighting
I’m a huge fan of smart lighting. I have smart lighting in every room in my home, and Philips Hue has been my top pick for a long time. Smart lighting has the ability to change the feel of a room when it comes to temperature (red, orange, and yellow light can make a room seem warmer, while cool blues and purples can help a hot room seem cooler) and to adjust the overall ambience. If you don’t have the time, skills, or budget to redecorate or repaint, some well-placed smart lighting around your house is guaranteed to give your space new life.
Not to mention that smart lighting can help with sleep schedules. Set your smart lights to dim gradually towards bedtime or turn on to simulate a sunrise in the morning. No more interrupted sleep patterns from harsh lights in the middle of the night either if you set your smart lights and a motion detector to turn on at a low nightlight setting.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: SimpliSafe Doorbell
SimpliSafe makes a lot of commercials, and by now, it’s a familiar brand. But we like the company that literally invented the video doorbell concept.
Digital Trend’s Alternate Pick: Ring Video Doorbell
Having had the chance to review almost Ring’s entire video doorbell lineup, I can confidently say they make the best options for safety, security, and notifications. From wired versions that can draw power all year long (like Ring Video Doorbell Wired) to night vision, motion detection, facial recognition, and parcel notifications, plus battery or solar-powered options, Ring has proven itself consistently capable of improving on its devices. Oh, and the video and two-way talk options are the best in class.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: PetSafe Automatic Pet Feeder
If you were in return to office mode, an automatic pet feeder can be helpful to keep Fluffy or Fido on schedule, but a feeder ball can do the same thing. We think your pet deserves something more than a snack.
Digital Trend’s Alternate Pick: Apple AirTags (and a pet collar loop)
Since Apple launched AirTags, they’ve gotten a lot of flak thanks to those who use them for nefarious purposes. Leaving that aside, there is one very important reason you might want to track a member of your household: if they escape your yard. AirTags leverage the Bluetooth connections of all the millions of iPhones out there to track the location of your own AirTags, so if one of those is clipped into your pet’s collar, chances are high you can locate it quickly if it goes missing.
HGTV’s Clever Smart Home gadget: Ergatta Rower
Smart fitness gadgets are all the rage, but most of them have two major problems: They take up a huge chunk of space in your home, and they’re anything but portable. Our preference is for a smaller and more useful fitness gadget that works at home — or anywhere in the world.
Digital Trend’s Alternate Pick: Fitbit Sense Smart Watch
The Fitbit Sense smartwatch is so much more than a step tracker. Check your heart rate, track your sleep and get detailed reports, or follow along with guided workouts and learn many more body metrics too. All this in a chic wearable that can follow you to any corner of the earth.
If you (like us) didn’t win the HGTV Dream Home, you can still create your own using our 10 useful, versatile picks.