Many people question whether it is currently worth the money to invest in creating a smart home. Will the tech improve dramatically? Will the price point drop significantly? Probably and almost certainly – but there are still reasons to consider starting your smart home now. If the following reasons appeal to you then your best place to start on the market right now is the Amazon Echo Plus.
There are a lot of options that you can choose from with a smart home setup. Door locks, thermostats, plugs, TV remote, surveillance equipment, and the list goes on… But if you want some basic functionality without paying an arm and a leg to start the Amazon Echo Plus offers some compelling features that may fit your lifestyle needs.
At $149.00 you can get an Amazon Echo Plus from Amazon with a Phillips Hue LED Light Bulb. The immediate benefit of getting the Echo Plus is that it has a built-in smart home hub that allows simple and direct setup of other smart devices – like the included Phillips Hue Light Bulb. If you don’t buy the Echo Plus first you’ll need to buy a smart hub in addition to your Echo device. So, for that reason alone the Echo Plus is the way to go.
Beyond this the Echo Plus is a snap to set up. You just download the Amazon Alexa App – plug in the Echo and the app will walk you through the setup process. The device will ask to connect to your home WiFi network and after that you are off to the smart home races. The Echo Plus will serve as the home base for any future compatible smart devices that you purchase. Since Amazon is the current leader in the field, virtually all smart devices will be available to you.
So what will your Echo Plus actually do?
The number one thing that I use my Echo system for is to control my lights in the house. I have replaced every lamp in my house with Philips Hue LED smart bulbs. I have primarily chosen to buy the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A10 Wi-Fi Smart LED Bulbs that are multicolor. They each run at about 49.99 so, if you are on a budget, you buy them over time.
Echo Plus easily connects to these bulbs and then you can, via voice command or the app on your phone, turn these lights on remotely. You do this by simply saying, “Alexa – turn on living room lights,” and there you have it – someone finally out-created The Clapper.
Now it may sound ridiculous to buy a smart home device to turn your lights on for you – but it isn’t until you don’t have to turn your lights on manually anymore that you realize how ridiculous it is that you’ve wasted so much time in your life manually turning lights on and off. The only inconvenience that I can think to compare it to was before televisions had remotes and you had to literally get up to turn the TV channel to something you liked. Or, if you had parents like mine, that’s what children were for…
And while LED lights are more expensive up front, they do save you money over the long term. Additionally, most smart bulbs have voice activated dimming options and the color bulbs dim and turn colors. If you have kids this is fantastic to help them get to sleep quicker. Just ask Alexa to turn on the blue light and the bedtime mood is set.
If you decide to turn on the red light – you can just ask Alexa to play your favorite The Police song and enjoy another benefit from your Echo Plus… it plays music (What did you think I was going to say? Geez.). The sound is great and if you later buy other Echo devices – Echo Plus will connect with them to play music wherever you have them stationed throughout your house. Like the lights, you have complete control over where and what the system plays. Just ask for a song, artist, or genre from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, and more. Echo Plus can also play Audible audiobooks, radio stations, news briefs, and more.
If you need to stay organized – Echo Plus will keep your lists for you. We put ours in our kitchen so when we need an item added to our grocery list we just tell Alexa and she adds it to the list. Then when you are at the grocery store you can pull up the list on your phone and check stuff off the list as you go. This function works for whatever kinds of lists you want to make – including Honey-do lists.
Finally, Amazon Echo allows you to make hands-free calls and even shop on Amazon via the device. You just add a previously purchased item to you cart and check out all while you are making dinner. Call an Uber, or forget making dinner and order a pizza – Amazon Echo lets you do it all. Which is why, right now, it is hands down the best smart home starter purchase available.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. What attracts you to, or scares you about, turning your home into a smart home?
Q2. What smart home functionality has yet to be developed that you would like to see on the market next?
Q3. If our homes auto-performed menial tasks, what would you use the time they save you to do?