Best for Heating Up Your House: Nest Thermostat
£249 – nest.com/uk
Easily the object on this page that most resembles the homicidal computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the super clever Nest thermostat gradually learns how to heat your home, switches the heating off while you’re out and warms things up in time for your arrival home from the office. Let it monitor your thermostat adjustments and in a week or two it will automatically create an intelligent heating schedule. It’s the best thermostat available and almost certainly isn’t plotting to murder you.
Best for Audio, Especially at Parties: Sonos Play:5
£429 – sonos.com
Sonos is a byword for connected home speaker systems, and with the launch of the re-engineered Play:5 last year, the company’s flagship speaker is more powerful, better sounding, faster connecting and better looking than ever. Purists will love that the front logo doesn’t interfere with sound quality, as it’s been designed to be “acoustically transparent”.
Best for Orwellian Security: Canary
£159 – store-uk.canary.is
Home security cameras have been around for some time, their sales numbers buoyed by the release of alarmist home invasion documentaries such as Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. But its only in recent years that they’ve become well-designed, discreet and web-enabled. The Canary monitors your living room using a motion sensing camera, alerts you to unwelcome visitors, and can be made to emit a burglar-spooking 90 decibel alarm remotely using the Canary app. By registering your family’s phones, it will politely stop recording when trusted people are home.
Best for Colourful Lighting: Philips Hue
£14.95 – meethue.com
These LED lightbulbs from Philips can glow in any colour you can name and some that you can’t. They’re controlled wirelessly, meaning they can be adjusted from your phone to create your preferred lighting conditions. When connected to Apple’s HomeKit, you can ask Siri to change the bulbs to things like “light blue”or “the colour of the darkest recesses of my consumerist soul”.
Best for Not Losing Things All of the Time: Tile
$25 – thetileapp.com
Attach a Tile to your keys (or to anything you’re likely to lose) and you can ring them from your phone, and vice versa. Lose them outdoors and your phone will remember the last place you had them. If they’re stolen, you can call upon every phone using the Tile app to scan for your lost item.
Best for TV: Amazon Fire TV
£79.99 – amazon.co.uk
The Amazon Fire TV comes in both box and dongle form, the latter plugging itself wholly into your television’s HDMI port. This larger version allows you to stream in 4K resolution, has enough processing power to play games and comes with the voice remote, which allows you to bark the names of films and actors to summon them to the screen. It plays Amazon Video and runs all of the usual suspects, eg. iPlayer and Netflix. The freedom to sideload Android apps allows for some expanded function too.
Best for TV if you're an Apple Person: Apple TV
£129 – apple.com/uk
Naturally the slickest of the three major connected TV devices, the Apple TV is Cupertino’s most recent attempt at creating a one-stop telly shop for all of your entertainment needs. Siri can search across all of your streaming apps to find films, music and shows, while the sleek touchpad remote is easily the best little black rectangle you’ll ever point at your big black rectangle. It also has the loveliest screensavers you’ve ever seen. Just top notch.
Best for TV on a Budget: Google Cast
£30 – google.com
Google caused a stir when it first released its cheap-as-chips HDMI dongle, which turns any TV into a smart TV. A two-finger salute to more expensive rivals, it proved that you only really need your phone and your wi-fi to power your TV’s entertainment. Compatible with more devices than the Apple TV, it’s the perfect solution for households who aren’t locked into the iOS ecosystem.