Remember when we thought smartphones wouldn’t catch on?
No? Well, despite the fact that nearly a third of the world’s population now uses one, there was a time we thought iPhones and androids would flop. That time was 2007 – the year comments like, “Touch screen buttons? BAD idea. This thing will never work,” or “No freaking way, Apple! It’s over!” appeared on internet forums in response to Apple launching the first iPhone.
Joke’s on us. Because not only is the smartphone a thing, but the Internet of Things is also a thing. Groundbreaking tech isn’t just in our hands, it’s in every room of our homes. The ‘connected home’ – an ecosystem made up of intelligent gadgets that talk to one another to save you time, stress and money – is rapidly becoming a reality.
But which products are pure marketing, and which will genuinely make your life better?
Nest 3rd-Gen Learning Thermostat
You’ve probably already heard of the Nest thermostat. It lets you control the temperature of your home using your phone, so you can make sure you don’t get in from work to an igloo in the evening during the winter months.
It learns from your preferences, too. Adjust the temperature manually for a week and it’ll start making intelligent decisions for you, helping to conserve energy and save you cash. Oh, and it can control your hot water, display the time and temperature and let you know what the weather’s doing outside.
Available at Nest Store, priced £249.
Find flip-switching all a bit… tedious? With Stack, the world’s first responsive light bulb, you can bid goodbye to the laborious process of turning lights on and off. Which, admittedly, only really makes a difference if you share your home with people who are too absent-minded to remember a very simple, almost instinctive action on leaving a room for god’s sake. (*Deep breath*)
OK, so Stack bulbs’ motion-detecting sensors are useful, but they’re not the main act. The best thing about them is their ability to respond to ambient light, automatically brightening or dimming to the perfect level of light – whether you need a shaft of cool, white light while sipping your morning coffee or a mere golden glow for when you’re kicking back at night.
Available at stacklighting.com, priced from approximately £67.64 for a Classic Starter Kit.
Sonos Smart Speaker System
A few years ago, the idea that you could walk around your home using just your smartphone to change the music playing from your speakers seemed like the stuff of fantasy.
Now, however, it’s old hat. But despite the boom in multi-room speaker systems on the market, Sonos – the American upstart that sounded the death knell for old-school wired set-ups – is still our favourite.
Starting at just £169, these things bake affordability, sound quality and usability into one slick, timelessly stylish speaker.
Available at Sonos, priced from £169 for a Play:1.
Smarter iKettle 2.0
Want an extra five minutes in bed in the morning? Of course you do. So stop wasting time waiting for the kettle to boil; switch it on using your smartphone instead.
Smarter iKettle is the world’s first Wi-Fi kettle, allowing you to boil water for the perfect cuppa with the tap of a touchscreen. It features variable temperature control (a must for tee and coffee nerds), a ‘Keep Warm’ function and a sleek, contemporary stainless steel design that’s a shoo-in for any man’s kitchen. Fancy a brew?
Available at Lakeland, priced £99.99.
Withings Smart Body Analyser
Good tech is about making your life easier, right? Right. Well, you know what’s not easy? Losing weight. Or keeping fit.
Which makes Withings Smart Body Analyser a winner. Just step on and it’ll display your weight, body fat percentage and heart rate, and then upload the data to your Health Mate smartphone app where you can keep track of your progress with the help of easy-to-understand graphs. It won’t, unfortunately, do that HIIT class for you.
Available at Amazon, priced £89.99.
Samsung JS9000 Curved 4k Smart TV
The budgets splurged on TV series has in recent years reached the same level as some silver screen epics. Which means you ought to give telly the screening treatment it deserves.
Cue the Samsung JS9000, the curved screen TV that – with the help of Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution – lets you drop yourself right in the middle of the action. Netflix and chill just reached a whole new level.
Available at Currys, priced £1199.98 for a 48″ version.