Voice-activated intelligent assistants that listen to your every command, smart appliances and even smart mirrors that tell you the quality of your complexion? No doubt - having a smart home device sure sounds like the pinnacle of convenience and coolness. On paper.
Unfortunately, a smart home device isn't as seamless as it's cracked up to be. In reality, a lot of work, set up and consideration is needed. But are you ready to take on this level of commitment? So, don't take the plunge on that thousand-dollar home automation system just yet. Ask yourself these 4 questions and find out if the 'smart' life is for you and your home.
1. Do You Really Need It?
While the latest smart home gadgets do promise greater convenience (and secretly makes us feel like Iron Man), the key question is this - will you be heavily affected without it?
Some devices, like the Smart Elderly Monitoring and Alert System (SEMAS) - which tracks the daily activity of senior citizens, and comes with a ‘panic button’ to call for help during emergencies - are a potentially life-saving necessity for working families whose older folks are often left unattended in the daytime.
Neurio Home Energy Monitor, USD $219.99 on Amazon
Some devices on the other hand, such as smart lighting or energy monitoring devices may supplement our lifestyle. But let's be honest - our home won't fall apart without them.
Interior Designer: Sky Creation Asia
To each his own, ultimately. Weigh out your priorities and aim to invest in smart technologies that can meet those needs first. For instance, a smart speaker may sound (no pun intended) frivolous to some, but for an audiophile, it could be the cherry on top of his acoustic-themed space.
2. Is It Worth The Extra Cost?
Interior Designer: Dap Atelier
With all that is new in technology, smart home devices these days will always come at a premium compared to conventional models.
BroadLink Smart Socket, SGD $29.66 on Lazada
Take for example an extension plug, which usually costs around $10, tops. Compare that with smart plugs, like the BroadLink Smart EU plugs ($24.88 - $26.26 on Lazada), or the Elgato Eve plug ($79.90 on Lazada), which costs almost 3 - 5 times as much for a single socket.
On the other hand, it's also noted that most smart home devices actually use less electricity, and are more energy-efficient due to its intelligent capabilities (can be turned off on command, automatically turned off when it senses no presence). This in turn can help you reduce your bills in the long run.
Elgato Eve Room Air Quality Sensor, SGD $129 on Lazada
So, before jumping the gun on a newfangled device - do your research. Check out its wattage, charging time, and look out for reviews from users on its energy efficiency. And ask yourself - are the long-term savings worth the hefty price tag? Or are you simply better off with changing your daily habits to help reduce your electrical consumption?
3. How Easy Is It To Set Up and Use?
Interior Designer: Fifth Avenue Interior
Once you’ve decided on the type of smart home device to buy and the budget you'd like to spend, how do you decide on which model or brand? The best way is to compare how easy it would be to set up and to use for each.
Xiao Mi Smart Home Gateway, SGD$41 on Lazada
Yes, a flashy smart home device might look easy to set up, the truth is far from it. Take for example smart personal assistants like Amazon Echo or home management systems like XiaoMi's Smart Home Gateway. To get it up and running even, time will have to be spent powering up and manually syncing the device to other gadgets. Don't forget setting aside a couple more days to figure out how to operate and assimilate it into your lifestyle!
Read reviews and see what others say about the device and their experience with using it before you make your purchase. Is the device recommended for tech amateurs or the super tech-savvy user? Would you have the time to spend learning how to use a complicated smart system?
4. Is It Compatible To Your Home (and Other Devices)?
Interior Designer: Crescendo Interior & Lifestyle
While most of us are caught up with what a smart home device can do - ever thought if it is even compatible with your home?
For instance, some devices work specifically with Apple's Homekit program, like Panasonic's Smart Home Suite, while others like Nest's Smart Security suite are not compatible.
Nest Cam IQ, USD $299 on Nest (pre-order)
Another thing to note is the compatibility of the devices with your home itself. A case in point would be smart bulbs: while most of them are the usual 60-watt models, the wattages differ across the different brands, so it’s important to choose smart bulbs carefully, lest you end up with bulbs that cannot be used.
LIFX Generation 3 Smart Bulb, SGD$90 on Lazada
And lastly, if you already have other smart home devices, check that the new devices that you are buying are compatible with your existing technology. In the case of smart light bulbs, models like the Philips Hue White and the LIFX Generation 3 can be connected with major platforms like the Amazon Alexa and IFTTT.
Interior Designer: Voila
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