The Best Tech to Make Life Easier in 2017

We spend an inordinate amount of time at the Strategist — OK, fine, I do — writing about a certain category of product, never knowing if anyone is actually reading it. So when we read all the comments on our recent post “The Best Tech to Make Life Easier in 2017,” it was hugely gratifying.

We heard from people who said they bought items based on our recommendations (thank you), people who wanted us to recommend things that weren’t listed (coming soon), and people who saw something they already owned mentioned on the list and felt a little better about that purchase.

One commenter lamented that she had been trying to find a way to get her dad to wear a medical alert device and came upon our recommendation for the Lively Mobile Plus device, which she’d never heard of before. “I am so excited because this looks like exactly what we need. Thanks for all the great tips!” she wrote.

Another commenter was looking for a smart-home gadget that would notify her when her co-op door was left open for any length of time and said she planned on buying a sensor mentioned in our story. “Thanks for doing all the footwork so we don’t have

The Best Tech to Make Life Easier in 2017

By the editors of Wirecutter, a New York Times company

April 12, 2017

We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing gadgets over the past few years. We’ve found that most smart-home technologies don’t make your life easier or simpler, but some of them can be surprisingly useful when they work as intended. Below, we’ve collected some of our favorites. Note: The Wirecutter may earn a small commission from product sales at no additional expense to you. Read more about the products we choose and why we like them in our Guide to Smart Home Gadgets.

If you’re looking for the best tech to make life easier in 2017, here are some of the most helpful gadgets and devices we’ve come across.

Neato Botvac D7 Connected Robot Vacuum

Wearing out your floors with vacuuming is a thing of the past thanks to this robot vacuum. The Botvac D7 Connected by Neato Robotics has a laser-guided navigation which scans and maps your home. It then creates a floor plan of each room and then systematically cleans the area. It also knows where it has been and what areas it needs to clean again, so you don’t have to worry about that either.

SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor

One of several SmartThings sensors, this one can be used on doors, windows or even as a temperature sensor. You can set this device up to alert you when something happens in or around your home. For example, if any doors or windows open unexpectedly or if the temperature changes drastically from room to room, you can get alerts instantly on your smart phone so you know exactly what’s going on at home even when you aren’t there.

Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller

This smart sprinkler controller

So you’ve decided to turn your house into a smart home? Fantastic! But where do you start? With the best tech to make life easier in 2017, of course.

This year is gearing up to be a great one for smart home gadgets: there are new devices that are more affordable than ever and they’re also more useful and fun.

The best technology to make life easier isn’t just about automation, it’s about convenience and having things go with as little effort or thought as possible. If you have to think about saving energy then you probably won’t bother; why not automate it so you don’t have to think about it anymore?

The best smart home tech makes your life easier without being too complicated, which is why we’ve researched the very best connected devices for your home.

There are so many new gadgets that make life easier. We’ve compiled a list of the best ones we’ve found so far.

Smart Home Products:

– Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask.

– Philips Hue is a smart lighting system that enables you to wirelessly control the lights of your home from your Smartphone or tablet.

– Nest Protect was designed to make people’s lives better and keep them safe. Nest Protect is a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that does more than just tell you when there’s trouble in your house; it also tells you what and where it is so you can address the issue before it becomes an emergency. With its industrial design, unique Split-Spectrum Sensor and other high-end technologies, Nest Protect looks out for people and their homes in ways no ordinary alarm ever could.

Smart home gadgets are often designed to do something specific really well, but even the most obvious functions can be improved upon. Here are a few examples of smart devices that are more than what they appear to be.

Somfy’s TaHoma is a hub for home automation, controlling all kinds of connected devices from your smartphone. But it’s also a motion-tracking security camera: Whenever you leave home, it automatically turns on, and records who comes and goes while you’re away. You can also schedule it to turn on at night, so you won’t miss any nighttime visitors. You’ll get alerts when it detects movement, and you can watch live video or access recorded clips right from the app.

The Jibo social robot has a lot of smarts built in, but his real superpower is helping other smart products get smarter. With the help of IFTTT and Zapier recipes, he can connect with hundreds of other services and products around your home to make them work together in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. For example, you can set him up to call someone via Google Voice if he detects motion; turn on your Philips Hue lights whenever he takes a photo; or send you an email every time someone knocks on your door (with Ring).


The Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug is the best option for those looking to get started with home automation. It doesn’t require a hub, which means setup is easy, and it has a lower price point than most smart plugs.

If you’re looking for more features, the TP-Link Smart Plug works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control, and IFTTT applets for controlling other smart devices, but it requires a compatible hub or a TP-Link router to work with the Kasa app.

The iHome ISP100 Outdoor SmartPlug is weatherproof and has energy monitoring and scheduling, but it needs to be plugged into an outlet that’s in the same room as your router.

The GE Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus Outdoor Smart Switch has energy monitoring, but you have to buy a compatible hub to use it. It also doesn’t have any integrations with voice assistants or other home automation platforms.

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