Smart home is a burgeoning area of the tech industry at the moment, with more and more products coming to the market. The AI and connectivity in these devices if giving us a taste of the kind of future we used to only be able to dream about. There is no stopping the Internet of Things, but if you’ve been put off by the high price of some of these new innovations you needn’t be. Making your home ‘smart’ does not have to be expensive.
We’ve put together a list of the best smart home devices for under $100 for 2019. The prices quoted are an average of what these devices currently go for. If you find a better deal at a store near you or online, don't hesitate to let us know!
Google Chromecast Ultra - $35
Chromecast might be the cheapest item on this list but it is also one of the best. Google has packed a whole lot of goodness into this tiny package and its 3nd generation Chromecast is better than ever. Google Chromecast essentially turns a regular television into a smart TV. Just plug it into your HDMI port and power it via USB (either from a plug socket or from a USB on the back of your TV). Your phone then becomes a remote control for your smart TV, allowing you to fire up your favorite content from Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Hulu, HBO Now and many more. You can still use your phone during playback as Chromecast streams directly from your home Wi-Fi, rather than replicate what it on your phone screen. For this price, Chromecast is a life-saver for use at home or whilst traveling.
There's also now an Ultra version of the Chromecast which also comes in at under $100. The souped-up version allows you to stream entertainment in up to 4K Ultra HD and HDR. Remember, you'll need to have a 4K television to get the most out of this product. If you don't, the regular Chromecast is a better option for you. Chromecast Ultra costs $69 and is available from the Google Store.
Google Home Mini - $49
The Google Home mini does everything that Google Home does, but for less than half the price in a much smaller package. The home speaker looks a lot sleeker and, for my money, can slip into your decor in a way that is more undetectable than the regular Google Home. Of course, the sound quality is compromised a little due to the fact that this thing doesn’t have space for large speaker - it’s actually a single, upward facing speaker - but if you really care about premium sound you should probably get something from Sonos or Marshall anyway. You can also leave the microphone permanently muted if you are worried about Google listening into your home.
Amazon Echo Dot - $40
Much like the above Google Home Mini, the Dot is Amazon’s pint-sized version of its Echo smart speaker. By talking to Amazon’s Alexa you can set alarms, get weather reports, ask questions, play music and much more. There are seen microphones in this thing but, like with the Home Mini, you can mute them if you want to. The only real downside of the Echo Dot is the design. It looks like a chunky hockey puck, but if you are a fan of Amazon Alexa over Google Assistant, this is the mini smart speaker for you.
Phillips Hue Starter Kit - $85
Ever wanted to get into the world of smart lighting but with so many new products on the market, never really known where to start? A Phillips Hue starter kit might be just the ticket! For under $100 you get four bulbs and the bridge that you’ll need to connect everything up. You can automate the lights to make it look like you are at home if you are not, but the coolest things creating ambient lights for different moods. The bulbs can glow at different levels of brightness so you can create a lighting environment for any situation, directly from the Phillips Hue App on your smartphone. You can also save ‘themes’ for different settings so you can change the light in your room quickly to fit the time of day or mood you want to create. Be aware that a starter kit with Hue bulbs that can do 16 million different colors will cost you more than $100.
Samsung SmartThings Hub - $70
The Samsung SmartThings Hub might not be much on it own, but combined with other smart devices this thing can become the hub that connects your entire home. The hub connects wirelessly to each of your smart home stuff and acts as a central system for monitoring and controlling your home from its Android App. You can also receive alerts when there is unusual activity in your home and it even works with Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Blink Security Camera - $80
Home security is an important issue, but it used to be reserved for those that could afford expensive CCTV installations. Now, thanks to smart technology, a whole host of digital security cameras are flooding the market, and the best of them (for under $100) might just be the Blink Security Camera. Blink is truly wireless, very easy to set up and it can last up to two years on two AA batteries. It has a motion sensor so that it only records when it detects movement in your home, live HD video and audio streamed directly to your phone and even night vision. It’s also waterproof if you want to use it outdoors. There’s no monthly contract with Blink, as is the case with some other services such as Nest.
TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plus Mini - $40 (on sale for $17.75 at the time of writing)
Smart plugs might seem like quite a dull investment. I thought so, too, until I bought one. Some people use smart plugs for sockets they might forget to switch off. Ever sat on the bus to work and worried if you left your hair straighteners on? Now you don’t have to anymore. I use mine for my guitar rig. My amps and pedals all run out a power outlet that is behind a bookshelf and is awkward to reach. Rather than mess around plugging in my amp and pedals every time I want to play, I simply turn it on from my phone, going from power-saving to amped up in seconds.
Withings Body+ smart scales
Far more than just a set of scales with a digital display, smart scales can measure body fat percentage, muscle and bone mass and track it all in a fancy app. This set from Withings is especially interesting. Not only does it track your full body composition, but it syncs with Apple Watch plus more than 100 top health and fitness apps including Apple Health, Fitbit and Google Fit.
If you are struggling to lose weight or just want to manage your current weight a little more closely, a set of smart scales could become a valuable tool. The best part of this Withings set, of course, is that they come in at under $100.
What is your favorite smart home device for under $100? If you've got a recommendation for our list, let us know in the comments below.