DIY smart home
This story is part of an ongoing DIY smart home series. Remember to check out the final parts to follow the refurbishment process from start to finish.
If you are a visual person like I am, smart screens are appealing devices. They are like best smart speakers, but with tablets attached. For my ongoing DIY smart home project I had to decide which of the growing number of smart screens out there made the most sense for my connected room.
Smart screens are visual vehicles for Amazon and Google’s voice assistants. Between compatibility with voice commands and manual controls in the interface, a smart display can act as a one-stop smart home remote control. You can use it to turn on smart lights, manage routines and check your video doorbell. Most also support call and call or intercom functions.
When you are not talking to Alexa or Google Assistant, the displays can show news, weather, photos or whatever else you want to see in an instant. You can also watch videos from any of best streaming services, follow step by step recipes and deejay your music tracks.
These are the baseline deals you will find among most smart monitors on the market. So to decide what is best for you, you will want to consider other needs. Not all smart screens are built the same: Some have cameras and others have cameras that actually follow you around. Others are so discreet and compact that they can replace the alarm clock by the bed.
Here are three things to keep in mind when choosing a smart display and why I chose Amazon Echo Show 8 over Google Nest Hub.
Where do you want to place the smart screen?
The room where you plan to use a smart screen will partly dictate which model you will get. Smart screens like Google Nest Hub Max and new Amazon Echo Show 1
While Amazon Echo Show 8, Lenovo Smart Display 7 and new Google Nest Hub can similarly be useful in the kitchen, their smaller footprint makes them better suited for a desk, dresser or side table. You want to sacrifice some speaker power and camera quality (and the camera entirely, for Nest Hub), but you save money and still get all the assistant’s key features.
There are smart screens made especially for your bedside table. The Amazon Echo Show 5 and Lenovo Smart Clock costs as much as non-smart alarm clocks, but are as skilled as screenless counterparts as Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation) and Google Nest Mini.
What special features appeal to you?
Besides size, there are certain tricks that can make one of the many smart display options more appealing to you. For example, if you want to make video calls to friends and family members, you should choose a smart monitor with a built-in camera. The larger screens have the clearest picture quality, but you can also make video calls from Echo Show 5.
Some smart screens take the camera functions a step further. Echo Show 10 rotates to meet you when you talk to Alexa or call. Meanwhile, the Nest Hub Max automatically adjusts the camera to keep you centered during video calls.
Then there is the 7-inch Nest Hub, which arrives at the end of March with a feeling of sleep. While many of them best training trackers and best smartwatches can already track your sleep from your wrist, Google Nest Hub claims to track the zzz from your bed – no skin contact required. I have to see how well it works before I go so far as to recommend it, of course.
Which voice assistant do you want to use?
In most cases, it will make sense to have a smart monitor that is compatible with the rest of your existing smart home devices. A Google Assistant screen can be used to control any of best Google Home devices, while an echo monitor is capable of managing best Alexa compatible devices. It’s usually easier to stick to one platform so you can create smart home routines.
But if you are not loyal to one or the other assistant, you need to decide which one to use. Both are capable of and support a number of third-party smart home devices, as well as offering smartphone apps to control your system wherever you are.
When it comes to what makes them different, Alexa Guard and Alexa Hunches are two prominent skills that make Alexa a more autonomous assistant. On the other hand, Google Assistant extends better than Alexa, since it is integrated with applications such as Google Maps and Google Translate.
The smart screen I chose
Finally, we went with Echo Show 8, which makes Alexa a useful entertainment station that is easy to use. I wanted a smart screen for the kitchen, and did not care so much about a rotating screen. Since we skipped smart appliances (like a refrigerator with a built-in screen) it will be convenient to have a panel on our counter to adjust devices in our soon-to-be smart home. It will also be useful to handle more recipes, which I had to in Thanksgiving dinner settlement I kept between Amazon and Google’s bigger smart screens.
Me too choose Alexa over Google Assistant like my smart home butler, so one of the Echo screens makes the most sense to me. Unlike Google, Amazon does not offer Alexa’s visual interfaces to third-party companies. And since I install a wall-mounted smart home controller near my front door, the kitchen’s smart screen can act more like a sous chef.
Do you have questions about smart screens? Send me an email at email@example.com or leave a comment below, and I’ll try to include it in my DIY smart home series. Check out previous installments, DIY smart home: Why I chose this smart thermostat under $ 100, also.