The LOS ANGELES poster at one of the showy new Amazon Books stores was welcoming.

"Smart Home Made Easy – Do you want to get started, but don't know where to start?"

I think most customers will raise their hands and say, "It's me."

Amazon's list set hard-to understand tech geekdom in words we all get. What it didn't do was spell out the dollars that would need to be invested or how some of those things could work. Sowe is going to decode it for you.

Let's start with money. If you bought everything listed ̵

1; and handy enough at home to handle the installation – you're looking at just over $ 1000 to buy smart outlets, lights, Fire TV Stick, doorbell, thermostat, lock, security cameras and a device that interacts with All this good stuff, as in the case of the Amazon, is the $ 220 Echo Show, which brings video to Alexa.

Dekodingstid! Start with:

Smart Outlet

This is the simplest of the elegant home accessories. Amazon Smart Plug ($ 24.99) or WeMo Switch Smart Plug ($ 34.99). You connect this to wall power and put existing products (lamps, TV, radio, your name) in Smart Plug. From there, you can use an app, or voice assistant such as Alexa, to order the product to be turned on and off. Amazon suggests using it with a coffee pot to start it in the morning from bed, but our coffee pot needs a filter, coffee, fresh water and a button that requires a physical boost to get it going. But hey, no doubt about the lamp, right?

Amazon's Smart Home made simple poster (Photo: Jefferson Graham)


" Set your mood using colored smart bulbs, dimmers, and light strips. "It sounds cool, but the bulbs are expensive (around $ 50 each) and to get the colors Amazon mention, you must also buy and connect to a hub that speaks to the bulbs . Fortunately, many newer smooth bulbs are Bluetooth enabled and do not require additional hub configuration. Once plugged into the connector, you can now say "Alexa, turn on the lights" and get it done.

TV Streaming

"Change channel, turn up the volume and fast forward a program with just your voice," says Amazon. Yes, this is technically possible, but it depends on which TV you have and what accessories you buy. With the Fire TV Cube ($ 119), Amazon says it can control compatible TVs from some manufacturers. "You can't use your voice to switch channels through an HD aerial over the air." With the $ 49 Four TV Stick, the Amazon touts features work on the poster by speaking the commands on the Four TV remote.


With a Ring video doorbell (from $ 99), you can watch a smartphone app or the big screen of the Echo Show to see who's on the door – wherever you are. The Alexa angle is that you can talk to the person outside via the Echo speaker.


"Smart home saves the day when you forgot to lock the door or can't find your keys." Ask Alexa to lock and unlock your front door. And look at spending $ 125 to $ 225 to purchase a lock from a number of manufacturers, including August, Schlage or others, and possibly installation fees, even though you may be able to install it yourself.


"Use your voice to turn up the heat or turn on the power from anywhere in the house." You invest around $ 250 for your smart thermostat, from Nest or ecobee, and you replace the old thermostat by installing this new one. Expect potentially having to pay to get it installed.

Security cameras

"Instantly monitor the inside of your home with your voice" with the purchase of camera screens. But only if you are willing to fork over some extra money to buy Four TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show or Echo Spot – if you do not already own these devices.

If you are willing to be there are other options. Amazon CloudCam starts at $ 119 for one, or $ 199 for two. Installing Amazon CloudCam is as easy as Smart Plugs. You connect power to the camera via AC or USB, connect the video with an app (Android and iOS) to watch the pictures and you're up and running. Google-owned Nest also has a camera available for $ 160, and the Alexa twist is that you can use voice command to turn the device on and off.

Rival Google says some 10,000 smart home devices work with Google Home, Google's Alexa response, but we couldn't find a site that spelled it as clearly as Amazon did in its store. Here is the best we could find.

Readers: Do you have questions about setting up the smart home? Is there any nice print we missed from the Amazon poster? Let's talk about it on Twitter, where I am @jeffersongraham.

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