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Top home automation tools in 2017

There are several things that have been released lately to help improve home automation and lifestyles.

Home automation is exactly what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command). Some activities, like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your whim, are simple and relatively inexpensive. Others, like advanced surveillance cameras, may require a more serious investment of time and money.

There are many smart home product categories, so you can control everything from lights and temperature to locks and security in your home. Here’s a rundown of the best products we’ve tested for every room of the house.

The Echo

$179.99 at Amazon is a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, Amazon’s handy voice assistant. Alexa works with a number of smart home devices directly, as well as with If This Then That (IFTTT) to control plenty of others via “recipes” you can create yourself. It’ll take some work, but you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house by the sound of your voice. If you already have a favorite speaker, the inexpensive.

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Echo Dot

$49.99 at Amazon can connect to it and add Alexa functionality.

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The Wink Hub 2

Thee Wink Hub 2 works with devices that use Z-Wave, ZigBee, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. It is also for the future. That includes just about everything in the smart home spectrum, from Philips Hue lighting and the Netgear Arlo camera, to Google Home. It’s the most reliable, widely supported hub we’ve tested.

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Logitech Harmony Elite

Don’t like talking and prefer controlling things the old fashioned way: by pushing buttons? The Logitech Harmony Elite$323.17 at Amazon is the ultimate universal remote for a reason: it controls a lot more than just TV and stereo. The pricey unit connects with the included Harmony Home Hub to control other Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, or infrared devices in your house.

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Nest Cam

For $171.71 at Amazon is essentially the same camera as its popular indoor model, but with a weatherproof enclosure and power cord. Otherwise it’s pretty much identical in features—it uses Wi-Fi to send a full-time video signal (up to 1080p) you can monitor via the Web or mobile apps. It also provides alerts for motion (in zones you set) or audio. Pay for the Nest Aware subscription and you’ll get days of video stored online that turn into clips you can watch whenever you like.

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Information via PC Mag

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