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Consumer Reports: Make your home smarter

Posted at 8:25 AM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 10:57:34-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - Consumer Reports' Dan Wroclawski doesn't just write about smart home products, he uses them in his home, too. His one must-have smart device? A smart speaker.

To use a smart speaker as a hub, or control center of sorts, you'll find three main options: Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple's Siri, which is available on the Apple Homepod. As for those other smart products, CR puts them through its rigorous testing. For example, smart locks still have to pass the same break in tests as traditional door locks.

Consumer Reports also recommends the $230 Schlage Sense Smart Lock. Experts say it stood up to kick in, picking and drilling tests and connects with any of the three smart speaker assistants.

Another option for your doors: Video doorbells. You can see who is at your door, and some models even work with smart locks to remotely open the door through an app. Need even more smarts? You might want to add smart cameras inside and out. One thing to keep in mind: You'll need to pay a fee for video storage for most smart security cameras which can be as much as $200 a year.

"When these cameras take video, they store it on their company's server," says Dan Wroclawski, Consumer Reports. "By doing this it makes it really easy for you to access that footage but it can also cost you over the long term."

The $120 Amazon Cloud Cam is a CR Best Buy. And if you want surveillance both inside and outside your home consider the Netgear Arlo Pro 2 Smart Camera for about $220.