Best smart thermostats – transforming heating and cooling for the better

smart thermostat

In an effort to make our homes truly smart, companies have been working on transforming multiple aspects of our everyday life into connected objects. Though we now have smart lights, smart home assistants, and even smart coffee makers, one of the first connected units to hit the market was the connected thermostat. Now that these smart thermostats have been on the market for quite a while, a number of companies have make their own versions that have their own unique appeal.

So which are the best? Let’s find out.

Nest Learning Thermostat

smart thermostat

When people think about smart thermostats, Nest is often the first option that comes to mind. The first generation of the system was released way back in October of 2011, and was one of the catalysts that started the smart home revolution that would eventually become it’s own industry. Nest was acquired by Google is 2014, but still retains it’s own company direction under Alphabet Inc. The company is currently on the third iteration of the product which was released back in 2015, but all consumer versions of Nest continue to be compatible with the latest firmware.

The Nest Learning Thermostat can be installed where any other thermostat was previously wired, and has a large screen to show you the current temperature, heating/cooling modes, and other statistics. There is a dial surrounding the round thermostat which lets you adjust the temperature on the fly, and you can also control the climate of your house with the integrated app. In addition, Nest works with Amazon Echo and Google Home, so you can use your voice to change the temperature of your house whenever you like.

Nest learns over time. If you start setting the house to warmer in the evenings and cooler during the day, it will build a schedule around this lifestyle. Eventually, you shouldn’t have to adjust anything at all, since Nest will know just what you like and when you like it. Nest can also use your phone’s location data to sense when you’re away, and will save energy while you’re not using your house.

Though a lot of products try to mirror Nest in terms of functionality, they really are the original smart thermostat. You can pick up the latest Nest Learning Thermostat on Amazon for $ 245.99.

Ecobee4 Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat

smart thermostat

The Ecobee4 Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat is one of the main competitors to Nest, and is aiming to do perform the same core function with some added smarts. The Ecobee4 can connect to your phone just like the Nest, and allows you to set the temperature from anywhere at any time. Ecobee4 can use room sensors to detect the areas of your house that need the most help, and will intelligently alter the climate to make sure you’re comfortable.

The room sensors that work with Ecobee4 can detect specific aspects of the individual rooms you place them in, and can tell the thermostat to supply hot or cold air to these rooms in particular in order to maintain a comfortable temperature. The Ecobee4 can also send you monthly reports on your energy usage and savings, so you can see firsthand how much more energy efficient your home is with the unit.

The Ecobee4 works with Amazon Echo, Apple Homekit, IFTTT, Samsung Smart Things, and more, so you’ll always have a convenient place to manipulate your home’s climate. Whether it’s with your voice, through an app, or an IFTTT module, the Ecobee4 can keep your home comfortable for years to come. Updated from the previous Ecobee3, the Ecobee4 actually has Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant built in, which means it can do any of the things that the Amazon Echo can do. Whether it’s setting timers, playing music, or even helping you with your cooking, your thermostat can now do it all.

Check out the Ecobee4 on Amazon now for $ 249.

Honeywell Lyric Round

smart thermostat

The Honeywell Lyric Round is very similar to the Nest learning thermostat in that it works as a round dial with a circular screen for data monitoring. The location-based temperature control monitors where you are in comparison to your home, and will wake the thermostat when you are nearby. It can also detect the humidity of your home, and will work to regulate it to a comfortable state. The thermostat can determine if it needs to heat or cool your home based on your unique temperature settings, so you will always have a comfortable feeling home.

Since this thermostat can also regulate humidity, it includes a “Feels like” setting which will make sure the temperature you get feels like the temperature you want. After using the thermostat over a bit of time, the Lyric Round will start detecting when you want your house to be certain temperatures, and can learn when to heat or cool your house.

The Lyric Round works with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, IFTTT, and Samsung Smart things, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this thermostat not being “smart enough” for your needs. You can control the temperature and humidity with your voice, or adjust the settings easily with the manual dial on the unit. You can also enable push notifications to alert you when you need new filters for your heating and air conditioning units, or when there are extreme temperatures in your house that could be making your family or pets uncomfortable.

You can buy the Honeywell Lyric Round on Amazon for $ 169.95.

Neatatmo Smart Thermostat

smart thermostat

If you’re not in the US and looking for something a little more eccentric, the Neatatmo Smart Thermostat might be for you. The unit features a very boxy design which stands alone without being mounted on your wall, and features a number of different colors that can be selected to fit your home’s unique style. The Neatatmo doesn’t use a bunch of buttons, but rather relies on mobile app in order to change and monitor your cooling and heating usage. You can use their standalone monitoring website to see how much energy you’ve saved over time, and set schedules to keep you home set to your unique settings.

Because the Neatatmo is connected to Wi-Fi, you’re able to control it from anywhere in the world. You can also control it using multiple smart home platforms like Amazon Alexa and Apple Homekit, so your voice can be your remote if you prefer to use that. The company says that by intelligently regulating the temperature to use less energy while you are out and asleep, the Neatatmo can save you up to 37% on your energy costs every year. Since the thermostat is battery powered, you can house it in any room you like, or keep it on your wall if you prefer to have it mounted there. The boxy design lets it be placed nearly anywhere, so you’re able to take it around your house so you always know what temperature your home is without having to open your phone.

The Neatatmo is not currently available in the US, but the company says that it’s hoping to bring it to this market soon. It is most widely available in the UK, but you should be able to get one and use it in most European countries. Having the ability to use your thermostat as a piece of decor is pretty interesting, and we love that you can bring it around with you anywhere you like.

If you’re based in the UK, you can get the Neatatmo Smart thermostat for £86.62 today.

Schneider Electric Wiser Air Thermostat

smart thermostat

The Schneider Electric Wiser Air Thermostat isn’t quite as good looking as other options on the market, but it includes a variety of features that you’ll find difficult to get anywhere else. The wiser has special LEDs built into the physical unit that will tell you how your system is running, so you’ll always know if your house is being cooled or heated with a quick glance. It also has sensors that know when you’re nearby, and will change from a general temperature monitoring mode to a manipulation mode when you walk up to it.

The Wiser has a special feature called “comfort boost” which will burst out 15 minutes of hot or cold air in order to rapidly regulate your home’s temperature. This is great for scheduling right before you wake up or have guests over, as it can safe energy right up until you need it most. It can also rapidly humidify or dehumidify your home using the humidity balance feature, so you can always have a home that is just the right feeling. The thermostat can pull weather forecast data off the internet as well, and will use this information to prepare and regulate your home’s temperature effectively.

The thermostat works with an app that allows you to set schedules and unique temperature settings on the fly, and you can also hook it into IFTTT to automate many other features of your home that have internet access. If you aren’t too worried about having the best looking thermostat around but just want something with a ton of features, the Schneider Electric Wiser is worth a good look.

Check it out on Amazon for $ 174.38.

Are there any major options that we missed? A lot of these thermostats have extremely similar features, so you’ll really have to consider the little additions that make one worth it over the other for you. Let us know in the comments below!

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The best HDTV antennas for watching free TV

free TV

Over the last few years we’ve seen a number of folks abandoning traditional cable packages in favor of digital streaming. The reasoning is simple – services like Hulu, Netflix, and Prime Video give you more control over the content you are buying, and are often much cheaper too!

Of course, regular television still has benefits, such as watching it live. Now, most of us probably never use the majority of channels that come with cable subscriptions, but channels like ABC and CBS have vast amounts of quality programming. Even better, did you know you can get them for free? That’s right, free TV is possible even in 2017 — and all you need is a quality HDTV antenna to get it.

With that in mind, here is our round-up of the best HDTV antennas currently available.

Channel Master Flatenna

best HDTV antennas

The Flattena gets its name from its incredibly thin design and flexible nature, measuring at just 0.2 inches thin. You will be limited in terms of where you stick it because of its short, 6 ft., coax cable which is attached to the product. But this can be easily remedied by purchasing an extension. It boasts a range of 35 miles, and at just $ 10 it is the cheapest antenna on the list, but still performs quite admirably.

Mohu Leaf 50

best HDTV antennas

The Leaf is quite a bit more expensive than our first pick, but makes up for its premium price of $ 69.99 by boasting a range of 50 miles. The leaf uses a USB cable to prevent the antenna from pulling energy from the TV all the time — only when in use, thus saving energy. You also get RF filtering, which will make picture quality better. In comparison to the Flattena, the Leaf comes with a 16 ft. coax cable. All in all, this is easily one of the very best HDTV antennas on the market.

HD Frequency Cable Cutter Mini

best HDTV antennas

This one takes a departure from the flat panel, and instead is a rectangular frame with two smaller frames inside it. It comes with a 12 ft. coax cable and a 3M adhesive hook which will ensure that you don’t tear up the wall when removing it. The range is up to 35 miles, which should be good enough to get most of the important channels. The ability to use it indoor and outdoor is a bonus!

Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse

best HDTV antennas

Also coming in a distinct shape, the Eclipse is circular. It’s selling point is that it comes with a 20dB inline amplifier to help weak signals. Combined with the excellent 50 mile range, you should have no problem getting a good amount of channels. The antenna is also paintable so you can colour match it to furniture and walls. The antenna comes with a 12 ft. coax cable.

Channel Master Smartenna

best HDTV antennas

The Smartenna is a compact antenna that can be used both indoors and outdoors. Unlike the others, the Snartenna does not come with a coax cable, so you will need to purchase one separately. It does come with excellent range: ~35 miles indoors, and ~50 miles outdoors. It has a mount for use outdoors and rubber feet for tabletop use indoors. Despite its lacking a coax cable, it is still an excellent antenna!

So that’s it for our list of best HDTV antennas for watching free TV! As a standard disclaimer, mileage will vary with any antenna depending on where you put it. Natural obstructions, such as mountains, and urban impediments, such as the city and roofs, will often result in less than great performance. If you have an antenna that you have been using, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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5 random Alexa commands you probably didn’t know exist

If you own an Amazon Echo, Dot or Tap, you’re probably already aware of the basic Alexa voice commands you can ask your Echo. Finding out how cold it is outside and asking it simple questions you could just as easily Google is one thing, but there are plenty of fun Easter eggs, games, and skills that might make owning one of these connected speakers even more worth your while.

Instead of walking you through the hundreds and hundreds of voice commands you can ask Alexa, we’re going to focus on something a little more obscure today. Here are 5 random Alexa commands you probably didn’t know exist.

Don’t miss: Amazon Echo vs Dot vs Tap: Which one is right for you?

#1 – “Alexa, ask Capital One to pay my credit card bill.”

If you happen to bank with Capital One, you can ask Alexa all about your bank account using the Capital One skill. Once you enable the Capital One skill, you can easily track your spending, check the balance on your Venture card, and even pay your bill, all with your voice. Just say, “Alexa, ask Capital One, when is my payment due?” or “Alexa, ask Capital One, what’s my Venture card balance?”

To see this skill in action, check the video below:

To enable the Capital One skill, just open the Alexa app on your smartphone, tap Skills, then search for Capital One. Then, tap Enable, accept the Terms and Conditions, enter your Capital One username and password, and that’s it. You can now talk to Alexa about your Capital One account.

#2 – “Alexa, ask TrackR to find my phone.”

Smartphones are expensive, so you’d probably be pretty upset if yours went missing. Thankfully, with the help of Alexa and the TrackR skill, your phone won’t go missing for too long.

TrackR is a simple little trick that will definitely come in handy if you tend to “misplace” your smartphone. Once the skill is all set up, just say, “Alexa, tell TrackR to find my phone.” The TrackR service will kick in and make your phone ring, even if it’s on silent. Pretty cool, huh?

TrackR is a service that’s primarily known for its Bluetooth tags. The tags cost about $ 30 a pop and will track your keys, wallet or any other valuable item you may want to keep track of. If you can’t find your keys, for instance, just open the TrackR app on your phone to make them ring. Unfortunately Alexa isn’t compatible with these Bluetooth tags as of yet, but we’re hoping this functionality will be added in the future.

To set up TrackR with your Amazon Echo, you’ll first need to download the TrackR app from Google Play or the App Store. Once that’s done, enable the skill by saying, “Alexa, enable the Find My Phone skill.” Open the TrackR app, select Add new device, then choose Alexa integration. Once the TrackR app asks you for a pin, ask Alexa for your pin by saying, “Alexa, ask TrackR for my pin.” Enter your 6-digit pin in the TrackR app, and press Submit. Now you can use TrackR and Alexa to help find your phone.

#3 – “Alexa, ask WebMD to tell me about Amoxicillin.”

WebMD is a powerful service that’s used for a lot of things. It can help you figure out where that headache is coming from, what side effects are associated with your new antibiotics, or what steps you should take if someone breaks a bone. Now Alexa can harness the power of the health service, thanks to the new WebMD skill.

Once you enable the WebMD skill, you’ll be able to ask your Alexa-powered device basic health-related questions. For instance, you can say, “Alexa, ask WebMD how to treat a sore throat” or “Alexa, ask WebMD to tell me about Tylenol”. It’s worth noting that the skill is, in its current form, a very basic version of the WebMD service, though. You’ll still be able to get surface-level definitions and side effect information, but don’t expect to be able to go much deeper than that.

I asked Alexa to ask WebMD give me information about headaches, and she responded with a pretty long and detailed definition. She followed that up with “Would you like to hear more about this?”, I responded with “Yes”, and she sent a link about headaches to the Alexa app on my phone.

Ben Greenberg, WebMD’s vice president of mobile products, told The Verge that the WebMD/Alexa user experience will improve overtime. In the future, users may be asked follow-up questions to help pin down more specific ailments.

Enabling the WebMS skill is easy. Just head on over to this link, tap the Enable skill button, and that’s it.

#4 – “Alexa, tell me a bedtime story.”

If you have kids that have trouble falling asleep, this next voice command is for you.

With the Bedtime Story skill, Alexa can tell you or your kids a short, relaxing bedtime story, personalized to your name. Now, we’re not saying that this is a valid reason for you to not read to your kids in bed every night, but it is a fun way to bring technology into the mix.

Just say, “Alexa, enable the Bedtime Story skill”, and it’s as easy as that.

If you’re not interested in hearing random bedtime stories, you can link your Amazon Echo to your Audible account. This allows the voice assistant to read any books you may have saved in your Audible library.

To enable Audible integration, open your Alexa app on your smartphone, open the menu on the left (three horizontal lines), tap Music & Books, then scroll down and tap Audible. Make sure you’re signed in, and that’s it. Now Alexa will be able to read any audiobook you have stored in your library.

#5 – “Alexa, how many steps have I taken today?”

Odds are, if you own a fitness tracker, you probably own one that was made by Fitbit. If you also happen to own an Amazon Echo, Dot or Tap, you can easily ask Alexa to spout off all the stats recorded by your Fitbit.

Once the Fitbit skill is enabled (instructions below), you can say things like “Alexa, ask Fitbit how I slept last night”, “Alexa, ask Fitbit how far I’ve walked today”, or “Alexa, ask Fitbit what my resting heart rate is”. Most of the time, you’re probably just going to want to glance down at your Fitbit and check your results with, you know, your eyes. But in certain situations, asking a voice assistant how many steps you’ve taken might come in handy at times.

Also read: The best fitness trackers

What’s more, if you and someone else in your house own Fitbit devices, you can both use the Fitbit skill on your Alexa-powered speaker. As long as you have your accounts set up in your Amazon Household profile, just say “Alexa, switch accounts”. You can now access your Fitbit stats like you normally would.

To enable the Fitbit skill, open your Alexa app, tap the menu button (three horizontal lines) on the top-left of your screen, then tap Skills. Type the word Fitbit in the search box, then tap the first result that shows up. Tap Enable, login to your Fitbit account in the Alexa app, then tap Allow.

So there you have it, 5 useful Alexa voice commands that you may not have known existed. Have any other fun ones for us? Be sure to leave a comment below.

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Best Smart Hubs – Centralize Your Home Automation

Once you’ve got the smart home bug, you’ll quickly find yourself with a group of smart gadgets, and the logical next step is to figure out a way to tie them together. Otherwise, you’ll have to manage multiple apps and accessories to keep them all under control, and soon your convenience factor will go downhill.

So, if you want to keep that level of convenience, what do you do? You’re going to need some sort of smart hub that can control most, if not all, of them. Check out the list below for our list of the best smart hubs to get you started!

Samsung SmartThings

Smart Hubs | Samsung SmartThings

One of the most popular choices in smart hubs for your home is the Samsung SmartThings. SmartThings has been around for quite a while now, and there’s a few good reasons why. For starters, it’s a continually supported device that has seen a couple of hardware refreshes over time. Another reason is that Samsung is a brand that consumers trust, and at the end of the day, it’s a pretty great price point at just $ 99.

The Samsung SmartThings smart hub is very well designed, and it offers a solid range of first-party accessories to customize and enhance your smart home. Those first party accessories include water sensors, motion sensors, and general multi-purpose sensors that can be used to detect when doors are opened, as well as temperature increases in specific areas of your house.

The Samsung SmartThings smart hub works with all of the major protocols, including Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee and Z-Wave, and though some people have criticized the app for being a bit cumbersome when it comes to setting up your various devices for the first time, overall, it’s a very intuitive means of tying together a slew of sensors and devices. For the price point and the quality that you can get with the Samsung SmartThings smart hub, this is a no-brainer starting point if you’re ready to take your smart home up a notch.

Vera Control VeraPlus

Best Smart Hubs | VeraPlus Controller

The VeraPlus smart hub isn’t as well-known as the Samsung SmartThings hub or the Wink Hub 2, but this is a very robust platform, not for the faint of heart. You’ll notice this device is on the higher end of our list when it comes to price at $ 140, but that boils down to the immense compatibility that it offers. Vera claims that the VeraPlus smart hub is compatible with over 2,000 devices, and you can have up to 220 unique devices connected to the smart hub at one time. That’s substantially more smart devices than the average person will ever have in their home.

Like the other smart hubs on this list, the VeraPlus smart hub supports the major protocols, including ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and WiFi. However, the VeraPlus is edged out by the more affordably-priced Wink Hub 2 when it comes to the number of supported protocols. When it comes to managing the devices that are connected to your smart hub, Vera offers a seamless user experience across multiple platforms including iOS, Android and Windows Phone apps, as well as browser access.

At the end of the day, this is a powerful smart hub, but for the average consumer, you may be just as well going with one of the more affordable options.

Wink Hub 2

Best Smart Hubs | Wink Hub 2

Wink Hub is another smart hub that has been around for a good while. Wink’s latest iteration of its smart hub, the Wink Hub 2, brings along an impressive vertical stand design that can be tucked away on a bookshelf or entertainment center, or, if you want to flaunt your geekiness with pride, you can display right on the counter, front and center. At a price of $ 79.95, this is the most affordable smart hub on the list. But, don’t let that price point fool you. Outside of the sleek, modern design, the Wink Hub 2 is known for its lengthy list of supported protocols. These include Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Kidde and Lutron Clear Connect. The more supported protocols, the more devices you’re able to connect.

Another benefit here is Wink’s app. Like Samsung’s app, it can be a tedious process pairing specific devices manually. However, Wink’s app comes pre-loaded with a barcode scanner that allows you to (as you might imagine) scan some products’ bar codes in order to get them paired up almost instantly. Yay for convenience! If you really want to impress your friends, and you also happen to own an Amazon Echo, the two are able to work together to control devices around your house. Unfortunately, the Wink Hub 2 is not compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. Though this is the most affordable option on our list, it is also one of the most capable. If you want a solid smart hub on a budget, this one’s for you.

An alternative to hubs: Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod

Best Smart Hubs | Google Home

Ok, so this final section consists of products that aren’t what we would typically refer to as smart hubs. However, as technology advances, and more and more features are added, these devices draw closer to that product distinction.

Amazon Echo was the first to market in the realm of connected speakers/home assistants, and the device continues to evolve and meet more and more demand. Of course, the voice assistant aspect of the Echo is Alexa, and she (it?) has evolved significantly in terms of the capability to control devices in your home.

Further reading: Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Tap – which is right for you?

Google Home was the second mass market smart speaker/home assistant. For users that are already enveloped in the Google ecosystem, Google Home was almost a no-brainer to get started with smart devices. This one doesn’t have quite the level of third-party developer support at this time, but it’s steadily adding new features to enhance its capability.

Further reading: Google Home review

Finally, Apple’s recently-announced smart speaker, Home Pod will soon be hitting shelves. We don’t have all the details on what Home Pod will be able to do at this point, but it will surely have Apple HomeKit support, enabling to it to control some supported devices in your home.

Further reading: Apple HomePod vs Google Home vs Amazon Echo

At this time, tying these devices to existing hardware in your home can really unlock the potential of your smart home system. Amazon Echo and Google Home both have the potential to integrate with a number of smart home accessories and even hubs. For example, Amazon Echo can integrate with both the Samsung SmartThings Hub and the Wink Hub 2. Doing so will give you the ability to control your home with your voice, where previously you would have to open up an app and touch your commands.

Outside of hubs, Alexa can also integrate directly with Philips Hue bulbs, the August smart lock, and Nest thermostat – and that’s just scratching the surface. Google Home, on the other hand, can also integrate with Samsung SmartThings and the Wink Hub 2. Google Home doesn’t support quite as many smart devices at this time, but if you’re interested, you can tie in devices like Philips Hue, Nest, and even Rachio Sprinklers. Who doesn’t like voice-controlled sprinklers?

Wrap Up

Whether it’s locks, lights, thermostats or outlets, it’s definitely convenient to have one central point to manage all of your smart home devices. This list of smart hubs should give a number of options to think about. All of them will benefit you in some way, but it comes down to preference as well as which devices you’re trying to connect. Did we miss your favorite smart hub? Let us know in the comments below!

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Best Robotic Vacuums – Convenience at Its Finest

Best Robotic Vacuums | Neato Botvac D3 Connected vacuum

When thinking about smart home devices, your mind doesn’t likely go to vacuum cleaners. However, in today’s age, everything is getting the smart treatment, and vacuum cleaners are no exception. Smart vacuums – better known as robotic vacuums – are not a new thing, but here recently, they’ve become a bit more advanced, fitting nicely into the ecosystem of smart devices, and they are a huge win in terms of convenience.

If you’re looking to pick up a cool new gadget that makes cleaning a bit easier than going ‘old school’, check out this list of the best robotic vacuums. Keep in mind, as is true with most smart home accessories, you get what you pay for. We’ve segmented the list into two sections – the best and the budget.

The Best

Best Robotic Vacuums | Roomba 690 vacuum

Roomba 690

[Price: $ 374]

First up on our list of the best robotic vacuums is the Roomba 690. A very new addition to the lineup up of Roombas, the 690 brings a range of functionality that is sure to delight. Let’s get to the fun stuff straight out of the gate. The Roomba 690 has Amazon Echo and Google Home compatibility. So, you can give the vacuum voice commands when you want it to begin cleaning, or when you want to call it a day and have it return to its dock for charging. I can’t think of many better ways to use your Amazon Echo or Google Home

Speaking of charging docks, the Roomba 690, like many of the best robotic vacuums will automatically return to its dock for charging when the battery gets low. iRobot claims that the Roomba 690 will run for 60 minutes before needing to return home, so that should cover a fairly large area. However, that’s not quite as long as some of the competitors. As you might expect in a robotic vacuum of this caliber, the 690 will adjust to all floor types to get the job done, including carpet, hardwood, tile, and laminate. And, as an added bonus, you can program your Roomba to stick to a cleaning schedule so it does a little touch-up every day. Just don’t forget to empty the basin.

Best Robotic Vacuums | Roomba 960 vacuum

Roomba 960

[Price: $ 599]

Stepping it up just a bit in iRobot’s Roomba lineup, we have the Roomba 960. In this robotic vacuum, you’ll find very similar features to the lower models. What’s different you ask? In addition to the acoustic sensors that can be found in the 690 and 860 models, you’ll find the addition of an optical sensor. Basically, the 960 will be a little bit more efficient when it comes to locating areas of concentrated dirt and spending more time in those areas.

Outside of the new set of eyes, the 960 officially supports multi-room navigation. The multitude of onboard sensors makes it easier for the vacuum to navigate around obstacles – essentially it’s more comfortable going through doorways and keeping track of where it is in your home so it can still return to the charging dock when needed. The battery life gets a little bump here as well, adding 15 more minutes from the lower models, reaching up to 75 mins. For the extra $ 230 you also get an upgraded motor, more efficient brushless rollers, a 5x more powerful air system, and a smarter dirt bin that sends notifications to the Roomba app when it’s time be emptied. The extra money seems quite worth it.

Best Robotic Vacuums | Sasmung Powerbot Vacuum

Samsung Powerbot R7040

[Price: $ 399]

Stepping outside of the iRobot Roomba world, we have the Samsung Powerbot R7040. At a mid-range price of $ 399, the Powerbot R7040 has a battery that’s rated for 60 mins of run time. Like the Roomba 690, that should get you pretty decent coverage depending on the amount of furniture you have that the robotic vacuum cleaner will need to maneuver around, and if it gets low, the R7040 will automatically return to its charging dock. Samsung’s vacuum is also capable of cleaning all floor types, automatically detecting the type of surface it’s on. The device has large under-mounted wheels that help it transition smoothly from hard surfaces to something like a rug.

Samsung’s robotic vacuum has “visionary mapping” and a “full view sensor” to map out the layout of the room that it’s in. That’s fancy marketing jargon for “it won’t bump into stuff and it won’t fall off of stuff.” In total, the vacuum has 9 sensors. That’s enough to make you feel confident with the little guy roaming around your house. Unlike some of the others on this list, the Samsung Powerbot has a flat front edge. It doesn’t look quite as slick, but it makes the device much more practical in the sense that it can get into corners that other robotic vacuums would not.

Finally, for those of you who like the idea of barking commands at your robot, the Powerbot R7040 can be controlled with Amazon Echo, but it does require that you also have a Samsung SmartThings hub.

Best Robotic Vacuums | Neato Botvac D3 Connected vacuum

Neato Botvac D3 Connected

[Price: $ 348]

The Neato Botvac D3 Connected is another one of the best robotic vacuums – fitting a fair amount of features into a price that is still relatively affordable. Personally, this my favorite looking robotic vacuum on this list. It’s very sleek and almost looks like a stealth vehicle of some kind. Besides its good looks, the Botvac D3 has many of the same capabilities as others on this list. It has a 60-minute battery run time, it automatically docks and charges, and it connects to WiFi to be controlled by Amazon Alexa and Google Home. The Botvac D3 connected can also be controlled with the Neato app which will inform you when the vacuum gets stuck, when the battery is low and when cleaning is finished.

As with the other devices in this price range, the Botvac works on all floor types, and it also has a flat front edge like the Samsung Powerot to help get into those tricky corners. Unfortunately, unlike its bigger siblings in the Botvac lineup, the D3 Connected does not have side brushes to sweep dirt away from walls and into the line of the vacuum. Overall, this is a very slick device that packs in solid features for a little bit of better price than the Roombas and Samsung’s Powerbot.

The Budget crowd

Best Robotic Vacuums | iLife A4 Robot vacuum

iLife A4 Robot

[Price: $ 207]

If you’re looking to get into the world of robotic vacuum cleaners and add to your overall smart home ecosystem, you might start to look for a few options that aren’t quite as expensive as the first few on our list. The iLife A4 Robot vacuum might just be what you’re looking for. At only $ 207 (relatively affordable in this segment) you will miss out on a couple of features, but overall this is still a solid option to get you started. Like the other vacuums, the iLife A4 Robot vacuum will automatically adjust depending on what floor surface it is on. A small but useful addition of side brushes can found here as well to help draw some of the dirt and dust away from the edges of the room and into the path of the vacuum.

With a lower price point, you will, unfortunately, sacrifice internet connectivity with the iLife A4 Robot vacuum cleaner. Your control options to get the vacuum started, stopped and scheduled are limited to using the included remote, and you also won’t be able to activate the vacuum with Amazon Echo or Google Home. If you can stomach the lack of internet connectivity, however, you’ll find the battery life in this device to actually far surpass that of others in the category. Whereas some of the $ 600 and up vacuums will only get you 60-75 minutes of run time, you’re looking at up to 120 mins with A4 in optimal situations. That’s quite impressive considering the vacuum will also automatically dock and charge itself.

Best Robotic Vacuums | Monoprice Strata Home Cadet vacuum

Monoprice Strata Home Cadet

[Price: $ 110]

If even the iLife A4 Robot vacuum is a bit out of your price range, maybe you’ll consider the Monoprice Strata Home Cadet. The most affordable robotic vacuum cleaner on our list at only $ 110, the Monoprice Strata can still get the job done while obviously sacrificing additional features. Like the iLife A4, Monoprice’s vacuum also does not have internet connectivity. In addition to that, the Home Cadet does not include a remote. To get the vacuum started you simply push the power button on the top. Sure, you could say “ease of use” is a plus, but you might miss being able to schedule cleanings and never having to push a button at all.

Even though you can’t command your vacuum to start with your voice or with an app, the Home Cadet still offers decent cleaning power with its 10-watt motor, while also sensing the type of floor it’s cleaning and adjusting accordingly. Like all of the others on this list, you will find all the sensors necessary for the Home Cadet not to bump into furniture, walls or fall down stairs. One thing you want to make sure to note on this one. The Monoprice Strata Home Cadet is the only vacuum on this list that does not automatically return to a docking station to charge. In fact, the Monoprice does not include a charging dock at all. Yes, you actually have to plug this vacuum in for it to charge.

Wrap Up

Let’s call it like it is. There’s a lot of feature parity when it comes to robotic vacuums. Just by looking at the devices on this list alone, you can see a common theme amongst most vacuums. All of them adjust to the flooring type automatically, nearly all of the return to their charging docks automatically, and they all share a pretty similar product design. What it comes down to is the level of importance you place on things like internet connectivity, integration with other smart devices, battery run time, voice control, and other features like optical sensors.

If you ask me, if you’ve decided to ditch the stand-up vacuum, you might as well take the plunge and go for one of the more expensive, feature-rich devices like the Roomba 690. I mean, really – who doesn’t want to activate their vacuum with voice commands? That’s just awesome.

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