When you're finally done at the office, it's handy to retire for the night and ask Alexa to dim the lights or lock the doors. These gadgets--the latest on the market for the smart home, and most of them have voice-enabled features--make life a little easier if you work long hours.

1. TicHome Mini ($100)

A fun product that will surprise visiting guests, this waterproof speaker (shown above) can hang in the shower or...hang around at your desk. It supports the Google Assistant, so you can ask about the weather or order more shampoo. The speaker lasts about six hours per charge and connects over Bluetooth. Reality check: If you're more of an Amazon Alexa user, this one might not be a good fit.

2. Whirlpool Smart Top Load Washer with Remote Control ($1,499)

The massive size of this 5.4-cubic-foot washer makes it easier to use because you don't have to do as many loads. There's an app that lets you start and stop the washer remotely, and can even alert you about a clothing imbalance. A 8.8-cubic foot smart dryer is also available that matches the washer. Reality check: Entry level models cost about half as much.

3. GE Smart Countertop Microwave Oven ($139)

This is the smartest microwave around. You can quickly scan a barcode on food products and then send the exact cook time and temp to use with your phone. To skip the phone, you can also control settings using Amazon Alexa. Reality check: Once again, bargain microwaves without the "smarts" tend to cost about half this price.

4. First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound ($250)

This smoke and carbon monoxide detector doubles as a normal audio speaker, and supports Amazon Alexa. Once connected to Wi-Fi, you can ask Alexa about the weather and dim the lights in the room; the speaker also has a customizable night light. Reality check: The $250 price tag is steep compared to the models available at Amazon without Alexa.

5. Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller ($230)

One of the most annoying things about using an in-ground sprinkler system is that you have to babysit the settings and turn it off when it rains. The Rachio Smart Sprinkler frees up time, and turns off the system when the weather gets rainy. Reality check: In some parts of the country, you won't need smart home controls for a sprinkler system year round.

6. Vivint Smart Home (Pricing Varies)

Security in the home is often tied directly to convenience. Vivint's new Smart Hub control panel is easier to use, and lets you see a real-time video of someone ringing the doorbell. An app also lets you control the garage door openers, lights, and temp. Reality check: Lower cost gadgets from companies like iDevices also let you control your home.

Published on: Aug 27, 2018