Top Smart Home Entertainment Devices
The growth of full home automation and rapid developments in wireless smart technology has led to an explosion in the range of smart home entertainment devices now available for building a truly connected viewing and listening experience.
When it comes to smart entertainment in the home, we’re primarily talking about the smart devices which are used during downtime such as audio and visual products although the supporting cast which help create a full home entertainment experience (lighting, smart control devices etc) are of course, equally important to creating an immersive smart entertainment experience.
As the growth of devices falling under the remit of the internet of things continues to connect us to the objects we interact with in our everyday lives, the way we entertain ourselves is undergoing a major evolution with the ability to interact with the devices in our homes greater than it’s ever been before.
In this guide we’re taking a look at the best smart entertainment devices on the market today and will cover everything you need to know to start enjoying a fully immersive, interconnected, and automated smart home entertainment experience right now.
Take a seat, grab a drink and let’s do this.
What are Smart Entertainment Devices?
Smart entertainment devices allow you to do a couple of really awesome things when it comes to enjoying, relaxing, and ultimately, entertaining in your home.
The first premise of making your experience smart is the simplification of controlling your home entertainment experience as much as possible by giving you complete control of all of your media and devices through voice, app, and remote control wherever you are in your home. This makes for a fully accessible and connected environment throughout your entire smart home ecosystem.
From wireless Bluetooth audio systems and smart TVs, to mood-matching lighting and voice-activated control systems like the Amazon Echo that respond to your every entertainment-related command and need, home entertainment devices are becoming smarter and more intelligent than ever before.
Connected entertainment devices offer more than just simpler user interface and experience though, and with the latest smart devices looking to enhance your viewing and listening experience, implementing a smart home entertainment system in your house can transform the way you spend your downtime, whether that’s watching a movie, playing video games, listening to music, or entertaining family and friends.
Smart home entertainment devices also bring an increased level of home automation into the mix, with the ability to carry out certain tasks without any input from the user at all, for example automatically preparing the lighting and audio environment in your living room at a certain time of the day – perfect when you get home from work and want to kick back as soon as possible.
By bringing all of this smart entertainment technology together with a centralized smart hub, controller or bridge at the core of your device setup, and you’ll be able to integrate every element of your smart home – from lighting and security to music and video – in one seamless, intelligent and fully connected package.
Whether you’re looking to find a smart device solution for audio or visual entertainment, or are aiming to increase the ambient effect of the existing entertainment kit in your home, the latest connected devices have got you covered.
Smart Entertainment Control
Hubs and Device Control
When you first start equipping your home with smart devices, you’ll begin to come across the variety of wireless protocols that each device utilizes to communicate with others in your setup.
From Bluetooth and WiFi to ZigBee and Z-Wave, the chances are, that after a while, you will have devices that operate on different protocols to others.
Now, these devices can be controlled independently of each other using their individual companion apps on your smartphone or device, but after a while, this becomes impractical as the number of devices in your home environment grows, besides which, you ideally want all of the smart gear in your home communicating in the same ‘language’.
This is where the smart hub or controller comes in.
Effectively acting as a central point of contact for every wireless device in your home, smart hubs (also known as ‘bridges’ or ‘controllers’) bring together all of the different protocols in your setup and ‘translate’ them into a common shared format that can be interfaced from a single point instead of many separate ones.
In practice, this means you can control all of your disparate devices from a single interface, whether that be a physical remote control, a single app on your phone or tablet, or in the case of controllers like Google Home or the Amazon Echo, using your voice.
For smart home entertainment devices, this means for example that you can have your WiFi color-changing lighting and Bluetooth sound system connected to, and interfaced through a single point of contact that brings the whole experience together seamlessly.
The heavy hitter in Amazon’s new lineup of Alexa powered devices, the Echo Plus combines all of the functionality of the excellent Amazon Echo voice controller alongside a dedicated built-in ZigBee smart hub for effortlessly controlling all of the devices within your smart home environment.
This latest iteration of the excellent Amazon Echo means that the Echo Plus is able to fill the role of three devices in one – smart home hub, voice controller, and speaker system – making it an excellent addition to your smart home environment if you’re looking to a find a device that meets all of these requirements.
Based around the Alexa voice controller/smart home AI, the Echo Plus enables you to carry out tasks using your voice ranging from activating connected smart devices through to finding out the weather forecast for the day ahead.
In a home entertainment configuration, the Echo Plus will orchestrate all of your connected smart devices such as lighting, sound systems, and visual devices, as well as allowing you to activate, alter, and control all of them using your voice.
What makes the Echo Plus stand out from the other devices in Amazon’s Alexa device range is the inclusion of a ZigBee hub for bringing together all of the different devices and protocols in your home and allowing you to control them from a single interface.
In a way, this control element at least is offered by other Echo devices, in those cases however, if you’re working with a host of smart devices operating on different protocols, you would need a separate smart hub as well as an Echo to bring the whole thing together – the Echo Plus does away with this requirement.
The Logitech Harmony uses a free companion app to allow you to take full control of up to 8 smart home entertainment devices using your smartphone as a control interface.
At the center of your smart home entertainment setup, the Harmony Hub is capable of orchestrating all of your connected devices and brings the whole thing together.
As well as allowing control over your audio and visual experience, the Harmony is also designed to interface perfectly with other devices within the home including smart lighting and thermostats to ensure you can create the truly perfect all-round experience.
The latest iteration of smart hubs by Wink is faster and easier to use than its predecessor and is designed to bring all of your devices together and make them speak the same language, allowing you to control everything directly from the free Wink app.
The Wink Hub 2 really is designed to bring a lot of different devices together, supporting both dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy wireless networking as well as ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron Clear Connect, and Kidde wireless protocols. If you’re looking to totally future-proof your setup, the Wink Hub 2 is also Thread enabled meaning you’re rig is covered when the new low-powered mesh protocol becomes commonplace.
The SmartThings Hub from Samsung connects effortlessly (and wirelessly) to your smart home devices from heating and lighting to you guessed it – home entertainment devices.
Contained within a sleek outer shell, the SmartThings Hub is controlled using the free companion app from either your smartphone or tablet as well as offering the option to pair with Amazon Alexa for voice control.
Simple to install, easy to use and the perfect way to bring together your smart home entertainment and automation needs.
Whatever smart device in your setup you’re looking to unify, the SmartThings Hub looks to bring them together and allows you to ‘teach’ your home how to react by letting the system know what to do when you’re home, sleeping or at work.
Allowing you to turn your mobile device into a universal smart remote, don’t let the size of the Blumoo fool you.
Acting as a central link between the control interface (your smartphone or tablet) and your interconnected devices, the Blumoo gives you direct control over your smart home environment.
Control your entertainment from multiple sources from the convenience of an intuitive partner app on your mobile device.
If you’ve ever wanted to control the smart devices in your home with the wave of a hand, then you need to check out Singlecue.
Singlecue is effectively a remoteless controller that senses hand gestures you make to control your smart devices without the need for a physical remote or speaking a command to a voice controller.
Working with devices ranging from smart TVs through to lighting and audio, the Singlecue is a truly unique take on controlling your connected devices remotely and allows you to control anything from sound levels to the temperature in your home with a simple hand gesture – perfect if you’re in full conversation and don’t want to break the flow.
Smart Home Entertainment Audio Devices
Smart Speaker Systems
If you value a high-quality audio experience, whether it’s when listening to music, watching a movie, or simply catching up with the latest news and sports, then a smart speaker is an absolute must-have addition to any smart home device lineup.
The essential elements of a smart speaker are that it should offer both wireless connectivity for playback and control, with the latter ideally offering multiple forms of interaction such as voice and app-based control. On top of these entry-level smart requirements, of course, you also want to ensure you get the very best sound quality possible for your budget.
This sector of the smart device market is split between the traditional audio manufacturers looking to ensure they keep pace with the latest developments in smart connectivity, alongside newer brands and those not traditionally associated with this vertical (enter Amazon and Google), all looking to find the perfect balance between quality, connectivity and price point.
While technically also a voice controller (see the Echo Plus and Echo Dot above), the latest generation of the excellent Echo from Amazon is a stylish and super-efficient smart Bluetooth speaker that’s been designed with voice control of your smart home entertainment and connected devices in mind while ensuring that this requirement doesnt sacrifice sound quality during playback.
Simple to set up and easy to get going, the Echo is built for hands-free operation and utilizes Alexa, Amazon’s inbuilt AI who’s always ready to respond to your next question or command.
The Echo not only allows you to play music directly through the hub itself (thanks to an internal speaker setup offering 360-degree omnidirectional audio) but also to control a host of other compatible devices throughout your home including lighting and smart switches.
Perhaps the thing that makes the Echo such an essential addition to a smart home entertainment setup though is its compatibility and the sheer number third-party devices that it integrates with right out of the box, working with Nest, Philips Hue, Samsung and many, many more almost effortlessly.
Whether you’re looking for a solid Bluetooth speaker with music streaming capabilities, a smart home assistant, a voice activated controller, or a combination of all three, it’s hard to go wrong with the Echo.
Whether you’re looking to control the temperature in your home through a connected smart thermostat or simply want to listen to your favorite track, just ask Alexa and she’ll make it happen.
With the Echo itself representing the flagship device in the Alexa-powered family, other options are also available including the Echo Dot (a reduced size version of the Echo with many of the same features) and the Echo Show which also incorporates a display and camera for visualization, video playback and voice calls between other Echo Show devices.
At the audio core of the 2nd generation Echo is a 2.5” downward-facing woofer which works in tandem with a 0.6” tweeter to deliver 360 degrees of omnidirectional sound. Powered by Dolby the Echo’s speakers allow it to output sound throughout the room while still listening out for your next request with an array of 7 far-field microphones.
As with the other devices within the Echo family, you can play music from a variety of online sources including Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, and TuneIn.
Bluetooth connectivity allows you to wirelessly connect to any audio output that works with the protocol, effectively making the Echo a satellite speaker with in-built voice control capabilities. As well as this wireless capability, the Echo also includes a 3.5mm line-out option for hooking up any devices with a physical connection when needed.
Outside of its excellent audio capabilities, the Echo is also the flagship device in Amazon’s Alexa range of voice controllers, allowing complete control over an incredibly wide range of smart home devices with the list of integrations growing almost daily.
Nine amplified speakers make up the foundation for this powerful wireless audio solution.
Connectivity through WiFi and controlled through a free app on either a smartphone or tablet, the Sonos Playbar is the perfect sound solution for your smart entertainment setup.
Oh, we nearly forgot to mention, the Playbar also looks as awesome as it sounds.
Stream directly from connected music services such as Amazon Prime Music, Spotify or Pandora with the HEOS and its partner app.
The HEOS 1 is both small and powerful and with Bluetooth connectivity, this wireless speaker solution is an incredible edition to your smart home audio arsenal.
Smart Home Entertainment Visual Devices
From the best smart TVs and projector systems delivering a jaw-dropping, theater-quality visual experience in your living room, through to connected playback devices and streaming services making everything online available instantly, the era of smart home entertainment tech is transforming the way we’re able to view content at home.
The way we access shows and movies has come a long way over the last few years and the explosive growth in streaming services such as Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, and Hulu have transformed how we watch what we want, when we want.
Smart TVs represent the natural next step in visual home entertainment and provide the ability for on-demand viewing, connectivity with other smart home devices for control (such as the Amazon Echo), and of course the ability to view live TV in higher definition than ever before.
We’ve taken a look at the best smart TVs out there to help you find the perfect fit for enhancing your viewing experience.
Behind the 55-inch display, this is one of the best smart TVs currently available, providing excellent visual and audio quality alongside a ton of web-ready smart features.
Out of the box, the LG OLED55B6P comes pre-installed with apps for smart viewing including Netflix and Amazon meaning you can quickly install. hook up to your network (and any other connected smart devices), and enjoy the ultimate visual experience in next to no time at all.
With a high profile feature list ranging from voice search and Bluetooth connectivity through to some of the best speakers on the market today, the LG OLED55B6P is a solid choice if you’re looking for the best smart home visual entertainment option to significantly up your viewing game.
The LG OLED55B6P delivers visual output through a 55-inch 4K Ultra HD display which users continually say provides excellent black levels, wide viewing angles, and an overall superior picture quality.
Sound is delivered from the device via onboard Harmon Kardon speakers meaning you can expect a superior home theater style sound experience without investing in external speakers.
The webOS 3.0 interface on the LG OLED55B6P acts as the base of the device’s smart functionality and allows access to a whole host of apps as well as networked connectivity for a smart viewing experience whether you’re streaming from one of the major on-demand services or simply looking to browse the net from your living room.
If you’re looking for a 4K smart TV that will deliver the ultimate entertainment experience, check out this offering from LG.
Providing more clarity than ever before, the LG OLED TV is designed to combine big screen audio and HDR visuals with smart technology, meaning you can queue up shows, movies and online content from your favorite providers such as Amazon and Netflix.
Developments in Smart TV technology has been progressing rapidly in recent years and the level of integration with other smart devices around the home has continued to increase.
Utilizing built-in WiFi, the latest offering from the Japanese powerhouse of visual entertainment allows you to run apps such as Youtube, Netflix, and others directly from the box (no need for a separate unit here) while crystal clear 1080p clarity will have you really experiencing every show, movie or game on this beauty.
With a 120Hz refresh rate, screen mirroring and built-in WiFi, this visual offering from LG is the definitive way to watch in 4k super high definition clarity.
Once the device is connected, you can navigate LG’s content store and browse the web, all from the contents of your couch. Perfect.
This small box contains enough tech to keep you entertained for a seriously long time.
Not only does the BDPS3700 allow you to stream over 300 apps and entertainment services through your TV, but it also enables you to view smartphone content on your display using Mira cast screen mirroring technology.
Oh yeah, and it’s also a lightning fast, Full HD 1080p Blu-ray disc player.
LG have brought the surround sound, home theater concept into the smart entertainment era with the LHB655 system.
Combining 5.1 surround with a Blu-Ray player (within the receiver itself), the LG Smart Blu-Ray Home Theater provides direct access to online apps such as Spotify, Hulu, Netflix and Youtube making it the perfect entry to a fully-featured smart entertainment system for your home.
Whether you’re settling in to watch a movie, throwing a party, or simply want to set the scene with reactive mood lighting when you listen to music, the latest range of smart lighting represents a real game changer in the world of smart home entertainment and connected relaxation.
From color-changing light bulbs with millions of options to lighting that adapts to every scene in the movie or shows you’re watching, incorporating a smart light system into your home entertainment repertoire will transform the way you enjoy your leisure time.
Smart lighting allows you to control the illumination in your home directly from your smartphone or by issuing a voice command through a system like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, effectively giving you total control over the visual atmosphere within a room like never before.
Whether we’re talking about a couple of strategically positioned bulbs that react to your voice or smartphone app input, or a fully integrated home lighting overhaul, the ability to have your lighting react at the tap of a screen or utterance of a command is incredible.
How about having your smart lighting react when your favorite team scores a touchdown? Well, by connecting your smart lighting to the relevant IFTTT applet, you can make it happen. So awesome.
If you plan on doing little else to your home entertainment, seriously consider investing in smart lighting and some form of controller to transform your viewing, listening and relaxing experience.
Smart Light Bulbs and Lamps
When it comes to connected lighting solutions, the Hue range of white and color changing smart bulbs are among the best on the market and represent an awesome choice if you’re looking to get started with a smart light element to your home entertainment setup.
Controllable by voice using systems like Amazon Alexa, the Philips Hue range offers 16 million color variations and can be synced with movies, music, and games for an immersive home entertainment effect.
The entire Philips Hue range is designed to work seamlessly with each other when connected to a central ‘bridge’ unit (included in the Starter Kit) meaning you can scale your intelligent lighting system up with the addition of components to expand the capabilities of your illumination.
Offering everything from white and color changing bulbs through to smart feature lamps and lighting strips, a fully realized Hue setup allows you to achieve some pretty awesome ambient and home entertainment effects when an interconnected system is in place.
When it comes to the latest smart home entertainment devices, the latest audio and visual smart devices will ensure you never view (or listen) home entertainment in the same way again
Source: Smart Home Tech