Photo Credit: Onleaks/ 91Mobiles
Google Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL are targeted at the mid-range consumers
Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones are reportedly getting close to their official unveiling, an online report has revealed. The phones are said to be packing 64GB of onboard storage and will be offered in three colour options, including an Iris colour variant. Targeted at the mid-range consumers, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL have long been part of the rumour mill and we have already seen several leaked images of the two phones. The phones have also been spotted in the Android code in the past, giving credibility to their existence.
German website WinFuture says Google’s mid-range Pixel phones are confirmed to be called Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, citing sources at European retailers. The names were first spotted in Android Q beta code recently. The publication also notes that Google will be selling the two phones with just 64GB of onboard storage in Germany. It is unclear if same is going to be the case in other markets as well, however all rumours till date point to just 64GB onboard storage.
Additionally, WinFuture writes that the search giant will be selling the mid-range Pixel phones in three colour options – White, Black, and Iris. Iris is usually used to refer to shades ranging from blue-violet to violet. The website also speculates that the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are unlikely to be cheap and will probably be priced starting at EUR 450 (roughly Rs. 36,600).
To recall, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL have been rumoured to feature 4GB of RAM, 18W fast charging support, and USB Type-C port. The Pixel 3a will house a 5.6-inch screen with Snapdragon 670 SoC, whereas the Pixel 3a XL will come with a 6-inch display and Snapdragon 710 SoC.
There is no word on when Google plans to announce the two phones, but it is being reported that it won’t take long for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL to become official now.
Best facial recognition security cameras to buy in 2020 – CNET
Select home security cameras have facial recognition, an option that lets you make a profile of friends and family members who regularly come to your house. Then, when the camera sees a face, it determines whether or not it’s someone in your list of known faces. The software can be hit or miss, based on a variety of…
Select home security cameras have facial recognition, an option that lets you make a profile of friends and family members who regularly come to your house. Then, when the camera sees a face, it determines whether or not it’s someone in your list of known faces.
The software can be hit or miss, based on a variety of factors, from lighting to changing hairstyles, wearing glasses one day but not the next — and more.
For more like this
Subscribe to the Smart Home newsletter, receive notifications and see related stories on CNET.
But one thing we know for sure is that this feature is becoming increasingly popular in our devices, not just in home security cameras, but also our phones and as efficiency tools helping to automate airport check-ins. As law enforcement becomes more invested in facial recognition technology, it’s already raising serious questions about privacy and civil rights across the board, and bringing calls for governmental regulation. But let’s step back a bit to the consumer realm. Your home is your castle, and the option of having facial recognition devices therein is still a compelling option for those who want to be on the cutting edge of smart home innovation. Let’s take a look at the facial recognition cameras we’ve tested recently, to see which models are the best and to help you determine if one would work for you.
If we’re talking about sheer facial recognition capabilities, the Nest Hello, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor and the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor (all of which are essentially the same camera), win by far. Of those models, the Nest Hello is my top pick for facial recognition because it’s the least expensive of the three and has the most opportunity to give you important information about who’s at your front door. Nest’s IQ Indoor can tell you who’s already inside your house, but the Hello, as well as the IQ Outdoor Cam, tell you who’s outside your house. The Hello doorbell’s eye-level location has the best chance of monitoring and seeing the most visitors, too (although I suppose you could install the $349 IQ Outdoor cam at eye level if you wanted). The snag with the Hello and other face-tracking Nest cams is that you do have to pay for the facial recognition feature. That means for facial identification, you have to subscribe to the Nest Aware cloud subscription service. Learn more about Nest Aware.Still, the Nest Hello is also a pick for best overall video doorbell. So it’s a win/win, whether or not you want to enable facial recognition.
Read the Nest Hello review.
The Tend Secure Lynx only costs $60. Given that, I was skeptical that this camera would deliver, but it does. Not only does the camera itself perform well and offer multiple nice features like free seven-day event-based video clip storage, but it also has facial recognition free of charge (unlike the optional Nest Aware service).Create your database of familiar faces, and the Lynx takes over. There is a bit of a learning curve as it becomes familiar with each face, but it’s a very good option if you want an inexpensive indoor home security camera with decent facial recognition.
Read the Tend Secure Lynx review.
The $299 Nest Cam IQ Indoor is similar to the Nest Hello doorbell. It has facial recognition (if you sign up for a Nest Aware subscription) and lets you know who walks in front of the camera’s field of view with consistent accuracy. But it also has a number of additional benefits. Because it is an indoor camera, Nest gave it an integrated Google Assistant speaker. That means the camera essentially doubles as a Google Home speaker and can answer basic questions like what the current weather or traffic is in your area — and control a variety of Google-Assistant-enabled smart home devices. It also works with Amazon Alexa.
Read the Nest Cam IQ Indoor review.
Facial recognition cameras: Every one we tested Here’s a recap of the facial recognition cameras we’ve installed and tested recently. Recommend above: Worth considering, but not as good as the top picks above: Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: The IQ Outdoor camera is similar to the $229 Nest Hello and the $299 IQ Indoor when it comes to specs and performance, but it offers a worse value at a whopping $349 per camera.Netatmo Welcome: Netatmo’s Welcome indoor camera did a fair job detecting faces, but the feature ultimately wasn’t quite as reliable as we’d like. Wisenet SmartCam N1: The $150 SmartCam N1 smart security camera and app did a good job detecting faces, and it comes with a built-in microSD card slot for local storage, but the $60 Tend Secure Lynx performs just as well for much less. Not recommended: Honeywell Smart Home Security: Unreliable performance, including its facial recognition tech, seriously hurts this all-in-one system’s appeal. Tend Secure Lynx Pro: While the indoor-outdoor Lynx Pro is technically the high-end version of the indoor-only Lynx, its improved specs didn’t translate to better facial recognition. Note that the recommendations above were at the time of testing, and could change based on later software updates. We’ll periodically update this list as such changes warrant. How we tested When setting up a camera with a facial recognition function, you create profiles of individual people, by either taking their picture in real time and adding it, or using an existing photo that you have of them. From there, The face recognition camera should be able to distinguish human faces from every other type of motion activity and single out the ones it recognizes from your database of familiar faces. When it’s working optimally, you will get an alert that says the camera saw “Chris,” “Molly” or whoever is in your database. There are many use cases for this type of functionality, but some common ones include getting an alert when your kids get home from school, or if a dog walker or a family caregiver shows up. It creates peace of mind when you’re expecting someone to show up and you want an automated alert telling you they have (especially when you aren’t home to greet them). But it also helps in security scenarios, since the camera is essentially distinguishing between faces it recognizes and those it doesn’t. That way, if your camera sends you an alert that it saw someone on your front porch or walking into your house, but you don’t recognize them, you can more quickly send the information to police officers in the event of an actual break-in or theft, instead of having to sift through dozens of generic motion alerts to find the activity. Viewing the facial recognition feature inside the SmartCam app.
Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET
The best way to test these cameras is to create a database, which is what I do when I test a camera with facial recognition (see the screenshots above). I add people to my database and let the camera do the rest. It’s best to give these cameras at least a few days, because some improve significantly, even over a short period of time, as they see faces at different angles. Then it’s a matter of doing an analysis of how well the camera actually recognized faces. How often did it correctly identify my face versus someone else’s face? How did it do when approached at different angles and changes to hairstyles and clothing accessories? Was the camera able to detect faces at all? Some occasionally struggle to detect any faces, even ones that claim to have facial recognition, and instead mark the activity as a basic motion alert (ahem, Tend Secure Lynx Pro). The future of facial recognition Amazon’s doorbell and security camera company, Ring, filed two patents related to facial recognition in 2018. The patents suggest that future developed Ring products might be able to automatically detect and identify faces from “most wanted” lists or a watch list and automatically send notifications to law enforcement officers. Here’s an excerpt from one of the patent filings: A video may be analyzed by an A/V recording and communication device that recorded the video (and/or by one or more backend servers) to determine whether the video contains a known criminal (e.g., convicted felon, sex offender, person on a “most wanted” list, etc.) or a suspicious person. Some of the present embodiments may automatically submit such video streams to the law enforcement agencies. “Amazon is dreaming of a dangerous future,” ACLU attorney Jacob Snow said in a blog post. “The history of discriminatory government surveillance makes clear that face surveillance will disproportionately harm people already targeted by the government and subjected to racial profiling and abuse — immigrants, people of color, and the formerly incarcerated,” Snow added. Right now, Ring cameras don’t offer facial recognition at all. Models that do, like the Nest Hello, are only designed to identify a person you add to your list of “familiar faces.” They won’t draw from a law enforcement list to determine if a convicted felon is nearby — or reach out to law enforcement if they spot a face that could match someone in a database. While we know of no ethical breaches associated with these cameras on the market right now, the reality is we have no way to verify how the biometric data is used. Even if we give the companies involved the benefit of the doubt regarding their analytics and data usage policies, those policies could change at any time. And when you consider that Ring is owned by Amazon and Nest is owned by Google, the potential for a Big Brother scenario is readily apparent. We’ll continue to keep an eye on home security cameras, doorbells and other devices with built-in facial recognition tech, to follow along with any changes in industry trends — and to see if any new models come close to matching the smarts of Nest’s Hello buzzer.
Nest Hello video doorbell: Smarter than your average…
Read more: Originally published last year.
Realme 7i Set to Launch in India on October 7, 55-Inch SLED 4K TV and Realme Watch S Pro Expected as Well
Realme 7i is set to launch in India on October 7, the company revealed through a dedicated page on its website. The Realme phone was initially launched in Indonesia as a tweaked version of the Realme 7. Alongside the Realme 7i, the Chinese company is set to unveil a series of connected devices under its…
Realme 7i is set to launch in India on October 7, the company revealed through a dedicated page on its website. The Realme phone was initially launched in Indonesia as a tweaked version of the Realme 7. Alongside the Realme 7i, the Chinese company is set to unveil a series of connected devices under its “UNI Smart AIOT ecosystem” as well as the recently teased SLED 4K TV in 55-inch size. Moreover, the Realme India website suggests the launch of a special edition Realme 7 Pro that would come with “Sun Kissed Leather” finish — alongside the Realme 7i.Realme 7i India launch date detailsThe Realme 7i India launch is scheduled for 12:30pm on October 7, as per the details available through the dedicated webpage on the Realme India site. The event will be streamed live through the Realme India social media channels. In addition to the Realme 7i, the company will unveil its connected devices and the 55-inch SLED 4K TV that was teased last week.According to an invite shared by Realme, the new connected devices by Realme seem to include the Realme Buds Air Pro truly wireless (TWS) earbuds that were unveiled at IFA 2020 and the rumoured Realme Watch S Pro smartwatch. The company also seems to launch its new wired earbuds, electric toothbrush, and a power bank at the event.Realme India invite suggests launch of multiple connected devices on October 7 Realme 7i price in India (expected)Realme 7i price in India is yet to be revealed. However, it is likely to be in line with what was announced in Indonesia earlier this month. The phone debuted in the country at IDR 3,199,000 (roughly Rs. 15,800) for the sole, 8GB + 128GB storage variant. It came in Aurora Green and Polar Blue colour options.Realme 7i specificationsThe dual-SIM (Nano) Realme 7i runs on Android 10 with Realme UI on top and features a 6.5-inch HD+ (720×1,600 pixels) display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio. The phone is powered by octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 SoC, paired with 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM. For photos and videos, it comes with a quad rear camera setup that houses a 64-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.8 lens, an 8-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide-angle f/2.2 lens, a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor with an f/2.4 lens, and a 2-megapixel sensor with an f/2.4 lens. The phone also features a 16-megapixel Sony IMX471 selfie camera sensor at the front, with an f/2.1 lens on top.In terms of storage, the Realme 7i has 128GB of onboard UFS 2.1 storage that is expandable via microSD card. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS/ A-GPS, USB Type-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Sensors on board include an accelerometer, ambient light, and a proximity sensor. There is also a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.The Realme 7i packs a 5,000mAh battery that supports 18W fast charging. Besides, it measures 164.1×75.5×8.9mm and weighs 188 grams.Why are smartphone prices rising in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
The best smart home devices of 2020: Amazon and Google fight to control your house – CNET
If you’ve already connected the various devices and fixtures around your home — perhaps it’s something you’ve paid more attention to now that many of us are spending more time at home — you’ll know there are many different ways to approach the problem. You might just need one device to address a particular issue,…
If you’ve already connected the various devices and fixtures around your home — perhaps it’s something you’ve paid more attention to now that many of us are spending more time at home — you’ll know there are many different ways to approach the problem. You might just need one device to address a particular issue, like a smart plug to put a lamp on a regular schedule. You might also already have an Amazon Alexa- or Google Assistant-powered smart speaker, or even Siri and Apple’s HomeKit smart home service, and now you’re thinking about how to build on what you already own.I tend to think of the voice assistants as the starting point for building a do-it-yourself smart home. They offer a convenient way for family members or roommates to interact with the various devices without worrying about who has what access in a given app. Many, but not all of the products on our list of the best smart home products will work with multiple voice assistants. Before you dive in, keep in mind that Amazon has announced a whole new set of smart home speakers and other devices from its own line and from its Ring subsidiary. The devices will come to market over the next six months, starting in October with the new spherical Echo speaker. Google is rumored to have a new smart speaker out soon as well. It’s likely the products below will have some changeover before the end of the year, so you might wait to read our ongoing coverage before making a new purchase. We will keep this list updated as new products make the cut. Read more: 6 coolest smart home devices you didn’t know existed
Our list focuses narrowly on the best product in each smart home subcategory. If you want to know the best smart thermostat or the best smart lighting kit, regardless of which voice platforms support it, we have you covered. What this list is not is a road map for a single, coherent smart home installation (you won’t get far trying to pair an Amazon smart speaker with a Google smart display). For that, please refer to our platform-based lists linked below: In each subcategory section, I’ve also added a link to the best list for that particular product type. If you’re looking for more options for lighting or locks, you’ll find a list of our favorite products if you’d like to see a broader selection. We regularly update this list as we review new products.
Amazon’s entry-level Echo Dot had the edge over the competing Google Home Mini speaker, but with the arrival of the newer, rebranded Google Nest Mini, we’re officially calling the entry-level smart speaker category a tie. Both speakers will run you about $50 on a normal day, and you can find both of them discounted regularly. The two voice assistants are pretty much at parity right now. Amazon usually boasts about more skills and support for more third-party devices, but the numbers for both voice platforms are in the tens of thousands, meaning the difference isn’t enough that you’ll really miss out on anything significant with Google. Read more: The best smart speakers of 2020Google Assistant does a better job at mimicking natural conversation flow, but the difference is that it isn’t really that noticeable in your day-to-day interaction with each speaker. Most of the time you’ll ask a smart speaker for the weather, to set a timer, and maybe have it play a song or two. Both devices are good at all of that.The Amazon Echo Dot was our pick due to one small hardware advantage. It has an audio-out jack. The Google Home Mini doesn’t, and neither does the Nest Mini. Now, the Echo Dot also offers a variant with an LED clock embedded around its edge, for $10 more. That’s a convenient quality-of-life feature.Google has another card to play, which you can read below.
Read our Amazon Echo Dot (third-generation) review.
Google’s new Nest Mini smart speaker improves on its predecessor, the Google Home Mini, in a few ways. Google improved the audio quality in the Nest Mini, giving its bass output more oomph. It also added a wall mounting notch to the underside it, if that’s what you’re into. An interesting new presence detection method that uses the speaker and microphone to determine your proximity to the Nest Mini helps it trigger LED indicators that help you make better sense of the otherwise obscured physical volume controls. That’s all fine, but the thing that puts the Nest Mini over the edge is the machine learning chip embedded inside the tiny speaker. With that chip, Google says the Nest Mini can learn what commands you give to it most often, and it will then begin to process those commands locally, rather than on Google’s servers. Anything that helps to keep control of your smart home inside your home is worthwhile. Letting you still issue certain voice commands even if the internet goes out, and improved response times are great, too. For all of that, the machine learning chip puts the Google Nest Mini at parity with the Amazon Echo Dot and its distinct audio-input jack. Now let’s see a speaker that has both.
Read our Google Nest Mini review.
Amazon may have introduced the smart display with the Echo Show, but Google refined the concept with the Nest Hub (formerly the Home Hub) both in terms of its design, and in the way it leverages its voice assistant. You get the same Google Assistant features in the Nest Hub that you get with the Google Home speaker line, along with a screen interface that gives you just the right amount of visual feedback. It will show you your spoken commands so you know Google heard you correctly, it can deftly walk you through a recipe from popular cooking websites, and it works seamlessly with Google-supported smart home cameras and video doorbells to display their camera feeds onscreen. Read more: The best smart displays of 2020Google prudently opted out of including a video camera on the Hub itself, getting ahead of some privacy concerns, and likely prompting Amazon to include a manual video shutter on its new, smaller Echo Show 5 display. If you really want a Google-based smart display that allows for video chatting, a few third-party options can make that happen. Even without it, the Nest Hub is the best, most affordable marriage of a voice assistant and a display interface on the market.
Read our Google Nest Hub review.
Amazon’s midtier smart display is the best one in its line. For $130, the Echo Show 8 has great audio quality, a highly visible screen and a convincing nod to privacy with a physical shutter you can slide over its camera. We still like the interface better on the Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. Those Google Assistant displays also have the edge in useful video due to the voice-activated YouTube integration, which Amazon’s lineup lacks. Regardless, for those of you who are committed to an Alexa-only ecosystem, the Echo Show 8 is the best smart display.
Read our Amazon Echo Show 8 review.
Wi-Fi is everything — particularly once you start spreading things like smart speakers, smart lights, smart plugs and smart all else from room to room. After all, those connected doodads won’t do you much good if they can’t, you know, connect. That’s why a mesh router that’s built to spread a strong, speedy signal throughout your house might make for a particularly smart upgrade — especially if you’re living in a big home. And, of the ones we’ve tested, we think the Nest Wifi is the smartest pick. At $269, the two-piece starter kit was able to fill the 5,800-square-foot CNET Smart Home with decent signal strength, and it never once dropped our connection as we moved around conducting speed test after speed test. On top of that, the range extender doubles as a smart speaker, so as you spread a reliable connection from room to room, you’ll be spreading the Google Assistant’s footprint in your home with it.Read more: The best Wi-Fi routers in 2020The Nest Wifi doesn’t support the newest, fastest version of Wi-Fi, called Wi-Fi 6, but you really won’t notice the difference Wi-Fi 6 makes unless you’re already paying for super-fast internet speeds of 500 Mbps or more. What you will notice with is the ease of installation, the simple network controls that sit right alongside your smart home controls in the Google Home app, and advanced Wi-Fi features like device prioritization, WPA3 security, and 4×4 MU-MIMO support, which lets the Nest Wifi boost speeds to devices that use multiple Wi-Fi antennas, like the MacBook Pro.The Nest Wifi is obviously best for Google smart homes, so Alexa users will likely want to stick with the Eero or Netgear Orbi, our honorable mentions in the mesh category. But if you just want rock solid Wi-Fi that you and your growing number of internet-connected gadgets can rely upon, put the Nest Wifi right at the top of your list.
Read our Nest Wifi review.
We often point to smart plugs as the entry point for anyone interested in trying out a connected home device. They’re cheap, they’re simple to install and they perform a function that’s pretty easy to grasp, toggling power on and off remotely. Read more: The best smart plugs of 2020You can find a lot of smart plugs out there. TP-Link’s Kasa Mini is our favorite. It includes a single outlet that connects to your network via Wi-Fi. The app is well-designed and lets you program the plug to turn on or off on a schedule or even based on your location. It works with Google Assistant and Alexa, and it doesn’t cover up the adjacent outlet on a standard two-outlet wall fixture.
Read our TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Mini review.
Philips Hue smart light bulbs have been our top pick for years, and with good reason. The company’s range of products is the broadest in the category, encompassing standard A19 bulbs, flood lights, light strips, fixtures and most recently an entire range of outdoor lighting options. That kind of variety makes it easy to bring the lighting scheme for your entire home onto the Hue service. It also helps that Philips supports Amazon, Google, and Apple’s voice assistants.Read more: The best smart lights of 2020The Hue line came to prominence with its color-changing bulbs, but the best way for most people to get started is with its standard white light bulbs. For $70, you can get a set of two bulbs and the Hue hub to get them online. Already own an Alexa or Google Assistant device? $30 will get you the new Bluetooth version of the bulbs, no extra hub needed.Honorable mention: Wyze Bulb. This $8 smart bulb works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and it doesn’t require a hub. It’s not quite as fully featured as Philips Hue (it only comes as a standard A19 bulb, no HomeKit support), but it’s the best deal in this category.
Read our Philips Hue White LED review.
Like its competitor, the Nest Learning Thermostat chief among them, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is a WIFi-based thermostat that lets you control your home heating and air conditioning system with an app or with your voice. A few features help it stand out.Ecobee set itself apart with its earlier products by including a remote temperature sensor in the box with the thermostat. The thermostat itself can read the ambient temperature of whatever room it’s in and adjust accordingly. If you want it to adjust the temp based on the conditions in another room, just switch it over to the remote sensor. This is a useful accessory if your thermostat install point isn’t in a central location, or if you want to make sure a nursery or your home office is the focal point for the Ecobee’s temperature readings, rather than a far-flung hallway. Read more: The best smart thermostats of 2020You can buy the same accessory for a Nest thermostat, but Ecobee includes one in the box. Ecobee is also more agnostic about working with voice assistants than its Google-owned competitor. Where Nest will work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (maintained perhaps as a legacy function from before Google purchased Nest), Ecobee supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Perhaps most unique, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is itself an Amazon Echo speaker. You won’t be impressed by its audio output for playing music, but as a basic extender for Alexa around your home, the Ecobee does an admirable job. Maybe you actually want Alexa in that far-flung hallway.
Read our Ecobee SmartThermostat review.
The Arlo Pro 3 is our new favorite smart home camera, taking over the crown from its predecessor, the Arlo Pro 2. It’s not cheap to get started with Arlo cameras. The most affordable starting package for Arlo Pro 3 costs $500 and includes two Pro 3 cameras and the required wireless base station. If you can get past that initial investment, you’ll be able to take advantage of the most versatile video camera set up on the market. Every additional Arlo Pro 3 will cost $199. That’s expensive, but it also about the same as a single Nest Cam Outdoor, another well-regarded outdoor Wi-Fi security camera. If you already own an Arlo Pro base station from an earlier kit, the Arlo Pro 3 will work with that as well.We have always liked Arlo’s cameras for their battery-powered, weatherproof design that makes that suited for use indoors or outdoors. You can power them with a cable, or with the included, rechargeable battery for up to six months. An easy-to-install magnetic base also gives you almost infinite flexibility in terms of how you want to position each camera. They can also stand by themselves without a base on any horizontal surface. In short, you can put these cameras anywhere, or move them between locations with incredible ease. What’s new with the Arlo Pro 3 is a higher resolution video feed than its predecessor (2K versus 1080p), and a siren built into the camera, as opposed to the base station. Now you have an outdoor deterrent for any would-be intruders. For the sake of your neighbors, please use it with restraint. Want just an affordable indoor cam? The Alexa-supporting $30 Wyze Cam Pan is our current favorite. No other camera comes close to the Wyze in terms of features for the dollar. But for an indoor/outdoor, whole-home installation, the Arlo Pro 3 gets the nod.
Read our Arlo Pro 3 review.
Cameras are one thing, but if you’re really concerned about security across your entire home, your best bet is the SimpliSafe 3.0 kit. It starts at $229 for the base station, a keypad, a motion sensor, and an open/close sensor. That’s a start, but one of the things we like most about SimpliSafe is the ability to customize your set up from a selection of eight different sensors, from smoke to glass-break. Unlike many whole-home security systems, SimpliSafe requires no contract to lock you into its service plan. You can opt into a $15-a-month professional monitoring package, but it’s not required, and you can cancel at any time. Read more: The best home security systems of 2020Competing systems from Ring, Nest, ADT and Vivint all offer similar-seeming combinations of hardware and a la carte service, but they all offer either too few features if you don’t opt-in to a service package, or start at significantly higher price points than SimpliSafe without making up the difference in better hardware. The one system we like that comes close is Abode, which has a higher starting price, but deeper integration with other smart home devices. Look into Abode if you don’t mind paying a little more upfront and you want it to work with other products. As a standalone product, SimpliSafe is our top pick.
Read our SimpliSafe review.
The hardwired Nest Hello video doorbell connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can see who’s at the door in real time. It can also capture and store three hours worth of video clips for free. But the most compelling thing about it is the owner-controlled facial recognition feature. Read more: The best video doorbells of 2020Facial recognition has its controversies, but the way Google uses it in the Nest Hello doorbell seems like the right way to do it, at least until the next data privacy scandal. Unlike many commercial systems which pull from existing databases to make a match, Nest Hello helps you build your own personal facial recognition database based on the people that come to your door. Once you tag the most common visitors, the app will eventually recognize them, and alert you when they show up at your door. The Nest Hello’s normal listing price is $230, which is on the high end of the scale.
Read our Nest Hello review.
Smart locks make people nervous because they insert another point of failure between you and your physical security. With a smart lock, a malicious hacker, or even a plain old technical failure or connectivity issue could all of a sudden compromise the entry point of your home. There might be some truth to that. A keyless design with no physical failsafe could indeed lock you out but the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock isn’t one of those locks.Read more: The best smart locks of 2020The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is a breeze to install. It fits over the internal thumb latch of most existing deadbolt designs, and you can set it up in 10 minutes. Because it doesn’t replace the lock mechanism itself, you can still use your original, physical key. It’s good looking too, and 45% smaller than older August models.The lock itself connects to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and from the August app, you can assign and revoke timed virtual keys to anyone you like, from your in-laws to your dog sitter, at no extra cost. Many other locks will charge extra for virtual keys. Because this model has Wi-Fi built in, you won’t need to purchase the August Connect accessory to enable remote access. Simply setup your lock with Wi-Fi in the app, and you can not only control the lock from anywhere, but you can also connect it to Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri (be sure to make each of them require a PIN to accompany the unlock command) for added convenience. Another accessory included with the Wi-Fi Smart Lock model is the tiny open-close sensor. This lets the lock tell you if it’s locked or unlocked and lets you know if the door itself is open or closed. It’s the most complete product available on the market for now.
Read our August Wi-Fi Smart Lock review.
Our favorite all-around security camera maker released a floodlight camera this spring that’s also a best-in-class product. It has all of the things we like about the Arlo camera line in general, long-lasting battery, a sharp HD video feed, mounting hardware that’s both flexible and easy install and compatibility with all three major voice platforms. Along with all of that, Arlo has added the most powerful array of LED lighting in its category, leaving competing products from Ring and others in the darkness. The 2,000 lumen light (3,000 if you add the optional Outdoor Charging Cable) will light up your entire backyard if you want that kind of power. It’s also dimmable, which is useful if you still want your neighbors to like you.
Read the CNET review.
CNET Smart Home and Appliances
Get smart home reviews and ratings, video reviews, buying guides, prices and comparisons from CNET.