The 10 best devices of 2021 that work with Amazon Alexa

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, is compatible with a wide range of smart devices.
  • You can control Alexa-supported devices with voice commands or automate them with routines.
  • Look for the “Works with Alexa” logo to find devices certified by Amazon for reliability.

Voice recognition has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years and voice assistants have been integrated into more and more products. A huge number of popular smart home brands include Amazon Alexa compatibility as a standard in their devices now.

Some you can talk to directly, others can be controlled by issuing voice commands to Alexa through another device, such as a smart speaker or tablet. A few can be automated with routines in the Alexa app.

This guide to the very best Alexa-enabled devices available today is the product of extensive testing bolstered by research into the most trusted brands and reputable reviews. Most of these devices appear in other Insider best-of guides, and they span a wide variety of smart-home categories. What they all have in common is that they work seamlessly with Alexa.

Here are the best Alexa-enabled products that work with your Amazon Echo:

The best Alexa-enabled light bulbs

best Alexa enabled light bulb Philips Hue

For versatile and reliable smart lighting, the Philips Hue range cannot be beat and responds well to voice commands through Alexa.

Consistently a top pick in our smart-lighting guides, Philips Hue boasts a very wide variety of different bulbs, light strips, and fixtures. The Philips Hue starter kit comes with two white bulbs and the necessary bridge. You can change the color temperature and brightness from the accessible Philips Hue app, and color bulbs support every color you can imagine. Presets called scenes make it easy to achieve the ambience you’re looking for.

Use the Alexa Hue skill and you can control your Philip Hue lights with your smart speaker. You can turn lights on or off or select specific scenes. Alexa can also change the brightness, color, or color temperature. You can also set up an Alexa routine to trigger Hue lights. For example, you might issue the command “Alexa, goodnight” to have all your lights turn off.  

While both the Bluetooth and hub-connected Philips Hue lights work with Alexa, there are limitations with the Bluetooth bulbs. They only work with certain Echo smart speakers and displays, and they are slower to respond and less reliable than lights connected to a Hue Bridge. The other big drawback with Philips Hue lighting is the relatively high price. 

Read our Philips Hue Smart Lights review.

The best Alexa-enabled thermostat

best alexa enabled smart thermostat ecobee with voice control

Boasting a high-quality speaker with Alexa built in and a well-designed app, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control may be your ideal smart thermostat.

While most smart thermostats require a smart speaker to work via voice commands, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control has Alexa built in and its very own speaker. This means you can issue voice commands directly to the thermostat to tweak the temperature, control other Alexa-enabled devices in the home, or even have it play music. 

The smart sensor inside the Ecobee can take temperature readings and sense occupancy in the room to automatically adjust the heat or AC in your home. You can also set up schedules using the app to turn off the AC at night or have the heat come on just before you wake each morning. It supports dual-band Wi-Fi and works well with most popular home-automation systems. The app also enables you to view and change the temperature remotely.

It’s important to check compatibility before you buy because this Ecobee Smart Thermostat doesn’t work with every HVAC system. We also ran into some issues with remote sensor connections to additional rooms, which you’ll need if there are large temperature variations throughout your home. This is an expensive smart thermostat, but you generally need to pay extra for voice controls and it’s rare to find one with Alexa built in. 

Read our full review of the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control.

The best Alexa-enabled security camera

best alexa enabled camera arlo pro 3

Capable of capturing clear and crisp footage, the indoor or outdoor Arlo Pro 3 camera also has a smart alert system and Alexa voice controls.

With a versatile mounting system and IP65 weatherproofing, the Arlo Pro 3 is suitable for indoor or outdoor use. This security camera produces top-quality video footage at a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels with HDR to even out contrasts in lighting and ensure that subjects are always clear and recognizable. The configurable smart alert system is accurate and provides swift and informative notifications. There’s also infrared night vision, two-way audio, motion and sound triggers, and a siren.

By adding the Arlo skill to Alexa, you can arm and disarm your camera system with voice commands and stream a live camera view to any Alexa-compatible display. There’s always a bit of a delay when streaming security cameras, but the Arlo Pro 3 is relatively quick compared to others we tested. The Arlo skill doesn’t allow you to review recorded videos through Alexa voice commands, which is something you can do with Ring cameras. But in terms of features and overall performance, the Arlo Pro 3 is the best security camera we’ve tested.

Apart from the limitations of the Arlo Alexa skill, you also need a subscription to unlock the smart features and record video in the cloud. Plans start at $2.99 per month per camera or $9.99 per month for up to five cameras. That gives you 30 days of rolling footage. The Arlo Pro 3 also requires a SmartHub to connect. However, the new Arlo Pro 4 offers all the same functionality as the Pro 3 and connects to Wi-Fi directly without a hub. 

Read our full Arlo Pro 3 review.

The best Alexa-enabled smart plug

best smart plug TP Link Kasa HS103

Affordable, compact, and easy to use, the Kasa Smart Plug from TP-Link enables you to turn devices on or off with a voice command to Alexa.

Smart plugs or outlets are often a viable alternative to upgrading older devices, as they enable automation, remote control, and voice control. The Kasa Smart Plug features a relatively compact design, so they block adjacent outlets. The Kasa app is simple and straightforward to use. These smart plugs are also surprisingly affordable, so you can pick up a multi-pack and deploy them throughout your home.

You can name individual Kasa plugs — for example, “hall lamp” or “living room fan” — and then use Alexa voice commands to turn them on and off. You can also create schedules; set timers; or use Alexa groups and routines to group them together with other devices, such as smart lights. They also support IFTTT, so you can have them turn on when a camera detects motion, for example.

The Kasa Smart Plugs may be basic budget smart plugs, but they’re very reliable and work well with Alexa commands. You will need a good Wi-Fi connection, and they only work on the 2.4GHz band. They also lack any built-in surge protection. 

Read our guide to the best smart plugs and outlets.

The best Alexa-enabled light switch

best alexa enabled light switch belkin wemo dimmer

The versatile Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer can control, dim, and schedule almost any kind of light and is relatively easy to install.

If you want to add voice controls to your existing lights, you can do it with the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer. With a direct Wi-Fi connection, there’s no need for hubs. You can also set up schedules and timers in the app. You can dim your lights both from the app and by dragging your finger down the channel in the middle of the switch. The backlight makes it easy to find the switch in the dark, and a special night mode dims the light so it’s easier on your eyes in the dark.

By using voice commands through Alexa, you can turn the switch on or off and change the brightness of your lights. Belkin says it automatically adjusts the dimming range to suit whatever type of bulbs you are using. You can also group the switch with other devices and set up automated routines in the Alexa app. 

The Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer has to be wired in. It is relatively straightforward but only works with one-way connection switches and requires a neutral wire. Belkin does offer a WeMo Smart 3-Way Light Switch which also works with Alexa but doesn’t support dimming.

Scoring 4 out of 5 at TechHive and 7.8 out of 10 at CNET, the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch is highly rated.

The best Alexa-enabled smart lock

best alexa enabled smart lock august

Designed to provide secure, keyless access to your home, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is very easy to install and offers strong smart-home integration.

The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is designed to work with your existing deadbolt. It replaces the inside portion, so you can still use your original keys. Installation can be completed in less than 15 minutes, but you will need a good Wi-Fi connection on the 2.4 GHz band. Using the app, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere, track who is coming and going, and get alerts when the door is left ajar. It also supports geofencing, so it can lock and unlock automatically when you leave and return. 

Because it supports Alexa voice controls, you can lock or unlock the door and check if the door is locked by asking. Alexa will also alert you when the battery is running low. Short battery life is a definite downside here, and it’s a relatively pricey smart lock.

August has slimmed the design down in this fourth-generation device and continues to roll out new features, such as optional biometric verification using the fingerprint or face unlock on your smartphone. Both Tom’s Guide and PC Mag gave it 4.5 out of 5 ratings.

Read our guide to the best smart locks.

The best Alexa-enabled robot vacuum cleaner

best alexa enabled robot vacuum irobot roomba s9+

It’s tough to find a robot vacuum that performs well on carpet and hard floors, but the iRobot Roomba S9+ nails both and even empties itself.

After extensive testing, the iRobot Roomba S9+ claimed the title for best on hardwood floors in our best robot vacuum guide. It also performs well on carpet. Navigation is impressive, and the Roomba S9+ rarely gets stuck. It can also empty itself when it returns to the charging station, which means you don’t have to deal with dust and dirt after every cleaning cycle.

The Alexa skill for iRobot Roombas is excellent. Most robot vacuums with Alexa support are limited to simple commands. With the Roomba S9+, however, you can start, stop, pause, resume, return to home base, check status, locate, schedule, clean by room, and more. 

Drawbacks include the high price, the relatively high volume when cleaning, and the middling corner performance. You also have to replace filters every couple of months, the side brush every three months, and the dirt disposal bag every month or so, which adds additional expense. If the S9+ is too expensive, consider the slightly cheaper Roomba i7+, which has the same expansive Alexa options.

Read our full iRobot Roomba S9+ review.

The best Alexa-enables streaming stick

best alexa enabled streaming stick fire tv 4k

The affordable Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K makes any TV with an HDMI port smart and serves up 4K and HDR content.

Plug the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K directly into an HDMI port, and you can stream a world of content. As the name suggests, this streaming stick supports 4K, but it also enables HDR playback, covering both HDR10+ and the Dolby Vision formats. Provided your TV can handle it and your Wi-Fi connection is fast enough, that means you can watch shows and movies with the highest quality picture that’s currently possible.

The small remote control that comes with the Fire TV Stick 4K has a microphone button that you can press to talk to Alexa. You can ask Alexa to find 4K movies or search for a specific TV show. You can also get the latest weather or bring up a live feed of your security camera. 

While it offers the best value for Prime subscribers with easy access to Prime Video, you can install Netflix, YouTube, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max, and many more apps. Prime Video also offers additional subscription channels like Paramount Plus and Cinemax. There are, however, a few apps and services it doesn’t carry, so check before you buy to avoid disappointment. 

Read our Fire TV Stick 4K review.

The Alexa-enabled best smart speaker

Best Echo Amazon Echo 4th gen

Offering loud, rich sound with a highly responsive Alexa inside, the fourth-generation Amazon Echo is one of the smartest you can buy.

Amazon revamped the exterior of its fourth-generation Amazon Echo speaker, opting for a spherical design floating atop a ring that lights up blue when you talk to Alexa. This is more than a cosmetic upgrade, but a new speaker setup inside ensures a deeper bass and a much richer sound than previous Echo speakers. Now it can fill a room with music.

Amazon developed the AZ1 Neural Edge processor inside to boost Alexa’s responsiveness. Whether you’re asking the speaker to play a podcast, read the news, or update you on your latest orders, you’ll get a swift answer. Alexa can also listen for sounds, like breaking glass or alarms, and alert you.

The Amazon Echo can’t compete with speakers like the Sonos One on sound quality, but it’s half the price. As a smart speaker, it performs admirably and even has a temperature sensor and smart-home hub built in. Some privacy concerns are addressed by a mic-off button. You have to opt out of certain settings to ensure your voice recordings aren’t used by Amazon or to avoid Amazon’s Wi-Fi sharing program, Sidewalk

Read our full review of the fourth-generation Amazon Echo.

The best Alexa-enabled soundbar

sonos beam stock

The Sonos Beam speaker brings powerful sound to your home theater and works seamlessly with Alexa.

Even the best TVs struggle to do justice to cinematic soundtracks, which is why additional speakers are an essential part of any home theater setup. Perhaps the easiest way to boost your audio quality is to add a soundbar beneath the TV. The Sonos Beam is a great choice. It boasts rich sound and the versatility to handle music and podcasts when the TV is off. You can also add two Sonos One speakers to achieve a surround-sound setup. 

Another selling point is the presence of Alexa, enabling you to search for and control music and podcasts, change the volume, and ask questions. There are five far-field microphones in the Sonos Beam, so Alexa always hears you. There’s also a button to turn the microphone off when you want privacy.

It’s an obvious pick if you already have Sonos speakers, as it will sync seamlessly. However, the Sonos Beam is quite pricey, and it lacks Bluetooth streaming and support for another sound format, DTS. 

Read our full Sonos Beam review.

How to choose an Alexa device

Here’s a brief explainer on some of the things to be aware of when shopping for Alexa-enabled devices. 

Works with Alexa: The first thing to look for when buying an Alexa-compatible device is the “Works with Alexa” logo. This is Amazon’s official certification program, designed to give you confidence that the product in question works with Alexa and is responsive and reliable.

Alexa built-in: Just because a device works with Alexa doesn’t necessarily mean that you can talk to it directly. Look for an “Alexa built-in” logo to find devices with Alexa inside. While smart speakers have microphones to pick up your voice commands, most Alexa-compatible products require another device to issue commands through. A smart speaker or smart display is best, though you can also enable Alexa on a phone or tablet via the Alexa app.

Alexa skills: The individual programs that allow Alexa to work with various devices are known as skills. You have to add skills to Alexa to integrate devices. It’s a good idea to investigate the skill for the device you’re considering, so you can learn precisely what it’s capable of. User reviews can also reveal highlights or weak points.

Internet connectivity: Smart-home devices require a strong internet connection for Alexa to work well. Think about where in your home the device will live and whether it can get a good wired or Wi-Fi connection in that spot. 

What else we considered

Here are a few devices that missed out on a place in our guide but may still be worth considering if our top picks don’t grab you.

Wyze Bulb: Wyze offers a basic white smart bulb that’s very affordable and works well with Alexa. You can ask Alexa to turn bulbs on or off, tweak the brightness, and change the color temperature.

Google Nest Thermostat: This affordable smart thermostat offers remote control of your HVAC system, geofencing, and support for Alexa.

Wyze Cam v3: Perhaps the most affordable camera on the market, the Wyze Cam v3 offers full-color 1080p footage and has an IP65 rating, two-way audio, and night vision. You can also turn it on or off and access a live feed with an Alexa command. Read our Wyze Cam v3 review for more.

Wyze Smart Home Plug: This compact smart plug offers remote control, scheduling, and automation. You can also turn it on or off by asking Alexa. 

C by GE Smart Dimmer Switch: This versatile smart light switch brings remote control to your regular lights and enables you to change the brightness from an app or with a voice command to Alexa. The functionality is good, but the design simply isn’t as attractive as our top pick.

Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt: You can remotely lock and unlock this smart lock and it has a number pad for setting up to 100 access codes. There’s also good Alexa integration for voice commands to lock or unlock and check status, and Alexa will warn you when the battery is low.

Roborock S6: This was the best performing robot vacuum in our testing and it’s a lot cheaper than the Roomba S9+, but the Alexa integration is very basic. You can only start or stop cleaning with voice commands. Read our Roborock S6 review for more.

Amazon Fire TV Cube: With support for 4K and HDR content, the Cube is similar to the Fire Stick 4K in terms of functionality. The advantage is that it acts more like an Echo speaker, so you can say “Alexa” and issue commands or ask questions without having to press the mic button on the remote.

Sonos One: For such a small speaker, the Sonos One offers a fantastically rich sound and can get very loud when you need it to. It also has Alexa built in for questions, commands, calls, and more.

Yamaha YAS-209: This soundbar is a bit cheaper than the Sonos Beam and also supports Alexa, making it a good alternative if you want DTS or Bluetooth.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Facebook and Google are funding two new undersea internet cables running from the West Coast to Singapore and Indonesia

Google Curie undersea cable
The new Facebook and Google cable joins the companies’ other cable projects, like Google’s Curie cable, pictured being laid here.

  • Facebook and Google announced plans to fund two new transpacific internet cables.
  • The cables, called Bifrost and Echo, will link the US West Coast with Indonesia and Singapore.
  • Both Facebook and Google have been forced to abandon cable projects linking the US and Hong Kong.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook and Google are pouring more money into internet cables that could span the Pacific Ocean.

The tech giants announced Monday they’re funding two new cables called Bifrost and Echo. The cables will link America’s west coast with Indonesia and Singapore, with a stop-over in Guam, the US island territory in the western Pacific.

Facebook is investing in both cables, while Google is only funding Echo.

In a press release on Monday, Facebook said the cables would increase transpacific internet capacity by 70%. CNBC reported Echo was slated to be completed by late 2023, and Bifrost by late 2024.

Facebook and Google are partnering with Indonesian companies Telin and XL Axiata, as well as Singaporean company Keppel.

Read more: We identified the 195 most powerful people at Google under CEO Sundar Pichai. Explore our exclusive org chart.

This comes after both Facebook and Google have abandoned plans to lay transpacific cables linking the US and Hong Kong.

Facebook announced on March 10 it was withdrawing from a plan called the Hong Kong-Americas (HKA) project, following political pressure from the US government.

In September 2020, a joint Facebook and Google cable project was abandoned because of the Trump administration’s national security concerns around laying cables to China. In the same month, Facebook deserted a project to link San Francisco with Hong Kong.

Facebook is currently also working on a project laying an enormous undersea cable around the African continent, while Google is working on cables linking the US with Europe, as well as Europe with the west coast of Africa.

Read the original article on Business Insider