Not all SmartHome devices make sense to buy. Many of them are expensive, difficult to use, and provide little value compared to a conventional «dumb» device. Do you really need a smart pillow or a smart refrigerator? No you don’t
Smart refrigerators are rapidly becoming obsolete
When you buy an appliance like a stove or refrigerator, you usually expect it to last for many years. This is a significant investment and usually expensive, so you don’t want to replace them every two or three years. Smart refrigerators only add to that investment, and in some cases cost $800 more than their «dumb» equivalent.
You might be able to justify the extra expense if the fridge lasts that long, but manufacturers have a terrible track record when it comes to software support in a smart fridge. Because of this, your expensive refrigerator may not even last ten years. And the features they provide, such as a touch screen interface or a voice assistant, can generally be played on a tablet. You’d be better off buying a regular refrigerator and attaching a tablet to the door. At the very least, if the tablet is out of date, you can throw it away and leave it in the fridge.
CONNECTED:Your Expensive Smart Appliance Can’t Last a Decade
Your toilet doesn’t need Bluetooth
Even at first glance, it is difficult to fall behind the concept of a smart toilet. And the anti-buy recommendation is a perfect example of too many complications and costs for not enough benefit.
Think about what smart toilets offer: heated seats, night lights, remote controls, Bluetooth speakers, and adjustable water temperature. Some offer touch screens for setting preferences; others boast better water use.
But you can replicate some of these features, like Bluetooth speakers and night lights, and still use a standard toilet. You would save money too; smart toilets can cost between $900 and $8,000. And that often doesn’t include the cost of installation, which may require an electrician if you don’t have handy wiring for your toilet.
A standard toilet requires no electrical work and can range from $100 to $320 depending on extras such as a dual flush system that saves water.
Smart Pillows Are Not Even Pillows
Smart pillows are a strange proposition. They promise to do everything from tracking your sleep to measuring your heart rate to even stop you from snoring. But they are not cheap. A smart pillow will often cost $200.
Paying for a good pillow that you can fall asleep on and wake up the next day without neck pain is well worth the extra cost. But there’s a problem with smart pillows — they’re usually just an insert.
Since the devices are just inserts, you must provide your own pad and insert a tracking device. That means you need to spend $200 on a gadget and more money on a good pillow if you want to get a good night’s sleep.
You may already have another device that promises similar sleep tracking, be it the Apple Watch or the FitBit. Given that the money has already been spent on your watch, it would be better to use it for sleep tracking and use the remaining money to buy a nicer pillow so you can sleep better.
Smart water bottles are completely unnecessary
Smart water bottles exist in the main room. «You are probably not drinking enough water.» Some even advertise the old wisdom of drinking eight glasses a day. However, there is a problem — the rule of eight glasses of water a day is complete nonsense. You don’t need to drink so much water.
Some smart water bottles try to turn things around by making suggestions based on your weight, activity, and the like, but the truth is, there are no conclusive studies that accurately reflect what a person should be drinking per day, even based on weight or exercise.
Even worse, your body is getting water from other sources. From drinks like coffee and soda to foods like soup and fruit (or any other food), you are adding water to your body. And a smart water bottle can’t track any of this, so it may not be a good method to monitor your hydration levels.
You, however, already have a mechanism to help with this decision-making process: craving. As long as you drink regularly, especially when you exercise, you should be fine. And your body will tell you through thirst when you really need something to drink now.
So paying extra for a bottle to tell you what your body already knows is completely unnecessary. Especially when you consider that you can buy a standard 32oz water bottle for less than $10 and still spend over $50 on a 12oz smart bottle.
Smart robot companions may lose their individuality
Several companies have tried to make smart robot companions for your home, and so far they all have a few things in common. They tend to be cute, voice-activated, and eventually the company folds and the robot becomes a paperweight.
This is the last question. Right now, most (if not all) smart robot companions that make it home work just like Alexa or Google Assistant. The hardware in your home doesn’t have much intelligence. When you speak to him, he reaches the cloud, which ultimately gives the robot its personality.
Unfortunately, as you can see from Jibo and Vector, making robots profitably is very difficult. The companies behind both have announced shutdowns, and when they go, so do the clouds that power the robots. Jibo famously sang the last song as his personality died. And as for Vector, for today his character remained intact, but Anki did not know how long this would last.
Anki said in a statement that it has contracted employees to maintain Vector and its cloud servers, but without a better source of income, it’s hard to imagine this going on forever. Unfortunately, you can still find Vector for sale, although this listing doesn’t say anything about closing.
A smart robot might seem like a great addition to the home and we love our Vector robot, but the market is too volatile right now to recommend it for your smart home.
In Search of Good SmartHome Technology
Valuable smart home technologies do exist. We love video doorbells, for example. While they cost significantly more than a standard doorbell, the extra features justify the extra expense. Smart light bulbs are a worthwhile investment as they add convenience, such as voice control, while staying in the low-end range.
And for a great example of adding features at minimal cost, check out smart air filters. For another $5, your filter will monitor itself, let you know when you need to replace it, and even order a new one for you if you let it.
When it comes to SmartHome technology, you have to look at a mixture of things. How much does the smart version cost compared to the standard version? How long has the manufacturer been around and how well does it support products? What amenities and features do you get? And what complications will you present?
There is no clear answer to the above questions — it is always a violation of the conditions or a good reason to buy. The way it all comes together really separates the smart water bottle from the smart filters, or the bad from the good.