Welcome To Our Building a Smart Home Series: Step One Assess!

Welcome to our latest LifeStyle series here at G Style Magazine. One of my focuses for 2015 is Smart Home tech. It is the next step into looking for what is cool with gadgets and gear. Since I’ve started G Style Magazine in 2005 I’ve always strive to find and talk about the items that were cool, fashionable, and stylish when it came to technology. I’ve talked about Blackberry themes when Blackberry was popping, than cell phones, to tablets and headphones and more. Last couple years I’ve looked at cars to see which were cool and had cool tech in them. Now for 2015 I’ve turn my eye towards the open. I’ve picked up a few items here and there that would be considered “smart”, but never sort to start bridging these items together. This changed as the end of 2014 rolled around and not into 2015. Companies are putting out a lot more smart products, and creating platforms for them to talk to each other. The term Internet of Things or IoT has become a buzzword and devices are beginning to interact with one another. Now is the time to start piecing them devices together and truly make your home smart and start automating some household functions.

Now traditionally when the term”Smart Home” is used, people think house somewhere in suburbia. Now while this may be the ideal set up for a smart home, I and many other leave in urban areas. This doesn’t mean I don’t want a smart home or apartment any less than the next person. I may be limited in the things I can change in an apartment or if I rent, but nonetheless there are many items I can use to make my living space automated or smart. So this series will be two-fold. I will be looking for products that can be used in an apartment or house and reviewing them. I will talk about what they do, how I use them in my set up, and how I connect them to other devices in my home to further build out the smart home. I will talk about prices points, how easy or difficult it is to set up, and how well it plays with others. My goal is to walk you through the process of adding the right pieces to the mix, setting it up, and enjoying the fruits of your labor; by doing it all myself as well. So this is our Building a Smart Home Series or BaSH :)

Step One

Before I get on the journey to acquiring the right items to work with everything, I should take stock of what I already own. If you are starting from the ground floor and haven’t picked up any items no worries we’ll talk about what I currently own and why. I currently have in my home the following:

Ooma

oomatelobox I’ve had Ooma since 2007. Way before “smart home” was really even a thing. Ooma is a Voice over IP (VoIP) based telephone system. I was interested in it during a time when cellphone plans wasn’t unlimited minutes. Back then I had a plan with 700 monthly minutes and the misses home a lot. You was using a lot of minutes on the phone. Ooma gives you unlimited local and long distance minutes. With Ooma there is no monthly subscription, but a one time fee for the cost of the device. Over time Ooma has updated their hardware and features. They now have the Ooma Telo their most current device. And Ooma now works with Nest, so in the smart home space, these two devices can talk to each other on some tasks. I’ll talk about that later in the series. Ooma currently cost about $156.10 on Amazon. So if you need a home phone that can doing some cool smart home features, give this one a look.

Nest Smart Thermostat

nest-stock-image-1 After Ooma which I had so long ago, Nest was the first piece of “smart home” tech I got in recent years. The Nest Smart Thermostat is a smart device and can connect to the internet to do a variety of things. First is can heat and cool your home. Once you set Nest up, every time you change the temperature Nest is learning what temperature you like and at what time in the day. Nest after will then start to change the temperature for you automatically. Also since Nest connects to the internet, it can see what the weather is outside and make changes for you so that you only heat or cool your home (or apartment) when needed. The goal is to automate the process and save you money as you won’t be heating or cooling the house when your note there or when generally not needed. Plus Nest which is own by Google had recently been shifting itself into a platform upon which other devices can connect to, Nest has it’s Works With Nest program. With this program Nest looks to be working to become a hub for your other smart home items. Nest currently cost $242.93 on Amazon.

Kevo Smart Lock

Kevo Kevo Smart Lock is a more recent addition to the folder. I got this last year and wanted to review it but had some technical difficulties. I know have this up and running and have been using it for a couple of weeks. The Kevo Smart Lock is a Bluetooth electronic deadbolt lock. Kevo allows you to open your door using your smartphone. Once you set up the Kevo when you want to unlock your down, all you need to do is tap the ring around the lock. Kevo will then communicate via Bluetooth with your phone and unlock the door. What is also cool is that Kevo still has a keyhole so in case there is any issues, you can still use a regular key to unlock the door. This item will be something I will put a review for out soon, so check back for that. The Kevo Smart Lock will cost you $199.99 on Amazon

Dropcam

Dropcam Pro Review - Home Surveillance Camera Front View Dropcam is another one of my earlier now “smart home” devices I had on the roster. I love Dropcam for it easy to use, easy to set up nature. I have both the original Dropcam that was in gray, and the newer Dropcam PRO which is in black. Dropcam allows you to install security camera in your home so you can check in on things when you’re away. Set up was as easy as choosing your location for it and plugging it into power. From there the app walks you through connecting it to your home WiFi and the rest is a cakewalk! Dropcam recently was brought by Nest, so now both Dropcam and Nest are under Google. This is a good place to be in my opinion and I home Google has big plans for the smart home space! The Dropcam PRO will cost you about $199.99 on Amazon

These are the current items in my house and will lay the ground work for my building up of smart home features. Keep an eye out for more as I put this plan to together!