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Best tech for homes: Nest Cam, Amazon Echo, more reviews

CNET has picked Fisher-Price's Newborn Rock 'n Play

CNET has picked Fisher-Price's Newborn Rock 'n Play Sleeper as one of the best smart home devices. Photo Credit: CBS Interactive

Your phone isn’t the only smart device designed to make your life easier. From smart speakers to smart lights, tech has finally come home. Here are some of the best devices available to make your home work for you.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: associate editors Ry Crist, David Priest and Megan Wollerton; executive editor David Carnoy; and senior editor Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit


CNET rating (Out of 5)

4.5 stars (outstanding)

THE GOOD Fisher-Price’s device makes calming your baby easy and hands-free. The movement patterns work well, the cradle itself is soft and comfortable, and the sound quality is great.

THE BAD You can’t play your own music through the speakers with either an auxiliary cable or via Bluetooth.

THE COST $99.99

BOTTOM LINE Parents will probably put baby in this sleeper for at least a few hours every day. Not only is it a steal, but the app connection and flexible settings are an added bonus.


CNET rating (Out of 5)

4.5 stars (outstanding)

THE GOOD Nest Cam’s high-resolution video (1080p), magnetic base, pivoting stand and updated app make it superior to other DIY cameras.

THE BAD This is still basically a webcam at heart. While it does offer security features like opt-in motion and sound alerts, they aren’t especially useful since you can receive only one notification every 30 minutes.

THE COST $160.85 to $199

BOTTOM LINE Budding DIYers searching for a high-resolution, live-streaming camera can’t beat Nest Cam.


CNET rating (Out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The 1000 is brighter and more efficient than the first generation of Lifx bulbs, and the colors are just as true. The easy-to-use app offers a good number of features, and integrations with IFTTT, SmartThings, Nest, Windows and Amazon Echo make the bulb a good choice for the home.

THE BAD It’s expensive and doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit (or with Siri) like Philips Hue bulbs.


BOTTOM LINE It’s the most well-rounded color-changer out there.


CNET rating (Out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD Amazon’s voice-activated smart home speaker is undeniably futuristic, but it’s also practical and accessible. With a rapidly growing slate of features and integrations, it’s easy to get excited about the Echo’s potential.

THE BAD Sound quality is uneven at times, with weak bass at high volumes. The growing list of “Skills” in the Alexa app could also benefit from better organization.

THE COST $179.99

BOTTOM LINE More than a year after its debut, the Echo is smarter than ever.


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