If you've already started connecting the various devices and fixtures around your home, you'll know that there are a lot of ways to tackle the problem. You might just want one device to solve a particular issue, like a smart plug to put a lamp on a regular schedule. You might also be invested in an Amazon Alexa- or Google Assistant-powered smart speaker, or even Siri and Apple HomeKit smart home service.
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 it works with, we have you covered.
Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera
THE COST $249.99
AVAILABLE FROM arlo.com
There's so much to like about the Arlo camera line in general — long-lasting battery, a sharp HD video feed, mounting hardware that's both flexible and easy to 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.
Google Nest Mini
THE COST $49
AVAILABLE FROM store.google.com
Google's new Nest Mini smart speaker improves on its predecessor, the Google Home Mini, in a few ways.
The audio quality in the Nest Mini is much better with bass output that offers a lot more oomph. What really puts the Nest Mini over the top 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.
August Smart Lock
THE COST $249.99
AVAILABLE FROM august.com
The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is a breeze to install. Because it doesn't replace the lock mechanism itself, you can still use your original, physical key. It's good looking, too. The lock itself connects to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and you can also connect it to Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.
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.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: executive editor Rich Brown, associate editor Molly Price, senior writer Megan Wollerton, copy editor Jim Hoffman and senior editors Ry Crist and Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com.