Think smart homes are only for the uber-rich and tech-savvy homeowners of the world? Think again. With just a smidge of know-how, a few bucks, and a good Wi-Fi connection, you can turn your home into a high-tech palace – even if you’re renting.
1. Make sure your Wi-Fi is, indeed, pretty fly
If you want a smart home that actually feels smart, you need to make sure your exceptionally-named Wi-Fi connection is pulling its weight. nbn™ is ideal if you can get it but if not, a reliable ADSL connection will do the trick. Luckily for you, Dodo does both.
Cost: From $60 p/m *
2. Pick your digital assistant
Once your Wi-Fi is sorted, your smart home is going to need to run through a central system (or ‘home hub’). This can literally just be a smartphone or tablet – but it’s the software/app you download to that smartphone or tablet that counts. You have three main players to pick from: Google Home, Apple HomeKit, or Amazon Alexa. There is also the option to get a ‘proper’ home hub – which is a dedicated tablet/screen that will live in your house and control your smart home – but the phone apps do pretty much the same thing.
The assistants do more or less the same things too, but your choice here will affect step #3. So do a bit of research and pick whichever one you think will make the most sense in your digital ecosystem. Yes, we just said ‘digital ecosystem’.
Cost: Free (+ smartphone cost)
3. Pick your smart speaker
This will act as the central nervous system for your fledgeling smart home. Again, you have Amazon, Google or Apple to choose from. You can either go for the bigger Amazon Echo Plus, Apple HomePod and Google Home, or the smaller speakers like Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot.
Your speaker will come with all the info you need to get hooked up with your digital assistant and start messing around. Don’t feel obliged to spend max dollars on these – if you’re OK with compromising a bit of sound quality, the Mini and Dot versions do exactly the same job at a fraction of the cost of the bigger speakers.
Cost: $39 (Amazon Echo Dot 2nd gen) – $469 (Apple HomePod/Google Home Max)
4. Upgrade your home entertainment
Do you have a pair of run-of-the-mill PC, laptop or stereo speakers kicking around that you rarely use? Good. Go out and grab a Google Chromecast audio, plug it in, and link it up to your new-fangled smart speaker and home hub. Hey presto – your old speakers are now smart speakers. You can control them using your voice via your smart speaker, or you can cast music to them from your phone.
Same goes for your TV, too. All you need to do to increase the IQ of your regular old television set is to get a Google Chromecast, Apple TV or similar, plug it in, and hook it up to your increasingly awesome home hub.
Cost: $59 (Google Chromecast) – $209 (Apple TV)
Now your home entertainment’s teed up, you can build your smart home as you see fit. You can buy more smart speakers for other rooms, allowing you to play music, radio, podcasts, play games and broadcast announcements throughout the house.
Or you can get WiFi plugs that allow you to control your lights and other electronic devices remotely from your phone or by voice recognition at home. Then there’s smart bulbs, WiFi air conditioning units, connected doorbells, home security camera systems, temperature monitors, fridges, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and so much more besides – the world is your extremely smart oyster.
*12 mth min cost $720 + $24.90 P&H
Product prices as of 05/06/19