The Google Home starter kit: 6 Google Assistant devices to kickstart your smart home
Here's what you should buy to take your Google Home to the next level
Here's what you should buy to take your Google Home to the next level
If you've recently bought a Google Nest smart speaker or display like the Home Mini or Nest Hub Max, for that matter — then you probably already know how useful and entertaining they can be.
The Google Assistant answers just about anything you can think to ask, it can also read out the news and weather forecast, help find your phone, tell jokes, play games, and of course, play music or videos if you have a smart display.
But what else is there? Well, you can start thinking about using Google Assistant to make your entire home a little bit smarter. We're not talking about anything too complicated yet — these products are all plug-and-play — but you can see this as the next step with your Google Home.
Here are six Google Home-compatible devices to get you started on the road to building a smarter home.
Media streamer: Chromecast with Google TV - from $29.99
The Chromecast with Google TV comes with a remote for the first time Google
Just like Amazon's Echo speakers can communicate with the company's Fire TV streaming stick, the Google Home range also works with Google's Chromecast streamers.
The regular Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port to serve up content from Netflix, YouTube, HBO, and many more services. Then there is the Chromecast Ultra, which does the same thing but can stream Ultra HD (also known as 4K) video. Finally, there is Chromecast Audio, which plugs into the 3.5mm auxiliary port of speakers to give them an internet connection readily for Spotify streaming basically.
Once you've added a Chromecast device to your Wi-Fi network, you can control it by speaking to the Google Home speaker. Say something like: "Hey Google, play Breaking Bad on the living room TV," and that's exactly what will happen.
Smart Plug: Kasa Smart Plug Mini 15A - $16.99 for 2 pack
TP-Link Kasa Mini Smart PlugAmazon
Smart plugs are your gateway to making almost everything in your home smarter. They connect to your Wi-Fi network and can be controlled by Google Assistant, meaning you can ask Google to switch devices on and off as you please.
Plug in a lamp, for example, and once you have set the plug up in the Google Home app, you can say: "Hey Google, switch the lamp on" to control it with your voice.
Instead of a lamp, you could plug in a fan for a cool breeze on demand or a heater to warm the room on a cool evening. As long as the device operates when switched on at the wall outlet, it can be controlled with a smart plug.
TP-Link's Kasa Mini Smart Wi-Fi Plug is a compatible smart plug for Google Assistant-enabled devices. This smart plug is a mini smart plug from TP-Link with one app to control all smart devices. You can easily integrate this mini smart plug into your Google Home ecosystems to create a unified smart home.
Lights: Lifx - from $25
Lifx smart bulbs work with Google AssistantLifx
Controlling smart lights with your Google Home speaker can be remarkably simple, especially as Lifx systems do not need a 'bridge' plugging into your router, as is the case with Philips Hue.
You can buy a single bulb to start out, which connects to your Wi-Fi network and then can be controlled with the Lifx smartphone app or with voice commands issued to your Google Home. Say: "Hey Google, turn the light purple" if that's your thing, or install a whole room of bulbs to get the full effect.
Lifx's Plus range has the added benefit of emitting invisible infrared light at night to help improve the night vision of your security camera. Speaking of which...
Camera: Google Nest Indoor Cam - $99.99
Google Nest Cam Indoor Wired (2nd Gen) Security Camera GearBrain
If looking for a good, reliable indoor security camera that works with Google Assistant and is easy to setup and operate, look no further than Google Nest Cam 2nd Gen Indoor wired security camera.
This smart security camera has 1080p HD video resolution, night vision, and HDR. It has a 2-megapixel color sensor, a 135-degree diagonal field of view (FOV), 6x digital zoom, and 16:9 aspect ratio. The Nest Cam can see objects 15 feet away (or 4.6 meters) for night vision using 2 high-power 850 nm infrared LEDs. It can also store up to 3 hours of event video history and has a high-quality speaker and microphone for 2-way communication with noise cancellation.
As with all of the product features in this article, you need to do little more than connect the camera to your Wi-Fi network, jump into the 'Home Control' section of the Google Home app, introduce the devices to each, and away you go.
Once set up, (and with a Chromecast connected to your TV) you can ask Google Assistant to show Nest Cam's video feed on the big screen. Useful if you hear a noise outside and what to check in on what's going on.
Read the GearBrain review here
Wireless doorbell: Google Nest Doorbell (Wired, 2nd Gen) - Video Doorbell Security Camera - $179.99
Google Nest Doorbell installed. GearBrain
On a similar thee, wireless doorbells like the Google Nest Doorbell features a camera so you can see who is at the door, whether you are a home or away on vacation. This video feed can be seen on your smartphone, but like with the Nest Cam camera above, you can ask the Google Assistant to show this on your TV via a Chromecast, Google Assistant smart display, and your Google Home app.
But more than that, the Nest Doorbell (2nd Gen) is smart enough to learn who is at the door using facial recognition (assuming they have visited before and you have labeled them correctly, of course). Then, next time they ring the bell, Google Assistant will announce who is there.
Thermostat: Nest - from $129
Nest Learning Thermostat costs $250 Nest
This one is slightly more involved than fitting a doorbell or a lightbulb, but smart home newcomers shouldn't be removed. The Learning Thermostat by Google-owned Nest can help save money on your energy bills by heating and cooling your home in an intelligent manner — ie, only when it is required. No more leaving the heating on while you're away or coming home to a cold home.
That on it's own is already a strong reason to buy a smart thermostat but hook it up to your Google Home app, and you can ask the Google Assistant to control the climate. You can ask for the current indoor temperature, then say: "Hey Google, make it warmer" or: "Hey Google, increase the temperature by five degrees."
Don't forget to check out The GearBrain, our compatibility find engine. It will help you find any smart home device including th4e ones that are compatible with any of your existing devices as well as ones that work with Google Assistant-enabled devices.
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