The Best Smart Home Gadgets You Want but Don’t Need

collage of Nanoleaf light panels, Tonal workout system, and Mirror home gym
Suzanne Humphries

Forget phones and TVs and computers. We’re all about the technology we don’t need to buy. That’s right. We live for expensive gadgets that are feature-rich and not afraid of being ridiculously extra. From surround lighting for your home entertainment center to a mirror that doubles as your home gym, these products are a ton of fun—and completely superfluous for most people.

If you have a little extra dough sitting around, any one of these amazing gadgets would make for a worthwhile upgrade for your home. And they’ll do more than make your life easier: they’ll make it more enjoyable, too. So go ahead, pick a few and spoil yourself.

A Remarkably Smart Thermostat: Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd gen, mounted to grey wall
Google

Smart thermostats have a lot to offer and can help you save energy and money. They even have some nice extras like HVAC system monitoring. The third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat has all of that, plus it continuously learns from and adapts to your usage patterns which will allow it to eventually run exactly how and when you want it to.

The Learning Thermostat is so effective, Google claims it saves people an average of 10-12% on heating bills, 15% on cooling bills, and that it’ll pay for itself in two years. It actively monitors your HVAC system, ensuring that it’s always running smoothly, and it’ll alert you whenever potential issues are detected and when it’s time to replace your air filter.

It only takes about a week of use for the Learning Thermostat to learn your preferences, and it can easily adapt as your needs (or the seasons) change. This means it’ll learn to automatically turn up the heat in the morning and turn it down an hour before bed. It’ll also learn when you’re away from home then set itself to an Eco Temperature so it never wastes energy on an empty home. You can adjust the temperature and other settings on the thermostat or through the iOS and Android mobile apps. Plus, since it’s a Nest product, it works flawlessly with Google Assistant.

Work Out Like a Genius: Mirror, Peloton, and Tonal

That’s right, home gym equipment can be smart, too. Although the machines (and their subscription-based digital classes) are pricey, they do give you a way to enjoy at-home workouts while still reaping the benefits (and community energy) of studio classes. Plus they’re way cooler looking than the regular equipment you’d find in a gym.

For All Kinds of Workouts: Mirror

Mirror leaning against a wall next to dumbbells
Mirror

Mirror is super cool. It barely takes up any space and simply looks like a stylish wall-mounted mirror, so it’s perfect for even the smallest studio apartments. But when you power it on, you’ll instantly be able to see not just your reflection but also a screen where your workout instructor and other metrics will appear.

It comes with a wall mount and stand, as well as a heart rate monitor and resistance bands, but you’ll have to pay $39 per month for access to Mirror’s live and on-demand workouts. The  subscription covers up to six household members, however, and it offers more than 50 different genres of workouts, from boxing to yoga. Workouts range from 5-60 minutes and span all skill levels, with new classes added weekly. It can also customize workouts if you have an injury.

MIrror is great for tracking your workout stats, like workout times and heart rate, and notes your improvement if you use the same workout more than once. It also lets you earn points for things, like staying in your target heart rate zone, adding a gamified aspect to your workouts. You can even take advantage of the virtual one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer using the front-facing camera (and don’t worry, it comes with a privacy cap).

For All Kinds of Workouts

Mirror

Available now from Mirror for $1,495.

For Cycling Lovers: Peloton Bike

Peloton bike in home
Peloton

If you prefer your cardio sessions in spin-class form, you’ll love the Peloton Bike (starts at $1,895). With its large HD display, motivational instructors, and community-centric focus, a Peloton is a great choice for all the social spinners out there. It also suits those wanting to seriously focus on fitness goals, as it offers tons of training programs and challenges to choose from. The bike even has instructor-curated music playlists so you can stay entertained while you train. You can access courses and other resources with the $39 per month Peloton Membership.

The Peloton Bike has an adjustable seat, handlebar, and screen, so you can easily set it up in a way that feels comfortable to you. You can connect Bluetooth- or Wi-Fi-enabled devices to it, like a smartwatch or heart rate monitor, as well. And don’t worry, the 22-inch touchscreen is sweatproof, so you can interact with it even if you’re all sweaty. You can also opt for the Bike+, which offers a slightly larger 24-inch 360-degree rotating touchscreen, additional speakers, auto-follow resistance, and Apple GymKit integration.

You’ll have four bike packages to choose from, starting with the Bike Basics package for $1,895, which includes delivery and assembly. The Bike Essentials package ($2,045) includes spin shoes and weights in addition to the bike; the Bike Works package ($2,145) includes spin shoes, weights, earbuds, a bike mat, and a heart rate monitor in addition to the bike; and the Bike Family Package ($2,345) which includes everything the Bike Works package has plus a water bottle and a second pair of cycling shoes.

For Cycling Lovers

Peloton Bike

Available now from Peloton. Starts at $1,895.

For Strength-Building Workouts: Tonal

Tonal workout system with bench
Tonal

For anyone looking for sleek strength-building workout equipment, stick with Tonal ($2,995). Like Mirror, Tonal is wall-mounted and won’t take up much space in your home. It has built in electromagnetic arms that offer up to 200 pounds of resistance. You can also choose to fork over an additional $495 to get the Tonal accessory package, which includes a bench, mat, foam roller, and attachable rope.

Tonal offers full body strength-building workouts as well as intelligent personal training. It also learns from your workouts and automatically adjusts to your body. It’ll accurately measure reps, sets, range of motion, power, time under tension, and volume, so it can track your gains over time. You can browse through hundreds of instructor-led programs and find tailored programs for your body and fitness goals that’ll give you an efficient and effective workout.

The monthly subscription to Tonal’s workout videos runs $49 per month, which is more than both Mirror and Peloton but still probably less than many in-person gym memberships. The subscription gives you access to unlimited household accounts, on-demand workouts, data measuring and progress tracking, workout logs, personalized suggestions, Tonal music stations, and more.

For Strength-Building Workouts

Tonal

Available now at Tonal for $2,295.

Lighting That’s Brilliant: Nanoleaf and Philips

Lights don’t have to be boring or dumb. In fact, they’re so much better when they’re exciting and smart, and match the media you’re playing on your TV. In fact, with these amazing options, you’ll start thinking of lights like we do: as art and technology.

For Modular Lighting: Nanoleaf Color Panels

Yellow-green Nanoleaf color panels mounted in an X shape on a wall in a home office
Nanoleaf

The Nanoleaf Color Panels (starts at $119.99) come in three flavors: Shapes, Canvas, and Light Panels. With so many choices, you have a limitless number of customization options for your living room, home office, bedroom, or home gym. No matter which color panels you choose, you’ll have access to over 16 million stunning colors including tunable white, which is great for functional lighting, say, overhead in a dark kitchen.

The lights can also dance along to music in real time using the Rhythm Scenes function or mirror what’s playing on your TV screen for a more immersive gaming or movie watching experience. Both the Canvas and Shapes options support touch experiences, which allow you to interact with the panels. You can even control them with gestures or play interactive games with them.

Each of the three types of panels includes physical controls, but you can also control them with the Nanoleaf app for iOS and Android devices. The Nanoleaf Color Panels add a unique focal point to any room in your house, and can make any activity a little more fun.

For Modular Lighting

Nanoleaf Color Panels

Available now at Nanoleaf. Starts at $119.99.

For Entertainment Center Immersion: Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip

Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip reflecting colors on wall behind TV, with a couple sitting on couch in foreground watching it
Philips

You’ve heard of surround sound. Now, with the Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip ($219), prepare your senses for surround lighting! The fun light strip attaches to the back of your TV and blasts the same colors on your TV screen onto the wall behind it, which makes for an incredibly immersive viewing experience. The strip can be attached to TVs ranging from 55-75 inches that are either wall-mounted or standing with their included mount.

The colors blend seamlessly with those displayed on your TV, no matter whether you’re gaming or watching a TV show or movie. Each of the colors also blends together naturally, creating a unique effect that doesn’t look gaudy or weird. One note, though: you’ll need to purchase the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, Philips Hue Bridge (unless you already have one with existing Hue lights), and use the iOS or Android mobile app to get things to work properly.

For Entertainment Center Immersion

Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip

Available now at Philips for $219.

This Faucet is a Genius: Delta VoiceIQ

Delta VoiceIQ Faucet with running water in kitchen
Delta

A smart faucet might sound over-the-top at first, but if you think about it, the concept is super convenient! With a Delta VoiceIQ Faucet, you can use voice commands to turn the faucet on or off, to heat up water, to dispense a measurement of water (like 2 cups), or to fill a custom container (like your coffee pot or dog bowl). The smart faucet is the perfect thing to have when you need water but your hands are full or dirty.

Let a Robot Do Your Dirty Work: iRobot Roomba i7

iRobot Roomba i7 and mobile app on white background
iRobot

Let’s be honest: vacuuming sucks. And that’s my full statement on why it’s worth the cost to upgrade to a robot vacuum, like the iRobot Roomba i7. This adorable little guy uses Smart Mapping technology to build out a floorplan of your home so it can efficiently navigate as it cleans. You can also tell it to avoid certain rooms, and set it on a schedule so it regularly cleans your floors. It’ll even start to learn your personal cleaning schedule and preferences and run automatically.

The Roomba i7 can handle crumbs, pet hair, and other messes with ease. It can run for up to an hour on a single charge and will head back to its base for a recharge if you’ve set it up to run for longer than that. You can also purchase the iRobot Clean Base, which allows the vacuum to automatically empty itself up to 30 times before you’ll need to step in. The Roomba i7 is a great beginner-friendly robot vacuum, and is ideal for those who don’t want to spring for a high-end model filled with premium features.

Suzanne Humphries Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne Humphries is an Associate Editor for Review Geek. She has over six years of experience across multiple publications researching and testing products, as well as writing news, reviews, and how-to articles covering software, hardware, entertainment, networking, electronics, gaming, apps, security, finance, and small business. Read Full Bio »

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