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Google Assistant is the most prevalent digital assistant behind Amazon’s Alexa, but it can’t tell you which of the products that work with it are the best. That’s our job.
To help you home in on the best Google Assistant–compatible smart home devices, we rounded up the top-performing models based on hundreds of hours of testing from our ratings of smart speakers, security cameras, video doorbells, DIY security systems, smart thermostats, smart locks, robotic vacuums, and smart sprinkler controllers.
“As long as you aren’t buying some obscure device, you shouldn’t run into compatibility issues,” says Mark Allwood, CR’s market analyst for smart home devices.
When you connect a number of these devices to Google Assistant, you’ve got an integrated smart home system. Just say “dinnertime” to your smartphone on your commute home and Google Assistant can turn on the lights, preheat your oven for dinner, and set your robot vacuum to clean up the kitchen floor.
If you’re considering something you don’t see here, you can check our ratings to see if it works with Google Assistant and how it performs. And for step-by-step instructions on connecting these devices, see our article “How to Use Google Assistant to Control Your Smart Home.”
CR’s take: The Arlo Pro 2 offers superb video quality and receives great data privacy and data security scores from CR’s Digital Lab. It’s also the only model in our rankings that earns a Smart IQ rating of Excellent, meaning it offers a lot more smart features than the competition.
You get voice control, a siren, and a generous rolling seven days of free storage for video clips triggered by motion and audio. With an Arlo Smart subscription, you get more video storage as well as more sophisticated detection features that let your camera tell the difference between a passing car and a delivery person.
Certain plans also include an e911 feature, which allows you to contact your home’s local 911 dispatcher from the Arlo app even if you’re on the other side of the country. The Arlo Smart plans range from $3 to $15 per month depending on the number of cameras you have and whether you want the e911 feature.
You can also subscribe to 24/7 continuous video recording (CVR) plans for $10 to $20 per month per camera. The CVR plans don’t include the Arlo Smart features, so you’ll have to subscribe to both services if you want all of these features.
CR’s take: The Google Nest Hello is one of the best video doorbells you can buy. It receives an Excellent rating for response time and offers terrific video quality, but it falls to the middle of the pack when it comes to smart features.
Still, you get high dynamic range (HDR) video for vivid picture quality that doesn’t lose detail in bright and dark spots, geofencing (the ability to use your phone’s location to enable/disable alerts), person alerts, voice control via Google Assistant, prerecorded messages for when you can’t answer the door, and a rolling three hours of motion-triggered snapshots (not video clips).
If you sign up for a Nest Aware subscription, you’ll get 30 or 60 days of cloud storage for motion-triggered video clips (depending on the plan), 10 days of 24/7 continuous video recordings (only on the $12/month plan), facial recognition, package detection, monitoring zones, and e911 to call your home’s 911 dispatcher regardless of your physical location.
Note that the Nest Hello is offered only in a hardwired version, so your existing doorbell has to be hardwired in order for you to install it.
CR’s take: The Google Nest Secure security system rates high in almost all of our tests, with an Excellent rating for ease of setup. It doesn’t work with as many additional security sensors and smart home devices as competing systems, though. It works with Nest security cameras, of course.
This security system features Google Assistant built into its keypad/base station, so you don’t need a separate smart speaker for voice control. If you already have a Google Assistant smart speaker, the base station could function as an additional speaker in another room of your home.
The system also offers optional professional monitoring for $19 per month with a three-year contract or $29 per month with no contract. Additional Nest Detect contact/motion sensors cost $49 each.
CR’s take: The Google Nest Learning Thermostat earns one of the top spots in our smart thermostat ratings. It rates Excellent for automating your heating/cooling and offers a wealth of smart features to enhance its functionality, including an occupancy sensor (so it can adjust the temperature based on whether people are in a room) and geofencing to turn the temperature up or down when you leave home and return. One caveat: Our testers found that the manual controls aren’t the easiest to use.
CR’s take: The Yale Assure Lock SL uses its sister company August’s smart lock app and platform. That means it offers many of the same features as the August retrofit smart lock below, including remote control, an access log, voice control (via Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit/Siri, and Google Assistant), electronic keys, and a door open/close sensor. In our tests, the Yale Assure Lock SL receives a Very Good rating for its resistance to drilling. It’s also impossible to pick because it’s keyless, and it’s very resistant to kick-ins as sold.
CR’s take: The August Smart Lock Pro is one of only two locks in our ratings to earn an Excellent rating for Smart IQ because of its impressive array of features, including electronic keys, an access log, remote control, remote alerts, and voice control. But the remote features and voice control via Google Assistant require an August Connect WiFi adapter, $79, to connect the lock to the internet.
This lock is a retrofit product, meaning that it replaces only the part of the lock that’s on the interior side of your door. The exterior part of your deadbolt will remain on the door. This means you can still use your keys but also lock and unlock the door from your smartphone app. Because the August is a retrofit model, how well it withstands kick-ins or drilling depends on the deadbolt you have.
Be sure to check August’s compatibility list to see whether it will work with your lock.
CR’s take: The sleek Samsung Powerbot earns high marks, including an Excellent rating for cleaning bare floors. It’s also superb at cleaning carpet.
A couple of key design details separate it from the competition, such as its ability to clean along walls. It’s equipped with a brush that extends down to sweep up dirt only when it nears a wall, an improvement over side brushes that are out at all times and can scatter debris.
As for power, the Samsung Powerbot is able to pick up fine grains of sand and embedded pet hair from carpets. (You have to manually clean the pet hair from the brush.) Bottom line: You can spend a lot more on a robovac and not get this level of performance.
CR’s take: The RainMachine Touch HD-12 is capable of handling 12 different watering zones. It receives an Excellent rating for weather responsiveness—the only system in our tests to do so—and is easy to physically install, too. To connect it to WiFi, you’ll have to use the controller itself; you can’t connect via its smartphone app.
The RainMachine features a 4.3-inch touch-screen display for manual control, but of course you can turn it on and off using Google Assistant instead. A 16-zone version is available for $269. This model lacks a weatherproof enclosure, but RainMachine recommends an Orbit controller box (around $30) for outdoor installation.
CR’s take: The Google Home Max was the first smart speaker with high-quality sound, and it remains one of the best-sounding models on the market. Our testers like its solid bass and clean midrange—both are key to great sound—along with plenty of volume.
It’s not surprising that the Home Max’s smart functions work seamlessly with Google Assistant. It also packs plenty of features, including an audio-in port, support for synchronizing music playback across multiple Google Home speakers in different rooms, and the ability to make hands-free phone calls.
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2020, Consumer Reports, Inc.
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