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4 ways to let your smartphone run things at home

Want to unlock your smart home’s hidden potential? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

iDevices iGrill Mini

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The iGrill Mini is simple to set up on your iOS device. It lets you cook your food to temp without the bother of having to check on its progress manually.

The bad: iDevices claims that its probe has a 150-foot range via Bluetooth Smart, but we had connectivity issues at shorter distances. It would benefit from a backup charger for those times when you don’t have a CR2032 coin battery handy.

The cost: $40.

The bottom line: The $39.99 iGrill Mini is a well-designed gadget that works. If you like the idea of hands-off cooking, this pint-size probe is for you.

Piper

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: There are a ton of useful home security and home automation features squeezed into Piper’s compact frame. It looks great, too, which doesn’t hurt.

The bad: The app design is a little busy, and I wish it had night vision. If you don’t like Z-Wave, you’re kind of out of luck in the accessories department.

The cost: $199

The bottom line: Don’t expect Piper’s slight build to mean that it’s short on performance. This $199 all-in-one security system offers a great value for smaller homes and budding DIYers.

SmartThings

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: With easy-to-install sensors, wide product compatibility, and no monthly fees, SmartThings gets home automation right. We love that it’s compatible with IFTTT, too.

The bad: The SmartThings Hub is a little bit limited in terms of range. Also, the newly redesigned SmartThings app feels overcrowded with redundant features.

The cost: $199.99

The bottom line: If you’re looking for an easy and (relatively) affordable entry point into home automation, then SmartThings makes sense.

Lifx

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: With diodes capable of putting out bright, vivid, accurate colors and a full spectrum of natural tones at up to 1,000 lumens, the Lifx light bulb boasts some pretty impressive hardware.

The bad: The bulb’s smart features aren’t nearly as well developed as they probably ought to be at this point. The lack of scheduling options within the Lifx app is a baffling omission.

The cost: $95

The bottom line: The Lifx shows great potential and powerful performance, but it isn’t smart enough to compete with the Philips Hue line yet. Wait for this smart bulb to gain a few IQ points before making a purchase.

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