Over the years, I’ve helped set up dozens if not hundreds of smart devices at the CNET Smart Home — and I’ve often associated with them. In years past, it would cost thousands of dollars to install light bulbs, thermostats, smart speakers and cameras. Luckily, the days of $180 and are over. You can find on sale all the time, and some of our favorite smart cams on the market . In fact, with smart spending, you can just about build yourself a largely automated home for under $200 total.
Yes, in 2020 you can get all the things Alexa controls for super cheap prices. Here are the best ones. We update this list periodically.
Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
The best, cheapest smart speaker Amazon offers is the ever-solid Echo Dot. Their newest-generation Echo speaker has impressive sound quality if you want to play music (Spotify Premium, Amazon Music, Sonos and more), along with voice control and all the smarts of the higher-end speakers. Place Echo devices in different rooms of your house for multiroom audio. Not only is the Amazon Echo Dot a reasonable $50, but you can also catch it on sale for $25 often.
The $90 Echo Show 5 is a voice assistant that brings all the visual smarts of Amazon’s other smart displays on a compact screen that fits on your bedside table. You can find it on sale for $50 fairly often, and it gives you a screen to display the feeds of smart cams — not to mention controlling smart devices with the tap of a finger, rather than voice commands.
Amazon offers a number of other devices that add Amazon Alexa to you cars, home and other spaces, and one of the best of these is the Echo Flex, a $25 plug that brings Alexa integration to any place with an outlet. Setup is easy through the Amazon Alexa app. Once you do that, the smart speaker brings all the smarts of the Alexa voice assistant, plus a modular design that allows the use of motion-sensing and night light attachments.
The Wyze Cam is one of the best super-cheap devices out there, with a tiny $20 price tag and an impressive set of features. With the second version of the camera, you can check your live feed on Amazon smart displays — all you need is the app and a Wi-Fi network.
Another surprisingly affordable smart home gadget from Wyze is the $8 Bulb, which you can control with Amazon Alexa. It connects directly to a Wi-Fi network, so no smart home hub is necessary. These smart bulbs give you many of the smarts of a Philips Hue or Lifx bulb (thought the features are a little more spare than Philips Hue), and they work nicely with Amazon’s smart home ecosystem.