A video doorbell designed for apartment dwellers

Alexa is Amazon’s voice assistant, accessible via compatible Alexa smart speakers and displays. Start with the wake word “Alexa” and ask your smart speaker for the local weather forecast, to order food for delivery, to play music, to add things to your to-do list and even to adjust your smart thermostat, lights and much more.

Amazon introduced its first Amazon Echo speaker in 2014. Ever since, voice commands have become an increasingly important part of how we interact with our smart home devices. Google Assistant and Siri have jumped on board with their own smart speakers and voice control, but the Alexa voice assistant was the first to champion voice integrations in the smart home.

So, what are the best Alexa-enabled smart home devices today, you ask? Let’s take a look. 

Best Google Assistant devices: What are our favorite Google-Assistant-enabled gadgets?

Best HomeKit devices: Which smart home products work well with Siri?

Disclosure: Note that the products discussed here are independently chosen by our editors. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

The best Alexa devices

The Echo Dot is currently in its third iteration — and it just keeps getting better. Not only does this 2018 third-gen model have an improved design, it also sounds better. 

While there are a lot of Alexa devices to choose from, the Echo Dot continues to lead with its impressive performance, small footprint and even better price. At just $50 for an Echo Dot, this pint-sized smart speaker is an excellent entry point into the world of Alexa voice control.

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Ring’s $199 Door View Cam is a unique product for the Amazon-owned company. Rather than mounting to a doorframe or somewhere else to the side of your door, the Door View Cam replaces a traditional peephole.

That means this product is perfect for folks living in apartments who want a smart doorbell, but don’t want to deal with a hardwired device — or otherwise messing up a doorframe for the installation. None of Ring’s main competitors offer this sort of seamless solution for apartment-dwellers, making this doorbell particularly innovative alongside the other devices available today. 

Not only that, but the Door View Cam has the easiest installation of any doorbell I’ve tested to date. It also has advanced Alexa integrations. Yes, you can pull up the live feed on an Amazon smart display, but you can also chat with whoever’s at your door on the smart display with the command Alexa, answer the front door.

That two-way talk feature via an Alexa smart display is unique to Ring devices.

Other notable Ring doorbells: The battery-powered or hardwired $199 Ring Video Doorbell 2 and the hardwired $249 Ring Video Doorbell Pro

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The Ecobee SmartThermostat is a $249 connected thermostat. This model replaces the Ecobee4 smart thermostat, but has a lot of the same great features.

Control your SmartThermostat via the Ecobee app and use Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri voice commands to adjust the temp of your smart thermostat. It’s Alexa’s voice control that really stand out here, though, since the thermostat itself has a built-in Alexa smart speaker.

That means you don’t need a separate Echo device — just connect your thermostat, enable the speaker and start asking Alexa questions.

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The Amazon Echo Show 5 is Amazon’s latest smart display. Unlike the Echo Show, the Show 5 has a smaller 5-inch screen and costs just $90.

The Echo Show 5 has a built-in Alexa speaker. That means you can use this smart display to do your bidding via Alexa voice commands. And, since it’s a smart display, it also offers advanced compatibility with Alexa-enabled security cameras.

Ask Alexa to “answer the front door” when someone rings your Ring Door View Cam and you can see the live feed on your Show 5 — and actually talk to the person, straight from the smart display. 

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August’s Smart Lock Pro, bundled with the Connect Wi-Fi module, is a great smart lock. The Smart Lock Pro retrofits to most standard deadbolts, so you don’t have to deal with a complicated installation. The Connect module makes it possible to access and control your smart lock remotely, outside of Bluetooth range. 

This product comes with an open/close sensor, too — called DoorSense — that attaches to the door where your Smart Lock Pro is installed. That way, the app can not only tell you whether the door is locked or unlocked, but also if the door is open or closed. 

The Smart Lock Pro works with Alexa, so you can lock and unlock your door from an Alexa-enabled smart speaker.

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SimpliSafe is a solid DIY home security system with a ton of accessories, so you can scale the system up as needed. The starter kit costs $230 for the hub, keypad, keychain fob, one motion sensor and one door/window sensor. 

SimpliSafe also works with Alexa, so you can arm the system and check its status with simple voice commands.

SimpliSafe doesn’t require a contract, but monthly fees start at $15 to access the app and go up to $25 if you want professional monitoring. 

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The latest version of the Philips Hue White LED works with ZigBee and Bluetooth. The addition of Bluetooth is significant for Philips Hue, because it means you don’t need a Philips hub to get these smart bulbs to work.

Instead, the smart bulbs connect directly to your phone — and they work with Alexa voice commands. Ask Alexa to turn on the living room lights, or dim the dining room lights to 70%. 

Philips Hue White LEDs cost just $15 each, meaning you don’t have to dish out a ton of cash for these straightforward Alexa-enabled bulbs. 

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The TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini is a big name for a tiny smart plug that costs just $30. A smart plug like this one connects via your Wi-Fi connection directly to a wall outlet and convert your nonsmart lamps, fans and other gadgets into smart devices.

Use the TP-Link app to connect and control devices — or enlist Alexa. Say, “Alexa, turn on the reading lamp” to get the Plug Mini smart plug to control the devices connected to it with ease.


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The Alexa landscape

Amazon’s voice assistant makes it easier to control the devices in your home, set timers and find out how long your commute to the office will take. But privacy has become an increasing concern as smart speakers and displays grow in popularity.

Reports that Amazon keeps transcripts of your voice conversations, even after you’ve deleted the Alexa audio recordings, led to concerns over user privacy. Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos seeking answers about Amazon’s Alexa user data and how it’s stored. Amazon has since introduced the “Alexa, delete everything I said today” feature. The tech giant says it’s also working on new ways for customers to delete their transcripts.

Amazon’s latest smart display, the Echo Show 5 comes with a built-in privacy screen, unlike previous Echo Show devices.

Amazon isn’t alone. Facebook, Google and other major tech companies have faced their own privacy issues, prompting questions about data usage. 

Fortunately Amazon and others appear to be working to win back our trust. Have these privacy concerns kept you from buying a voice assistant (Alexa or otherwise)? Weigh in in the comments section below.

Still have questions? Read more about Alexa

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Megan Wollerton

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