It seems like there's an endless amount of gadgets and tools that make our lives easier, safer and more fun in our tech-savvy world, and the items on our list of must-have tech will definitely do all three. If you're looking to upgrade the tech in your apartment, check out some of the must-have items.
1. Wi-Fi speaker system
If you like to listen to music at home, a Wi-Fi speaker system will make the listening experience better and your life easier. A Wi-Fi speaker is exactly that, a system that connects with your Wi-Fi, and any device on that network — from your phone to your iPad — can connect with the speaker to play music.
While most portable Bluetooth speakers are easy to use, they're also easy to lose —especially if you take it out of the house. Plus, you have to charge it regularly, which can be a pain.
A Wi-Fi speaker, like the one from Sonos, will provide better sound quality and stays plugged into the wall, so you never have to worry about charging. What's more, the Sonos One (Gen 2) can also be treated like an Amazon Echo, and has better sound quality than the actual Echo device, according to PCMag. “It easily outshines comparably priced voice assistant speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, and stands on its own against its predecessor, the Play:1."
With multi-room playback options, you can listen to music seamlessly, from one room to the next. This technology is a must to truly enjoy your favorite tunes.
2. Remote security camera
The security of your apartment is paramount, and if you don't have security on staff in your building, or you live in a rented house or condo, this is a must. What's most important is that you have remote access to the camera, allowing you to see what's happening at any moment.
But don't stop there. A few other crucial features include:
- Affordable cloud-storage subscription plan
- Night vision
- Automatic recording if noise or movement is detected
- Real-time alerts
- Ability to connect to outside lights
While Nest Cam is arguably the most well-known, check out PCMag's list of best outdoor cameras for 2019 to make your decision.
3. Bedside charging station
Let's be honest — everyone sleeps with their phone by their bed. Plus, a movie or T.V. before you go to sleep means you may even bring your laptop in with you. Add a Kindle or other e-reader on top of that, and you have some serious charging needs.
That's where a bedside charging station comes in handy — and there are many different types to choose from, including these three unique options:
- Multi-port USB charging dock, that holds your items, like this one from SIIG
- Multi-charging organizer that hides the chords, like this one from Organize It All
- Speaker with alarm clock and charging ports, like this one from RSR
If you want to avoid putting anything on your bedside table, check out this DIY charging station idea from HowtoGeek.
While an Amazon Fire Stick and Chromecast both offer a cheaper way to access your favorite shows and movies than it costs to pay for cable, you're limited in what you can watch. Plus, “casting" from your computer can be a pain. In some cases, you also have to pay for the apps you use to be able to watch content from certain networks.
A Chromebox is a must-have alternative and acts as a laptop in a small box format. When hooked up your television, you can surf the web just as you normally would, with full access to Netflix, Hulu and any other streaming service, in addition to NBC, CBS and other cable networks that provide full episodes on their website for free. You can also access Showtime Anytime, HBO Now and other premium channels (if you have a membership) by simply logging into the website with your credentials.
The Chromebox makes finding what you want to watch quick and easy, with minimal restrictions on what you can access — it's the internet, just on your T.V.
5. Smart thermostat
Whether it's summer or fall, your heating and cooling system likely costs more than you'd like to admit. In order to keep your home at a manageable temperature, you often have to leave the heat or air on for long periods of time, even when you've left the house. Instead of dealing with the high energy bills, install a smart thermostat in your apartment.
You can access a wide range of features with even a small budget. For example, the Nest Thermostat E is only $80 and can learn your schedule, turning the heat or air up or down for you, based on when you come and go. The Ecobee, coming in at just $197, has a built-in speaker and Alexa integration, among others, which sets it apart from all others on the market.
Check out CNet's best home thermostats of 2019 to get the full run-down and choose one for yourself.
Get the tech
Upgrade your apartment with all the best tech available today. Whether you want to keep your apartment safe, save on bills or just get better sound quality from your speakers, there's an option for you.
Just make sure you get approval from your property manager before you make changes that involve installation.