The Google Home starter kit: 6 Google Assistant devices to kickstart your smart home

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If you’ve recently bought a Google Home smart speaker — or the Home Mini or Home Max, for that matter — then you probably know how useful and entertaining these devices can be.

The Google Assistant can answer just about any question you ask it. It can also read the news and weather forecast aloud, help you find your phone, tell jokes, play games and play music.

What else can it do, though? Well, you also use the Google Assistant to make your entire home smarter. We’re not talking about anything too complicated — these products are all plug-and-play — but there are some simple ways to take your smart home to the next level.

Here are six Google Home-compatible devices to get you started on building a smarter home.

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Media streamer: Chromecast, from $35

Just as Amazon’s Echo speakers can communicate with the company’s Fire TV streaming stick, so too can Google Home devices chat with Google’s Chromecast streamers.

This product lineup starts with the regular Chromecast, which plugs into your TV’s HDMI port to serve up content like Netflix. Then, there is the Chromecast Ultra, which does the same thing but can also stream Ultra HD (also known as 4K) video. Finally, there is the Chromecast Audio, which plugs into the 3.5 mm auxiliary port on speakers to make them Spotify-enabled.

Once you’ve added a Chromecast device to your Wi-Fi network, you can control it by speaking to the Google Home speaker. Just say something like: “Hey Google, play Breaking Bad on the living room TV,” and that’s exactly what will happen.

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Smart plug: Belkin Wemo Insight, $30

Smart plugs are a great way to make almost any appliance, well, smart. They connect to your Wi-Fi network and can be controlled by the Google Assistant, meaning you can ask Google to switch devices on and off as you please.

Hook a lamp up to a smart plug, for example, and you can say: “Hey Google, switch the lamp on” to control it with your voice. Just double-check that the device is configured in the Google Home app.

Lamps aren’t the only devices smart plugs are useful for. You can plug in a fan and make it produce a cool breeze on demand or hook up a heater to warm the room on cue. Almost any device that can be switched on at the wall outlet can be controlled with a smart plug.

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Lights: Lifx, from $25

Controlling smart lights with your Google Home speaker can be remarkably simple, especially since Lifx systems do not need a bridge plugged into your router in order to function (unlike competing brand Philips Hue).

You can start with a single bulb and connect it to your Wi-Fi network. You can then control that bulb with the Lifx smartphone app or with voice commands issued to your Google Home. Say: “Hey Google, turn the light purple” if that’s your thing, or replace every bulb in a room with smart counterparts to get the full effect.

Lifx’s Plus range also emits infrared light at night, which improves home security cameras’ night vision. Speaking of which…

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Camera: Logitech Circle 2, $178

You could say that the Logitech Circle 2 is the Swiss Army knife of home security cameras. It can be installed indoors or outdoors and run on a battery pack or from an outlet. The device is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. Finally, it has Full HD video, night vision, two-way audio and footage is stored online for free for 24 hours.

Like all of the products featured in this article, you need to do little more than simply connect this camera to your Wi-Fi network. Jump into the ‘Home Control’ section of the Google Home app, introduce the devices to each other and away you go.

If you have a Chromecast connected to your television, you can ask Google Assistant to show the Circle 2’s video feed on the big screen. This is useful in case you want to see what’s happening outside from the comfort of your couch.

Read the GearBrain review here

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Wireless doorbell: Nest Hello, $229

Wireless doorbells like the Nest Hello feature a camera so that you can see who is at the door whether you’re at home or not. The Nest Hello’s video feed can be seen on your smartphone but, like the Logitech camera above, you can also ask the Google Assistant to display that feed on your TV if you have a Chromecast device attached.

Additionally, the Nest Hello is smart enough to learn who is at the door using facial recognition (assuming they have visited before and you have labeled them correctly, of course). The next time they ring the bell, Google Assistant will announce who is there.

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Thermostat: Nest, from $149

This device requires more work than fitting a doorbell or a lightbulb, but smart home newcomers shouldn’t be intimated. Nest’s Learning Thermostat can save money on your energy bills by heating and cooling your home in an intelligent manner — in other words, only when it is required. The Learning Thermostat can help prevent leaving the heat on while you’re away or coming home to a cold house.

In case that’s not reason enough to buy a smart thermostat, you can even hook it up to your Google Home and ask the Google Assistant to control the climate for you. You can ask for the current indoor temperature and issue verbal commands as needed.

Don’t forget to check out The GearBrain, our compatibility checker for smart home devices. it will help you find all of the smart devices that work with Google Home.

This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by Mediafeed.org.

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