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Best smart home devices

From workout gear to lighting, here’s the best—and likely most-used—new technology we covered this year

As 2020 (finally) comes to an end, if there’s one takeaway we can all get behind, this was undoubtedly the year of the smart home—because we all spent more time there than ever before.

With work, workouts, entertainment and school all happening within the confines of the same house (and not to mention every family member home at the same time), reliance on smart tech was one of the only things getting us through—and keeping our sanity intact. From video calling and looking good while doing it to high-tech home gyms and robotic cleaning devices, here is the best in smart tech from 2020.

Google Nest Hub Max

Meet the command central for your home—and it’sall at your fingertips with a 7-x-10-inch touch screen. The voice activated hub means you can make video calls just by asking and then hear grandma come to life in stereo. Then, of course, there’s the connected factor, so you can control your home’s circuitry—lights, cameras, thermostats and more and keep an eye on things when you have to step away thanks to a built-in Nest cam. You’ll get motion and sound alerts and even receive notifications when familiar faces are at your door. See your calendar and set reminders—all while streaming your favorite movies and shows. Staying home has never been easier.

Google Nest Hub Max is available for $229.

Peloton Bike+

In a yearwhen the gym and group workout classes were rendered all but obsolete, for many, the Peloton Bike+ was the ultimate at-home workout machine. While spinning is second nature with these wheels, this iteration also puts full body workout classes like strength training, stretching sessions and yoga into the virtual mix—all via a larger display touch screen that moves around so you can see it from more angles. Live weekly classes let you feel the momentum (and the burn) of a live ride with instructors who give real-time shoutouts to encourage you along the way. Access an on-demand library of workouts ranging from five-to-90 minutes and stay with every instructor’s cue thanks to a new Auto Follow feature that digitally controls and adjusts your resistance based on the instructor’s callouts.

The Peloton Bike+ is available from $2,495.

The Mirror

At first glance it might seem like a sleek way to gaze at yourself from head-to-toe, but this reflector is no ordinary mirror on the wall. Once you turn it on, it transforms any room into a state-of-the-art workout studio. Stream classes right onto your wall and see a full-length view of your instructor and classmates—all with instruction in real time and personalized shout-outs that keep your mojo going and going. Select from a repertoire of more than 50 new classes per week, which range from yoga to strength training at every level and length (they go from five to 60 minutes). You can set your workouts to any type of built-in playlist and monitor your heart rate via Bluetooth on your phone. The best part is, there’s no side-eye or exercise envy in this gym—it’s all you, all the time.

The Mirror is available starting at $1,495.

Elgato Key Light

As 2020 became the official Zoom culture,setting an inspired virtual stage to receive those video calls wasn’t the only thing to go hand-in-hand with the tele-platform—great lighting is equally as important. The smart Elgato Key Light lets you be the lighting master of every call. Tweak the temperature, adjust brightness, control color right on your computer screen and see your handiwork in real time. Simply clamp it to your desk and watch as this IRL filter makes your virtual self look like the best version it’s ever been.

The Elgato Key Light is available for$200.

iRobot The Roomba s9+

Being at home more means tidiness is more important than ever. Meet the tiny robot vac that’s like an entire cleanup crew on command. Push the bottom and it gets moving on every type of surface continuously, then recharges itself and goes back to work cleaning until it gets the job done and dusted. There’s even a special setting for hard-to-tidy carpets and it also navigates the trickiest of corners, along walls and under furniture as it sucks up pet hair like a professional. Thanks to the iRobot HOME App, you can clean and schedule tidying times from anywhere. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which means all you have to do is ask it to clean a certain area and you shall receive. So really, you never have to get your hands dirty. Heck, it even empties itself.

The iRobot Roomba s9+ is available for $900.