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Why I’m not crazy about smart appliances
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of some smart appliances. My robot vacuum is a godsend when the kitchen floor needs some TLC and I’ve got better things to do (literally anything is better than vacuuming, right?), and the robot did a great job pre-Covid of sprucing up my carpets when I was expecting visitors (remember those days?). I can program the vacuum to clean up when I’m out of the house, and it’ll even charge itself too. But do we need everything in our homes to be smart?
Even coffee machine accessories like the Nespresso Barista can be turned on via your phone; but by the time you’ve launched the app, found the right setting, and switched it on, you probably could have made your coffee and been halfway through enjoying it – and you’ll pay a premium for the privilege of turning it on via your phone too.
I got lured into buying a larger smart appliance, and jumped at the chance to get a smart washing machine. What a treat to be able to switch the machine on remotely and have the companion app ping when my washing needs to be taken out of the machine, I thought. In reality though, this doesn’t save me time, and it certainly doesn’t save me any effort – although I’ll be first in the queue to buy the first washer that also loads my washing, unloads it when it’s done, and folds it.
Here’s my other problem with smart appliances: they don’t always all work together. You may, for example, have bought a smart fridge and set up a smart lighting system, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily use the same app or hub.
The best smart speakers help to bridge that gap, enabling you to control everything from one device, but not all appliances can sync up with each other, and you ages flicking from app to app trying to create an ‘ambiance’ with your smart lights and sound system to help you chill out, only to create the exact opposite effect as you get increasingly annoyed.
Probably the most frustrating thing about smart appliances is that they aren’t always right. Your smart cameras might alert you to something that isn’t really an issue, and who hasn’t found themselves getting increasingly impatient with Alexa as it tells you it can’t find the song it played just yesterday? You’ll also need to be prepared to update device software and apps regularly, otherwise you’ll find your smart appliance dates pretty quickly, and then there are the not uncommon issues with the Wi-Fi connectivity, especially if you’ve got too many devices using the same network.
I’m guilty of getting sucked into the allure of creating a smart home that saves me time and effort, but in most cases I think I’ll just stick to the tried and tested ‘dumb’ approach: “Alexa, I’ll do it myself.”
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