The Pocket-lint Gadget Awards will take place in the middle of November and that means we will soon be finding out the winners of the 18 categories ranging from smartphone to smarthome. Each category has been narrowed down to between six and eight nominees from the hundreds of devices we have reviewed over the last 12 months.
As always, we have been running a series of features detailing the nominees within each category in a little more detail in order to help you with your voting decision.
The smarthome category was introduced to the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards in 2014 but things have certainly become a lot more interesting since then. Devices are now more advanced and while there is still a way to go before a smarthome is second nature, there are some great products in this category this year. Here are the nominees.
We think hands-free voice control is a godsend and that Alexa, Amazon Echo's personal assistant, truly distinguishes this Bluetooth speaker from the competition. It's blown our minds - whether for listening to music, adding to our shopping list, adjusting the heating or asking other apps to do their thing.
As time has gone by, Alexa has evolved and delivered more than we'd have ever imagined. The rise of the smart speaker owes itself to the Echo, the original and in many people's view, the best. Don't judge the Amazon Echo as a speaker on its own, approach it as a smart gateway to the rest of the connected world.
BT Whole Home Wi-Fi
BT Whole Home Wi-Fi joins a growing selection of options in the Wi-Fi space, with a growing number of big-name brands. BT Whole Home Wi-Fi launched at £300, but is now only £200. That price correction makes BT Whole Home Wi-Fi competitive: Google Wi-Fi is £129 for one unit or £229 for two, making £199 for BT's three a good deal.
Overall, it's difficult not to be pleased with the performance of BT Whole Home Wi-Fi as it simply solves the problem of weak Wi-Fi patches in the home. As we all have more connected devices and rely on more and more internet services, good Wi-Fi is becoming worth its weight in gold. And BT Whole Home Wi-Fi gets a gold star.
Does two decades of search experience give Home the upper hand over Amazon Echo? In terms of search results, yes. But is it the better product? Not always. Home is better looking, but it's not as well-rounded... yet. In time, Google Home will probably have just as many integrations and partnerships available as Echo though, perhaps even more and Home is already better at conversational points and search.
Google Home is also £30 cheaper than Echo and doesn't want you to add an annual Amazon Prime subscription into the mix to get the most out of it either. If you don't mind waiting for it to mature, then Home is the speaker to get. It's better looking than Echo, better sounding and, we suspect, has the potential to be the best voice-assistant speaker going.
If you're looking to patch-up Wi-Fi weak spots or extend the reach of your internet around the home, then a mesh network solution such as using multiple Google Wifi units is a great way of doing it. It's hassle-free, you don't need a Master's degree in computer engineering to figure it all out and Google Wifi looks good, wherever it's sat, which is a rare thing for connectivity products indeed.
It's unobtrusive design and easy-to-use app makes it a fantastic product. Google Wifi isn't cheap but we think the convenience and benefits are worth the outlay. You might cringe at initially handing over the money, but once Google Wifi is up and running, and you have a solid Wi-Fi network throughout the home, you'll forget that rather quickly.
Honeywell Lyric T6R
The Lyric T6R Honeywell system is fairly feature-free in comparison with others in the company's line-up - there's no zone control as with Evohome, for example. But therein lies Lyric's very attraction - it is simple to understand and to use.
The T6R version, with wireless connectivity, is handy so you can move the thermostat from room to room as needed but we'd just as happily wallmount the static T6 version. As smart heating systems go the Lyric might read as a little more basic than some competitors, but it does exactly what we want from a smart heating system without over-complicating things.
Logitech Logi Circle 2
The Logitech Circle 2 has a lot to offer compared to many of its competitors: indoor and outdoor use thanks to weather-proofing, captured events are free to view for 24-hours (or up to a month if on the subscription packages), capture quality is excellent, and cloud-based encrypted storage means your private videos are safe and secure to view via app/desktop wherever you are.
It's this wealth of features that make the Logitech more flexible and powerful enough to outshine the competition. So if you're looking for a smart home camera, then the Circle 2 should certainly feature high on your shortlist. It's one of the best home security cameras we've tested to date.
When Philips Hue first launched competition wasn't really a factor. Five years on there's a lot more competition - Hive, Osram, Ikea, Elgato, Belkin, Lifx and others all have lighting systems - but no other manufacturer has really managed to gain as much ground or have as expansive an offering as Philips.
As the system has grown and expanded it's clear to us that Hue is something much more; a system that in many cases you might be able to justify the cost given the expanse of possible usage scenarios. Whether that's creating a lighting security system, getting the lights to turn on when you come home or leave the house, or merely notify you about things that you use in other parts of your connected life. After nearly five years using Hue, there's no going back to standard lighting for us.
Ring Doorbell 2
The original Ring Doorbell was the market-leader in smart video doorbells. The second-generation looks to keep up this success by improving on a number of areas - a removable battery, 1080p capture and included mounts/fascias - even if there's no significant reason to upgrade if you own the original.
The Ring Video Doorbell is an incredibly useful device - both as a method to communicate with visitors when you're not home, and as a security camera. It's not perfect, but it's convenient and can be a very useful tool to identify and catch burglars in the act.
Voting in the 14th annual EE Pocket-lint Awards is now open so you can let us know which one of these great devices you think should win the Best Smart Home award for this year and give us your verdict on all, or some, of the other tech across the 17 categories.
Winners will be announced at the exclusive event in London on 14 November in association with EE. Voting closes on 3 November.