There's no denying it, the smarthome is a brewing market coming to life, thanks in the most part to the companies seeking to unify all your smart connected products, letting you control them from a single hub. None caught our imagination more over the past year than the Amazon Echo and its built-in assistant, Alexa.
Of course, to get the most out of Alexa and help it become more than just a Bluetooth speaker you can demand weather forecasts from, you need compatible products in your home, your work or even your car. Here's a list of the most useful stuff out there.
Our top recommendation...
1. Philips Hue white and colour ambiance starter kit
Philips has an impressive portfolio of smart, connected lighting solutions to kit your house out with. In fact, it's arguably the most complete lighting system available.
The white and colour starter kit comes with the latest Hue Bridge, and can be programmed to offer all kinds of colours for setting the mood, or just for changing white temperature to suit morning or evening. The bulbs come with either a bayonet B22 fitting or E27 screw fitting. It's a great place to start if you don't have any smart lighting yet.
Being Hue there are, of course, other bulb types to choose from. They offer spotlights, separate mood lamps, even designer lamps with built-in Hue support and LED light-strips. You even get the option of connected dimmer switches and motion sensors. All of which can be controlled by Alexa.
Best of the rest...
2. Logitech Harmony Home Hub
Logitech's Harmony Home Hub is regarded as one of the best hubs for controlling your home entertainment system. Plug it in to your existing TV, Blu-ray player, set-top box and then plug an Echo in to the back of it, then have it control your TV and a host of other smarthome products without having to pick up a remote.
3. ZeroTouch Air Vent car mount
ZeroTouch Air is a smartphone mount that not only lets you control your Android smartphone just using your voice, but also now has Alexa support built in. That means you can tell Alexa to turn on your heating, lights or any other connected product while you're on your way home from work.
4. Neato Botvac Connected
"Alexa, tell Neato to start cleaning." There's nothing more satisfying in life than being able to have clean, dust and debris-free floors without having to lift a finger. Neato's Botvac Connected offers this, and has Alexa support so you can tell it to start, stop, pause or resume cleaning whenever you like.
Read the full review: Neato Botvac Connected review
5. Nest learning thermostat, 3rd generation
There's a whole host of smart connected thermostats on the market and, undoubtedly one of the better ones with Alexa compatibility is the third generation Nest learning thermostat. It has a big, colourful display, and is very easy to control thanks to a rotating frame and intuitive smartphone app.
Read the full review: Nest 3.0 review
6. Netatmo Weather Station
Perhaps not one for everyone, but the Netatmo Weather Station gives you accurate weather and air quality measurements in real-time. It can measure temperature, CO2 concentration, air pressure, humidity, noise polution and more; inside and outside your home. All you need is a smartphone.
With Alexa support, you can ask your Echo for the current outdoor temperature by saying "Alexa, ask Netatmo to get the temperature from the Outdoor module".
Read the hands-on review: Netatmo Wireless Weather Station
7. Blink home security camera system
In years gone by, home security was hideously expensive. Now, thanks to the rise of internet connected cameras, anyone can install their own camera system without shelling out too much of their hard-earned money.
There are many cameras out there, including the indoor security camera from Blink. You can buy kits with one, two or three cameras, and you can arm them by speaking to your Echo.
8. Honeywell Lyric T6R smart thermostat
Buy the Lyric T6R for £198 from Amazon UK
As smart thermostats go, the new Lyric T6R is a compelling option. It's easy to use, Apple HomeKit enables and has location-based services for multiple members of the family. Geofencing lets you define a perimeter for your home, and any time one of the users enters that zone, the thermostat treats your heating like you're at home and kicks back on.
Read the full review: Honeywell Lyric T6R review
9. Fitbit Charge 2
With Alexa's Fitbit skills, you can ask your Echo to give you a run down on your performance, how well you slept last night, how many calories you've burned or flights of stairs you've climbed, among many others. To really make the most of that, you're going to need one of the company's fitness trackers, and the Charge 2 is comfortably the best available at the moment. It's accurate, has a large display and lasts a long time on one charge.
Read the full review: Fitbit Charge 2 review
10. Fitbit Aria
As well as tracking fitness and activity, Fitbit's Aria smart scales will also let Alexa in on how your weight progress is going. Just ask Alexa what your weight is, and it'll use your last-tracked weight measured by the Aria scales.
Read the review: Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale
11. Hive Active Heating and Hot Water
Buy the Hive Active Heating and Hot Water thermostat with installation for £249 from Amazon UK
Hive was one of the earliest smart thermostats available in the UK, and with the latest version, you get more control than ever. You can use it to control your hot water, protect your pipes from frost and even send a command to it by SMS. And, if you want to, you can get it installed by a British Gas engineer, regardless of who actually supplies your energy.
Read the full review: Hive Active Heating 2.0 review
12. TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug
For all those non-smart products you have lying around, there's a simply solution: a Wi-Fi Plug. Simply plug your regular lamp, kettle, coffee machine or whatever in to one of these, and have it switch on as soon as you give the command to Alexa. As long as it's a simple on/off device, you'll just need to tell your Echo to switch on that specific plug.