1. Which homehub is best for you?
At the core of any connected home is the control hub. The ecosystem that you choose will determine which products you can connect to most easily in the future - if you've ever been frustrated at not being able to cast your iPhone screen to an Android-powered smart TV to share your holiday snaps you'll know what we mean.
Our two top picks for 2019 are the Amazon Alexa Platform (we'll admit to being a little biased here - our COO is ex-Amazon) and the Google Homehub/Assistant. Since you're a RoomLab Insider, we know you're a fan of aesthetics and looks-wise these two are pretty similar. The decision for us would come down to which system we use most: big fan of Gmail and the GSuite, then the Google Homehub/Assistant might be the one for you, but if you're more obsessed with the convenience of 1-click shopping then it may be Alexa joining your family instead.
Google Home Hands-Free Smart Speaker - currently £129.99. Amazon Echo Plus Smart Speaker with Built-in Smart Home Hub with Alexa Voice Recognition & Control, 2nd Generation, White - currently £139.99. Both at John Lewis.
2. Is it tech or is it art? It's both!
Unless you're very lucky space-wise, it's hard to carve out room in your home for both a glossy grown-up living room and a cosy Netflix nest. Do you sacrifice box-set bingeing to create the perfectly curated gallery wall or do you resign yourself to a furniture scheme that's donimated by a blank screen on the wall? In 2019, it's neither. Samsung's The Frame is a TV when it's on and art when it's off. This one's definitely on the spendy end of things we'd recommend (currently between £1,000 and £1,500 depending on the size and the retailer) but the beauty in its dual use has our interiors eye firmly caught.
Samsung The Frame with Art Mode, from £1069.00 at various retailers.
3. Walkies Talkies
If there's one thing that Team RoomLab agrees on it's that pets are the heart of the home. And our Chief Biscuits Officer, Chopper the Terrier, definitely agrees. We're so lucky to be able to bring our furbabies to work with us but if you're stuck at work worrying what yours are getting up to at home (and particularly what's happening to that gorgeous new sofa), there are some great new entries to the market that can help. Our pick of the cameras is the TOOGE pet camera with night vision and audio motion detection and for those of you with pets that have been very good boys, the Furbo dog camera can even dispense treats remotely at your command.
OOGE Dog Camera FHD Pet Monitor Home Indoor Cat Camera with Pan/Tilt Night Vision Two-Way Audio Motion Detection, currently £32.99 at Amazon. Furbo Dog Camera, currently £129.99 at furbo.com.
4. Sweet dreams
When team RoomLab look back on our childhoods we can't believe that bedtime used to be a punishment - who wouldn't do anything for a few extra hours of rest these days?! Whilst we're very much pro-technology, we're also conscious of the negative impact its blue light emissions can have on our capacity to sleep. From hot baths to lavender oil and blackout blinds to blindfolds we've tried everything to counter its effects. In 2019, we're going digital and fighting fire with fire - smart pillows that play white noise to block out the traffic sounds, metronomes that slowly lull us to rest, and, to make sure all the fuss is worth it, a palm-sized and unobtrusive sleep tracker to give us that vital data come the morning.
The Dodow Sleep Aid Metronome, currently £44.90 at Amazon. The Sleepace Sleep Dot B501, currently £25 at sleepace.com. The soundasleep bluetooth speaker pillow, currently £50 at soundasleeppillow.co.uk.