Best of CES 2021: Smart home and home entertainment products

If you think judging a product based on what you can see and hear in a jampacked and noisy convention center is hard, imagine doing it over a Zoom connection. That being said, these smart home and home entertainment products impressed us despite the limitations of the venue.

The products below are presented in alphabetical order. If you’d like to see everything we checked out at CES 2021, just click here.

Chamberlain myQ Pet Portal

myq pet portal interior side Chamberlain Group

The myQ Pet Portal opens its elevator-style doors when the pet—wearing a sensor on its collar—approaches

Wait, three thousand bucks for a doggie door? You heard right, but Chamberlain’s myQ Pet Portal is no cut-rate plastic flap. Rather than a standard pet door that you install in an existing door, the myQ Pet Portal arrives pre-installed in an exterior door manufactured by the doormaking artisans at Kolbe Windows and Doors. The Pet Portal itself boasts doors that slide open like an elevator, while a camera, microphone, and speaker sit in a square situated above the opening. You can control the Pet Portal manually using myQ’s mobile app, or dogs can let themselves in and out if you attach a sensor to their collars. The doors will also close automatically to keep unwanted critters from sneaking in behind your pooch.

Cleer Crescent smart speaker

crescent quarter top Cleer

The Cleer Crescent smart speaker is powered by Google Assistant.

We’re big fans of Cleer’s Bluetooth headphones (Cleer’s Flow II Bluetooth ANC headphone snagged our Editors’ Choice award last year), so we were pleased to hear that the fledgling home-audio manufacturer is prepping its first smart speaker. Boasting a beautiful crescent-shaped design and equipped with eight 40mm full-range drivers and a pair of 3.3-inch woofers, the Google Assistant-powered Crescent (natch) supports high-resolution audio streaming, while beamforming technology features such listening experiences as Wide Stereo Mode, Room Filling Mode, and 3D Immersive Mode. The $700 Crescent also comes with 3.5mm, optical, and ethernet ports, along with support for AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and Spotify Connect.

GE Lighting Cync Fan Speed Smart Switch

cync fan speed smart switch 1 GE Lighting

GE Lighting’s Cync Fan Speed Smart Switch features a similar industrial design to its smart lighting controls and lets users select four speeds for a connected ceiling fan.

Settling on one smart home ecosystem will eliminate the confusion instilled by juggling disparate apps, but it’s not always problem with your favorite product in one subcategory doesn’t have a solution for a different category. Such was our conundrum with GE Lighting’s smart dimmer—the company didn’t have a smart ceiling fan controller in its ecosystem. But that changes with the Cync Fan Speed Smart Switch. The industrial design mirrors the dimmer for a consistent look, which is an important consideration if the products are to be installed side by side, and it lets you set four speeds for the ceiling fan it’s connected to. Even better, you can group the fan with other GE Lighting smart home devices and schedule them at the same time. We’re also happy to see the company dump its awkard-to-say C by GE branding in favor of the simple Cync.

Hex Home Security

origin wireless hex home system Origin Wireless

The Origin Wireless Hex Command hub (bottom) and Hex Sense plug-in sensor (top).

Security cameras do a great job of spotting intruders—provided they step into the camera’s field of view. The Hex Home Security system from Origin Wireless can sense a burglar no matter where they move inside your house. A Hex Command Hub and Hex Sense plug-ins blanket your home with Wi-Fi radio waves and then use artificial intelligence to analyze how those waves are disrupted by people walking around. If you’re not home, the Hex Sense units will sound an 80dB siren and the system will send an alert to your smartphone via your Wi-Fi network. You can tune the system’s sensitivity so that your pets won’t set it off and trigger a false alarm. Origin says it plans to offer an optional but inexpensive professional monitoring service plan that will dispatch the police if you can’t be reached after an alarm is tripped. A kit adequate for a 1,500-square-foot home will arrive this spring for $180.

Kohler Infinity Experience soaking tub

kohler stillness bath Kohler

Modeled after classic Japanese baths, Kohler’s sophisticated Infinity Experience soaking tub features an infinity edge, a fog emitter, an aromatherapy diffuser, and other high-tech features.

After living through 2020, we’re ready to take a long, luxurious dip in Kohler’s extravagant Infinity Experience tub. A member of Kohler’s line of Japanese-style Stillness Bath soaking tubs, the top-of-the-line, 48 x 48-inch Infinity Experience features an infinity edge, an aromatherapy diffuser, and an “Experience Tower” that can dispense lavender, peppermint, or other essential oils, complete with a moody fog that floats over the water. A Hinoki wood moat surrounding the tub catches the water that flows over the edge; the water is then reheated and pumped back into the tub. Expect the $15,598 Infinity Experience to ship in October.

LG Eclair soundbar

eclair soundbarLG Electronics

The LG Eclair is our favorite soundbar of CES 2021.

We’re all for big, bold soundbars crammed with drivers galore, but we’re even more impressed by pint-sized soundbars that still manage to pack a punch. While we haven’t heard the 11.7-inch-wide Eclair in action, it certainly looks good on paper: Not only are we talking Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, but it also comes with a 3.1.2-channel driver configuration, which means the soundbar’s height effects are achieved through actual up-firing drivers rather than virtualization. The diminutive Eclair also comes with a compact subwoofer that’s designed for solid but not “teeth-rattling” bass, while its rounded, fabric-covered design gives the soundbar a homey feel. Indeed, we think the Eclair might be a perfect soundbar for a bedroom, and the idea of watching a movie with Dolby Atmos while snuggled in bed sounds enticing.

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