Posted on November 24, 2015 by Ben Taylor
This Brand is Best Equipped to Become the Smart Home King
Sixteen years after the Disney Channel released the spooky, made-for-TV movie “Smart House,” the film now seems positively prophetic. Complete with voice commands, temperature control and a pleasant, Siri-like response system, Disney nailed several of the next decade’s tech breakthroughs. (Well, except for the lock-all-the-doors-and-windows-against-the-family’s-will part, we hope.) It’s as if the filmmakers knew we’d get Nest, Google Now and Apple TV in just a few short years.
As the smart home becomes a reality, SpecOut took a step back to see which brands are best equipped to make the full “connected home” transition. Put another way, we wanted to determine which manufacturer currently rules the home across all its rooms — from the living room to the kitchen, from the bedroom to the garage. Note that we’re not concerned with the actual smart home technology for this analysis — we’re simply interested in which brand has the best overall home products to date.
Before we get to fridges and washing machines, however, let’s start with the smartphone, which will likely remain the smart home remote control for the foreseeable future. The following visualization breaks down average expert review scores for each brand, normalized on a 0.0 to 5.0 scale. For expert reviews, we aggregated scores from CNET, PC World, PC Magazine, LAPTOP Mag and WIRED.
Among the most popular brands, Apple ranks near the top*, while Google and Sony fare a bit better than average. Microsoft and LG rank near the bottom of the list, though it should be noted that LG’s flagship phone — the G4 — received a perfect score of 5.0. Several of the company’s mid-range handsets brought down the brand’s average.
*Note that smaller brands like Silent Circle and Meizu had only two phones with enough reviews to include, which makes their average scores less reliable. For this reason, we’ll focus on the brands with dozens of well-reviewed models.
Suppose, however, that you opt to use a tablet to control your home instead:
Here, we see a similar spread, with Apple and Sony performing well, Samsung ranking about average and LG near the bottom. The biggest difference? Microsoft jumps way up on the strength of its innovative Surface line.
So it seems Apple has a strong case in the remote control department, but that advantage quickly fades when we look at the home appliances themselves. Because the same experts don’t rate appliances, we turned to J.D. Power to source our appliance brand ratings. Let’s start with refrigerators:
While the popular Sub-Zero brand grabs the top placement, Samsung and LG snag the second and third spots. Note that Apple, Google, Sony and Microsoft do not make refrigerators — at least not yet.
Next, let’s look at washers and dryers:
For washers, Samsung notches its first outright win, while LG earns first place in the dryers comparison. For both categories, the two tech titans are the top scorers, outperforming home appliance mainstays like GE and Kenmore.
By now, it seems clear this is a battle between Samsung and LG, the only two manufacturers with products that span from home appliances to personal devices. With this in mind, we took a look at each brand’s overall scores across all home product categories:
The two brands score about equally well for most consumer electronics — like speakers and laptops — but the clear winner overall is Samsung. The company simply covers more product categories, and also boasts easy wins in a handful of areas, like ovens, TVs and tablets.
Naturally, this is mostly a theoretical exercise. Simply having the best products across the home doesn’t mean a company will dominate the smart home space in years to come. You could also make the case for buying Apple mobile devices and LG home appliances — a smart combo that plays to each company’s strengths.
But if there’s one company that’s currently got the home covered, both in volume and quality, the experts agree: It’s Samsung. Let’s just hope the Korean manufacturer can transition to the smart home better than the Cooper family from “Smart House.”