MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Everything seems to be getting smart these days.

Our kids. Our phones. Even our homes.

But does a smart home make for a better home? I found a local family to test some of the tech.

The Thomas family from Maple Heights let us come barreling into their home, setting up a whole bunch of these devices. Mom, Sonia, told me they are interested in smart home devices because "it's higher technology that we don't have."

But they haven't tried any before because "It's very costly."

But just to whet their appetite, we brought in 12 products, which Steve Van Dinter from Verizon installed. A WKYC intern recorded the whole process with the Google Pixel, which you use to control some of them.

We had the family test out everything from video doorbells, security cameras, remote and motion-controlled lights and thermostats.

For example, the Google Chrome and Mini, lets you control many of those products with your voice.

The Chromecast Ultra, lets you stream video devices to your TV.

"My goal is for you guys to sit down here and control everything in your home," said Steve.

The Google Home and Chromecast Ultra were the two products they were most interested in, followed by the Ring Doorbell, which lets you see who’s at your door.


The Google Home, which will run you about $130, and the Mini, which is less than $50, does, does just about everything, like giving you information simply by asking.

"What you can do when you’re cooking is say, 'Hey Google, what's the substitution for butter?'" explained Steve.

It also lets you control the devices in your home, which mom used from her basement, asking Google to peek in on her daughter’s room.

She did that with the Nest Cam Security camera which costs about $200.

There's also a broadcast feature, which you can control when you're away from home. Mom told the kids to clean up the house before she got home, which was quite a surprise when the kids heard it over the speaker in their room.

You can also tell it to turn appliances on and off, if you hook it to the WEMO Smart Plug. It costs $35.


The Chromecast Ultra, which will run you $70, lets you stream any of your favorite TV shows or music from places like YouTube or Spotify using your phone or with Google home.

Son, Jon, remotely called up singer Andrea Day on the TV. He could also control the volume on the TV from his phone.

"What we've got here is this hockey puck-like device you plug into the HDMI port at the back of the TV.”

And it was pretty easy to do. The whole process took less than 10 minutes.


The Ring Video Doorbell 2 costs about $200.

A motion sensor lets you see whomever comes to your door with a 1080HD camera, like the Google Pixel 2 Xl, which at Verizon costs a little more than $35 per month.

Dad, Leavester, said, "If I don't want to see them I don't have to answer the door. That's great."

It works day and night because it has built–in night vision, and even lets you talk to visitors over the doorbell's speaker.

The family said they didn't buy smart home products because they were too expensive. Everything they tried would cost them about $2,000, which actually is not bad considering there were 12 of them. But for all the time they spent with us, Steve Van Dinter had a big surprise. Verizon gave them all the products for free!

Here is more information on the Smart Home Products we tested:

Google Pixel 2 -

Ring Doorbell 2 -

Chromecast Ultra -

Google Home -

Google Home Mini -

Nest Thermostat E -

Canary Flex Security Camera -

Philips Hue Lights White Starter

Philips Motion Sensor -

Philips Hue Light Strip -

WeMo Smart Plug -

Nest Cam Video Camera -