The votes have been cast. The results have been counted. The time has come to announce the winners of the inaugural Ambient Awards.
Last month we revealed eight of the categories and all the hopeful nominees. Together with our esteemed panel of judges ‚Äď and many hours of fierce debating later ‚Äď we did the seemingly-impossible and selected the winners. As for the ninth category ‚Äď Smart Home Product of the Year ‚Äď that one was kept under wraps, but it‚Äôs the one we‚Äôll be kicking off with.
Roll on to see the winners and Highly Commended of 2018, but first a huge congratulations to everyone nominated.
Let‚Äôs get to it‚Ä¶
Smart Home Product of the Year
This is the big one, and it‚Äôs the only category where we allowed our judges to nominate names not on the ballot. However, after much consideration it was clear that one product has impressed us more than any other in 2018: the Google Home Hub.
It may be dwarfed in size by other smart speakers, but Google‚Äôs screen-toting speaker strikes the perfect balance of design and features, while giving the Google Assistant the face it always deserved. Its attention to privacy ‚Äď it‚Äôs the only Smart Display without a camera ‚Äď also scored it points in a year where tech companies like Google are under more scrutiny than ever.
Smart Speaker of the Year
The Google Home Hub does a lot, but purely as a dedicated speaker, the Sonos One won for 2018. Quite simply, the Sonos One offers one of the best third-party Alexa experiences, in one of the best sounding speakers reasonable money can buy. Punchy but balanced, it‚Äôs Sonos‚Äô versatile sound through and through, wrapped together with the leading smart home assistant.
Highly commended: Google Home Hub
It doesn‚Äôt touch Sonos on sound, but Google‚Äôs dinky smart display deserves plenty of plaudits as a superb all-rounder, proving why screens still have a place in the age of voice.
Smart Home Platform of the Year
In 2018 Alexa and Google Assistant have been trading blows like nobody‚Äôs business ‚Äď but while Google has won some battles, it‚Äôs Amazon that won the war. Alexa has not only become smarter in 2018, but more versatile and easy to use, and progressing in its quest for ambient computing. When it comes to fitting into the smart home, Alexa still holds the most power.
Highly commended: Google Assistant
It had to be, didn‚Äôt it? And next year, things may well be reversed. This year Google has been aggressive in closing the gap with Alexa, adding more brains, more integrations and more power in the smart home.
Home Entertainment Tech of the Year
Amazon won the living room this year with the Fire TV Stick 4K. It‚Äôs hard to understate just how much bang Amazon‚Äôs dongle gives you for its buck. It‚Äôs the best TV streaming device dongle you can buy. End of.
Highly commended: Sonos Beam
A very close runner-up, the Sonos Beam brought the soundbar into the smart home era. Simple, powerful, easy to use ‚Äď it‚Äôs a soundbar with some real charm.
Smart Lighting Platform of the Year
What was once a humble Kickstarted smart bulb has earned the crown for the best smart light platform of 2018 (dreams can come true, kids!). Fast setup. Easy to use. Loads of integrations and a dreamy app. Best of all? No need for a hub. That‚Äôs what we all want in a smart bulb, right?
Highly commended: Philips Hue
The king of smart lighting is still going strong, and 2018 has seen the company roll out even more smart lights that had us beaming with delight.
Home Security Tech of the Year
Nest earned our top award for home security by fixing the pain points and offering a package that makes security easier and smarter. Once we started using it, we didn‚Äôt want to go back ‚Äď and the judges agreed. Expensive? A bit, but the Secure does it all. It‚Äôs the system to beat.
Highly commended: Arlo Pro 2
As far as smart security cameras go, the Arlo Pro 2 is the best we‚Äôve reviewed, making it an easy runner-up choice here.
Smart Home Innovation of the Year
It‚Äôs hard to choose a winner in a category filled with unique and brilliant ideas, but none impressed us more than the Vivint Streety app. Forget the silly name, Vivint‚Äôs app lets neighbours share their security camera and doorbell cameras with one another, should a break-in happen. Potentially creepy? Maybe. Possible godsend? Without a doubt.
Highly commended: Samsung QLED Ambient Mode
In 2018 Samsung‚Äôs new Ambient Mode gave TVs more camouflage than Waldo at a candy cane factory, letting them seamlessly blend into the living room. Hey, where‚Äôd it go?
Smart Home Design of the Year
Samsung does, however, get the top gong for design ‚Äď its stunning Frame TV blew us away when we tested it out, proving the TV can harmoniously become part of the living room. If budget isn‚Äôt a word in your vocabulary, we challenge you to find a TV that looks‚Ä¶ well, less like a TV.
Highly commended: Bang & Olufsen's B&O Edge
This year Bang & Olufsen made a statement with a super-expensive round speaker that can live on the floor or be mounted to a wall. And get this, you can adjust the volume just by rolling it.
Smart Energy Product of the Year
The weather outside is frightful, but the Ecobee4 is so delightful ‚Äď and easily the best smart thermostat of 2018. Chock full of features, easy to use and impressively versatile, it‚Äôs also the only smart thermostat with Alexa built-in.
Highly commended: Honeywell Lyric T6
Compatible with all the big platforms ‚Äď not to mention being a smart thermostat you can install without professional help ‚Äď Honeywell's Lyric T6 is keeping Nest awake at night.