Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are both much more established in the market, but Microsoft's Cortana is gradually growing. Of course, Cortana is much more than just a smart home assistant, so in some areas it has the leg up on Alexa in particular.
Cortana is also platform agnostic. You can interact with it on Windows 10, iOS and Android, so it really doesn't matter what your preference is — try using Google Assistant or Apple Siri on your Windows 10 PC.
Cortana's only real drawback is the limited availability of smart home features. Right now, if you're not in North America, you're pretty much out of luck. But if you are, here's all the awesome stuff you can use.
The only smart speaker you can buy right now with Cortana integration, but also only costs $99. The speaker part is superb, harman/kardon's hardware both looks and sounds excellent. So you can definitely use it for music.
The Invoke has full access to the Cortana smart home skills which means any device you can hook Cortana up to you can control in your home with your voice. Ask Cortana to turn on the lights or turn the thermostat up and it will oblige.
Johnson Controls Glas
The Johnson Controls Glas is a smart thermostat that not only harnesses the power of Cortana — and is pretty much the best-looking thermostat you'll find.
The Glas looks downright futuristic with its translucent display, and it'll be packed with features for not only warming and cooling your home, but monitoring your energy use. It's not yet on sale, but pre-orders are slated to begin sometime in Spring 2018.
SmartThings is a smart home system that has both its own hardware and seamlessly integrates with that from other companies.
And Cortana integrates with SmartThings, so it opens up a whole world of possibilities.
To get started you need the $100 hub, but there are various other bundles you can acquire which include things like smart plugs and motion sensors.
Nest is probably the one smart thermostat product most people recognize, and thankfully Cortana has support for the Works with Nest program built in.
Once you've connected your Nest account with Cortana on your PC or smartphone, you can use voice control to interact with your thermostat.
The latest version costs around $220 and is available in a range of different finishes to suit your home decor.
Philips Hue is an incredible smart lighting system that basically works with everything. Cortana can directly interact with it, but there are official apps and third-party apps alike available across iOS, Android and Windows.
Hue also has a range of different styles and fitments available, so it's the one system you can rely on being able to kit out your home with, whatever you need. And for gamers, Razer and Philips have just announced a partnership to integrate Chroma with Hue. So your game room can light up in perfect harmony.
Getting started with Hue is fairly affordable, too, with a basic white light kit available for around $70.
Wink is another smart home system that incorporates lighting, but also goes beyond that into home security, too.
There's a hub at the center of everything to which you can pair bulbs, sensors, alarms and more. For around $200 you can get a home security starter kit, or at $115 get started with lighting instead.
Insteon has been Windows-friendly for a few years now so it's great to see the company's products supporting Cortana integration.
You're not getting bulbs or anything with Insteon, rather it's a system designed to help you automate your home. The starter kit is around $100 with no monthly fees. From there you've got a wide ecosystem of sensors and add-ons you can connect to the hub to automate your entire home.
Ecobee hasn't ever officially supported Windows, but thanks to excellent third-party support its a smart thermostat we recommend highly. What is official is Cortana integration, so you can use voice actions on your Invoke, phone or PC to interact with your thermostat.
Ecobee also makes some pretty bold claims about being able to help you save money on your heating and cooling bills, in part thanks to room sensors that can help you manage hot and cold spots so you're not unnecessarily heating or cooling any one part of your home.
The new Ecobee 4 is around $240, but the previous generation products are still available for quite a bit less.
Honeywell has a couple of smart thermostats that offer Cortana integration: The Lyric and the Total Connect Comfort.
The Lyric can be had around $100, which makes it excellent value, and is still packed with smart features like temperature alerts, 7-day programming which includes geofencing and a neat feature that learns how long it takes to heat to the desired temperature then automatically runs a program to achieve it.
TP-Link has a range of smart home accessories under its Kasa brand that while requiring an iOS or Android device to set up, has full Cortana integration from there on out.
The Kasa ecosystem includes light switches, bulbs, smart plugs and cameras. Besides being able to activate all of the with Cortana and your voice, the companion app can be used to set smart programs for things to turn on and off without you needing to talk or lift a finger.
It's a very affordable system to get into as well. A smart plug, for example, is just $24.
Geeni's products have some neat features that work with Cortana. Their Wi-Fi-connected surge-protected smart power strip, for example, allows you to name and control outlets individually or as a single combined outlet.
There's no hub required, just a connection to your home network. And the products are affordable, too, with the power strip costing just $40. There are also bulbs and individual wall outlets under $20.
LIFX is another smart lighting system that doesn't require a hub and has some quite affordable bulbs. The official app for Windows 10 may no longer be supported, but with Cortana you can still interact with your lights with ease.
LIFX has a variety of different bulbs starting with the $25 dimmable white bulb, but also has color changing options as well as LED strips to get the lighting setup of your dreams just right.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine