Welcome to the latest guide on Smart Tech Stuff. Today we’re looking into something which might impress you, and something many people don’t know is actually exists; smart bathroom mirrors.
We’ll cover what these things are, whether they’ve got any practical uses along with some recommendations for some of the better ones you can buy and install in your bathroom.
What exactly is a smart bathroom mirror?
There are two kinds of smart mirrors, which we’ll cover here.
A smart mirror is a regular, albeit generally high-quality mirror with other electronic smart features and functions. Lighting, audio, and even full-blown colour HD displays have been seen in this space. They’re available in many shapes, styles and orientations and offer everything from light and music up to something more like having a giant iPad or smart TV on your bathroom wall.
We all spend a bit of time getting reading in the bathroom mirror each day before work or school, or just relaxing and getting some me time. So why not bring the humble bathroom up to date with a bit of smart tech? (Unless you really want to escape your screen when in the bathroom). So what does your average smart mirror do?
The term smart mirror can refer to a variety of features that a mirror has (apart from just showing your reflection). A smart mirror may include some or all of the following:
- Ambient LED lighting – Normally front lighting and often some background ambient lighting, where the mirror can ‘glow’ and create different ambient effects.
- Front lighting – Ideal for shaving and applying makeup, many smart mirrors have excellent lighting to help in this department.
- Built-in speakers – If you’re tired of balancing your phone somewhere near the bath while you’re soaking to your favourite music, this is something you’ll enjoy.
- Demisters or ‘anti-fog’ – Ever have that thing where no matter how much you wipe your mirror, you can’t see your reflection for steam? This keeps your reflection as crisp as if you’d just walked in.
- Running video apps – Some of the more fancy smart mirrors run the Android operating system and allow you to play online video apps like Netflix.
The TWO types of smart bathroom mirror
There are really two main kinds of smart mirrors, with a whopping price difference (and range of functionality) between them.
1) Full smart screen Wifi mirrors
This is the most expensive and fully-featured smart mirror available. It will generally run Android and you’ll be able to do anything you can on a phone or tablet. You can do things like watch Netflix while you’re in the bath. This is the main focus of this guide.
They usually have a stronger backlight than normal screens so they’ll work in rooms where there’s a lot of bright light, as is the case with most bathroom settings.
Some smart mirrors have a borderless design which looks even more impressive when you push the remote button and the desktop appears.
Waterproof smart TVs have a reflective surface and come in a range of sizes from around 22″ upwards. You’ll generally find they’re 1080p.
2) Mirrors with basic smart features built-in
These more simple mirrors are a fraction of the cost and normally have lighting and a built-in speaker. You connect to them via your phone’s Bluetooth. While not technically a ‘smart mirror’, I’m including them in this list as they do have a Bluetooth speaker and can be connected to your smartphone.
Which one is the best?
Each one of these types of reflective surfaces has its pros and cons. The smart screen mirrors are proper smart TVs with all the functionality that comes with them, but they don’t offer any forward-facing lighting and they are expensive.
The basic kind is cheaper, come in a wider range of sizes and designs and have a clear mirror and better lighting. But they have basic features such as some simple touch control and a Bluetooth speaker.
Where can you install a smart mirror?
As well as the ‘smallest room in the house’ you can install your smart mirror in any humid area such as:
- In a steam room
- Next to the bath
- Near a hot tub
- In a wet room
- In a pool room
- Steamy kitchens!
Styles and sizes
Bathroom smart mirrors are available in a range of sizes and orientations of landscape or portrait. You can also find some with a circular or oval design, which looks incredible.
What are the benefits of getting a smart bathroom mirror?
Is it worth installing one of these in your home?
Ever get in the bath and you want to change the song on your phone? It’s always risky reaching over in case you get some water on it. Here’s some of the practical uses for a smart mirror.
Create a perfect ambient light
Modern bathroom lights are great. LED lighting gives us more light at drastically lower prices.
But they’re also incredibly bright.
If you just want to relax and soak in the bath, they can be a bit much. If you’ve not got a dimmer switch in your bathroom (or you fitted one like me and it didn’t work!) an ideal softer light can be achieved with a smart mirror. Especially the ones with the ‘glowing’ kind of lighting.
Either way, they’re less intense if you’re looking for a more chilled out light.
Play music without worrying about your phone
If you normally play your tunes via your phone when you’re in the bath, look for a smart mirror with a built-in Bluetooth speaker. The audio quality will be way better, filling the bathroom with your latest album and you can leave your phone somewhere safe.
Watch all kinds of streaming video content
Smart mirrors run a version of Android and will come with a range of apps. You can download more via the app store. This will include the usual ones such as Youtube and Netflix. There’s some more tips later on how to get the best from video on your vanity mirror.
Can you install these yourself, or is it better to get ‘the man’ out?
As smart mirrors need to be connected to your mains supply and require a mounting bracket installation, you’ll either need to be really good at DIY or put the call into your favourite tradesman. Most people will need to get these installed professionally, unless you’re ‘in the trade’ or just a dab-hand at do-it-yourself.
Most electricians should be able to fit a smart mirror quickly, safely and cheaply in your bathroom and for most people, this is the best way to go.
Surface mounting vs recess mounting
Speaking of installation, there are two ways you can go with the screen type mirrors. You can mount them on your tiles (so they stick out a bit) or they can be mounted inside a recess. This effect is definitely more impressive when you look at it because although they’re normally just over an inch thick, when mounted on the tiles, do stick out a little.
In-wall fitting would ideally have to be done during a refit of the bathroom, where a recess can be created in the plaster and it can be tiled around properly.
Aside from the extra planning, another downside with recess fitting is that depending on where the speakers are, you might get a slight reduction in the sound quality and volume.
What are the best ones to buy?
There’s a good range of mirrors in stock and available to buy at places like Amazon.
For some extremely stylish smart mirrors with lighting and speakers, try some of these.
You can see a full range of smart bathroom TV mirrors here.
Smart Bathroom Mirror Buyer’s Guide
Some essentials you’ll need to know before buying
Here are some of the things you should look for in your new smart mirror.
Problems with apps, and a good way around it
One issue I’ve seen people have with the TV sort of mirrors is with outdated apps or issues getting Amazon or Netflix to work. One thing that’s worth considering if you’re going to be watching a lot of streaming services on your bathroom TV is to pick up a Firestick or something similar.
This just plugs into the HDMI and isn’t reliant on an app within the mirror. It’s extra expensive if you’ve not got one but makes for a much better viewing experience.
Waterproof rating – is it up to the job?
Another big thing with wifi or bluetooth bathroom mirrors that sets them apart from regular TVs is of course the waterproof rating. Look for an IP rating of a minimum of IP66 to be sure your mirror is suitable for the wet, humid conditions in a bathroom and similar situations.
Steamy fun – can you use these in a sauna?
Yes. Smart mirrors can withstand the conditions of a steam room and they’re a great way to relax and listen to music, or watch Netflix.
Wait a minute: why are they more expensive than smart TVs?
For the price of a smart mirrors you can normally buy a really good branded smart TV. So what’s the deal? Why is there such a difference in price for the same size screen? One of the issues is in getting smart mirrors waterproof. This is no mean feat.
Do you have to buy a separate bracket?
No. Unlike buying a TV, Smart mirrors should come with everything you need to mount the mirror on your bathroom wall. (Except the tools, of course!) As we mentioned earlier however, this isn’t a job for the faint hearted as it involves drilling into your tiles as well as figuring out how to get power to the unit.
Do you get a remote control?
Yes. Just like a regular TV, smart mirrors do come with a remote. They are normally sealed and are fine with wet fingers or the occasional plunge in the bath (unlike a smartphone!)
How do these mirrors prevent build-up of steam?
Most smart mirrors have built-in demisters. They work by gently heating the mirror’s surface which is highly effective at preventing a fogging of the reflective surface.
It’s often done with the heat from the lighting, which saves money and makes use of existing heat transfer. You’ll need to turn it on a few minutes before running the hot water to give it a chance to heat up, ideally.
Brands to look out for
Some Quick ‘n’ Handy FAQs
How do you install apps on a bathroom mirror?
You know you’re in the future when you want to install Netflix on your shaving mirror. It’s important to get this bit right. You’ve got to install apps via the app store within the TV, rather than via a browser.
How do smart screen mirrors work?
The best way to think of the full-blown smart mirror is that it’s a highly waterproofed smart TV with a very reflective surface. When the ‘TV’ is off, it just looks like a mirror.
How much does a decent smart mirror cost?
Android bathroom mirrors will generally cost around £500 depending on the size. There aren’t many huge brands making these mirrors so far but there are a number of lesser known brands selling these on Amazon. Normally this is a red flag but there are a decent number of real user reviews and they are largely positive.
Is the mirror itself any good?
With all this talk of audio, apps and smart tech, you might be wondering if the TV variety actually make for good mirrors. Obviously the more simple kind of smart mirrors this isn’t an issue, but what about the TV’s? Are they a ‘proper’ mirror? Yes, the surface is completely different to a regular TV and when they’re turned off you aren’t making any compromises on your mirror.
Thanks for reading
If you have any questions about this kind of mirror, fitting or how to use them please let us know in the comments, or get in touch over email.