Welcome to the latest edition of iDB’s ongoing Gift Ideas series, where we provide curated roundups of some of our favorite products. Throughout the year we cover and test a number of devices and accessories, so we decided to use that experience to help those searching for the perfect present. Today’s roundup is focused on gift ideas that help make homes smarter.
Amazon’s smart Echo speaker with Alex Voice Service is one of the few breakout tech products this year. It can play music from various streaming services, provide sports scores, news, and weather reports, order products using Amazon’s Prime service, and control various compatible smart devices around your house—all via voice commands from across the room. If you want to give the gift of a smarter home, the Echo is a great place to start.
You can buy the Amazon Echo for $140 (sale price).
Nest Smart Thermostat
The Nest is another cornerstone smart home device that makes for a great present. The connected thermostat replaces old HVAC control panels with a beautiful round device that features a large vibrant screen, auto-scheduling, Wi-Fi connectivity for remote control from a smartphone or third-party hardware like Amazon’s Alexa, and various energy-saving features. It’s easy to install, easy to use, and it saves you money. Yeah, they’re going to love it.
Alternative: the Ecobee3 is another popular smart thermostat that has some special [HomeKit] features for folks with iPhones.
Philips Hue Starter Kit
If you think these other smart devices might be too intimidating for the person you’re shopping for, consider the Philips Hue. Simply connect the bridge to your Wi-Fi network, plug in the Hue LED light bulbs, download the Hue app to your smartphone, and you’re all set. You can choose from 16 million colors, sync your lights with music, movies and games, and create scenes to activate with a single touch. This is the 3rd-gen kit that works with Amazon Alexa and Apple’s HomeKit.
August Smart Lock
Yes, even door locks are getting smarter these days. The August Smart Lock auto-unlocks as you approach it and auto-locks behind you via your smartphone, and you can pass along these privileges to other folks like the dog-walker or babysitter at anytime. It’s compatible with most standard deadbolt locks and it works with both Amazon’s Alexa and HomeKit for voice control and status updates.
iDevices Switch Wi-Fi Smart Plug
If you just want to help them dip their toes in the smart home pool, consider getting them the iDevices Switch Smart Plug. There’s no hubs or subscriptions. All you need is the Switch, a Wi-Fi network and an iPhone or Android device for setup. Plug virtually any appliance into the Switch and control it with your smartphone, or your voice—thanks to Alexa and HomeKit support. It also has handy features like a customizable, glowing LED strip and energy tracking.
Canary All-in-One Home Security Device
There are a lot of connected security cameras on the market, but my personal favorite is the Canary All-in-One. It features crystal-clear 1080p HD streaming via a wide angle lens, sharp night vision and high quality audio. It also has a 90+ dB siren, motion-activated recording and push notifications, and auto-arm/disarm based on your location. Plus it can monitor the air quality, temperature and humidity in your home. This thing does it all, and does it all well.
Eero Home Wi-Fi System
Give the gift of fast, reliable Wi-Fi. The Eero Wi-Fi system replaces your standard wireless router and range extenders with tiny base stations that can blanket 1,000 square feet with gigabit Wi-Fi service. No more dead zones. It’s extremely easy to set up, gets regular automatic updates for constant improvement and it even works with Alexa. This particular package includes 3 eeros, which should cover the typical home.
Logitech Harmony Ultimate One Remote
A good universal remote always makes for a great gift, and it doesn’t get much better than the Logitech Harmony Ultimate One. It features a swipe and tap color touch screen, can control up to 15 IR devices, is compatible with more than 225K devices, and setup is an absolute breeze with the Harmony software. Controls everything from your TV, to satellite/cable, smart appliances, and more.
You can buy the Logitech Harmony Ultimate One for $100 (sale price).
Alternate: if the Ultimate One’s price goes back up, we like the lower-end Harmony 650 for $50.
Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Do away with the annoying beeping of a smoke alarm with dead batteries, or worrying about the conditions in your home when on vacation. The Nest Protect will send your smartphone notifications when its batteries are running low or if it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. You can even shut down the alarm from your smartphone. I know the Nest got some bad PR early on due to a recall, but this is the second-gen model and it has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, on nearly 4K reviews.
iRobot Roomba 650 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
Finally, you can’t have a smart home without a bunch of robots running around. Perhaps the most useful, least-intimidating robot is the robotic vacuum cleaner, and for this we really like the Roomba 650. Actually I should say, everyone likes the Roomba 650—it has a 4.6 star rating on Amazon on 3900 reviews. It uses a full suite of sensors to navigate and adapt to your changing home, has a 3-stage cleaning system of brushes and powerful suction, and it even automatically docks and recharges itself. Creepy.
Also be sure to check out our other gift idea roundups:
- 10 great gift ideas for iPhone users
- 10 great gift ideas for iPad users
- 10 great gift ideas for Apple TV users
- 10 great gift ideas for Apple Watch owners
- 10 great gift ideas for MacBook users
- 10 great gift ideas for iMac users
- 10 great gift ideas for iPhone photographers
- 10 great gift ideas for fitness geeks
- 10 great gift ideas for high-tech chefs
- 10 great gift ideas for travelers