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Scratching your head trying to work out what to get your nerdiest friends and family this Christmas? Perhaps you should get them some smart home automation gifts? Here’s seven home automation products that we recommend.

The best part? Most of the items on this list won’t break the bank.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is an interesting looking piece of kit. At first glance, it looks more like a prop from the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation than something you can get shipped to your home with two-day delivery. But beyond its form, its function is utterly futuristic How Amazon Echo Can Make Your Home A Smart Home How Amazon Echo Can Make Your Home A Smart Home Smart home tech is still in its early days, but a new product from Amazon called "Echo" may help bring it into the mainstream. Read More .

Essentially, it’s a computer you can talk to. Called Alexa.

Ask it to play some music, and it will. Alexa can tell you the latest football scores, and order you some cup-noodles from Amazon grocery. It can tell you what’s on your agenda, and even give you directions. But even more impressively, it can control a huge range of smart home automation gear, including products from Samsung SmartThings, Belkin WeMo, Insteon and Philips Hue.

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Amazon Echo - Black Amazon Echo - Black Plays all your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice Buy Now At Amazon $179.99

Kannon Yamada reviewed it a few months back Amazon Echo Review and Giveaway Amazon Echo Review and Giveaway Amazon’s Echo offers a unique integration between voice recognition, personal assistant, home automation controls, and audio playback features for $179.99. Does the Echo break into new ground or can you do better elsewhere? Read More , and was sufficiently impressed with it. It costs less than you think, too. A unit will set you back $179.00 with free shipping.

Philips 456210 Hue White and Color Ambience Kit, 2nd Generation

We’re huge fans of Philips Hue here Light Your Home the Smart Way With Philips Hue Light Your Home the Smart Way With Philips Hue If you can afford the initial expenditure, you won't find a better-supported and more user-friendly smart lighting system on the market. Read More . For those yet to hear of it, the Philips Hue is essentially a range of networked LED lightbulbs connected to a central hub. In addition to being massively energy efficient (especially compared to the halogen-bulbs of yesteryear), they can also change color, and even be remotely controlled from a compatible Android and iOS smartphone.

PhilipsHue

The second generation of the Philips Hue Kit comes with some radically different changes. For starters, brightness has been increased from 600 lumens, to a retina-burning 800 lumens. It also includes support for Amazon Echo and Apple’s HomeKit Philips Hue Works With HomeKit: How To Make The Most Of It Philips Hue Works With HomeKit: How To Make The Most Of It Philips has finally gotten round to integrating HomeKit into their Hue lighting platform, and it's amazing. Here's what you need to know. Read More . The latter means you can control your lighting from your iPhone or iPad (running iOS 9 or newer).

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit, 3 A19 bulbs and a Bridge, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit, 3 A19 bulbs and a Bridge, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (hub required and included, Alexa device sold separately) Buy Now At Amazon $179.99

This basic starter kit comes with three bulbs and a hub, and can be bought on Amazon for $199.00.

Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation

The Google-owned Nest produce a lot of gear that gets us salivating. The latest generation of the Nest Learning Thermostat is no exception.

Essentially, it’s a thermostat which is remotely programmable and controllable. Using a compatible smartphone, you can control the temperature of your home from anywhere in the world. Coming home from work? Nest lets you crank up the heat, so you come back to a house that’s warm and toasty. Likewise, if you’re heading out for the day, you can turn off your heating, so you’re not paying to warm an empty house. They’re really quite versatile 13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Nest Thermostat 13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Nest Thermostat You may be surprised just how many little tricks you can accomplish with your new Nest thermostat! Read More .

NestThermostat

But what makes the Nest Thermostat especially awesome is that it can learn from you. Eventually, it’ll start heating and cooling the house without even asking you. Pretty convenient, you have to admit?

It’s simple to install a Nest Thermostat How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings If you've ever considered getting started with home automation, purchasing a Nest thermostat is the perfect way to start. In just a week of using it, we cut our energy consumption in half. Read More . If you get stuck, they have a 24/7 support line. A lot of plumbing and heating companies offer installation as a paid service, too.

Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately) Buy Now At Amazon $99.00

You can get a Nest Thermostat from Amazon for $249.00 with complimentary shipping. Other third-party vendors sell it for less, however.

WeMo Light Switch

If you want all the convenience of the Philips Hue system, but can’t afford its high price tag, you’re going to want to pay attention to this.

WeMo

The WeMo Light Switch embeds into your existing light system, and allows you to control it remotely through your smartphone. It even has support for IFTTT, meaning you can turn your lighting on-and-off when a condition is met, as well as Amazon Echo.

WeMo Light Switch, Wi-Fi enabled, Works with Amazon Alexa WeMo Light Switch, Wi-Fi enabled, Works with Amazon Alexa Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately) Buy Now At Amazon $43.95

For all this, you can expect to pay $36.98. No, that’s not a typo.

WeMo Insight Switch

Also from the Belkin WeMo stable is the Insight Switch. This is very similar to the previous item on this list. It’s WiFi enabled; it can be controlled through a smartphone, IFTTT, and Amazon Echo; and it sits on the cheaper end of the Smart Home spectrum.

WeMoSocket

But there’s one difference. While the WeMo Light Switch was simply for household illumination, the Insight Switch is for anything that you plug in. Want to turn on your television the moment you step through the door? With this, and a bit of IFTTT creativity, you can. Want to schedule your child’s night-light to turn on at 8PM? You can.

WeMo Light Switch, Wi-Fi enabled, Works with Amazon Alexa WeMo Light Switch, Wi-Fi enabled, Works with Amazon Alexa Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately) Buy Now At Amazon $43.95

The cost for this? A paltry $50.  Although, it’s worth pointing out there are a lot of competing products 6 Smart Plugs That Aren't Belkin WeMo 6 Smart Plugs That Aren't Belkin WeMo Read More , some of which cost much less.

Samsung Smart Things Hub

One of the biggest complaints I have when it comes to smart home automation tech is the vast, competing standards. There’s so much gear around, and so much of it isn’t compatible with each other.

The Samsung Smart Things hub goes some way to address this. It can connect with a wide range of Smart Home products, including those from Bose, Philips Hue, Sonos and more, and control them through the companion app.

There’s also a range of Samsung Smart Things products that work natively with the hub. The Smart Things Outlet is very similar to the WeMo Insight Switch, while the Motion Sensor and Arrival sensors will tell you when there’s an intruder in your house, or whether you’ve got houseguests at the front door.

It’s probably less than you think, too. The Nest Protect will set you back $99.00 on Amazon.

Did We Miss Anything?

Will you be getting a loved one some smart home automation gear this Christmas? Got any recommendations? Tell me about it in the comments section below.  

  1. Brian Craig
    December 17, 2015 at 6:50 am

    why doesn't my tv show some of my moviies when attempting to play them from my hard drive they either don't show at all on my hard drive or just as empty file can someone please explain

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