Smart home products make terrific gifts, even for those who aren’t exactly tech-savvy. The following products make great gifts, require little setup, and are beneficial to boot.
Must Have Smart Products
You can’t go wrong with any of these amazing products. Some have been around a long time and have millions of users, while others only recently entered the market.
First introduced in late 2014, the Amazon Echo ($180/£150) remains a must-have smart product on the market. The Bluetooth speaker offers 360-degree omni-direction audio, allowing you to stream songs from Spotify or iTunes on your iPhone using the free app. It features Pandora and Audible built in. And yes, you can use it to stream music from Amazon’s Prime Music service.
But Amazon Echo is much more than just a speaker. It also houses an intelligent personal assistant called Alexa. Use the service to get answers to questions, hear the latest news and weather, or learn more about local businesses. You can also use Alexa to find sports scores and schedules and current traffic reports. Need a midnight pizza fix? Yes, Alexa can order food too.
If you’d rather stay away from the Amazon ecosystem, you should consider Alphabet’s Google Home ($129), which just arrived on the market this fall. Google Home features an integrated “high-excursion” speaker that’s supposed to deliver “crystal-clear highs and rich bass.”
Better still, multiple Google Home devices can be grouped together to enjoy the same song in every room. This feature is a big deal as Amazon speakers don’t communicate very well with one another.
Google Home is compatible with Google Music, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, and TuneIn. For those who have never had a YouTube Red subscription, Google offers a free six-month subscription with every Google Home purchase. You’ll need this subscription to listen to YouTube Music on the device.
Google Home also has a smart home component similar to what you’ll find on the Echo. Google Home works with Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT. There’s also compatibility with other Alphabet products, including Google Chromecast (see below) and Nest.
LIFX Smart Bulbs
With LIFX smart light bulbs, you can choose from between millions of colors or 1,000 shades of white. Best of all, LIFX’s set-up doesn’t require a hub, bridge, or extra hardware. Simply replace your existing bulbs and download the free LIFX app to get started.
These bulbs range in price considerably, from $30 for the LIFX White Range bulb to $60 for the all-in-one LIFX bulb. For $80, you can purchase a LIFX+ bulb, which helps to brighten your space, even in the dark using infrared.
The $35 Google Chromecast is a media streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port on your television. You can use it to stream video content from your mobile device to your TV. Chromecast works with iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Chromebook.
For those with a 4K television, consider the new Google Chromecast Ultra. Priced at $69, the Ultra does everything that the regular Google Chromecast does, except it’s ideally suited for televisions with picture qualities of up to 4K Ultra HD.
Gift Some Home Comfort
After a long day at work, it’s always nice to come home for some relaxation and comfort. The following smart products can truly make an everyday house into a smart home.
Nest Learning Thermostat
One of the most popular smart home devices remains the Nest Learning Thermostat ($249/£160/C$280), which first arrived on the scene nearly five years ago. Now owned by Google, this smart device offers an immediate benefit to homeowners: it will help lower your energy costs.
Central to all that Nest can do is its ability to monitor your coming and goings. As such, it can place anything from air conditioners and fans to heating units on “away” status whenever you leave your home. When you’re away from home, you can instruct the unit to turn devices off or adjust the temperature, thereby saving you a lot of money on day one.
Installing a Nest thermostat is relatively straightforward since it works with your home’s existing wiring. You can also find a Nest thermostat professional installer online.
Go With Netatmo
Netatmo offers useful smart home products that are simple to setup. Two of these make this list: the Healthy Home Coach and Personal Weather Station.
The Healthy Home Coach ($100/£90) measures the air quality in your home, including the temperature, humidity, and noise level. When there are problems, you’ll receive alerts via the Home Health app, plus recommendations to fix them.
Netatmo’s Personal Weather Station ($179/£100) measures indoor and outdoor temperatures, plus humidity, air quality, and pollution levels. When you want to take measuring to a new level, consider the add-on rain ($79) and wind gauge ($100).
Easy Home Security
You no longer have to hire an expensive home security service for peace of mind. Instead, use these simple-to-install DIY home security systems.
Ring Video Door Bell
The Ring Video Doorbell ($200/£130/C$206) allows you to see and speak with a visitor at your door from anywhere using your mobile device. Each Ring doorbell comes with an HD camera with night vision and intelligent motion detection.
For added security, you can purchase Ring’s optional video recording feature, which captures every activity detected by the motion sensors, including doorbell button presses. Ring stores the HD video in the cloud. It comes in various styles to match your tastes and home decor.
Skybell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell
The Skybell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell ($199) serves as both an outdoor video camera and a doorbell. The device features 1080p high-definition video and works in concert with IFTTT, Amazon Alexa, and Google’s Nest.
Google’s Nest Indoor Cam ($199/£114/C$199) features a modern design that is subtle enough to blend into the rest of your surroundings. Offering 1080p HD video, Nest operates when you’re away automatically using your phone’s location. With 24/7 live streaming, advanced night vision, and motion and sound alerts, Nest Cam offers home security no matter where you are in the world.
Never be cranky again with these excellent smart home products that have one goal: to make you have a more restful night.
Withings Aura Smart Sleep System
Tired of waking up to the sound of a loud buzzing alarm clock? Say hello to the Withings Aura ($300/£150). The bedside device offers optimized LED lighting that promotes the secretion of sleep hormones. When it’s time to wake, the Withings Aura gets ready for its grand finale by providing a simulated sunrise, which promises to leave you feeling energized and refreshed.
The Withings Aura also features a speaker, allowing you to listen to specially-engineered wake-up sound programs. With a Spotify Premium subscription, you’re able to access 20,000 web radio stations as well.
Few sleep trackers look as beautiful as the Sense ($149). The circular object interacts with the included Pill unit that attaches to your pillow. This combination works together to measure temperature, ambient lights, and noise to give you a complete sleep profile. The Sense features a smart alarm and 15 wake tones. It will begin waking you up gradually 30 minutes before your set time.
Like other solutions on our list, the Sense works with a free smartphone app, which it uses to track your sleeping habits. Each morning, the app provides you with a sleep score, which is calculated based on all the sensor data from your bedroom, as well as how you slept.
Over the long-term, you can use these daily sleep scores to make changes to your routine, thereby making your sleep time more efficient.
There are hundreds of great smart home products available on the market. The ones listed here make excellent gifts because of their simple setup and ease of use. You can’t go wrong with any of these, regardless of your budget.
Which of these smart products would you recommend to MakeUseOf readers? Let us know in the comments below.