The Best Smart Home Devices to Gift for the Holidays 2018
Table of Contents
- 1 What are smart home devices?
- 2 Smart Kitchen Appliances
- 3 Smart Home Speakers
- 4 Smart home automation hubs
- 5 Logitech Harmony Elite
- 6 Smart Plugs
- 7 Smart Home Surveillance Cameras
- 8 Smart Locks and Home Security Systems
- 9 Smart Heating and Cooling
- 10 Smart Lighting
- 11 Smart Vacuums
Gift your loved ones a smart home device this holiday season. It does not matter if you are looking for a smart security camera, connected light bulb, or a smart speaker, get the best smart home devices.
What are smart home devices?
What if all the devices in your life could connect to the internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands? It’s not science fiction; it’s the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s a key component of home automation and smart homes.
Home automation is exactly what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command). Some activities, like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your whim, are simple and relatively inexpensive. Others, like advanced surveillance cameras, may require a more serious investment of time and money.
There are many smart home product categories, so you can control everything from lights and temperature to locks and security in your home. They also happen to make fantastic gifts, whether you’re shopping for the holidays or buying a housewarming present. Here’s a rundown of the best products we’ve tested for every room of the house.
Smart Kitchen Appliances
If you love cooking and technology, connected appliances and kitchen devices are the ideal gadgets for your smart home. They can automate parts of the cooking process, keep you updated on the progress of your food, or simply make sure you’re following a recipe correctly.
Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Wi-Fi
If you’re interested in sous vide cooking—where food sealed in plastic is immersed in a hot bath to cook to perfection—you need an immersion circulator to get started. The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker uses Wi-Fi connectivity so you control it from anywhere, even when you’re not home. A big dial lets you set the desired temperature to within a tenth of a degree, display shows the set and current water temperature, and an app keeps you notified of the cooking process every step of the way. It makes cooking sous vide as simple as can be.
For a different approach to sous vide cooking that doesn’t use water, check out the Cinder Grill.
Wireless Perfect Bake Pro Smart Kitchen Scale and Recipe App
The Perfect Bake Pro takes out the guesswork and risk when baking. It’s a baking scale connected to an app to help newbies (and seasoned bakers alike) get everything just right when it comes to kitchen chemistry. Just follow the app as the scale measures everything you add. As long as you can tell salt from sugar, you’re probably going to be just fine.
See The Best Smart Kitchen Appliances for more connected cooking gear.
Traeger Timberline 1300 Pellet Grill
Traeger has been manufacturing pellet grills for thirty years, but the Timberline 1300 is its first connected model, and it’s a beauty. Designed using input from longtime customers and professional pit bosses, the Timberline 1300 features Wi-Fi, which allows you to control cooking temperatures, set timers, and access a huge database of recipes from anywhere using your mobile device and a thoughtfully designed app. It also uses a patented smoke delivery system to ensure food gets the right amount of smoke and is cooked perfectly every time.
Check out The Best Gadgets for High-Tech Grilling for more.
Smart Home Speakers
As our homes get smarter, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri have become our reliable digital helpers, living inside our devices and jumping at our spoken commands to set timers, play music, and teach kids how to spell those difficult homework words.
Amazon Echo (2nd Generation)
Amazon’s original Alexa-powered speaker has become the first smart home product for millions of people around the world. This sequel is even better.
It’s affordable, yet stylish, with new fabric finishes to fit your home. And Amazon is always upgrading Alexa, especially now that the Apple HomePod and Google Home are directly competing with the Echo speaker family.
The Echo integrates with your Amazon account, after which you can ask it to do things like order food, and, of course, control your other smart home devices – making it a super useful addition to your smart home devices list. On top of that, it’s well-designed and should suit any home.
For more, check out The Best Smart Speakers.
Smart home automation hubs
Smart home automation hubs are a one-stop solution for unifying your connected gadgets and controlling them from one app, instead of many.
Wink Hub 2
The best choice of a smart home hub is the Wink Hub 2.
The device is great for a number of reasons, namely that it supports a huge range of standards – including Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Kidde, and Lutron Clear Connect. It also works with Amazon’s Alexa, and IFTTT. Perhaps the only downsides are that the device does not have any USB ports or backup battery power, both of which appear on some other hubs.
Logitech Harmony Elite
Don’t like talking and prefer controlling things the old fashioned way: by pushing buttons? The Logitech Harmony Elite is the ultimate universal remote for a reason: it controls a lot more than just TV and stereo. The pricey unit connects with the included Harmony Home Hub to control other Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, or infrared devices in your house.
Read The Best Smart Home Automation Hubs for more options.
Smart plugs are an easy and affordable way to upgrade ordinary appliances, lighting, and any other electronics into smart home devices that you can control straight from your smartphone.
iHome iSP6X SmartPlug
The iHome iSP6X SmartPlug lets you easily control gadgets and appliances from your smartphone, while delivering an unparalleled level of third-party smart home integration. Not only does it support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, but it also works with Apple HomeKit, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink. It lacks energy monitoring but makes up for it with robust scheduling options, an intuitive app, and painless installation.
See The Best Smart Plugs for more.
Smart Home Surveillance Cameras
Home security is getting smarter. Now you can connect cameras to your smartphone, and view live footage from anywhere. From motion detection to night vision, you never have to miss what is happening while you’re away.
iSmartAlarm iCamera Keep Pro
The iCamera Keep Pro from iSmartAlarm ($199.99) is a full-featured home security camera that not only works as a standalone device, but can be incorporated into an iSmartAlarm DIY security system. The camera is full of useful features including a powerful 1080p image sensor, motion and sound detection, mechanical pan and tilt, time-lapse and event-triggered video recording, and a motion-tracking feature that allows the camera to follow a person around the room. Throw in free cloud storage, an SD card slot for local storage, and support for IFTTT integration, and you’ve got a killer indoor security cam.
Wyze Cam V2
WyzeCam has released an updated version of its budget-friendly security camera with a better sensor, as well as motion-tagging technology, which detects and outlines motion directly in its footage.
The best part is, like the original WyzeCam, the new version will still only cost $20. Although there’s been no official UK and AU pricing revealed yet, that converts to around £14/AU$25.
WyzeCam v2 is much like the original WyzeCam in most respects. It captures 1080p footage, comes with 14 days of free rolling cloud storage, allows you to create custom time-lapse videos and boasts continuous microSD recording
Check out The Best Home Security Cameras for more.
Skybell HD WiFi Doorbell Camera
A different take on the home security camera, the SkyBell HD is a video doorbell that lets you see and speak with whoever is outside. It may look like the original SkyBell Video Doorbell we reviewed back in 2015, but that’s where the similarities end. This version delivers highly detailed video at 1080p with color night vision and captures several seconds of footage prior to a triggered event. It also integrates with numerous third-party smart home devices and comes with free cloud storage for recorded video, a rarity in this category.
Head over to The Best Video Doorbells for more.
Smart Locks and Home Security Systems
A smart lock is arguably the most important part of a truly smart, connected home. Not only will it allow you to come and go as you please, it will also monitor who is entering and leaving your home while you’re away.
August Smart Lock Pro + Connect
The Smart Lock Pro + Connect is the latest offering from August Home, and as with the original August Smart Lock and HomeKit Enabled models, it’s a winner. This third-generation smart lock offers all the bells and whistles you get with the HomeKit model, and adds a few new features, including August’s DoorSense technology, Z-Wave compatibility, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s easy to install and can be controlled remotely or with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri voice commands, and it retains the sleek aesthetics of its siblings. It’s pricey, but it’s the best smart lock we’ve tested.
See The Best Smart Locks for more.
SimpliSafe Home Security System
If you prefer a DIY approach to smartening up your home security, check out the SimpliSafe Home Security System. SimpliSafe finds the sweet spot between a basic self-monitored DIY security system and a professionally installed and monitored solution. The system is easy to set up and use and keeps your home safe from intruders and environmental threats like fires and floods. It’s a seamless solution that succeeds quite well at what it sets out to do—secure your home simply and flexible, letting you monitor everything remotely with (or without) an affordable monthly plan.
See The Best Smart Home Security Systems for more.
Smart Heating and Cooling
Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
When we reviewed the Ecobee3 in 2015 it earned our Editors’ Choice for its sleek design, numerous features, and ease of use. We also loved the inclusion of a remote sensor to help reduce hot or cold spots in different rooms. We’re happy to report that the new Ecobee4 boasts all the same features as it predecessor, and more, thanks to the addition of built-in Amazon Alexa voice service capabilities. That means you can have the thermostat do everything that the Amazon Echo and its siblings can, such as control smart devices, shop, play music, and hear the latest news and weather, all using Alexa voice commands.
Check out The Best Smart Thermostats for more.
Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat has Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from phone, tablet, or PC. This latest generation also has a larger display and a few more sensors than its predecessors, in addition to geofencing support and a furnace monitor. If you find it a bit too pricey, Nest also offers the Thermostat E, which has most of the same smart features for $80 less.
You can now replace your standard incandescent bulb with a variety of connected solutions you can control with just a few taps on your smartphone or tablet.
Philips Hue Family
Want complete wireless supremacy over the lights in your home? The Philips Hue line delivers with bulbs that let you control not only the intensity of the light, but also the color. It can get pricey, to be sure, but the Hue ecosystem has been around long enough that it works with just about every other system out there, from Alexa, to IFTTT, to Siri (using the Philips Hue Bridge). Not interested in colorful lights but still want that incredible granular control over an all-white bulb? Philips has the Hue White coming in at an almost bargain price, at least for smart
bulbs. It even has bulbs you can use outdoors.
Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb White and Color
Lighting is a fun, accessible entry point in building a smart home, but smart bulbs—especially color-changing ones—cost a lot more than you might expect. That makes the $34.99 Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb White and Color an intriguing option. It doesn’t offer nearly as much in the way of third-party integration as the Philips Hue bulbs, but it lets you select from over 16 million colors, it doesn’t require a hub, and it supports voice commands via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Ecobee is the first company to embed Amazon Alexa in a light switch with its $99 Ecobee Switch+. The Switch+ is more than just a smart wall switch that connects to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled using a mobile app: It can do everything an Amazon Echo does, such as tell you the current news, weather and sports scores, play music, and control other smart home devices. It also works with Apple’s HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT applets, and the SmartThings Hub, and it will eventually double as a remote room sensor for an Ecobee thermostat.
Check out The Best Smart Light Bulbs for more connected lighting options.
Ecovacs Deebot N79S
Even if you hate cleaning, shelling out several hundred dollars for a robot vacuum can seem a little extravagant. But at $229, the Ecovacs Deebot N79S is relatively affordable and offers more for the price than any other vacuum we’ve tested. In addition to long battery life and manual steering, it supports features we typically see in far more expensive models such as app control and Amazon Alexa compatibility. It also delivers a stronger clean than other vacuums we’ve tested in this price range.
iRobot Roomba i7+
Robot vacuums get smarter with each generation, and iRobot’s Roomba i7+ might just be the most advanced model we’ve tested to date. In addition to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, multistory mapping, and adaptive camera-based navigation that cleans better as it learns your home’s layout, it’s the only vacuum we’ve tested that can empty its own dustbin. At $949.99 it’s one of the most expensive models we’ve seen, but it’s also the only robot vacuum out there that doesn’t require you to lift a finger. And isn’t that why you want one in the first place?
iRobot Braava Jet 240
A vacuuming robot isn’t enough these days. Don’t you want your floors mopped clean as well? iRobot’s relatively inexpensive Braava Jet 240 will do exactly that. It’s small, quiet, and perfect for apartment dwellers without a lot of floor space or time to clean it when they get home. It sprays a jet of water to clean deep, and can even do damp sweeping, like a Swiffer.
Read The Best Robot Vacuums for more.