Simon’s gift picks: 2012 holiday gift guide

So, I’ve been drooling over connected home gadgets for the last couple of months. Now that the holidays are here, I can hold my love of friends and family hostage until they buy me these expensive presents, instead of just forlornly posting them to Pinterest. I kid! I would just as soon buy any of these for my parents if I had any inkling that they would actually use them. That said, if you've been having trouble finding a present for that someone who seems to have every techno-doodad on the planet, I think you'll find some helpful suggestions in this wishlist.

Nest Thermostat

Nest Thermostat has been around for awhile, but the second-generation model just came out in October, and it’s more awesome than ever. The Wi-Fi-connected device replaces your home’s usual thermostat, and lets you remotely control it from your iOS device. Though you can manually set timers, the real magic is in how Nest naturally learns your habits based on when you make adjustments, and when you leave the house. Although that sounds like it’s mostly just for convenience, the system also helps you save power by showing a little leaf when you’re being green.


Dropcam is a quick and easy home security system that lets you see what’s going on at home through an iOS app. The Dropcam units themselves plug into the home’s Wi-Fi, and have speakers built into them so they can be used as webcams in a pinch. There’s a cloud service available for the system that, with a subscription, enables owners to quickly look through event and activity history and quickly see stored video from those periods.


WeMo is a great general home automation system. You plug these little thing into power sockets around your house, then plug your lights (or other electronics) into those units. You can then turn those appliances on and off from your phone, or, if you pick up the WeMo motion sensor, you can have them automatically turn on with certain triggers. As a bonus, WeMo has hooks for IFTTT, which means you can have a text message sent to your phone when that motion sensor goes off, for example.

  • $49.99 - WeMo Switch - Buy now
  • $99.99 - WeMo Switch and Motion Sensor- Buy now


Sonos remains the de facto standard in connected home audio. They have a wide range of Wi-Fi enabled speakers with companion iOS app that not only provide quick access to your iTunes library, but also a bunch of popular streaming services. With the Sonos app, you can quickly shift music from one room to the next, control playback, and change the volume from your device.

Honorable mentions go out to a few projects that aren’t available yet, like Lockitron, Lifx, Kick, and Stick N Find.

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