Smart home tech wasn't super mainstream a few short years ago, but it now accounts for some of the most popular consumer gadgets on the market. With convenient app and voice controls through Alexa, HomeKit, and the Google Assistant, you can turn on your light bulbs or shut down a smart plug, anytime and anywhere. Here's our guide to the best smart home gift ideas for the beginner on your list.
Perfect smart home companion
The Google Nest Hub is tiny, adorable, and one of our favorite smart home gadgets of the year. Its seven-inch LCD is a joy to look at, the Google Assistant is just as powerful as ever, and the helpful Home View feature gives you a central location for monitoring all of your other smart home tech.
Pays for itself
One of the most important smart home gadgets you can buy is the ecobee SmartThermostat. It's a smart thermostat that you can control via your phone, and the more you use it, the more it learns about your energy usage to help save money on your monthly energy bill. It works with HomeKit, Alexa, and the Google Assistant, sports a sleek design, and easy installation takes 30 minutes or less.
If you live in the Apple ecosystem, the HomePod is a smart home must-have. Available in white and space gray, the HomePod kicks out phenomenal sound, supports voice commands with Siri, and also acts as a HomeKit hub, enabling out of home control for all of your accessories.
A smart home essential
Philips' Hue Lights are the go-to option for many smart home enthusiasts, and if you've yet to get in the smart lighting game, this starter pack is a great first purchase. It includes two A19 bulbs and the Hue hub that you need to control them wirelessly. You don't get any fancy colors with this package, but you can dim the lights and schedule them to turn on and off automatically.
Small but mighty
Own a lot of Alexa devices or want to check out this whole smart speaker thing for yourself? Either way, it's hard to say no to the Echo Dot. The latest fourth-generation model has a fantastic fabric orb design, the best speakers of any Echo Dot yet, and has all the power of Alexa in a tiny form factor that won't put too big of a dent in your wallet.
21st century doorbell
The Nest Hello isn't the most affordable video doorbell on the market, but it is plenty smart. It's pretty easy to install, has excellent video quality, and can send off smart notifications to all your devices when it sees that someone's at the door. Recently, it got support for two-way talking using the Google Assistant. Just remember that you'll need a Nest Aware subscription for access to all of the smart features.
Keep an eye on things
One of the most powerful smart security cameras on the market is Arlo's Pro 3 Camera System. Arlo Pro 3 records in 2K high definition, is weather-resistant, supports two-way audio, sends alerts when it detects motion and sound, and so much more. This package includes the base station and two wire-free cameras. You can use it indoors or outdoors and add additional cameras down the road if you want more.
The most powerful Echo
The Amazon Echo Show is one of the biggest and best smart displays around. It has a gorgeous 10.1-inch HD screen, incredibly impressive speakers, and support for video services like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. If you're deep in the Alexa/Amazon ecosystem, this is a fantastic addition that we think you'll have a lot of fun using.
The door lock you deserve
The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is, without a doubt, one of the most advanced smart locks on the market. It can be controlled remotely from virtually anywhere, supports sharing with friends, and continuously tracks all activity with a 24/7 feed accessible via the August app. It can even automatically lock as you leave the house and unlock when it detects you're approaching it.
Get a few of these
The Wemo Wi-Fi Smart is one of our favorites as it plays nicely with the Google Assistant, Alexa, or HomeKit via Siri. The Wemo smart plug supports scheduling that automatically turns on and off at certain times, and thanks to its compact size, you can have two stacked on top of each other in most outlets.
Plays well with others
The Sonos One is one of the most versatile smart speakers on the market. It has Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant built-in for convenient voice controls, plus it has AirPlay 2. It works with just about every music/podcast streaming service imaginable, can be used as a standalone speaker, paired with another Sonos One for dual surround sound, or added as part of a home theater system with the Sonos Beam.
Spruce it up
Another great piece of smart tech from Philips is the company's Lightstrip Plus. As the name suggests, this is an 80-inch strip of LED lights that you can put pretty much anywhere. They can show off millions of colors, are controllable via your phone or favorite smart assistant, and can do things like light up green when your favorite team scores or go red if an alarm goes off.
We've picked up a lot of smart home tech over the last couple of years, but without a doubt, the Google Nest Hub is one that's stood out as something special. It's far from the only Google Assistant smart device on the market, but the unique seven-inch display makes voice queries come to life with additional details that you don't get with a speaker.
The Google Nest Hub is there to answer questions, from general knowledge to sports scores. You can stream YouTube videos on-demand, and it offers easy access to smart home controls for smart lights, switches, and thermostats. Tying all of this together is the whimsical design with various colors that match almost any decor.
Alternatively, if you or your giftee is someone that lives and breathes Apple, you might be happier with something like the HomePod. Apple's HomePod is expensive and lacks a display, but what it does offer is incredibly impressive sound. When it comes to smart speakers, this is easily one of the best-sounding you can buy, and with support for Apple Music right out of the box, you can summon millions of songs at will.
Along with that, it also comes with a unique design, Home Theater Mode, Stereo Pairing with other HomePods, and built-in Siri support. The HomePod also acts as a HomeKit hub, enabling remote, out of home controls, and automation for all of your HomeKit devices.
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Christopher spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit and the Home app. Whether it is installing smart light switches, testing the latest door locks, or automating his households daily routines, Christopher has done it all.