They control every corner of our spaces, from our lights and wireless network to our front door and room temperatures. They crack down on security, and they change the way we interact with our home, too. And by and large, it’s all controlled via smartphone.
That makes the smart home lifestyle accessible to virtually everyone. Buying someone a smart-home gift isn’t that risky territory anymore, and there’s lots to choose from. Whether the person on your list has already bought into the connected home, or is just starting to “smarten” their lifestyle, we’ve got all the best (Internet of) Things for this holiday.
Philips Hue smart lights
The Philips Hue smart lights have been around for years, but now they’re a part of Apple’s HomeKit. You can use Siri to control the lights, and it works with other HomeKit products, like garage door openers, front door locks, thermostats and blinds. Just remember, to get Hue up and running with HomeKit, you’ll need the new square-shaped Philips Hue Bridge 2.0. Bulbs start at $15; $60 for the Bridge starter kit; $40 to upgrade from Bridge 1.0
Circle with Disney
Circle with Disney lets parents monitor and manage screen time on devices in their home network without the fuss of a complicated router. The small white cube connects to Wi-Fi and lets you manage everything with the Circle app. Set time limits on specific sites and devices, track detailed activity for each person and cut people off when they’ve reached their limit on an app or device. It’s customizable, so you can filter profiles by age. There’s also a bedtime feature so you can set sleep and wake times for devices. $99
Nest Cam is a sleek Internet-connected security camera that’s super easy to setup and use. It’s entirely controlled through the Nest app or online, so it works with your smartphone (iOS and Android), tablet or computer. It sends you notifications when it detects motion and sounds. Since it’s so connected, you can watch a live feed of your video, and save video clips — though the latter comes at an extra cost. The 130-degree wide-angle lens gives you a default video resolution of 1,280 x 720 (720p HD). You can also bump it up to 1,920 x 1,080 (full HD) for extra clarity, and there’s night vision, too. $199
The Amazon Echo is an interactive speaker that does a multitude of things and has a bit of a personality, too. Voiced by digital assistant Alexa, the device can play music, control your lights, order products directly from Amazon, provide updates for news, sports, traffic and weather, and much more. It has a couple Easter eggs too, if you say the right statements or requests. $179.99
August Smart Lock
With the August Smart Lock, you can turn your smartphone into a virtual key. Use your phone to lock and unlock your door and create keys for guests by granting access during specific times. The August app also has a 24/7 activity log that keeps track of who’s entering and exiting your house. The app is compatible with Android and iOS as well as your Apple Watch. $199
The ecobee3 is a smart Wi-Fi thermostat and remote sensor that learns and understands your home temperature preferences. While other thermostats only read the temperature of one room, ecobee3 senses all. It knows when you’re home and which rooms are occupied, adjusting the temperature accordingly. You can monitor and control the temperature from your smartphone, tablet or computer. ecobee3 was the first HomeKit-enabled thermostat, too, though the HomeKit version comes at an extra $20. It also works with other smart platforms such as SmartThings and IFTTT. $229-$249
Ring Video Doorbell
Never miss a bell with Ring, a smart doorbell that comes equipped with a camera. The iOS/Android app gives you instant alerts when someone rings your doorbell. The wide-angle HD camera shows you who’s on your doorstep, so you can see or speak to them via your smartphone. As an added security, motion detection alerts you of any activity at your home. It records footage and has HD night vision, too. Ring makes sure you never miss a guest or package delivery, even if you’re not home.