gift guide 2014

A Gift Guide For The Starter Smart Home

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Too Many Droids

The proliferation of smart home products means there’s never been a better time to get on board, even if you’re not that tech crazy or familiar with the market. Here’s the list of things to get you rolling with your own basic setup, plus a few nice-to-haves in case you want to go the extra mile.

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Philips Hue Lux Starter Kit

Connect lightbulbs now have their own pretty huge section at Home Depot, but I’m still a fan of the Philips Hue above all else. The new Lux bulbs don’t change their hue, ironically, but they provide a warm white glow with all the geofencing, remote control and manual brightness options of the rest of the series at half the price per bulb.

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Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home Remote

Speaking of Hue, they can be controlled by the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home system, which includes a physical remote with touchscreen, as well as a hub that can connect to apps on your iOS and Android devices. Because you’re talking to the hub, and then to the lights, there’s sometimes some input lag, but it’s still very convenient to use the same remote to control your home entertainment system, lighting, and Nest thermostat.

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Nest Learning Thermostat

Speaking of Nest, their learning thermostat is still the best in the biz, with compatibility with a range of devices, including the aforementioned Logitech Harmony remote, connected appliances and the Dropcam security solution, which Google acquired in addition to Nest this year.

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Dropcam Wi-Fi Video Monitoring Camera

Speaking of Dropcam, they make the best connected video camera solution available, with cloud storage of recordings, remote control, geofences, scheduling and more. They look good, too, so you won’t have to turn your house into something out of a surveillance state fever dream to make use of them.

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Philips Hue Tap

Back to Philips, the company makes a new lightswitch for its Hue products that has a couple of neat features – including power via kinetic energy storage, meaning it requires no batteries and you give it all the power it needs to operate just by using it. It also comes with a mounting plate that it can easily be removed from, so that you can carry it with you and have control wherever you are in your house, without even needing your smartphone.

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Ring Wi-Fi Video Doorbell

This new Wi-Fi doorbell is shipping soon, and it’s a good pick because the team has already had one kick and the can and came away with some valuable lessons. They’ve doubled down on engineering, design and user experience, and the new version looks primed to rule the space.

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August Smart Lock

Smartphone-controlled locks are common enough these days, but the August Smart Lock is probably the best of the bunch. It has received strong reviews, and its installation means that you can keep your existing deadbolt, plus it works even without power using both your old boring mechanical key, and with a twisting outer ring from insider your place.

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