9 Gifts For The Smartest Smart Home

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9 Gifts For The Smartest Smart Home

Choose from 16 million shades of color, make grandpa feel more secure by showing him who’s at the door when he’s not even there and get the house turnt with a rendition of Alvin and the Chipmunk’s “All I want for Christmas” at the moment your visiting family steps in the door with these hand-picked devices we think you’ll enjoy giving or getting this holiday season.


Samsung Smartthings Hub

You’ll likely want a hub to get you started. Something that connects all those sensors and gadgets to raise your home’s IQ.

The Samsung Smartthings version is a good one to start with. It wirelessly connects to a wide array of sensors that will allow you to control lighting, temperature and things that turn off and on, all from your phone.

The hub starts at $99 and will work with a number of products from Samsung, Bose, Schlage, Yale, Cree, Osram Lightify, Honeywell, First Alert, and others.


Ring Doorbell

Your doorbell rings. Is it the delivery guy with that package you’ve been waiting for… or just someone trying to sell you garbage?

The $200 Ring replaces your old school doorbell with something a bit smarter. When someone presses the button, it’ll send a notification to your phone that lets you see and talk to the person on the other end. You can toss it in and have it work wirelessly, but we recommend hooking it into your existing door bell’s circuit. That’ll keeps you from having to charge it (who wants to charge a doorbell?), makes your doorbell chime like you’re used to, and is generally pretty easy to do.

Ring can also record video whenever someone presses the button or triggers the built-in motion sensors, though that costs an extra $3 a month.


iHome iSP5

Chances are, most of the lamps around your otherwise smart home are… still pretty dumb.

iHome’s ISP5 lets you convert your existing lamp into a smart lamp with minimal effort. Just plug one of these $35 dongles into an outlet and then plug a lamp (or anything else, really) into it, and bam: it can now be turned on and off right from your phone. iHome has their own app for iOS and Android, but it also hooks into Apple’s HomeKit — allowing for things like “Siri, turn on the living room lights”


Nest Thermostat

One of the earliest devices to really bring the smart home concept to the masses, the $250 Nest Learning Thermostat is now on its third-generation. As creepy as it sounds when described succinctly, it starts to learn when people are usually home and what temperatures they like their house to be during different seasons, and automatically adjusts accordingly.

Plus, being able to turn off the heat from bed by poking at your phone is kind of wonderful.


Nest Cam

The artist formerly known as Dropcam. The $200 Nest Cam is just about the simplest way to get a security camera in place; plug it in, get it on WiFi, and you’re set. It can notify you of motion/sound, or you can just pop in to see what’s going on at any given time.

The downsides? There’s no local storage, so you have to use Nest’s $10 a month subscription if you want it to record things as opposed to just live streaming them.



If local storage is a must — or, really, if you’re not absolutely set on a Nest Cam — the $150 FLIR FX is a relatively new entry in the space that does a whole lot the Nest Cam doesn’t. Its got a 4 hour back up battery, a microSD slot for local storage, and they’ve got a cloud storage feature that, like Nest’s, runs $10 per month (or $100 a year.)

Not familiar with the name? Don’t worry. Though they’ve started tinkering with more consumer stuff as of late, these guys have been making image/thermal sensors (including ones used by the US Army) for decades.


LIFX Lightbulbs

Feel the need to twerk to the perfect shade of lazer blue in your living room? The LIFX Color 1000 promises to provide.

The $60 LIFX lightbulbs are WiFi connected and provide more than 16 million different shades of color, including 1,000 variations of white.

So you don’t just turn the lights on and off from your smartphone with LIFX, you turn the lights down low and choose the perfect hue, too.


Scout's Modular Security Alarm

Security is a good thing. Dealing with security companies usually isn’t.

Scout is a relative newcomer into the security field, but they’re doing things in an interesting way: you add their devices (motion sensors, door sensors, etc) at your own pace, based on your security needs. Everything is battery-powered and wireless, so installations are crazy simple, and it grows with your needs. It can send alerts to your phone for free, but no-contract, 24/7 monitoring plans start at $10.

The mandatory hub is $129, and each accessory after that ranges in price: $69 for a door sensor that can turn the system on and off, $50 for a motion sensor, etc.


Amazon Echo

Part in-home assistant, part controller of many smart home devices, Amazon Echo pulls up music, weather and other important information, recognizes your voice and learns from your commands to improve the experience. Turn the lights down low and watch your favorite Hulu show just by talking at this round tube.

Forget to turn the lights off upstairs but settled into the couch already. Retailing for $180, Echo’s got you covered there, too.