Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Best Smart Home Products

Maybe you don’t want to buy smartphones or tablets for holiday presents, but you still want to get something for your tech-savvy friends and family. We’ve got you covered with our smartphone accessory gift guide, but if that still doesn’t do it for you, why not spring for some smart home gadgets?

And no, we’re not necessarily talking about a big investment like replacing every lightbulb in someone’s house with internet-connected bulbs, although that’s an option. This gift has something in every category and price range, and you’re sure to find something you can use as a present this year.

Google Home

The Google Home and its new Mini version are excellent gifts, regardless of what the recipient is looking for. On one hand, it’s a really nifty wireless speaker that’s loaded with smart features, and who couldn’t use that? If you need something for someone that’s more technically inclined, the Google Home can act as the brain of a robust smart home, controlling and automating lights, appliances, locks, the thermostat, you name it.

And in case they already have a Google Home, you can just pick up the Google Home Mini so they can add to their smart home network with additional speakers. What’s not to love?

Buy it now: Google Home, Google Home Mini

Amazon Echo

Like the Google Home, Amazon offers their smart assistant speaker in a few different flavors. You’ve got your standard Amazon Echo, plus the Echo Dot if you need a smaller expansion speaker. There are some other options for someone that needs something for music or wants a screen, but those are the most popular options.

The Echo brings Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant into your home, allowing you to play music, order things from Amazon, and control connected devices all around your house. It offers an overwhelming amount of compatibility with smart home gadgets, making it an excellent choice for anyone that wants to automate and control every aspect of their house.

Buy it now: Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot

Google Wifi

Smart home devices are great, but you need something to actually manage the network that everyone connects to. That’s where Google Wifi comes in.

No, it’s not a service, so don’t get it confused with Google Fiber. Google Wifi is a set of small routers that link together to create a mesh network, which is a fancy term for a network that can intelligently move devices around to keep all of your internet-connected devices performing perfectly. It’s a high performance network for anyone that needs to manage a plethora of phones, tablets, TV, and gadgets.

Plus, you can expand onto it, so if you need ideas for other holidays and occasions during the year, Google Wifi works for that, too.

Buy it now: Amazon

eero

If you want to try something a little more feature-packed than Google Wifi, give eero a look. It’s also a mesh network that intelligently handles all of the devices in your home, but it’s got a few tricks up its sleeve to one-up Google.

The beacons for eero, for instance, also double as night lights. On top of that, eero offers a premium subscription for $10 per month that gives you some additional control over your network, including the ability to block ads on all of your devices as long as they’re on your Wifi network.

Google Wifi might have the brand name, but eero might be a better choice for the power user.

Buy it now: Amazon

NVIDIA Shield TV

An important component of your smart home is what’s connected to your TV, and there’s no doubt that NVIDIA makes the compelling option in the Shield TV. It’s the de facto Android TV box, offering up the absolute best of what Google offers on the big screen with a touch of NVIDIA’s hardware flair. Yep, it’s actually a third-party partner that’s doing Android TV better than Google.

Thanks to recent updates, the Shield TV has Google Assistant baked right into the remotes, and it’ll playback 4K and HDR content, too. The Nexus Player can’t say that.

For those of you invested in NVIDIA’s ecosystem, all of their GeForce tools and services are here. You can stream from your NVIDIA-powered PC with GeForce Streaming, and you can stream games directly from NVIDIA servers with GeForce Now. There are tons of high-profile games ported to the Shield TV as well, making this one of the best Android gaming experiences around.

Buy it now: Amazon

Philips Hue

One of the most common smart home gadgets is a connected light bulb, and Philips makes arguably the best bulbs around. They come in standard white and colored variants, and you can add on different shapes and sizes to your home, including some fancy LED strips.

All of the bulbs communicate through the bridge that comes in the starter kit, which will then talk to your preferred voice assistant. You can tell Google to turn your lights off for bed, make Alexa set the mood for a movie, or just automate them to turn on and off throughout the day.

The starter kits aren’t too expensive, and once that initial cost is out of the way you can buy extra bulbs and add on tons more.

Buy it now: Amazon

Nanoleaf Aurora

Smart home lighting is useful, but it can also be really, really cool. Just check out the Nanoleaf Aurora.

Instead of a simple light bulb that you plug into a lamp, the Aurora is a set of LED panels that you can arrange in different formations and then control with your smartphone. If you want something to light up a room, it can do that, but you can also create vibrant art and moods with it.

If you know someone that likes to show off, you can’t go wrong with a Nanoleaf product. They also offer a new Rhythm extension for the Aurora that allows the light to sync up with music, too, so this is another present that you can keep adding to over the years.

Buy it now: Nanoleaf

 

Belkin Wemo

Want to buy someone a smart home gadget but just don’t know what they want? Grab a Belkin Wemo switch and turn literally anything into a device that can be controlled remotely, as long as it uses a standard plug.

You simply stick the Wemo into an outlet, then your lamp, toaster, TV, etc. into that. Pair it with the app on your phone, and voila. You can turn the device on and off without ever directly interacting with it. It’s a cheaper alternative to replacing your stuff, and it can be reused for just about anything. Oh, it works with Google Assistant, too.

Buy it now: Amazon


About the Author: Jared Peters

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo's Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.