Holiday 2020: The Best Gifts for New Smart Home Owners

Amazon Echo Show 8 smart display on kitchen counter
Amazon

There are tons of smart home products on the market today, and converting your home to a smart home is a project that’s never truly completed. There’s always something more than could be done, and if you have friends who are just starting that conversion then there are plenty of great gifts you can get them to help them out.

You do need to be aware of a couple of things though: ecosystems and installation. There are multiple smart home ecosystems out there, and while there are a lot of products that are made to be compatible with all of them, there are also quite a few that only work (or work best) with one specific platform. You’ll need to know what ecosystem your friends have already invested in to make the best choice when it comes to buying gifts. For categories where you’ll need to choose a product based on the ecosystem, we’ve made sure to include multiple options.

Installation is another important factor you’ll need to consider. Some smart products require alterations to the home in some form, and that’s not something you can surprise someone with. The final three categories on this list all include products that have more involved installation processes, and you’re going to want to make sure the person you’re shopping for is actually going to be ready to put up with the hassle.

A Security Camera: Wyze Cam V3

Wyze Cam V3 camera on a table
Cameron Summerson

When it comes to monitoring your home, the Wyze Cam V3 is a great choice. Rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IP65, it’s designed to be used both indoors and outside. The improved night vision and the wider field of view from previous Wyze Cams make sure you can see everything going on. And there’s two-way audio so you can hear everything outside or talk through the camera as well.

The V3 also features motion detection, the ability to store three days of continuous recordings on a (not included) MicroSD card, and it can detect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms going off.  And of course, everything can be managed through the Wyze app (iOS/Android) or with voice commands via voice assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

If you’d like a more rugged camera, the Wyze Cam Outdoor is specifically designed to be used, you guessed it, outdoors. The mount can attach anywhere, it’s wireless with three to six months of battery life, and it also features a night vision mode. You can view time-lapses of recordings and the included base station connects up to four of your cameras together and sends the footage straight to the Wyze app.

More Smart Speakers: Nest Mini, Echo Dot, and Apple HomePod Mini

HomePod Mini, Amazon Alexa (Gen-4), and Google Nest Mini
Apple, Amazon, Google

It never hurts to have more places to listen to music or use a voice assistant around the home, and the Nest Mini, Echo Dot, and HomePod Mini all provide compact speakers that allow you to do just that. The main thing you need to decide on here is the voice assistant: do you want Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant?

If the people you’re shopping for aren’t already invested in a specific voice assistant, then it’s worth noting that there are a lot of products that have Alexa support, and the same can be said for Google Assistant with the Nest family of products. Siri works through Apple HomeKit which is widely supported as well but, on the whole, it’s probably the most limited of the three. Of course, if the person you’re shopping for uses a lot of Apple products, then Siri will be preferable.

The voice assistant really is the main thing to decide between when it comes to these speakers, so once you decide on which assistant you need to buy for, you know what speaker to get.

A Smart Display: Google Nest Hub and Echo Show 8

Google Nest Hub and Echo Show 8
Google, Amazon

While a smart speaker will allow you to interact with your voice assistant, that’s pretty much all it allows for. A smart display, on the other hand, lets you see much more data and can do some other cool stuff as well.

  • Google Nest HubThe Nest Hub can act as the central location to control smart devices, a portal for using Google Assistant, and even a way to watch media. This smart display has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, and whether it’s displaying your personal photos, showing recipes, or displaying the weather it’s sure to be a great addition to any smart home—especially ones that are heavily invested in the Nest ecosystem. There’s also the “Max” version of the hub which features a 10-inch screen as opposed to the 7-inch screen here and the ability to make voice calls—it is considerably more expensive though.
  • Echo Show 8The Show 8 is great for video calls, pulling up recipes, and managing smart devices. The main difference is that the Show 8 uses Amazon Alexa instead of Google Assistant. With a large number of Alexa-compatible devices out there, the Show 8 has plenty of devices to tap into, and if the person you’re shopping for has a lot of those devices this is the display you’ll want to get.

Some Smart Plugs: Wyze Plugs

Wyze Plugs
Wyze

The Wyze Plugs grant a greater level of control over the devices in your home. These Wi-Fi enabled plugs can be controlled via the Wyze app (iOS/Android) or voice assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. You can disable/enable them whenever you’d like, schedule times when certain plugs should be on or off, and even view exactly how long a certain plug has been enabled. You can group sets of Wyze plugs together to represent specific rooms, and they’re also compatible with Wyze Sense to be motion-activated.

The only thing you really need to be aware of with these is that they’re not made to be used outdoors, so keep these connected inside at all times.

A Smarter Dryer: SmartDry Laundry Sensor

SmartDry Laundry Sensor
SmartDry

This may seem like a strange product at first, but it manages to impress in its functionality. This sensor will alert through notifications when your dryer is finished running, meaning you no longer have to repeatedly check on it throughout the afternoon. You can even configure the app (Android/iOS) to notify you when there’s a certain amount of time left on the cycle or have it set to delicates mode so that it notifies you when the clothes are too hot. It also has compatibility with Amazon Alexa as you can ask your voice assistant whether or not the clothes are dry yet.

There is an installation process involved, but it’s pretty simple (there’s a step-by-step guide included) and doesn’t require any alternations to the home or dryer.

Some Smart Bulbs: Wyze Bulbs and Phillips Hue

Wyze Bulbs and Phillips Hue
Wyze, Phillips

With how easy they are to install, smart bulbs are a safe gift for any smart home owner. And when it comes to these, there are two brands that certainly come out on top.

  • Wyze BulbsThese bulbs are pretty simple white LED lights, but you can manage them through the Wyze app (iOS/Android). This means you can set them to go on/off at a certain time, adjust their strength, and control them voice assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. These bulbs just connect through Wi-Fi so there’s no need to have a hub set up for them.
  • Phillips HueHue encompasses a wide range of products including lamps, light strips, and a variety of bulbs. The main thing Hue does best though is colors—you can set color-enabled Hue bulbs to any color you want and manage them through the Hue app (Android/iOS) or voice assistants. This does mean the Hue bulbs are considerably more expensive than the Wyze bulbs, but the added functionality makes up for that.

A Smart Lock: Schlage Encode

Schlage Encode
Schalge

Fussing with your keys every day can certainly be annoying, but a smart lock makes sure you never have to do that again. This keypad is guaranteed to fit on any standard door and the installation process is fairly simple, but does require changes to the door. You can set a code to unlock the door, use your fingerprint, and you’ll even receive a log of how many people leave and enter your home each day. If there’s a security breach, this lock also makes sure you’re aware.

You can manage the Schlage Encode remotely through the app (Android/iOS) along with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

If the person you’re shopping for lives in an apartment or homeowner association and can’t make major alterations to their door, then the August Smart Lock is what you’d want to get them. The installation process is simpler, It’s not visible from the outside, and it still provides plenty of smart features to make installing it worth it.

A Smart Lock

Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt with Camelot Trim In Satin Nickel

A premium smart lock with fingerprint sensors and advanced notification settings,

A Video Doorbell: Nest Hello and Eufy Doorbell

Nest Hello and Eufy Doorbell
Google, Eufy

A video doorbell is an exceptionally useful smart device—even if the installation process is involved. And while there are plenty of quality options out there, we narrowed it down to these two for this list.

  • Nest Hello: This feature-packed doorbell does basically everything you could need it to. It will alert you to motion, it records audio and has a speaker so you can communicate with someone at the door, and it can even recognize specific people to give you custom alerts. The camera has great night vision and records in full HD to give you a clear picture. It also features 24/7 streaming through the Nest Aware Plus subscription ($12 a month) which saves 60 days worth of recordings. But if that’s a bit much then a standard Nest Aware subscription will save 30 days of recordings for $6 a month (no 24/7 recording). The Hello integrates much better with other Nest devices such as the previously mentioned Nest Hub which will allow you to view the camera’s POV from the Hub.
  • Eufy DoorbellFor a non-subscription focused doorbell, the Eufy is a great option. You’ll have to set up the “HomeBase” in order for it to work properly, which allows it to chime inside the home and store 16 GB of footage. Facial recognition and motion detection are still here and it’s designed to work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. You can also manage everything through the Eufy Security app (Android/iOS).

A Smart Thermostat: Ecobee Smart and Nest Thermostat

Ecobee Smart and Nest Thermostat
Ecobee, Google

Manage your heating and cooling like never before with either of these great smart thermostats.

  • Ecobee SmartThe Ecobee Smart does everything you could want a smart thermostat to do. You can manage and schedule your home’s temperature from the app (Android/iOS), use the remote sensors included to improve comfort in your most-visited rooms, and it is significantly more efficient than standard heating and cooling. The installation process isn’t simple, but there is a full video tutorial you can follow in the Ecobee app. The Ecobee is compatible with Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa.
  • Nest ThermostatFor Nest-heavy homes, you’re definitely going to want to gift the Nest Thermostat. Like the Ecobee, the Nest Thermostat allows you to schedule your heating and cooling, use energy-saving features, and you can manage everything from the Google Home app (Android/iOS) or via voice commands. There are video instructions for installing the Nest Thermostat in the app and devices like the Nest Hub work excellently with it. If you’d like an even smarter thermostat, then the Nest Learning Thermostat actively learns your schedule and preferences and will automatically manage your heating and cooling for you based on that.
Eric Schoon Eric Schoon
Eric Schoon is a writer for Review Geek and has spent most of his life thinking about and analyzing products of all shapes and sizes. From the latest games to the hottest smartphones, he enjoys finding the greatest strengths and weaknesses of everything he gets his hands on and then passing that information on to you. Read Full Bio »

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