Smart home products are always great gifts for just about anyone that is on your list. They can be pretty inexpensive, which makes them great for Secret Santa stuff at work, and they are also pretty darn cool. Who would say no to being able to control stuff in their home with their voice?
These are the best smart home products that you can pick up this year. These range from smart speakers and displays to smart thermostats, to robot vacuums and everything in between.
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Smart Speakers & Displays
Smart speakers and displays are pretty much the same. Though Smart Displays do add that display aspect, but do everything that a Smart Speaker can do. These all run either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, and in very rare circumstances, both.
These can act as a hub to control your home, especially if you have a number of other smart home devices in your home. It’s one central place to control everything with your voice. And that includes your smartphone.
|Google Nest Hub Max||$229||Walmart|
|Amazon Echo Show||$229||Amazon|
|Amazon Echo Studio||$199||Amazon|
|Google Nest Mini||$49||Walmart|
Best smart speaker – Sonos Move
The Sonos Move is out pick for the best smart speaker, and there’s one major reason why. It is the only smart speaker that works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. And it is also very easy to switch between the two assistants.
Sonos Move is also portable, so you are able to take it with you. That’s a rare feature of any smart speaker and that makes this a big deal on the Sonos Move. Battery life is rated at about 10 hours, which is pretty decent for a Bluetooth speaker, and really good for a smart speaker.
This is a Sonos speaker, so expect some really good sound quality out of this one. You’re going to get some deep bass, almost room shaking bass, as well as some really good sounding mids and highs. You also have the ability to adjust the EQ in the Sonos app, if you’d prefer more or less bass, you can do just that.
It also works with Sonos’ multi-room audio setup, and there is now Bluetooth available. So you can actually play music on the Move when you’re on the Move.
Best Google Assistant-Power Smart Display – Google Nest Hub Max
When it comes to smart displays that run the Google Assistant, the Nest Hub Max is by far the absolute best that is available.
The Nest Hub Max is more than just a smart display. But it does sport a 10.1-inch display, with pretty large speaker on the backside that is going to give you a ton of sound. Even though it is on the back, it does a good job at filling the entire home with sound.
What really makes the Nest Hub Max stand out though, is that camera that is above the screen. That camera is a Nest Cam and will record when you aren’t home, so you can see what’s going on when you’re away. The camera can articulate as well, and get the entire room. This way you’re getting a smart display and a security camera for your home.
Best Amazon Alexa-enabled Smart Display – Amazon Echo Show
The Echo Show is the best smart display that has Amazon Alexa built-in.
It is a 10.1-inch Echo Show, but it is now smaller than the original Echo Show. And would work great in the kitchen. Where you can put this on a counter and follow some recipes, or video chat with your parents and such. The front is now mostly screen, which makes it a lot easier to place in your home.
It does still have a front-facing camera for video chatting. It’s also used to see who’s in the room, to keep the display on or turn it off. It doesn’t work as a security camera like on the Nest Hub Max though.
The speaker on this one is actually better than the Nest Hub Max. That’s because it is much bigger, so there’s a lot more hardware inside to make it much louder. This one could really replace a smart speaker.
Best Amazon Alexa-enabled Smart Speaker – Amazon Echo Studio
Amazon Alexa finally goes high-fidelity.
Finally, we have a smart speaker that is made for audiophiles. With the Echo Studio, you’re going to get some high-fidelity audio. This is thanks to there being five speakers inside, and it has Dolby Atmos for some really great sounding audio. Basically, this is going to be the best sounding Echo you’ll ever hear.
And of course, Amazon Alexa is still included. So not only are you getting some really good sounding audio, but you’re getting Alexa, to control all of your smart home products. It still works all of the other Echo devices on the market too.
Best Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker – Google Nest Mini
The Nest Mini is brand new, though it may not look new on the outside. It’s an upgrade to the Google Home Mini which was a very popular Google Assistant speaker.
With the Nest Mini, you’re getting better audio, and a few new features, like the ability to see where to swipe to adjust the volume. All for the same low price of $49.99.
The Nest Mini is a small hockey-puck shaped smart speaker that has the Google Assistant built-in. And with the Google Assistant comes a ton of cool features. Like the ability to control your smart home devices with your voice, or to ask Google questions, like what’s on your calendar today.
These days, smart lighting isn’t just light bulbs. There are LED strips, lamps and so much more. And being able to control it with your voice is one of the coolest things ever. Who needs light switches in 2019, when you have your voice.
The more popular smart lighting products from from Philips Hue and LIFX, but they aren’t the only ones doing smart lighting.
|Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance||$147||Amazon|
Best Smart Light Bulbs – Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance
Philips Hue is the best, when it comes to smart light bulbs. It has some of the cheapest and brightest bulbs out there. That also work with just about every service.
This here is a three-bulb starter kit. Which includes the Philips Hue Bridge, which is needed to connect these bulbs to your WiFi network and make them “smart”. These bulbs are the “white and color ambiance” which means that they are the colored bulbs. They can do millions of different colors, and really add some accent lighting to your home.
These bulbs will work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, IFTTT and so much more. Allowing you to not only control them with your voice, but also set up some home automation, for turning these lights on when you get home, or turning them off when you leave the house.
This is the kit to get, to get started with. And it’ll give you three bulbs to outfit a room in your home, making them smart.
Best smart accent lighting – LIFX Beam
LIFX Beam is a pretty cool smart light product. It’s essentially a long strip of LED lights that you can put on a wall or under a cabinet for some cool lighting effects.
You can connect the Beam to others and form a square or even just an L that could go around a painting, or just hang on the wall. It’s not quite the same as a regular LED strip that most companies have nowadays. There are a few different zones with the LIFX Beam, so you can use many different colors on the same Beam. It also supports up to 16 million different colors.
It is all controlled from within the LIFX app, which also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. And the best part of the LIFX Beam is the fact that it does not need a hub, so you won’t need to buy any other hardware to use the Beam.
Best smart light switch – ecobee Switch+
The ecobee Switch+ is perhaps the coolest smart light switch on the market right now.
It’s not just a smart light switch, you see, but it also has Alexa built-in. It’s essentially like having an Echo built into the wall. And the blue light can also double as a night light. This makes it great for your kids’ room. Especially with Amazon’s own intercom feature. So you can talk to them through the light switch – and really confuse them.
Of course, it still works like a light switch so you can use your voice to turn off the lights in that room. This is also usually cheaper than buying smart light bulbs for a room, depending on how many light bulbs are tied to that switch.
Smart doorbells are pretty cool products. It allows you to see who is at the door without the person knowing you know they are there. You can also talk to whoever is there and tell them to go away. It’s great for checking to see when your packages are delivered too, so you know if someone stole it or not.
|Ring Video Doorbell 2||$199||Amazon|
|Arlo Audio Doorbell||$69||Amazon|
Best smart video doorbell – Ring Video Doorbell 2
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the best video doorbell on the market, hands down. Partly because it is super simple to set up and install, and the fact that you don’t need existing wiring. You can use the existing wiring, but you can also just place it outside your front door and use the battery to keep it running.
There is also a wide-angle camera on the front, which is wide enough to get the ground in front of your door. This means that you can see the packages that are in front of your door, and also see who took them.
Ring will notify you via your smartphone or your Amazon Echo device, when someone is at the door, even if they don’t ring the doorbell. It will also record when it sees movement or people at your door. This makes it easy to keep an eye on your home when you’re not at home.
Best smart doorbell – Arlo Audio Doorbell
The Arlo Audio Doorbell is not a video doorbell, as stated by the name. So it is cheaper than the Ring doorbell listed above, and it is also much smaller.
Arlo opted not to include a camera in their doorbell, since they assume that most people buying this already have its cameras – the majority of which are wire-free and work outside. So you can place them elsewhere in front of your home and see what’s going on that way.
You will still get notifications on your smartphone from the Arlo Audio Doorbell, allowing you to see when someone is at your door. And there is also still two-way audio, allowing you to talk to whoever is at your door. Both of which are important features when it comes to a smart doorbell.
Perhaps the most popular smart home product, is the smart thermostat. Being able to adjust the temperature in your home when you’re not home, has definitely been a very convenient thing. Not to mention the fact that it can also save your heating and cooling costs, since it will automatically adjust when you aren’t home. Making it a really cool product.
|Nest Learning Thermostat||$249||Walmart|
Best smart thermostat for Google Assistant users – Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat is the best smart thermostat for Google Assistant users, since it doesn’t work with Amazon Alexa (all that well). It’s also perhaps the best looking thermostat on the market.
With Nest, you’re getting a futuristic looking thermostat, that has a bright display, showing you the temperature in the house as well as outside. It also has a dial on the side that will adjust the temperature for you. Making it much easier to change the temperature and make it cooler or warmer in your home.
Nest is able to save you some money on your heating and cooling costs because you set a room temperature. Instead of just a temperature on the thermostat. So that when the home is at that temperature it will lower the fan or heat, to use less energy and keep the home feeling comfortable.
Nest does allow you to use the Google Assistant to control the thermostat with your voice. And if you happen to have a smart display, you can control it on the display along with your other smart home products.
Best smart thermostat for Amazon Alexa users – ecobee4
The ecobee4 is the best smart thermostat for Alexa users because it has an Echo built into the thermostat. So you are able to talk to Alexa through your thermostat, which is definitely a really cool feature. But it also helps to bring Alexa into every room – exactly what Amazon wants.
ecobee4 is a very slim and modern looking thermostat, it’s got an all black front with text and icons being in white. So it looks really nice and won’t be an eye sore in your hallway. There’s a blue light that glows at the top of the thermostat when Alexa is listening or talking to you. Much like the Nest Learning Thermostat, it can adjust the temperature based on how warm or cool the rest of the house is. And it actually does a better job, since it uses room sensors. So rooms that are further away from the thermostat aren’t freezing while the rest of the house is toasty warm.
Of course, there is Amazon Alexa support available here, so you can also control ecobee4 with your voice.
Smart Security Systems
Everything else in our home is “smart” now, why not our security system? Well the good thing is, they are also smart now. There are many do-it-yourself security systems out there, as well as some that come with professional monitoring – at an extra cost. Which is good for those that want peace of mind when they are away from home.
Best do-it-yourself security system – Ring Alarm
Ring Alarm is a great alarm system, because it works with Ring’s other products. Like its video doorbell, spotlights and much more. Many of which, you might already have outside (and inside) your home.
With Ring Alarm, you will get the base station, a keypad, a range extender and motion or contact sensors, depending on the model you pick up. You can get a five, eight or 14-piece Ring Alarm. The only difference is adding more motion and contact sensors. Which you can also purchase separately.
Ring Alarm will notify you when someone is in your home, even if you don’t want them there. You can use your Ring cameras to record them as well. Or just set off the alarm, which usually works well to get rid of them.
It works with Amazon Alexa, so you can use your voice to see if the system is armed or disarmed.
Best professional monitoring security system – SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe has an alarm system that includes 24/7 professional monitoring, which does come with an added monthly cost. But the good thing is that there are no monthly contracts, and the cost is pretty low. And on top of that, it is not necessary to use the SimpliSafe alarm system, which is really good.
With SimpliSafe, you’re getting essentially the same system as the Ring Alarm, but a bit more robust. So there’s the base station and the keypad, as well as contact and motion sensors that you can put on windows and doors in your home.
SimpliSafe will alert you when it sees movement in your home, and it will also notify the local authorities.