This year, the smart home team at Digital Trends researched and tested hundreds of gadgets ranging from security cameras to appliances to other random tech throughout the home. With the holidays quickly approaching, we sorted through those gadgets to determine which ones would make greats gifts, and which gadgets people might want to choose and buy for themselves for various reasons. We shied away from gadgets like smart light switches, for instance, because they required difficult setup.
We considered quality, features, ease of setup, additional costs (like subscription costs), and other factors to gauge whether or not people would actually want these smart home gadgets as a gift. Without further ado, these are our picks for the best smart home gifts of 2018.
Need a gift for someone who takes pride in the appearance of their outdoor space? Help your loved ones channel their inner-HGTV by getting them Philips Hue Outdoor Light Strips. They make a regular seating area, patio, walkway, or garden stand out. They have 16 million color options, scenes to match your mood, and compatibility with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant.
Plus, they’re easy to install, and they’re weatherproof so you don’t have to worry about rain messing up your beautiful design. Starting at $90, they won’t break the bank, but they do require that you have the Hue Smart Hub. You can check out our full review of Philips Hue Outdoor Light Strips here.
Want to give the gift of controlling the lights from the couch? Sengled’s Smart WiFi bulbs are an inexpensive and easy way to get started with smart lighting. There’s no hub required, and the setup is so easy, even the least tech-inclined people can manage. The app is clean, user friendly, and it seldom lags or shuts down like you sometimes see with cheaper brands.
All you need is the bulbs, which come in soft white and daylight for 20 bucks a pop, and you can dim your lights, set schedules, control your lights with your voice, and more. Sengled’s WiFi bulb also made our list of the best smart light bulbs of 2018.
If you need a gift for someone who wants a hub with a smart display screen in their smart home, the Google Home Hub is a solid option. It can do so much and for a reasonable price tag. Powered by Google Assistant, Home Hub has a seven-inch display screen. It can control smart devices, play games, answer questions, display videos, display photos, stream feeds from video doorbells and security cameras, and so much more.
Google Assistant continues to get better and better too. Home Hub is regularly priced at $149, but there are some pretty sweet deals happening during December 2018. You can check out our full review of the Google Home Hub here.
Looking for an inexpensive smart speaker to buy for someone on y our list? You could gift an Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation). The Dot is ideal for someone who does a lot of Amazon shopping, uses FireTV, or for someone who has a lot of smart home devices. The 3rd generation Echo Dot is regularly priced at $50. You can also get some amazing deals on the Dot right now too though. For instance, you can get a Dot on its own for $30, or you can get a Dot with a smart plug for $40.
Want to control your lamp with your phone or you voice? How about your TV? Maybe your fan? A smart plug allows you to remotely control virtually anything you can plug in, so it’s an inexpensive gift that provides the recipient with a lot of options. It’s also a great gift to get someone started with smart home automation. The Wemo Mini smart plug is very easy to set up, it only takes up one outlet per plug, it doesn’t need a hub, and it’s only about $25.
If you give someone the Ninja Hot and Cold Brew, it’s pretty much a guaranteed hit. This machine doesn’t take up a ton of space, yet it has so many options, it’s like having a coffee shop in the kitchen. Having this machine lets you enjoy virtually any type of coffee or tea drink you can imagine, and you can show off your barista skills when guests come over. You can make a classic coffee, cold brew coffee, cold brew tea, iced coffee, or specialty coffee or tea (like a frappe or a cappuccino drink). Instead of having to wait 12 to 24 hours for cold brew, this machine cold brews in as little as 10 minutes, and it has a frother you can use on hot or cold liquids. It has six different brew sizes, but it doesn’t use those expensive pods. It has a thermal carafe to keep hot coffee hot, but the carafe is cool to the touch on the outside. It has specially designed separate coffee and tea baskets that keep coffee and tea flavors separate for optimal flavor.
The machine is so smart, it knows which basket you insert into the machine, and displays which options are available for that specific basket. We were incredibly impressed with this machine overall. The price of the Hot and Cold Brew is $230, but you can find it for around $200. That price is a steal when you think of the all of the savings from never having to go to a coffee shop again.
If someone in your life is a cold brew coffee lover, this Gourmia cold brew machine is a very affordable gift option. This machine gives you the flavor of handmade cold brew, but it makes the process a bit easier. You just put your choice of coffee grounds in the steeping column, fill it with water, and the machine makes one liter of cold brew in 12 to 24 hours. The Gourmia GMC9825 made our list of the best cold brew coffee makers, and it’s only $17 on Amazon.
For $20, this camera is an amazing value. We’d think it was too good to be true if we hadn’t tested the camera ourselves. This $20 gift gives the recipient a lot — added home security, piece of mind, and cool features they’d get with more expensive cameras (like night vision, motion detection, two-way audio, cloud storage, and support for local micro SD storage). Check out our full review of the Wyze Cam 2 here.
Video doorbells provide security, convenience, and a cool gadget to play with all-in-one device. If you have a loved one who lives alone, you’re giving that person the ability to see and speak to visitors without opening the door. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 has two-way talk, wide-angle HD video, mobile alerts, and more. Some of the Ring’s features (like video recording and video reviewing) require a subscription, which starts at $30 per year.
What we really like about the Ring 2 is that it can be hard-wired or battery powered. It has a quick-release rechargeable battery, so you don’t need to remove the device to recharge the battery. The Ring 2 is a great price at $169. Amazon has deals right now where you can get a free Echo Dot with a Ring 2 for $169.
For someone who has back problems, or for someone who just hates vacuuming, giving them a robot vacuum can be a thoughtful gesture. The Roomba i7 plus has all the bells and whistles, from multi-floor room mapping to voice control. It even empties itself into an enclosed disposable bag that holds 30 bins full of debris. At $950, this is a pricey option though. You can check out our full review of the Roomba i7 plus here.
Want to give the ability to make absolutely perfect steak? Sous vide machines cook foods in a water bath at an exact and steady temperature. While this used to be a cooking method used primarily in fine dining, it has recently become much more popular as a home cooking method, and the Anova Nano is one of the best affordable machines you can buy.
With the ability to control the machine from a smartphone or using the controls on the device, the machine offers flexibility. Its small size makes it easy to store, and it’s extremely accurate. For a discounted price of $65 (regular price of $99), the Nano is an awesome gift. You can check out our full review of the Anova Nano here.
Many people have heard the words “Instant Pot” quite a bit over the past couple of years. So, what’s all of the fuss about? Is it really as great as people say it is? Yes, it is. The Instant Pot makes cooking meals at home so much easier. The Duo, one of the more popular Instant Pot models, is seven appliances in one — slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, saut machine, steamer, yogurt maker, and warmer. It reduces cooking times, and generally makes life easier for the home cook. Want to gift one to someone on your list? The 6-quart IP Duo model cost $100, but you can usually find it discounted down to about $70. You can check out our full review of the Instant Pot Duo here.