2017 Smart Home Holiday Gift Guide
Welcome to our fourth annual smart home holiday gift guide. As we reflect on the past year, it feels like the smart home market has continued to evolve with mostly incremental innovations from the major players, Amazon, Apple and Google. You can now control almost every home gadget with your voice, making pulling out your smartphone at home seem so old-fashioned.
Even though smart home is becoming more mainstream, shopping for, installing, and maintaining these devices is still not simple. Amazon, Nest and others now sell installation services, so if you want to buy something for your loved one and make sure they can get up and running quickly, you can book that right from their websites. In some areas Amazon is offering in-home consultations to get you started.
This year, we are recommending a couple of new products that we don’t own (yet) as well as some that aren’t necessarily connected but we still find smart. No matter your price range, AppMyHome has great gift ideas to make your loved one’s holiday brighter.
Big Ass Splurge
Haiku by Big Ass Fans – starting at $550, available direct from Haiku. For that really special someone, or maybe just a gift for you and your family – we recommend Haiku Fans by Big Ass Solutions. We had the Haiku on our own wish list in 2015, but now with four different lines available, including the economical L Series, and integration with Alexa, the Haiku fans are definitely a serious smart home gift to consider.
The Haiku is not just another ceiling fan. It works with your smart thermostat to help keep your home comfortable in both summer and winter, saving more energy and money than just your thermostat alone. The Haiku’s SenseME technology also knows when you enter or leave the room, adjusting the fan accordingly. If your loved one has an Alexa already, they can also connect the Haiku and control the fan and light with their voice. The elegant design and super-quiet performance will be a welcome addition to any space.
If your gift is time sensitive, you can choose the more attainable L Series Haiku fans that ship in three days and can be enabled with SenseMe with the Haiku Wall Control. The other three Haiku fans take between two and six weeks to ship, depending on the model you are looking for, so order now if you want a Haiku fan before the holidays end. You can read more about our experience with our Haiku fans here.
Smart Home gifts less than $250
Cujo Smart Firewall – $249, available from Best Buy, QVC, Amazon and other retailers. In the past, installing virus protection and firewall software on your home PC was enough to protect your network. Today, with most households having multiple phones and tablets as well as smart and connected devices, there are more ways than ever for a hacker to get into your network and get at your data. The Cujo Smart Firewall adds business level security to your home, keeping your devices and data safe and protected. The Cujo is a great gift for anyone who already has a smart home or parents who also want to keep their kids phones and tablets safe from dangerous sites.
Joule – starting at $179, available from Amazon and ChefSteps. A great gift for the foodie in your life, the Joule is a connected home kitchen sous vide machine. Sous vide (French for “under vacuum”) is a cooking technique used by restaurants and professional chefs for decades to bring food to its optimal cooked temperature using a precisely heated and timed water bath. The Joule brings this technique to home chefs with an easy-to-use machine controlled by a smart phone app or through an Amazon Echo (“Alexa, ask Joule to cook steak”). A Joule showed up under our tree last year and we have cooked some wonderful meals this year – perfectly cooked, moist chicken breasts, pork chops, and especially yummy, sous vide bacon. For the really serious cook on your list, ChefSteps offers a premium recipe service for an extra $39.
Nest Thermostat E – $169, available direct, from WalMart, Best Buy, Kohl’s and many other retailers. We have recommended the easy-to-use, money and energy saving Nest Thermostat every year since our guide began and considered leaving it off this year, but then Nest introduced this beautiful, less expensive version, making it more accessible than ever. This version of the original smart thermostat is simple to install and starts saving money immediately, something anyone on your list will appreciate.
iHome iAVS16 Alexa BedSide Speaker system – $149, available from iHome, Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, and many other retailers. We first used our Amazon Echo to replace our broken bedroom clock radio, but we have to admit, sometimes we miss the clock. This handy system features the best of both worlds, all the power of Alexa with an easy-to-read clock, charging plugs for phone, and programmable buttons to control other devices. A great gift for anyone on your list – even if they aren’t remotely interested in smart home, everyone loves a nice alarm clock.
Smart Home Gifts less than $100
Amazon Echo – $99, available from Amazon, individually or in three packs. The Echo remains the must-have device for any smart home. This medium-size version is all new with improved sound, speed and a variety of stylish coverings to make it a more attractive gift than ever. Your loved one can plug in the Echo and set alarms and timers, listen to music, connect and control smart home devices, send and receive messages from other Echo users, order an Uber, or choose from many other capabilities that are being added every day. Echo now has a whole family of devices ranging from the $49 Echo Dot to the $229 Echo Show that includes a video screen.
Blue Apron Gift Card – starting at $60, available directly from Blue Apron. For the busy foodie on your list, we recommend the Blue Apron gift card. You can choose any amount – in general, $60 will cover three meals for two people, a one week delivery. Cooking with Blue Apron is fresh and fun and of all the competing meal services, it is still the one we like best. If you know your loved one already has Blue Apron, we recommend a gift card for Blue Apron wine – Blue Apron will pair delicious wines that will go with a week’s worth of meals – an extra special treat.
Smart Home Gifts less than $50
Switchmate – starting at $39, available from Amazon as well as many retail outlets including Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Bed Bath and Beyond. This is our second year recommending the Switchmate which we personally bought for a number of friends last year as a great first smart home product. Your loved one just attaches the Switchmate over any light switch with its magnet and can easily control its light via the Switchmate app on their phone. No screwdriver or electrical tinkering needed! This year Switchmate has added the Slim line with an integrated motion detector and the Outlet that connects any plug-in outlet the same way.
iHome WiFi Smart Plug – starting at $29, available at Amazon as well as Apple, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyondand many others. The iHome Smart Plugs are the simplest way to get any plug-in device connected so you can start controlling it with your phone, your voice or a variety of smart home platforms. Just plug the iHome Smart Plug into your wall then plug in your lamp, your coffee maker, your stereo, or virtually anything that takes power. While you pick up a SmartPlug or two for those on your list, you might want to grab one to control your Christmas tree lights as well.
Smart, but not connected
SwitchFlip – from $29, available from Amazon and Quirky PivotPower. We saw the SwitchFlip this year at CES after their successful Indiegogo campaign and immediately related to the problem they are solving – the wall switch in your home that never seems to be connected to the outlet you want to use. With the SwitchFlip, simply plug in the transmitter into the outlet with the switch, then plug the other half into the outlet you actually want to control, no smartphone or internet connection required. A clever gift for anyone with outlets, and especially those who think they are afraid of technology.
SnapPower Guidelights – from $15.95, available from Amazon and direct from SnapPower. While they are not connected, these smart simple nightlights are easy to install and make a great stocking stuffer for anyone who has outlets in their home. Just replace your regular outlet with a SnapPower Guidelight and you immediately have a high-quality, LED nightlight that will last for years. The design makes it accessible to anyone who can use a screwdriver and homeowners and renters alike. SnapPower also offers USB chargers, child and baby safety outlets, and multi-packs at a discount.
Thanks for reading! We hope you found some great ideas for everyone on your holiday list. We would love your feedback or questions about any of our recommendations – please feel free to add comments below.