2019 Smart Home Holiday Gift Guide
Welcome to our 2019 smart home holiday gift guide, our sixth edition. AppMyHome has been recommending technology gifts for everyone on your list since 2014. We are excited to share another set of ideas for smart home gadgets that will make life easier in 2020 and beyond.
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This year we have seen the top three smart home ecosystem players, Amazon, Google and Apple, continue to grow and expand their offerings. You can get Alexa in your car and take her on the go with the new Echo Buds headphones or the invitation-only Echo Frames or Echo Loop smart ring. Google has formally merged all their smart home products under the Google Nest brand and now has a full line of smart speakers and displays to compete with Alexa. Apple has been more quietly making improvements to their HomeKit platform and more and more vendors are getting on board.
We primarily use Amazon Alexa to control our smart home and you will see that reflected in our choices. If your loved one is really passionate about Google Nest, we suggest you don’t try to convert them – we will include links to the equivalent smart speakers as alternatives.
This year, we have kept most all of our recommendations under $130, other than our suggested splurge. We have reviewed many of these products and services both here or on our YouTube channel and have included links if you want to learn more.
Holiday shopping season has already begun and there are already plenty of good deals on many of these devices. Where possible, we have included multiple links so you can shop around online. Or for the easiest way to shop, visit our Holiday Gift Guide on our Amazon store.
Smart Home Starter Kit
Wyze Smart Home Starter Pack – $109 (List)
Buy: Home Depot
Maybe you have a friend or family member who is interested in a camera and experimenting with smart home but doesn’t know where to start. Wyze now has a starter pack that includes a Wyze Camera, a micro SD card for storage, three Wyze bulbs, two Wyze plugs and the Wyze sense, a set of contact and motion sensors.
With this kit, your loved one could easily set up lights to come on every time the sensors detect motion and have the camera record whatever happens. This kit could probably cover most automations in a small apartment without any wiring or complex programming needed. Wyze makes solid products and offers outstanding support and this kit is a great choice for all levels of expertise. Pair it with an Echo Dot or Google Nest Mini and you could get a lot of automations for less than $150.
Expanding smart home control with Alexa
Amazon Echo Flex – $24.99 (List)
When we first started controlling our home with Alexa, we found that we needed an Alexa in almost every room, so we bought several Echo Dots. They were great in the sense that they were a lot cheaper (you could buy them for under $20 sometimes during sales) but you still have to plug an Echo Dot in to power somewhere, either into a USB port or using a power brick, and they take up space and gather dust on a table, desk, shelf, etc.
Amazon and others have been selling little Echo Dot shelves to solve this problem, but now Amazon has come up with the Echo Flex, an all in one Echo unit that plugs right into an outlet. The Echo Flex is a great idea to add voice control anywhere there is a free outlet and the price point makes it easy to buy several for your loved one or for yourself.
Echo Flex Accessories by Third Reality – $14.99 (List)
Buy Motion Sensor: Amazon
Buy Night Light: Amazon
For a bit more money, you can bundle an Echo Flex with accessories to help your loved one add an Alexa with more capability. Third Reality makes two accessories today, a Night Light and Motion Sensor. We are particularly excited about the motion sensor because you can now make Amazon routines triggered with a motion sensor without having to invest in a separate smart home hub.
Managing your home entertainment
Logitech Harmony Hub – $99 (List)
Logitech makes the simplest way to control your entertainment system in your home. Connect your TV, receiver, speakers, Apple TV, Roku, Sonos and more to the Harmony Hub and you can control it with your phone or with your smart speaker. A great gift for anyone who always loses the remote.
If your loved one still insists on a remote, you can get the Harmony Hub with a powerful companion remote, though if they use the Harmony Hub with Alexa they may not even remember they still have it.
For the Smart Home Power User
Zooz Z-Wave Plus S2 Power Strip – $79.95 (List)
Watch: Zooz Power Strip Unboxing
If your loved one already has a smart home with a Z-Wave compatible hub, they will love the Zooz Power Strip. With just one power strip, they will be able to power and control five different devices and monitor the power usage.
It’s perfect for a cabinet full of entertainment equipment or for plugging in all their Internet routers and other add-ons. If they don’t already have a smart home hub, consider adding the compatible SmartThings Hub 3 from Samsung.
Smart Speakers for the whole family
Amazon Echo Show 8 – $129.99 (List)
Read: Amazon Echo Show Envy
Alternative: Google Nest Hub – $129 (List)
It took us a couple of years to warm up to the Amazon Echo Show, but we finally got one this year and now we are hooked. The display really adds a lot to the Alexa experience – you can see the news, watch recipes, see song lyrics, and play Jeopardy and see the clues just like on the show.
The original Echo Show has a 10.1 inch screen and a larger speaker for better sound, but we think for most people, an 8 inch screen is plenty big enough for an Echo for your kitchen or family room. Get an Echo Show for both you and your loved one for really easy video conferencing with Alexa.
Amazon Echo Show 5 – $89.99 (List)
Our first Amazon Echo lived in our bedroom and served as a music speaker and alarm clock. Fast forward five years and Amazon made the perfect bedside alarm clock, the Echo Show 5.
The Echo Show 5 has a small, five inch screen that is the perfect size for a clock, and when it’s not playing videos or showing you the weather, it defaults to that clock. It does have a camera so you can do video chat from room to room or to anyone else with Alexa, but if you are not interested in that, you can turn off the camera switch.
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock – $59.99 (List)
Alternative: Google Nest Mini (no clock) – $49 (List)
If you would like to use Alexa as an alarm clock but you are not interested in the screen and camera, the Dot with clock is a great alternative. The simple digital clock is a great addition to the standard entry point for an Alexa smart home.
Kids Echo Dot – $69.99 (List)
Kids love talking to Alexa, and this year Amazon has introduced a more fun, colorful Echo Dot for Kids in Rainbow. Kids can have their own Echo Dot and parents can set daily time limits, allow calls with approved friends and family, and filter explicit content.
The Kids Echo Dot comes with a one year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, with access to more than 1,000 Audible books, songs, games and skills.
Echo Glow – $29.99 (List)
The Glow is a colorful companion lamp for any Amazon Echo. This is a great fun gift for kids who already use Alexa or you could bundle it with an Echo Dot if it is their first one.
Making dinner decisions simpler in 2020
Blue Apron e-Gift Cards
Buy: Blue Apron – $60 recommended; available in any amount
Blue Apron Gift Cards always make our holiday gift guide. Blue Apron offers fresh and interesting ingredients and clear instructions, making it easy for your loved ones to prepare delicious dinners and learn new cooking techniques along the way.
This year they’ve introduced WW Freestyle menus in conjunction with Weight Watchers as well as alternative meats from Beyond Meat in case you have family who are trying to eat healthier.
You can buy Blue Apron E-Gift Cards in any amount, for either meal kit delivery or Blue Apron Wine, that ships pairing-size bottles every month of award winning wine for $10 per bottle. We recommend at least the $60 gift that would cover one shipment of three meals for two people.
Sun Basket Gift Cards
Watch: SunBasket Unboxing
Buy: Sun Basket – $100 recommended; available in any amount
If your friend or family member is following a specific diet, such as Paleo, Gluten-Free or Vegan, you might want to surprise them with a Sun Basket Gift Card.
For $100, your loved one will get a chance to try at least three meals for two people in one shipment. They will be able to choose from 18 recipes every week as well as healthy snacks, fresh pastas, sustainable proteins, and more.
Giftable Smart Gadgets
Meater Plus – $99 (List)
When you are cooking meat it’s always best to cook it to the right temperature as grills, ovens, smokers all vary. We’ve long been fans of the iGrill, but attaching the wires to the unit is cumbersome and limiting.
The Meater Plus uses Bluetooth to connect the temperature probe to your phone, so you can measure your meat’s temperature wirelessly from up to 165 feet away. A great gift for the grill or smoker enthusiast in your life.
Walabot DIY Plus – $89.95 (List)
Watch: Walabot DIY at CES
Your favorite handyman or woman will love the Walabot DIY Plus. Pair this handheld device with an Android Phone (yes, only Android phones, no iPhones) and you can literally see through walls. It makes ordinary stud finders look like toys.
SensorPush – $49 (List), $99.95 for optional gateway
Watch: SensorPush Review
A great gift for your friends in California or for anyone who occasionally loses power, the SensorPush is an easy way to monitor the temperature and humidity for up to 20 days. Beyond measuring your refrigerator temp, it’s also great for monitoring other places, like guitar cases, humidors, wine cellars, and greenhouses.
Attach the optional WiFi gateway and you can monitor the temperature and humidity from anywhere in the world, as long as the Internet stays connected.
Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub – $49.98 List
Our absolute favorite smart home gadget, the Chamberlain MyQ, attaches to most garage doors installed after 1993 and enables you to open and close your garage door from anywhere in the world.
Most importantly, your loved one will never drive back home to check to see if the garage is closed (yes, we’ve all done it). It’s a great gift for anyone with a garage.
For controlling your outdoor holiday decor
MyTouchSmart Indoor/Outdoor WiFi Smart Plug – $39.99 List
No need to wait to buy this outdoor controllable smart plug from Jasco Products. Just plug it in to any outdoor outlet, plug in your holiday lights or blow up santas and penguins, and you can use the companion app to put them on a schedule or turn them on and off at your whim. A great gift for yourself or your friend who lights up the whole block every year.
Getting out of the house
Lonely Planet e-Books – prices vary
One of the benefits of having a smart home is it helps you travel worry-free, since you can always keep an eye on what’s going on back at home. Help your loved ones plan their next trip with books from Lonely Planet.
Whether they already know their destination or need inspiration, Lonely Planet has hundreds of books to help them enjoy the journey. If you buy from Lonely Planet you can get the books plus the e-book versions so your loved one can take it with them on their phone or tablet or laptop.
Our Holiday Wish
Frommagio Smart Home Cheesemaker – $440-485 List
Here at AppMyHome, we have been really nice this year so we are hoping Santa brings us a Fromaggio, the world’s first smart home cheesemaker. We were able to taste some of the sample cheeses at CES this year and they were creamy and delicious.
The Fromaggio makes almost any type of soft or hard cheese as well as yogurts. You can get fresh mozzarella in as little as 30 minutes or make more complex cheeses in up to 48 hours. The Fromaggio pairs with an app with plenty of recipes you can use or you can build your own. It’s a great gift for the discerning gourmet in your life. Available in both stainless steel and copper versions.
If you want your cheese before Christmas, we’re sorry, you will have to wait. Pre-orders today are scheduled to ship in May 2020.
We hope you enjoyed the 2019 smart home holiday gift guide. As always, we’d love your feedback. Did we miss anything? Are you looking for something special that’s not listed? Please feel free to start a conversation on Facebook or Twitter.