2020 Smart Home Holiday Gift Guide
Welcome to our 2020 smart home holiday gift guide, our seventh annual edition. AppMyHome has been recommending technology gifts for everyone on your list since 2014 and we’re excited to once again compile our lists of old standbys and new favorites.
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2020 has been a year all of us will remember long into the future. We have all spent way more time at home, many of us working and going to school remotely, and we’ve all likely spent time and money upgrading our homes and gardens. Lots of us noticed our home Internet service needed some love and more people than ever are installing smart cameras and security systems.
According to international research firm Parks Associates, 30% of US broadband consumers own a smart home device, 52% intend to purchase a smart home device in the next 12 months, and 67% own and use at least one internet-connected video device. That means that likely a third of your shopping list would love a connected gadget to make their lives easier!
While we continue to prefer Amazon Alexa as our primary voice assistant, we are now up to three Home Pods in our offices to listen to music, and we’re excited to try the new Home Pod Mini to see how it will work with the HomeKit devices we already have. Maybe 2021 will be the year Apple sees big growth in the smart home? We’ve been waiting for that to happen since we bought our first Philips Hue smart bulbs at the Apple Store for $60+ a piece. (yes, that was before 2014).
This year, some of our picks are in the more expensive range, things that the whole family will benefit from, but we’ve also included several under $50. 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.
Of course it’s 2020, so plenty of companies are already announcing Black Friday sales. 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.
Apple’s more powerful and giftable smart speaker
Apple HomePod Mini – $99 (List)
It seems Apple has been making product announcements every week this fall, and in case you missed it buried in the news about the new iPhones, Apple announced a new, smaller and more reasonably priced version of it’s HomePod smart speaker, the HomePod Mini.
We love our full size HomePods and bought them for their superior sound. But we hesitated to recommend them to our smart home friends at first because of their high price and limited functionality of HomeKit compared to other platforms.
The Apple lovers on your list will love its high-quality sound and integration with other Apple devices. You can hand-off music or podcasts from your speaker to your iPhone, or use it as a speaker for your AppleTV. It has Siri built in and smart home device companies are adding more and more compatible HomeKit devices every day.
With the HomePod Mini’s list price of $99, we can now confidently say it’s worth trying. Ours is still on its way.
Personal Safety for All
KATANA Safety Wallet: $49.95 List
Buy: KatanaSafety.com – save 10% with code: “APPMYHOME”
If you worry about anyone on your list, the KATANA Safety Wallet is a great gift to help keep him or her safe. It attaches to the back of a smartphone, and works with an app and a 24/7 service to call for help in case of an emergency, or just to get a bit of peace of mind in uncomfortable situations with the Walk with Me feature.
We recently tested this, running in our neighborhood, and are really impressed how easy it was to set up and use. Depending where you buy, it comes with one or more months of free service.
New Amazon Echo Family
Amazon recently unveiled their all-new 4th generation Echo Devices. We’re not so sure about the ball-shape yet, but the new capabilities are impressive. Here are some of the best bets for folks on your list.
4th Gen Echo Dot – $49.99 (List)
The Echo Dot is Amazon’s entry-level voice assistant that’s a great addition to every home or apartment. It now comes in three colors and this 4th Gen Echo features much-improved sound. You can get it with or without a digital clock display, and bundled with devices like smart bulbs or plugs to get your loved one started in the smart home.
4th Gen Echo – $99.99 (List)
The full size version of the Echo adds a built-in smart home hub that works with Zigbee devices for even more capabilities for controlling the home. It also has an even better speaker with dynamic sound that adapts to every room.
If you want a better idea of the smart home devices that work with the 4th Gen Echo, watch our Jasco Enbrighten Zigbee Smart Switches Review.
4th Gen Echo Dot – Kids Edition – $59.99 (List)
Amazon has had a kids edition for a few years now, but we think these are the cutest ever. Get a Panda or a Tiger Echo Dot designed just for kids, with kid-friendly content and parental controls.
Not from Amazon, but with Alexa-built in
Buy: Sandman Clocks – save 10% with code “APPMYHOME”
We’ve been watching the Sandman Doppler for a couple of years, and the Alexa-enabled smart clock is now available. If your loved one is looking for Alexa with more privacy options (no camera!), USB charging, and a really nice, easy-to-read clock, check it out.
Other Great Alexa Gifts
Easy (and less expensive) ways to spread Alexa cheer throughout the home.
Amazon Echo Flex – $24.99 (List)
Last year Amazon introduced the Echo Flex, an all-in-one Echo device that plugs right into an outlet. It’s an easy way 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.
You can buy the Echo Flex alone or bundled with a motion sensor so you can trigger more smart home routines in more rooms.
3rd Gen Echo Dot – $39.99 (List)
If you aren’t super excited about the new round shape, the 3rd Generation Echo Dot is still a great choice for adding Echo to more rooms in the house. It also comes in three colors and will save you ten or more dollars over the 4th Gen version.
Fun Smart Home Lighting – Light Strips
We’re not sure why it took us so long, but this year we finally tried smart light strips and we love the colors and the functionality. We have a nice blue color under our television while we watch, and lights under our kitchen island for a great look. We’ve tried these two and they both work great. And both work with Alexa.
TECKIN – $36.99 for 32.8ft (List)
A great option for almost everyone, the TECKIN Light strips work on Wi-Fi and you can control them with the free Smart Life App and the included remote.
Smart Home Starter Kit
Wyze Smart Home Starter Pack – $99 (List)
Watch: Wyze Starter Pack Unboxing
For around $100, this 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. This kit launched in 2019 but we still think it’s a great value.
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.
Delicious and Easy Dinner Choices
Blue Apron e-Gift Cards
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.
In 2020 Blue Apron experienced record demand that has resulted in sold-out kits and shipping delays, but recently we’re back to expected service and they’ve added more meals and options, like gourmet upgrades and protein-swaps for their weekly recipes.
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.
Freshly: Healthy meals on the table in 5 minutes or less
Watch: Freshly Unboxing Video
Buy: Freshly – starting at $51.95 for 4 meals
If your loved one wants to eat better, but life is getting in the way of meal prep and cooking, give them the gift of fast and easy fresh meals on their doorstep from Freshly.
You can give them a gift card of 4, 6, 10 or 12 meals per week depending on your budget. It’s a great gift for new parents, older relatives living alone, or anyone who wants to take the guesswork out of dinner.
Giftable Smart Gadgets
Meater Plus – $99 (List); Meater Block – $269 (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. Buy a single, a pair, or the Meater Block with four probes and built-in Wi Fi, to cook four proteins to perfection with or without using a smartphone.
Walabot DIY Plus X – $89.95 (List)
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.
Wyze Scale – $28.98 (List)
Watch: Wyze Scale Unboxing
If you know someone who has been complaining about putting on the Covid 19 (pounds, that is), surprise them with a Wyze Scale. This smart scale tracks not just weight but 12 different metrics to give you a full picture of your health and the price makes it even more giftable.
BenjiLock – $54.18 (List)
You may have kids on campus or not depending where they live, and chances are you have an avid traveler on your list. The BenjiLock fingerprint locks make great gifts for anyone who cares about their stuff.
These smart locks are high-quality and easy to use and allow you to store multiple fingerprints so you don’t need to remember a combination or the key. For traveling, BenjiLock has a TSA-approved version to secure all your luggage. Available in lots of neat colors.
Decoding Food Sensitivities
FoodMarble AIRE – $159 (List)
Buy: FoodMarble.com, use code “APPMYH” for 15% off
Does someone on your list have food sensitivities? Lots of people do and it can take a long time to figure out what’s causing their digestion issues, and a lot of time and money working with a doctor to diagnose problems.
You can help them with the gift of the FoodMarble AIRE. This device measures the hydrogen levels in your breath, and together with a companion app, can help figure out which foods and ingredients trigger problems.
Buy the AIRE device alone or with the FODMAP program (yes that is F-O-D), which helps test sensitivities to four common hard-to-digest food components.
For the Home Chef
Joule Sous Vide by Breville – $249 (List)
We’ve been recommending this smart sous vide machine for several years, and we’ve never heard a bad review. The Joule makes the sophisticated sous vide cooking technique accessible to almost any home cook with its easy to use app.
You can take a pork chop out of the freezer and cook it to perfection without having to babysit. It’s great for both experienced and new home cooks.
The Joule comes in white and stainless steel versions. The stainless steel version includes a ChefSteps premium membership with exclusive content, recipes and classes.
For New Parents
Nanit Baby Monitor
Watch: Nanit Baby Monitor Unboxing
If someone in your life is expecting or just had a new baby, the Nanit may be a great gift. We’ve seen a lot of baby monitors over the years, but we like the Nanit because it tracks sleep and can use artificial intelligence to alert you to problems when the baby wears Nanit Breathing Wear.
You can buy it alone or with a bundle to get new parents started on their exciting journey.
Water-saving (and time-saving) Smart Devices
B-hyve XR Smart Sprinkler Controller – $179 (List)
If someone on your lists loves to garden and/or loves saving water, the B-Hyve XR smart sprinkler controller makes a great gift. It replaces a traditional sprinkler controller with a device that can be programmed and managed right from your phone.
Set up smart watering based on the weather and types of landscape and you may never need to worry about it again. It’s available to control either 8 or 16 valves to fit almost any size yard. It also works with the Flume Smart Water Monitor (below) to help diagnose leaks in the system, and to tell you exactly how many gallons of water your watering zone uses.
Flume 2 Smart Home Water Monitor – $199 (List)
Almost nothing is as damaging to a home than a severe water leak. It’s one of the most common and expensive claims to homeowner’s insurance, not to mention the hassle and clean-up when a pipe bursts or a water heater failure.
The Flume helps you monitor household water usage so you can keep an eye on things and get a notification if something goes wrong. It’s really easy to use, just attach it to your water meter and set up the app. A great gift for your own household or for any homeowner on your list.
Our Holiday Wish
Spinn Coffee Maker
Watch: CES 2020 Spinn Coffee Maker
As coffee and tech snobs, we have been following the Spinn centrifugal smart coffee machine since it was announced in 2016.
Spinn had a successful crowdfunding campaign but it took a lot longer than they expected to bring the machine to market. Their early backers were not happy, and some chose to get a refund instead of continuing to wait.
We got a chance to see the Spinn in action this January at CES. The coffee tasted pretty good, but we were most impressed with the companion app, the Alexa integration, and the sleek look.
The coffee maker is still on back-order, but we don’t mind waiting if anyone wants to gift us one.
We hope you enjoyed the 2020 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.