TechRadar’s Christmas gift guides
Smart home gadgets are the gifts that keep on giving; once you’ve started your smart home ecosystem it’s easy to truly personalize your setup by adding new devices and systems.
If you’re thinking of buying a smart home device for that special someone this Christmas, you’ll need to know which ecosystem they are already using, if any – this is because some gadgets work exclusively with a particular ecosystem. There are quite a few different ecosystems out there, including Apple HomeKit, Google Home/Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, ZigBee, and Samsung SmartThings.
Not sure what ecosystem your intended giftee uses? If they have an Amazon Echo speaker at home, they’re probably a fan of Alexa. Do they have a Google Pixel smartphone? Chances are they already use Google Assistant – if in doubt, you could always just ask.
Nowadays there are loads of different smart home gadgets flooding the market, and it can be tricky to know what to buy. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to the best Christmas gifts for the smart home enthusiast in your life, where you’ll find everything you’d need to start a smart home system from scratch.
The best smart speaker you can buy
Alexa, Google Assistant, and AirPlay 2
Plays music when Alexa is muted
No Hi-Res Audio support
Most good smart home starts with a smart speaker – and the Sonos One is the best one you can buy.
With Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, you can control your music as well as your other smart home gadgets with your voice alone – and support for Apple AirPlay 2 makes this speaker truly impartial when it comes to the services and smart home ecosystems you want to buy into.
As well as all that, the Sonos One boasts the audio brand’s multi-room smarts, so you can hook it up to other Sonos speakers for a truly connected home – that’s one hardworking Christmas gift.
Read more: Sonos One review
Ring Video Doorbell 2
The best smart doorbell on the market
Great motion tracking
App is easy to to use
No free video storage
Building the perfect smart home starts at your front door, and what better to way to secure your loved one’s home than buying the best smart doorbell, the Ring Video Doorbell 2?
This nifty device replaces your traditional doorbell, adding a camera that allows you to see who’s at your doorstep – even if you’re away from home. Once someone approaches your door, you’ll get a notification on your phone, and if they press the button, a video call will appear on your phone.
Support for Google Assistant and Alexa means that it can be controlled via your other smart gadgets – for example, you could ask Google Assistant to show you the view from your front door on your Google Nest Hub Max smart display.
The best smart lightbukb to make your home glow
Easy to install
Can be pricey
One of the easiest ways to make your ‘dumb’ home smart is to invest in some smart light bulbs – and the best ones you can buy are in the Philips Hue range.
The Philips Hue lineup for LED bulbs come in a variety of shapes and sizes for just about any household lighting need, as well as different colors for fans of mood lighting.
If you opt for Philips Hue bulbs, you will need to get the Philips Bridge, which is kind of like a hub for your lights. The advantage, however, is reliability, and the fact that the system is compatible with a range of different standards and home control systems including Apple HomeKit, Nest and Samsung SmartThings.
Read more: Philips Hue review
Nest Thermostat E
Stay warm (or cool) with the best smart thermostat
Easy to use
Helps you save money
Display can be hard to read
If you want to inject a little machine learning into your home heating / cooling, the Nest Thermostat E is the best smart thermostat out there – and it could make a great gift for the person in your life that’s always too hot or too cold.
You can control the temperature with your smartphone or tablet, or have it auto-adjust based on your proximity to home.
What makes this device so smart is the fact that it adjusts itself based on your routine. Simply use it the same way you would any other thermostat for the first few weeks, after which you’ll find that the thermostat will adjust automatically without having to do anything.
Read more: Nest Thermostat E review
Arlo Pro 3
The best smart security camera to keep your home safe
Good image quality
Easy to use
Limited security without subscription
The Arlo Pro 3 may not offer 4K resolution, but it’s still the best smart security camera you can buy, with an easy-to-use app, an 160-degree field of view, night-mode, and two-way audio – and it could make a great gift for anyone who wants to keep an eye on their home.
A built-in siren means that you can scare away intruders, while automatic zooming and motion tracking means that this smart camera picks up everything it needs to.
Support for Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit makes it suitable for just about any smart home setup.
As you might expect these days, some features are trapped behind a paywall. You do get a three-month trial, and the subscription is only $3 per camera per month, for the basic Arlo Smart subscription – but if you don’t pay it you’ll lose access to things like object detection, cloud recording, and more.
Read more: Arlo Pro 3 review
August Smart Lock Pro
This smart lock is expensive, but well worth the cash
If you’re serious about security, a smart lock is a smart choice. The August Smart Lock Pro is the best of the bunch, fitting on to your existing deadbolt, and allowing you to use your existing key – with all the benefits of a smart lock.
It allows you to lock and unlock your door remotely, which is handy if you need to let someone in while you’re away, and you can even set it up to unlock automatically when you’re within 200 feet of your home.
You can also set smart alerts to let you know if you’re door is locked or unlocked. or when you’ve accidentally left you door open – a great gift for the forgetful person in your life.
Read more: August Smart Lock Pro review