Smart Home Items We Recommend This Year [Holiday Gift Guide 2014]

By - December 2014

This is one guide we didn’t have in the original list but I wanted to do. Right now items for the smart home is my thing. I’ve been highly interested in adding smart items to my house. And as the space grows, I figure people will want to add some as well. Right now these are the items I recommend and/or are very interested in trying out myself this year. If you need some gift ideas for that person (or yourself) who want to go smart, check these out!

Nest

NestThermostat At the top of my list is the Nest Thermostat. In fact in you want to begin your journey on making your home a smart home, I suggest this is where you start. Before Nest I don’t think anyone really thought about the Thermostat, let alone it being smart. This all changed with Nest. What the Nest thermostat does it intelligently learns your heating and cooling behavior. After you set it up the first 7 days it notices what temperature you set it to and when. After this first period it learns from you and then can automatically set this for you since it knows your pattern. Also if it sense that no one is home it will set the temperature lower to saving you money. But if you still like a hand in the process you can control your temperature from your smartphone or tablet using the app they offer. And if you are a power user, tinkerer, or just a lover of the site IFTTT.com, Nest had a channel so you can set up some actions or responses with Nest. Again this is where you should start if you are able to to control your own heat and/or cooling that is.

Price: $249.00

Philips Hue Starter Pack

PhilipsHue Once you got heating/cooling out-of-the-way, next you want to check out lighting. The Philips Hue system is one I have my eye on and working to get a hold of to test out. The Philips Hue system takes another thing you might not think about when it comes to being smart homes but is really cool when you think about it. With the Hue system not only can you turn your lights on and off from your smartphone, but you can actually just the color of the lighting in your home. The Hue system lets you change the light to all shades of white from blue ish to yellow ish white if you want to keep it simple. Or if you want to jazz it up, it allows you to try every color in the spectrum. Their app has a really clue feature that lets you select an image, a picture and point to part of a picture where you like the color and then turn your lights to that color. Another note the Hue system also works with IFTTT.com, got to throw that out there. The system is very expensive, and expanding the system by adding light bulbs will cost a pretty penny, but this starter pack could get someone on the path to true smart lighting control.

Price: $199.99

iRobot Roomba 770 Vacuum

Roomba770 While isn’t like Rosy from the Jetsons, the Roomba is the closet thing we have to a robotic cleaner in the house. I’ve used this now for the last several weeks and the Roomba is a welcome part for anyone would want to take their home to the next level. I’ve seen people talk about how good it may vacuum you or how good is it really. Mainly this is because for the price, you want to know how well it really does clean. Personally after watching it through its entire clean cycle (which too about an hour), it was both the most boring-est thing to watch and the most impressive. Watching it go through his cycle and navigate around my living room, dining room, and hallways in between was quite impressive. It cover all areas quite thoroughly and returned to area several times. When it was done it returned itself back to it’s docking stand to charge and it was as if it never left that spot. One thing I like to tell people who might say, I’m sure I can sweep up better than the Roomba…You are probably right, but let me ask you this. How many times a week do you repeat that sweeping, in the same places, covering the same areas for an hour? Once, twice a week? What is you went out for the night, what if you was sick, or what if you just didn’t feel like it today? The Roomba never gets tired, never doesn’t feel like doing it, doesn’t get sick. With the scheduling feature it will clean 7 days a week at the same time all the time if you like. With that kind of schedule, I’ve waged it would ultimately do a better job than you.

Not most of us have pets, so the Roomba 770 is great for collecting up pet hair and dander. I can attest to this. And I recommend this since I watched it do so well a job!

Price: $499.99

Dropcam Pro

DropcamPro Now I’ve been a user of Dropcam for a little while now and I love this WiFi camera. One reason being the cost as compared to other solutions out there. I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for a security camera, I just don’t. The other reason being that is it SO easy to set up. After you plug it in and follow some on-screen set up tutorial your pretty much done. I have both Dropcam Pro and their earlier model. It looks like they no longer offer the original model, which is okay the Dropcam Pro is the one you really want to check out. The video quality on the Dropcam Pro is great and the field of range definitely much wider the original. Dropcam is owned by Nest, so you can expect some integration there. While there isn’t a IFTTT channel for Dropcam, I’m hoping for one in the future since both Nest and Nest Protect have one.

If you are looking for a good costing, easy to set up security camera, you’ll do good with the Dropcam Pro. And I didn’t even get in the Cloud DVR functions. Check it out!

Price: $199.99

SmartThings Hub

SmartThingsHub The last item on this list, is funny now a central one. As I’m always on the look out now for new smart items to add to my home, I came across the SmartThings Hub. This is something I now have my eye on and reason being that it connect a ton of your existing smart items together to great truly this automated smart home. Another cool point and as you can see with some of the items I mention above, it is also a partner with IFTTT. The fact that they have a channel on IFTTT means even if the Hub doesn’t support one of your devices, through IFTTT more than like it still will. The SmartThings Hub has a base station and then add-on sensors that will help the magic happen. Some of these include a motion detector and a clip on toggle for your key chain. The Hub does a lot of cool things and I can’t wait to get my hand on one to fully flush out what I can do!

Price: $99.00

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Jason Anderson is the Publisher & Editor At Large of G Style Magazine. A known gadget head and lover of all things digital. Some of his favorite movies include Hackers, The Net, The Matrix (1, 2, & 3), and Transformers.....see a trend here lol.