7 great gifts for smart homes • TechCrunch
This year was a big one for the smart home thanks to the actual introduction of Matter after a couple of years of discussion and refinement of the standard. It’s still early days for the cross-brand compatibility layer, and it’s probably still something that should only be one factor in how you set up your smart home and choose your devices, rather than the deciding factor.
Accordingly, some of the items below support Matter, but not all. The complexity of interoperability is definitely a consideration, but ultimately the best smart home is the one that actually feels smart, regardless of what’s talking or not talking to what.
If you’re looking to pick up some extra smart stuff for the true smart home lover in your life, the following gifts should hit the spot.
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1. Philips Hue Gradient Signe lamps
Philips consistently makes great smart lighting products through the Hue range, and the Hue Gradient versions of the Signe table and floor lamps are no exception.
The Signe lamps are long, vertical light rods built into heavy cylindrical bases. It sounds simple because it is, but the Gradient version adds the ability to project multiple colors across the length of the bar. This is very useful if you use them with Philips’ TV Sync box, but gives very nice lighting effects for practically any room.
Price: $220 (table) or $330 (floor) from Amazon
2. Ikea Symfonisk Wi-Fi picture frame speaker
To complete your home theater setup in a relatively harmless way, consider adding a pair of Ikea’s Symfonisk flat speakers, powered by Sonos technology. Besides the dangling cord, which you can blend into most decorations with a little creativity, there’s not much here to give away the fact that these actually emit sound.
They make the perfect rear speakers in a room where you don’t want to sacrifice aesthetics for surround, and when you pair them with one of Sonos’ echo sounders and its new Sub Mini, you have a great sound system for your TV. without sacrificing a lot of square footage or lowering the general atmosphere.
Price: $250 from Ikea
3. Level lock+
The best new smart lock this year has to be the Level Lock+, which uses Level’s ingenious design to give you a sophisticated smart lock that looks like a regular deadbolt. This new version adds Apple Home Key support to the mix.
Home Key works with modern iPhones and Apple Watches, providing an easy and rock-solid way to unlock and lock your door. The Home Key feature adds to Level Lock’s existing remote control and touch-based locking and unlocking options.
Price: $330 from Apple
4. Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
Canadian smart thermostat manufacturer Ecobee updated its lineup this year with two new models, including the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium and Smart Thermostat Enhanced. The top-of-the-line Premium comes with high-end finishes and materials, as well as a built-in built-in air quality monitor.
The Premium model definitely looks better than any previous Ecobee thermostat, and it also supports Siri or Alexa voice control, as well as streaming Spotify or other Bluetooth audio. In addition, it can function as a hands-free intercom system if you need to relay something floor-to-floor or room-to-room.
Price: $250 from Ecobee
5. iRobot Roomba Combo j7+
Smart vacuum cleaner maker iRobot released its first new model in a while this year, and it’s a big upgrade – the first American Roomba to include both a vacuum and a mop in one. With the ability to separate carpets from floors, and a way to maneuver the mop pad down and up as needed, it’s the smart cleaning you need to get more thorough with your approach.
It can empty the vacuum container via the included docking station, but it needs your help to empty and refill the mop tank. Still less work than the manual way.
Price: $1100 (discounted to $900 at time of publication) from Amazon
6. Oral-B iO Series 9 toothbrush
You’d think that by this point the humble toothbrush would be a long-solved problem, but you’d be wrong. Oral-B released their modern iO line of toothbrushes a couple of years ago now, but they’re still the best you can buy, and after two years I now have the first-hand recommendations of several dentists and hygienists to back it up.
The Oral-B iO Series 9 is the top model, with different colored indicators to tell you when you’re brushing too hard or too soft, and a whole range of different modes – including one dedicated to tongue cleaning. It also comes with a travel case for charging in the box.
Price: $299 (discounted to $249 at time of publication) from Amazon
7. Aviron Impact Smart Rower
Aviron’s smart rowers are packed with technology, durable, quiet and well built. The company has put a particular focus on software development chops, hiring actual game designers to build the interactive programs and apps that power the workouts.
The Impact is the smaller of the two models, with a collapsible design that makes it easier to store in a corner when not in use. The combination air and magnetic resistance system helps provide a natural sense of calm without adding the complication of bringing actual water into the mix.
Price: $2,199 (discounted to $1,999 at time of publication) from Aviron