Who wouldn’t want to be able to ask their vacuum cleaner politely to clean up flour after a baking disaster? Or be able to definitively state that it’s so much hotter inside than outside when deciding whether to turn on the air con or open the window? And music. Music everywhere. Here’s our guide to the smart home gadgets you should have on your Christmas list this year.
OK, what if a tablet, a smart speaker and one of the digital photo frames of old had a child? It would be the $219 Google Home Hub, and it’s much more useful than first expected.
It’s great as either a bedside clock replacement, or a hands-free recipe helper in the kitchen.
It answers all your questions, just like a regular Google Home, but instead of just hoping you’re listening the whole time you can also get the information on the screen, making it easier to understand. Sure, you can do that on your phone already, but this has a better-quality speaker for music and YouTube tutorials. And you can use it to display your photos in your home when you don’t need it for directions, weather info or anything else you might ask it.
Elgato really does everything. While Avea is its Bluetooth-connected light range, Eve covers all things environmental and security. At the low end you have the $69.95 Door & Window Wireless Contact Sensor, which is useful if you want to be alerted to an intruder, kids getting up in the middle of the night, someone opening the present cupboard, or you just want solid proof that people keep opening the darn door and letting all the air con out.
Next up is the $84.95 Energy smart plug (currently $68 at Amazon) which you can use to see how much energy your devices are using, and turn them on or off using Siri or the app. It relies on Bluetooth, so you can’t control it from anywhere in the world like other devices that use Wi-Fi, but it’s still good.
At the higher end you can get the Room Indoor Air Quality Monitor and the Smart Water Controller. The Indoor monitor tells you all about the air quality, temperature and humidity inside. The water controller lets you set a timer for your sprinkler or hose, and has a child lock that stops little kids from turning on the tap and just walking away.
Everyone knows that Sonos is the reigning monarch of the multi-room speaker world. Its speakers have great quality sound output, the connection is strong, the platform is compatible with all the major streaming services, and they just look nice. The $299 One (currently $50 off at Amazon) is the latest and smartest addition to the lineup, replacing the previous Play:1 model.
It’s still humidity resistant, so you can have it in the bathroom while you shower, and it connects to all your previous-gen Sonos speakers. But it now has AirPlay 2, which is great for iPhone users, and Amazon Alexa voice control built in, making it a smart speaker that can control your home.
If you have someone in your life who you like enough to spend up to $300 on, who either already has Sonos speakers or is considering getting some, and wants to make their home smarter, this is the perfect gift.
I’ve tested many robot vacuum cleaners over the years, and the $799 OZMO 900 is the best I’ve tried. It’s relatively quiet for a vacuum cleaner, the app is responsive and easy to use on both Android and iOS, and it does a surprisingly good job of vacuuming.
The map it creates in the app is creepily accurate, and the Ozmo 900 is very good at actually cleaning and avoiding the areas you ask it to in the app. It’s also great to be able to give voice commands over Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for it to come clean, say if you’ve just dropped a bowl of dry cake ingredients and don’t want to track it everywhere to get to a traditional vacuum cleaner.
The battery lasts for around an hour, but because it’s got your whole place mapped out it not only remembers where to take itself back to charge, but it also knows where to go to start again if it didn’t finish in time.
Dads love talking about the weather and being able to tell you, to the milliletre, how much it rained yesterday. When I say dad I don’t just mean male child-owners, but those people who make dad jokes while wearing flannel. You know at least one person like this. This is for them.
Netatmo makes a great suite of weather sensing devices, like the $300 weather station which comes with an indoor sensor and an outdoor sensor. The outdoor one will give you the stats on the temperature, humidity, air quality, barometric pressure, and the weather in general. The indoor sensor keeps you updated on temperature, humidity, air quality, sound levels and ventilation warnings. It will tell you when your cooking has become an environmental hazard, and if little Sammy really does have their music too loud. And you can keep an eye on the long-term stats, so you can better predict what the weather will be like next month.
You can also add on a rain gauge for $149 that will be much more accurate than the plastic tube your dad of choice currently has nailed to a stake in the backyard.