Holiday Gift Guide: Smart Home Devices

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As we inch closer to the November and December Holiday season, it is time to think about the perfect gifts for your family and friends. This year will be the year of drones and Home Automation. In this post, we will focus on the many Home Automation/Smart Home products that will fill your year with bliss.  We will be adding to this list for the entire holiday season.

 

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Amazon Echo Devices – Retail $179.99

The Original Amazon Echo in black and Amazon Echo in white are currently the market leader in this category.  If you want to purchase a device that can instantly get you up and running with an easy to use hub, the Amazon Echo is the device I would choose over any other.  Alexa is the keyword to use when you want to activate the Echo and she works with many of the mainstream audio apps to work as a wi-fi smart speaker or a bluetooth speaker.  The wi-fi capabilities basically allow the device to stream the audio directly from the Amazon Echo’s speakers.  You can connect to the Amazon Echo’s speakers directly via bluetooth from many iOS and Android phones and that should allow you to stream audio from most apps that aren’t part of the Echo app compatible ecosystem. Apps that work directly with the Amazon Echo via wi-fi include Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify and TuneIn.

In addition to using the device as a speaker, you can use it to set timers and alarms.  I find the alarm/timer features to be some of the most useful features and use them almost daily.  It will surprise you just how often you will take advantage of these useful features. If you have  your Echo in the kitchen, you can use her to set cooking timers or set a timer to keep track of when your wash is finished.

If you want to utilize smart home functions, it is compatible with my smart light bulbs and electrical plugs from WeMo, Philips Hue and Samsung’s Smart Things. You usually find these smart lights at a deep discount if you wait and shop the weekly ads or wait until the holiday gift giving season.

The Echo also works to give you audio news flash updates from multiple sources and can even read audio books to you.  You can get advance audio book readings if you utilize Amazon owned Audible to get the official audio versions of the books read by professional voice actors.

You can give the Echo access to your  Google Calendar and Alexa can keep track of your calendar and appointments.

The Echo has a skills platform that is updated by developers daily and included features that allow you to order a pizza or even an Uber.

I think that it would be safe to say that an Amazon Echo would be a fantastic gift for a mom or day or even a grandparent.

 


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The Echo Dot in black and White – Retail:  $49.99 –  Do you want all the amazing features listed above, but don’t need a speaker that will fill the room?  If that is the case, you can save a bunch of cash if you purchase the Echo Dot.  It includes nearly every feature of the original Amazon Echo, but it only includes a very tiny speaker that works to play audio and music, but is really only meant to allow you to hear Alexa’s audio responses.  The good thing is that you can connect a powerful portable or bluetooth enabled speaker to it and then you will basically have the full sound of the original Echo.  At around a 4th the size of the original Echo, this device is perfect for a bedroom or kitchen.

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