As someone who loves technology, gadgets and home automation I consider myself an early adopter. For the past several years I have published an annual holiday gift guide. The curated list of items range in price from under $9 to $12,000. There is something for the technology lover in your life at every budget. Happy shopping!
The titles for each item are hyperlinks to purchase the items online. As you will see most are linked to Amazon.com because they offer the best pricing and availability. Prices may have changed since the time of publication.
Amazon Echo Spot $129.99
The Amazon Echo Spot is like Siri or Google Now for your home without the need for your phone. This updated version of the Echo Dot includes a screen. This device is the perfect bedside alarm clock. Wake to the weather, your favorite music, news headlines, sports scores or any other info you choose. You can make video calls from the Echo Spot as well. The Echo Spot connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly.
Echo Spot can hear you from across the room, even while music is playing. When you want to use Echo Dot, just say the wake word "Alexa" and Dot responds instantly. If you have home automation like thermostats or lights the Echo Dot allows you to control them with your voice. You can set alarms, ask to have a Kindle book read aloud or play Pandora and other music sources. The Echo Dot is constantly learning new tricks and being updated by Amazon. The Echo Dot is available through Amazon.com
LED lights are super efficient and provide great light. The MPowerD Luci lights are solar powered LED lights that are perfect for the backyard, camping or boating. The affordable lights provide up to 12 hours of light on a single solar powered charge. The lights can be set to flash or to stay on. They float as well so they are perfect for in a pool or for on the lake. We used one on a camping trip last summer as an anchor marker and float for a late night return to our boat mooring. These lights are super cool and provide great light. They are sold individually or in multi-packs. They also come in a more advanced model that has color changing lights. Here is a link to the Luci Color Changing Lights
Robot vacuum cleaners are not only super practical but really cool. Xiaomi is the Apple electronics giant of China and the Xiami Mi Smart Robot Vacuum is an amazing piece of technology. This radar controlled vacuum cleaner will clean your entire home with the push of a button. The vacuum can be controlled through the iOS and Android app allowing you to schedule the vacuum to run on specific days and at specific times. The app allows you to remotely start, stop and control the vacuum. It also gives you visualization of the areas that have been cleaned. With the combination of a laser distance scanner and three built in processors, the smart robot vacuum will scan its surroundings and create a route for thorough cleaning. Once the vacuum has completed is cleaning route it will automatically return to its home base.
Once the vacuum reaches a charge lower than 20%, it will automatically return to home base and recharge till 80% then continue on with the unfinished work. The Xiaomi Mi Smart Robot Vacuum Cleaner with App Control has an inbuilt wall sensor feature, this will ensure the robot keeps a distance of 10mm and cleans the edges with a brush, effectively protecting yours skirting and the appearance of the vacuum cleaner.
While there are several other robot vacuum cleaners on the market the Xiaomi get great reviews and is much more affordable than the comparable power rated vacuums from competitors. Available for $279.99 from China at Zapals.com or $382.99 from Amazon.com
Having surveillance cameras outside the home can be an effective deterrent for crime, but the cost to wire the cameras can be prohibitive. This new generation of wifi enabled weather proof cameras are affordable and provide amazing picture quality. Live video can be viewed via an Android or iOS app right on your phone. The camera has an sd memory card slot to store recorded video and can be triggered by motion. The night vision in the camera is quite good. You can have multiple cameras linked within the app. I use one on our dock to monitor our boat. The two requirement for this camera are access to an outlet to plug it into power and it must be within range of your wifi router to work effectively. The camera is available in 960p and 1080p resolution. Amazon.com
Ring Video Doorbell Pro $199.00
Ding dong ditch driving you crazy? Catch them in the act or respond to a delivery person even when you are not at home. The Ring Video Doorbell replaces your existing doorbell and uses the wiring to power this camera enabled doorbell. The video doorbell is motion sensor activated and allows for two way conversation. So whether you are home or not you can keep tabs on your home and interact with anyone who comes to your door. This is a great convenience tool and an affordable first level home security option. There are other version of this doorbell available with different feature sets. The Pro version is the smallest and least obtrusive. Available on Amazon.com
Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire Watch $694.70
The ultimate fitness and active lifestyle smartwatch. This watch puts the Apple iWatch to shame in terms of features. If you love fitness and are also a gadget person then the Garmin Fenix 5X is the ultimate smartwatch for you. The watch includes bluetooth, wifi, GPS, Glonas, Heart Rate monitor, accelerometer, ANT+, barometer and other high tech sensors. The watch has downloadable maps so you can plot your course and never be lost. The rugged watch is waterproof to 100 meters and it is shock proof. The battery in this watch lasts a full week on a single charge. When paired with a smartphone it can receive email, text, Facebook and phone alerts. The watch tracks your heart rate throughout the day, tracks sleep, tracks steps, tracks calories and tracks activities. The watch has downloadable watch faces. Downloadable apps for specific sports including surfing, swimming, skiing, cross country skiing, diving, sky diving, SUP, kayaking and more. This is the ultimate adventure watch. I have one and I never take it off other than once a week to charge it. I will say the watch face is quite large and it is a bit heavy. If you are interested in most of the functionality in a lighter smaller package consider the Garmin 735XT instead. Both are the same price. Available at Amazon.com
SnapPower GuideLights $16.95
This item has been on my gift guide list for the past three years. It is such a simple solution that provides excellent utility. SnapPower is an outlet cover that contains three LED lights and a light sensor. We have installed these covers in hallways and on counters throughout our house. They provide great night lighting and ambiance in dark conditions. They consume very little power and take under one minute to install per location. Such a clever device that makes navigating your house at night safer and easier. The SnapPower Guidelights and SnapPower USB chargers are available at SnapPower.com or Amazon.com
LED lights provide great low energy lighting. This six foot long light strip can be mounted under a counter, behind a tv, along a wall or along any flat surface. The six foot long light strip contains LED lights that can produce 16mm colors. The lights can be turned on or off using the included switch or they can be controlled via a smartphone app. The app allows for setting timers, adjusting the colors, linking the colors to a weather app and more. Wake in the morning to blue for blue skys or red for rain. You decide. The color can change to music and all of this can be controlled by Amazon Alexa or other smart hubs. A super cool gift for kids and adults alike. Available at Amazon.com
If your refrigerator is more than five years old chances are the bulbs inside the fridge and freezer are incandescent bulbs which get really hot. This wastes a lot of energy because every time you open the fridge or freezer these bulbs heat up and then when you shut the door the heat has no where to go and forces the unit to run to dissipate the heat. LED bulbs are significantly more efficient and they produce no heat. Replacing the bulbs is super easy and can lower your energy usage, saving you money. Additionally the LED bulbs give off a very white light which refreshes the look of the inside of your fridge. Available at Amazon.com
A great addition to any kitchen, this touch-less soap dispenser detects your hand within one pass-Put your hand under the sensor to let the dispenser start to work. Don't need to wave your hand multiple times. Washing hands without else dirty. There are four different levels: To adjust the soap liquid volume, press +or – button once for a level, there are total 4 tevels of soap liquid volume. You can change how much of the soap comes out. No dripping or trailing, doesn't waste soap. With a 9.56oz capacity re-fill tank, there will be no need to refill regularly. The use of Japanese intelligent motion infra-red sensor, compared with other infrared sensors, can improve the ability to resist aging and working hours. no-touch and easy-to-use operation that will only be activated when needed unlike others that are too sensitive can have spillages. Using AAA-level anti-leakage and waterproof technology to prevent the soap or water to corrode circuit board. Waterproof base helps to prevent the battery compartment from getting soaked in water which causes corrosion and the dispenser fail to operate. Available at Amazon.com
DJI Spark Drone $499 now $399
DJI has been the leader in drone technology for the past several years. Each year they release better and better equipment at a lower price point. The DJI Spark is their latest consumer focused drone. It is so small it can fit in a coat pocket. The camera shoots in 1080P video and the drone has 16 minutes of flying time on a single charge. The software has been greatly enhanced to improve safety and lessen the risk of crashing. One of the coolest new features is the follow me function. The user sets the drones height and distance from the subject to be filmed and the Spark locks in on the subject. This would be perfect for shooting wakeboarding or other high action sports. The drone comes with everything necessary for flight. The Spark is controlled via your smartphone which also gives you a live video of what you are filming.
For those looking for a higher end model. The DJI Mavic Pro is the ultimate drone. It shoots 4k video, has a dedicated remote and has a flying time of 27 minutes per charge. DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Spark
Garmin Speak $99.99
Garmin and Amazon teamed up to bring Alexa voice control to your car. This portable GPS smart speaker provides turn by turn directions and all sorts of entertainment in your vehicle. It serves the same purpose as the Amazon Eco devices, but in a car friendly version with additional navigation features. The Garmin Speak can stream music playlists and podcasts, play audio books, check the weather, and listen to news, sports stats or traffic updates -all while keeping your hands on the wheel and your smartphone stowed away. You can access exclusive Garmin turn-by-turn spoken directions by saying, “alexa, ask Garmin ”; display shows lane guidance arrows, upcoming turns and driver alerts when exceeding posted speed limits. A cool device for the distracted driver in your family. Available on Amazon.com
A home security camera no longer needs to be complex to set up or operate. The WyzeCam provides a high definition live feed of any room in your house that place the camera in, or buy multiple cameras. The live video is accessible via the Wyze App for iOS or Android. The camera is really small and portable so it can be easily moved around the home to monitor different rooms or situations. The only wire required is the included power cord. The camera links to your home network via wifi and enables video access from anywhere. The app allows you to see the live feed, provides two way audio capability and screen shot capability. The camera is motion sensitive and can be triggered by motion to record to an SD card or to send an alert to your phone. This camera is comparable to the Nest Cam which costs $199. You can buy six of these cameras for the price of one Nest Cam. Available on Amazon.com or at WyzeCam.com
This has been my favorite purchase of 2017. An electric skateboard is fun and a practical green form of transportation. The Blitzart electric skateboards run on the latest Lithium Ion battery technology (Not the type that catches on fire). Blitzart offers three versions of the board starting at $189 for the entry level board and going up to $399 for the GT version. All boards are charged by a USB charger and the board speed is controlled by an included bluetooth remote controller. Range is between 4 miles and 12 miles per charge depending on the board and the riding conditions. Top speed ranges fro 10 mph to 22 mph. The mid level board for $289 is a great long board that has excellent specs. Those familiar with electric skateboards may know of the Boosted Board which costs four times more. Blitzart build a high quality board at a great price and offers excellent customer service. Blitzart Mini Flash $179, Blitzart Tornado $289 and Blitzart Tornado GT $399
I love electric skateboards and have been a big fan of the Blitzart boards based on their quality and value. Stepping up a level to a higher quality board with better components and build quality, the Acton Blink S2 has been rated as one of the best overall boards on the market. Acton has been at this for a while and has refined their design. The Blink S2 has really cool LED lights for visibility and night riding and other cool features. Top speed of 18 MPH and 14 mile range make this board an excellent performer. The lithium ion battery can be fully recharged in just 1.5 hours which is quicker than most other electric skateboards. There is a really cool app that accompanies the board that tracks speed, distance and allows the rider to customize the ride experience. The board features regenerative braking which means than when you brake it is charging the battery. The board is quite portable at only 15 lbs and 32" length. Available at Amazon.com
Lithium ion batter technology is changing transportation. For the price of a regular bicycle you can be part of this revolution. The Ancheer e-bike is an amazing piece of technology. This urban transportation option weighs in at 26 lbs and fold for easy storage. The Ancheer e-bike is perfect for short commutes and can easily be taken into an office or coffee shop. The E-bike has a range of 15 miles on a single charge and can achieve a speed of 15 mph. The bike includes LED head and tail lights for riding at night. Disc brakes bring the e-bike to a stop quickly even in wet conditions. The bike includes a kick stand, the charging kit and digital display. There is a companion app for Android or iOS that allows you to take mileage, average speed and other stats. The app also allows you to digitally lock or unlock the e-bike providing an additional level of security. Available on Amazon.com
Only available for pre-order now but shipping in 2018. Be the first person on the water with this super cool high performance electric surfboard. Liftfoils is the top innovator in lithium ion powered foil surfboards. This 30 lbs carbon fiber board will cruise at speeds up to 25 mph and last one hour on a single charge. Includes a wireless bluetooth remote for control that floats if it come untethered from the rider. Because this is a foil board it can perform flawlessly in any water conditions. Because the rider floats above the waves this is perfect for the ocean, for lakes or rivers. The removable battery can be fully recharged in under 2.5 hours. Available exclusively for pre-order from Liftfoils.com
SmartThings is a subscription free home automation hub that can control lights, door locks, thermostats, sprinkler systems and other smart devices. The SmartThings hub hooks up to your home network via ethernet cable. The hub supports bluetooth, zigbee, and zwave which are the most popular home automation formats. Enables devices to be controlled via a smartphone app for Android or iOS. If you are interested in automating your home SmartThings should be your first purchase. This is their 2nd generation hub which is more stable and more powerful. Enables monitoring of your home while away for leaks, smoke alarms, motion sensors, carbon monoxide and other alerts. This is a very versatile home automation hub that plugs into your router and allows complete control of your home while away. Lights can be scheduled to turn on and off, receive alerts when doors are unlocked, manage touchpad locks while away and take full control of your home without having to play a security monitoring service. Available on Amazon.com
Keys are so 1999. Today's smart homes need smart locks and Schlage is a leader in smart lock technology. The Schlage Connect touch screen lock interfaces with SmartThings or other home automation hubs to provide remote access to the lock. Set codes for visitors, cleaning crews or contractors. Manage rental properties remotely. The lock can hold up to 30 personalized codes at a time. Codes can be set to expire or only work during certain times. The lock can autolock after a certain time period. There is a built in alarm if the lock is tampered with. Received time stamped alerts to your phone via an app if combined with SmartThings or another home automation hub. This lock really removes the need to ever carry a key again. There is a key that comes with the lock and it can be re-keyed to match other locks in your home, but why bother. A four or five digit personalized code for each family member is all you will need. The Schlage connect locks are available in several different finishes and in different styles. All are deadbolts and provide a high level of home security. Available at Amazon.com
Secure, keyless entry to your smart home. Lock and unlock your door with your phone. Give keyless entry to family, friends, housekeepers and other home services without worrying about lost or copied keys. August Smart Lock Pro attaches to your existing deadbolt so you can also use your regular keys. And with our proprietary DoorSense technology, you’ll know your door is completely closed and locked. It’ll even lock itself when you leave. Works with Apple HomeKit and Z-wave wireless home control technology. The August Smart Lock fits on top of your existing deadbolt on the inside of the door. This is the easiest to install home automation solution for locks. Takes only 10 minutes to install and it is compatible with Amazon Alexa and other home automation technologies like the Samsung Smartthing hub mentioned here as well. Available at Amazon.com
Are you one of those people who have their lawn irrigation systems running in the rain? Shame on you. Wasting money and damaging the environment. A green lawn is the goal of most homeowners, but at what price. With the cost of water on the rise, Americans are finding that maintaining a green lawn can come at a very high price. Land irrigation accounts for about 37% of all fresh water usage in the United States according to the USGS. With water restrictions becoming more prevalent throughout the US, water conservation is becoming more and more important. So how can technology improve our watering efficiency? Enter Rachio's Iro smart sprinkler controller. This home sprinkler controller replaces your existing controller not the system. It links to you home router and wifi network to provide remote access to the system and real time weather monitoring. Rachio gets street level weather data and can not only stop watering if it is raining but adjust depending on whether their is rain in the forecast or if it rained last night. This device will pay for itself within one season. It can be programmed for different lawn conditions as well by zone. Available in 8 and 16 zone versions at Amazon.com
The Nest Smart Thermostat is a highly functional cost saving home automation device. The Nest uses it's motion sensor to learn when you are home or away and adjusts your heat and air conditioning automatically. The Nest gathers local weather data through the internet and efficiently manages your HVAC system. This thermostat replaces the standard wall thermostat and allows for unlimited programming by day of the week and hour of the day. The Nest can be controlled remotely allowing you to change the temperature from your smartphone from your bed or from across the country. The Nest will cut down on your gas and electric bill. It is recommended to have a separate Nest for each HVAC system in your home. This one time investment pays for itself over time. Available at Amazon.com
A fun holiday gag gift to accompany a bottle of wine or liquor for a holiday party. While this is low tech, it works. A three digit combination lock wraps around the neck of most wine or liquor bottles and the combination must be set correctly to unlock the cap. The combination can be set to one of 999 options using a pin on the bottom of the cap. This can be a good way to lock underage drinkers out of liquor bottles as well, but it makes for a great gift item to accompany a bottle for a party. Available at Amazon.com
Take professional quality video with your smartphone with no jerky movements. Zhiyun 3-axis gimble provide motion support to help you capture unbelievable video with you smartphone. Is there an aspiring Youtube star in your family who likes to make video blogs or vlogs? This is an awesome piece of equipment to up their game. The Smooth Q has Buttons to Photo/Record, Zoom In/Out and Get Rear Camera/Selfie Mode Transferred. Updated APP-ZY PLAY APP supports Auto-Tracking, Time-Lapse and Filter Options. The stabilizer is powered by an included lithium ion battery that provides hours of stabilization between charges. This device enables you to make professional quality video and eliminates the shakes that associated with most cell phone video. Available at Amazon.com
The ultimate home office monitor. This 34" curved monitor has super high resolution and is the perfect monitor for gaming or multi-tasking. Forget the dual monitor setup, this monitor allows you to open several programs at once and stretch them across the screen. Keep Outlook email open along with a web browser and a Word document. This monitor has been the best home office investment I have made. It has made me much more efficient and it is a pleasure to stare at all day long. The 3440 X 1440 UltraWide QHD display offers amazingly sharp picture quality. Its pixel area is about 1.8 times larger than an UltraWide Full HD 21:9 monitor, and about 2.4 times larger than a Full HD 16:9 monitor. The curved glass eliminates glare and makes the images and document appear much more lifelike. Available at Amazon.com
Bring the movie theater experience home with the Optoma Home Theater Projector. This HD projector provides movie theater like viewing at home. Screen size can range for 40" up to 300". The projector provides crystal clear 1080p images and can be powered by multiple sources via HDMI cable including cable tv tuner, dvd player, computer or streaming box. The 8,000 hour lamp life means hours of entertainment before needing to change the bulb. The 3,000 lumens bulb provides enough power for great daytime viewing. This projector is perfect for movie night or watching the big game. Because it is small and portable it can be easily moved outside for a backyard movie night. Available at Amazon.com
This is the most affordable and easiest to use streaming device on the market. Just plug Fire TV Stick into your HDTV and start streaming in minutes. Use the included Alexa Voice Remote to find the best way to watch across more than 190 channels and apps with universal search. With the fastest Wi-Fi and most accurate voice search of any streaming media stick, shows and movies start faster and stream smoother than ever. If you are an Amazon Prime member the content available for free is awesome. Download additional apps like Netflix, DirectvNow or SlingTv to enjoy even more content. Easy to move between TVs as well. We have several of these in our house and they make any TV into a smart tv. Available at Amazon.com
Stay warm while being cool this winter with this beanie hat with integrated bluetooth speakers. Why wear separate headphones when out in the cold when you can wear this stylish beanie hat that has the headphones built in and connects to your phone via bluetooth. The hat includes a built in microphone as well enabling making and receiving phone calls via the hat. Bluetooth range of up to 33 feet, washable material and easily rechargeable via usb cable. Available at Amazon.com