The term “smart home” nowadays refers to every home. It’s safe to assume that most people have some type of smart device in their house by now, whether it’s a simple smart speaker, smart lights, or even a video doorbell. For someone who wants to make their home more intelligent, consider these useful gifts.
Yale Debuts Assure Lock 2 Touch, Assure Lock 2 Plus
Yale is known for its line of smart locks, and you can decide between two of the newest models: the Yale Assure Lock 2 Touch and Yale Assure Lock 2 Plus. The Yale Assure Lock 2 Touch is Yale’s first smart lock with a built-in fingerprint reader, with the ability to register up to 20 different fingerprints. Place a finger on the Yale logo to lock and unlock the door. You can also use the touchscreen, the Yale Access app, ask a voice assistant, leverage Auto-Lock and Auto-Unlock, or stick with a traditional key as a backup (with keyed models). Another first for the brand, Assure Lock 2 Plus supports Apple home keys, allowing you to tap to unlock the door using a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch. All other users who share the Apple Home app will have a home key added to their Wallet as well. Home keys can still be used on iPhone for hours after it needs to be charged with power reserve, and on Apple Watch with Low Power Mode.
Like with other Yale locks, both new locks offer simple guest access sharing and 24/7 control and visibility through the Yale Access app; and elegant and compact design that blends into the home; and Bluetooth and Apple HomeKit built into each model. There’s also the option to add a Yale Wi-Fi Smart Module for remote locking and unlocking, granting guest access from anywhere, and voice assistant control via third-party integrations with smart home platforms like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Home. Assure Lock 2 Touch is available in a keyed or key-free touchscreen model in three finishes in black suede, oil-rubbed bronze, and satin nickel. The Bluetooth and Apple HomeKit-enabled model is $200 and the Bluetooth and Apple HomeKit-enabled model with Yale Wi-Fi Smart Module is $280. Assure Lock 2 Plus is available in a key-free touchscreen model in black suede and satin nickel, with oil rubbed bronze coming soon. The Bluetooth and Apple HomeKit-enabled model is $210 and the Bluetooth and Apple HomeKit-enabled with Yale Wi-Fi Smart Module is $290. Yale Wi-Fi Smart Modules are also available to purchase as a standalone add-on for $80.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Amazon’s latest Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, offers boosted performance, support for Wi-Fi 6e, the addition of the Fire TV Ambient Experience, and an upgraded 2.0 GHz quad-core processor, making it Amazon’s smartest and most powerful streaming stick to date. Available for just $80, customers with a compatible Wi-Fi 6e router can enjoy a smooth streaming experience with lower latency, faster speeds, and less interference from other Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the home. They’ll get 4K Ultra HD and support for Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+, and immersive Dolby Atmos audio. With 16GB of storage, doubling the previous generation’s capacity, you can store more apps and games directly on the device. Previously only available on the Fire TV Omni QLED Series, the Fire TV Ambient Experience transforms the TV into an always-smart display. Tap the Alexa button or ask Alexa to activate the Ambient Experience from the Shortcuts menu. This will instantly replace a blank TV screen with helpful information and beautiful artwork. You can also see information like calendars and reminders; leave Sticky Notes for family members; control smart devices like a thermostat or Ring doorbell; play audio from services like Amazon Music, Spotify, and others; and more.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
Having a video doorbell can be a game-changer, especially with a rise in car and home thefts of late. I have a Ring video doorbell and love it, and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is one of the newest models in the line-up. At $250, you get full head-to-toe video so you can see from the person’s face right down to the package that’s left at the doorstep versus only the tiny square area in front. In fact, it even offers package alerts, detecting if a package is left and alerting you of this so you can make arrangements to prevent porch pirates from striking. It has 3D motion detection with the option to configure zones so you can eliminate alerts when someone walks by on the sidewalk or a car goes by, only receiving alerts if someone walks onto your front yard, for example. There’s also a bird’s eye view option so you can see an aerial view of the home. It also has built-in Alexa greetings that will answer the door for you when you’re not home or otherwise occupied along with two-way talk. It comes with a satin nickel faceplate and does require existing doorbell wiring for its power supply (Ring offers battery operated models as well for easier installation). The video doorbell comes with a free 30-day trial of Ring Protect, but I’d highly recommend sticking with it after the trial.
Amazon Echo Hub Control Panel
As Amazon’s first home control panel, the Echo Hub is designed to be a control centre for all your smart home gadgets. Naturally, it uses Alexa for personalized control. Selling for $240, the Echo Hub is wall mountable (or place it on a counter, table, or shelf using the optional stand accessory), and easy to install. It consists of a thin 8-inch touch-enabled display with a customizable smart home dashboard. In this dashboard, you can group and manage multiple smart home devices and do things like arm a security system and view multiple camera feeds, start a routine (like turn on the lights and music), and organize widgets. With Adaptive Content, Echo Hub uses infrared technology to detect when someone is nearby, and transitions from a home screen with a clock, to the smart home control screen. The built-in hub supports Zigbee, Bluetooth, and Matter, making it compatible with thousands of smart home devices, including cameras, lights, locks, plugs, thermostats, speakers, and more. Echo Hub can connect to the internet wirelessly, or via ethernet with a compatible power-over-ethernet (PoE) adapter. It’s built with multiple layers of privacy protection, including a mic off button and the ability to delete your voice recordings. Don’t forget to get them a decorative frame to customize the exterior, available in paintable white, light wood, and metallic for $20 ea.; the counter stand accessory is $30.
Sonos Move 2 Portable Speaker
Perfect for listening to tunes outside and in, the Sonos Move 2 portable speaker features an overhauled dual tweeter acoustic architecture compared to the first-generation Sonos Move, and delivers wide and spacious stereo sound, as I found in my review of the speaker. It has a precision-tuned woofer for deep dynamic and clean bass. You’ll get double the battery life with up to 24 hours of continuous playback on a single charge. The speaker recharges on its included wireless charging base or you can recharge it on the go using any USB-PD power supply. You can also charge your phone from the speaker or connect an audio source via auxiliary cable and Sonos line-in adapter, like a turntable or computer. It works with a router with Ethernet cable and Sonos combo adapter, along with Apple AirPlay 2 when using Apple devices with iOS 11.4 or later. Boasting a tough, durable shell and IP56 rating, the Sonos Move 2 is designed to withstand accidental falls and bumps as well as moisture, dust, UV rays, and extreme temperatures. You can connect the Sonos Move 2 to Wi-Fi and stream via Bluetooth to a stereo pair; or group the Move 2 with other Sonos speakers in your system to amplify sound even further. An LED
light on the product indicates connection, microphone activity, and mute status. This speaker, which offers the option to connect over both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, sells for $559.
Athom Homey Pro Smart Home Hub
The Athom Homey Pro comes with eight smart home technologies baked in, including Matter, and supports more than 50,000 smart home devices from more than 1,000 brands. Homey Pro works with the Homey app which is available for iOS, Android and web browser so you can easily customize and automate your smart home based on your unique habits and preferences. Available for $549, it features local processing and is designed to allow devices from countless manufacturers and platforms to work together, controlled by a single app. It also comes with Homey Flow and Advanced Flow for automation, Homey Insights for historical data, and Homey Energy to show real-time energy consumption. You can continue to use and connect existing smart home devices, from TVs, speakers, lights, thermostats, home appliances, EV chargers, and more. Built privacy-first, Homey Pro doesn’t listen in or sell any customer data, says Athom, nor use any of its customers’ personal information to create user profiles or targeted advertisements. Along with Matter, Homey Pro features Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0, Zigbee 3.0, Z-Wave (Plus, S2), 433MHz RF, Infrared, Matter and Thread (Q3 2023) connectivity in a single hub. This allows you to combine devices on existing Zigbee and Z-Wave technology with new ones on Matter, the new smart home language backed by large brands, including Google, Apple, Amazon and IKEA. Homey Pro features a quad-core ARMv8 processor, 2 GB of DDR4 RAM, and 8 GB onboard storage.
Control4 Halo Touch Handheld Remote
Know a family that could use a functional smart home remote for their smart devices? The Control4 Halo Touch is the perfect complement to a Control4 system, and an ideal gift for someone you know is about to invest in one, or already has one. With a machined aluminum construction, the Halo Touch remote has a 3.2-inch touchscreen, access to OS3 favourites, a new graphical interface, backlit buttons, push-to-talk voice control, and dual-band Wi-Fi support. It offers access to the latest control methods including voice commands and a bright, easy-to-use touchscreen. The remote offers in-demand capabilities like voice integration with services like Apple TV and Xfinity, and improved lighting control including full colour customization. There are backlit buttons for transport controls, user interface functions, and a machined aluminum DPad. Halo offers access to OS3 favourites for easy access to media content, comfort controls, lighting scenes, and other experiences. An upgraded dual-band Wi-Fi antenna supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks, improving reliability with up to five times stronger connections than previous remote models. When you press the new Voice button on the Halo Touch remote, Control4 captures your command with the embedded microphone and dynamically routes it to the proper voice service via proprietary new technology. The best part? Customers can install and add the remote themselves through the Control4 app, allowing immediate use.
Kasa Smart KS205 Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch, KS225 Smart Wi-Fi Light Dimmer Switch
Both working with Matter, the Kasa Smart KS205 and KS225 light and dimmer switches are fully compatible with all certified smart home platforms, smooth LAN control, and multi-admin capability. Once set up, you can control lights from anywhere with the Kasa app and a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection. With advanced scheduling and timer features, these switches can automatically turn lights on and off based on your preferences, even when you are away from home. The Away Mode adds an extra layer of security by simulating an at-home presence, deterring potential intruders. Further, voice control support enables you to effortlessly manage connected lights through Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant. With the Kasa KS225 Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch, you can easily adjust the light’s dimming range from one to 100%, either by sliding a finger on the switch, using the Kasa app, or via voice commands. Both Kasa light switches require a neutral wire and feature a guided installation process compatible with standard-sized wall plates. The KS205 and KS225 are designed with Matter, the new universal smart home standard, making them compatible with all certified smart home platforms, including Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings. This allows you to control all your smart home devices from a single app. The Kasa KS205, Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch, Matter, has an MSRP of US$28 and the Kasa KS225, Smart Wi-Fi Light Dimmer Switch, Matter, is US$30.
Amazon Echo Show 5 Smart Display
The Echo Show 5 ($119) includes all the usual features you’d expect from a smart display, including access to the Alexa voice assistant as well as a screen for watching news clips, checking a Ring doorbell camera, viewing shopping lists, making video calls, and more. The unit is 20% faster than the previous generation with a new speaker system that doubles the bass and delivers clearer sound for music, video, podcasts, and more. It comes with a re-engineered mic array and AZ2 Neural Edge processor as well and supports Matter so it’s easier to connect and control compatible smart home products across various brands. This model is finished in Charcoal, Glacier White, or Cloud Blue.
Tapo Mini Smart Wi-Fi Plug, Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch, Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer Light Switch
The Tapo Mini Smart Wi-Fi Plug (1-, 2-, and 3-pack), Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch, and Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer Light Switch are all Matter certified, offering smooth LAN control, and multi-admin capability. The Tapo Matter light switches allow you to control lights from anywhere with the Tapo App and a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection. With advanced scheduling and timer features, these switches can automatically turn lights on and off based on preferences, even when they are away from home. The Away Mode adds an extra layer of security by simulating an at-home presence, deterring potential intruders. Voice control support can also be used to manage connected lights through popular voice assistants like Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings. With the Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer Light Switch, easily adjust the light’s dimming range from one to 100 per cent, either by sliding a finger on the switch, using the Tapo app, or via voice commands. Both Tapo Matter light switches require a neutral wire and feature a guided installation process compatible with standard-sized wall plates.
In addition to the Tapo Matter light switches, The Tapo Mini Smart Wi-Fi Plug offers a frustration-free setup experience with detailed in-app instructions and Bluetooth-enabled onboarding. Enjoy a streamlined third-party integration solution, bridging the gap between ecosystems and standardizing the setup process. It provides scheduling and creates scenes with a wider range of smart devices. Control it from anywhere via the Tapo app. Additionally, its auto-off timer supports automatically turning off connected devices when the Tapo Matter plug is left on for a set time. By embracing Matter, these switches are compatible with certified smart home platforms, including Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings. The Tapo Mini Smart Wi-Fi Plug, Matter, has an MSRP of US$20 for 1-pack, US$30 for 2-pack, and US$50 for 3-pack. The Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch, Matter, has an MSRP of US$25; and the Tapo Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch, Matter, has an MSRP of US$28.
Schlage Encode Plus Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt
For added security in the home, the Schlage Encode Plus Smart Wi-Fi deadbolt is a solution for Apple’s new Home Keys experience. With home keys in Apple Wallet, you can tap to unlock the Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt using an iPhone or Apple Watch for easy and secure access to the home. Homeowners don’t even need to unlock their iPhone or Apple Watch to open the lock. Power Reserve, meanwhile, means you can still tap the phone to unlock the door for up to five hours after the iPhone’s battery is dead. Additionally, the lock is also fully supported by the Schlage Home app. The same features developed with Schlage’s original Wi-Fi-enabled lock are available through the Schlage Home app. Homeowners can check the status of their deadbolt, lock/unlock the deadbolt remotely from their phone, and create and manage up to 100 access codes from the app and set schedules for recurring, temporary or permanent access. Real-time activity logs make it easier to know when a code has been used, and customizable push notifications provide an added layer of security and peace of mind. Compatible with iOS and Android devices via the Schlage Home app, pairing the Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt with the Schlage Home app allows homeowners to securely use Alexa or Google Assistant to control their lock via voice. The Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt can be simultaneously paired and managed by the Schlage Home app and Apple HomeKit. It’s available for purchase in Canada exclusively at The Home Depot for $399
SimpliSafe The Essentials Package
For someone moving into their first home or apartment, the SimpliSafe The Essentials package is the perfect smart home starter kit. For about US$155, you get a base station, keypad, entry sensor, two motion sensors, a smart alarm wireless indoor security camera, and a wireless siren. There’s also the option to build your own system if these items aren’t an ideal fit. Get set-up arranged for them as well for US$125 or let them tinker around with it on their own. Once set up, they can arm the home with security around doorways, windows, add motion sensors to detect intruders, and have keypad entry. There are specialists watching over the home 24/7 without the need for contracts, though there is a fee for monthly monitoring (you get the first month free). It’s perfect for someone living alone who will appreciate the extra security.
Moen Smart Leak Detector
This isn’t a new product but it’s worth considering as a smart sensor that is often overlooked but could save a homeowner a lot of frustration and costly repairs. The Moen Smart Leak Detector is a standalone sensor that can be placed anywhere in a home to alert you when and where it detects moisture to help prevent water damage and loss. Place the 3.5-inch sensor in high-risk areas like a basement, laundry room, bathroom or kitchen sink area, attic, or other areas that are susceptible to water damage. If the Smart Leak Detector senses the presence of water, extreme temperatures, or high humidity, it will alert you via the Moen Smart Water App, text, phone call or e-mail so you can act accordingly (and quickly) before expensive damage happens.