Cool Gear and Gadgets
Making your home smart doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. Here are our favorite gadgets for turning on your lights, watching TV, cleaning your house, and more—and many of them cost less than $100.
Credit: Tom's Guide
Tile Sport Key Finder
The Tyle Sport and Style are a fashionable way to ensure you'll never have trouble finding your keys. This small device links to your phone via Bluetooth and emits a musical tone when you press a button on its app. It also works in reverse: Press the button on the Tile, and it will make your phone ring.
For Black Friday, you can get a single Tile Sport for $19, and a pack of two for $34.99—a savings of $25.
Google Home Hub
The Google Home Hub is a small, affordable, and very capable smart display that makes an excellent gift for a tech enthusiast. You can use it to watch YouTube videos, follow recipes, blast music, and control your smart-home, all in one place. Plus, it cycles through your Google Photos albums as a screensaver.
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iClever Smart Plug
With this inexpensive smart plug, your friend or family member can turn any device into a smart device. You can automate any device that's plugged into it to turn on and off based on various conditions, including temperature, humidity, weather, pollution, sunrise and sunset. Best of all, with a two-pack available for $29, this is one of the cheapest smart plugs on the market.
Lifx Mini Color
Lifx's adorable smart bulbs are a great gift for a first-time smart-bulb user. They're small enough to fit in a wide variety of lamps and fixtures. They can also do a number of cool tricks: They can sync their color with the music you're playing, flicker like a candle, strobe and more. Lifx's other bulbs, including the Lifx+ and Lifx A19, have many of the same features. If you have multiple Lifx bulbs, you can use your phone (or a voice assistant) to control your entire home at once.
Credit: Tom's Guide
TP-Link HS107 Smart Plug
TP-Link's two-outlet smart plug is not only inexpensive but also packed with features such as an Away mode, which turns your lights on and off to make it look like you're home. It has three-pronged sockets at both ends that you can control individually, and it's compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, Nest and IFTTT.
When in Rome Travel Trivia Game
When in Rome is the perfect gift for a friend who loves Alexa. Amazon's voice assistant is your host in this family-oriented two-player trivia game where you move figurines around the board and answer trivia questions about major cities around the world, collecting treasures along the way. Alexa guides you through the setup and gameplay.(Notably, the game's developers worked with residents of the cities to develop and record the trivia questions.)
Credit: Voice Originals
A Chromecast is the perfect gift to help a friend or family member get started with streaming. It's fast, easy to use, and offers a wide variety of content, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, HBO, Sling, Playstation Vue and more. And because it's controlled from a smartphone, your friend won't even have to learn a new operating system.
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Weber iGrill Mini
IGrill’s handy little Bluetooth-connected thermometer is a great gift for a grillmaster. It will monitor your barbecue, and send an alert to your smartphone when your steak is ready. Plus, its app will give you recommended cooking times and temperatures.
Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
Give the gift of Alexa for just $50. While its audio isn't as good audio as the new Echo's, the Amazon Echo Dot can still do all the things its bigger brother does — in an attractive, hockey puck-size package. Plus, you can connect it to larger speakers when you want to stream music.
Google Home Mini
Google's answer to the Amazon Echo Dot, the Home Mini is a puck-sized smart speaker that gives you voice access to Google Assistant, through which you can do any number of things, such as playing music to looking up restaurants, movie times, and more. In our review, we found the Google Home Mini sounded better than the Echo Dot, but a hardware glitch caused Google to disable the Home Mini's touch controls. Still, it's the cheapest way to get Google's voice assistant in your home, and it's available in four colors: light gray, dark gray, minty green, and coral (pictured).
Wyze Cam Pan
Buy your friend a top-quality security camera without breaking the bank. The Wyze Cam Pan rotates 360 degrees and automatically tracks and follows motion in your house, and you can control it with your phone or Alexa. It's easy for a new smart-home owner to install, and has many of the same features as more expensive cameras.
Roku Streaming stick+
A can't-miss for cord cutters: Roku's top-end device can stream video in 4K HDR, letting you get the most out of the hundreds of channels offered through the service. We also love Roku's interface, its comfortable remote, robust search and its mobile app.
Philips Hue White Starter Kit
For people just starting to build their smart home, a set of connected bulbs is a good place to begin. The Philips Hue White Starter kit includes a hub and two white bulbs. Plus, the lights can be linked to other smart home devices, from locks to thermostats, and Philips' system even lets you add and control smart LEDs from other manufacturers.
MORE: Smart Light Buying Guide
Ninety7 Sky Tote
A Sky Tote is an excellent gift for a friend or family member who already has a second-generation Amazon Echo. Just drop your Echo into this battery case to make it into a portable smart speaker, with superior audio and a handle that makes it a breeze to carry.
Orbit's B-hyve smart faucet will help keep your gardener friend's plants watered, with the help of Google Assistant or Alexa. You can use a voice assistant, or Orbit's app for Android and iOS, to customize the faucet's spray and watering schedule.
Anova Precision Cooker Nano
Anova's newest sous vide machine, the Precision Cooker Nano, is much smaller than the original — making it easier to use and store — and has even more functions and better controls. You can do everything from the device itself, or connect via Bluetooth to Anova's excellent app, which has hundreds of guides and recipes from professional chefs.
The Withings (formerly Nokia) Body+ is a super smart scale, and a great gift for fitness enthusiasts. In addition to your weight and BMI, it records your resting heart rate, the air quality inside your home, and the local weather—and presents it all in a useful app for Android and iOS.
Philips Hue LightStrip
The Philips Hue LightStrip is 80 inches long, and can display millions of colors. It's a great gift for a friend who's looking for bright decorations. You can trim the strip to fit your needs, and an adhesive backing makes it easy to stick to a wall or other surface. Like other Philips Hue lights, the LightStrip works with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant, as well as Nest and Samsung SmartThings. However, you'll need to make sure your friend already owns a Hue Bridge or a smart home hub.
Arlo Q security camera
Our top-rated security camera, the Netgear Arlo Q, delivers excellent video, is easy to set up and has a generous, free cloud-storage plan, which is great for the person who's looking for peace of mind, but doesn't want to be tied down by an onerous contract.
MORE: Best Security Cameras
Apple TV 4K
Your Apple-everything family member will appreciate the way the Apple TV integrates seamlessly with his or her iPhone, iPad and Mac. Not only does the Apple TV 4K support 4K streams, but also HDR content, so your movies will look vivid as well as sharp. Siri support means you can search by voice for your favorite programs and shows. You can even connect your Apple Watch to the TV and play exercise routines that link with the watch's heart rate monitor.
The Apple TV 4K delivers everything fans loved about the last iteration of the box, but its 4K HDR support makes it the best streaming device for those in Apple's ecosystem. In addition to watching iTunes movies and TV shows on your big screen, you can watch hundreds of streaming apps, play games, AirPlay content from other Apple devices and even control your smart home devices right from a Siri-enabled remote. The refined voice search gives it an edge over other streaming boxes, but you'll pay a lot for the privilege.
The Alexa-enabled Sonos One is not only the best-sounding smart speaker around, it can also play your music at the highest fidelity (including from Spotify) and let you control smart home devices, look up news and weather, and much more, using nothing but your voice. You can also pair two of the Ones for true stereo sound, or link them with other speakers for whole-home audio.
Lenovo Smart Display
We love this attractive device, which pairs a bright touch screen and powerful speakers with Google's excellent voice assistant. Lenovo's Smart Display is great for watching YouTube, controlling smart home devices, looking up recipes and more. If the $249 10-inch Smart Display is too big (or expensive), an 8-inch version for $199 is also available.
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The Sony Aibo is no bargain, but if you can spare a few thousand dollars, it's a sweet and adorable gift for all ages. This realistic, friendly, and adorable robot dog will brighten even the gloomiest day, and produce hours of fun for kids. Best of all, you never have to feed it or take it for a walk.
TCL Roku TV
Roku is our favorite streaming service for cord cutters, and with it bundled into TCL's TV, there's no need to buy a separate streaming device. This 55-inch 4K set supports Dolby Vision HDR and has three HDMI 2.0 ports with HDCP 2.2. We also love its easy-to-use remote, which has built-in voice control.