Buying a gift for someone who loves all things smart-home technology especially for those who aren't familiar with the industry. In the following article, I'll share some of the “hottest” pieces of gear in the entertainment and smart home market this 2016 holiday season and provide general suggestions for those who need to buy a new TV, speaker system or IoT device this Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another celebrated holiday.
The list is in descending order by price, and I’ve included the current sales price (as of the time this guide was written) of each item next to the product name. For those interested in purchasing, I’d recommend clicking through to the product page to see the current pricing as it may fluctuate over time and doing this will ensure the most accurate pricing. Note: New entertainment-related products may be added or removed as the holidays approach so check back often for more gift ideas.
LG Curved 65-Inch 4K UHD OLED Smart TV – $2,997 (Amazon)
One of the top 4K UHD TV models this shopping season is LG's curved 65-inch 4K UHD OLED Smart TV. With the high-end OLED panel that is capable of displaying perfect blacks and cinematic color mixed with the support for 4K UHD and HDR viewing, this is the total package in a relatively large form-factor at 65-inches. Integrated WebOS 3.0 with Magic Remote provides all the smart-enabled functionality you could want with easy navigation.
Samsung UN70KU6300 70″ 4K UHD Smart TV – $1,397.99 (Amazon)
Coming in with 70-inches of screen real estate, the UN70KU6300 by Samsung offers a huge viewing area with support for 4K UHD. The slim design is elegant and sleek, and this model includes a smart remote with touchpad for easy navigation. You won't see an OLED panel at this price-point, but considering the size and feature set this is a stellar 4K UHD TV for the price.
Sonos PLAYBAR Soundbar – $699 (Amazon)
Sonos is a top player in the home audio market, and their PLAYBAR soundbar is an excellent companion to your HD/4K TV offering up crisp and powerful sound from the nine-speaker drivers within. Alongside its audio playback when connected to a TV, the PLAYBAR provides support to wirelessly stream all your favorite music services. Advanced features include night sound for quiet listening after hours as well as a mode that enhances broadcasted speech for optimal clarity.
Samsung UN55KU6500 55″ Curved 4K UHD Smart TV – $697 (Amazon)
With an attractive design that offers a curved display, the UN55KU6500 from Samsung is an affordable 4K UHD TV model that will look great in a living room, bedroom or office. While it lacks the higher-end features in a more expensive model such as an OLED screen (better black levels/color representation) or HDR support, this model will work great for anyone looking to upgrade their movie or TV viewing experience.
Meural Digital Canvas – $695 (Meural)
One of the coolest smart home products on the market, the Meural takes the idea of a traditional piece of artwork on canvas and brings it to the digital age. With a high-resolution, anti-glare display that emulates real artwork, you can change the displayed work via your smartphone/desktop or via the built-in gesture controls. Each purchase includes access to a library of artwork curated by well-known partners like The New York Public Library, Sedition, Retronaut and more.
LG 43UH6100 42″ 4K UHD Smart TV – $447 (Amazon)
One of best entry-level 4K UHD models of 2016, the LG 43UH6100 offers excellent performance for the price with support for HDR. With an IPS panel, this model delivers richer colors, stronger contrast ratios, and better viewing angles than most of its competition at this price-point. Integrated within its software is webOS 3.0 which supplies easy access to streaming service and smart features.
Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones – $349 (Amazon)
Regarded as some of the best noise-cancelling headphones, the QuietComfort 35 from Bose is perfect for a frequent traveler or someone who prefers to work in noisy public spaces like a coffee shop. This version of the QC line is wireless meaning you'll be able to stream your audio via Bluetooth to the headphones without the need for any obnoxious cord getting in the way. You'll get 20 hours of battery life in wireless mode and 40 hours when using the wire. A built-in microphone allows you to make/receive Bluetooth calls via a connected smartphone.
Dyson DC59 V6 Cordless Vacuum – $299 (Amazon)
If you've never used a Dyson vacuum then you'll be blown away with the performance and ease of use with this DC59 model. With 20-minutes of continuous suction (utilizes a trigger mechanism for optimal efficiency) and a cordless design, you'll be able to clean the house quicker and easier than ever before. Includes multiple attachments including a motorized cleaning head that works for carpets, tile, hardwood or laminate.
iRobot Roomba 650 Vacuum – $274 (Amazon)
An automated vacuum solution, the Roomba utilizes a built-in motor and sensor system to navigate around your home to clean up dirt/debris from all different floor types including carpet, tile, hardwood and laminate. Can be set to clean on an interval up to once a day or manually toggled with the ‘CLEAN' button found on the top of the Roomba. When the cleaning session is finished, the Roomba 650 will automatically return to its docking station for a recharge.
Nest Smart Learning Thermostat (3rd Gen) – $249 (Amazon)
One of the best selling smart home products to date, Nest's Smart Learning Thermostat offers can add convenience to your life and save you money from efficient home heating and cooling practices. You can control your home's temperature while on the go or configure an advanced temperature schedule to manage it all for you automatically. This third-generation device differs from previous models with a slimmer profile and harnessing a larger/higher resolution display.
Kevo Bluetooth Smart Lock (2nd Gen) – $229 (Amazon)
An expensive take on the traditional lock, the 2nd generation Kevo by Kwikset offers “smart” functionality that can come in handy for some homeowners. Instead the need to rely on a traditional key, the Kevo offers the ability to lock and unlock via Bluetooth when running the Kevo app on your smartphone. You can add and remove keys at your convenience and even set keys that only work some of the time (example: a cleaning lady who comes on Friday mornings). If opt to you upgrade to Kevo Plus, you'll even be able to unlock or lock your Kevo unit remotely from anywhere with a valid network connection.
Ring Video Doorbell – $196.99 (Amazon)
You've probably seen the TV advertising campaigns for this product which acts as a home surveillance camera at your front door. This model is limited to a 720P video signal (accessible online or via the mobile app) and can be powered by existing doorbell wiring or an internal battery. Perfect for someone who has a vacation or summer home or those who receive a lot of packages without anyone home to receive them.
Amazon Echo – $179 (Amazon)
One of the hottest products in the smart-home category this holiday season, Amazon's original Echo which utilizes their intelligent Alexa voice technology. With a sleek design and premium build quality, the Echo is capable of carrying out a multitude of tasks from retrieving basic information like weather conditions, timers, and math problems to more complex jobs like reading ebooks, playing a specific song or providing recent stats from a professional sports game.
Netgear Arlo Q Indoor Wi-Fi Camera – $176.99 (Amazon)
One of the best indoor Wi-Fi security cameras on the market, Netgear's Arlo Q offers live viewing in 1080P along with cloud recording capabilities on an incident (included for free) or 24/7 basis (paid plan). The Arlo Q camera itself offers a modern and appealing design that is easy to blend nicely into your home and is a convenient way to keep track of your home when away as well as keep an eye on pets or children. Read our in-depth review of the Arlo Q.
Parrot Pot – $149 (Amazon)
One of the most interesting smart-home products on this list, the Parrot Pot is an exceptional device for someone who wants to keep plants healthy while on the go or away from home for long periods. The pot design features Wi-Fi support and advanced sensors/monitoring tools built-in to supply real-time data on the plant's health including sunlight, fertilizer, temperature and soil moisture levels as well as an integrated watering system that will provide the plant with the necessary nourishment for optimal growth and can be set to ‘plant sitter' mode to keep plants alive for up to a month unattended.
Apple TV (32GB, 4th Gen) – $149 (B&H Photo)
The 4th generation Apple TV made the holiday shopping list especially with its new software features announced at the latest Apple Keynote event. You can wirelessly stream multimedia content from many different sources including iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and more. With integration via iCloud or Airplay, you can share your screen from a Mac or iOS device with ease.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x – $139.95 (Amazon)
Widely regarded as one of the best “bang for your buck” headphones by audiophiles, the M50x's give the cleanest audio performance with exceptional clarity throughout the audio range with an accurate bass response. Beyond its performance, the sleek design and plush leather earcups make for a comfortable listening experience.
Amazon Prime Subscription – $99 (Amazon)
Besides the usual benefits associated with Prime (free 2-day shipping, unlimited photo storage, free Kindle eBook access, etc.), those with an active subscription can stream a large variety of digital content in both video and audio form. Each subscription includes access to Amazon Prime's stellar original content like Transparent, The Man In The High Castle, The Grand Tour (formerly known as Top Gear UK), The Tick and more.
Chamberlain MyQ Garage – $99 (Amazon)
Taking the concept of “smart home” into the garage is the MyQ Garage by Chamberlain. This $99 accessory offers the ability to monitor (receive push notifications when the garage door is operated), open and close your garage door from anywhere via your smartphone. Installing the MyQ Garage only takes a few minutes and works with your existing home network to communicate with the free MyQ Garage mobile app.
Ooma Telo Home Phone Service – $96.90 (Amazon)
Perfect for someone who insists on having a traditional home phone line, but doesn't want to pay the expensive costs associated with it. Once setup, the Ooma Telo allows you to make calls nationwide for free and international calls for an affordable low monthly rate. The only monthly costs include the taxes and fees (issued by the government) which total only a few bucks a month. I have one of these in my house and would recommend it to those interested.
Nest Protect Smoke Detector – $94 (Amazon)
Another great smart-home product from Nest, the 2nd generation Protect works to keep your household safe from smoke or carbon monoxide signals. Since it is Wi-Fi enabled, you'll receive push notifications through the Nest app should the Protect determine smoke or unsafe carbon monoxide readings while away from home. Special split-spectrum sensors can determine where fires are based on location and can give you a heads-up if you are accidentally burning food in the kitchen.
Google Chromecast Ultra – $69 (B&H Photo)
The newest Chromecast streaming device from Google is designed specifically those who own a high-end HDTV capable of HDR or 4K UHD viewing. Featuring an integrated HDMI connector and dual-band 801.11ac Wi-Fi capabilities, you can stream or mirror content from your computer or mobile device at the highest resolution possible via supported streaming platforms.
Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Gen) – $49.99 (Amazon)
A smaller and toned-down version of their Echo, the Echo Dot provides all the same voice-enabled Alexa technology as the more expensive Echo without the powerful speaker. Instead, it has a small built-in speaker good enough for voice feedback, but you'll want to hook up an external sound system via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm audio jack for an ideal experience during music playback.
LIFX Color 1000 Smart LED Bulb – $44.99 (Amazon)
Designed like a conventional A19 light bulb, the Color 1000 by LIFX is one of the smartest bulbs on the market. With integrated Wi-Fi support, the Color 1000 can be customized through the mobile app to display 16M different shades of color and over 1000 shades of white. Unlike the Philips Hue models, there is no hub required, and you can configure as many bulbs as you'd like. What I love about the LIFX bulbs (I have three in my office) is their deep support for third-party services including Amazon's Alexa technology, Nest's Smart Thermostat & Protect Detector as well as free services like IFTTT (If This Then That).
Amazon Fire TV Stick – $39.99 (Amazon)
One of the most affordable devices to add “smart” functionality to a basic HDTV, this next-gen Fire TV stick offers the fastest streaming capabilities and more accurate voice search thanks to the Alexa Voice Remote. Users can install over 7,000 apps including HBO Now, YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, SlingTV, Showtime, NBC, WatchESPN, Hulu and more.
Sling TV Streaming Subscription – Starting at $19.99/month
At the DISH press event during CES 2015, the company announced their innovative new Sling TV streaming service that is designed to be flexible and affordable. Watch live TV from your favorite channels including ESPN, AMC, CNN, HDTV, TBS, Lifetime and more while only paying $19.99 a month. Add in the flexibility of watching via a mobile device while on the go or at home using a compatible streaming device (like the Amazon Fire TV Stick). If you need access to more channels, you can choose a higher package (pricing goes up to $40/month) or choose special add-ons including those focused on movies, premium content (HBO/Cinemax/Starz) or international channels.
Make it this far into the guide and still not sure what to buy for someone who loves entertainment or smart home products? Purchase a gift card to a popular streaming service or major electronics retailer and let them put it towards a product that you know they would like.
- Amazon (one of the largest online retailers)
- Netflix (the most popular premium video streaming platform)
- Spotify (the most popular premium music streaming platform)
- iTunes (Apple-owned marketplace for downloading digital content)
- Home Depot (popular retailer of smart home/entertainment products)
- Best Buy (popular retailer of smart home/entertainment products)
This concludes up our holiday gift suggestions when shopping for someone interested in entertainment or smart home products, I hope it has been helpful! If so, we’d appreciate it if you shared this guide with any family or friends who may also benefit.