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Christmas Gift Guide
Smart Home

5 products to make your home smart today

You don't have to go installation-crazy to have an awesome smart home.

Now Playing: Watch this: How to install the HomeKit-enabled August Smart Lock
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Tricking out your house with smart devices can be daunting. Sure, going the do-it-yourself route is less expensive than the thousands you'll shell out for a professional system like Control4, but it's still an investment. It can also be time consuming if you're a DIY novice.

But it doesn't have to be. Here are five highly rated smart products you can install in no time.

Lifx Color 1000

Lifx Color 1000 LEDs cost 60 bucks a pop, but don't let that scare you away. These color-changing bulbs are brighter than Philips Hue and their set up doesn't require a router-tethered hub or a pricey starter kit. Just screw in the bulb, download the Android or iOS app and you're on your way to creating custom lighting from your phone -- or with your voice via Amazon Alexa.

  • Cost: $60 (£50 and AU$80 converted)
  • Protocol: Wi-Fi
  • Install time: 5 minutes
  • Works with: IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, Windows, Amazon Alexa

Nest Cam Indoor

The $200 Nest Cam Indoor is the reigning benchmark for 1080p video streaming devices. Set this sturdy cam on a table, attach the base to a magnetic surface, or give it a more permanent install with the included hardware (this method will take a little longer). It doesn't currently work directly with any voice control products, but you can connect it to other devices through IFTTT, Wink or Nest's own smart home platform.

  • Cost: $200 (£159 and AU$260 converted)
  • Protocol: Wi-Fi
  • Install time: 5-30 minutes
  • Works with: IFTTT, Wink, Nest

iHome iSP8 SmartPlug

Smart plugs convert desk fans, lamps, space heaters and other everyday household objects into connected devices. iHome's iSP8 SmartPlug is one of our favorites due to its reliable performance and integration with a number of smart home platforms. Simply plug the iSP8 into an outlet, download the app and you'll be able to control the lamp across the room straight from your phone.

  • Cost: $50 (£40 and AU$65 converted)
  • Protocol: Wi-Fi
  • Install time: 5 minutes
  • Works with: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Wink, Samsung SmartThings, Nest

August Smart Lock

The August Smart Lock takes a bit longer to install, but it's still a very simple process (see my install video above). Once it's up and running, you can lock and unlock your door from the app, with Siri (through Apple HomeKit), or with an Amazon Alexa device. August's Smart Lock operates locally over Bluetooth, but you can give it Wi-Fi smarts with the addition of either the August Connect or the August Doorbell Cam.

  • Cost: $229 (£185 and AU$300 converted)
  • Protocol: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (if you use the August Connect or the August Doorbell Cam as a Wi-Fi bridge)
  • Install time: 30 minutes
  • Works with: IFTTT, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon's Alexa speakers bring voice control to your home with very little effort. The Echo Dot is our favorite Alexa product for its solid performance and relatively low price. Plug in your Echo Dot, download the related Alexa app and use your voice to control your Lifx bulbs, iHome smart plugs, August Smart Lock and oh so much more.

  • Cost: $50 (£40 and AU$65 converted)
  • Protocol: Wi-Fi
  • Install time: 10 minutes
  • Works with: IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Amazon Alexa

Your home, just smarter

This isn't an exhaustive list of easy-to-install connected gadgets, but it's a great place to start if you're thinking about adding smart tech to your home.

All of the devices above work with at least two smart home platforms. Bonus: They all work with Amazon Alexa (except for the Nest Cam) -- our current favorite for simple at-home voice control. These products are also very easy to install, meaning you could theoretically buy all five of them and have them working within a few hours. And, you can always scale up by adding additional lights, plugs, locks (and more!) to your home later on.