Echo Dot, Home Mini and Philips Hue: The best smart home Christmas gifts for 2018

Our top gift picks for anyone on your list who might want a smart speaker, a smart lock or a connected convection oven.

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Megan Wollerton Former Senior Writer/Editor
5 min read
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Recent product launches from Amazon and Google will ensure that smart home products stay top of mind this holiday season. Whether you're looking to gift someone an Alexa or a Google Assistant-powered smart speaker, or you want to introduce a friend or a loved one to the world of connected LED bulbs and smart plugs , we have the gift guide for you.

Echo Dot, Home Mini, and Simplisafe: The best smart home Christmas gifts for 2018

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The gallery above has just under 25 different products on it. Here you'll find a few of the highlights emphasizing the basics (with one exception).

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. 


Amazon's third-gen Echo Dot.

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Amazon Echo Dot third-gen  

Amazon's latest Echo Dot still costs $50, but it has an improved design and sound. This third-generation model can also work as a stereo pair, so snag two Dots and use them together for even better audio. The new Echo Dot comes in black and medium and light gray finishes, which look good, but you don't get the same range of color options as the Google Home Mini's charcoal, aqua, chalk and coral finishes. This affordable device is still a great entry-point into voice control and smart speakers. 

Read CNET's review of the Amazon Echo Dot third-gen.


The AmazonBasics Microwave.

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AmazonBasics Microwave

Make sure whoever you gift this to already owns an Amazon Echo speaker, because you'll need that to get the most out of this microwave that you can control with Alexa. If that idea sounds silly, you're not wrong, but saying, "Alexa, reheat my lunch," it also feels like a totally natural way to interact with a microwave. It's also a low risk gift for someone who needs a small, 700-watt microwave. It only costs $60, which is about the same amount you'd spend on a non-Alexa compatible model.

Read CNET's review of the AmazonBasics microwave.


The Apple HomePod.

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Apple HomePod

If you know (and really like) someone who is already deeply invested in the Apple Music ecosystem, the $350 Apple HomePod is a fantastic way to let them enjoy their music collection. The sound quality is top-notch for its price tag, and using Siri voice commands to play your music or control Apple HomeKit smart home devices works great. It won't work with other online music services, so we'd recommend a Google Home Max if you're looking to spend a lot on someone who uses Pandora, Spotify or Google Play Music.

Read CNET's review of the Apple HomePod.


Belkin's WeMo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug.

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Belkin WeMo Mini WiFi Smart Plug 

Belkin's WeMo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug is well priced at $35 a pop. It also has a smaller design than other smart plugs that won't block other outlets. It connects over Wi-Fi and it's compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Siri, Google Assistant and IFTTT. The one thing it can't do that other smart plugs can is track the energy consumption at the outlet -- if you want that in a Belkin product, you'll need to spend $50 for a WeMo Insight Switch

Read CNET's review of the Belking WeMo Mini WiFi Smart Plug.


Google's Home Hub.

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Google Home Hub  

Google's Home Hub is a $149 smart display. It has a smaller screen than competitors such as the $230 Amazon Echo Show, the $250 Lenovo Smart Display and the $200 JBL Link View. It also doesn't have a built-in camera. Instead, it's equipped with an ambient light sensor that auto-adjusts the screen's brightness and warmth to suit the room. The Home Hub is a great option if you want a more affordable display without a camera.

Read CNET's review of the Google Home Hub.


Google Home Mini

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Google Home Mini

If we had to pick a voice assistant to recommend to someone (aka, "do our job"), Google Assistant would get the nod today. Alexa is no slouch, but Google Assistant is better at carrying on complex conversations, particularly with multistep processes like going through a recipe and remembering where you left off. The Google Home Mini isn't the cheapest way into the Google Assistant ecosystem (that would be the $25 Insignia Voice), but it's the most fully featured, since Google has saved the ability to make phone calls for its own hardware. It normally sells for $50, buy you should be able to find it for $25-$30 with various holiday deals.

Read CNET's review of the Google Home Mini.


The June Intelligent Oven.

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June Intelligent Oven

In a way, this oven is sad, because of its apparent target customer. Imagine someone who works crazy hours, lives alone and never has time to make a decent meal for herself. If that describes someone you know and love (a lot), you might consider spending $599 on the June Intelligent Oven. What makes this oven "intelligent" is its ability to automatically identify the food you put into it and cook it to your desired settings. It can recognize up to 50 types of food automatically, and it has a longer list of automated cooking programs you can choose from manually. It's like having a Popcorn, but for 100 different kinds of food. Both the program list and the list of food it can recognize will grow over time via software updates. 

And did we mention that it can take video of your food while it's cooking and upload it to Instagram? It can.

Read CNET's review of the June Intelligent Oven.


Naked Labs' Body Scanner.

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Naked Labs Body Scanner  

The $1,395 Naked Labs Body Scanner is more than a smart scale. It's a scarily detailed smart scale that captures a 3D image of your entire body. From there it gives you stats -- various measurements from your weight to your body mass and much more. Several of us tried out the naked Labs scanner for this review and had mixed feelings. Its level of detail is jarring if you aren't expecting it and left some of us feeling...exposed. But, if you really want to kick your fitness routine into high gear and track slight changes over time, this device could be worth it.

Read CNET's review of the Naked Labs Body Scanner.


The Philips Hue White LED.

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Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit  

The $70 Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit is a solid choice if you want basic smart LEDs that don't change color. They work with Amazon's Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT and the Nest Learning Thermostat. For your 70 bucks, you get two white light LEDs and a Philips Hue ZigBee hub. You can turn them on and off, dim them and more from the app -- or use voice commands. Philips is a staple in smart lighting and this entry-level kit is a decent place to start. 

Read CNET's review of the Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit.


The Wyze Cam Pan.

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Wyze Cam Pan

This Wyze camera costs just $30. That's a ridiculously low price considering it has 1080p HD live streaming, free 14-day cloud storage and optional local storage. It works with Alexa and IFTTT and has motion detection zones, too. The Wyze Cam Pan can also listen for smoke and CO alarms and send you related alerts. You can't do much better than this camera if you're looking for a super affordable smart indoor security camera with a lot of features typically reserved for more expensive models. 

Read CNET's review of the Wyze Cam Pan.

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