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Christmas Gift Guide

The good, the bad, and the strange

Clime

Nanoleaf Bloom

Bloomsky

Fibaro

Playtabase Reemo

Homey

Orbnext

Quirky Porkfolio

Quirky Refuel

Techko Maid Smart Maid RS118

The connected home is all the rage this year, and we've seen scores of gadgets and gizmos vying for time in the smart-home spotlight. Some have left us impressed, some have disappointed us...and some have left us scratching our heads. Click through for a look at some of our favorite smart-home oddballs.

Caption by / Photo by Ry Crist/CNET

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the best smart-home tech always resembles chewing gum. Clime certainly fits that bill, with low-cost Chiclet-looking sensors built to detect ambient conditions around the home, then transmit the data back to your phone via Bluetooth LE.

Caption by / Photo by Clime

If you've ever wanted to flip an LED light bulb inside out, then the Nanoleaf Bloom is for you. With the diodes on the outside of the geometric jigsaw-design, it's one of the weirdest-looking bulbs we've come across. Plus, it has some nifty dimming smarts built right in.

Caption by / Photo by Colin West McDonald/CNET

Looking a bit like something out of Portal 2, Bloomsky is an eye-catching smart-home weather monitoring system. Not only will it use sensors to monitor the local conditions, but built-in cameras will keep an eye on them, too. Weird, but cool.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

Speaking of eyes, here's looking at Fibaro, the smart-home kit with creepy motion sensors that'll look right back. Set to make its US debut this fall, we really haven't seen anything else quite like it. Except for maybe the Eye of Sauron. Or this guy.

Caption by / Photo by Ry Crist/CNET

Want to trick your gullible friends into thinking you're some kind of smart-home wizard? Check out the Playtabase Reemo. Slap it around your wrist, and you'll be able to control your smart home just by flailing your arms about. We promise we won't judge you if you shout out "Abracadabra," for effect.

Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The voice-activated Homey smart hub looks like it belongs in the version of 2015 in "Back to the Future Part II." But just like Marty McFly's Nike Air Mags, Homey is a real thing that you can buy right now.

Caption by / Photo by Homey

The Orbnext is a spiritual descendant of the Ambient Orb from last decade. Like that product, it's a color-changing desktop gadget that's probably more conversation starter than it is smart-home necessity. Still, as Brian Cooley put it back in 2004, "All we know is that we like this thing."

Caption by / Photo by Orbnext

Lights, locks, switches, motion detectors, cameras... You know what else the smart home needs? A connected piggy bank. Roll your eyes if you must, but we've got a soft spot for this smart-home weirdo.

Caption by / Photo by Colin West McDonald/CNET

No, that's not a hubcap. That's the Quirky Refuel, and if you sit a propane tank on top of it, it'll send you a smartphone alert when it's time for a change. That might sound like a weird thing to smarten up, but I know a guy who might disagree.

Caption by / Photo by Colin West McDonald/CNET

OK, so robot vacuums aren't technically smart-home gadgets (though Dyson might beg to differ), but still, how could I leave out the housecleaning bot that looks like a depressed clown?

Caption by / Photo by Colin West McDonald/CNET
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