This year was a big one for the smart home thanks to the actual introduction of Matter after a couple years of discussion and refining the standard. It’s still early days for the cross-brand compatibility layer, and it’s probably still something that should only be one factor in how you set up your smart home and select your devices rather than the deciding factor.
Accordingly, some of the below items support Matter, but not all. Complexity of interoperability is definitely a consideration, but in the end the best smart home is the one that actually feels smart, regardless of what does or doesn’t talk to what.
If you’re looking to pick up some added smarts for the true smart home lover in your life, the following gifts should hit the spot.
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1. Philips Hue Gradient Signe lamps
Philips consistently makes great smart lighting products through its Hue lineup, and the Hue Gradient versions of its Signe table and floor lamps are no exception.
The Signe lamps are long, vertical light bars built into heavy cylindrical bases. It sounds simple because it is, but the Gradient version adds the ability to project multiple colors across the entire length of the bar. This is super useful if you’re using them in tandem with Philips’ Sync box for TV but provides really nice accent lighting effects for virtually any room.
Price: $220 (table) or $330 (floor) from Amazon
2. Ikea Symfonisk Wi-Fi picture frame speaker
To complete the home theater setup in a way that’s relatively innocuous, consider adding a pair of Ikea’s Symfonisk flat speakers, which are powered by Sonos technology. Besides the dangling cord, which you can blend into most decor with a little creativity, there’s not much here to give away the fact that these actually output sound.
They make for the perfect rear speakers in a room where you don’t want to sacrifice aesthetics to get surround, and when you pair them up with one of Sonos’ sounders and its new Sub Mini, you have a great sound system for your TV without sacrificing a lot of square footage or bringing down the general vibes.
Price: $250 from Ikea
3. Level Lock+
The best new smart lock out this year has to be the Level Lock+, which uses Level’s genius design to give you a sophisticated smart lock that looks like an ordinary deadbolt. This new version adds Apple Home Key support into the mix.
Home Key works with modern iPhones and Apple Watches, and provides a dead simple and rock solid way to unlock and lock your door. The Home Key feature adds to the Level Lock’s existing remote and touch-based locking and unlocking options.
Price: $330 from Apple
4. Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
Canadian smart thermostat maker Ecobee updated their lineup this year with two new models, including the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium and the Smart Thermostat Enhanced. The top-of-the-line Premium comes with high-end finishes and materials, as well as a built-in indoor air-quality monitor.
The Premium model definitely looks better than any prior Ecobee thermostat, and it also supports Siri or Alexa voice control, as well as streaming Spotify or other Bluetooth audio. Plus, it can act as a hands-free intercom system if you need to relay something floor-to-floor or room-to-room.
Price: $250 from Ecobee
5. iRobot Roomba Combo j7+
Smart vacuum maker iRobot released their first new model in a little while this year, and it’s a big upgrade — the first U.S. Roomba to include both vacuum and mop in one. With the ability to distinguish carpets from floors, and a way to maneuver the mop pad down and up as needed, it’s the smart cleaner you need to get more thorough with your approach.
It can empty its vacuum bin via the included docking station, but it’ll need your help to empty and refill the mopping tank. Still less work than the manual way.
Price: $1,100 (discounted to $900 at time of publication) from Amazon
6. Oral-B iO Series 9 toothbrush
You would think that at this point the humble toothbrush would be a long-solved problem, but you would be wrong. Oral-B released its modern iO lineup of toothbrushes a couple of years ago now, but they’re still the best you can buy, and after two years I now have the firsthand recommendations of multiple dentists and hygienists to back that up.
The Oral-B iO Series 9 is the top-of-the-line model, with different colored indicators to tell you when you’re brushing too hard or too soft, and a whole host of different modes — including a dedicated one for tongue cleaning. It also comes with a charging travel case in the box.
Price: $299 (discounted to $249 at time of publication) from Amazon
7. Aviron Impact Smart Rower
Aviron’s smart rowers are packed with tech, durable, quiet and well-built. The company has put a special focus on software development chops, employing actual game designers to build the interactive programs and apps that drive its workouts.
The Impact is the smaller of its two models, with a folding design that makes it easier to stow in a corner when not in use. The combo air and magnetic resistance system it uses helps provide a natural rowing feel without the added complication of bringing actual water into the mix.
Price: $2,199 (discounted to $1,999 at time of publication) from Aviron