Welcome to Engadget's holiday gift guide! Head back to our hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the month.
If you ask us, gadgets for the home make some of the greatest gifts. After all, your parents may be doing just fine with their smartphones du jour, but now's your chance to give them the intelligent thermostat they never knew they were missing. The picks in this category represent some of the freshest ways to tech up the living room -- seriously, even the vacuums are cool.
ON THE CHEAP
Like the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Protect aims to make your humble abode a smarter place. Unlike its relative, however, this device is all about safety. The Nest Protect features six sensors that work simultaneously to alert users to smoke, carbon monoxide and other dangerous elements. Thanks to built-in WiFi, the $129 device can communicate with proprietary iOS and Android apps, so you'll get messages right on your smartphone or tablet every time the alarm goes off (which hopefully isn't often). -- Edgar Alvarez, Associate Editor
Key specs: Photoelectric smoke, carbon monoxide, heat and humidity sensors; companion iOS and Android apps; white and black colors; Nest Button to test and hush alarms.
Price: $129 on Amazon
It's hard to classify a router as badass, but ASUS' Dark Knight router comes mighty close to earning that distinction. It's incredibly quick and easy to set up, visually striking and unbelievably powerful. Leaps and bounds above other routers we've used, and highly customizable, the Dark Knight router is well worth the $150 (or so) it costs. -- Ben Gilbert, Senior Editor
Key specs: 2.4GHz and 5GHz concurrent dual-band transmissions, Gigabit Ethernet ports, detachable WiFi antenna.
Price: $140 and up on Amazon
Philips Hue lights can dramatically improve the mood in any room. No, really. This quartet of products -- standard bulbs, downlights, Bloom and LightStrips -- can fill your room with millions of different colors through a combination of wirelessly controlled fixtures. You can tweak settings through third-party apps, letting you output warm light for reading, color loops for parties and even a flashing strobe effect that'll turn your den into a dance club with a single tap. They may be pricey, but LED bulbs are far more energy efficient than incandescent lights and even CFLs, and they last for many more years, too. -- Zach Honig, Deputy Managing Editor
Key specs: LED, wireless connectivity, control up to 50 bulbs with each bridge.
Price: $200 for the starter kit from Best Buy
You've already gone keyless with your electric car (you have, right?), so how about extending that to your home and ditching those metallic shards forever? The Goji is pretty much exactly what you think it is: a programmable, internet-accessible door lock that you can unlock with your smartphone, or remotely if you need to, say, let a neighbor in to water your plants. It'll even shoot you a picture of anyone lurking at your door -- and, yes, if you're not ready to part with them, you can get programmable e-keys to unlock it without a smartphone. -- Marc Perton, Executive Editor
Key specs: 256-bit encryption, UL-compliant mechanical lock, Bluetooth, WiFi.
Price: $245 from Goji
Holidays are filled with indulgences, but if you'd like to give someone a gift that could potentially save them half the cost of their energy bill, Nest may be just the pick for you. We've come to fancy the simplistic nature of this learning thermostat; Nest will automatically program and adjust to your personal preferences, as well as the quirks of your living environment. Everyone loves a little home automation, right? -- Andy Bowen, Editorial Assistant
Key Specs: WiFi connection for remote control, auto-away and auto-scheduling features, easy install.
Price: $249 on Amazon
Moneual Rydis H67 Hybrid Robot Vacuum Cleaner
It vacuums. It mops. It costs less than some comparable robot vacuums that only do one or the other. Like most robot vacuums, the H67 can suck up most of the dirt that shows up on your floors. But the addition of a detachable dry-mopping cloth lets you catch the fine dirt that the vacuum can't reach, and polish those floors to a glossy sheen. And it should terrorize your pets just as effectively as vacuums that don't multitask. -- Marc Perton
Key specs: 5-hour battery life, multi-suction brush, twin side brushes, no bags to replace, 600ml dust-cup capacity, one-year parts and labor warranty.
Price: $380 from Best Buy
MONEY IS NO OBJECT
Dyson got to spring cleaning back in May with the reveal of its DC50 upright, which continues the company's rich lineage of well-designed household gadgetry. In fact, we were so smitten with the vacuum's dashing good looks and 2 Tier Radial Cyclone system that we took an up-close look at the 11.6-pounder in Distro's Eyes-On section. Of course, you had better be serious about tidying up, as this Animal costs $500. -- Billy Steele, Associate Editor
Key specs: 2 Tier Radial Cyclone technology, carbon fiber brush bar, combination tool; stair tool, weighs 11.6 pounds, five-year parts and labor warranty.
Price: $500 from various retailers
LG WT6001/DLGX6002 Washer/Dryer
LG's smart washers and dryers are fast, energy efficient and quiet -- and they're connected to the internet, so you can monitor and manage your laundry from anywhere using your smartphone. Yes, you can get an alert when it's time to put the wash in the dryer, though you'll still have to go home to actually transfer the load from one machine to the other. -- Marc Perton
Key specs: Washer: 4.7 cu. ft. capacity, direct drive motor, 14 wash programs, 10-year warranty on motor; Dryer: 7.3 cu. ft. capacity, smart steam gas dryer, drying rack, 14 drying cycles.
This robotic bartender won't be on duty until 2014 -- even if you've placed an early bird bid on its successfully funded Kickstarter page -- but we're pretty sure your party guests will take an IOU when they see what's in store. The unit offers geofencing and a host of smart features that allow your new robo-buddy to have a drink ready when you get home after a long day. When it's party time, Monsieur lets you focus on being a good host and takes care of all the bartender duties. -- Jon Turi, Associate Editor
Key specs: 4- or 8-bottle configurations, pre-loaded with 12 theme packages (including Tiki Bar and Irish Pub), mobile app, smart butler and home automation features, ingredient level sensing.
Price: $1,499 and up on Kickstarter
Want to upgrade your living room? Sony's sound bar comes with a wireless subwoofer and pumps out 7.1-channel surround sound. You can connect it to your TV with an included cable, or stream music from your mobile devices via NFC or Bluetooth. Enter the giveaway below, and be sure to review our contest rules.a Rafflecopter giveaway
- Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
- Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia, 18 or older! Sorry, we don't make this rule (we hate excluding anyone).
- Winners will be chosen randomly. One winner will receive one (1) HT-ST7 soundbar.
- If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes a contact email. Social media contact details are not carried over into our system.
- This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Sony and Engadget/AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
- The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
- Entries can be submitted until December 31st, 2013 at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!