Smart home gadgets and kitchen tech that make great gifts

Make their home a bit smarter with these gadgets and small appliances.
Nicole Lee
N. Lee|11.04.20

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Holiday Gift Guide: Smart Home gadgets
Will Lipman Photography
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We’re all spending a lot more time at home lately, so when it comes to the holidays, it makes sense to give a gift that’ll make the humble abode a lot more enjoyable. To that end, we’ve recommended an assortment of home-related goodies, from innovative kitchen gear to attractive smart speakers, to give that special someone in your life. It might not stop them from getting cabin fever, but it just might bring them a sense of home sweet home.

Google Nest Audio

Holiday Gift Guide: Google Nest Audio
Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Google’s latest smart speaker is the Nest Audio, which delivers a huge upgrade over the small puck-like Nest Mini. It has automatic tuning so that its audio quality improves over time as it learns more about your loved one’s listening habits and the room it’s in. Your giftee can use it to play their favorite tunes, and thanks to Google Assistant, they can also ask it for info like the weather, upcoming calendar appointments or their to-do list simply by using their voice. We also like that it comes in an attractive fabric-clad design, which should go nicely with most home decorations. 

Buy Nest Audio at Walmart - $100 Buy Nest Audio at Best Buy - $100

Google Nest Hub Max

Holiday Gift Guide: Google Nest Hub Max
Will Lipman Photography

A smart display is essentially a smart speaker with a screen, and one of our favorites is the Google Nest Hub Max. Its large 10-inch display is well suited as a digital photo frame, and it’s a quick and easy way to watch YouTube, YouTube TV and even Netflix. It also makes a great gift for an aspiring cook, as they can use it for recipe videos and step-by-step cooking instructions. Plus, they can use the Nest Hub Max to check the live feed of any other Nest cams in the house. Another bonus is that it has a camera, so you can use it for video calls via Zoom, Google Duo or Google Meet. 

Buy Nest Hub Max at Walmart - $230 Buy Nest Hub Max at Best Buy - $230

Amazon Echo Studio

Holiday Gift Guide: Amazon Echo Studio

If your friend or family member is more of an Alexa fan, then consider the Amazon Echo Studio. It’s arguably the best-sounding Echo Amazon has ever made, with high-res and 3D audio options. According to Senior Editor Billy Steele, the Echo Studio is “big, versatile and sounds fantastic” and does justice to a wide variety of music genres. Plus, it even works as a home theater speaker, as long as they have a Fire TV. 

Buy Echo Studio at Amazon - $200 Buy Echo Studio at Best Buy - $200

IKEA Sonos Symfonisk speaker lamp

Holiday Gift Guide: IKEA Sonos Symfonisk speaker lamp

Why get someone a speaker, when you can give them a speaker that’s also a lamp? That’s the idea behind the IKEA Sonos Symfonisk speaker lamp, which combines the modern stylings of IKEA lighting with the multi-room audio smarts of the Sonos system. That, plus the audio quality is surprisingly good, and it works with most audio streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. No, it doesn’t come with a voice assistant, but they should work just fine if your gift recipient happens to have a separate Google Assistant or Alexa device in the home. 

Buy Sonos Symfonisk at IKEA - $190

Eero Pro 6

Holiday Gift Guide: Eero Pro 6

Mesh WiFi routers don’t sound like a particularly exciting gift, but if your loved one is struggling with poor internet speeds, then there could be no better present. Amazon’s Eero routers are some of the best in the industry, combining easy setup with fantastic coverage. The company recently came out with new Eeros, both of which support WiFi 6, the latest and fastest WiFi standard. The Eero Pro 6 is our favorite, as it can cover 2,000 square feet just on its own, and up to around 6,000 square feet if combined with a couple of other Pro 6 units. If you want to spend a little less money though, the regular Eero 6 isn’t too shabby either, with a coverage of at least 1,500 square feet. 

Buy Eero Pro 6 (3-pack) at Amazon - $600 Buy Eero Pro 6 (3-pack) at Best Buy - $600

Aerogarden Harvest Elite Slim

Holiday Gift Guide: Aerogarden Harvest Elite Slim
Will Lipman Photography / Aerogarden

If your loved one likes the idea of growing their own herbs and vegetables but is notorious for killing plants, then an Aerogarden is the perfect gift for them. Aerogarden’s hydroponic growing system is so easy to use that even those with the blackest of thumbs can enjoy a bountiful harvest without much fuss. All they need to do is stick the seed pods into the slots, feed and water it whenever a flashing light tells them to, and they’ll be guaranteed a healthy miniature garden in no time. 

Buy Harvest Elite Slim at Walmart - $130 Buy Harvest Elite Slim at Aerogarden - $130

Instant Pot Duo Nova

Holiday Gift Guide: Instant Pot duo
Will Lipman Photography

The Instant Pot has consistently been in our gift guides for years now, and there’s no wonder. It truly is a kitchen marvel, combining several functions such as a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker and more into a single device. One of the newest models is the Duo Nova, which offers a few upgrades over the original Duo. They include a cooking status indicator, an easy steam release button plus an easy-seal lid that automatically sets to seal when you close it. It’s available in four different sizes, though we recommend getting the six-quart for a household of two to four people. 

Buy Instant Pot Duo Nova at Amazon - $100 Buy Instant Pot Duo Nova at Walmart - $153

Anova Precision Oven

Holiday Gift Guide: Anova Precision oven

Maybe your loved one is already a consummate cook with every conceivable appliance in their kitchen. In that case, they might be the perfect candidate for the Anova Precision Oven -- a high-tech combination convection-steam oven that cooks food in both wet and dry heat with precise temperature and humidity controls. This could mean juicy roast chicken with crispy skin or perfectly done cheesecakes without any cracks. And thanks to steam injection, the oven is especially good for baking beautifully crusty artisan-style bread. It even has WiFi and a companion app so they can keep an eye on their food on their phone. 

Buy Precision Oven at Anova - $600

Baratza Virtuoso+ coffee grinder

Holiday Gift Guide: Baratza Virtuoso+ coffee grinder

We’ve recommended the Baratza Encore before in previous coffee guides, and while that’s great for entry-level aficionados, the discerning coffee geek might appreciate a more upgraded coffee grinder. The Baratza Virtuoso+ delivers on that front, with a digital timer that can grind precisely the same amount of coffee every time, a solid base that won’t vibrate as much, and is overall just a touch more sleek-looking thanks to its black and silver design. 

Buy Virtuoso+ at Amazon - $250 Buy Virtuoso+ at Walmart - $250

Kalita Wave 185 dripper

Holiday Gift Guide: Kalita Wave 185 dripper

Coffee fans tend to appreciate the simplicity and purity of pour-over coffee, but a proper brew can be difficult to get right. One of the easiest ways to do so, however, is with the Kalita Wave 185. Online reviews state that it produces consistent and flavorful cups without much fuss, which is great for beginners. The Wave comes in glass, ceramic and stainless steel, and it’s pretty affordable too. That said, bear in mind that your coffee-loving gift recipient will likely have to buy Kalita's proprietary filters online. 

Buy Wave 185 at Amazon - $30 Buy Wave 185 at Walmart - $30

Aeropress Go

Holiday Gift Guide: Aeropress Go
Will Lipman Photography

The Aeropress has been a favorite among caffeine addicts for years thanks to its simple plunger system. And, since it’s slim and portable, it’s often the go-to choice for travelers. Aeropress, however, has recently created an even more portable option called the Aeropress Go. It comes bundled with a drinking cup that doubles as a carrying case, making it even more compact than the original. It’s also ideal for campers and backpackers who still want great coffee when they’re in the great outdoors. 

Buy Aeropress Go at Amazon - $32 Buy Aeropress Go at Walmart - $42

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential

Holiday Gift Guide: Lenovo Smart Clock Esssential
Will Lipman Photography

Last year’s Lenovo Smart Clock was a huge hit, largely because it was a no fuss take on the smart display that emphasized the alarm clock over everything else. Recently, however, the company has come up with the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, which is an even more basic version of the same concept. Instead of an LCD display, all you get is an LED screen that shows basic information like the time, weather and alarms. However, it still has Google Assistant on board, which lets you play tunes and check your calendar appointments. This is a great gift for someone who likes the idea of a smart alarm clock, but doesn’t want any frills. 

Buy Smart Clock Essential at Walmart - $29 Buy Smart Clock Essential at Best Buy - $25

Anova Nano Sous Vide

Holiday Gift Guide: Anova Nano Sous Vide

Sous vide machines are no longer just a novelty kitchen gadget, thanks in part to affordable ones like the Anova Precision Cooker Nano. It’s less than $100, easy to use and store, and can be controlled via an app or physical controls on the top. Like all sous vide cookers, the Nano lets your loved ones cook foods to just the right temperature, so they’re guaranteed a medium rare steak, juicy chicken breasts and perfect 75C/167F degree eggs. 

Buy Nano Sous Vide at Amazon - $109 Buy Nano Sous Vide at Walmart - $125

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