TECH GIFTS HIGH ON WISH LISTS
When consumer technology first started really showing up on holiday shopping lists, there was often one must-have tech item shoppers lined up to buy. They’re still lining up, says Zayn Jaffer, a Best Buy Canada vice-president, but it’s no longer for that single must-have item. “People are definitely lining up outside our store, but they are lining up for more items now,” he said. Among them, wireless speakers, a hot item this shopping season and leading our top 10 gifts for the smart home,
A GIFT THAT WILL LEAVE THEM BEAM-ING Sonos, a pioneer in wireless speakers, released its new Beam soundbar for television this year, which includes Alex voice control. It’s compatible with other Sonos speakers and compatible through Airplay with IOS devices.Happily for your home entertainment, it’s a considerable price drop from the $900 Sonos Playbar sound bar.
SIRI IN A SMART SPEAKER The selection of wireless speakers has grown this year with speakers that combine superior sound with the ability to listen to your commands. Apple’s Homepod takes Apple Music and voice assistant Siri and neatly weaves them into your smart home.
COSY UP IN FRONT OF THE FIRE Amazon’s Fire TV products start with the basic Wireless Fire Smart TV stick at $50, the 4K Stick at $70 and go all the way up to televisions like the Toshiba 4K UHD Smart TVS at $400 and up. They have Fire TV built in and voice control through Amazon’s Alexa. Fire TV is Amazon’s digital media player that lets you stream digital video and audio to your TV via the internet. Another gift for the cord cutter on your holiday list.
CUTTING THE CORD At a time when more and more Canadians are cutting the cord and opting out of cable TV, the Roku operating platform offers free and subscription-streaming services from Youtube to Netflix, as well as The Roku Channel with films, TV shows and news. TCL’S newest Roku TV models from TCL range from the premier 6-Series 65-inch versions at $1,250; to under$400 for the 43-inch 4-Series and around $200 for the 32-inch 3-Series model.
DANCING LIGHTS Nanoleaf offers smart light panels that can be programmed to create your own light show. The LED panels change colour and can recognize music, changing colour to match the rhythm. You can find a starter kit bundled with a Google Home Mini speaker at Best Buy.
SMARTEN UP YOUR HOME Tp-link’s Smart Wi-fi Plug is a handy gadget for transforming a device plugged into an electrical outlet into a smart-controlled device. For lights, you can turn them on and off or take advantage of the away mode that does it for you, using the free Kasa app.
HELLO GOOGLE Just say “Hello Google” and the Sony S50G Sony Google Assistant Built-in Wireless Speaker is ready with Google Assistant to help you. It has 360-degree sound, an LED clock display and it’s splash-proof. Touch-free controls let you adjust volume and play or skip songs just by waving your hand.
ALEXA, IS THAT AN ECHO I HEAR? From the Echo Dot, that’s not a lot bigger than a hockey puck, to the Echo Plus and others, Amazon has a lineup of voice-controlled speakers that stream music from services like Amazon Music and Spotify, and have the voice assistant Alexa ready to answer your every question, from checking your flight time to setting the smart thermostat.
FOR THE NOT-SO-GREEN THUMB The Click and Grow Smart Garden does away with all those pesky details, like remembering to water and fertilize. Plug it in and it does everything, from monitoring water and nutrients to making sure the light is just right. It comes with three basil plants to get started.
BANISH WI-FI DEAD SPOTS If you’ve ever suffered fading Wi-fi signals and wireless dead spots in your home, you know it can be frustrating. Deco has you covered with its Deco M9 Smart Home Mesh System that combines units under one Wi-fi network name. The Deco M9 Plus two-pack is good for up to 4,500 square feet and you can add more. It also gives you a hub for all your smart devices.