Thinking of gifting an Amazon Echo or Google Home? Read This First


As you'll see in the holiday announcements of all the major retailers now, smart home gadgets are everywhere. You can find deals on smart speakers, smart lamps and smart buzzers.

Still, gifting someone with a smart home product can seem intimidating as there are many factors at play. Are they team Amazon, Google or Apple? What devices do they already have?

An intelligent home appliance can be a great gift as long as you do your homework first. Do not worry. In this guide, we'll cover the right questions to ask, plus important facts you should know before you spend.

Which smart home appliances are great gifts?

Smart household products range from sophisticated speakers and web-enabled monitors to simple bench furnaces and coffee makers.

Today's most popular smart home products include:

If your gift does not have smart home products, start with a smart speaker such as an Amazon Echo Dot. ($ 30 on Amazon) or Google Home Mini ($ 49 on the Google Store). Both take up very little space, but come with all the same features as their full-size counterparts.

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A speaker that works best with Google or Amazon? It is an important consideration before giving one as a gift.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Amazon or Google?

Choosing the right smart speaker for the present begins with finding out if they require bills with Google and Amazon, services that your present recipient uses.

Do they have an Android phone and / or use Google for their emails, calendars, maps and more? A Google homepage ($ 129 at Crutchfield) speaker is a great fit and setup will be easy because they already have a Google account.

If you are buying a smart speaker for someone who makes purchases on Amazon frequently, the Echo line of speakers is a good choice. They can use it to buy items from Amazon, plus much more.

The type of smart home experience you receive also depends on your phone. A particular connected home device may not work as well on an Android device compared to an iPhone ($ 1,199 on Amazon). An application version of a product may have bugs in abundance or missing resources.

There may not even be an app for Android or iOS. For example, Motif's Mentor Smart Coffee Balance does not have an Android application (iOS only). And the smart mattress WinkBed has an Android application that barely works, while the iPhone software is quite stable.

Check what kind of phone the receiver of your gift has. Then confirm that there is matching and hassle-free software available for the smart home gadget present.

It is best to buy a gift that works well with other smart gadgets already in your house.

Josh Miller

Ask what is already at home

Maybe your gift already has an Echo or Google Home speaker. Figuring out what they already have can help you choose the right gift.

For example, let's say they already have multiple Amazon Echo speakers and maybe a Fire TV. Giving them a ring bell is the way to go. That's because Ring is an Amazon brand and well connected to its connected product platform.

The opposite is the case for people with multiple Google Home gadgets, including a Nest thermostat. In that case, the best smart bell for them is Nest Hello.

Smart lamps are a bit more forgiving. The two most popular brands, Philips Hue and Lifx, work with systems in both fields.

However, some lighting systems – Philips Hue and Lutron – require separate network hubs to function. If a hub like this is already at home, gifting a compatible light source makes the best sense. To learn more about which devices work with other people, check out our stylish Smart Home Compatibility Matrix.

Google WiFi is a great mesh network router option.


Think about your home network

An intelligent home device connected to poor Wi-Fi access at home is not very useful. Make sure that someone special you would like to gift also has an appropriate network.

Even a basic Echo Dot or Google Home Mini can not run on slow DSL on the bats. The same is true for weak signals in distant basements or upper floors.

If you know that the person you are shopping is excited about smart home devices and keep getting new ones, consider purchasing a mesh Wi-Fi system. They cover a whole house with a strong Wi-Fi signal, so that every smart device has the reliable connection it needs to function. Google Wifi and Netgear Orbi are two of those systems we like.

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