Domestic gifts: seven gadgets for a better home
If you want to come home to a warm, well lit, vacuumed house with the playlist already on, then here’s what you need
Sick of vacuuming and having to come home to a cold house? These smart home tech products can help. Photograph: Getty
It’s the same every Christmas – you work all through the season to get you house all cosy and Christmassy, decking the halls, putting up the Christmas lights, sprucing the place up until it looks like something off a particularly high-end Hallmark Christmas card. And what does your house do for you in return? Apart from maybe keeping the rain out, diddley squat.
Well, isn’t it about time your house started doing some work for you? You should be able to come home in the evening, and not have to roll your sleeves up and start an evening’s work. You want to arrive home and everything’s done for you. The house nice and toasty, the rooms all vacuumed, the lights set to “cosy”, and the relaxing playlist already playing.
We’re not quite at the stage where your house can run you a bath and pour you a nice glass of merlot, but there are plenty of smart home devices on the market that can make life a little easier for you when you get home. For hassled homeowners, a neat, time and labour-saving piece of smart home tech could be just the job for Christmas.
Netgear AC1200 Wifi Range Extender EX6150
We don’t want to frighten you, but your house may have a few “dead zones”. These are the scary places where your wifi router doesn’t reach, and the only way to get an internet connection in these parts of your house is to hold a seance. A good wireless extender will bring those dead zones back to life, so you can actually move around the house without worrying if your signal will suddenly go kaput. Netgear is one of the best products for improving wifi coverage in your home, and the AC1200 range extender is a simple-to-install device that plugs into any electrical socket to instantly turbo-charge your wifi connection.
Dyson Pure Cool Desk Air Purifier
Christmas can play havoc with the air quality – the mouldy spores from your Christmas decorations, the lingering smoke from the burnt Christmas dinner, the toxic fumes from those cheap fragrances you got from your auntie. Dyson is expert at moving air around, and its Pure Cool Desk Air Purifier brings its “air multiplier” technology to bear on this handy device, designed to freshen up any large family room, and leave you breathing a little easier as a result. The Pure Cool uses Dyson’s HEPA filter to snatch nearly 100 per cent of harmful particles and allergens, including paint fumes, and put them out of circulation for good.
Sonos One Wireless Smart Sound Speaker
When you think of smart home speakers, Amazon Echo or Google Home are probably first to come to mind. Well, maybe it’s time to adjust your thinking. The Sonos One is another wireless speaker in a similar vein, and it works with Alexa, but has vastly improved sound quality, making it the perfect smart home speaker for people who like actually listening to music and not just singing along to Ed Sheeran. Sonos believes that “smart” shouldn’t have to mean “sounds mediocre and rather tinny”, so they’ve come up with a speaker that does all the stuff other smart speakers do, but sounds better doing it.
Nest Smart Thermostat & Hot Water Control
Christmas is all about warm, cosy nests, and the last thing you want to do is arrive home to a freezing cold gaff, and have to wait an hour or so for the house to reach optimum snug. The Nest family of smart devices includes this fab thermostat that can be controlled from an app on your mobile phone, and also learns about your home heating habits as it goes along, so it can ensure your house is at the optimum temperature for any time of day or month, and never have to arrive home to a cold house or no hot water in the tank. It comes in four fab colours – black, white, silver and copper – and that orange display alone radiates a nice sense of warmth.
Netgear Arlo Pro 2 Home Security Camera
Smart home security is big business, and you could if you wanted have 24-hour camera surveillance relayed right to your smartphone this Christmas, so not even a mouse could stir without alerting you right away. The Arlo is becoming the big name in home security cameras, thanks to its reliable high-res images and expandability. This set comes with a hub and two outdoor, waterproof cameras, but you can add indoor cams that sit discreetly on shelves, if you need to see what’s going on inside your house while you’re not there. But while home security tech is advancing by the minute, there is still no system available that can catch Santa in the act. He’s too smart even for your smart home.
Yale Smart Home Alarm Kit SR-320
Having a couple of cameras here and there around the house is all very fine, but for real home security, you need the full alarm system monty, with cameras, motion detectors, and a big siren to deter any would-be intruders. Yale has been in the business of locking out intruders for donkey’s years, and lately it’s evolved to create security systems to back up their locks and bolts. Yale’s Smart Living range of home security devices can be expanded to protect your entire house, and it can all be operated from your smartphone. This starter kit will get the ball rolling, and you can add to it as needed. Its big selling point is the big yellow Yale alarm that you mount outside your house to let any randomers know that you’ve put a bit of effort into securing your home. Hopefully when they see the big yellow circle, they’ll decide it’s not worth the effort.
iRobot Roomba 866 Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Notice how you always seem to do more vacuuming over the holidays? Pine needles all around the tree, crumbs from binge TV grazing, scraps of wrapping paper. Save yourself the hassle and install the Roomba in your house, let it loose, and just get on with your day. The Roomba will navigate its way around the room, avoiding obstacles with ease, and getting into the trickiest corners to suck up every last bit of dirt and dust. It uses Roomba’s AeroForce cleaning system and also has HEPA filter traps to catch pet dander and other allergens. It also recharges itself and learns which parts of the house need more attention.