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Read this before you give Google or Amazon Echo this year



Holiday Survival Guide 2019 featuring tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.
    
                            
                
                                
                                                            

        
                                        

Consider giving a smart home device as a gift – they're both fun and useful. Plus, if you keep your eyes peeled, you'll spot great Black Friday deals on them, too. Google Home and Amazon Echo smart speakers, Phillips Hue and Lifx smart bulbs, plus many more.

But there is a lot of factors at play. Are they Team Amazon, Google or Apple? Which smart devices do you have, and want this new one in the same ecosystem?

Doing your homework on the smart home can feel daunting, but do not worry. In this guide, we'll cover the right questions to ask, plus the key facts to know before you splash out. more tips for buying gadgets for friends and loved ones Complete guide to surviving the Thanksgiving holiday .

Read more : Holiday gift guide 2019

Which smart home devices make great gifts?

Simple countertop toaster ovens and coffee makers.

Today's most popular smart home products include:

If your giftee does not have any smart home products, start with a smart speaker, search as at Amazon Echo Dot ($ 40 at Walmart) Amazon Echo Dot with Clock or Google Home Mini ($ 25 at Dell) . They take very little room, but come up with all the same features as their full-size counterparts.

Read more : 10 of the best things you can do with Amazon Echo

A speaker that works best with Google or Amazon? It's an important consideration if it's a gift.


Tyler Lizenby / CNET
                                                

Amazon or Google?

Picking the right smart phone to get started with Google and Amazon, and which services your gift recipient uses.

Do you have Android phone and use Google for their email, calendar, maps and more? A Google Home ($ 79 at Walmart) This is a Google account.

If you're buying a smart speaker for someone who's on Amazon, the line of Echo speakers is a good choice. They can use it to buy items from Amazon, plus a whole lot more.

Maybe your gift recipient is a smart speaker. You can give them Alexa in the form of the Echo Input . This small device gives their existing speakers all the same features as Echo.

Read more: Google Home Vs. Amazon Echo Show

Which phone do they have?

Smart phones play a big role in setting up and using any smart home device, so it's worth considering which phone you're shopping for. A particular connected home device might not work as well on an Android phone as on an iPhone ($ 900 at Amazon) . One version of a product's app may have bugs galore, or missing features.

Motif Mentor smart coffee scale lacks an app for Android (iOS's only). And the WinkBed smart mattress has an Android app that barely works, while its iPhone software is quite stable.

Check which phone the receiver of your gift has. Then confirm there, and problem-free, software available for your smart home gadget present.

Read More : Everything you need to know about Google Home

It's best to buy a gift that will play nicely with other smart gadgets already in its prospective home.


Josh Miller
                                                

Ask yourself at home

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

For instance, they already have multiple Amazon Echo speakers, and perhaps a Fire TV. Giving them a ring doorbell is the way to go. That's because Ring is plugged tightly into its platform of connected products.

Google home devices, including a nest thermostat. In that case, the best smart doorbell for them is the Nest Hello.

Smart light bulbs are a little more forgiving. The two most popular brands, Philips Hue and Lifx, work with systems in both camps.

However, Philips Hue and Lutron require separate networking hubs to function. If a hub like this already sits at home, the light source makes the best sense. To learn more about which devices work with others, check out our nifty smart home product compatibility matrix .

The Google Nest Wifi is an excellent mesh networking router option.


Chris Monroe / CNET
                                                

Thinking about their home network

A smart home device linked to bathroom home Wi-Fi is not much use. Make sure you have someone you'd like to have.

Even a basic echo dot or Google Home DSL in the sticks . The same is true for weak signals in far-flung basements or upper floors.

If you know you're shopping for your favorite home entertainment device, and you're thinking of getting a Wi-Fi system, you're in the mood for Wi-Fi. so that every smart device has the reliable connection to it needs to work. Google Nest Wifi and Netgear Orbi are two such systems we like.

Amazon-owned Eero is another networking networking option work considering. It lacks support for Wi-Fi 6 but is more affordable.


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Is privacy a potential problem?

You definitely need to be sensitive to any concerns. If you're always suspicious about tech, think twice before giving someone an internet-connected camera, or an always-listening smart speaker. How do you tackle this issue? For example, Apple makes a pretty strong privacy statement for HomeKit devices, given its policies against storing customer data on its servers.

Amazon and Google always say "we take customers' privacy seriously" when the topic comes up. However, they do both store customer data remotely. And while they are being used, the data is being used in the cloud, an element of risk. A breach might expose customer info, their policies might change, or they could make a day's peoples' details in a way that feels uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, using any smart home product (or for that matter any home device that stores or transmits data) requires some degree of faith. And because smart home products in particular are designed to integrate with their owners.

But do not forget, these gadgets are therefore supposed to make life easier. The benefits against the broader risks. Your best bet to read on the specific company. You can check out our recent coverage of Amazon, Google, and Apple here:

Originally published last year and updated with new devices.


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