Smart tech devices are getting cheaper, easier to use, and more capable all the time, so if you're thinking about extending your smart home – or maybe adding some smarts to your home for the first time – then Christmas 2019 is the perfect opportunity.
Pick out the right smart kit (we'll point you in the right direction), and you can enjoy a Christmas that's genuinely enhanced by having some intelligent gadgets around the place – gadgets that make managing your lights, controlling indoor temperatures, and protecting your property very straightforward.
You can kit out your home for less than you might think, and be up and running in minutes, thanks to the best smart tech in 2019. What's more, these gadgets are better than ever at working together seamlessly, so they're low maintenance too.
With remote control of your heating and your lights, you can cut down on energy bills and make sure you're only using the electricity you actually need. When it comes to security, meanwhile, these gadgets can keep a watchful eye over your property (and the presents under the tree) even when you're out at the office or even on the other side of the world.
To get you started, here are four easy smart home starter upgrades you should try.
Create any kind of cosy lighting you want
With smart lighting, you can choose the colour and brightness of your lights with just a tap – including individual settings for every bulb, making it easy to strike the relaxing mood you want. The best way to do this is with the Philips Hue range of smart lights and smart bulbs, which just keeps growing and growing so there’s a bulb for every fixture.
Here, though, we want to talk about the Philips Hue Go, a portable lamp that's flexible enough to go anywhere and do just about anything you need from a smart light.
Whether it's a romantic meal out in the garden, a movie night inside the house, a bedtime story for the kids before sleep, or a few drinks and party tunes before heading out, the Philips Hue Go can help – mains or battery, ZigBee or Bluetooth, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for voice control.
And as for colours, it's going to take you some time to work through the 16 million colours and more than 50,000 shades of white that you can pick from. There's a shade for every situation, and then some. Of course, it’s easy to just keep your favourites to hand, by saving your favourite scene on the Philips Hue app.
All of this functionality can be managed with a few taps from your phone, and with the help of the Philips Hue Bridge (which plugs straight into your router), you can control your lights while away from home, set schedules, and more. It's excellent value too at £69.99.
Know your property is safe no matter where you are
With a smart alarm system, you can rest easy knowing that nothing untoward has happened, because your phone would tell you if it had. The Ring Alarm system gives you comprehensive home security protection that's affordable, simple to set up, and very easy to maintain – gone are the days of having to get a professional team of experts in to install a system around the home.
At £249, we recommend the five-piece starter kit as the best option: it includes the base station, the keypad, a motion detector, a contact sensor (for a window or a door), and a range extender (so you can place your sensors further away from the base station). Additional cameras and sensors can then be added on top as needed.
Arm the system, either via the keypad or your phone, and if the sensors detect an intruder, the siren will sound. You'll also get an alert straight to your phone. It couldn't be easier to configure, and everything you need for easy self-install is in the box. You can opt to pay an extra £8 a month for Ring Protect, which allows you to have up to three emergency contacts get a call (besides yourself) if the alarm is triggered.
You can also view live feeds on your phone from any Ring security cameras and video doorbells you choose to add to the system, wherever you are in the world. Keeping an eye on your property and possessions, and keeping them protected, has never been easier or more affordable.
Keep warm whatever the weather and save energy
Control your heating and indoor climate from anywhere with the tado° Smart Thermostat Starter Kit, and save money at the same time, as your heating system adapts to work as efficiently as possible – working out how quickly your home heats up and cools down, for example.
With the tado° system installed, your central heating is smart enough to recognise when the weather's too warm to have the heating on, and it's even able to detect (and alert you) when there's an open window somewhere in the house. It's a breeze to use, and works with 95 percent of heating systems out there.
Even better, the tado° Smart Thermostat integrates with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit, so whatever other smart tech you've got going on in your smart home, the tado° system should be able to slot right in.
With plenty of manual and smart controls available to you, easy management from the tado° phone app, and a bunch of neat tricks to play around with – having your heating switch off when your phone is away from home, for example – the tado° system is both comprehensive and intuitive, and affordable at just £199.99.
Give friends and family access to your home without keys
Yale is a brand name synonymous with keeping your property locked up and safe from unwelcome visitors, and the company is rapidly expanding its smart home security portfolio of products as well. From alarm systems to security cameras, you can pick and choose the devices that are best suited to your home.
Take the Conexis® L1 smart lock, for example. It doesn't look all that different from a conventional lock, but it can be operated remotely from your phone – let the kids in after school while you're at the office, make sure the front door is locked from your bedroom, give temporary mobile keys to friends and family, and more besides.
Of course, Yale has other security products that connect perfectly with the Conexis® L1 smart lock. The Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm is able to detect motion inside your home and raise the alarm – it does this by pinging your phone and sounding a siren, but it can also use Philips Hue lights and audio piped through an Amazon Echo to act as extra deterrents to would-be burglars.
Yale also manufactures a variety of indoor and outdoor security cameras, so you've got just about every angle of home security covered. Thanks to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration, you can control and check up on various aspects of the Yale system with your voice, as well as get it to play nicely with other smart home gadgets.
These smart tech products start making life easier from the moment you turn them on, and this Christmas is the perfect time to jump in.