The 2013 Gigaom Connected Life Gift Guide: Connected home

“Everything’s connected!” That’s no longer some New Age statement about how we are all linked in by the circle of life, but rather an increasingly accurate statement to be made about our toys, our wall ovens and a huge number of objects around the home. So if everything’s connected, what should the regular consumer — not the bleeding-edge early adopters — buy to turn their homes into an automated and eventually contextually aware wonderland?

That’s the question we’re trying to answer with this gift guide. I’m not going to cover the home hubs such as SmartThings, Revolv or Lowe’s Iris system here, since I’ll do that next week, but will focus instead on individual devices that use their connectivity to make your life easier and more joyful. — Stacey Higginbotham

WeMo Light Switch, $49.95,


Last year we put a WeMo Connected outlet on our gift guide, and this year we’re adding the connected light switch. That’s because a connected light switch, while requiring some installation, is an excellent element for taking your smart home to another level. I chose WeMo because the ecosystem is open and it coordinates with IFTTT plus the SmartThings and Revolv home hubs — something that’s likely, but not assured from some of the other switch manufacturers. Plus, with the switch already tied into the electrical system, I don’t care that it uses the power-hungry Wi-fi protocol. — Stacey Higginbotham

Hue light bulbs, $199.97

LivingColors, LightStrips and hue kits and product

The Hue lightbulbs are not a new product, but recent integrations with IFTTT, SmartThings and other connected hubs out on the market make them a bit more versatile than they were last year at this time. Plus, the lights are pricey, but a ton of fun, which makes it an awesome gift idea for someone who could use a tech toy. Even my seven-year-old loves them. — Stacey Higginbotham

Dropcam, $149 to $199

Dropcam on the left; Dropcam Pro on the right.

Dropcam on the left; Dropcam Pro on the right.

Unlike most other connected webcams that are a hassle to access when away from home, Dropcam makes it a breeze. There’s no need to punch a hole in your network firewall, set up a static IP address or change your router settings at all. That’s because connecting remotely to a Dropcam from your phone or tablet is really a connection to the cloud, which acts as an intermediary between you and your Dropcam. You can even have, for a premium fee, your Dropcam record what it sees and hears and later access the recordings saved in the cloud. — Kevin Tofel

GE Z-Wave Module for Lighting Control, $37.42

This is ugly and it’s not Wi-Fi enabled, which means most people will have to have a Z-wave compatible hub. But it’s exactly what you need if you want to hook your outdoor holiday lights into an existing smart home system. I know there are timers, but for the nights when you want to run your lights a little later, this gives you the ability to control them from a smartphone or maybe from a remote. And if you have the right hub that integrates with IFTTT, this could enable you to turn your lights on with a tweet and other fun. — Stacey Higginbotham

Nimbus clock, $129.99


This clock isn’t a necessity, but it would be a nice bedside clock or desk side item for the geek who wants to leave the smartphone in another room. Each of the four panels can be configured to show information such as time, weather, traffic, emails, tweets and more. The clock connects via Wi-Fi and the Wink app and is one of the new GE/Quirky products that came out earlier this month. I haven’t tried it, but it seems like it make a good gift for someone who likes technology but doesn’t want to have his or her smartphone always at hand. — Stacey Higgintbotham

Check out the rest of our 2013 Connected Life Gift Guide here.