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Make your home office smarter in the new year

From smart hubs to smart coffee machines, these gifts will boost the tech IQ of any home office by making technology work for you.

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Topic: Hardware
Philips Hue Lights
1 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Philips Hue Lights

I look at Philips Hue lights as a gateway into filling your home with smart gadgets. You begin with a single bulb, and before you know, it you are controlling your cat feeder from your smartphone.

Philips Hue isn't the cheapest out there, but it is by far the best. Build quality is excellent, the lifespan of the products is is such that after several years I've not had a single Hue device fail, and the light output from the bulbs is second to none.

The $99 Philips Hue Starter Kit is a great way to begin. But once you get going, it's likely that you'll be adding different lights, light strips, lamps, and even controllers such as motion sensors, dimmer switches, and tap switches into the mix.

See it now: Philips Hue Starter

Eufy RoboVac 30C
2 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Eufy RoboVac 30C

Mr Kitty leaves a trail of hair in his wake, so having an automated way to clean up after him is a great time saver.

I've had a few different robot vacuum cleaners over the years, and I've not been all that impressed with them. They seem to take a disproportionate amount of hand-holding for what they did.

Enter the $269 Eufy RoboVac 30C, which totally changed my mind about robovacs. Not only is it a powerful device that cleans as good as a regular vacuum cleaner (thanks to its 1500Pa of suction strength), but it's thin enough to make its way underneath furniture without getting caught up.

It also has a large 0.6L dustbox to complement its 100 minutes of runtime per charge.

See it now: Eufy RoboVac 30C

Ring Video Doorbell Elite
3 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Ring Elite Video Doorbell

Forget having to get up -- or even be at home -- to see who is at your door!

Ring Elite ($499) lets you monitor your home, answer the door and greet guests straight from your phone. Using the app you get instant alerts, HD video, and the ability to carry out two-way conversation with visitors from anywhere.

One of the killer features of the Ring Elite is that it uses Ethernet for connectivity rather than relying on Wi-Fi, and that single cable handles power -- using the PoE Power-over-Ethernet standard -- as well as data.

See it now: Ring Elite

Amazon Echo/Echo Plus
4 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Amazon Echo/Echo Plus

The Amazon Echo is the best home smart speaker and smart home hub that I've tested.

Not only is is a great speaker, but once you get the hand on using Alexa it becomes your one-stop voice command station for everything that's smart in your home.

If you already have a Philips Hue bridge then the standard Echo is what you want, but if you are starting from scratch then the $99 Echo Plus with built-in hub and free smart bulb is a great way to get started.

See it now: Amazon Echo

Alexa Smart Plug
5 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Alexa Smart Plug

The simplest way to add voice control to any power outlet is with the $25 Amazon Smart Plug.

But there's much more to this than just simple on and off commands. Using the Alexa app you can create routines for your Amazon Smart Plug to automate the things you do and make life easier. For example, you can create a morning routine that turns on lights and your coffee maker with a single request.

See it now: Amazon Smart Plug

Google Wifi
6 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Google Wifi

Google Wifi ($129) replaces your old router network and works with your modem and ISP to create a mesh network covering your entire home or office.

One device not offer enough coverage? No worries! By adding a second Google Wifi device you can increase coverage from 500 to 1,500 square feet (enough to span a small home or apartment), to 1,500 to 3,000 square feet.

And if that's not enough, throw in a third, which boost coverage to up to 4,500 square feet.

And Google Wifi is also smart, allowing you to schedule a regular Wi-Fi pause on your kids' devices, such as at bedtime or dinner time, and also block access to unsuitable websites.

On top of that you get access to features such as the ability to see what devices are connected, run a speedtest, quickly troubleshoot, set up a guest network and more.

See it now: Google Wifi

Dyson AM10 Humidifier fan
7 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Dyson Humidifier fan

Stay cool and keep the air in your room pure and humidified with the $399 Dyson Humidifier fan. With one press of the remote, it uses intelligent climate control to measure both temperature and moisture in the air to help maintain a healthy environment across the whole room.

The Dyson humidifier kills 99.9 percent of bacteria in the water using its patented Ultraviolet Cleanse technology, exposing every drop of water to a UVC light.

If it's heat you want rather than humidification, check out the Dyson Hot + Cool fans, which can be used to handle the extremes of both summer and winter.

See it now: Dyson Humidifier fan

Nest x Yale Lock
8 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Nest x Yale Lock

If you've gone to the effort of fitting a smart doorbell, so you can see who is at your door, why not fit a smart lock so you don't have to get up to let people in.

The $279 Nest x Yale Lock not only allows you to let people in using the Nest smartphone app, but you can also assign passcodes to people you trust and set visiting hours (so your dog walker or house cleaner's passcode works or expires at certain times) and even get an alert sent to you every time someone locks and unlocks the door.

See it now: Nest x Yale Lock

YubiKey 5
9 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

YubiKey 5

Replace weak, outdated password-based methods with strong hardware-based authentication.

YubiKeys are a quick, easy, and affordable way to protect your Google account, Facebook, GitHub, Dropbox, Salesforce admin account, and much more, or to harden your Mac or Windows login credentials.

The $45 YubiKey 5 NFC goes a step further by making all this available using both NFC and USB for a seamless tap-and-go authentication experience across desktop, laptop, and mobile with FIDO2.

See it now: YubiKey 5 NFC

Gourmia GCMW4750 WIFI Coffee Maker
10 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Gourmia GCMW4750 WIFI Coffee Maker

The $99 Gourmia GCMW4750 Wi-Fi is an all-in-one coffee maker, combing a state-of-the-art coffee grinder and brewer to deliver the freshest, tastiest coffee. Grind your own beans or use pre-ground for a delicious cup of fresh brew.

Using the app you can brew from anywhere. Plus, this is Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, which means that instead of pushing buttons, you can summon coffee by just saying, "Brew!"

This coffee maker will keep your coffee piping hot for up to 30 minutes after brewing is complete.

See it now: Gourmia GCMW4750 WIFI

Jabra Elite 65t
11 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Jabra Elite 65t

I've tried a lot of earbud-type headphones, and nothing comes close to the comfort, quality, and performance of the $167 Jabra Elite 65t.

They're great for both music and making and receiving calls. They feature wind noise cancellation, and the iOS app allows for advanced features, such as allowing ambient sounds to be mixed with the audio from the iPhone.

The Jabra Elite 65t features an IP55-rated design and comes with a two-year warranty against damage from water and dust.

The buds have a five-hour battery life, with the recharging case offering two more recharges. And recharging is fast, with the buds getting 1.5 hours of battery life with only a 15-minute recharge.

See it now: Jabra Elite 65t

Nest E thermostat
12 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Nest E thermostat

The $169 Nest Thermostat E is a smart thermostat that's designed to blend in rather than stand out. The frosted display blends in with its surroundings, giving it a soft, subtle, watercolor-like look.

The Nest Thermostat E makes use of built-in sensors and your phone's location to turn itself down when the heat is not needed or you're away.

And, when you choose an energy-saving temperature, you'll see the Nest Leaf on the screen.

See it now: Nest Thermostat E

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