CNET reviews: Best smart home gifts for grads


Hard as it might be to believe, another crop of graduates are about to hit the streets. If you’ll be celebrating the achievements of one of these newly minted scholars, perhaps the gift of something to make the next phase of their life a little easier might be gratefully received. Here are four of the best smart-home devices that any grad would love to have. 

Amazon Cloud Cam

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The crisp 1080p HD live feed, prompt motion notifications and free 24-hour clip storage set a new value standard for indoor home security cameras.

THE BAD Only Amazon cloud subscribers can set motion zones and receive person alerts. Continuous recording is not available (even for subscribers), and there’s no local microSD card storage.

THE COST $119.99

BOTTOM LINE Amazon’s Cloud Cam is affordable, reliable and easy to use, but it’s the free storage that ultimately makes it more appealing over its competitors.

Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The plain, vanilla version of Philips Hue’s smart LEDs don’t change colors, but they do enjoy all of the benefits of Hue’s well-connected platform. They’re also bright, good looking bulbs with easy-to-use smarts, and you can add extras to your setup for just $15 each

THE BAD The two-bulb starter kit still comes with a fair share of sticker shock

THE COST $66.59 to $69.95 

BOTTOM LINE It’s a must-buy if you’re serious about smart lighting.

Google Home Mini 

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD This stylish-looking speaker features surprisingly strong sound quality. The Google Assistant is a capable Alexa competitor and can search out detailed answers to a variety of questions.

THE BAD There isn’t much the Home Mini does that Alexa can’t do, too. It also lacks a line-out jack and requires Chromecast Audio to connect with at external speaker setup

THE COST $66.59 to $69.95 

BOTTOM LINE A no-brainer for existing Google Home users.

TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini

CNET rating (out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD This smart plug keeps other outlets free, works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and offers plenty of scheduling and timing options

THE BAD The TP-Link Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini isn’t HomeKit-compatible.

THE COST $23.99 to $34.99 

BOTTOM LINE This smart plug is a great option for anyone interested in scheduling, voice commands and remote access to everyday devices up to 1,500 watts.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: executive editor Rich Brown, senior associate editor Ry Crist, associate editor Molly Price, senior associate editor Megan Wollerton and senior editor Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com

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