2015 Holiday Gift Guide: For the Home

Gifts like these might not be the most romantic if you’re buying for your wife or girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find cool stuff that will put a smile on their face. Products for the home can be just as desirable if you focus on items with great design or that make someone’s life a lot easier, and if you stick to those simple guidelines, you’ll make whoever is on the receiving end very happy.

Click the links within the write-ups to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

iDevices Thermostat & Switch

Transforming your house into a smart home has never been easier with these new products from iDevices, which work in conjunction with the free iDevices Connected app to allow users to control, monitor and schedule their thermostat and other electronics from any compatible iOS device. While Nest may own a large share of the market with its smart thermostat, the iDevices version is a great alternative for nearly half the price. It features a sleek, minimalistic design and gives you the ability to change the temperature wherever you are, set schedules for different times and days of the week, and even create “Scenes” (like “Going to Bed”) that can be activated with Siri voice commands. The real game-changer, however, is the iDevices Switch, which controls any product (15 amps or less) that you would plug into a standard wall outlet and includes a customizable LED night light that can be turned on or off separately. Better yet, when paired with a Thermostat or multiple Switches in certain rooms or “Zones” (like upstairs or downstairs), it delivers the smart home experience that all those science fiction movies promised us. Just don’t expect it to make you breakfast as well. You can also find these devices at Lowe’s.

idevices

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 740HD Projector

The traditional moviegoing experience has gotten so bad that more and more people have decided to stay away from theaters altogether by creating one of their own inside their homes, and with the PowerLite Home Cinema 740HD projector from Epson, it couldn’t be any easier. In addition to featuring widescreen, high-definition 720p resolution, the Home Cinema 740HD offers up to 15,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio for rich details in dark scenes and boasts three times brighter colors than leading competitors thanks to its three-chip LCD technology. This results in a viewing experience that’s much closer to a typical theater chain, even if it can’t replicate it exactly. The projector itself is fairly lightweight and compact, so you can take it to your friend’s house or stage a movie night in your backyard, and along with HDMI connectivity for Blu-ray/DVD players and gaming consoles, there’s a USB port that can be used for the latest plug-and-play streaming sticks from Amazon and Roku, as well as a built-in speaker. For home theater junkies looking to upgrade their current setup, the Home Cinema 740HD is a great alternative to buying one of those massive TVs, and at a fraction of the price.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide: For the Home

Gifts like these might not be the most romantic if you’re buying for your wife or girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find cool stuff that will put a smile on their face. Products for the home can be just as desirable if you focus on items with great design or that make someone’s life a lot easier, and if you stick to those simple guidelines, you’ll make whoever is on the receiving end very happy.

Click the links to purchase each product online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.

Fire Pit from Lowe’s and allen + roth

This isn’t something you can easily put under the tree, but if you’re looking for a creative gift that you and your spouse or girlfriend can enjoy together, a fire pit in your backyard offers a great opportunity. As we explained in a recent post, a fire pit is pretty easy to build and you can find everything you need at Lowe’s using materials from allen + roth. The key here is that this is a project you can do with someone else or with the entire family, which makes it even more memorable. So if you’re looking for a unique gift idea and a fun project, this may be perfect for you.

firepit

Keurig 2.0 K550 Brewing System

keurig

Following the failed experiment of the Keurig Vue, the company has brought back its beloved K-Cups for their new line of Keurig 2.0 systems, albeit with a slight catch: the machines use a “revolutionary” brewing technology designed to read the RFID-coded lid on each K-Cup to ensure the perfect beverage every time. Of course, what the company fails to mention is that these codes are essentially their version of DRM in that you can only use authentic or officially licensed K-Cups manufactured after January 1, 2014. So if you prefer generic brands or brew your own coffee in a resuable pod, the company’s message seems to be, “Tough luck.” (For what it’s worth, there are numerous hacks already available online, and for those with a surplus of outdated K-Cups in your pantry, Keurig has offered to swap out those packs for new ones by contacting customer service.) Of course, that won’t bother Keurig loyalists one bit, because they’ll still find plenty to love about the Keurig 2.0 – particularly the ability to brew a 4-cup carafe using special K-Carafe packs with the same speed and ease of a single serving. The K550 model also includes an extra-large 80-ounce water reservoir (with hot water on demand), an auto-brew option so your coffee’s ready to go in the morning, a strength control setting and a customizable night light.

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Starbucks Verismo Coffee Maker

Single serving coffee makers are all the rage, so you can expect to hear a lot about them this holiday season. Naturally they make great gift for many people on your gift list, from the busy professionals, young students to moms and dads.

We tested the new Verismo System by Starbucks and liked the system very much. Starbucks knows coffee, so any coffee maker with their brand name on it can be expected to meet a high level of quality, and the Verismo system lives up to that standard. As soon as you pull it out of the box you can tell that it’s well-made and beautifully designed as you can see from the photos above. It has a small footprint so it will fit in nicely on most kitchen counters without taking too much space.

We tested the 580 model pictured above, and a slightly larger and more advanced V-585 system is also available. The system is very easy to use, and all of the parts work seamlessly together. It’s easy to add water, clean by rinsing and also adjust the drip tray grate to adjust for different size cups. The machine warms up quickly in about 15 seconds so you can get your coffee fix right away when you need it.

The system uses pods like other single serving coffee makers, but here you use Starbucks pods that use the exact same coffee that Starbucks uses in their cafes and in their packaged coffee. The Verismo can be used to brew an espresso, regular brewed coffee, lattes and even an Americano. Instead of using milk, this system uses 100% natural dried milk pods so the lattes are very easy to make and you don’t have any messy cleanup. The results were impressive. The espresso in particular comes out great with the crema that espresso lovers expect and the taste is excellent. You can learn more about the available pods here.

Overall, this is a premium single serving coffee system that makes for a great gift idea.

  

Cyber Monday!

We posted our Holiday Gift Guide last week just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s broken down into categories like Gadgets, Movies, TV, For Her, Games, Guy Stuff and For the Home. Browse through the sections and you’ll find some great gift ideas.

With Cyber Monday there are loads of deals out there. Check out the deals at Amazon.com for a variety of gift ideas.

  

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