It takes a lot of planning, thinking and carefully asking your significant other what they like when you’re picking the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. And even if you’re an extremely perceptive person and can always tell what the other person wants, there’s always the chance that you’ll end up picking the wrong present and disappointing them.
If there’s one thing you can always count on – giving the gift of technology ensures that it will be used regularly and it will make their life a little easier. They’ll also think of your thoughtful gift when it automates their routines and lets them relax, so that’s an added bonus!
You’re probably already thinking – “but I’ll still need to compare devices, check prices and features before I decide to buy a device”. It’s important (and also very difficult) to do that when you’re choosing the perfect gift this Valentine’s Day – so we went ahead and did all the work for you!
|Amazon Echo Look||8.6/10||
|Withings Aura Sleep System||8.9/10||
|FABRIQ Speaker with Alexa||9.0/10||
|TP-Link Smart Plug||8.5/10||
|Garmin Speak Plus||9.3/10||
- Amazon Echo Look
- Withings Aura Sleep System
- Fabriq Speaker with Alexa
- TP-Link Smart Plug
- Garmin Speak Plus
Amazon has enjoyed immense success with their Alexa powered Echo devices, thanks to a capable AI system and at least a year’s lead over Google’s Home devices and Microsoft’s Cortana powered device(s). Amazon wants in on every important shopping decision you make. The Echo Look is the latest offering from the company that promises to keep you looking sharp and well dressed, always.
Amazon’s Echo Look is a camera that works by clicking an image of of you when you’re wearing outfits that you’re unsure of, suggests relevant clothing you might consider instead. Something that might irk a few users is the device’s functioning with the assumption that you have no fashion sense. It doesn’t exactly have a messiah complex, but it definitely thinks it knows more than you do. But for all the criticism so far, the suggestions are excellent.
The device is mounted on a small stand using a screw and functions best when you keep it level with your shoulder – that’s how it can get the best image of your entire get-up. It also allows for wall-mounting so keep that in mind if you don’t want it resting on your desk or shelf.
Amazon built the Echo look’s special features into the camera’s hardware like the four LED flash and the voice control to take pictures (“Alexa, take a picture”) which then get transferred to a special mobile app that then analyzes your pictures and tells you which outfit is better.
Why would this make a great gift this Valentine’s Day? Well, for starters, it gives you peace of mind and saves you the trouble of helping your partner pick an outfit. Phew! If you still like being involved in the decision making process, you could count on the Echo Look to give you an alternate opinion on what you’ve picked!
It also doubles up as the perfect gift to someone who writes about their outfits for a living. A camera that snaps images of your entire outfit hands-free and with just your voice? Brilliant! We didn’t run into any issues per se, but if you won’t be upset with an intelligent system telling you your favorite old clothes are out of style – this is the device you need.
If you’re looking for a smart alarm clock that also works like a bedside lamp and a speaker, the Withings Aura is a great device – probably the best in class. It has several useful features that will help you wake up fresh and early each morning, while helping you sleep better (and sooner) each night.
One of the highlights of this device is the LED lighting, but the company hasn’t done a good job of explaining what they do. Your body basically needs your brain to secrete a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin helps you sleep better at night and is important for a host of other good things that happen when it is not in scarcity. The Aura’s Smart lights will slowly fade away within 15-20 minutes of you being in bed.
Have you ever woke up from your slumber and cursed your alarm clock for being too loud and going off so suddenly? This is 2018, so let me tell you how clocks work now. They’re supposed to slowly and gradually wake you up, without any jarring and jolting sounds. Does the Aura do this? Yes, it also slowly increases how bright the LED gets in the morning, gradually getting brighter till you wake up.
The Withings Aura has a speaker on the lower side, presumably for the alarm. Fortunately, you can choose to stream your music through a Spotify Premium connection that lets you use a custom track as an alarm – or you could use some of Withings inbuilt sleep tracks.
You will also need the sleep sensor to keep track of your movements when you sleep, with the cloth covered sensor tucked in under your mattress around your chest area. One thing we’ve come to love about the Aura is that you don’t need to be wearing a tracker while you sleep. Just set it on a table that’s exactly one meter away and it’ll track your movement, heart rate, and even your respiration!
The device is better than most other devices in the same category, mainly because the tracking is more accurate and the chances of your partner affecting your readings by rolling onto the sensor is lower. This is especially true for devices that rely on only the measurement strip that you sleep on.
If your partner is a workaholic or an insomniac, this is makes for an extremely thoughtful gift – one that will last them in good stead for years to come. There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep and the Withings Aura Sleep System is the perfect device to help with that!
If you liked Amazon’s Echo Dot, an excellent smart speaker with Alexa at an affordable price, the FABRIQ Speaker will definitely grab your attention. We reviewed the Echo Dot and found it was a great device for those who wanted to get a taste of home automation with their voice. At $50, the Echo Dot was a great device and offered great value for money.
The FABRIQ Speaker at $50 actually offers greater value than the Echo Dot, thanks to its rechargeable battery that grants it portability that the Echo Dot lacks. You can basically carry it around in your hand and place it anywhere without the need to have it plugged in, which means you can use Alexa or listen to music, even in your car!
The ring of LED lights is at the bottom on this device but unlike other devices that stick to two or three colors, it can show several more – in addition to the regular ones like a red “battery low” pulse, white for Alexa commands and blue when you connect a device. You can modify this, with a hidden settings panel that lets you modify the LED light pattern.
If you still have your tinfoil hat on, you’ll be glad to know that the FABRIQ speaker doesn’t always listen for your voice. Instead, you’re supposed to tap a button on the side of the speaker that activates Alexa. You have another button that toggles thee speaker on and off and another one that adjusts the volume. There’s also a hidden settings panel that houses the port you plug your Micro USB cable into when you charge the speaker. This is also where you’ll need to go when you pair the device.
The mids sound great on this device, but the bass reproduction is where it truly shines. You can feel each thump as it vibrates through whatever surface the speaker is placed on, making it a great choice for those who listen to a lot of R&B and rock music. The device lacks decent treble output so those of you who like classical music or jazz should stay away and pick the JBL Clip 2 instead, for just about the same price.
The FABRIQ Speaker makes for a great companion to take with you on a date, a family picnic – or any other outing that would benefit from a spot of music that just works. The portability of this speaker makes it an easy recommendation, and the feature set is great, improving in many ways on Amazon’s Echo Dot and the Echo Tap. If you’re looking for a pair of cost-effective speakers that work with Alexa and are Wi-Fi and AirPlay compatible out of the box, this is the product for you!
Housing is getting expensive with each passing year and many of us have to resort to living together with roommates or a partner. And everyone whos ever spent time sharing a flat with another person has always found something or the other that bothers them to no end. For me, it’s when people cannot switches off when they leave a room.
Now you may just roll your eyes and say I should just “live with it”, and turning off switches without ever forgetting is not humanly possible. In fact, that’s exactly what people told me to do, so I started looking for a solution. You might ask – short of actually whacking my partner around the shins, what could I possibly do to solve the problem?
A bit of research into smart plugs brought me to a smart home product that promised to solve most of my problems. All I did was insert the smart plug into a wall socket and open up the Kasa app and I was ready to go! It was instantly compatible with all of my devices as long as they weren’t HomeKit exclusive devices.
Controlling the plug via voice is easily one of the best things to happen to my home – with a plug in each room I could ask Alexa to do various things and it worked flawlessly. The Kasa app also works well and I only had to connect to an ad-hoc network generated by the device once to get it set up.
The app allows for configuration of multiple schedules and controlling multiple devices together – if you’re invested in TP-Link’s ecosystem this is a blessing. You can also enable remote access but you’ll need to create an account with TP-Link and set it up there first, then enable the feature yourself. I prefer operating the device within the confines of my personal Wi-Fi network, especially with a smart plug that literally powers whatever I connect to the other end of the socket.
This last one isn’t technically a smart home device per se, but the addition of Amazon Alexa support makes it an excellent addition to your car’s smarts. The device is also down to $199 till February ends. It will then revert to its original $299 price tag. There’s also an additional offer that grants new customers a two month subscription to Amazon Music Family Unlimited at no extra cost which is neat!
The number one feature on the Garmin Speak Plus is the dash cam feature that records your driving and saves footage whenever it detects an incident. You can share footage recorded with the free VIRB app for iOS and Android. Apart from normal video recording you can also enable GPS features that warn you of possible forward collisions when you get too close to vehicle in front and if you depart from your lane or drift towards another lane. The device can aso notify you when the traffic begins to move ahead of you with a nice “Go” alert on your screen.
You can also enjoy support for voice navigation using Alexa – as long as your phone has an internet connection, you can have each direction read out to you loudly and clearly better than the sound from directions played on speakers on any smartphone!
You can stream music as long as you have an Amazon Music subscription, or Pandora and Sirius XM. Spotify support has not been added yet, though it is expected to hit devices in a later update. You can also ask Alexa to read out the news to you while you’re in the car waiting in traffic.
Have you ever sat down in your car after you finished shopping and realized you forgot something important but you just don’t feel like going back in? Well, the Garmin Speak can help with that – even the simplest of household items will be at your residence the next day! The device will connect to your phone via Bluetooth, drawing power from your car using a 12V receptacle.
Garmin’s approach to the Alexa integration is interesting – they don’t actually house the Alexa technology in the Speak Plus, but in your smartphone using the Garmin Speak app! While this can sometimes cause issues if you don’t turn on the app when you get into your car, it eliminates the need for the Speak Plus to use a constant internet connection on its own. This means the device can keep running as long as your smartphone has internet connectivity.
We picked the devices listed above because they all perform very specific tasks that help you or your significant other get through their day with ease. By automating routine tasks, you end up with more time to do the stuff that matters – which is important for any relationship and even more so when you consider how tiring and packed our daily schedules are. This Valentine’s Day, don’t think of corny and cheesy gifts that won’t be used for more than a couple of weeks. Instead, pick a device or service that works well for the person you care about, a gift that keeps on giving for the years to come!