These smart home gadgets take your new Amazon Echo or Google Home to the next level

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With the delicious meals eaten, family gatherings over and the gifts unwrapped, the holiday fanfare is finally winding down. If you’re up to date with the latest technology, odds are pretty high that you found an Amazon Echo or Google Home underneath your tree. To help you get the most out of your new device, we’ll be rounding up the best smart home accessories.

Let’s face it. Outfitting your home or apartment with smartphone-connected outlets or multicolored lights can be a pretty intimidating starting point. There’s a variety of standards, so the devices you own may not be directly compatible. And what may be even more off-putting are the high price tags for some devices. But getting started with home automation doesn’t need to break the bank.

For those just looking to dip their toes into the smart home scene, internet-connected plugs are a wonderful starting point. These simple outlets plug right into the wall in most cases and can turn just about anything from your favorite floor lamp to your coffee pot into a smartphone-enabled appliance.

For new Amazon Echo and Google Home owners alike, the $30 WEMO Switch is an inexpensive, but reliable starting point. Way back when I first began experimenting with home automation, WEMO’s smart plug was my first taste of the smartphone-enabled technology and serves me well even to this day. Another great option are brought to us from TP-Link, whose Wi-Fi smart plugs run for $20. These support both Alexa and Google Assistant, making them well equipped for whichever assistant you were gifted.

While internet-connected outlets are fairly simple, smart lighting is a little trickier. Most internet-connected light bulbs require some form of hub, which makes the process of outfitting your home just that much less intuitive. So for those just looking to add one or two lights to your home, LIFX is our top pick for testing out your new digital assistant’s smart home control capabilities.

LIFX’s lineup is full of different lighting products, from simple dimmable soft white bulbs at $25 to more extravagant $50 multicolored bulbs and light strips. And the best part is that none of them are dependent on a hub, meaning you can easily add one, two or even 20 to your setup without any worries.

TP-Link also has both dimmable and multicolored smart light bulbs starting last $25 which may be better suited for those seeking budget-friendly options. Just like LIFX, these have no need for a hub and pair directly to your Echo or Home.

However if you do plan on someday filling your home with smart lighting, our suggestion is to looks towards the Philips Hue system. We’ve praised Hue several times in the past for its ease of use and how great of a starting point it is for potential smart home adopters. While Hue is based around a central hub, it helps manage the pains of outfitting your entire home and works with just about any device, including Alexa and Google Assistant. The starter kit which includes the hub and four bulbs goes for $140.

If Santa was already thinking ahead and brought you some of these more entry-level smart home gadgets, be sure to check out our in-depth getting starting guide for more. And if you’re looking for other accessories for your Echo Dot, we’ve got you covered there as well.

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