Geek Gift Guide – Home Automation – Gadgets – IoT – 3D Printers

2016 Holiday Geek Gift Guide - Syma X5C Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera

You may be wondering what gifts to get your favorite Geek.

We put together this Geek Gift Guide to help you out with some great gift options.

Disclaimer: Most, if not all, the product links on this page will be Affiliate Links. Purchasing through these links doesn’t cost you any more money but it does help us pay for things like website hosting along with more bits & gadgets to write about.

Home Automation

Amazon Echo Alexa DOT Normally priced at an affordable $49.99, the second generation Echo Dot has frequently been on sale for $39.99. It’s available in Black & White colors and although it has a built in speaker you can also connect it to external speakers or a stereo/home theater receiver via a headphone jack or via bluetooth. Echo Dot can be used to control lights, fans, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, ecobee, and others. You will not find a cheaper way to get a voice assistant for you home automation! We have our connected via bluetooth to a Sony 7.2 Channel Home Theater 4K AV Receiver (STRDH770)



Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation ($249) We have had the 1st Generation Nest Controller in our house for over 4 years and believe it is the main reason our AC bills have been fairly low during the extreme Texas summers. Nest works with both Alexa and Google Home as well an easy to use Android/iPhone app that let’s you monitor and control your HVAC remotely or from your bed!



Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit ($199) This 3rd generation Philips Hue Starter Kit is a great way to get started with Colored LED Lighting and it works with Alexa along with many popular Smart Home hubs.



Lutron Caseta Wireless Deluxe Smart Lighting Control Kit ($159) If you are looking for more control over your existing lighting, Lutron offer the Caseta Wireless Kit that work as with Alexa, Apple home kit, ecobee, Nest, Honeywell, Logitech, sonos, Serena shades & more!




Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell ($179) Probably one of our favorite gadgets we purchased this year, the Ring Wi-Fi Doorbell lets you see, hear and speak to anyone at your door from your smartphone, tablet or PC even when you are not home! Get instant alerts when visitors press the button on your doorbell or trigger motion sensors. It works with simultaneous smartphones(both my wife and I get alerts  on our phones).



All of the above mentions products either do not require a smart home hub or come with their own gateway/hub(Phillips Hue & Lutron Caseta). If you want to go deeper into Smart Home/Home Automation the Samsung SmartThings Hub ($99) & Vera Control VeraPlus ($149)are two popular options that work with Z-Wave Home Automation devices.


Security Cameras

Arlo Pro Security System with Siren – While not cheap at $579 for a 3 camera Kit, the Arlo Pro differs from most other security cameras in that the Arlo Cameras are completely wireless! This enable you to mount them just about anywhere in or outside of your house…yes they are weatherproof! They have built in speakers for remote 2 way communications and also include 7 days of Free Cloud Recording.



Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera 2 pack – Nest also make WiFi outdoor cameras. These need to be wired to a power source but they do allow 24/7 Live Video and 1080P resolution. The Nest Outdoor cameras also offer 2 way communication.



Ring Stick Up Cam Plus Solar Panel – Ring offers a solution somewhat between the Arlo Pro and the Nest Cam. They have a battery powered WiFI outdoor camera with a solar panel for $249. The Ring Outdoor Camera also has 2 way communications and if you already have a Ring Doorbell, you can use the same app to monitor your cameras.


Mesh WiFi Access Points

Now that you have all these new WiFi devices on your home network, you may find you existing WiFi Router/Access Point is not up to the task. Recent;y a few Mesh Wifi Solutions have come on the market helping you get full WiFi coverage in your house without having to run network cables.

Google Wifi System – Available in single($129) and 3 packs($299), Google’s newest WiFi system is easy to setup using their app. A single WiFi Access Point will cover up to 1500 sq ft and the 3 pack will cover 4500 sq ft.

Orbi Home WiFi System – ($379) Netgear’s Orbi 2 Access Point Wifi system covers up to 4000 sq ft and has performed well in the tests we’ve read online.


AmpliFi HD Home Wi-Fi Router (AFI-R) – We just replaced an Apple Airport Time Capsule with 1 Amplifi AFi-R($149) and can tell you we already have better range and WiFi speeds. They also offer a kit with 2 extenders for $349. We’ll need some more time with it before we post a complete review. Setup and management is similar to the Google WiFi and all done with a smartphone app. If your router is located somewhere visible in your house, you will appreciate this Apple-esque looking product and its touchscreen display.

3D Printers

Looking to get into #D Printing without breaking the bank? Monoprice offers two 3D Printers that you can purchase for under $400

Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer with Heated Build Plate – ($209 ) Includes Micro SD Card and Sample PLA Filament. Ready to Print: Unlike most other low-cost 3D printers, this printer ships fully assembled and has already been calibrated at the factory. We even include sample PLA filament and a MicroSD card with preinstalled models, so you can start printing right out of the box!

Monoprice 13860 Maker Select 3d Printer V2 ($325) Includes Heated Build Plate, 2 Gb Micro Sd Card and Sample PLA Filament. Compatible softwares: Such as Cure, Repeater, or Simplify 3D, the Maker Select is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

If you have more money to spend, the highly rated FlashForge Creator Pro is available for $899 – Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform, Dual Extruder W/2 Spools, Works with ABS and PLA. Included the much more powerful software FlashPrint which is developed by FlashForge engineers now is compatible to FlashForge Creator Pro. No need for expensive aftermarket software purchase.



iClever BoostCube 4.8A 24W Dual USB Travel Wall Charger – These small USB chargers with foldable plug will charge 2 devices at 2.4 amps each which means faster charging for your devices! Great for traveling or having a few around the house.  Be sure to check the Special Offers and Product Promotions as you can sometime use a code to get 2 for $9.99


Etekcity 2 Pack Portable Outdoor LED Camping Lantern with 6 AA Batteries, Collapsible – While we purchased these for camping, they are also handy around the house, in the garage or in the backyard. Only $11.48 for 2 refurbished with batteries.



ThruNite T10 compact flashlight series, Max 252 Lumen – ($23.95) This is my personal everyday carry flashlight. Small but powerful! Thrunite makes some great affordable LED flashlights. You can even get this one in a fancy Titanium finish for $39.95.



AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank – 10,000 mAh – ($23.99) We have the smaller 5600 mAh version of this an use it for everything from charging our smartphones to powering our Raspberry Pi Devastator Tank Robot!




IoT – Raspberry Pi – Arduino

LoveRPi Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit – This kit for $55 has everything you need to get started with a RAspberry Pi including a case, memory card and HDMI cable so you can connect to a monitor or TV.


ESP8266 Module ESP-12E NodeMcu LUA WiFi Internet New Version Development Board – ($16) This 2 piece kit is a great way to get started with some Arduino WiFi projects. We use one with a relay to control our Garage Door! We use them for all sorts of other cool IoT projects like controlling LEDs and taking Temperature/Humidity readings.


ESP8266 IoT Starter Kit with OLED display for Arduino IDE – Weather Station – Plane Spotter – World Clock ($34.90) Want a more complete ESP8266 Kit? Well this is it! We have used Squix code for several projects and there is one sitting on our desktop right now! The Plane Spotter app is really fun!


Arduino Starter Kit – English Official Kit With 170 Page Book – This is a more complete Starter Kit from Arduino themselves and it includes parts and instructions for 15 projects! Check out their website to learn more about Arduino.



GoPiGo2 Robot Starter Kit – Dexter Industries makes a great Robot Kit based on a Raspberry Pi. They are actively adding new software for it and they have great tutorials! Check out their video below!


DJI Phantom 3 Standard with 2.7K Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal – Of course no Geek Guide would be complete without some Drones! While it may not have 4K Video Recording the DJI Phantom 3 is still a very capable drone and this kit it packed with accessories for $679.



Hubsan H502S FPV X4 Desire GPS  6 Axis Quadcopter with 720p HD Camera – Looking for an FPV (First Person Video) Drone but don’t want to spend $600+, then take a look at the Hubsan H502S Desire which can be had for under $200! Some features include: Built-in 720p HD camera . GPS function and latest 6 Axis Gyro fly control system . 4.3 inch LCD screen resolution 640*480 . Fly time about 12 minutes & distance 150 m .



Syma X5C Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera – Looking for something your younger kids can learn to be a Drone Pilot on without breaking the bank? This Syma X5C is budget minded at $65 but still comes with an HD Camera!


We hope our 2016 Holiday Geek Gift Guide has been helpful to you!

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