11 "smart" tech gifts under $200 that will make your life easier

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When it comes to making our lives “smarter,” there are several different products you can purchase that’ll totally transform your life for the better. Some people are all-in on this idea, and thus they’re dead set on making everything about their existence, whether it’s their home lives or work projects, all about being smarter. This holiday season, why not help them in achieving that goal with a series of gifts that they may not have thought of purchasing for themselves? This carefully curated selection of smart tech gifts can automate or simplify day-to-day processes, from making your morning coffee to giving your fur babies a treat when you aren’t around.

Why get a smart notebook when you could just get a regular one? Easy: this one has 42 reusable pages that can simply be wiped clean with a damp cloth, but not before you transfer all of your notes, sketches, recipes, or whatever you have to share to your favorite storage service: iCloud, your email, Google Drive, and more. Most importantly, it can take handwritten notes and transform them into data so that your giftee can jot down all their awesome ideas and see them come to life as Evernote documents or searchable databases in their electronic cloud accounts. Plus, they'll never have to buy a new notebook again. A reusable, scannable notebook that syncs with apps? Now that's the future.

Remotes are so passé. The Logitech Harmony Hub replaces all of the remotes in a home with a simple-to-use app based on a hub that can combine up to 8 different remotes. This way, you never have to go further than your trusty smartphone to control anything important in your home sphere of tech devices. From Alexa-enabled devices to your cable box, this handy hub is an excellent way to simplify and automate a potentially confusing and frustrating mix of remotes that get lost in the cracks of the couch, carried off by the dog, or run out of battery. The Harmony Hub makes flipping through channels and seamlessly transitioning to the Fire TV Stick as simple of a few swipes and taps. If that's not smart, then what is?

Set the mood lighting with this Philips Hue bulb starter set, which lets any smart-tech-obsessed friend or family member customize their home to their heart's content. Hue light bulbs sync effortlessly with Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices, letting users control their home lighting with the accompanying app. That means turning the lights off and on with the press of a button or even setting all of the Hue bulbs yellow and orange to simulate a sunrise. There are pre-programmed routines on the app, but several others can be created, as well as remote operation of the lights all together or individually. The sky's the limit with a setup including Hue bulbs, and everything can be managed from, like with everything else, a smartphone.

The future of gaming is here with Google Stadia. Forget pricey gaming PCs or consoles. All you need with the Stadia is a smartphone, browser, or TV to game anywhere thanks to the power of the Google-powered cloud. This set will ensure your giftee can jump into the world of game streaming with a controller and a Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream full-length video games like Borderlands 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2. As long as the user has decent internet speeds, it removes the need for pricey peripherals and makes gaming accessible to just about everyone. You’ll still have to buy games, but the hard part is already done for you. Plus, it’s on the cutting edge of technology, so it’s still relatively new if you want to surprise your giftee.

There's nothing wrong with a little extra security. The Ultraloq smart lock is a 6-in-1 keyless entry option with a fingerprint reader and accompanying keypad. If your giftee is in the business of keeping their home and belongings safe but prefers more control over their security measures than others, this is the perfect setup. Setup and control is done via app, which can arm and lock the door remotely.

User management and entry logs can also be set up via the app in addition to quick share entry for certain days or times. Expecting a visitor? Share an "e-key" for quick and temporary access. Access can also be granted for certain days and times, for instance, when the kids get home from school. It's also easy to install alone, with only four screws required.

One of the most important components of a smart home is taking control of the heating and cooling elements within. Walking across the freezing floor with bare feet in the middle of winter isn't pleasant for anyone, and sweltering while chilling out on the couch in summer because you're too hot to move isn't preferable, either. For anyone you know who's looking to make moves toward simplifying this game of "hot and cold" we play with ourselves as the seasons pass, a Nest thermostat and sensor bundle is a great way to save energy and make it simple to control air conditioning and heating.

It comes in an attractive frosted white color that’s paired with a temperature sensor that you can post up in any room to help prioritize certain areas in terms of maintaining a constant temperature. It begins to learn what kind of temperature you like based on your habits, and it can even be accessed via app. It can even turn itself down when you leave without input from you thanks to the temperature sensor you can place anywhere throughout the home. This helps to save on energy and money when you aren't around. For anyone looking for a smarter way to deal with the way they approach heating and cooling in their home, this is a great option.

Coffee is the only thing that helps many people get through their day, or at least get started off on the right foot. But the process of making coffee can be an arduous one, especially when you consider you have to get up, shuffle into the kitchen, and start fiddling with buttons. That's why the BrewGenie BG120 is an affordable part of a connected home.

This coffee maker lets you easily program a brewing schedule straight from your smartphone, or set it to start making coffee from your phone on demand. You can even receive alerts via phone for pre-scheduled coffee brewing times. The unit itself will even monitor your supply of coffee and send you a notification when it's time to grab more. Forget manually checking all of these things. Give the gift of a smart coffee machine that can do it all.

What does Fido get up too while you're gone? The Furbo Dog Camera seeks to remove the mystery from what your furry friends start doing as soon as you leave the house. It features a 1080p full HD camera with night vision, as well as the option to livestream video to your phone so you don't have to worry any longer. For smart tech enthusiasts, this is a great way to close the loop and get your pets in on the care too.

It features 2-way audio so you can not only see your pet, but hear it and interact with it as well. There's even a barking sensor to push alerts to your phone so you can take a look at any potential suspicious happenings going on. It connects to your smartphone as well, so you can even dispense a treat while you're away from your little pal. That means both of you get a little something, even when you're not at home.

It may seem like a no-brainer at this point that most people interested in a smart or connected home haves streaming devices. But if that's something your giftee is still lacking, you can't go wrong with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. It's an extremely lightweight, affordable streaming option that lets you watch shows from YouTube, Netflix, Apple TV+, and much more, all at no additional charge. It even comes with an Alexa-powered voice remote to make flipping through content as easy as speaking into the remote and letting Alexa do the work. Plus, you get the benefits of watching everything in glorious 4K. Installation is essentially comprised of plugging it in and setting up the apps you want to watch, then tada! You're done. Give the gift of thousands of shows to watch, and you won't regret it.

So many of us are working hard to drink the recommended amount of water each day. The Hidrate Spark is all about making it simpler and even fun to track water consumption. As with all other items on this list it's app-connected and uses tech to both remind you to drink more water and keep track of how much you've consumed thus far. It'll glow a soft color when it's time to drink more, and then give a funky light show when you've had plenty. There's also a sensor in the bottle that will automatically record how much water you've consumed, which will sync with your favorite fitness app. It's a thoughtful and simple gift that would pair well with any smart fitness-focused wearable or anyone looking to turn even their more mundane everyday objects into something a little more "intelligent."

Alexa is essentially a household name by now, but if your giftee hasn't yet ponied up for an Amazon Echo base or anything like it, the new, compact Echo Show 5 is well worth the purchase. This smaller smart display is the perfect addition to any smart home, or burgeoning collection of smart products. It features a smaller 5.5" screen, on which you can still watch movies, TV shows, and browse the internet or make voice calls with. But its smaller form factor makes it more convenient to do these things in other areas of your home like the kitchen or your bedside table. It's the perfect complement for a connected home, or someone who already has multiple Echo devices – because this one also lets you treat it like a clock with multiple clock faces, which is a cool addition in and of itself.