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6 Home Automation Gifts Perfect for Parents

6 Home Automation Gifts Perfect for Parents

There are many things a modern “smart” home can offer, like added security, but one of the best things they provide is convenience. With home automation, you can stop worrying about trivial duties and spend more time on what’s important.

For instance, the Nest thermostat will change the temperature in your home without your guidance. This saves time and money. It can also turn down the air temperature when you’re on your way home from work, so the house is just the way you like it when you arrive.

If you need gift ideas for your parents, home automation tech is perfect. It can be used to make everyone’s lives easier, safer and ultimately happier.

August Doorbell Cam

What if you could answer your door without even opening it? What if you could communicate with visitors on your terms? That’s what the August Doorbell Cam is for. It syncs with a smartphone, so you can always see who’s at the door, even when you’re not home, and has a one-way camera to record the live feed in case you want to replay a conversation or view it later. You can even speak to people at your door, thanks to two-way communication.

It also syncs up with other smart devices via Wi-Fi – namely, the August Smart Lock. If you have both installed, you can answer the door with the Cam and then unlock the door through the lock. This allows you to let family or friends in while you’re away, or even emergency services.

The home automation comes into play while you’re away. The doorbell can send you alerts and notifications when someone rings it, or even when it detects strange activity. This offers added security and peace of mind.

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Get it: August Doorbell Cam[1] | $149-$199

    August Smart Lock

    There are several different smart locks available, but we chose the August Smart Lock because it pairs nicely with the Doorbell Cam. You can use the Doorbell to see who’s at the door and then you can use the smart lock to let them in – if you deem them trustworthy.

    But a smart lock can do much more than that. It also eliminates the need to carry around keys, because you can just use your smartphone to get into the house. It can also auto-lock if you forget to lock your door after a specified time. That also means it can auto-unlock as you approach, which is super convenient if you have your hands full.

    The Smart Lock keeps a detailed activity log of everyone that comes and goes, so you can see who’s been inside your home at all times. And you can issue digital keys to friends, family and anyone else you trust. The best part is it can sync up with Apple’s HomeKit, and other home automation systems, to keep your entire house in check and operating without input.

    Get it: August Smart Lock[2] | $199-$229

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    Canary

    Modern smart tech allows us to boost security in our homes for relatively affordable prices. Gone are the days where you need to pay for a pricey subscription.

    The Canary is an all-in-one security system that monitors your home and sends you alerts while you’re away – or when you’re home, too. It has a camera that’s also equipped with a night vision sensor, which works alongside the motion detectors. If the Canary detects movement or unusual patterns, it can send notifications and alerts right to your phone.

    This allows you to open a live video feed and see exactly what’s going on. It will record in 1080p HD video and audio, so you can use the record as evidence later if necessary. The Canary is also equipped with a speaker and emergency siren, which you can use to scare off burglars or at least put them on alert. Don’t worry, the Canary is also tamper-proof and the video is stored in the cloud.

    Get it: Canary[3] | $169

      LiftMaster MyQ Garage

      You might not think of the garage as a super high-tech area, but by adding an accessory, like an automatic door opener, it can be just as smart as the rest of your abode!

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      The LiftMaster MyQ Garage system turns any garage door opener manufactured after 1993 into a smart one. This means you can open and close your garage door remotely, all from a smartphone. You can also receive alerts when your garage door opens, or when it’s been open for too long. This is great if you leave the house and forget to close it.

      It works just fine with existing garage door openers, so if you have a custom system, you should be fine too. If your parents don’t have a garage door opener installed yet, Clopay has teamed up with LiftMaster, and can install extra bells and whistles such as automatic openers, remotes, and other accessories. [4]

      Get it: LiftMaster MyQ Garage[5] | $129.99

      Belkin WeMo Switch

      The Belkin WeMo Switch is nothing more than a power switch with Wi-Fi network support. Any devices or powered items you have connected to the switch can be activated remotely from a smartphone. So, if you have a light hooked to it, you can turn it on or off while you’re away. You can do the same for TVs, stereos, computers, fans, consoles and much more.

      If you use it in combination with an app like IFTT or home automation equipment, you can set up some pretty cool scenarios. For example, you could have lights turn on and off throughout the day to make it seem like you’re home. You can also use the plug to turn off power-hungry equipment that you might have left on by accident.

      Get it: Belkin WeMo Switch[6] | $29.99-$39.99

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        iRobot Roomba 650

        Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if my home could clean itself?” Well, certain chores like the dishes or the laundry may never be automated, but vacuuming and sweeping sure can be! The iRobot Roomba 650 is a smart “robot” vacuum that operates out of a charging cradle and is completely automated. It leaves the dock and cleans for an hour or so, before returning to charge back up.

        It can clean hair, dirt and dust from your floors without any input from you. Of course, when the dust bag is full, you still have to empty it – the robot can’t do that itself. Yet. This product has a lot of competition, admittedly, but we chose the Roomba 650 because it’s excellent and it’s affordable.

        The best part about having a robot vacuum is that once you set it up, you can truly leave it alone. It will send alerts and notifications to your phone occasionally, like if it gets stuck. Other than that, you can power it on and just enjoy your clean floors.

        Get it: iRobot Roomba 650[7] | $159.99-$375

        Home Automation

        With these six suggested home automation gifts, you can really turn your home into a smart home. Did we miss your favorite automation gadget? Let us know in the comments!

        Reference

        [1] August: August Doorbell Cam 
        [2] August: August Smart Lock
        [3] Canary: Canary
        [4] Clopay: LiftMaster Garage Door Opener
        [5] Liftmaster: LiftMaster MyQ Home Control
        [6] Belkin: Belkin WeMo Switch
        [7] iRobot: iRobot Roomba 650

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        Megan Wild

        Editor, Freelancer

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        Published on September 25, 2020

        10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

        10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

        When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

        VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

        How to Choose a VPN

        • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
        • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
        • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
        • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
        • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

        Why You Should Trust Us

        Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

        Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

        1. NordVPN

        The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

        Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

        NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

        In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

        NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

        Buy this VPN.

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        2. ExpressVPN

        ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

        Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

        Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

        Buy this VPN.

        3. Surf Shark

        With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

        Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

        The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

        Buy this VPN.

        4. CyberGhost

        Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

        The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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        What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

        Buy this VPN.

        5. IPVanish

        IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

        IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

        Buy this VPN.

        6. Private Internet Access

        Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

        One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

        In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

        These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

        Buy this VPN.

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        7. Hotspot Shield

        Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

        Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

        Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

        Buy this VPN.

        8. TunnelBear

        As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

        The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

        Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

        Buy this VPN.

        9. Norton

        Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

        As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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        Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

        Buy this VPN.

        10. StrongVPN

        The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

        StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

        As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

        Buy this VPN.

        Bottom Line

        Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

        With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

        We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

        Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

        Reference

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