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Graduation gift ideas from CNET: Tech that feels right at home

Cnet has chosen Amazon Tap, a portable Bluetooth

Cnet has chosen Amazon Tap, a portable Bluetooth speaker and digital assistant, as one of the best smart home-tech gifts for grads. Photo Credit: CBS Interactive

As your grad moves out to college or the wide world afterward, they’ll need a lot of stuff they’ve never used before. Here are some of the best smart devices to help them make their next home their own, whether it’s a dorm or an apartment.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: senior editors Brian Bennett and Laura K. Cucullu, executive editor David Carnoy, and associate editors Ry Crist, Andrew Gebhart and David Priest. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com.

NEATO BOTVAC CONNECTED ROBOT VACUUM

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

4.5 stars (outstanding)

THE GOOD The new Neato app is well-designed and easy to use, and finally brings remote-control functionality to the Botvac line.

THE BAD It’s the most expensive Neato yet — $200 more than the previous generation. A few usability quirks were also encountered during testing.

THE COST $699.99

BOTTOM LINE It’s better at cleaning floors than any other robot vacuum, and it costs less than its app-enabled rival, the iRobot Roomba 980.

FIZZICS DRAFT BEER DISPENSER

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD Fizzics turns your store-bought beer into a surprisingly capable imitation of draft beer without needing a keg. It’s lightweight, portable and compatible with a variety of bottles, cans and growlers.

THE BAD Some beers, particularly sweet ones, taste better after the Fizzics treatment, but the way it smooths carbonation and brings out the malty flavors hurts the complexity of hoppy beers.

THE COST $169.99

BOTTOM LINE A fun gadget that’s easy to use and not too costly.

AMAZON TAP

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD Now in battery-powered form within the portable Amazon Tap, Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa is as good as ever. You can play music, command your smart home or add something to your to-do list — all with your voice. The Tap is lightweight and fun to travel with, and the battery power and sound quality are respectable.

THE BAD The audio distorts at high volumes and the bass is flat.

THE COST $129

BOTTOM LINE A competent mix of portable Bluetooth speaker and digital assistant.

NINJA COFFEE BAR

CNET RATING (Out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD The Ninja offers ways to brew satisfying hot or iced java drinks in various container sizes and for a competitive price.

THE BAD Those searching for superb brewing performance will find the Ninja’s tendency to overextract its beans a bitter pill to swallow. Lots of cheap plastic materials make the machine far from luxurious.

THE COST $159.95 to $204.54

BOTTOM LINE The Ninja provides an unmatched list of features and capabilities for a price that’s difficult to match.

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