If you want a smart Christmas tree—one that you can turn on and off with your phone or voice commands—there’s not much out there for you right now. Although live-tree farms contribute marginally to the consequences of fertilizer and pesticide use, they add value to land that might otherwise be valuable only to developers. And a climate-controlled space (converted basement, storage closet) is always preferable to an uninsulated attic or garage. This pick’s intentionally rough-around-the-edges silhouette and dual … And even if you have room to store an artificial tree, bear in mind that, as Gurino noted, it won’t easily go back into its original box: “Once you fluff it, it’ll never fit exactly.” But if you have ample storage space, you don’t have to keep a tree in its original box. It gets on your hands, clothes, and the floor. At just 32 inches, it’s barely half as wide as the 59-inch Downswept Douglas Fir, so it doesn’t look like any pine you’ll find in nature; it’s more like a cypress. The Downswept Douglas Fir’s all-white settings give off a subtle straw-gold tone (versus pure white) that many of our staffers praised. And with all its bulbs lit, it was also our consensus choice for the best-illuminated and best-looking tree. The most advanced lighting technology at your fingertips, ready to make your decorations truly magical. And with the lights on, all those white surfaces make the tree glow from within. Throughout the year we take special care in the maintenance and treatment of the trees. It’s the only tree in the group with a faux trunk that attempts to mimic realism, though up close the little green blobs peppered across the surface make it look as if the bark had contracted an unsettling disease. Our pick is the Wyze Plug for its simplicity and low price. At just 32 inches wide, it’s barely half the width of the Downswept Douglas Fir on which it’s based. Puleo is Larry Gurino’s favored brand at House of Holiday; like National Tree, Puleo is a New Jersey–based, family-run business. We looked for prelit trees that had roughly 100 bulbs (or more) per foot of tree height; fewer than that can make the lighting appear sparse. For example, you can choose to have your lights flicker and cascade like snow. On most trees now, PVC appears only as the obviously fake, tinsel-like filler branches near the tree’s trunk. So spend a bit of time tugging individual bulbs into a position where they shed their light broadly. When you add on the price of strands of lights (if you purchase a tree that isn’t prelit), it becomes even more expensive. That’s a much easier way of doing it, and our testers preferred it. But it’s also the one she admitted looked very good once we’d spent an hour fluffing the branches and arranging them. The conclusion we reached is that live trees are considerably better in that regard, but that buying a fake tree every 10 years is a drop in the environmental bucket compared with the ecological cost of other, everyday consumption (of gasoline, electricity, gadgetry, and so on). Lead serves as a stabilizer in some forms of PVC. Combine a real tree with standard LEDs and a smart plug and you’re spending less than you would on an artificial, prelit tree. Having the tree at home ready to go once Thanksgiving wraps up means one fewer errand and one less expense at a busy, budget-straining time of year. What had changed? But you still have to fluff the tree to get it to look its best. If you’re on a budget, it can be tough to justify the expense. In keeping with the budget-oriented mindset, we bought the cheapest decent set of lights we found at the local big-box store: a 500-light string of incandescents from Home Accents Holiday, for which we paid $35. Twinkly dominates most of the market and offers the majority of the features mentioned above, but there are a few other options if you’re looking for smart features without so many bells and whistles. (It’s the only one of our picks that comes unlit.) If any of its 500 incandescent bulbs are blocked by the foliage, they create a dark patch that stands out against the internal glow of the tree. At 7.5 feet high and almost 5 feet across (59 inches, to be exact), the tree is generously proportioned; it’ll fill the corner of almost any living room. Are you one of those geeks who just loves holiday decorating? We avoided the outdated designs in which you snap individual branches into sockets on the center pole one by one, a time-consuming and fussy process. And at 37% polyethylene, it has a higher proportion of realistic foliage—and a lower proportion of fake-looking PVC—than many trees in its price range. Live trees can be sustainably farmed and harvested, they absorb carbon while growing, and they provide some measure of wildlife habitat. One Wirecutter staffer even guessed it was the most luxe tree in the bunch. Hopefully, one of these smart Christmas lights … In one review we saw, a buyer wished the tree had come with some touch-up paint, but they still gave it five stars. Placed side by side against our other picks, the Pencil Slim looks bizarre, and it was nobody’s first (or second or third) choice. The huge number of realistic polyethylene branch tips made the Vermont White Spruce our consensus winner for the most-realistic tree under unlit, daytime conditions. We think the ability to switch between color and all-white modes is a genuine strength of this tree. Lead exposure occurred in two ways: direct contact with the branches—as may occur when people are setting the trees up and decorating them—and contact with PVC dust beneath the tree, the result of physical decomposition of the “pine needles,” a particular concern for crawling infants. And the stiff, matte-green PVC “needles” make them look like bottle brushes. Our long term tester of this tree reports that in its second year the glitter and needle shedding persists, and that a portion of branches developed some slight discoloration, possibly due to heat in her storage space, but overall “it’s still as magical.”. Christmas Tree Sales At Smart Trees we have been growing trees onsite since 1994. Or you could do something different from year to year so that it doesn’t seem like the same tree every Christmas. Light Up the Holidays! Be aware that its all-PVC needles are dusted with fine glitter. Though it’s by far the least expensive of our picks, and it lacks realistic branch tips—it’s 100% fake-looking PVC—once we fluffed it up, lit it, and decorated it, the tree consistently won praise from our staff. The Vermont White Spruce offers Balsam Hill’s full set of premium features, including those high bulb and branch counts. No fake tree looks convincingly lifelike up close (say, from a distance of 6 feet or less). For example, a set of LED string lights from a third-party brand like N/V goes for as little as $26, while a strand of smart lights from Twinkly is $220. Realistic, full, generously sized, and versatile, this LED-lit tree can switch between all-white and multicolor modes, and its power connects as you put the sections together. A simple spruce tree can be decorated with lights and ornaments that will brighten up your living room. Haley joked, “I feel like this process could break a couple up.”, National Tree Company Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir, National Tree Company 7.5-foot Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir (PEDD1-D12-75), Balsam Hill 7.5-foot Vermont White Spruce Flip Tree Color + Clear LED, Balsam Hill’s 7.5-foot Vermont White Spruce Flip Tree Color + Clear LED, Balsam Hill 7.5-foot Nordmann Fir Color + Clear LED, Balsam Hill’s 7.5-foot Nordmann Fir Color + Clear LED, Home Accents Holiday 7.5-foot Unlit Dunhill Fir, National Tree Company 7.5-foot Winchester White Pine (WCHW7-300-75), National Tree Company 7.5-foot Winchester White Pine, National Tree Company 7.5-foot Downswept Douglas Fir Pencil Slim (PEDD4-392D-75), National Tree’s 7.5-foot Downswept Douglas Fir Pencil Slim, Our pick: National Tree Company 7.5-foot Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir (PEDD1-D12-75), Upgrade pick: Balsam Hill 7.5-foot Vermont White Spruce Flip Tree Color + Clear LED, Upgrade pick: Balsam Hill 7.5-foot Nordmann Fir Color + Clear LED, Budget pick: Home Accents Holiday 7.5-foot Unlit Dunhill Fir, Also great: National Tree Company 7.5-foot Winchester White Pine (WCHW7-300-75), Also great: National Tree Company 7.5-foot Downswept Douglas Fir Pencil Slim (PEDD4-392D-75), On fake trees, real trees, and harming the environment, close to half of all Chritsmas tree fires (PDF), as we saw consistently during our firsthand tests, whether fake trees or real trees are better for the environment, National Tree Company’s 7.5-foot Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir, National Tree Company 7.5-foot Downswept Douglas Fir Pencil Slim, Home Decorators Collection Swiss Mountain Black Spruce Twinkly Rainbow Christmas Tree, The Best Gift Wrapping Ideas and Trim to Make Your Holidays Merry, Hanukkah Gift Ideas and Gear for a Lit Holiday, The Best Holiday Cookie Baking Equipment and Gear. National Tree’s 7.5-foot Downswept Douglas Fir Pencil Slim (PEDD4-392D-75) is a great choice for small spaces such as a foyer or apartment, or as an accent tree (in a pair flanking a fireplace or doorway, for example). All it took was one call to customer service, a $15 charge, and 48 hours before Ben had a replacement cord in hand and the tree was merry and bright once more. The lights are covered for two years. In a design common to modern artificial trees, the Downswept Douglas Fir’s branches are all permanently mounted on hinges on the center pole (older artificial trees required you to attach branches individually via sockets). The lights are well designed, but should you experience any issues the included troubleshooting tips (PDF) are easy to follow. This model lacks the company’s PowerConnect feature, in which the lights connect when you attach the central pole. You don’t have to get to the tree lot early enough every year to hunt for a “good” one (a tradition plenty of people enjoy). But we worry that the remote could disappear or stop working over the decade-plus you can expect the Vermont White Spruce to last. At first glance you might think it reminiscent of Charlie Brown’s sad fixer-upper, but it’s a distinctively Scandanavian look that would appear at home in a “how to hygge” lifestyle spread. So take care to keep it stored in a safe place in the off-season. Innovative technology allows lights to create a Christmas experience unlike anything you've seen before, and at a price you can afford! And the branches can scrape your hands, so consider wearing gloves. Control your tree from your mobile phone (up to 6 unique LED strands) Countless preset color mod You absolutely don’t need a smart Christmas tree. Copyright ©2020 Designtechnica Corporation. On the other hand, there are alternatives that are not as pricey as a smart tree and allow you similar options. 3.8 out of 5 stars 125. Orchestrate an exuberant musical performance during this Christmas season with the evergreen classics® 7.5 Feet holiday symphony™ spruce artificial National Tree Company offers a warranty for its realistic prelit trees taller than 6.5 feet, such as our pick, that covers manufacturer defects for five years from the date of purchase. The caveat here is that you often can’t really appreciate the realism: It’s dark a lot of the time in December, and in the dark, any properly fluffed tree, from the cheapest to the most expensive, looks very good—all the super-realistic foliage fades into a dark tree-shaped silhouette, and your eyes land on the bright lights and the glinting decorations. In addition, during setup you should definitely use the included gloves to avoid both the scratchiness and the slick feel that builds up on your hands after sliding your skin around plastic for an hour. It’s an inexpensive way to make decorating for Christmas just a little bit easier. You can also invest in a real tree for as little as $50 to $75, depending on where you buy. Also, what was once a genuine health concern—the use of lead as a PVC stabilizer—is no longer an issue in most artificial trees sold in the US, according to National Tree Company and the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents artificial-tree companies. Judging from the photos, we think it’s quite pretty when decorated, but it lands in a very specific aesthetic subset, and with such wide-open spaces between the twiggy greenery, it’s a shame that Balsam Hill’s Easy Plug connectors aren’t better disguised on this model. Christmas is here, and that means it’s time to decorate. And it has more than twice the number of lights (1,620 versus 750), creating an opulent display that our testers universally preferred. And we invited everyone in the office to share their preferences and impressions of the trees over the course of two weeks. For this guide, we defaulted to the most popular choices, as determined by our research into sales trends, in a quest to come up with a tree type that would please the most people. It represents a huge step up in price from our top pick, typically costing $1,200 to $1,800. We raised our concerns with the American Christmas Tree Association, which stated in response that leaded PVC is no longer used at all in its members’ products. Not beautiful out of the box: Setup is hardly effortless with a fake tree, as we saw consistently during our firsthand tests. When you can activate your Christmas tree with a quick voice command or through the app rather than fiddling with a mechanical timer, that’s a major win. It’s also likely why, unique among our test trees, the Vermont White Spruce has built-in wheels on its stand. That’s a rare feature on a tree in its price range, and a huge plus. Compared with both pricier and cheaper trees, the National Tree Company Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir (PEDD1-D12-75) hits a good balance of cost, realism, and ease of setup. Just the act of hunting down a blown-out light bulb in a long string of them can suck much of the merry right out of the Christmas season. There’s voice control, too. Do that, and you’ll wind up with a weirdly wonderful tree. (The tree is covered by a three year warranty.). Gurino has sold Puleo trees for 20 years, and they were some of the nicest-looking trees we came across in our search. You can separate the sections and flatten the branches as compactly as you can, or keep it whole; just don’t store it somewhere it’ll be trampled or moved a lot. 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