Tech Gifts on a Budget: Best Gadgets Under $100
While expensive tech toys like the iPad Air and PlayStation 4 are getting all the attention in the press, there are a ton of awesome tech gifts that will make someone extremely happy during the holidays. The smallest and cheapest gadgets can often be the most lustworthy. We have put together a list of eight of the best gadgets under $100 that will keep your holiday spending to a minimum.
Buy This for Someone Who Loves to Watch Netflix
Easily one of coolest tools released in the last few months, the Google Chromecast is a $35 HDMI dongle that plugs into your HDTV and allows you to stream video content from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Plug it in and start watching YouTube or Netflix right away. It’s only continued to become more useful over the past weeks as more companies, like Hulu and Pandora, add support for the device on Android and Apple platforms.
MSRP: $35 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $35
- Pros: Extremely inexpensive. Installation takes just a couple minutes. Streams media content from supported apps with minimal effort.
- Cons: Video streaming through the Chrome browser is very dependent on CPU power. Device can get overly hot to the touch.
Buy This for Someone Who Travels With Family Constantly
But, wait, more dongles! The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive is basically a twist on the standard USB storage drive. Specifically, the device doubles as a wireless network drive compatible with Android and iOS devices. In other words, you could stream high definition video content to multiple devices in an area that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. This would be perfect for a family on a flight or an extended car ride, for instance.
MSRP: $60 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Can connect up to 8 devices over Wi-Fi at one time. Supports 64GB memory cards if interested in storage expansion.
- Cons: Requires users to download an additional app on their mobile device. Doesn’t remember where users left off in a video if restarted.
Buy This for Someone Who Loves the Great Outdoors
We live in a world that constantly requires us to charge and recharge our various mobile devices. But what happens when the power goes out? That’s where the Etón BoostTurbine 4000 comes in handy. The device includes a 4000mAh lithium battery, a USB port for charging your devices and a hand crank that uses turbine power to charge the battery. It’s an ideal tech gift for anyone who likes to camp out or hike or goes to any area where finding a power outlet isn’t going to happen. There are also cheaper models with smaller batteries if you want to save a bit of money.
MSRP: $80 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Perfect for emergency situations. Device can be fully charged over USB.
- Cons: You will have to crank the device for an extremely long time to get extended battery power.
Buy This for Someone Who Loves to Work Out
There’s a reason why Apple doesn’t need to redesign the iPod Shuffle as often as other iOS devices. It’s basically been perfected. It’s small enough to clip on clothing during a workout, the battery lasts for at least 15 hours and it can store plenty of songs for short-term use. It’s a device that’s great for travel as well.
MSRP: $49 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Ideal for cardio exercise. Includes option for randomly playing songs. Supports playlists.
- Cons: No option for a higher storage capacity. Can be easy to lose due to small size.
Buy This for Someone Who has Trouble Setting up a Wireless Network
Taking all the worry out of setting up a Wi-Fi network for the home, the Securifi Almond includes a touchscreen that walks someone through the process of setting up wireless access. Installation only takes a few minutes and all security settings are pre-configured to avoid open network issues. For anyone more familiar with home networks, it also doubles as an excellent Wi-Fi range extender if you are having trouble using Wi-Fi on the opposite side of your home.
MSRP: $99 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Provides Wireless N access for compatible devices. Wi-Fi signal will likely be extended a couple hundred feet.
- Cons: More expensive than a basic router.
Buy This for Someone Who Loves to Share New Music with Friends
Developed by the folks at Cambridge Soundworks, the Oontz Angle Wireless Bluetooth Speaker has garnered a ton of positive reviews at Amazon due to the small form factor and solid performance for a speaker in this product category. It’s also on the less expensive side, typically around $40 when on sale.
MSRP: $69 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: 10-hour battery life. Includes Bluetooth connectivity. Offers direct wired connection for devices without Bluetooth. Includes a microphone for conference calls.
- Cons: Quality control may be an issue: some users have reported a slight buzz.
Buy This for Someone Who Loves to Read Books
While the Kindle Fire HDX tablets have been receiving tons of attention from the press, the standard Amazon Kindle is still a powerhouse. It continues to receive positive praise due to the ability to read books in sunlight as well as its storage capacity. You can easily load up 1,000+ books on the device and take your entire library with you while on the go.
MSRP: $69 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $59
- Pros: Weighs less than 6 ounces. Typically battery life lasts about one month. Amazon Prime users can find significant discounts on Kindle books.
- Cons: You won’t be able to read books in the dark. Costs an additional $20 to remove advertising from the device.
Buy This for Someone Who Likes Older Speaker Technology
Similar to the Google Chromecast’s ability to transform an older HDTV into a smart TV, the HomeSpot NFC-enabled Bluetooth receiver is a device that can transform an older stereo system into a system that can play music stored on your mobile device. Basically, you just plug it into your stereo system and connect to the device over Bluetooth or NFC. It gives you the freedom of continuing to use your device while still listening to music.
MSRP: $39 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Receives music up to 66 feet away from the device. Tap-and-connect feature for NFC-enabled devices. Inexpensive compared to competing products.
- Cons: Some reviews report range is reduced by large objects.