With 2017 now close to its end, the time has come to look for the best items for your family and friends during this holiday gift giving season. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a high quality present for those closest to you, and we have a list of what we think are the best tech gifts under $50.
Looking for even more options? Check out the following guides:
If you want to get rid of your cable or satellite TV service, but still want to keep up with everything in television, you need a streaming media device connected to your big-screen TV. Thankfully, there are plenty of choices that don’t cost much money.
One such choice comes from Roku. Roku currently makes the most popular streaming media devices, and its Streaming Stick is highly portable for people who want to use it at home, or even in a hotel room. It offers a 1080p resolution and access to thousands of streaming channels, many of which are completely free to access. One of the best free channels is the recently launched Roku Channel, which offers lots of recent ad-supported movies.
Roku’s interface is easy to use and while it comes with its own remote, you can use your smartphone or tablet as a backup.
Much like the Roku device, the Amazon Fire TV Stick allows you to stream media up to 1080p resolution from many different channels. The included remote even supports voice commands via the Alexa digital assistant, allowing you to search for TV shows and movies with just your voice.
The Google Chromecast is a bit cheaper than the Roku and Fire TV models, but it does require the use of a smartphone or tablet. The Chromecast can cast thousands of media streaming apps and games from your phone to the big screen TV, and can even mirror your phone’s home screen if you want. There’s no direct UI though, and that means no remote control either.
For those that constantly have their phones tethered to their side, this actually is one of the easiest, no-frills way to stream all your favorites.
If you own a smartphone, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to experience virtual reality. These mobile-themed VR headsets can give you access to immersive 360 movies, apps, and games at an affordable price.
The 2016 version of the Gear VR headset from Samsung (co-developed with Oculus) lets owners of many of the company’s Galaxy smartphones play VR games, watch VR movies and TV shows on Hulu and Netflix, and much more. Keep in mind that this headset is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, Note 5, S6 Edge Plus, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge phones. Best of all, it’s under $50!
Don’t own a high-end Galaxy phone? Pansonite has an alternative just for you.
The Panasonite VR headset is designed to work with any smartphone up to 6 inches in display size. While that may leave out some recent phones like the Galaxy S8 Plus and the Note 7, most phones should be compatible with this mobile headset, which offers a way to watch movies and TV shows in a more immersive experience.
This headset even comes with its own headphones so there should be no need to hook up any earbuds for listening to videos. As for content? This headset plays nicely with all the many Cardboard-compatible VR apps on the Google Play store.
Playing certain smartphone games, especially shooters and racing titles, can be difficult with just a touchscreen interface. For those kinds of games, you need a controller. Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable game controllers for smartphones to choose from.
If you love to game, and you also love some retro looks for your gamepad, then the 8Bitdo N30 Pro Controller is for you. This Bluetooth-based controller looks very much like one you might use on your Nintendo console from the 1980s. Yet, it still has a modern button control layout. It even comes with its own carrying case, for easy and safe transport.
If you want a more traditional game controller for your smartphone, the POWER A MOGA Hero Power is an excellent choice. You simply connect your smartphone to the controller’s lock arm so you can play racing and shooter games without having to hold the phone yourself. The Bluetooth-based controller also comes with its own 1,800 mAh battery so you can charge up your phone if it needs an extra boost.
Give the gift of a virtual assistant-powered speaker
A smart speaker opens lets your listen to your tunes with just your voice, ask questions, control your smart home, and so much more. And recently there have begun a growing number of affordable options.
Google launched its smaller version of the Google Home earlier this year. The Mini speaker can still access Google Assistant to provide you with news updates, calendar reminders or just a way to play songs from streaming services. While its audio quality doesn’t quite compare to regular Bluetooth wireless speakers, the Google Home Mini offers perhaps the best sound for connected speakers at this price range.
Best of all, from now until the end of 2017, the Google Home Mini is priced at just $29, well below its normal $49 price tag.
Not sold on Google Assistant or the Google Home Mini? Amazon has your back.
The Amazon Echo Dot benefits from the more advanced and developed Alexa digital assistant, which is adding more features and support nearly every day. Also, its seven far-field microphones and advanced Bluetooth audio support are more advanced than the Google Home Mini. However, its a much smaller speaker making it less ideal for actual music and better for controlling your smart home and asking basic questions.
However, the Dot does have an ace up its sleeve. If you have an existing wired or Bluetooth speaker you can connect it to the Dot, giving you better sound alongside access to all of Alexa’s many features.
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get quality headphones and earphones for your phone or other audio device. Here are a couple of choices you can check out, and you can see even more of them in our Best Headphones under $50 article.
These wireless earbuds don’t cost nearly as much as rival products, but offer quite a lot of sound quality for the money. It supports Bluetooth 4.1 which should ensure that you have a solid wireless connection to your smartphone while you work out, run or just lying down on the couch. It also has solid battery life with up to 7 hours of music time on one charge.
Prefer a more traditional set of headphones? The Photive BTH3 offers excellent active noise cancelling features for the money. They also happen to be Bluetooth wireless headphones, with up to 12 hours of battery life. Even better, it still contains a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack just in case you want to use them the old fashioned way.
There are also many other tech products under $50 that are well worth your time to check out, just in case your family member or friend wants a more general gift for the holidays.
Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
Simply put, there is no other tablet in the world that can match the hardware and features of the Amazon Fire 7 tablet for the low, low price of just $49.99. While the current version’s display is still below HD resolution at 1,024 x 6,00, it is a bit brighter. Plus, the tablet itself is thinner and lighter than previous models, and it includes 8 GB of storage which can be expanded with its microSD card slot. It supports Alexa for voice commands and features, has up to 8 hours of battery life, and while it uses Amazon’s Fire OS, you can also side load most Android apps as well.
Even if your smartphone has a lot of onboard storage, it can disappear pretty quickly, especially if you take and store a lot of photos and videos, or download a bunch of apps or podcasts. Most Android smartphones come with a MicroSD card slot, and Sandisk’s 128 GB card is a pretty quick, and relatively cheap, way to make sure you can keep all of your phone’s content, without having to delete anything.
You want to quickly find your car or house key, but sometimes that’s hard to do. The Tile Style Key Finder makes it easy by letting you attach the small hardware device to your keys, suitcase, purse, phone or anything else that’s valuable to you. You can use your smartphone to track down the Tile Style within 200 feet. If you lose your phone, tap on the Tile Style itself to cause the phone to ring, even if it is set on silent mode.
One of the most popular types of smart home devices is the light bulb. However, many of them are extremely expensive. The TP-Link Multicolor Smart LED Bulb, while obviously much more expensive than ordinary LED light bulbs, is still cheap from rivals from Phillips and others. The light can be controlled from anyway, via your smartphone using the free Kasa app, and it even allows you to choose from multiple colors. In addition, it supports Amazon’s Alexa-based device so you can issue voice commands for dimming or turning off the bulb.
When you or your family owns a lot of smartphones or tablets, you need to have a quick and easy way to charge them all up without taking a lot of space or power connections. The Anker 60W 6-Port USB Wall Charger lets you do just that, whether you are at home or traveling. The 6-port charger does not support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, but it does use a combination of PowerIQ and VoltageBoost to offer up to to 2.4 amps per port, which should be speedy enough for any person or family with many, many devices to power up.
These are just some of the best tech gifts under $50 this year, but we want to hear from you as well. Which products would you recommend to put on our tech gifts under $50 for 2017? Let us know what you would select in the comments!
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