On a Budget? Check Out These 10 Tech Gifts for Under $100
From wireless chargers to 'smart' displays, you can buy a lot
by Marc Saltzman, AARP, November 26, 2019|Comments: 0
PHOTO BY: Tile Inc.
The Tile Mate fob, about 1¼ inches square, emits a ring up to 200 feet away — perhaps enough for you to find your cat's hiding place. Some customers even have trained their cats to respond to the ring, the company says.
Good news for holiday shoppers: You need not break the bank to buy some hot gadgets and gear this season.
One of the great things about technology is that prices tend to drop over time, just as new features are introduced. That lets us buy a brand-name 60-inch 4K Smart TV for less than $500 when an inferior model would have been 10 times the price only a few years ago.
Whether you’re shopping for loved ones or yourself, hot deals can be found — even for less than $100 — on some great recommended tech items.
Here is a quick look at 10 picks — from least expensive to most. But be a bargain hunter. The prices listed below generally don’t reflect even better offers from retailers both online and in stores for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
PHOTO BY: Yootech Technology
Yootech Wireless Charger
The lowdown: It's almost 2020. Are you still plugging your smartphone into the wall like it's the early 2010s? If your devices are roughly two years old or younger, chances are good they support wireless charging.
That means you simply put your phone, smartwatch or wireless earbuds down flat on a tiny device like the Yootech Wireless Charger, and it will start to juice up immediately. Supporting the universal Q1 standard, pronounced “chee,” this 10-watt wireless charging pad is compatible with several gadgets, including AirPods, the iPhone 8 and newer, and Samsung Galaxy S8.
This wireless charger includes two 3-foot USB cables to plug into a computer or the wall.
PHOTO BY: Amazon
Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
The lowdown: Wait, what? A tablet for under $30? Indeed. You can pick up the 16GB Amazon Fire 7 tablet in one of four colors. It's ideal for browsing websites, listening to music, playing games, reading e-books, taking photos with its two cameras and viewing videos.
Along with hundreds of thousands of apps, you've got support for the Alexa personal assistant and access to the optional $119-a-year Amazon Prime service for millions of books, movies, perks, shopping discounts, songs and TV shows. If the built-in 16 gigabytes of storage aren't enough, add a microSD card with up to 512 gigabytes of memory, for more money.
The battery life of this 7-inch color tablet tops seven hours between charges.
Price: $29.99, regularly $49.99
PHOTO BY: Roku
Roku Streaming Stick+
The lowdown: Turn a regular TV into a smart TV. This is the premise behind the inexpensive Roku Streaming Stick+.
Plug this small doohickey into the back or side of your television — an HDMI cable is included — log into your Wi-Fi, then use the included voice remote or optional Roku app to stream hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes.
If your television supports state-of-the-art picture quality, you can view programs in up to 4K resolution with high dynamic range (HDR) for exceptional brightness, color and contrast. Access many popular services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Google Play, HBO Now and Netflix, as well as exclusive Roku content.
PHOTO BY: Western Digital Corp
The lowdown: Own an iPhone or iPad? Easily and quickly back up your important photos and videos by snapping a SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive into the Lightning port of your device.
It automatically copies your media — just in case your phone or tablet is damaged, lost or stolen. On the other end of this flash drive is a USB connector, which means you can plug it into a computer or television to view your photos and videos.
As a bonus, if you're running out of room on your iPhone or iPad, you can keep the iXpand Flash Drive plugged in to capture photos and videos directly onto the drive. You might run out of space quickly with the least expensive 32-gigabyte model; the version with the most storage is more than $100.
Price: $49.99 for 64GB, $79.99 for 128GB
PHOTO BY: Kasa Smart
TP-Link Kasa Spot Wi-Fi Wireless Security Camera
The lowdown: Wherever life takes you, you can have peace of mind knowing you can check in on your home.
This TP-Link Kasa Spot security camera can be set up in any room or foyer as long as you have a power outlet. Once you join it to your Wi-Fi network via the app, you can be notified if motion or sound is detected.
An integrated microphone means you also can have a two-way chat with whomever is at home, even the cat if you want. Supporting infrared night vision, this 1080-pixel, high-definition camera with a wide 130-degree field of view can be used in any lighting setting and up to 20 feet away when little to no light is available.
PHOTO BY: Tile Inc
The lowdown: While you might not want to admit it, you — and perhaps your cat — could benefit from a gadget like this.
Tile Mate is a small white Bluetooth-enabled tracker that helps you find lost items. Simply attach it to everyday items such as the collar your cat is wearing, house keys, a purse, suitcase or wallet.
If you can't find the item, open the app, tap the name of the item (like “Marc's Keys” or “Kellie's purse"), and it will ring loudly up to 200 feet away and show you the item's last known location on a map. If the item is more than 200 feet away, when the Tile finds other devices on which the Tile app is installed, you'll be able to note your item's last-seen location.
On the flip side, if you can't find your phone, you can double-tap your Tile Mate to make your lost phone ring — even if it's on silent. You're welcome.
Price: $69.99 for a package of four
PHOTO BY: Microsoft
Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard
The lowdown: Consider it one of the most underrated smartphone and tablet accessories on the market. The aptly-named Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is an ultra-thin, lightweight, clamshell companion that unfolds to a full-sized QWERTY keyboard.
It can be paired simultaneously via Bluetooth with two mobile devices. It works equally well with Android, Apple or Windows devices.
Rather than lug around a laptop, you might need only your smartphone or tablet and a foldable wireless keyboard in order to get a lot of typing done.
PHOTO BY: House of Marley
Buffalo Soldier BT Headphones
The lowdown: Enjoy your music untethered, with a pair of Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones such as House of Marley's Buffalo Soldier BT On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones.
These not only look cool with unique bamboo on the ear cups, but they're comfortable, they're lightweight and, most importantly, they sound great. The battery life lasts up to 16 hours of continuous play between charges.
These wireless headphones feature 40-millimeter dynamic drivers, integrated wireless controls on the right earcup, and an included-but-optional cable with microphone.
PHOTO BY: Chris Ozer / Fitbit Inc
Fitbit Inspire HR
The lowdown: Tight budget? You still can pick up a great-looking and fully functional wearable fitness device.
Fitbit Inspire HR is a sleek activity and sleep tracker designed to help you stay motivated and informed. The high-tech bracelet captures exercise information — such as steps taken, distance traveled, estimated calories burned and heart rate — and shows the info on the watch or wirelessly on a companion app.
Other features include a battery life of more than five days, a personalized clock face, plus support for many optional bands, and smartphone notifications such as calls and texts.
PHOTO BY: Amazon
Amazon Echo Show 8
The lowdown: This device squeaks onto our list because its sale price leading up to the holidays is almost 25 percent off.
The Alexa-powered smart display doesn't just answer a question or play your favorite music in stereo when you ask for it. It also has an 8-inch high-definition screen, the midsize screen in the Echo Show family, to display the answers you seek.
Ask your personal assistant to locate movie trailers, news, TV shows or YouTube videos. Or ask to see photos of the family from your personal collection, recipes or the weather.
You might not know that the Echo Show 8 also lets you make free video phone calls with those who have the Alexa app or a compatible Echo device. Finally, control your smart home by instructing Alexa to turn off the lights or adjust the thermostat.
Price: $99.99, regularly $129.99
Marc Saltzman has been a freelance technology journalist for 25 years. His podcast, Tech It Out, aims to break down geek speak into street speak.