Just because you're tight on cash doesn't mean you can't afford some great gadgets.
Your local dollar store has a tech section, believe it or not — it's small, but it's there — and you might be pleasantly surprised at what you can buy with the loose change in your pocket or purse. As long as you have reasonable expectations when it comes to quality and longevity, you'll find a few handy tech toys for a mere buck or two.
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The following are a few bargains found at locations such as Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and 99¢ Depot, as well as Canada's Dollarama. Please note: Not all dollar stores have the same products, and often you'll find a very similar one under another brand name.
1. Battery tester
Sunbeam battery tester. Not only can you pick up batteries on the cheap at your local dollar store, you also might find a battery tester for only a buck. Determine whether your batteries need replacing or charging with the Sunbeam battery tester, which can evaluate AA, AAA, C, D and 9V batteries via the topside sensors.
Three red lights on the face of the unit tell you the power status of your batteries, ranging from 20 percent to 100 percent. If a battery is dead, no LEDs will light up. Naturally, this product requires batteries, too — three AG13 watch batteries — but they're included.
2. Book light
GE LED book light. Unless you're using a tablet with a backlit screen, reading an ebook or paper book in a dimly lit environment can be a pain unless you turn on a lamp or use a book light. If you prefer the latter, you can pick up the GE LED book light in blue, pink and other colors and clamp it onto your e-reader, paperback or hardcover.
While we've seen book lights for less, this $2 GE product is much brighter, durable, adjustable and comes with a 10,000-hour LED bulb, the company says. Two AAA batteries are required but not included, but you can pick up an eight-pack of Sunbeam batteries for a buck.
Tilt top calculator. Why spend more on a calculator than you need to? The $1 tilt top calculator from Studio has an automatic power-off feature, an easy-to-read and adjustable eight-digit display that can be propped up for a better view, a handy palm rest for lengthy sessions around tax time and large buttons. No batteries needed because this is solar powered.
Alternatives: Scientific calculators and one in the shape of an electric guitar also were offered at a couple of dollar stores.