10 Cutting-Edge Tech Gifts Under $100
There’s a seemingly endless list of new tech gadgets on the market right now that will make awesome gifts this holiday season. Unfortunately, many of them will bleed your budget dry. But fear not: You can find cutting-edge tech gifts that will only set you back $100 or less, and we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best.
Whether you’re looking for connected home products, car gadgets, fitness trackers, or gaming devices, you’re sure to find something here that will delight the biggest technophiles on your shopping list.
1. Amazon Echo
You’d be hard-pressed to find a home device that’s as high-tech yet affordable as Amazon‘s (NASDAQ: AMZN) newly updated Echo smart speaker, which squeezes into this list at a price of $99.99.
This 9-inch-tall cylindrical gadget can fit anywhere in your home. It’s powered by Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, and it can connect to other smart home devices. This means that through simple voice commands, the Echo can tell you what tomorrow’s weather looks like, play your favorite music, order items from Amazon, call an Uber or Lyft, dim the lights, crank up the AC, and much more.
The second-generation Echo comes packed with seven microphones and a new, upgraded speaker for better sound quality. You can also sync it with other Echo devices to bring the Alexa virtual assistant into every room in your home.
You can order the Echo through Amazon, of course, though many big-box stores carry it as well.
2. urBeats3 Earphones
Apple‘s (NASDAQ: AAPL) Beats is one the most popular brands in headphones, and the latest version of its urBeats earbuds offers a long list of features — and superior bass, of course — for $99.95. The earbuds come with a built-in mic for taking phone calls and using Siri (if you have an iPhone), as well as inline buttons for controlling volume and music.
The urBeats3 aren’t wireless, but they do come with a tangle-free flat cord, and the buds connect to each other magnetically, so they’ll be ready to go when you take them out of the case. Apple includes four eartip options so you can find the right size for your ear — and minimize sound loss — and the earbuds come with removable “wingtips” that hold the buds securely in your ear when you’re working out.
The urBeats3 earbuds are the cheapest option in the Beats headphone lineup, but they’re still a great choice for anyone looking for high-end sound and a quality build by Apple. Lastly, an important caveat for iPhone users: Because they have a 3.5-millimeter headphone plug, the urBeats3 headphones are not compatible with any iPhone models that came after the iPhone 6, which was the last to feature a headphone jack.
3. Google Chromecast Ultra
For those who are looking to turn their living room TV into a video streaming hub, one of the best and most affordable ways to do that is with Alphabet‘s (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL) $70 Google Chromecast Ultra. Just plug the device into your TV’s HDMI port, and you’ll be able to start streaming audio and video from an iPhone, iPad, Android device, or your laptop from thousands of apps and websites.
The Chromecast Ultra can stream video in crystal-clear 4K video resolution, and you can connect your video-playing device to it over Wi-Fi or connect the Chromecast directly to your internet modem with an ethernet cable. Oh, and it fits nicely into a hanging stocking, too.
4. Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition
OK, so it may not exactly be a cutting-edge device, but the SNES Classic Edition fits 21 Super Nintendo games into a console that fits in your hand. That, plus a hefty dose of nostalgia, ought to make it a great gift for a tech-loving friend.
This pint-sized gaming console costs just $80, has an HDMI hook-up, and comes with a second controller so you can reignite a Super Mario Kart rivalry right out of the box. Keep in mind, however, that original Super Nintendo cartridges won’t work with this new console, so the pre-loaded games are the only ones you’ll be able to play.
The SNES Classic Edition may be hard to get your hands on this holiday season, so if you’re in the market for one, snatch it up when you see it. Target, GameStop, and Toys R Us have all said they’ll sell the console throughout the holiday season, but availability will likely be sporadic.
5. Samsung Gear VR
High-end virtual-reality headsets are still out of reach for most people, considering they cost several hundred dollars, but you can still get a great VR experience on a budget with the latest Samsung Gear VR.
You’ll need to have one of nine compatible Samsung(NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) smartphones to use the Gear VR and. It can be paired with a new motion-enabled controller, it has access to 800 games and apps, and it’s designed to be lightweight and comfortable. You may need to shop around a little, but you can find the latest version for under $100 through some retailers, including Amazon.
And if you want to buy a VR headset for someone who doesn’t have a compatible Samsung smartphone, you might instead opt for the $100 Google Daydream View headset, which is compatible with nine different Android phones and runs Google’s Daydream View VR apps.
6. Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet
If you’re looking for a great tablet, but don’t need a high-end device, than Amazon’s Fire HD 8 tablet is the best way to go. The company’s popular tablet has been upgraded with an HD display, gets 12 hours of battery life, and has 16GB of memory (expandable up to 256GB). It also comes with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, gives you access to Amazon’s App Store, and will only set you back $80.
The Fire HD 8 won’t shoot videos with the same quality as Apple’s iPad, or have the same lightning-fast speed — but it’s more than adequate for binge-watching your favorite Netflixshows (or Amazon’s shows, of course) and browsing the Web.
7. Fitbit Flex 2
Fitness trackers and smartwatches can easily cost hundreds of dollars, but the Fitbit(NYSE: FIT) Flex 2 will only set you back about $60 and is loaded with features. This thin wristband device is completely waterproof, which is great if you want to leave it on in the shower or use it to track your activity while you swim.
The Flex 2 has five small LED lights that notify you when you receive calls and texts, and they even light up to remind you to get active again. The built-in sensors track steps, distance, calories burned, how long you’ve been active, and even your sleeping habits. The LED lights are used in lieu of an actual screen (one of the reasons why the Flex 2 is so inexpensive), but all the features — and its five-day battery life — more than make up for the lack of a display.
8. Philips Hue White Starter kit
The Philips Hue White Starter kit is the perfect gift for jump-starting a smart home. The kit comes with two light bulbs and a hub for connecting the lights to the Internet. You use the Philips Hue app, for either iOS or Android, to turn the lights on and off, dim them, or schedule a time for them to turn on while you’re away from home.
The kit costs just $70, and the lights can be linked to other smart home devices — for example, when it’s connected to Nest’s home security camera, your lights can automatically turn off when the camera notices that you’re not home. The light bulbs can be controlled through Amazon Alexa (see the Amazon Echo above), Apple Homekit, and Google Assistant as well.
9. Automatic Lite connected car adapter
If you’re looking for a gift that will bring an older car into the 21st century, then consider the Automatic Lite connected car adapter. The device plugs into a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics plug under the dashboard (don’t worry, it’s easy to find) and syncs with your phone’s Bluetooth to tell you what that pesky “check engine” light warning means.
The device also keeps track of your mileage and where you stop for gas with its built-in GPS, which makes the Automatic Lite ideal for business travelers. You can even export the information to other apps, like Expensify. All of the data is sent to the Automatic app on your phone, and the device costs just $80. You can also upgrade to the Pro version for $50 more, which adds an unlimited 3G connection and a crash detection and alert system that contacts you, the emergency services, and even your loved ones if you’re involved in an accident.
10. iDevice Switch connected smart plug
Another inexpensive high-tech gadget that makes a perfect gift is iDevice’s $30 Switch connected smart plug. Just plug Switch into any standard outlet, connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi, and use the device’s app to turn appliances plugged into the connector on and off — even after you’ve left the house.
You can even use the app to schedule times for the device to turn off and use voice commands when the Switch is paired with Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa. Setting up the Switch is easy, and no additional smart home hub is required.
A quick tip when tech shopping
When you’re shopping for the best tech gadgets, it can be tough to figure out what’s a good deal and what’s just cheap. The items in this list fall into the former category, but if you’re picking out other tech products on your own, be sure to check for reviews on Amazon. Google also compiles reviews from across the Web, so a quick online search will not only show links to full reviews, but sometimes give you an average rating for the product using Google’s five-star rating system. These ratings will give you a sense of whether the device will last until the New Year or for several years afterward.
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