Tech is a huge category, spanning everything from headphones to game consoles to smart home devices and more. And that’s exactly why finding the right gift for a tech enthusiast can be a little challenging. With the number of choices, it can get overwhelming pretty quickly. But CNET is here to help you find that perfect gift while staying within your budget. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite tech gifts on the market right now that you can grab for $100 or less.
We’ve either fully reviewed or personally tested all the products on this list. And if you’re looking for some quality tech gift items that are even cheaper (no, we’re not calling you a cheapskate), we’ve also got a list of great gift ideas for $50 or less.
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Earfun has put out a series of wireless earbuds over the last couple of years with one important commonality: They’re very good values, made more so by frequent discounts. The company’s new-for-2023 Earfun Air Pro 3 earbuds feature the latest Qualcomm QCC3071 system-on-a-chip with AptX Adaptive for Android and other devices that support the new LE Audio standard and LC3 audio codec, which is superior to the SBC codec (they also support AAC for Apple devices).
Lightweight and comfortable to wear — I got a good seal with the largest ear tip size — these aren’t a huge upgrade over the Earfun Air S, but they are better. They have slightly larger wool-composite drivers (11mm versus 10mm), slightly improved noise canceling and better battery life (up to seven hours with noise canceling on, according to Earfun).
In short, the Earfun Air 3 deliver strong performance for their modest price, with robust bass, good clarity and a relatively wide soundstage. They also pack in a lot of features, including a wireless charging case and “multidevice” connectivity. (I could pair them to two devices simultaneously but had to pause the music on one device and hit play on the other for the audio to switch.) They’re IPX5 splash-proof and also work well (though not exceptionally well) as a headset for making calls.
Note that while the list price of these buds is $80, if you click the instant 10% coupon on their Amazon product page and then apply the code EAP3CNET at checkout, you get an additional 20% off, bringing the buds’ price down to $56.
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Biolite makes several different headlamps, with the BioLite HeadLamp 800 being its brightest model (800 lumens) — and it’s equipped with both front and back lights (the front light swivels) that offer eight different lighting modes. It’s good for a variety of uses, whether you’re working in a dark environment or just walking your dog or riding a bike at night. The battery is rechargeable via a Micro-USB connection (I do wish it was USB-C).
Note that the step-down HeadLamp 425 costs $60, while the HeadLamp 325 is $40.
Amazon’s Smart Thermostat sets a new standard for the category. It has a clean, modern touchscreen design, and it’s easy to use, whether you’re adjusting the temperature at the thermostat, through the Alexa app or with Alexa voice commands with a compatible Alexa-enabled speaker or display. It is an affordable gift that earned a CNET Editors’ Choice Award for best value smart thermostat.
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The Yoose Mini Electric Shaver isn’t the most powerful electric shaver, and I can’t say I got the cleanest, closest shave using it. But it’s really small — about the size of some wireless earbuds cases — and it does work well enough and looks and feels more premium than I thought it would. That makes it a good on-the-go electric shaver and good travel companion (it didn’t hurt to use and comes with a carry case).
Available in multiple color options, it’s IPX7 waterproof, so it can be used both wet and dry. Though it retails for $90, it often has instant discounts that drop its price closer to $60.
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What’s cool about Anker’s 622 magnetic battery is that it’s a wireless battery that has an integrated magnetic flap that converts into a stand. You won’t get fast wireless charging from this 5,000-mAh battery (it charges at up to 7.5 watts) but it’s slim and easy to carry around.
It charges via USB-C and if you use a USB-C to Lightning to charge your iPhone, it will charge at a faster rate of 12 watts. That’s not as fast as what a 20-watt USB-C power adapter can deliver, but it’s faster than 7.5 watts.
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Amazon has released a new baseline Kindle E Ink e-reader for $100 that no longer seems so entry-level. While its 6-inch screen makes it a smaller and lighter e-reader than the step-up Kindle Paperwhite ($130), its display has the same 300-ppi resolution as the Paperwhite. However, that step-up model adds waterproofing and incorporates a more sophisticated front lighting scheme, with 17 LEDs compared to the Kindle 2022’s four.
In the past, we’ve recommended stepping up to the Paperwhite if you could afford it, mainly because it had a higher resolution display than the entry-level Kindle, which allowed text to appear more crisp. But with both models now featuring similar displays (at least as far as resolution goes), we may have to revise that recommendation.
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A while back I took my kid to the doctor because he had a bunch of ear wax built up in his ear and was having trouble hearing (yes, gross). The doctor was able to dislodge it with a pressurized stream of water, which is exactly what devices like the Wush Pro by Black Wolf deliver.
Designed to be used in the shower, the Wush Pro does indeed work to remove ear wax build-up. For some people who have sensitive ears, it can be a little disconcerting to use at first, but read the instructions carefully and start at a lower setting before ramping things up (there are three pressure settings, and the Wush is equipped with a rechargeable battery). The pump inside does make some noise (it’s a little irritating), but it’s tolerable and beats a visit to the doctor for excessive build-up.
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Twelve South’s HoverBar Duo is a flexible stand for iPads (and other tablets) that has a weighted base and articulating arm to adjust the angle and height of your device. You can also remove the HoverBar from its base and clip it to a bar or shelf using the shelf clip. The second-gen model has a quick-release design, but the first-gen model is nearly $30 cheaper at $50.
If you’re looking for a way to use your iPad in the kitchen, as a second monitor to your Mac or as a video conferencing display, the HoverBar Duo is a nice accessory to own and makes a great gift for all those iPad owners out there.
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I previously had the RiotPWR Mobile Cloud Gaming Controller for iOS on this list, but it had one flaw. Because it has an integrated Lightning cable that allows for lag-free gaming — at least when it comes to button presses — you couldn’t use it with newer iPads that have a USB-C connection. The new RiotPWR RP1950 controller solves that problem by allowing you to swap out the Lightning cable module for a USB-C cable module.
Like RiotPWR’s earlier iOS controller, which is white, the black RP1950 is a more traditionally shaped Xbox-like controller that includes a mount for your phone. While there’s no built-in battery that keeps your phone charged while playing, like the Backbone and Razer Kishi V2, this model has a pass-through charging option if you want to hook up a separate Lightning cable to a battery pack or wall charger.
The controller is nicely designed and doesn’t feel cheap (the dock can accommodate a variety of iPhones, including larger iPhone Max models). Remove the dock and you can use this with any iPad that has a Lightning or USB-C port. To swap cables, you have to stick a paper clip in a hole in the bottom of the controller, which releases the cable module. It’s a little tricky the first time you do it, but once you figure out how it’s done, it’s pretty straightforward.
It’s also worth noting that even though this is called an “iOS controller,” it will work with Android smartphones and tablets that have USB-C ports.
Anker’s upgraded compact charger can charge a MacBook Pro 13 at full speed. Not only is it small for how much power it can deliver (it has foldable prongs), but it also has three ports (2 USB-C and one USB-A) that allow you to charge multiple devices at the same time. Be aware that its 65 watts of power is split between the ports if you charge more than one device. though. It uses the next-generation GaN 3 technology.
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Back in 2020, Tribit released the StormBox Micro, a budget version of Bose’s excellent SoundLink Micro speaker that delivered surprisingly good sound for its size and modest price. Now we get the StormBox Micro 2, which offers improved sound and battery life, along with a charge-out feature that turns the speaker into a power bank for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. An integrated strap allows you to clip it to your backpack or your bike’s handlebars.
Like the original, it’s an excellent value and easy to recommend if you’re looking for a super compact portable wireless speaker. It’s also worth noting that you can save 15% by activating the instant coupon on the product page.
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Sony released its new entry-level CH-720N noise-canceling headphones in 2023. They’re quite good, but if you can’t afford them (they list for $150), the company’s new budget on-ear CH-520 headphones are an intriguing option for only around $50.
They lack noise canceling and are pretty no-frills, but they feature good sound for their price, are lightweight and pretty comfortable for on-ear headphones, and also have excellent battery life (they’re rated for up to 50 hours at moderate volume levels). Additionally, they have multipoint Bluetooth pairing, so you can pair them with two devices simultaneously (such as a smartphone and computer) and switch audio. Voice-calling performance is decent, though not up to the level of what you get with the CH-720N.
Note that there’s no wired option — this is a wireless Bluetooth-only headphone. The CH-520 offers overall balanced sound with decent clarity. The bass has some punch to it but doesn’t pack a wallop, and you aren’t going to get quite as wide a soundstage as you get from Sony’s more expensive over-ear headphones. But these definitely sound better than Sony’s previous entry-level on-ear headphones, and they sound better than I thought they would. I tried the white color, but they also come in blue and black.
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We really liked this Lightning-connected controller from startup Backbone when it first came out in its original black version. You can still get that model, but it now comes in a white PlayStation version for use with the PS Remote Play app.
Like the Razer Kishi, it turns any iPhone 6S or later into a Nintendo Switch-style gaming experience, with added smarts for social and chatty gamers. Like the Kishi, it connects via Lightning with pass-through charging but has no built-in battery. While the Kishi V2 is now more Backbone-like in its design (with better ergonomics) the Backbone controller still holds an advantage in the software department with a superior companion app.
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Whoever you’re getting this for may be a little embarrassed but he’ll most likely appreciate it. Panasonic says its ER-GK80-S has a unique V-shaped head that’s “built to go everywhere” — and with precision. It comes with two attachments, has almost two hours of battery life and can be used wet or dry. A travel case is included. It’s an excellent manscaping device.
The list price recently crept above $100, but Amazon currently has it discounted so you can still pick it up for around $100.
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Anker’s more expensive Soundcore Motion Boom Plus is a substantial sound upgrade over the original Motion Boom, but this model remains a very good mini boom box for the money. Equipped with a handle and weighing a little over 4 pounds, the speaker reminds me of one of those giant flashlights or “floating lanterns” that were in vogue about 30 years ago. For the record, the Motion Boom actually does float and is fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating.
Anker says the Motion Boom delivers “huge stereo sound,” and yes, it plays pretty loud and has a decent amount of bass with reasonable clarity. I kept the bass boost on at all times because it sounds better that way. The Motion Boom can’t compete against bigger and more expensive speakers like JBL’s Boombox 3 and Ultimate Ears’ Hyperboom, but it packs a lot more volume and punch than more compact Bluetooth speakers like JBL’s Flip 6. It also travels well, so it’s ideal for a beach excursion or a little tailgating.
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I like Hyperice’s Hypersphere Mini ($99) massage ball, but Theragun’s new Wave Solo massage ball is arguably a tad better and almost $20 cheaper at $80. It’s also about the size of a softball (3.4 inches, or 8.7 cm, in diameter), charges with a USB-C cable (a full charge offers up to 200 minutes of battery life) and has three vibration speed options.
It’s a great option for pinpointing problem areas as hip flexors that you might roll out with a lacrosse ball. There’s also a Wave Duo version for $99 that’s good for rolling on either side of the spine or placing at the top of your shoulder behind your neck while lying down.
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There are plenty of great Alexa-powered Echo products, but in this price range, we’re fans of the new Google Nest Hub (2nd gen). The upgraded smart display delivers more bass along with a new Sleep Sensing feature. It also gives you instant access to a world of answers whenever you say, “Hey, Google,” and allows you to cast content directly to the screen from any Android device.
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For a lot of people, Apple’s original HomePod was too pricey at $350. That speaker has been discontinued, but the HomePod Mini is still around. It’s a very compact Wi-Fi speaker that costs a lot less ($99) and plays bigger than you’d expect for its small size. Yes, it’s more appealing to those invested in Apple’s ecosystem and comfortable with Apple’s voice-assistant Siri, which drives the speaker, but the price is right and you can pair two HomePod Minis to create stereo sound or combine several to create a multiroom audio system (you can link them to the original HomePod, of course).
While music playback is tied into Apple Music, you can use AirPlay 2 to stream audio from other music services, including Spotify, from your iPhone and other Apple devices (read this for AirPlay requirements).
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The Roku Ultra has always been a fine 4K HDR streamer. As the flagship in Roku’s extensive line of sticks and players, its bag of nifty tricks includes a remote finder and a remote with programmable remote buttons. This version adds better Wi-Fi, a faster processor and the ability to stream in Dolby Vision — a long-awaited feature that allows it to better compete with the best streamers from Amazon, Apple and Google.
Yes, the Roku Express 4K Plus, which costs around $40, is a better value, but the upgraded Ultra is often on sale these days for $70 (it lists for $100) and has an Ethernet port for those who want to go with a wired connection.
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There’s nothing like a little blending on the go to create those healthy smoothies and protein shakes. That’s where the BlendJet 2 comes in. Available in multiple color options and equipped with a rechargeable battery, it’s more powerful than you might expect and it can whip up smoothies without having to plug in anywhere. It charges via USB-C (you get about 15 blends per charge) and is fully waterproof.
The model shown here has a 16-ounce jar, but you can now buy an XL 32-ounce jar for $30 extra. I’m hoping someday that you’ll be able to get the 32-ounce jar version as a standalone item but it’s currently an add-on accessory.
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BioLite has several portable lighting options and the Alpenglow 500 is one of its more recent additions to its line. It’s a portable “lantern” that has multiple modes and color options. As its name implies, it delivers 500 lumens of light, and it is indeed pretty bright.
The step-down Alpenglow 250 offers 250 lumens for $15 less. Both are rated for 5 hours of battery life on the high setting and up to 200 hours on the low setting.
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Logitech’s MX Keys is one of our favorite everyday Bluetooth keyboards and now it comes in two smaller versions that leave off the number pad and some other keys: MX Keys Mini and MX Keys Mini for Mac. Both cost $100, the same price as the standard MX Keys. Colors include rose, pale gray and graphite.
While you’re getting less keyboard for the same amount of money, the MX Keys Mini does have three new keys, giving you shortcuts to dictation (available in select countries for Windows and MacOS users), emojis and the all-important muting and unmuting of your microphone for video-conference calls. Also, Logitech says that its “minimalist form factor aligns your shoulders and allows you to place your mouse closer to your keyboard for less hand reaching, resulting in better posture and improved ergonomics.” From my tests, I agree with that assessment.
The keyboard is similar in size to Logitech’s popular and less expensive K380 keyboard ($30). But MX Keys Mini, equipped with Perfect Stroke, Logitech’s “best nonmechanical typing technology,” has a more premium look and feel. And, like the standard MX Keys, it has backlit keys that light up as your hands approach and automatically adjust to the lighting conditions, dimming or even turning off to conserve energy.
Note that the link below goes to the standard MX Keys Mini. The MX Keys Mini for Mac can be found here.
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A couple of years ago, Logitech unveiled the MX Master 3 ($100), the third generation of its premium home/office mouse. Then last year we got the $80 MX Anywhere 3, the third iteration of the company’s premium “mobile” mouse, and it may just be my favorite Logitech mouse yet.
The MX Anywhere 3 comes in a couple of versions. There’s the standard “universal” version that works with Windows, MacOS, iPadOS (13.4 or higher), ChromeOS and Linux computers via Bluetooth or Logitech’s Unifying USB dongle, which is included. MX Anywhere 3 for Mac works only via Bluetooth and is optimized for Macs and iPads. Both mice are available in pale gray and the MX Anywhere 3 (with the dongle) is also offered in rose and graphite.
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