The Tech Wrangler is a bi-weekly column in which Dave Johnson, editor-in-chief of Forbes Veted, explores the best values in consumer tech. These are not necessarily the cheapest products in their class, but represent the crossroads of price and performance – that is, money well spent.
I hardly need to tell you the holidays are coming – you are already inundated with advance holiday sales, warnings that our supply chain is broken, so you need to order early and, well, the calendar has just ended. switch in November. All the signs are there, I’ve even seen Mariah Carey appear in a Spotify playlist. Happy Holidays.
Recently, at a Forbes Vetted staff meeting, we discussed whether to have a White Elephant Gift Exchange this year, and it reminded me how difficult these kinds of gifts can be to purchase. . It’s often difficult to find a cheap gift that isn’t completely unnecessary, irrelevant, ugly, or silly. But then I realized: there are a surprising number of really cool tech gifts you can get for under $ 50. If it’s too rich for your blood – or if it violates the rules of your gift exchange – almost any great gift I’ve thought of costs $ 30 or less.
I have organized the gifts in order of price, cheapest to most expensive, and I am sure you will find at least a few items that you will agree are truly good gifts — at Christmas stocking prices. So if you are exchanging gifts at work this year, keep in mind that it probably happens much earlier than the rest of the holiday festivities, so pick something up now. And if you want to get a little something for me, I would love to have anything on the list, thank you.
At two for $ 15, smart plugs are the cheapest useful gift ever
Kasa smart plugs are a bit of a paradox. I love them a lot. I have about 10 outlets scattered around my house to control various street lights, a few small kitchen appliances, and even the air conditioner in my home office. During the holidays I use a few to control the Christmas lights. But despite their insane usefulness, they’re almost free – you can get a pair for $ 15, for example, and I guarantee this will be one of the most useful giveaways in your entire gift exchange.
AirTags seem more expensive than they are. And they are $ 29
To be honest, I really wanted to include a Tile Starter Pack in this list. I like Bluetooth tracking devices like Tile because they help you keep tabs on your keys, backpack, TV remote, and anything else you might lose. But as good as the Tile trackers are – and they’re pretty good – the two-tracker starter pack costs $ 55, breaking my self-imposed price rule.
Instead, I decided to put just one Apple AirTag on the list. At under $ 30, it’s still a really good deal. It tracks your stuff just as well as Tile, and items show up in the standard Apple Find My iPhone app, so anyone with an iPhone can use it. Plus, the glossy saucer-shaped tracker looks sexy as hell, and seems a bit more expensive than it really is – a rarity for an Apple product, which is usually priced higher than that. that I would like to spend.
The most charming wall clock of all time tracks your Alexa timers for just $ 30
Do you often ask Alexa to set timers? Of course you do, everyone else does. I used to joke that an Amazon Echo was just a very expensive hourglass you could talk to. So here’s a super charming accessory for anyone’s Alexa: a wall clock that automatically displays the time remaining on Alexa timers. The analog clock with large sweep hands also has a ring of LEDs that light up to show you how much time is left, and the clock is smart enough to accommodate multiple timers. Want to see how it works? Watch the video on Amazon’s product page to see it in action. And I guarantee that if you get this gadget, it will be the most unusual of the gift exchange.
This Wyze Cam v3 is an inexpensive gift that anyone can use to protect their home
Security cameras aren’t usually the first thing I think of when choosing a holiday gift, but I make an exception in the case of the Wyze Cam. Wyze made a business of selling a variety of great, great products for a lot less than you thought possible, essentially beating the big brands with budget devices. Long story short: Wyze does awesome stuff, and the Wyze Cam v3 is no exception. This HD camera works indoors or outdoors, has excellent night vision mode, two-way audio, and is smart enough to support Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT.
Give the gift of Binge Watching for $ 39
In a recent Tech Wrangler column, I explained why I thought one of the cheapest streaming media players is the best, too. a lot, feel free to go back and read it, I will wait. But here’s the short answer: The Roku Express 4K + has 4K video, an app library that includes all the streaming channels you could want, and a great remote control. So if anyone unboxes this Roku Express 4K +, I’m sure they’ll be as thrilled as if it cost $ 150.
A great portable bluetooth speaker for $ 40
The StormBox Micro typically costs $ 60, so you can think of this as a cheat, but at the moment it’s on sale for $ 40, which makes it a good deal. The StormBox Micro is a great portable wireless speaker, even at its regular list price. It has a powerful, full-bodied sound with solid bass extension, which is unusual for a speaker of this small size. In addition, it is fully waterproof (it has a very robust IP67 protection rating), an eight hour battery life and fits in the palm of your hand.
How’s it going for half a dozen awesome tech giveaways at a low price? Did I miss any of your favorites or do you strongly disagree with any of my picks? Let me know on Twitter @davejoh.