Budget Tech Gifts

It’s that time of year again

It’s the holidays.  The time of year we make sure we show the people we care about how much we care about them by buying them some stuff.  What should you get the tech inclined in your life?  I get this question a lot from my non-tech savvy friends.  With so many options out there, it may be hard to decide or choose.  I have put together a list of 7 relatively inexpensive tech devices you can get someone this holiday season.

I will put out another, more high-end list soon.  You know, with MacBooks on it.

1. The Music Lover, but they keep it to themselves (Headphones)

Digital music has allowed us to take all the music we love with us.  Gone are the days of lugging around boxes of records and tapes, or books of CDs.  While some people still enjoy doing this, even they know it’s not practical all the time.  So for your music fan on the go I recommend a great, but inexpensive set of Bluetooth headphones.  With the Apple iPhone 7 ditching the headphone jack and Samsung rumored to be doing the same with the Galaxy 8.  Bluetooth allows for a wireless connection to your device to listen to your music.

Samsung Level U

For this, I recommend the Samsung Level U Bluetooth Headphones  I use these all the time, the battery lasts for about 8 hours of constant playback and it also has a built-in microphone for answering calls.  They are comfortable to wear and don’t get in the way.  The earbuds also have small magnets that clip them together to store out of the way when not in your ears.

Sound reproduction is good, bass response is a little flat but good.  Vocals sound great.  Phone calls sound crisp and clear.  I have even taken them running and had no issues with the back staying on my neck.  These aren’t technically sweatproof but worked for me.  They do a good job of letting in just enough sound to allow you to keep an ear on your surroundings.

2. For the music lover who likes to share (Speaker)

Insignia Bluetooth Speaker

There are a lot great Bluetooth Speakers out there that allow you to pair to your phone and play your music louder than the built-in speaker.  They come in all shapes sized and colors.  The one I am recommending here is the Insignia Bluetooth Speaker with Power Bank.  Not only does the battery last forever.  It can also double as a power bank to charge your phone.  Now you can’t charge and playback at the same time, so that is a shortfall, but I don’t use that feature much.

This speaker is loud enough to easily fill a room with great sound.  I use it when I am on the road and want to watch something on my laptop without needing the built-in speakers.  I also put it on the dash of my car and listen to my music that way.  The speaker also has a speakerphone function, so you can take phone calls without needing to pause the music.  It does an okay job interfacing as a phone when you are across the room, it does really well when you are close to it.

3. For the smartphone power user (Smartphone)

Xbox One S

There has not been a device that has come along that has become more personal to us than our smartphones.  We rely on them for everything.  Marketing proves that almost all of us have at least one smartphone in the house.  They are used to carry our music, entertain us with videos and games, keep us up to date with news and information, and oh yeah, make phone calls.

With most handsets pushing into the $500-700 range brand new, what are the options if you want the latest and greatest features without paying the high-end price?  Go aftermarket.  The manufacturers make millions of these devices, most go unsold.  If you are willing to have “last years model” there are some great deals to be had.  I would steer clear of straight used phones.  These can be a good deal or a headache.

Look for manufacturer refurbished models.  These have been reset to factory specs and cleaned up and had their components replaced.  Some of these are brand new phones that were returned when they didn’t sell.

iPhone 6S

Samsung Galaxy S6

I recommend the Samsung Galaxy S6 for the Android user.  You can usually find them for $300-$400.  For the Apple fan, I would recommend the iPhone 6S. You can find these for $400-$500.  I would check with the person you are buying for, what type phone they already use.  You usually won’t find an iPhone user who wants to switch to Android or Android to iPhone.

4. For the gamer (Console)

Video games are everywhere, there are even people who get paid to play them.  While you might not be at that level, there are some systems that will make you feel like you are.  The best deal out there right now is the Xbox One S.  It comes with 4K support right out of the box.  Now you will need a TV capable of displaying 4K content to make use of this, but it is nice to be “futureproof”  especially at this price.

With 4K Blu-ray support and tons of apps for watching streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, it is a great hub for the cord cutter also.  This system plays the latest games both online and off.  The graphics are smooth and load times are short.  The wireless controllers keep the clutter down also.

5. For the media consumer (Tablet 1)

Amazon Fire 8 HD

The best tablet on the market right now for consuming media is the Amazon Fire 8 HD.  It is a seriously good tablet for watching your favorite shows or movies.  With the automatic sync to your Amazon Prime account, there is no better way to get all the content you want for this low of a price.  The HD version runs for $89 while you can get a non-HD for $49.  After going hands on with both of them, I would recommend the HD version.

6. For the road warrior (Laptop)

Acer Chromebook 14For those who travel for work, or just want to have a computer with them on the couch a good laptop is a great companion.  And if they usually spend most of their time on the web, and who doesn’t, then a Chromebook is the best choice.  The Chromebook is a good choice with its combination of speed and lightweight.  It is really the best option for a low-cost laptop that still performs really well.

My choice of Chromebooks is the Acer Chromebook 14.  I have personally been using this laptop for 2 months.  I use it to post articles to this blog and for work.  You can check out my review of it here.  It even comes in Gold.  You can usually find them new for around $269.  Chromebooks also come with one year of 100GB Google Drive Storage.

7. For the cord cutter (Streaming Device)

Google Chromecast

I am a big fan of cord cutting.  If you want to dip your toes in the water, or lack a smart TV, the best option you can pick up is the Google Chromecast 2.  There are two versions, the basic which is great in itself with streaming HD content to your TV, or the Ultra which handles 4K.  The standard usually runs about $35 and the Ultra is $65.  It works by having your phone or laptop, running the Chrome browser, as the remote instead of a separate remote.

Your phone tells the Chromecast what to go get and it does.  You can then go back to doing whatever you want on your phone while your TV plays your content.  If your TV is newer and has HDMI/MHL then you can use your regular TV remote to control the playback.

Bottom Line

This should give you enough ideas to get you started in your search for the perfect gift.  If all else fails, everyone like Amazon or Best Buy gift cards.  Stay tuned for a post about higher end gift ideas soon.

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