Gifting tech items can be a complicated endeavor. You aren’t only spoilt for choices, but you have to find the best value for money as tech can be expensive. These days, there are so many options to choose from, including headphones, game consoles and smart home devices. But with so many online and in-store options, you might feel overwhelmed. That’s where we come in: 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 you can grab for $100 or less.
This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.
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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Battery life Rated up to 7.5 hoursNoise Canceling YesMultipoint YesWater-Resistant Yes (IPX5– splash-proof)
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).
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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).
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).
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
I previously had the 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.
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.
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.
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.
Lori Grunin CNET
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.