Even when it’s not the holiday shopping season, many people still find themselves in a quandary looking for that perfect gift for the ones they love. Whether it’s for a birthday, an anniversary, or “just because,” you can never go wrong giving an electronic gadget.
Though you may think that investing in an electronic device may make for a costly gift, the price of some of today’s hottest gadgets is surprisingly low, especially if you utilize one of the best online tech deals sites. In fact, there are many great gift ideas for only around $50.
Affordable Gadget Gift Ideas
1. Roku LT
The Roku LT is a tiny, Wi-Fi-only media streaming device that plugs directly into your TV. It utilizes your existing home Wi-Fi connection to stream popular video services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, and even Angry Birds.
Of course, you’ll need to subscribe to each of these services before you can access them (with the exception of Crackle, which is free), but the cost of subscribing to two or even three of these services is still less expensive than your monthly cable bill. Plus, the Roku LT itself is a steal at just under $50. See our Roku Review for more information on how it works.
2. iPod Shuffle
This little gem is the perfect gift for those who regularly exercise or plan to in the new year. Its small size and easy-to-use functions make it the perfect workout buddy.
The two gigabytes of storage space allow you to load between 200 and 400 music downloads, depending on file size. Plus, the iPod Shuffle is the least expensive of the iPod family, setting you back only around $50.
3. Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip
Of course, if the thought of not having an FM tuner or only two gigs of media storage turns your stomach, you can bypass the iPod Shuffle in favor of the Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip. This MP3 player is similar to the iPod Shuffle but with the added bonus of two more gigs of storage capacity, which will allow you to load about 1,00o songs. It also comes with an FM tuner, subscription audio service compatibility, and a voice recorder.
You’ll need to use a different media library service than iTunes, but overall this is a solid portable audio device for just under $50.
4. Logitech Harmony 200
There’s nothing more disconcerting than trying to figure out which remote goes with which component in your home theater system. The Logitech Harmony universal remote puts the functionality of three components into one easy-to-use device that will set you back only about $20.
The buttons are well-defined and logically placed, and programming takes place on your PC or Mac, making this an easy addition to your den, bedroom, living room, or sophisticated home theater system. You can even go the extra mile to make your gift extra special by programming the remote in advance.
5. LaCie IamaKey USB Drive
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s trying to remember where I put my USB drive. Or being somewhere and needing one, only to remember its back at home in the office, tucked away neatly between my writable DVD media and my external hard drive.
Apparently, someone at LaCie had the same problem and developed a USB drive that masquerades on your keychain as a key. Its sturdy metal shell is durable, and having it on my keychain means that I always have electronic storage whenever I need it. The LaCie IamaKey comes in 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB models, with the 4GB unit starting at $16.
6. Koss PortaPro Headphones
While not the most aesthetically pleasing set of headphones on the market, Koss PortaPro headphones are among the most functional I’ve seen in quite some time. The sound reproduction is exceptional, and their collapsible design makes them perfect for people on the go. Of course, the open design leaves a little to be desired in the noise blocking arena, but for less than $40, they definitely earn their place on this list.
7. Video Games
For the avid gamer in your life, there is no better gift you can give than a video game. But with so many to choose from, how do you know which one is the right one?
For Xbox 360 gamers, the answer is, hands down, “Halo: Combat Evolution.” Of course, most avid “Xboxers” have already spent some significant time with this title since the original industry bar-setting version was released in 2001, but this remake offers updated graphics, online multiplayer functionality, and Xbox Live compatibility. What’s even better is that you can snag a copy for just $40.
Wii aficionados will enjoy “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword,” undoubtedly one of the best titles to be released on the Wii platform in several years, and probably for several years to come. This one will set you back around $50 ($70 if you purchase the Wii MotionPlus needed to play the game).
Sony Playstation 3
For Playstation 3 gamers, “Batman: Arkham City” takes first prize. While there is no shortage of great games for the PS3, this is one of the few games that is priced below the standard $60 price point, which makes it the winner at $50.
8. Gift Cards
While technically this isn’t a gadget gift, there’s still a good chance someone on your gift list owns a gadget that could use some new content. Whether it’s an iPad, Nook, Kindle Fire, gaming system, or other gadget, giving a gift card allows your loved one to purchase the content he or she craves without having to feel pangs of buyer’s remorse later.
9. One-Year Subscription Service
This, too, is not necessarily a “gadget” gift, but is still a welcome addition to any household where electronics rule.
Movie and TV aficionados might welcome a one-year subscription to Netflix, which at around $9 per month will cost you about $108 for the entire year. With Netflix, you can access thousands of movies and TV shows instantly on your TV, portable Wi-Fi enabled device, smartphone, PC, and more.
A Rhapsody subscription can fill your portable audio device with as much music as you can handle for around $10 a month, or $120 a year.
Lastly, DVR service from your local cable company might be a welcome gift for those who are just too busy to catch their favorite shows during normal broadcast times. Prices for DVR service vary, but can usually be found for $5 or $6 per month.
10. Canon Powershot
The Canon Powershot is a great point-and-shoot camera that anyone can use. The camera uses common file formats, so your digital images can be easily transferred to a number of devices and sent around the globe while maintaining excellent quality, thanks to the 10 megapixel capacity.
This is one gift that is sure to be a hit without taking a huge bite out of your bank account. The Canon Powershot A1200 starts at around $80.
Consumer electronics are no longer the playthings of the wealthy. With every passing year, fun, easy-to-use, and high-quality electronic gadgets become more affordable.
There is a wide, seemingly endless variety of electronics available, and the larger your budget, the more elaborate your gift-giving can be – but you don’t have to be wealthy to score an excellent present. Just remember to keep a gift receipt, just in case your recipient already has the item.
What are your favorite electronics that make great gifts?