Best Tech Gifts Under $150

These devices—headphones, fitness trackers, streaming players, and more—are ideal for the budget-conscious gift giver

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Illustration of headphones with gift boxes. Illustration: Consumer Reports, iStock

Trying to bring some holiday cheer to that gadget lover in your life? You don’t need to spend a fortune. These tech gift ideas—headphones, speakers, streaming media players, and a fitness tracker—earn high marks in the tests in Consumer Reports’ labs, and they can be found for $150 or less. Each product will make a great gift; we’ve organized them by category to help you find the right option.

Need more holiday inspiration? Check out some of our other gift guides: Top Gifts Under $50, Best White Elephant Gifts for Under $35, and Top Tech Gifts for Under $100.

Go to Consumer Reports’ Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

Fitness Trackers & Smartwatches

The Inspire 2 gets top marks from our testers for step-count and heart rate accuracy. But what lifts it to an overall Excellent rating is the top scores for ease of use, pairing, and readability in low light. The Inspire 2 also boasts a very generous claimed battery life of 10 days (we don’t test that) and built-in GPS, a feature not found on many other trackers.

For more options: Best Fitness Trackers

While technically a fitness tracker, this model has more of a watchlike feel. You get a 1.3-inch monochrome display that shows your step count and real-time heart rate. The Forerunner 35 has built-in GPS and a claimed battery life of nine days, and it makes good on its water-resistance claim of 164 feet. In our testing, it receives top marks for heart rate tracking and step-count accuracy, as well as for ease of use.

For more options: Best Fitness Trackers

The 3Plus Vibe Pro is a smartwatch with a 0.7-inch touch-screen color AMOLED display, compatible with iOS and Android. It includes step counting, sleep tracking, and calories burned. Our experts find it very easy to pair with recent-version smartphones, somewhat easy to interact with, and very easy to connect to a charger. The watch face is good in our test for scratch resistance and will show scratches with wear and tear over time. In our water immersion test, it passes the manufacturer’s claim of 164 feet for 30 minutes.

For more options: Which Fitbit Fitness Tracker or Smartwatch Is the Right Fit for You?


This over-ear wireless model from Monoprice is usually available for around $50—a steal, given its superb noise-canceling performance and above-average sound quality. The BT-300ANC features integrated controls for calls, volume, and playback, and the ear cups fold in for easy storage and transport. According to Monoprice, the battery will run for 8 hours between charges with both Bluetooth and noise cancellation turned on. (CR doesn’t test battery life in headphones.) You can keep the music going even longer by switching off Bluetooth and using the detachable audio cable, which is included.

For more options: Noise-Canceling Headphones on a Budget

The Cleer Ally Plus is a budget-friendly true wireless option, with solid audio quality and great noise cancellation. These headphones have touch controls, a monitor mode to pipe in outside sound when you want it, and an autopause feature that stops the music when you remove the earpieces. The Cleer Ally Plus also stands out for its advertised battery life, a full 10 hours of playback, and it comes with a charging case that’s supposed to power the headphones about twice before you have to plug it in again.

For more options: Best Noise-Canceling Headphones to Buy Right Now

The Grado Prestige SR60x is a great choice for audio fans who want high-quality sound at a midrange price. Make no mistake, these headphones sound great, but they don’t score quite as well in our tests as the top models. But at $100, even the most critical listener will probably agree that they’re a bargain. Like all of Grado’s home/studio-style headphones, the SR60x have a classic throwback design. This model’s open-back ear cups let sound in and out, so they’re best for a quiet listening environment.

For more options: Best Headphones Under $200

These small, sleek 1More E1001 Triple Drive earphones have an earpluglike design that limits extraneous noise, and they deliver sound that earns an Excellent rating in our tests, beating out models that cost hundreds more. The audio cable has inline volume and smartphone controls with an integrated microphone. To ensure a proper fit, the device comes with nine pairs of earpieces in various sizes and types.

For more options: Best Headphones

The Samsung Galaxy Buds are one of the best-scoring portable Bluetooth headphones Consumer Reports has ever tested, beating out more popular rivals like the Apple AirPods. That’s all the more impressive, given their true wireless design. The Galaxy Buds produce exemplary audio quality packed into a pair of unobtrusive earpieces, complete with easy-to-use touch controls for playback, volume, and skipping tracks. According to Samsung, they have a 6-hour battery life. They come with a powered carrying case that will recharge the earphones for up to 7 additional hours of playback on the go. The case itself can be charged with a wireless charging mat, and it’s particularly small compared with the cases that come with many true wireless models.

For more options: Best Headphones Under $200

Streaming Devices

This is the updated version of the 4K-ready Fire TV Cube, essentially a mashup of two of Amazon’s popular Alexa-powered devices, the Fire TV streaming player and the Echo Dot smart speaker. Like its predecessor, it adds an interesting element into the mix: universal remote control capability.

Compared with the first generation, the new model adds a more powerful processor, a faster response time, and Dolby Vision HDR. There are buttons on top of the unit to adjust the volume and mute the microphones, but the Cube is really all about voice control. What makes the Fire TV Cube stand out, though, is that it lets you control a host of other compatible audio/video gear, including TVs, sound bars, receivers, and even some cable and satellite boxes.

For more options: Best 4K Streaming Media Devices

Roku’s flagship streaming player got a slight refresh. The updated version offers some enhancements, including faster performance, thanks to smart caching of popular streaming services to launch channels faster. It also has new programmable shortcut buttons on the enhanced voice remote and includes a microSD card slot for adding storage.

You still get the wide assortment of channels that makes the Roku platform a top pick for many users and Roku’s agnostic approach to search across multiple streaming services. Like its predecessor, the remote has a headphone jack for private listening and a remote-finder button on the unit that causes the remote to beep if you misplace it. Like last year’s model, the new Ultra comes with JBL earbuds.

For more options: Best 4K Streaming Media Devices

Unlike earlier Nvidia Shield streaming devices, which seemed more like game consoles that could also stream, the newer Shield TV seems designed specifically for streaming movies and TV shows. In fact, it’s among the top-rated streaming players in our ratings now and also among the priciest. Housed within the player’s unusual cylindrical shape is a relatively fast processor, which powers its AI upscaling; while the player supports native 4K content, it can also upconvert lower-resolution content to a 4K TV’s higher resolution. (Yes, the TV will also do that, but if the Nvidia does a better job, you can choose that.)

The Shield TV comes with an updated triangular-shaped Bluetooth remote with backlit buttons, including a dedicated one for Netflix. The player also has a remote finder button for locating a misplaced remote.

For more options: Best 4K Streaming Media Devices

The Show 8 has an 8-inch touch screen (ideal for displaying online recipes), responds to voice commands (useful when you have messy hands), and has a camera that can adjust the focus to “follow” you as you move about the room on a video call. The device’s footprint is also significantly smaller than that of the new Show 10, which needs a beach-ball-sized space on the countertop to provide clearance for a rotating screen. As with many smart speakers, though, the Show 8’s sound quality is somewhat lacking, according to our testers, who note the model’s strident high frequencies.

For more options: Best Smart Speakers Under $200

Wireless Speakers

The newest Echo looks radically different, with globelike styling replacing the now-iconic cylindrical styling. Its smart speaker capabilities haven’t changed much because the Echo, like all smart speakers, relies on the company’s cloud servers to do the digital heavy lifting. The Echo is improved with a new Zigbee smart home hub that allows you to control compatible devices without using an app. The sound quality is also noticeably better than the previous version’s, with better bass and clearer trebles. If you listen to a lot of music, you might consider the more expensive but better-sounding Echo Studio.

For more options: Best Smart Speakers

Other Tech

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus has an 8-inch screen that makes it a solid choice for those who enjoy reading or watching movies. It has 3 gigabytes of memory and is available with 32GB of storage, and you can also use a microSD memory card to add storage. Battery life is impressive. Our tests find that it’s slower than most other tablets in our tests, though it’s acceptable for most everyday tasks, such as web browsing and email.

For more options: Best Tablets of 2020

This all-in-one inkjet printer sits near the top of our ratings, thanks in large part to outstanding versatility and high marks for text and graphics quality. The MFC-J895DW wastes very little ink to maintain the print heads. Based on our estimates of typical use, its yearly ink costs come to about $100, which falls in the lower range for an inkjet model. Features include scan and copy functions, an automatic document feeder, built-in faxing, WiFi networking, and wireless printing with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.

For more options: Great Printers for Under $150