Top Tech Gifts for Under $100

Looking for a tablet, fitness tracker, or wireless speaker that won't crush your budget? These gadgets aim to please.

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Gift icon with a pair of earbuds inside Illustration: Consumer Reports, iStock

Do you have a price in mind—but aren’t quite sure what to buy that special someone this holiday season?

The experts at Consumer Reports put together a series of gift guides that are grouped by price. Here, we focus on some of our top-rated tech products for under $100.

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

Headphones

This over-ear wireless model from Monoprice is usually available for $50 or less, 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-canceling turned on. 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 paired with a charging case that’s supposed to power the headphones about twice before you plug it in again.

For more options: Noise-Canceling Headphones on a Budget

The Jabra Move Style Edition, an on-ear Bluetooth model with a sleek appearance and better-than-average sound quality, comes with convenient features like controls for calls, playback, and volume, and the option to forgo Bluetooth and use the detachable audio cable included with your purchase. The headphones have a closed, isolating design that will keep some noise from leaking in or out during a listening session. The headphones have an advertised 14-hour battery life, more than enough to get you through a day of listening.

For more options: Best Headphones Under $100

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air earphones look a lot like Apple’s AirPods, but they cost about half as much and they have a few notable advantages. Unlike the AirPods, the Ankers have an isolating design that will muffle some outside sound, and our testing shows their audio quality is significantly better, too. CR’s technicians also note that they fit and stay in place better than many true wireless models. According to Anker, the earphones have a 5-hour battery life and come with a charging/carrying case good for three additional charges on the go. They’re also advertised as water-resistant.

For more options: Best Headphones Under $100

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, 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

This cylindrical Bluetooth speaker from JBL earns a Best Buy designation from CR for its attractive combination of good performance and low price. It’s available in six colors and a number of patterns, including camouflage. Our testers found the sound quality to be good. Two units can be used in stereo—buy a pair and you can fill a room with better sound while still paying less than you would for mono speakers. The test team also liked the Flip’s ease of use, including its fuss-free pairing.

For more options: Best Wireless Speakers Under $200

Working From Home

The Canon Pixma MG3620 is an inexpensive all-in-one printer that stays affordable, and it’s a great option for those who need to spend as little as possible up front. Our estimates show typical users will spend about $108 per year on ink, typical for an inkjet but a good value when you combine that with the low up-front price. Based on our tests, photo quality for the MG3620 is better than average, and it should be fine for basic printing needs but might not be suitable when high-quality printouts are essential.


For more options: Great Printers for Under $150

Ergonomic Mouse

ZLOT Vertical Gaming Mouse

This mouse places the forearm, wrist, and hand in a “handshake” position, greatly reducing stress in the forearm. When properly oriented, it reduces wrist extension, too. Note, however, that the natural position with the front facing forward requires a slight extension. The model features 11 programmable buttons, five dpi settings, and a matte finish that feels comfortable under the fingers and palm. On top, you’ll find a mini joystick, handy for gamers but potentially annoying for others because it springs into action with a slight bump. There’s no left-handed option.

For more options: The Best Ergonomic Mouse for You

Ergonomic Keyboard

Kinesis Freestyle2

Give your loved ones the gift of comfort with an ergonomic keyboard. Available in a wired or wireless configuration, the Kinesis Freestyle2 features a fully split design. That means each half of the keyboard can be positioned directly in line with the user’s shoulders, effectively reducing internal shoulder rotation and ulnar deviation of the wrist. The membrane keys are easy to activate and include options for shortcuts and media controls. The palm rests, adjustable legs, and number pad are sold separately ($35 to $50). Compatible with Android, Chrome, iOS, Linux, Mac, and Windows.

For more options: The Best Ergonomic Keyboard for You

Other Tech

The Inspire 2 gets ratings of Very Good 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 a built-in GPS, a feature not found on many other trackers.

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

Wireless Charger

Samsung 15W

This charger has a built-in cooling fan and a gridded surface that lets air flow behind the device, which is meant to allow for faster charging. As a small trade-off, the charger is bulkier than most of its competitors. The angled stand also allows you to view a phone’s screen in portrait or landscape position as it charges.

For more options: Best Wireless Chargers for Your Smartphone and Other Devices

At $50, the Amazon Fire 7 tablet is a great gift option, especially for kids. The 7-inch tablet lets you create profiles for individual users, tailoring home screens and app selection to each member of the family. (By contrast, Apple’s iPad supports only one user profile.) And the built-in microSD card reader is a handy, low-cost way to expand the device’s storage capacity using memory cards. Just keep in mind that the display quality is not as crisp as what you’ll find on an iPad. The processing power is more limited, too. The same goes for Amazon’s app store offerings.

The Roku Ultra, the company’s flagship streaming player, includes built-in Bluetooth for streaming music from mobile devices, and support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ HDR, plus Dolby Atmos 3D sound. It also has an improved WiFi range compared with previous versions, so the player can be placed farther away from your router, and it has a vast assortment of content that makes Roku a popular choice for many users. The Ultra comes with an enhanced Roku voice remote that has programmable personal shortcut buttons, plus a headphone jack for private listening. Like other Roku models, the Ultra supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants.

For more options: Best 4K Streaming Media Devices