Awesome tech gifts that cost $50 or less

Bring holiday cheer to family and friends with these cool and affordable, tested and approved, tech-centric gifts.

SLIDEFEATURED PRODUCTS
  • Roku Streaming Stick (2016)

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote (2016)

    $39.99 MSRP $39.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • Sideclick Remotes Universal Remote for Apple TV

    $29.99 MSRP $29.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • Steam Controller

    $49.89 MSRP $49.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • Satechi 60W 6-Port Multi-Port USB Desktop Charging Station

    $29.99 MSRP $29.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • USB-C Car Charger + Cable

    View
    on Google Store
  • Twist Lock Suction Cup Mount with Universal X-Grip Cell...

    $49.49 MSRP $52.88
    View
    on Amazon
under 50 slide
Rob Schultz

You've got this gift-giving in the bag

Yep, it’s hard to believe the holidays are once again upon us, and that means the usual challenge of finding just the right gifts. We’re here to help.

When it comes to cool, useful, and often very-affordable products that have the ability to really enhance lives, you can’t go wrong with technology. And we’re not talking about gifts that are only suitable for tech nerds. What you’ll find here are a selection of gifts in the $30 to $50 price range that are suitable for a variety of personalities, from the TV binge watcher, to the PC geek, to the PC gamer, to just about anyone who carries a smartphone or tablet.

For even more ideas, see our list of cool tech gifts for $25 and under.

Amazon Echo top
Michael Brown

Amazon Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo's smaller, more affordable sibling is a fail-safe gift for anyone who values convenience (and who doesn’t?). Driven by Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, this unobtrusive puck puts a wealth of useful information, entertainment, and practical functionality just a voice-command away.

Use the Echo Dot to control a home’s lighting, play music, estimate commute times, operate a timer, answer trivia questions, read books and news bulletins aloud, provide local movie times and locations, hail an Uber, or order anything from Amazon (natch).

Don’t be surprised if your gift of a single Dot has the recipient buying more to fill every room.

samsung ssd img 3135low
Monica Lee

Samsung 750 EVO 120GB SSD

If you have a friend or family member who’s still running Windows off a hard disk drive, an SSD can be life-altering, providing a noticeable speed increase to everyday computing tasks. 

The 2.5-inch 750 EVO is backed by Samsung’s stellar repuation for SSDs. In our review of the drive, we were won over by its smooth, consistent performance and the extra speed boost offered by Samsung’s RAPID caching software.

The 120GB version is eminently affordable at $50, give or take, and a sufficient size for storing Windows as well as programs, where an SSD’s speed really matters. 

rokustreamingstick
Jared Newman
  • Roku Streaming Stick (2016)

    PCWorld Rating

Roku Streaming Stick

You can’t go wrong with the gift of entertainment. For anyone on your gift list who doesn’t already own a smart TV or streaming box, the Roku Streaming Stick is a fantastic option.

The thumb-sized drive simply plugs into a TV’s HDMI slot, bringing Roku’s unparalleled selection of streaming apps to the screen. That selection includes apps for all the popular subscription services—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go—as well as several lesser-known gems. It also comes with a rudimentary remote.

In our review of the Roku Streaming Stick, we found that it was full-featured enough to make it a very persuasive alternative to a stand-alone Roku streaming box.  

firetvstick2016
Jared Newman
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote (2016)

    PCWorld Rating
    $39.99 MSRP $39.99
    View
    on Amazon

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

As good as the Roku Streaming Stick is, it recently got stiffer competition in the form of the second-generation Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote. We weren’t super impressed with the first-gen Fire TV Stick, but an upgraded processor and 802.11ac Wi-Fi go a long way toward addressing that device’s sluggishness.

Amazon Fire TV Stick also offers an improved remote that features Amazon’s voice-enabled Alexa by default. It’s also $10 less than the Roku Streaming Stick, though it’s not as speedy.

sideclickremotes1
Jared Newman
  • Sideclick Remotes Universal Remote for Apple TV

    $29.99 MSRP $29.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • Sideclick Remotes Universal Remote for Roku

    $29.99 MSRP $29.99
    View
    on Best Buy

Sideclick remote add-on for Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV

OK, so you’re buying a gift for someone who already has a streaming stick or set-top streaming box. You can make their day with this handy gadget, which adds much-needed functionality to a Roku, Amazon, or Apple remote.

The Sideclick does just what its name implies—clicks on to the side of a streaming remote, giving you eight programmable buttons to perform tasks that are otherwise absent. TV power and volume controls are two obvious candidates, so you won’t always need both the streaming remote and TV remote by your side. 

What’s more, it attaches easily and the setup is simple, which makes it suitable for even less-technical folk.

Mohu ReLeaf
Jason Cipriani
  • Mohu ReLeaf

    PCWorld Rating
    $39.99 MSRP $49.99
    View
    on Mohu

Mohu ReLeaf antenna

This novel gift is a winner on a couple of levels. For one, it’s a very effective multi-directional over-the-air antenna, perfect for a cord cutter who suddenly has to make do without the aid of a cable box for receiving broadcast signals. (Note, it’s not amplified, so its stated range is approximately 30 miles, although in tests it received signals from even farther than that.)

The ReLeaf’s other interesting attribute is that it’s made from recycled materials—old cable boxes, no less!—which is sure to please your green-leaning friends.

Read our review for more details about its performance.

Valve Steam Link

If you’ve got any PC gamers in your life, consider the gift of game streaming. For just $49.99, Valve’s Steam Link set-top box, lets you stream any games stored on Steam from a PC to a large-screen TV.

In our tests, performance with even twitchy, fast-paced shooters was satisfying. And who can deny the pleasure of being able to play games from the comfort of a couch?

steam controller
  • Steam Controller

    $49.89 MSRP $49.99
    View
    on Amazon

Valve Steam Controller

 

This is the perfect companion for a Steam Link, or any PC gaming setup that involves a big screen. Valve’s Steam Controller lets you ditch a cumbersome keyboard and mouse for a gamepad that’s much more conducive to living-room gaming.

Designed with the openness of the PC in mind, every single control is mappable. More than that, it makes it possible to play any PC game, any, with a single controller.

satechi usb hub 1
  • Satechi 60W 6-Port Multi-Port USB Desktop Charging...

    $29.99 MSRP $29.99
    View
    on Amazon

Satechi 6-Port USB Desktop Charging Station

Our device-laden lives have made the ritual of charging, which typically involves locating the necessary chargers and then distributing them around various open outlets, a common practice.

For this reason, you almost can’t go wrong with a gift that greatly simplifies that process. With the Satechi 6-port charging station, you have one hard-to-misplace hub that accepts two USB Type C devices and four USB Type A devices. Park it on a nightstand and use it to charge your Pixel or LG V20 over USB-C, with spare ports for your tablet, sleep monitor, smartwatch adapter, and more.

aukey power bank img 3211low
Monica Lee

Aukey 30,000mAh Type-C Power Bank

Of course, that 6-port charger doesn’t do much good for folks on the road. Enter the battery pack. Again, practicality trumps sexiness here, but there are few people who can’t benefit from this handy device. 

This Aukey portable charger is especially useful given its overall capacity, USB-C and Quick Charge 3.0 support, and a handy flashlight for use during power outages—attributes that earned it the Best Overall pick in a roundup of battery packs. Its four ports include one USB-C, one micro-USB, and two USB-A. And it’s priced very reasonably at $50 on Amazon.

belkin usb c car charger
Jon Phillips
  • USB-C Car Charger + Cable

    View
    on Google Store

Belkin USB-C Car Charger + Cable

This is another one for all those USB-C fans out there. You know who you are. You own a Google Pixel, or Nexus 6P, or LG V20, or HTC 10, or Moto Z. Or maybe something else. Your phone has a USB-C port, and you’re sick and tired of being iced out of quick-charging once you get in the car.

There’s not much to see here. It’s a USB-C car charger. It does only one thing—but it does it well. Build quality is sturdy and reassuring. The charger snaps into lighter receptacles with confidence. And, best of all, it meets the full USB spec, boasting up to 27W of power for that glorious “charging rapidly” message. Ahhhh. We feel better already.

ram mount twist lock suction cup mount universal x grip
Jon Phillips
  • Twist Lock Suction Cup Mount with Universal X-Grip...

    $49.49 MSRP $52.88
    View
    on Amazon

Ram Mount Twist Lock Suction Cup Mount with Universal X-Grip

You can certainly find cheaper phone mounts for your car, but Ram Mounts makes some of the sturdiest and endlessly adjustable. Here we’re looking at the Twist Lock Suction Cup Mount and the large version of the X-Grip universal phone holder.

The suction cup clings to windshields with serious resolve. A ball-and-socket system connects the suction cup to the X-Grip, allowing for a seemingly endless range of angles to get your phone positioned just right. The X-Grip itself is spring-loaded to clamp down on a wide range of phone sizes, but check the Ram Mount page to make sure your phone is suitable for the large version of this system.

The X-Grip in the photo is hugging a Pixel XL, but when it’s time to ditch that phone for another, the Ram Mount system will oblige. Thats why its called “universal.”