What the Tech? Gadgets $50 or less - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

What the Tech? Gadgets $50 or less

Posted: Updated:

Whoa, boy a Christmas budget can get blown quickly when the people on your list are asking for tech gadgets. Drones, bluetooth electronics and tablets can push Christmas spending into the thousands unless you know what you're doing.

Don't get suckered in to buying the highest priced drones and iPads and music systems. There are great choices that, if you play your cards right, cost less than $50. Here are 6 of my favorite tech gift ideas for Christmas that are $50 or less. Ready?

Everyone wants an iPad or high priced Android tablet but a tablet that's both plenty good and affordable is the Amazon Kindle Fire. The 7" version with advertisements costs just $49 but Amazon puts them on sale through the holidays for as little as $39. The Fire is thin and doesn't weigh very much and it's also the sturdiest tablet I've tried. Just like more expensive tablets it browses the internet, runs most Android apps, plays music and movies and has front and rear facing cameras.

The picture isn't quite as good as an iPad and sound quality isn't what I expected, but for $49 it's a great deal and world's better than those budget tablets you'll see on sale this holiday season. I picked up Amazon's first Fire Tablet when it came out 5 years ago and I'm still using it every day for reading, games and watching movies. The newest version of the Fire also has Alexa assistant built in and you can set up multiple accounts. I think this is the tablet for younger users who can be a little rough on devices because it's not easily broken. Prime members have access to free movies, tv shows, books and music.

If someone wants a drone you can spend hundreds of dollars but if they're a first-time pilot I suggest the fighter drone or Petrone drone from Byrobot. These drones are small and lightweight and have propeller guards so you can fly them indoors. If you have 2 of these drones you can battle each other as they shoot lasers; get hit 6 times and it's game over. Your drone will fall to the ground.

Last year my kids played more with a cardboard box than some of their toys. Google cardboard is a great introduction to the world of virtual reality. They're really made from cut and folded cardboard with a pair of eye pieces or lens built inside. Slide a smartphone in the Cardboard, download a virtual reality app and you're ready to go. Google and Apple have dozens of VR games in their app stores like snowboarding and rollercoasters. Look through the lens and it really seems like you're flying down a slope. You can buy a kit for a few bucks but I'd spring for the ready-to-wear cardboard for $15 from Google.

If you take photos with a smartphone and aren't happy with the pictures you get with the flash turned on, the iBlazr 2 will shine some light. This bluetooth LED light syncs with the smartphone and flashes when you tap the shutter to take the picture. You can adjust the color temperature to get a better shot indoors or out. You can find the iBlazr 2 on Amazon for around $50, the original iBlazr is $30.

Earbuds aren't the best gift but wireless earbuds are the latest way to listen to music without getting the wires crossed up. Anker's NB-10 Soundbuds are comfortable, fit most ears comfortably and have pretty good sound for $40. Anker has terrific customer service if you have a problem. It's getting more difficult to find wired earbuds now and most good models are closer to $150 than $50. Anker's NB-10 are a great choice.

My favorite under-$50 gadget this Christmas is Amazon's Echo Dot 2. It's part of the Echo family of personal assistants but is the most affordable. The Echo and Echo Tap are over $100 and have a great deal of sound coming from their speakers. The Echo Dot 2 has a speaker, but not very good compared to its big brothers (or sisters, I can't tell).

It's voice-activated like the original Echo so no hands or tap are required. Simply say "Alexa" to wake up the device and ask her questions or give instructions. She's able to tell you the latest news headlines, give the weather forecast, play trivia games and control some smart home devices. I have the Echo Dot 2 linked to my Hue Smart Lights and can ask "turn on office lights" and they immediately turn on. I didn't think it was a big deal when I first got the Dot, but now I don't know that I can work without her.

Amazon Prime members can ask Alexa to play music or read a book from their Amazon account or ask "Where's my stuff" to get tracking information on Amazon orders.

The Echo Dot 2 is my choice of the best smart home gadget under $50.

Amazon 7" Fire Tablet www.amazon.com

Byrobot Drone Fighter http://en.byrobot.co.kr/eng/main/

Google Cardboard https://store.google.com/product/google_cardboard

iBlazr 2 http://concepter.co/iblazr2/

Anker NB-10 soundbuds https://www.anker.com/products/A3260011

Amazon Echo Dot 2 www.amazon.com

Powered by Frankly