The holiday season seems to arrive quicker each year. Though Christmas decorations start popping up in stores during the summer months, it doesn’t stop dawdling gift-givers from waiting until the last minute. Thankfully, there are a bevy of gift options that will make even the biggest procrastinator look like a well-researched shopper.
As we turn our attention to high-tech gifts, however, prices skyrocket. Big-ticket items like OLED TVs, DSLR cameras, and touchscreen espresso machines are simply out of reach for most. Before you give up and try to convince your tech-savvy cousin to take up knitting, consider the following cost-conscious stocking stuffers.
Cheap headphones that rock
Whether it’s for podcasts, music, video games, or audiobooks, everybody needs a solid pair of headphones. When we think of quality headphones, though, the assumption is that you’ll need to shell out some serious cash to get high audio quality. Wrong. You may not find many lambskin ear pads or electrostatic diaphragms on this budget, but there are plenty of options with stellar audio fidelity less than $50.
For our money, the Senso Bluetooth Headphone is an excellent overall pick. For less than $30, it offers clear sound, wireless convenience, and eight hours of battery life all in an ergonomic design. If you’re after something for a home setup, Audio-Technica’s ATH-M20x delivers excellent mid and high-range sound through its 40mm drivers, along with sturdy construction and a comfy fit.
21st century outlets
Have you ever wanted the convenience of The Clapper but without all the noise? The Wemo Mini Smart Plug is exactly that. Put simply, the Smart Plug connects your outlets to your phone through WiFi, allowing you to manage the appliances in your home from an app. Forgot to turn off the kitchen light before going to bed? Can’t remember if the bathroom fan is still on? Take a peek at your phone and control it all from your mobile command center.
There’s more, though. You can schedule lights and appliances to turn on at certain times, or sync them to sunrise and sunset. For added peace of mind, the Smart Plug can turn your lights on and off when you’re not home to make it appear like someone is still there. It can also be paired with Amazon Alexa for voice control.
A dead battery is both incredibly annoying and extremely relatable. A portable power pack is the logical solution to that problem, but many still think of them as cumbersome or expensive. Thankfully, in 2018, power packs are neither of those things.
One of the more popular options on the market is the Anker Powercore 20100 Power Bank. The pocket-sized device has two USB ports and the juice to charge an iPhone 7 nearly seven times, a Galaxy S6 five times, or the iPad mini 4 twice. All that, and it weighs just 12.5 ounces and costs $49.99.
No matter if it’s a phone, tablet, or other mobile device, we’ve all been in a situation where we either didn’t have a charger or an outlet to use it. With something like this in your bag, you’ll never go without a charge again.
Bluetooth speakers are almost as ubiquitous as headphones nowadays, and it’s easy to understand why. With everything from compact waterproof models to high-end PA systems peppering the market, there’s a Bluetooth speaker out there for every buyer. No matter where on the spectrum you land, the portability and convenience of Bluetooth makes these speakers a fantastic gift idea.
Much like portable power packs, Bluetooth speakers have a stigma of being expensive, but that’s not really the case. For example, the AmazonBasics Shockproof and Waterproof Bluetooth Mini Speaker sounds great for less than $16, and as the name implies, it’s incredibly durable as well. For this price point, though, we recommend the $30 Anker SoundCore2. One of the highest-rated inexpensive Bluetooth speakers on the market, the SoundCore2 features above-class sound, 24 hours of battery life, and water resistance for outdoor usage. There’s even a built-in microphone for speaker calls.
Mini arcade games
Not all gifts need to be practical, particularly those that fit into a stocking. Tiny Arcade’s miniature arcade games offer a fun way to pass the time during commutes, road trips, or those rare breaks between holiday meals. The game choices are enough to please any retro gamer, as they include classics like Space Invaders, Frogger, Galaga, Pac-Man, and of course, Ms. Pac-Man.
Considering the cost of these games — each runs around $12 — you might assume they’re simple light boxes that utter the occasional beep. In fact, they offer a high-resolution color screen, officially-licensed multi-level gameplay, and arcade sounds that are true to the original. High score tournaments recommended.
Andrew Hard is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.