These days, budgets are always tight. Thankfully, there's plenty of gadgets and accessories available that won't take a toll on your wallet. We've rounded up some of our favorite products available for under $50. (And yes, each of the items shown above is within that price range.)
Who said a stereo amplifier had to be expensive? If you want a "cheap but good" stereo for the a bedroom or den, just add an audio source (smartphone, CD player, TV -- anything with an audio output) and a pair of speakers to this little digital amp -- which costs less than $25. Given the bargain-basement price, it actually sounds pretty good, too.
And speaking of speakers, you don't have to overpay for them, either. The Dayton Audio B652s are, quite simply, the best-sounding stereo speakers you can buy for around $50. Just make sure to invest in an amp (like the aforementioned Lepai), since they're not self-powered.
With no screen and limited capacity, the iPod Shuffle should really only be purchased as a secondary music player -- one that's exclusively used while working out in the gym or jogging. That said, it's the cheapest iPod you can buy, and it does a good job fulfilling its singular mission: playing music. More-full-featured alternatives include the sub-$50 SanDisk Clip Sport (see following slide) or the $149 iPod Nano.
Do they still make good old-fashioned MP3 players? The answer is "yes" -- and the new-for-2014 SanDisk Clip Sport does a good job of distinguishing itself from iPods, including the Nano, which costs three times as much. No, the Clip Sport doesn't play nice with iTunes -- you'll need to drag and drop your music files -- but for many of us, not having to boot up iTunes is actually a feature, not a drawback. The SanDisk Clip Sport also includes a small color screen, an FM radio, a lap timer, and a surprisingly decent set of earbuds. It's available in a variety of colors for $40 (4GB) or $50 (8GB) -- and even includes a microSD expansion slot for even more music. Not too shabby for the price, and perfect for joggers who want to leave the smartphone at home.
Why settle for slow, spotty Wi-Fi? Upgrade the network to the 802.11n wireless standard with the D-Link DIR-645 Amplifi Whole Home Router 1000. It features Gigabit Ethernet, OpenDNS-based parental control, IPv6, guest networking, and USB SharePort Plus technology -- all for under $50.
The problem: you need to get your home network coverage from one side of the house to the other, and the wireless just isn't cutting it. The solution: a pair power line networking adapters, which turn your home's AC outlets into a glorified wired network (really!). The Trendnet Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter kit includes two adapters for under $45, and offers plug-and play setup that's far easier than most wireless extenders.
Whether you fancy yourself an environmentalist or not, it's hard to not love the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760. It's eco-friendly and practical -- use this Bluetooth keyboard with a Mac, iPad, or iPhone, and never worry about recharging the battery.
For whatever reason, Panasonic seems to have become the go-to choice for cheap-but-good headphones. The full-size but lightweight RP-HTX7s do a good job of blocking out external sounds, and they sound great for the price. They're available in at least three colors (black, white, and green) for as little as $32.
The Moshi Mythros are some of the best in-ear headphones you can buy for $30 or under. Unlike many supercheap models, the Mythros includes an inline microphone for taking calls. (Looking for more cheap 'phones? Check out the best headphones under $25.)
Haven't you heard? Docks are dead. It's time to go wireless, and the Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver is the easiest way to do it. Connect this $25 dongle to any stereo (or anything with a "line in" or "aux input" port), and you can wirelessly stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device. That includes all iPads, nearly any smartphone, most iPod Touch models, and most new tablets.
Bluetooth speakers are more affordable than ever, and the Philips SoundShooter Wireless is one of the best. The unique "hand grenade" design delivers decent sound (with speakerphone capability) and up to 8 hours of battery life, all for less than $50.
Another go-to choice in the sub-$50 wireless speaker category is the Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz. If you can look past the silly name, you get a solid Bluetooth speaker for dirt cheap. (If you want to go even cheaper, opt for the $40 Oontz Angle or $30 Oontz Curve).
It's lacking a few features -- no Ethernet port (Wi-Fi only), 720p instead of 1080p resolution -- but this tiny video box delivers more than 1,200 "channels" over the Web to your TV. That includes everything from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Crackle, and HBO Go to sports services like Major League Baseball, the NBA, among others. (Of course, most -- but not all -- of the good stuff requires separate fees.) At $50, it's easily the best value in home video that we've seen in years.
It's got some caveats -- it natively supports fewer services than Roku or Apple TV, and you need to use your smartphone or tablet as the remote. But Chromecast delivers the big mainstays of streaming entertainment (Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Pandora, YouTube, and Google Play music and video) for just $35. There's no arguing that's an awesome deal.
If the $50 limit on the products we showed here is straining your wallet, don't worry: we've also put together a list of our favorite tech accessories for under $25 -- some of them are even as low as $12.