A C-note is all the budget you need to buy great tech. Here are some of our favorite products available for under $100.
The best tech under $100
With our list of the best accessories under $25 and the best tech under $50, we've already shown that you can get some great gadgets without breaking the bank. Now we're raising the budget to $100 and choosing a new list of favorites -- including all of the products shown above.
The Roku 3 is our current top pick in the Internet media box category. It's the best overall choice for online streaming, with Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Showtime Anytime, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Watch ESPN, Watch ABC, and -- finally! -- YouTube, plus literally hundreds of others. (Pretty much the only thing missing is iTunes; you'll need an Apple TV for that -- see the following slide.) The Wi-Fi remote -- which doesn't require "line of sight" to the player -- seals the deal.
If you're a full-on Apple person -- an iPhone, iPad, or Mac owner, someone who already has lots of movies, TV shows, and music on iTunes, or who's really into iTunes Radio or iTunes Match -- Apple TV is a better choice than the Roku. And with the recent additions of the Watch ABC, Watch ESPN, Watch Disney, HBO Go, the Weather Channel, and free, live news channels like Sky News and Bloomberg TV, it's certainly a great deal -- but we'd recommend holding off for the next couple of months, since rumors of an updated box are becoming hard to ignore.
Streaming video is great, but there are still plenty of folks with stacks and stacks of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. With the ability to plays discs and stream the top services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora, and others), the Sony BDP-S5100 Blu-ray player is a good alternative to a Roku or Apple TV. Just note that this 2013 model is due to be replaced very soon.
Yes, tablets and smartphones can double as e-readers. But the $69 Amazon Kindle has a long-lasting battery and a paperlike screen that avid readers will appreciate. And unlike more-versatile devices, there won't be any calls, emails, or texts to distract the reader, either. Amazon kept this 2012 model in the line, and it remains the most affordable Kindle you can get without stepping up to the the self-illuminated, touch-screen 2013 Paperwhite version for $119.
The JBL Flip was one of our favorite Bluetooth speakers under $100 throughout 2013. It's portable, rechargeable, has speakerphone capability, sounds great for its size, and works as a wireless speaker with virtually any smartphone or tablet. The new JBL Flip 2 adds upgrades like Micro-USB charging, more powerful speakers, and NFC pairing -- but it costs closer to $130. But you can still grab the original Flip for around $95 while supplies last.
There are plenty of "good enough" Bluetooth speakers available, but nearly all of them are tiny portable models. The Cambridge SoundWorks Oontz XL, on the other hand, is a large portable on the scale of the Jawbone Big Jambox and the Jabra Solemate Max -- but (usually) available for under $100. (The iPhone 4S shown here on the left is to show the relative size of the XL.)
Yes, Amazon lends its brand to a line of "cheap but good" basic accessories -- and its BTV1 Bluetooth speaker ain't half bad for $60. (Want more Bluetooth speaker options? Check out our list of best portable mini Bluetooth speakers, many of which are under $100.)
There are some places in the house that your Wi-Fi just won't reach. That's when Powerline networking is a great solution: it extends a hardwired Ethernet connection over your home's AC power, so attaching one adapter to the router in (for instance) the basement can reach a PC, game console, or other networked device in the back room of the second floor. The Trendnet Powerline 500 AV2 Adapter Kit includes both modules in a package that retails for less than $100. Need Wi-Fi too? Flip to the next slide for an alternative.
Actiontec Wireless Network Extender Plus Powerline Network Adapter 500 Kit
Powerline networking is a great plug-and-play solution to extend a network, but what if you need Wi-Fi on the on the other end? The Actiontec Wireless Network Extender Plus Powerline Network Adapter 500 Kit has you covered. It's not the latest, greatest wireless standard, but it will get the job done for most folks -- and only sets you back about $90.
When your budget is just $100, printer shopping can be tough. And, indeed, the Brother HL-2270DW offers neither multifunction capabilities (no scanner/copier, no fax) nor color output. But if you're just looking for a reliable laser printer with Wi-Fi, this workhorse is a great choice.
Everyone is sitting on a mountain of documents, photos, videos, and music. Even with cloud storage, you need a local backup -- and the Seagate Backup Plus gives you 1TB of storage (that's 1,000GB) for less than $100.
For iPhone owners who prefer to listen on the go, the Klipsch Image S4i II in-ear headphones are a great choice. (If you're buying for an Android owner, go with the otherwise identical Klipsch Image S4A II model instead.)
Bose doesn't usually discount its products, so we're wondering if the company's OE2 on-air headphones are on their way out. Either way, getting the OE2s for under $100 is a great deal. Note you can find the OE2i model (with built-in iPhone-friendly microphone) for as little as $10 more.
An oldie, but a goodie. Despite being first released in the 1990s, the Sony MDR-7506s may well be the best-sounding headphones you can get for under $100. (Want more headphone options? Check out our list of best headphones under $100.)
It's a few years old, but the Logitech Harmony 650 is still the best universal remote you can get for under $70 -- just be ready to invest some time and effort into programming it on your Mac or PC. (If you've got a slightly bigger budget, step up to the Logitech Harmony Smart Control for $130 or less.)
At just $60, the Fitbit Zip is among the most affordable health trackers we can recommend. Just clip it to your belt and use your iPhone or Android phone to monitor your steps and calories burned throughout the day -- or just tap the Zip's screen to get the same info.