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Surprisingly affordable versions of expensive things

Craving Apple AirPods, a Theragun G3Pro or a Peloton Bike? Here's how to get the same feels, but for way less.

Fox Van Allen
Fox Van Allen is a Los Angeles-based writer for CBS Interactive covering technology, tech lifestyle and gaming topics for GameSpot, CNET, ZDNet and TechRepublic. He has previously worked as a news and feature writer for a number of other sites, including Techlicious, Tecca, WoW Insider (Joystiq) and Blizzard Watch. In his spare time, Fox is an amateur skydiver, retro gaming and arcade enthusiast, 8-bit pixel artist, podcaster and Twitch live streamer.
Fox Van Allen
1 of 51 Theragun

Surprisingly inexpensive versions of expensive things

It's not always easy affording the best, most cutting-edge tech. Thankfully, there are almost-as-awesome alternatives available at a fraction of the cost for every crave-worthy gadget out there.

First: If you're looking for serious relief after a grueling workout, few things work better than the $599 Theragun G3Pro percussive massager -- it's said the device speeds up muscle recovery and reduces pain. 

But with a retail price of $599, the G3Pro is just not within reach of most amateur gym-goers. If that price is too steep for you...

2 of 51 Wahl

Affordable: Wahl Deep Tissue Percussion Massager ($28)

The Wahl Deep Tissue Percussion Massager may not be hip and trendy, and unlike the Theragun G3Pro, you'll have to deal with a cord. But CNET's Amanda Capritto praises the Wahl's versatility and effectiveness, along with its ability to reach your own back.

Best of all, at just $28, it costs roughly 20 times less than the Theragun.

3 of 51 Apple

Expensive: Apple AirPods Pro ($249)

One of the most craved holiday gifts of 2019, the trendy Apple AirPods Pro, offer wireless charging, active noise cancellation and better sound than the standard AirPods.

But if its price is too steep for you...

4 of 51 Anker

Affordable: Anker Liberty Air 2 ($100)

Called "the best AirPods Pro alternative under $100" by our own David Carnoy, the water-resistant Anker Liberty Air 2 offers wireless charging, decent sound, and great call quality for less than half the price of Apple's wireless buds.

5 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: 10.2" Apple iPad ($279)

There's a lot to like about Apple's entry-level iPad: Its capable A10 processor still holds up, it supports the Pencil and has a snap-on smart connector for a smart keyboard (sold separately).

But if its price is too steep for you...

6 of 51 David Carnoy/CNET

Affordable: Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet ($150)

For a great budget alternative to the Apple iPad, take a look at the recently updated Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet. Amazon added a faster processor, USB-C charging, and 2-megapixel front camera.

7 of 51 Philips

Expensive: Philips Hue Color Starter Kit ($196)

If you want to try smart lighting, the Philips Hue starter kit is just what you need. It's a well-polished automated lighting system that includes four color-changing bulbs and a hub to connect it all.

But if its price is too steep for you...

8 of 51 Ry Crist/CNET

Affordable: Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED Color Bulb ($25)

For a more affordable smart lighting system, check out the Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED bulb. You can buy as many bulbs as you want, with no hub required.

9 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: Bose Soundlink Revolve+ ($299)

You already know that the Bose name is synonymous with top-notch audio, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ is the best-sounding Bluetooth speaker of its size you can buy. You know, provided you can afford it.

But if its price is too steep for you...

10 of 51 David Carnoy/CNET

Affordable: JBL Flip 4 Speaker ($90)

The IPX7 waterproof JBL Flip 4 speaker is a great speaker for its price, with 12-hour battery life, noise- and echo-canceling speakerphone, voice assistant integration, and external passive radiators that deliver strong bass.

11 of 51 Colin West Monroe/CNET

Expensive: Vitamix 7500 Blender ($527)

When it comes to kitchen appliances, the Vitamix 7500 blender is the top-of-the-line. It handles just about any blending or chop job with stunning speed. And given its $527 price tag, you should expect nothing less.

But if its price is too steep for you...

12 of 51 Chris Monroe/CNET

Affordable: Instant Pot Ace Blender ($45)

Did you know the folks at Instant Pot make a blender? Well, they do. The Instant Pot Ace blender isn't as powerful as the Vitamix 5000 -- we find that it's only adequate at crushing ice, for example. But it does have a built-in heater, though, so you can make soups right in the Ace.

13 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: Apple Watch Series 5 ($399)

When it comes to wearables, few items are as crave-worthy as the Apple Watch Series 5. It features an always-on display, robust health-tracking features, GPS, compass, and more.

That said, it costs $399 and only works with the Apple iPhone.

If its price is too steep for you...

14 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Affordable: Amazfit Bip Smartwatch ($65)

We can't say enough great things about the Amazfit Bip, a complete fitness smartwatch that's a remarkable bargain. It doesn't have apps, but it does feature weeks-long battery life, activity and heart rate tracking, built-in GPS, water resistance and more -- all for just $65.

15 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: Apple Lightning Cables ($23)

Let's face it -- Apple's charging cables aren't know for their durability. So while you could replace your Apple Lightning cable that just broke with another pricey Apple-branded cable... why would you?

If its price is too steep for you...

16 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Affordable: AmazonBasics Double Nylon Connector ($14)

Amazon's own AmazonBasics-branded cables are less expensive than their Apple counterparts. And thanks to their double nylon protection, a they're also a bit more sturdy.

17 of 51 Megan Wollerton/CNET

Expensive: Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 ($309)

There are coffee makers... and then there are coffee makers. The Technivorm Moccamaster is the best of the best -- an ultra-pricey, hand-built coffee maker from the Netherlands that's a work of art. And yeah, it also makes an absolutely amazing cup of joe from your most premium beans.

But if its price is too steep for you...

18 of 51 Chris Monroe/CNET

Affordable: Bonavita Connoisseur Brewer ($108)

The Bonavita Connoisseur may not be as attractive as the Technivorm, and there are other coffeemakers with more features. But this simple one-button brewer is still a CNET Editors' Choice because it makes absolutely amazing-tasting pots of coffee. And isn't that what you really care about?

19 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: Apple TV 4K ($179)

While CNET's David Katzmaier says the Apple TV 4K with Dolby Vision HDR "offers the most polished streaming experience today," he also notes that it's pretty much the most expensive streamer available.

If its price is too steep for you...

20 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Affordable: Roku Streaming Stick+ ($50 or less)

For a more budget-friendly streamer, Katzmaier recommends you check out the Roku Streaming Stick Plus. It's got a dead-simple interface, lighting-fast response times and 4K video capabilities, all with a price under $50.

21 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: Bose QuietComfort 35 II ($329)

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless headphones are a top CNET pick for a number of reasons: They're crazy comfortable, the noise-canceling is top notch, they've got 20 hours' worth of battery life and, yeah, they've also got the trusted Bose name.

But if its price is too steep for you...

22 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Affordable: Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC ($99 or less)

Hailed as "a worthy Bose competitor at a better price" by CNET's David Carnoy, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC wireless headphones have a straight forward look, noise canceling and cushy memory foam. They get "you most of what you want in a premium wireless noise-canceling headphone but costs significantly less."

23 of 51 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Expensive: DJI Mavic Air Drone ($992)

If money's no object and you want the best drone experience you can get, we love the DJI Mavic Air Drone. It has a 4K camera that captures amazing photos, while its folding design makes it a great choice for travel.

But if its price is too steep for you...

24 of 51 Syma

Affordable: Syma X5C Explorer Drone ($51)

The Syma X5C Explorer Drone isn't as high-quality as its DJI competition: It's only got a 720p HD camera and about half the flight time on a single charge. But with a retail price just over $50, it's nearly $950 cheaper.

Says CNET's Joshua Goldman: It's "an incredible deal if you're looking to get in the air and start grabbing aerial photos and videos."

25 of 51 Chris Monroe/CNET

Expensive: Nest Cam IQ 4K Indoor ($299)

The Nest Cam IQ 4K Indoor is loaded with smarts and features: It's got 1080p live streaming, 130-degree field of view, two-way talk and advanced motion sensing. But it's a hard purchase to recommend, if only because of its $299 price tag.

If its price is too steep for you...

26 of 51 Wyze via Amazon

Affordable: Wyze Cam 1080p ($24)

You'd be hard pressed to find a better home camera at a better price than the $24 Wyze Cam. It offers 1080p resolution, motion alerts, two-way audio and one key feature the Nest Cam IQ 4K lacks: 14 days of free cloud storage at no additional cost. (Just keep in mind that Wyze had a recent data security issue.)

Expensive: 65-inch LG B9 OLED TV ($1,797)
Expensive: 65-inch LG B9 OLED TV ($1,797)
27 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: 65-inch LG B9 OLED TV ($1,797)

At just under $1,800, the LG B9 OLED is has spectacular image quality, awesome-looking blacks, wide viewing angles, accurate color and a great design. According to Katzmaier, it's "the best high-end TV choice available."

But if its price is too steep for you...

28 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Affordable: 65-inch TCL 6-Series QLED TV ($700 or less)

The TCL 6-Series QLED may not have the best picture quality of any TV we've tested, but it does offer the best picture quality for the money ($699 for a 65-inch model). It features deep black levels, rich contrast and the excellent Roku streaming platform built-in. 

29 of 51 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Expensive: GoPro Hero 8 ($349)

Another CNET Editors' Choice, the $350 GoPro Hero 8 is perfect for action photography and video thanks to its improved image stabilization, blur-free HDR photos and mounting fingers.  

But if its price is too steep for you...

30 of 51 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Affordable: AKASO V50 Elite ($119)

If you want great action shots at an equally great price, we love the Akaso V50 Elite. This "best on a budget" pick delivers many of the same features of the GoPro (including time-lapse photos and slow-motion video), with "better electronic image stabilization during recording than you might expect at this ($119) price."

31 of 51 James Martin/CNET

Expensive: Sonos Beam Soundbar ($399)

The voice-activated Sonos Beam Soundbar, with support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, has big sound and supports whole-home audio playback. But at $399, it doesn't come cheap.

If its price is too steep for you...

32 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Affordable: Creative Stage Soundbar ($87)

One of the least expensive sound bar options, the Creative Stage offers more features than you'd expect out of its sub-$100 price range. There's no wireless connectivity, but the Creative Stage does come with a 40-watt subwoofer with independent volume control.

33 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max ($1,099)

Who wouldn't fall in love with the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max? Sure, at $1,099, this 6.5-inch phone is a pricey buy, but it's got a gorgeous OLED Super Retina XDR display, three rear cameras, IP68 water resistance and strong battery life.

But if its price is too steep for you...

34 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Affordable-ish: Apple iPhone 11 ($699)

It may not have as luscious (or as big) a screen, but there's still plenty to like about the midrange Apple iPhone 11. You still get great 12-megapixel photos (though there's no telephoto camera), water resistance, and strong battery life -- all while saving $400.

35 of 51 Angela Tang/CNET

Affordable-est: Motorola Moto G7 ($179)

But the most incredible phone bargain out there may be the Motorola Moto G7. It may not be true iPhone-quality, but this 6.2-inch Android phone does have decent dual rear cameras, turbo charging and solid battery life for just $179.

36 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: Nintendo Switch ($299)

Here at CNET, we love the Nintendo Switch: It's a $299 hybrid gaming system with a ton of really great games available. But if you're looking to play that game library without spending three bills...

37 of 51 Marta Franco/CNET

Affordable: Nintendo Switch Lite ($199)

...then you should definitely check out the Nintendo Switch Lite. It can't connect to your living room TV -- this system is purely handheld. But if you're OK with that, you'll get a "weirdly better-feeling version of the first Switch" at a $100 discount.

38 of 51 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Expensive: Neato D7 Robot Vacuum ($576)

It's an expensive purchase, but we think the Neato Botvac D7 is one of the smartest smart vacuums we've seen. It holds its own against the priciest of robot vacs in terms of performance, plus it allows you to virtually mark areas of your home as off limits. 

But if its price is too steep for you...

39 of 51 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Affordable: Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S Max ($190)

While the self-charging Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S Max may have a much more basic navigation system than the Neato D7, it still does a good job covering spaces, leaving no spots untouched. It's CNET's pick for the best value robot vacuum.

40 of 51 Duracell via Amazon

Expensive: Duracell AA Batteries, 20 pack ($16)

Whether you prefer the ones with the copper top or the ones with the bunny rabbit, standard AA batteries can get pricey if you buy them often enough. This 20-pack of Duracell batteries runs $15.98 on Amazon.

But if its price is too steep for you...

41 of 51 Amazon

Affordable: AmazonBasics AA Batteries, 20 pack ($7)

Amazon-branded batteries cost less than half what you'll pay for name-brand batteries. And the savings get even better when you buy them in large quantities.

42 of 51 Chris Monroe/CNET

Expensive: Ring Video Doorbell 2 ($199)

Ding, dong! With it's built-in camera and motion-sensing capabilities, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 lets you know who's at your door via smartphone alerts. It offers 60-day cloud storage, too, but you'll need to pay $3 per month for the privilege.

If its price is too steep for you -- or if you're concerned with Ring's recent security issues and the company's cozy relationship with many local police departments...

43 of 51 Remobell

Affordable: Remo+ RemoBell S ($99)

The best selling point of the RemoBell S -- aside from its $99 price tag -- is that it offers three days of unlimited rolling cloud storage at no extra charge.

44 of 51 Astro via Amazon

Expensive: Astro A50 Headset ($300)

If you're looking for the best gaming headset money can buy, look no further than the (admittedly pricey) wireless Astro A50. "No other wireless gaming headset has the clarity and the booming bass over a purely wireless connection," CNET said in an earlier evaluation.

But if its price is too steep for you...

45 of 51 Turtle Beach via Amazon

Affordable: Turtle Beach Recon Spark ($50)

It may not come with a charging stand like the Astro A50 -- in fact, this headset isn't wireless at all -- but don't overlook the Turtle Beach Recon Spark. It's got good sound quality, a flip-up-to-mute mic, and a really outstanding color scheme.

46 of 51 Peloton

Expensive: Peloton Bike ($2,245)

The Peloton bike is a very attractive (and trendy) piece of home exercise equipment. It's sturdy and whisper-quiet. But it's also expensive: The bike itself costs $2,245, and you'll have to shell out another $39 per month to connect to studio classes.

But if its price is too steep for you...

47 of 51 Echelon

Affordable: Echelon Fit EX-3 Bike ($1,099)

Yes, we know -- the Echelon Fit EX-3 is not a Peloton, and you'll need to bring your own screen to participate in classes. But if you're OK with that, the EX-3 has the look and feel of a premium product at less than half the cost of a Peloton.

48 of 51 Razer

Expensive: Razer Huntsman Elite Keyboard ($160)

If price is no object when it comes to keyboards, then the Razer Huntsman Elite is an easy choice. It's got clicky, optomechanical key switches and really impressive per-key lighting effects.

But if its price is too steep for you...

49 of 51 Redragon

Affordable: Redragon K561 Visnu Keyboard ($40)

Looking for a Hunstman-like experience without breaking the bank? Try the Redragon K561, a waterproof (!) mechanical keyboard with tactile, clicky Outemu Blue switches. You can't control per-key lighting, but that small tradeoff will save you big.

50 of 51 Sarah Tew/CNET

Expensive: Nikon D500 DSLR Camera ($1,497)

Without question, the Nikon D500 DSLR is a serious -- and seriously impressive -- camera. It offers a streamlined design, continuous shooting and autofocus, a 20.9-megapixel sensor, along with excellent color rendering and white balance.

But if its price is too steep for you...

51 of 51 Nikon via Amazon

Affordable: Nikon D3500 DSLR Camera ($447)

Our pick for the best entry-level DSLR, the 24.2-megapixel Nikon D3500 delivers sharp photos and video. It's a great camera for someone who's ready to take their photo game beyond basic smartphone shots.

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