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Best back-to-school gifts for under $100

Need a good back-to-school gift? Here's the coolest tech you can get for under $100.

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David Carnoy
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1 of 30 David Carnoy/CNET

Beats EP

With its stainless steel build, the $99 Beats EP may be the best value in the Beats line. It comes in black, white, red and blue.

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2 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

JBL Flip 4

The $99 JBL Flip 4 is also waterproof and delivers similarly great sound.

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3 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat 500

The ideal gift for someone starting high school or college is a new pair of wireless headphones -- and there are now plenty of great choices in this under-$100 range. The Plantronics BackBeat 500 is one of our recent favorites, and it costs just $80.

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4 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Skullcandy Grind Wireless

The $65 Skullcandy Grind Wireless headphones are a good value for the price, too.

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5 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Fit

If you're buying for a runner or an athlete, the sporty BackBeat Fit wireless headphones may be just the ticket.

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6 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jabra Halo Smart

Jabra Halo Smart is a wireless "neckband" model. Its stereo earbuds magnetically hold together around the neck when not in use.

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7 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony MDR-XB50BS

If your gifting budget is limited to around $60, the Sony MDR-XB50BS wireless in-ear headphones are a worthy choice.

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8 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony MDR-7506

Moving from wireless to wired headphones: The Sony MDR-7506 headphones are invariably older than the student you're buying them for -- they first debuted in 1991 -- but they're also the best-sounding headphones you can get for under $100.

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9 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundSport

This in-ear headphone is an older model, but it delivers solid sound -- and the comfy eartips will keep the buds in place during workouts.

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10 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

1More Triple Driver

If you're buying for someone who cares more about sound quality than familiar brands, consider the 1More Triple Driver. It's one of the best sounding in-ear headphones under $100.

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UE Wonderboom

The $99 Wonderboom is the latest wireless speaker from Ultimate Ears. It sounds great, and even floats -- making it the perfect speaker for summers around the pool.

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12 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Urbanears Stadion

With its springy coiled design, the Urbanears Stadion is a fresh take on a Bluetooth sports headphone for less than $100.

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13 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

UE Roll 2

The Wonderboom's predecessor, the UE Roll 2, is also fully water-resistant -- and can be found for as little as $55.

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JBL Flip 3

The Flip 4's predecessor, the Flip 3, is still pretty great, and you can find it on sale for closer to $80.

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Amazon Fire HD 8

At just $80, the Amazon Fire HD 8 is the best ultracheap tablet you can buy -- and a pretty great gift to boot.

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Plantronics BackBeat Sense

The older BackBeat Sense wireless headphones have also dipped just south of the $100 mark.

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Kindle Paperwhite

Amazingly, Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite e-reader is actually more expensive than the Fire tablet. But this $119 unit is often discounted to $99. It's a good choice for bookworms who enjoy distraction-free reading.

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Roku Premiere+

Turning to video streaming: There are plenty of Roku models at $50 or less. But in the $100 range you'll find the Roku Premiere+. It's worth the extra cash if you're buying for someone who has a 4K TV with high dynamic range (HDR) video compatibility. But even if they don't, they'll like the Wi-Fi remote (no pointing needed) with a headphone jack for private listening.

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Amazon Fire TV (2015)

The best alternative to Roku at this price point is the Amazon Fire TV. The core Fire TV bundle is now $90, the antenna bundle is $100 and the gaming edition bundle (with gamepad) is down to $130.

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Google Chromecast Ultra

Young students are obsessed with their smartphones. And the Chromecast Ultra lets them beam most video apps (except for Amazon prime) from the phone to a TV, with 4K and HDR compatibility.

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Fitbit Flex 2

The Fitbit Charge 2 and Alta 2 will cost you around $150, but you can gift the more minimalist Flex 2 fitness tracker for closer to $90.

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22 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Logitech MX Master

If you're buying for someone who spends all day on a Mac or Windows PC, a top-notch mouse like the Logitech MX Master is just the ticket.

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23 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Logitech MX Anywhere 2 Wireless Mobile Mouse

The MX Anywhere 2 mouse is basically a downsized, portable version of the MX Master.

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Biolite SolarPanel 5+

Another good gift for outdoorsy scholars: Biolite's $80 SolarPanel 5+ is equipped with an internal battery that stores energy from the sun, which means it will keep a charge in reserve for phones and other devices, although tablets will take longer to charge.

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25 of 30 David Carnoy/CNET

Mophie PowerStation Plus

If your giftee is budding globetrotter, the Mophie PowerStation Plus is a good travel companion. The $60 external battery charger has an integrated Lightning cable with a micro USB adapter, so it can juice up most mobile devices.

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26 of 30 Ry Crist/CNET

Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit

Is your student moving into a new place? Get it smart home-ready with the Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit. The Alexa-compatible lighting kit includes two dimmable bulbs and a control bridge.

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Samsung Gear VR with Controller

Does your student have a recent Samsung Galaxy phone? The latest Gear VR headset will turn it into a full-fledged virtual reality headset, with a cool new controller to boot.

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Google Daydream View

The same goes for owners of Google's new phones. The $79 Daydream View turns the Pixel and Pixel XL into VR viewers -- and it includes a small controller as well.

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29 of 30 Sarah Tew/CNET

Pioneer Rayz Rally

Pioneer's Rayz Rally is a compact plug-and-play Lightning speaker for your iPhone or iOS device that doesn't require charging. It works best as a speakerphone but also can be used for music and boosting the sound during video playback.

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Amazon Echo Dot (second generation)

If $100 is outside your budget, don't worry: We have a whole separate list of great back-to-school gift ideas for under $50, too.

See CNET's complete back-to-school tech gift guide

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