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Best tech gifts for grads under $100

Can't afford to spend a lot on your graduating senior? Despair not, you can get some nice gear for less than a 100 bucks.

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David Carnoy, John Falcone
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1 of 22 Sarah Tew/CNET

Best tech gifts for grads for under $100

Need to buy a gift for someone graduating from high school or college? We've got a great list of products to choose from that are cool, but won't break the bank. Each of the items that follows is available for less than $100.

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Roku 3

Whether they're cord-cutters or "cord nevers," many younger people aren't signing up for expensive cable TV subscriptions -- which makes mini streaming boxes like the Roku 3 a perfect gift. For 2015, it's newly updated to include voice search. And it still streams great services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Amazon Instant, Watch ESPN, Vudu, YouTubeSling TV, and literally hundreds of other channels -- most of which, of course, require separate subscriptions or fees. The Wi-Fi remote -- which doesn't require "line of sight" to the player -- also includes a headphone jack for private listening.

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3 of 22 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple TV

If your grad is invested in the Apple universe -- he or she owns an iPhone, iPad or Mac, or already has lots of movies, TV shows, and music on iTunes -- Apple TV is a better choice than the Roku. And even though it's coming up on its third birthday, Apple is keeping its box fresh new channels every few months, including Watch ABC and FX Now, HBO Go, and HBO's standalone subscription service, HBO Now. Better yet, it got a recent price drop to $69.

Amazon Fire TV
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Amazon Fire TV

Amazon's Fire TV ($99), a Roku and Apple TV competitor, is another top streaming media box with particular appeal to Amazon Prime members who get access to lots of free content. And with the addition of HBO Go and some other improvements, we think it's a worthy pick. Like other Amazon products on this list, you'll occasionally see Fire TV discounted by $15-$20.

Amazon Kindle 2012
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Amazon Kindle 2014

Yes, tablets and smartphones can double as e-readers. But the $79 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's latest entry-level e-reader, which occasionally gets discounted to $59, adds a touchscreen, but leaves off the integrated light found in the step-up 2013 Paperwhite and Voyage models.

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Logitech MX Master wireless mouse

Most kids probably wouldn't run out and buy Logitech's new $99.99 MX Master on their own. But this is a high-performance wireless mouse with a built-in rechargeable battery that anyone would appreciate as a gift.

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Amazon Fire HD 6

As much as we like e-ink readers, though, an extra $20 will get you a full-fledged color tablet. Sure, it doesn't have much storage (8GB) and it's not super-zippy, but the well-designed Fire HD 6 is one of the better options out there -- especially given its $99 price tag. It does come in a 16GB version for $20 more, and it's also worth mentioning that Amazon occasionally discounts both HD 6 model from time to time, making them even better bargains.

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight
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Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight

If your grad isn't on the Kindle platform and wants an e-book reader that's also compatible with ePub files, Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader is a good choice. The 2013 self-illuminated GlowLight model used to cost $119, but has come down to $99 and (unlike the Kindle) is totally ad-free.

Seagate Seven
9 of 22 Dong Ngo/CNET

Seagate Seven Portable Drive

The Seagate Seven 500GB portable drive ($99.99) may not offer the most storage bang for the buck, but it is the slimmest portable hard drive out there and offers excellent performance. It's great for backing up files from Windows PCs or Macs.

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Sol Republic Shadow Wireless

Wireless headphones are a perfect gift for grads who use their smartphone as a music player. Sol Republic's Shadow Wireless has a flexible around-the-neck design. It's one of those Bluetooth headphones you can leave on all day and forget you're wearing it.  It's available in a lighter gray color.

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Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760

The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 is perfect for idealistic millennials who want their tech to be eco-friendly. They can use it with a Mac, iPad or iPhone, and never worry about recharging the battery.

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Wacom Creative Stylus 2

The Wacom Creative Stylus 2 is a perfect choice for creative types who like using the iPad as a sketchbook. And the sub-$80 price won't sting.

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JBL Flip 2

 Young people love their digital music, and JBL's Flip 2 Bluetooth speaker will let them stream it from their phone, tablet or computer with style. It started out at around $130, but can now be found online for around $80. It sounds great for its size and comes in multiple color options.

Jawbone Mini Jambox
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Jawbone Mini Jambox

The Jambox Mini initially retailed for $179, but has steadily dropped in price and now can be had for a couple of bucks south of $100. This wireless Bluetooth speaker is small enough to fit in a woman's purse, and it's available in a variety colors.

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Beyerdynamic DTX 350p

If your graduate prefers old-school wired headphones, we've got you covered. Beyerdynamic makes some great high-end headphones, but lately  it's been putting out some value models with great sound. The on-ear DTX 350p, which comes in black or white, sounds better than a lot of headphones that cost twice the price.

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Sony MDR-7506

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. They're a perfect choice for hipster grads.

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Garmin Vivofit

Shopping for a graduate that's health conscious? The Garmin Vivofit is a low-maintenance step counter that's waterproof and has a one-year battery life, despite its always-on screen. Not bad for about $100.

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Jawbone Up24

The Jawbone Up24 lacks a screen, but who cares? You interact with the step and sleep tracking through its best-in-class Android and iOS apps, and it's far more stylish than most competing health trackers. (Just note that the successor Up3 is due out soon -- albeit for more money.)

Logitech Harmony Home Control
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Logitech Harmony Home Control

We've got a few products here at the end of the round up that don't quite get in under the $100 mark, but if you're willing to stretch your budget a little, they're worth checking out.

First up is the Harmony Home Control. It costs close to $150, but it offers the biggest bang for the buck in the Logitech line, with an RF remote (no more line-of-sight issues) and the option to use iOS and Android devices as remote controls, too. It's a great gift for a grad who's moving into his or her own place.

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LG Tone Infinim Bluetooth headphone

LG's Tone Infinim can be had online for a little more than $100, but with its retractable earbud design, it's arguably the best of LG's popular around-the-neck style headphones.

Bose SoundLink Color
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Bose SoundLink Color

The Bose SoundLink Color will run you around $130. It doesn't perform quite as well as the $200 SoundLink Mini, but it's an attractive little Bluetooth speaker that delivers big sound for its size, is easy to tote around, and recharges with a standard Micro-USB cable.

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Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite e-reader carries a list price of $119, but Amazon regularly discounts it to $99. It's not as slick as the step-up Kindle Voyage, but it's a fine e-reader and a good value, especially at $99.

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