Belkin Wemo Switch Mini-product-photos
With full Alexa and Google Home compatibility, the $35 Belkin WeMo Mini is a great smart-home starter gadget.
Google Home Mini
Google's most affordable smart home speaker isn't quite as impressive as the Echo Dot -- and it lacks a line out. But it sounds a bit better than the Dot, and it puts all the smarts of the Google Assistant at your beck and call.
Amazon Fire 7 tablet
The larger 8-inch Fire HD 8 tablet for $80 is still the better deal, but you won't find a better sub-$50 tablet than the Fire 7, which has been updated for 2017.
Amazon Echo Dot (second generation)
In addition to providing a home for the Alexa voice assistant, Amazon's $50 Wi-Fi speaker handles music, too. The audio quality isn't fantastic, but you can connect it to any other stereo or speaker system.
Tribit XSound Go
There are lots of generic mini Bluetooth speakers out there. The Tribit XSound Go is one of the best ones for the money.
iOttie iON Wireless Plus Fast Charger
iOttie's iON Wireless Plus Fast Charger comes in a just a few cents less than $50. There are a lot of wireless charging pads around this price (or slightly less), but the iON, which comes in multiple color options, has a few distinguishing features that help set it apart:
- It has a USB-A port to charge an additional device
- Its hollowed out design promotes air flow, reducing heat and charging efficiency
- Fabric wrap finish
- It's Qi certified with wireless fast charging up to 7.5W for iPhones (with wireless charging capabilities) and 10W for Android devices (with wireless charging capabilities).
BioLite PowerLight Mini
The $50 BioLite PowerLight Mini is a handy lantern, bike light and charger all in one. You clip it to a pocket or strap or mount to your bike (mount included) and its 1,350-mAh USB rechargeable battery provides up to 52 hours of light. It can also give your phone a backup boost. Lighting modes include White Lantern, Red Night Vision, Red/White Strobe and White Point Light. It's a great choice for eco-minded students who enjoy camping or other outdoor activities.
Roku Streaming Stick (2017)
We already loved this little $50 video streamer, which turns any HDMI-equipped TV into a gateway to online entertainment bliss: Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, HBO Now and literally hundreds of other streaming channels. And now it gets better for 2017, with a new voice-activated remote that can also control your TV's power and volume.
Roku Express (2017)
If $50 is too pricey, check out the $30 Roku Express. It loses the Stick's voice remote, but it has all of the same channels, and the 2017 model is considerably zippier than than its underpowered predecessor.
Roku Express+ (2017)
Buying a gift for someone who's stuck with an ancient pre-HD tube television? Don't fret: You can still give them the gift of Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon and all the other great streaming video options with the Roku Express+, which connects to old-school RCA jacks (yellow, red, white).
Anker SoundBuds Slim
Anker's SoundBuds Slim Bluetooth Sports headphones can be had for less than $30. They sound decent and fit well.
Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa
It's not quite as good as the Roku Stick, but the 2017 version of Amazon's Fire TV Stick is $10 cheaper and includes an Alexa-enabled voice remote.
Another affordable smart-home device, TP-Link's $30 Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini adds scheduling, voice commands and remote access to everyday devices.
Google Chromecast (2015)
Embrace the mobile lifestyle with the $35 Chromecast video streamer. Connect it to any TV, and use your phone as the remote control for services like YouTube, Netflix and many more. Just note that it doesn't offer Amazon Video.
Google Chromecast Audio
The Chromecast Audio isn't a wireless speaker in and of itself, but this $35 Wi-Fi gadget adds streaming audio to any old stereo. It offers universal compatibility with Android phones, and some (but not all) iOS apps can stream to it, too.
JBL Clip 2
The JBL Clip 2 can't respond to your voice, but this little waterproof Bluetooth speaker sounds great for its size. It's a great gift for anyone who does a lot of traveling.
Anker SoundCore 2
The SoundCore 2 is the best speaker value in Anker's lineup, balancing good sound and a water-resistant body for about $40.
Oontz Angle 3 Plus
It has a goofy name, but the Oontz Angle 3 Plus is arguably the sound quality champion for wireless Bluetooth speakers in the sub-$50 price range.
Creative Sound Blaster Jam
It's still difficult to find good name-brand wireless headphones for under $50, but the Creative Sound Blaster Jam is one of the first models at this price that we liked.
SanDisk Clip Jam
Yes, everyone's phone already doubles as a music player. But for as low as $30, this standalone mini MP3 player is useful for runners and gym rats who may want to set their phones aside for a workout. It works with both PCs and Macs, and -- best of all -- doesn't need to sync with iTunes: just drag and drop your music files.
iFrogz Impulse Duo
The iFrogz Impulse Duo in-ear Bluetooth headphones deliver good sound for the money and have a nifty design.