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Gift cards aren't as much fun to unwrap as a new console, but they do let you buy exactly what you want. Of course, we can't help if you some well-meaning but technologically unenlightened friend gifts you with $50 of iTunes when you're all about Android -- if that happens, look into gift card exchanges or arrange a swap with some friends -- but we can offer some suggestions as to what tech you could spend your plastic cash on. And even if you've got cards for non-tech retailers such as Macy's, never fear: You won't necessarily have to spend it on a sweater.
I've broken the options down to into $25, $50, and $100 increments, which seem to be the most popular denominations.
Technically, you could buy these with a $10 gift card from Amazon, but it'll take a $25 card if you need to spend Walmart plastic.
These are foldable over-the-ear headphones that sound good for the money but look a little cheap. For $25, that's not much of a sacrifice.
If you don't need an inline microphone for cellphone calls, the Nuforce NE-770X earbuds are a great deal, costing anywhere from $18 to $28, depending on which color you choose.
The SSD hard drives in today's laptops don't get you as far as the old spinning-platter versions yet, so these tiny USB drives are an inexpensive way to increase your storage. You can get up to 64GB with a $25 card. Toss in about $5 more and you can bump that to 128GB.
If you've got a $25 of Google credit, this is the cheapest way to sling video from your phone or tablet to your TV.
This small device attaches to USB for power and a 3.5-millimeter jack for sound, allowing you to stream any Chromecast-compatible audio apps and devices to your speakers over Wi-Fi.
This inexpensive wireless speaker is smaller than it looks and delivers reasonably good sound given its size.
This $30 keyboard can connect to most iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth -- up to three at once -- for your typing needs. I have an earlier model, and the first time I used it to take notes on my phone was like a revelation. It's relatively small and light and has full-size keys that are comfortable to use.
Though they fall into the $50-card club, these in-ear headphones cost just $30. That's a great price for lightweight, comfortable earbuds with an integrated microphone and a remote for making calls. And for the money, our reviewer says they sound pretty good.
If you're into Snapchatting, this Bluetooth stylus is designed specifically for scribbling. Plus, it has a remote shutter on it for taking selfies and attaches magnetically to your phone. It'll take a $30 chunk out of your $50.
Our most recommended on-ear Bluetooth headphones that also tick the cheap checkbox. Reviewer David Carnoy says these will last 12 hours, fit comfortably, and sound good for the money.
If you want to spend that $50 on something for the whole family, remind yourself of what the "VR" experience was like back in the first half of the 20th century with the updated digital version.
A waterproof hockey-puck-size Bluetooth speaker. You can get this one with a Kohl's gift card as well as the usual suspects.
For just $40, you can get this best-in-class smart home speaker.
If you want a tablet but only have a $50 gift card to spend, this is the one. But for just $30 more, you can get a better model.
If you're entrenched in the Amazon ecosystem -- and have an Amazon gift card or credit -- this is a great value option for streaming from Amazon's own video service. It can handle other services but prefers its own.
You'll appreciate the retro look and great sound of the Panasonic RP-HTX7 headphones, as well as the fact that you can get them for $40 and in multiple colors.
Another one for the iPhone family -- or for a kid that got a gift card for the holidays -- the Shape to Life Studio manages to make Play-Doh even more fun by slightly animating your creations. This one's only good if you have an Apple gift card or a generic "cash" one since it's only available from the Apple Store at the moment.
Sure, it's for preschoolers, but I bet it could teach you a few tricks while you're playing together. How you snap the modules together determines its behavior. It's available from a lot of places for less than $50, but you can use your Bloomingdale's gift card if you've got $100 and are willing to overpay.
Get a grip on your phone photography with this inexpensive handheld stabilizer.
"The best value in streaming-video hardware, period." Can't argue with that for $40.
Though kind of cheap looking, this is a lightweight, flexible collar-style Bluetooth headphone that offers decent sound, reasonably good battery life and a comfortable fit. That's a pretty good value for $40.
An entry-point into camera drones, the X5C is stable enough to fly indoors or out and includes a 720-pixel HD camera. It's durable, but all of its parts are available for repairs when you need them.
It's not the latest or greatest, but if you're an Apple devotee then this provides an entry into Apple's video-streaming ecosystem for less than $70, with access to some of the big players including Netflix, Hulu, HBO and YouTube.
We dubbed the Roku 3 "the best video streamer in its price class" at a very affordable $80.
Who cares what it does -- this Bluetooth speaker is cool-looking enough to just leave on display in the pool! It's waterproof and slides in at just under the $100 limit. Our reviewer says it has very good sound for its size with decent battery life.
For under $100, the Grind Wireless is offered in six colors and it performed well in our sound test despite Bluetooth's inherent audio limitations.
For $80, this e-reader gives you a solid entry point into the Kindle books ecosystem to see if it's really for you. Then, if you want, you can buy a better model next year when the price drops with new gift cards.
Virtual reality in your hands for $100! True, it only works for Samsung phones, but there are plenty of them out there.
Stretch your photographic vision with this set of lenses for most iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models. At less than $80, it's a lot cheaper than a new camera.
Sure, if you're into games, buying more games is probably the first thing you thought of when you saw that gift card. But here are our recommendations for the best ones to consider.
Our Roku 3 recommendation stands firm, but if you've got a 4K TV -- or just got one for the holidays -- you'll need the more recent Roku to take full advantage of it. The price varies, but if you've got an Amazon or generic gift card you should be able to get it for less than $100.
If you stream 4K HDR content -- and that's a big "if" -- this is the first to support both HDR10 and DolbyVision HDR formats.
Get either your French Press or cold brew fix with the Espro Press P5.
This instant camera is a fun one for the kids or family. You can often find it in places that aren't technology focused, such as Michael's or Toys R Us, if someone gave you gift cards from non-tech retailers.
A gamer? Splurge about $70 of your $100 on one of the most fast and precise gaming mice we've seen.
This 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 or a backup boost to your phone. Lighting modes include White Lantern, Red Night Vision, Red and White Strobe and White Point Light. If you've got a generic cash card, you can get it at a lot of sporting goods sites but Amazon offers it as well.
If you've got a Daydream-compatible phone -- or think you'll be getting one soon -- and want a cheap and easy way to try out immersive VR, you can get this for $80 with your Google or Best Buy gift card.
It's not the most bells-and-whistle fitness tracker, but it's waterproof and does the basics well. And it's affordable at $80.
This is one of the best mini portable Bluetooth speakers we've tested. Just $80, and it's available in some non-tech outlets including Kohl's.
If you're an Amazon Prime member and don't mind the special offers, you can get the 32GB model for less than $100 (and the 16GB for even less) along with tons of free content.
Like the Stick, the Fire TV is a good option if you're entrenched in the Amazon ecosystem -- and have an Amazon gift card or credit -- and it's an inexpensive device for streaming 4K.
As an inexpensive way to turn any TV or display with an HDMI connector into a Chromebook (Bluetooth keyboard not included), this can give you access to web-based services and sites on the cheap.
Still have a pile of Blu-ray discs and need something to play them on? This is one of the fastest players we've tested, and it delivers great image quality. All for about $90.
Beddi looks terrific and comes jam-packed with handy features you won't find elsewhere, including an impressive amount of smart-home integrations you can launch with the push of a button.
If you don't like jamming earbuds into your ears to keep them from falling out, these are a comfortable alternative.
Juice! If you like to extract your own, this one is easy to clean and squeezes satisfactorily.
Odyssey's Pocket Drone folds down to a tidy rectangular form that fits in your pocket and has video capabilities. Plus, you can use a Toys R Us gift card to buy it.
A hack to make your old laptop feel like it's got one of those newfangled touchscreens, as long as you're willing to attach a few magnets to it. About $70 with your Amazon or Best Buy gift card.
The Parrot Mambo is a tiny drone that fits in the palm of your hand. And it's one of the few tech products you can buy with a Macy's gift card.
We called these "one of the best wireless sports headphones available." That was two years ago. But they're still on our list of best headphones.